Saturday, November 5, 2011

Television In Its Infancy



Back in the day when Television was very young so was I. Very few had seen TV outside of the New York World's Fair of 1939-1940. But after WWII TV was out on the market. We didn't get our first TV until 1950, a RCA 16 inch screen. The size was the biggest at that time except for projections. Around 1948 I was invited to see a Yankee baseball game on a 10 or 12 inch screen. It goes without saying everything was in black and white. We were used to listening to baseball games on the radio where the announcers were very descriptive but on TV the announcers said very little. They let the pictures speak for themselves. I remember being invited to see Willie Pep fight Sandy saddler for the Featherweight championship. A terrific fight which Pep won although his face looked as though it went through a meat grinder after 15 rounds.



Come 1950 my parents brought the brand new, large screen, RCA into the house. We had CBS, NBC, Dumont, ABC, Channels 2,4,5,and 7. I think we had the New York Daily news local station on Channel 11. Channel 13 was a new jersey station that we received with a lot of snow in the picture. There wasn't public TV in those days and the privately owned station had a weak signal. Channel 13 broadcast a lot of kid shows. Broadcasting didn't start until 8 or 9 in the morning. Before the broadcasting day started there was just a test pattern on the screen and a loud noise. The day started and ended with a rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner". The Broadcasting day was over about midnight.



Wrestling was a very popular thing back then with Antonino Rocca, Gene (Mr. America) Stanley, Lord Leslie Carlton from New York during the middle of the week with the weekend, Saturday, broadcasting from Chicago featuring, Buddy Rodgers and Chief Don Eagle who by the way sported a Mohawk coiffure.
Tuesday evening belonged to Mr. Television, Milton Berle. Channel 5, Dumont, was a network owned by a maker of TV sets. Some of their early programming featured Jackie Gleason, Morey Amsterdam and Art  Carney but eventually they went out of the business of broadcasting and eventually manufacturing. Dumont lost out to the giants in both fields but for a while they put up a good fight. John Cameron Swayze was a news-broadcaster of some fame until he gave it up to become the spokesperson of Timex watches. He had the early evening news around 6PM. By 11PM the main part of the broadcasting day was over but they had a fifteen minute wrap-up with a news program which I remember being anchored by John K. M. McCaffery on CBS. Then a few days a week there was program called "The Continental" voiced over by an Italian character actor with a very sexy contintental voice, this ran for fifteen minutes. The Contintental was never seen and the view point was his as he opened the door to his apartment greeting a very sexy looking young woman. They have a glass of Champagne and he'd light her cigarrete and they would kiss and then I think she would leave, without being explicit it was very sexy, in fact I used some of his lines on some dates I went out with.  Eventually CBS installed a late night movie with Leroy Anderson's "The Syncopated Clock" as the theme song and called the show "The Late Show". NBC under the tutelage of Pat Weaver tried something very new, a variety, comedy show called "Broadway Open House" that had comedian Jerry Lester hosting it for three nights a week and Morey Amsterdam for two. I think the show was on from 11PM to 1AM. Morey left and Jerry Lester took over for five nights. Andy Williams got his start on the Amsterdam segments (I think) and Morey wowed them with his cello and his "Yuk A Puck" humor. Lester had a dumb (really not so dumb) blonde called Dagmar, a gimmick with bean bags and a nerdy looking conductor called Milton Delugg, who wrote among other things "Orange Colored Sky" which was recorded by Nat King Cole among many. This was really the start of "The Tonight Show", Steve Allen came a few years later but "Broadway Open House" was the brainchild and it started in 1950.




It was a slower time back then. No cable new on 24 hours a day seven days a week. The newspapers were still our main source for news and details of the world's happennings. We didn't have computers or iPods, or Tablets or Kindles but we survived very nicely, thank you. Our music was sweeter and I think more poetic and slightly askew with the thought of romance and love. We don't live in the past but we shouldn't forget it because the past is the foundation of where we are at today. Sometimes it is good to reflect. By the way, cable was started so that those who lived on the out-skirts of major towns could receive the regular TV programming of the day. The regular signal couldn't service them.







I want to end with the lyrcs of Orange Colored Sky" and suggest you Utube Nat King Cole's rendition and maybe Broadway Open House for some good entertainment and music.



I was walking along, minding my business,
When out of an orange-colored sky,
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
Wonderful you came by.

I was humming a tune, drinking in sunshine,
When out of that orange-colored view
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
I got a look at you.

One look and I yelled "Timber"
"Watch out for flying glass"
Cause the ceiling fell in and the bottom fell out,
I went into a spin and I started to shout,
"I've been hit, This is it, This is it,I've been hit!"

I was walking along, minding my business,
When love came and hit me in the eye,
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
Out of an orange-colored sky.

One look and I yelled "Timber"
"Watch out for flying glass"
Cause the ceiling fell in and the bottom fell out,
I went into a spin and I started to shout,
"I've been hit, this is it, this is it,I've been hit!"

I was walking along, minding my business,
When love came and hit me in the eye
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
Out of an orange-colored, purple-striped, pretty green polka-dot sky
Flash! Bam! Alakazam! and goodbye



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