Saturday, July 31, 2010
Seven decades before digital media could bring a viral video world-wide recognition in a matter of minutes, a gentle, affable comic genius and violin virtuoso became one of history's first ,global ,multi-platform superstars.
He did it the old fashioned way: by plying his many talents with tenacity, consistency and commitment.
Jack Benny achieved success in vaudeville, films, nightclubs, radio, television and on Broadway. His talents were internationally acclaimed. But,his work didn't travel the world on the information super highway.
His reputation was formed and re-enforced by acetate discs of radio shows, newspaper accounts of live performances and reels of Hollywood celluloid that were shipped around the planet by snail mail.By LIVE, shortwave broadcasts of his radio shows beamed to American Troops stationed around the world.By Television appearances on Britain's BBC, Italy's Rai and Canada's CBC.
As a performer with masterful timing, meticulous editing skills and the ability to fire -off high velocity, high quality ad-lib's, Jack Benny worked without A Net and did it, long before we learned of THE NET.
Born Benny Kubelsky, the son of a Waukeegan, Illinois saloon keeper,on February 18, 1894, the beloved icon spent years, laboriously crafting his comic persona. On stage he was a vain, skinflint, who fancied himself a master violinist and an irresistible ladies man. His character usually failed on all counts.
In films, on radio and on television, the surrogate Benny was surrounded by laughable lunatics who always provoked and aggravated him to titanic comic proportions. Announcer Don Wilson, Radio Girlfriend(& Real-World Wife) Mary Livingstone,comic sidekick Eddie" Rochester" Anderson and singer Dennis Day provided the nutty nucleus of the first situation comedy.Their characters provided the challenges from which rich comedy was mined,in every episode.
Benny once described his character as a cheap schnook. But In real life , appearing as himself on the concert stage with legends of classical music like Issac Stern and Itzhak Perlman, Benny was a true violin prodigy.
Thanks to longtime writers Sam Perrin,George Balzer,Milt Josefsberg & John Tackaberry , with producer/directors Ralph Levy and Fred de Cordova, the artistic integrity of Benny's parsimonious personage was scrupulously maintained on the radio and television versions of THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM ( he liked that word, and disdained NBC and CBS branding his seriesTHE JACK BENNY SHOW).
Like his contemporaries, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, Benny made a successful transition from network radio to network television, and like them,refused to do a weekly video show. He felt it was more of an event to appear every month or every two weeks, as opposed to showing up every seven days.
In demand, right to the day of his death, December 26, 1974, Jack Benny was still doing occasional comedy specials for NBC-TV and was set to star in the film version of Neil Simon's THE SUNSHINE BOYS.He was replaced by his longtime friend, George Burns.
Posted below , from the AATRAGON & MARILYN FAN YOU TUBE sites,are two of Benny's best television performances from his landmark, CBS-TV program, in the early 1950's.
His 1953 outing with Marilyn Monroe shows him as a seagoing romeo, who tries to find snug harbor with the star of GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES. The 1955 face-off with friend Groucho Marx shows how far cheapskate comic will go ( and will drag fellow contestant Irene Tedrow) to win the jackpot on YOU BET YOUR LIFE. Enjoy!!!!!
Jack Benny VS Groucho - April 3, 1955
CBS-TV - LIVE FROM TELEVISION CITY
Jack Benny Meets Marilyn Monroe - Sept.13,1953
CBS-TV - LIVE FROM TELEVISION CITY
Saturday, July 24, 2010
FROM HOLLYWOOD!!! THE HEART OF THE ENTERTAINMENT WORLD!!! THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE!!!!
That emphatic greeting, voiced first by announcer Dick Tufeld and , later, by the legendary Ernie Anderson, heralded the biggest and most successful , weekly variety show that ABC-TV ever mounted: THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE.
Like so many things in network television, it was born of desperate need.
In the Fall of 1963, ABC-TV signed comic icon Jerry Lewis , fresh from incredible success guest hosting on NBC-TV's TONIGHT SHOW. He was hired to star in a LIVE, 2 hour, Saturday night variety show, telecast in B&W from the refurbished Hollywood Playhouse Theater in Los Angeles. THE JERRY LEWIS SHOW was one of the most anticipated offerings of the 1963-64 television season.The program was kinetic in pace and lavish in production. It was almost instantly rejected by the audience and was cancelled after three months.
So,if you are, as ABC-TV was in late 1963, America's third placed television network,left with a gaping hole in Saturday prime time and a multi-million dollar investment in a vacant theater, what do you do?
You'd fill one of those open hours, and your renovated stage space, with a weekly variety show, designed to showcase the greatest and most eclectic array of talent in show business, hosted by a globally recognized superstar, each week.
That's just what ABC-TV opted to do, creating THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE.From January 4, 1964, until the curtain came down on February 7, 1970, producers Bill Harbach and Nick Vanoff delivered a polished, wholesome, engaging, video-variety series with a kaleidoscopic array of performing talent and a glittering assemblage of guest hosts.
The Harbach/Vanoff team, which had worked with the innovative, inventive Steve Allen, decided to showcase unique talent in a traditional vaudeville format, They would amass rock & roll groups, opera singers , aerialists (often videotaped in the parking lot), stand-up comedians, comic sketches, and impressive production numbers, and sometimes, did it in a single episode.
The weekly guest host set the tone for the show.
Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby , Elizabeth Montgomery and Fred Astaire were among those who made appearances as performer/hosts. The Rolling Stones made their American TV debut on the show, as did a young Raquel Welch, who served as a"billboard girl" on the show. The show helped to solidify Saturday-night viewing for ABC-TV, along with THE LAWRENCE WELK SHOW and THE KING FAMILY.
Judy Garland hosted hosted THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE in 1965 and,again, in 1966. Much has been written about her being a tortured soul with a superlative talent. Her second and final hosting stint was on May 7, 1966 with guest stars including her former MGM colleague Van Johnson, comedian Jack Carter and rocker Johnny Rivers singing his hit theme to CBS-TV's SECRET AGENT.
This appearance was about two years after her vaunted, Emmy-nominated, Sunday night, CBS-TV, variety series was cancelled, after one season opposite NBC-TV's ratings powerhouse, BONANZA. It has been reported that she was humiliated by the cancellation. This show was one of many television appearances that helped her regain her place in the pantheon of show business and popular culture.
Here from the DENTEL2 YOU TUBE site are four clips that comprise her 1966 episode of THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE and a fifth clip with rehearsal footage. Enjoy!!!!!
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Do you read KINESCOPE HD?
Is this the first time you've found the page or do you check in more frequently?
Would you take a moment, please , to comment on this post, and just let me know if you find the blog to be fun, interesting and informative?
We've been blogging about vintage video and classic television for about 19 months and since there are so few comments, even when we record a significant number of pageviews, that we, simply, want to know what you think of our site.
Thanks for your time and attention!
Saturday, July 17, 2010
WHAT WERE NIXON AND KRUSHCHEV COOKING UP IN THE KITCHEN?- RARE VIDEO OF DIPLOMATIC DEBATE ON THE FLY - AMPEX COLOR TAPE - CIRCA 7/24/1959
Television has a limitless capacity for capturing the spontaneous and significant moments in life and delivering them to our living room screens.
It changed they way we receive and consume news and , over the decades, it has changed the substance, style and form of the news, itself.
Television and journalism were,seemingly, made for each other.
From the first flickering,B & W , LIVE scenes of the 1948 Presidential nominating conventions, to the grainy, filmed images of American solders fighting in Korea, to Edward R. Murrow's daring display of technological wizardry , that allowed his viewers the opportunity to be the first people in human history to share a LIVE, simultaneous view of the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans , television , the news and the viewing audience were bonded at the molecular level.
On July 24th, 1959, an RCA COLOR television camera and an early AMPEX COLOR VIDEOTAPE RECORDER were in the right place at the right time, when two cold-warriors committed an act of global news. The right place turned out to be The American National Exhibition in Moscow's Sokolniki Park.
This event was a ground-breaking American trade show, extolling the virtures of capitalism and it's technological advancements , that was held in the heart of the communism's homeland The commercial cornucopia sheltered from the scorching Moscow sun under a glittering, gold geodesic dome.
As they toured the RCA WHIRLPOOL, "Miracle Kitchen," a $250,000 monument to the advantages of a more mechanized life for MOM in the post-Sputnik, push-button era, American Vice President Richard M. Nixon,and Soviet Premiere Nikita Khrushchev faced-off in what has come to be known as the KITCHEN DEBATES.
Through interpreters,and in a most informal, almost affable atmosphere, they engaged each other on the visions and values of their competing ideologies. Today, we would expect that kind of confrontation , with true global impact, to be captured on camera.
Not the case in 1959.
But,as it has often been the case, in recent years , tape was rolling on this day.
AMPEX COLOR VIDEO TAPE was rolling on the Odd Couple of International Commerce. That tape, once thought to be lost or decayed beyond all recognition, has been restored, in its full, polychromatic glory by AMPEX.This,as we are about observe the 51st anniversary of the spontaneous, diplomatic throw-down.
Here, below, are two clips from the AMPEX DATA SYSTEMS YOU TUBE site, that comprise the historic events of , what some refer to as, The Summit over the sink. Enjoy!!!!!
BONUS - AN INTERVIEW WITH JACK MASSEY, ORGANIZER OF THE 1959 AMERICAN EXHIBITION
Monday, July 12, 2010
In the Fall of 1959, long before Capt. James Tiberius Kirk piloted the Starship Enterprise from the sound stages of the Paramount Pictures lot to exotic planets , where no man had gone before, and long after Captain Video took his Video Rangers on primitive voyages through paper mache galaxies, in a DuMont-Designed rocketship, CBS-TV launched a thoughtful,pragmatic, drama about the human factor in exploring the universe,called MEN INTO SPACE.
The 30 minute, B&W series , which took almost a blue collar view of space exploration,was rooted in science-lab fact, not space-opera fiction. No atomic monsters, no ray-guns,and no alien life forms were seen. The action is placed just ten minutes into the future. Observers of MEN INTO SPACE say the story lines had clues indicating that the first moon landing, in the the show's universe, happened in the mid-1970's.
The consistently engaging show starred film actor and Chrysler spokesman,William Lundigan, as an everyman astronaut,named Col. Edward McCauley and Joyce Taylor as his dutiful wife Mary. As for the Angie Dickenson connection, the sylphen siren, who WASabout to co-star with Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack in the 1960 version of Ocean's Eleven was cast as Col. McCauley's wife in the pilot film for MEN INTO SPACE. She was replaced by wholesome Ms.Taylor for the run of the series.
MEN INTO SPACE, was produced by Louis J, Rachmill,who enlisted the advice of several distinguished scientists from the military and industry, to add authenticity to the series. The program's special effects and star-scapes were meticulous in their execution.With a robust score by composer David Rose, the show was sold to the Tiffany Network by one of the supreme companies in TV syndication, ZIV Productions, which also mounted HIGHWAY PATROL,SEA HUNT, and BAT MASTERSON .
The short-lived program blasted-off at 8:30pm EDT on Wednesday night, September 30 1959, opposite the benign ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET on ABC-TV and the energetic, original PRICE IS RIGHT hosted by Bill Cullen on NBC-TV.
Despite America's all-consuming, fascination with Project Mercury's plan to put the first American into orbit, the serious and austere MEN INTO SPACE crash landed, having been canceled after one year in space and on the air.
Here, posted below, are 3 clips from the VERBUSEN YOU TUBE site, which comprise the debut episode of CBS-TV's MEN INTO SPACE.Enjoy!!!!!
Thursday, July 1, 2010
OLD BLUE EYES IN LIVING COLOR ON CBS - FRANK SINATRA - A MAN AND HIS MUSIC PART II - CBS-TV - CIRCA DECEMBER 7, 1966
Why would Frank Sinatra need to stage a comeback, when he'd never really been away?
It was a popular question in the mid-1960's and KINESCOPE HD , who is a world-class F.O.F ( Fan of Frank:), isn't sure the answer is known, even to this day.
Much has been written about that period in our country and in Old Blue Eyes' career, when the nascent youth movement was sending seismic ripples through American society, and popular music was at the epicenter of that tectonic shift.
Critics said that the problem with the 1965 Sinatra , Dear Frank , was not in your stars, but in your charts.
No,not the astrological charts.
They felt Sinatra had moved, quickly, from the pinnacle to passe as rock, roll and soul artists from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones to James Brown topped the very record sales charts that Sinatra once dominated.
They complained that the swingy, brassy musical charts that Gordon Jenkins and Nelson Riddle arranged for Frank's albums were feeling outdated and archaic.
There was no more expedient way to reach a new audience and demonstrate relevance in the mid-1960's than to step in front of a network, television camera and engage the video viewers.
On November 24, 1965, The Chairman of the Board sauntered center stage in NBC's vast Studio 1 in Burbank, Ca and ignited a new and vibrant phase in his storied career with the CBS-TV special FRANK SINATRA - A MAN AND HIS MUSIC.
The song selection was fun,familiar, and welcome: "I've Got You Under My Skin," "I Get A Kick Out Of You," "My Kind Of Town," "Come Fly With Me," "Witchcraft," and "The Lady Is A Tramp.
But wait, Image Orthicon Breath...Did you just say...???
That's right - The 1966 Emmy award winner, for Outstanding Musical Program, was videotaped at NBC, but aired on CBS. Apparently it as the preference of both the star and his legendary producer/director Dwight Hemion, to work in the Peacock's Palace, but deliver their efforts on the Tiffany Network.
The stunning show introduced Sinatra to a new generation of viewers, cast him in a more playful, contemporary light and caused CBS-TV to order a sequel for the 1966 season.
On June 5th & 6th of 1966, Old Blue Eyes, Hemion and the production team were joined by the next Sinatra progeny to voice a chart-busting tune, daughter Nancy, as they returned to NBC's Burbank studios to record FRANK SINATRA - A MAN & HIS MUSIC - PART II.
The program , which CBS-TV aired on December 7, 1966, introduced American television viewers to a song that would become a Sinatra standard, Dean Kay's,"That's Life." This show was austere, while opulent, in production values and featured the dual orchestras of Gordon Jenkins and Nelson Riddle on a sprawling set.Part of it was even staged in the manner of a recording session. Above all, when not rhapsodizing, Sinatra's repartee connected with the audience in a personal, one on one conversation.
The 60 minute, COLOR effort was an unqualified success in the estimation of the audience,the critics, the network ,the sponsor (Budweiser Beer) and ,of course , Sinatra, himself.
In this, and the many television specials to follow, Frank Sinatra re-established himself as a sovereign, global force in music, media and in the minds of an appreciative audience.
Here, posted below, from a variety of YOU TUBE sites, are four excerpts of the 1966 CBS-TV special, FRANK SINATRA-A MAN AND HIS MUSIC PART II. Enjoy!!!!!!
FLY ME TO THE MOON
YOU'RE NOBODY TIL SOMEBODY LOVES YOU
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN THE WORLD
LUCK BE A LADY