Tuesday, April 20, 2010


On Sunday, Octonber 16, 1955, NBC's resident televisionary, Sylvester "Pat" Weaver, joined with then-dominant, auto maker, General Motors, to create an innovative video vehicle that was designed to sell , both, new cars and the future promise of television to a growing American audience.

The show was called WIDE, WIDE WORLD, it was produced "LIVE" at the NBC studios in 30 Rockefeller Center and was hosted by laconic,urbane,television pioneer, Dave Garroway.

( Dave Garroway and "Pat" Weaver )

One of many groundbreaking media concepts cultivated by Weaver, WIDE,WIDE WORLD was designed to vicariously take viewers to alluring and exotic places,where they would witness electrifying events and meet unique people, all through the lens of a B&W television camera.

More specifically 40 of them, which NBC technicians deployed in far-flung locales ranging from the vast, cattle ranches OF the American West to the narrow streets of Havana. The show challenged the technical limits of Eisenhower-Era, network television, while it captured the imagination of the American public.

The eclectic and engaging effort was a fixture in the so-called, "intellectual ghetto" of Sunday afternoon, network programming from 1955 until it was cancelled in 1958.Along the way it received 6 Emmy Award nominations and critical acclaim.

Garroway's viewers visited the blood-stained,bullrings of Mexico, entered the Top Secret compound which housed the Strategic Air Command Headquarters, saw jets thunder over the Grand Canyon and did it all "LIVE," often for the first time in television history.
General Motors , then the largest company on earth, was the primary sponsor and a perfect match in its dignified,global imagery for Weaver's ambitious, elegant video magazine of American culture.

Because the show was primarily "LIVE," few kinescopes from the pre-videotape era, in which WIDE, WIDE WORLD was produced, have endured.

In the clip posted,below, from the TV DAYS YOU TUBE site, you'll see Dave Garroway introduce a commercial for GM's parts distribution subsidiary United Motors, presented by announcer Nelson Case.

Like the show in which it was played, this advertisement is complex, for its time, in production values. This spot has live music, dancers, actors and special effects. It's followed by a filmed piece, extolling the virtues of the "motoramic" 1955 Chevrolet.

1 comment:

  1. Paul, I discovered your site while looking for a recording of the live 2-minute commercial Milton Berle performed for RCA television sets on "WIDE WIDE WORLD." I am a television archivist, author ("Window to the Future"), and documentary filmmaker. Because of your television interest, you might be interested in seeing a demo reel for my film about the rise and fall of the American television set industry entitled, "TV Man," at www.TVMan.tv.


    Steve Kosareff