It’s hard to realize in the 21st Century where children are using computers and smart phones to watch what we call television and movies, that all us Boomers looked forward to after school was getting home in time to turn on a round-tubed black and white television set to watch puppet shows, westerns, and sometimes programs related to the future of space travel. The device called television in 1950 was only two years old when I was born into its tracker beam, as they would say years later on Star Trek. Everything that I would eat, drink, and use in everyday life seemed to be influenced by what I was watching on television.
My first realization that my television past didn’t exist anymore was during my first visit to the Paley Center in the 1980s. For some reason I thought you could just walk in ask to see some of the old kid shows, Westerns and dramas I remembered from my youth. What I quickly learned was that there wasn’t a museum or library in the country that housed the complete history of television or film, it just didn’t exist.
Saving TV History with Ira Gallen 1998
The sad fact as you’ll learn is that most of the networks, TV stations, production companies, and ad agencies that produced and distributed many of these classic TV shows, films and commercials simply just threw them all away. There didn’t seem to be any reason to keep them around, when new product was the main concern. Plus all those films were gathering dust in some old warehouse and the storage bills were outrageous, so the norm was throw it away or burn it.
When I began my quest as a soon-to-be historian the American Film Institute and cable television was just getting started in the 1970’s, and something called video stores and home recording devices were on the rise. The last thing on anyone’s mind was to collect personal items from a past that was a part of our lives only a decade earlier, but that was soon to change in a big way.
It’s a shame but television preservation takes a back seat to feature film preservation, especially the early fifties television history that is decomposing at the Library of Congress that houses the NBC collection at this point in time because they’re so primitive there’s no cash incentive to save it any further. You don’t have the leading directors and producers in television today trying to preserve The Colgate Comedy Hours or Broadway Open House with Jerry Lester.
The Breakfast Club
Decomposing Norman Mailer CBS Camera Three Interview 1969
FIREBALL FUN-FOR-ALL Olsen and Johnson
AMAHL AND THE NIGHT VISITORS 1951
Roy Rogers Dale Evens Variety Show
THE BOB CROSBY SHOW (1950s)
Bandleader Bob Crosby, younger brother of Bing,
Kate Smith Evening Hour with Jackie Gleason 1950
THE GARRY MOORE SHOW
ART FORD TV Host talks about his career with Ira H. Gallen 1989
The George Gobel Shows Angela Lansburg Buddy Baer Faye Emerson
OH KAY starring Kay Westfall 1954
Choreography by Series Under Construction
ARTHUR GODFREY AND FRIENDS
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