Tuesday, August 12, 2014
There is no worse circumstance for a King than to suffer exile within the borders of his own land.
In 1968, show business was abuzz with talk of an Elvis Presley "come-back" special.
The only problem was that he had never gone away.
He was still making gold records, his films still made money and he was a staple in Las Vegas nightclubs, but this sovereign of Rock N' Roll Royalty had been a casualty of conquering hoards:
The British Invasion, spearheaded by some of his biggest acolytes, like the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, had dislodged him on the music charts, the radio dial and even at the box office.
His voice was, and is, timeless, but his style of music fell into disfavor, as Teens rocked out to the Mersey Beat and some even deserted him for the Motown Sound.
In 1968, Presley's longtime mentor and manager, Col. Tom Parker made a deal to bring Elvis back to Television, starring in a LIVING COLOR special for NBC-TV, called ELVIS, that was sponsored by the Singer Sewing Machine Company.
The hour was a concert with some musical vignettes which pre-saged the MTV videos that would come two decades later.
Shot on NBC's cavernous Stage 4 in Burbank, CA, the glossy and fast-paced hour was Produced and Directed by the versatile Steve Binder, who had, four years earlier, brought the hit T.A.M.I. Show to theaters via the Electronovision technology.
Binder had extensive experience in more traditional comedy/variety programming, having just come from three years of Directing CBS-TV's DANNY KAYE SHOW. His producing partner, Bones Howe, supervised the musical mix.Video veteran, Bob Finkel, who oversaw the DINAH SHORE CHEVY SHOW on NBC-TV served as Executive Producer.
There is nothing we can say about Elvis or his incomparable talents that his performance can't say more eloquently or with greater clarity.
This NBC special garnered a huge audience and re-kindled the King's career.
The rest, as it is often said, is Television History.
Here from the JULIAN R. YOU TUBE site is ELVIS. Enjoy!!!!:)
Monday, July 7, 2014
SIGNALING THE FUTURE - TELSTAR IN TAKES TV INTO ORBIT - NBC/CBS/BBC/EUROVISION - CIRCA JULY 23, 1962
On the afternoon of July 23, 1962 the World shrunk in a matter of minutes, as Telstar, the first global communications satellite in human history, connected the USA and Europe for an inter-continental, cultural exchange, of sorts.
It was a LIVE program that started with video of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, followed by coverage of a Phillies-Cubs Game in Chicago and a greeting from President Kennedy in Washington DC.
While Telstar orbited the Earth every 90 minutes, it could only maintain a useable signal between the American Uplink in Andover, Maine and the UK receive site in Goonhilly Downs for a 20 minute interval.
Later that same day , the first ,Trans-Atlantic phone call, made via Satellite, was placed. Telstar was only in service for about six months, until it's transistors failed in February of 1963.
But, it only needed 20 minutes to change the course of history. Here is a link to NBC News coverage of this seismic shift in communications technology that brought the continents closer together without their moving an inch!!!:)
Saturday, June 14, 2014
We all wanted to win the Race for Space, but nobody wanted to win the Race for Extinction.
The Kennedy years were kinetic. The change it fostered was a threat to those who found comfort in the status quo.
Prime time, network television was the nation's primary source for benign ,escapist entertainment.
In 1960, TV's undisputed King of Comedy was comedian, singer, actor, hoofer, philanthropist, real estate mogul, Bob Hope, and he never disappointed his audience or his sponsor.
Nobody would accuse him of delivering scathing satire, but he reflected the country's penchant for poking holes in the inflated egos of Politicians, Movie Stars and whomever occupied the Kremlin.
He was the Comic In Chief who would entertain America's military wherever in the world they served.
Bob Hope was beloved for that commitment, alone.
Here, from the 20th Century Vision You Tube Channel is a 1960 outing of THE BOB HOPE BUICK SHOW, in LIVING MONOCHROME.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Yeah, they radiate a sense of entitlement.
Baby Boomers ( like me ) know better.
The world was in Black and White until the day in 1966 when a relative or friends parents bought a COLOR TV.
Okay, maybe we have that entitlement thing going , too.
But in the Fall of 1954, the mighty CBS Television Network was still green with envy and red with embarrassment, almost a year after the F.C.C rejected the CBS mechanical system for non-compatible COLOR TELEVISION, and selected the RCA electronic system of LIVING COLOR TV as the national, broadcast standard.
CBS founder William Paley was livid that his professional rival David Sarnoff won the battle for COLOR TV, but wanted to know if tinted television could make for a greener bottom line.
CBS spent the next three years producing COLOR episodes of B&W shows on the Tiffany Network's primetime and daytime schedule.
One of the most popular CBS series was THE BURNS AND ALLEN SHOW, featuring one of America's favorite comedy couples.
The only installment of their show to be produced in COLOR aired just once on October 4, 1954.
By 1958, Paley decided to cast the world into shades of gray and shut down COLOR production.
He was tired of losing face, if not audience, to Sarnoff.
CBS would, when confronted with a FULL COLOR schedule on NBC, finally committed to COLOR in the Fall of 1966.
Here, from the VINTAGE COMEDY VAULT You Tube Site, is only episode of THE BURNS AND ALLEN SHOW to be produced and aired, as announcer Harry Von Zell says under credits,"in full color on color television receivers and in compatible black & white on regular black & white receivers."
Friday, April 25, 2014
When ABC-TV was viewed as less than a network, in the 1960's, the then third-placed web had but one glittering, crowning jewel on its prime time schedule.
Amid an ocean of winsome sitcoms, urbane spies, world weary cops and wholesome cowboys.
It was a throwback to a simpler, but perhaps more elegant, time in show business: a star-studded vaudeville revue.
Produced in modest studio that was a retro-fitted theater, ABC-TV engaged two of the brightest producers in commercial television to mount a bombastic variety show , replete with comedy, music and novelty acts that would be in league with legends like Sullivan and Caesar.
There would be rotating hosts who ran the gamut from Fred Astaire to Bing Crosby to Adam West in his Batman persona.
Bill Harbach and Nick Vanoff, both veterans of Steve Allen's landmark TONIGHT SHOW on NBC-TV, were charged shaping a show that would embody classic showbiz values ,while attracting viewers from the Baby-Boom generation,.
What they created was THE HOLLYWOOD PALACE.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Jack Benny was a master of comic timing.
He knew how to seed and sustain a laugh.
He could turn a pause into a punchline.
He knew when to exit...and as he proved in 1966 , he knew when to return.
America's favorite cheapskate, the comic genius who had starred in Vaudeville, Films, and who helped to define comedy on Radio, had not done television for over a year, when
he stepped before the LIVNG COLOR cameras at NBC's sprawling Burbank,CA facility to tape THE JACK BENNY HOUR in the Fall of 1966.
The full episode posted below, from the JILL LACHENMAYER YOU TUBE site, is a prime example of the gentle, but absurd ( and sometimes, ad-libbed ) comedy that made Benny a comic Icon and a television pioneer.
His guests included comedian Phyllis Diller, singer Trini Lopez and The Smothers Brothers ( before they were controversial ).
American Motors was his sponsor and this Special pre-empted a first-run episode of STAR TREK, trading a Starship Captain for a King of Comedy.
You'll also note that on this occasion Benny's venerable theme song, LOVE IN BLOOM, was replaced with an upbeat instrumental theme that had a swinging sixties beat.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
DINAH SHORE GIVES CHEVROLET A LIFT ACROSS THE U.S.A - THE CHEVY SHOW STARRING DINAH SHORE - NBC-TV - CIRCA 1/13/57
At NBC-TV in the late 1950's and early 1960's, nothing could have been finer than Sunday night with Dinah ...The vibrant,vivacious Dinah Shore.
If Lucille Ball was CBS's First Lady of Comedy, Dinah Shore was NBC's Queen of Musical Variety.
The Chevrolet Motorcar Division of General Motors put the honey-voiced hostess in the driver's seat ,when it placed THE CHEVY SHOW on the NBC Prime time Schedule in 1956.
It proved to be a video showcase for Ms. Shore's manifold talents and a video showroom for Chevy's, Eisenhower-era, chrome carriages that came from Detroit, complete with Body by Fisher.
She was not the first woman to carry a weekly comedy/music series on network television.
Kate Smith and Martha Raye were there first.
Chevrolet provided her custom built theme song...SEE THE U.S.A IN YOUR CHEVROLET...but it was her inspired choice to seal every show with a big, smooch of a kiss that became a trademark for her myriad viewers and a target for a multitude of satirists.
Director Bob Banner used THE CHEVY SHOW to experiment with some high octane video effects that were ahead of their time. The show was one of the network's first, weekly series to be produced in RCA COMPATIBLE COLOR and ,subsequently, in LIVING COLOR ON NBC. Banner employed , early, COLOR CHROMA-KEY techniques and , often, he involved the crew and the studio technology in an attempt to enliven and enrich the staging of musical numbers and comedy sketches.
Here , from the SPIFFYKITCHEN YOU TUBE SITE, is the first block of the January 13, 1957 episode of THE DINAH SHORE CHEVY SHOW on NBC-TV. Check out the opening number and what may be the the most unusual use of a fork-lift as a prop in early television!!!
The show was produced LIVE FROM NEW YORK and yes, the announcer is the incomparable Don Pardo.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
HAIL,CAESAR - THE PASSING OF A COMIC GENIUS - YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS/CAESAR'S HOUR - NBC-TV - 1950 TO 1957
Sid Caesar was as close to comic royalty as America could offer in the early 1950's
At the dawn of Television, Sid Caesar was ,both, the infant mediums king of sophisticated comedy and its sovereign of social satire.
Sadly, this week, so many of us have come to praise Caesar , and as his Family must bury him.
Sid Caesar, video visionary, comedian extraordinaire , actor, musician,writer , producer and two-time Emmy Award recipient ,passed away at age 91, in his Beverly Hills home.
His landmark 1950, NBC-TV series, YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS, stands some 64 years later as a much-heralded, truly hilarious example of Television at its best and its funniest.
If , in life, a person is known by the company they keep, Caesar's stellar reputation is buttressed by a renowned writing staff , that was early television's equivalent of the Algonquin Round Table.
Among those superlative comedic scribes who worked in the service of Caesar were Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart, Woody Allen and Neil Simon.
The Writer's Room, which was housed at NYC's City Center, was Sid Caesar's cauldron of comedy.
A brass plaque, placed by the TV LAND cable network, now commemorates the comedic combustion that erupted inside those offices.
It was where young writers forged brilliant careers and life-long loyalty to the demanding, but nurturing boss.
It was survival of the funniest.
Because funny was all that mattered.
Sid Caesar was a master of multi-lingual double talk, had the timing of an atomic clock and could bring life to any character written by his stellar staff.
The only persona that he was reticent to portray in public was Sid Caesar. Like many comedians, he was riddled with doubt about himself, while confident and comfortable in any other role he essayed.
His first network series... 1949's ADMIRAL BROADWAY REVIEW, seen on DUMONT AND NBC was cancelled for being too successful. The president of Admiral Corp., Russ Sirigusa, cancelled the show at the end of its first season. He told Caesar that the show was such a hit and helped to sell so many television sets, that Admiral could not keep pace with consumer demand,. It was either expand their manufacturing plant or cancel the show. He cancelled the show.
When the incomparable Sylvester "Pat" Weaver took over NBC-TV in 1950, he envisioned a Saturday night , comedy revue with music that would air LIVE from NYC, Weaver enlisted Caesar and producer Max Liebman to create what became YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS.
Caesar and Liebman had staged the kind of topical, energetic Revues that Weaver hoped to bring to NBC, and they had done it to excellent reviews and solid box office.
Liebman recruited co-stars Imogene Coco, Carl Reiner and Howard Morris.
It was a contentious , but successful partnership. Caesar guided the comedy and Liebman supervised the television production and crafted the musical elements.
YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS did smart, penetrating satire that resonated with the first generation of television viewers.
Viewers who chose to stay home on Saturday Night.
The audience was, from 1948 to 1954, comprised of early adopters who were, Eastern ( as rapidly as it grew, it took time for TV to spread across America ), educated and affluent.
You see, the first RCA television sets were monochrome receivers with a giant 12 inch screen and cost almost $300.00 in 1950.
That was the price of a used Chevy for most Americans.
Caesar helped to grow the medium, cultivate the audience , and sell a lot of Oldsmobile's ( his primary sponsor :) .
But Sid Caesar , the person and the performer, was more about comedy and culture than cash and commerce.
This meant that while other TV comedians were doing video vaudeville, Caesar and his legion of writers could target popular culture and spoof everything from America's burgeoning fascination with foreign films to the cryptic poetry of the Beat Generation, to the emerging mores of post-WWII, suburban life.
A new, LIVE show was produced 39 weeks per year. The stress on the Star led him into a spiral of alcohol and prescription drug addiction that he successfully overcame.
For all that has been written about the halcyon times when Sid Caesar ruled Saturday night TV, he required only two things of the material that his writers provided .
It had to be smart and funny.
Those are two traits that Sid Caesar also had in common with his writing staff and his audience.
Here , from the JAMES STEEBER YOU TUBE site, is one of Sid Caesar's earliest and most hilarious , television performances. It's from 1949's ADMIRAL BROADWAY REVIEW .
It is the exuberant story of a Five Dollar Date, as it is recalled from 1939 and the dour version of that night on the town as it would be repeated in 1949.
Sunday, February 9, 2014
A HARD DAYS NIGHT - THE COMEDIC COUPLE THAT FOLLOWED THE BEATLES DEBUT - THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW - CBS-TV - CIRCA 2/9/64
On a cold February night in 1964, a revolution in music erupted at New York's Ed Sullivan Theater.
This revolution was televised.
As a matter of fact, it was seen by millions of viewers, Coast to Coast on the CBS Television Network and in Canada, too.
THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW, originally christened as THE TOAST OF THE TOWN. was America's Video Vaudeville Theater from it's debut on the Tiffany Network in 1948 , right through it's finale in the early1970's.
While the host of the eponymous Sullivan show was derided for being stoic and awkward on the air, Ed Sullivan was a Broadway Columnist who had an amazing, prescient, journalistic ability to identify talent that was headed to stardom.He was aggressive enough to ,often,book them on his stage before any competitor.
Americans tuned in each Sunday night to see singers, dancers, comedians, acrobats, ventriloquists, circus performers and so much more.
On February 9th, 1964, Ed Sullivan showed his audience the future and it was embodied by four lads from Liverpool, England , who changed Music forever : THE BEATLES
It was the first of three consecutive appearances on the top-rated, video variety show.
THE BEATLES were, as you know, and as history has proven, more than a fad. They altered the DNA of Music for generations.
Imagine that you were also appearing as a performer on that vaunted episode, which was watched by more than 45% of the American viewing audience.
The comedy team and, married duo ,of Mitzi McCall and Charlie Brill were booked to appear and perform their popular act, that night.
There could be no better showcase for the respected team that was seeking a bigger, brighter spotlight.
Now, imagine that you were given the unenviable task of following THE BEATLES, that night.
That's exactly what happened to Mitzi McCall and Charlie Brill.
In this clip from the MOVIE MAGG YOU TUBE site, they recount their tale of what happened when the followed the Four Mod Men who Rocked America!!!
As a bonus, from the Archive of American Television,
here is award-winning, Director/Producer John Moffitt recalls
that explosive night, when he was a Production Assistant on Sullivan's
"Really Big Show!!!"
Saturday, January 11, 2014
TAPE WAS ROLLING - FIRST AMERICAN CRIME DRAMA RECORDED ON TAPE - DIAGNOSIS:UNKNOWN - CBS-TV - CIRCA JULY 5, 1960
In the hopeful summer of 1960, CBS-TV traded the bright lights of a Broadway theater for the dimly lit recesses of a pathologists lab, with surprising and entertaining results.
DIAGNOSIS: UNKNOWN was a B&W,CBS-TV mystery hour , that replaced Garry Moore's vibrant , NYC -based,variety show in the summer of 1960 and showcased Patrick O'Neal as a suave, urbane pathologist who solves crime by scientific method.
AS Dr. Daniel Coffee, O'Neal methodically navigated the byzantine clues that each case offered, while he engaged in badinage with upper class suspects from New York society.
Bearded and attired in a white lab coat, Dr. Coffee was portrayed as a pungent blend of an idealistic scientist and world-weary investigator.
Shot on videotape in NYC, at a time when most hour-long, crime dramas were shot on film in Los Angeles, it features early video performances by Tom Bosley and Larry Hagman, before they became two of the most famous faces and beloved leading men in television history.
You will also recognize some famous faces of fifties TV, like game show stalwart, Phyllis Newman and versatile character actor, Chester Morris. He played one of the medium's first and best crime fighters, when his BOSTON BLACKIE theatrical films came to the LATE SHOW and the LATE, LATE SHOW on local stations.
There were even some exterior elements shot on videotape ,when the most portable of field production systems filled a 1/2 ton truck.
The taught and stylish effort was directed by the legendary Fielder Cook.
From the SCREEN STAGE AND SONG YOU TUBE site, here is DIAGNOSIS:UNKNOWN
Wednesday, January 1, 2014
The F.C.C's , offer its approval of the RCA/NBC system for compatible COLOR TELEVISION on December 17, 1953 at 5:32 P.M, EST, which allowed viewers with monochrome receivers to see the same shows as those with COLOR sets( albeit in black & white ).
A few weeks later, NBC seized upon the palette and pageantry of Pasadena, California's annual TOUNRAMENT OF ROSES PARADE to produce the nascent medium's first West to East coast, LIVE COLORCAST.
It was a perfect video vehicle to introduce the vital and vibrant technology to those few who already owned COLOR sets , those gathered to watch in RCA viewing centers at hotels or retail outlets and those who aspired to bring color into their TV viewing routine.
Above is an image of the RCA assembly line , constructing the model CT-100, the first generation of consumer, COLOR sets made by the electronics giant. It debuted on the market in April of 1954, to positive reviews and at an initial cost of $1000.00, but quickly was discounted to $495.00 , in an effort to increase sales.
You could buy a car for the price of a COLOR -TV in 1954.
Here from the TV DAYS YOU TUBE SITE and THE KINESCOPE HD ARCHIVES is a clip from the RCA Documentary, SIGHTSEEING THROUGH COLOR TELEVISION , which details the day that that America was introduced to COMPATIBLE COLOR TELEVISION.