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Historical Television Highlights

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The EDSEL Show-October 13, 1957


Here is the oldest use of videotape for network television recording in existence. The Edsel Show was recorded as it was presented live on CBS on Sunday, October 13, 1957. A TV Guide® Close-Up is shown here from the Indianapolis edition showing it aired on WCIA, Channel 3-Champaign, WISH-TV, Channel 8-Indianapolis, WTHI-TV, Channel 10-Terre Haute and WANE-TV, Channel 15-Fort Wayne.

It is truly significant because the videotape was used to delay the broadcast for viewing in the Pacific and Mountain time zones, the previously live broadcast which was broadcast live for Eastern and Central time zones. Bing Crosby did notoriously favor pre-recording his radio shows to fit his schedule. He was considered a financier and developer of audiotape for the AMPEX company to be used for his radio broadcasts. Then, by the mid-1950s, he was working with AMPEX to develop videotape recorders to bring a live broadcast look and feel to pre-recorded programming.

This is also significant for its sponsor, the Ford Motor Company, which introduced one of the largest failures of an American automobile maker in history. The Edsel was named for the son of Henry Ford and was meant to compete with the likes of General Motors Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick divisions. Unfortunately, it was introduced during an economic recession, which lowered the sales numbers of the entire automotive industry. Plus, the car developed a reputation for being less than reliable.

Enjoy this fine example of a TV special and a TV spectacular with three huge names in the music industry of the 1950s. Sinatra was enjoying a comeback after being on the skids in the early 1950s. He was now riding high after his Oscar and Golden Globe awards "From Here to Eternity" in 1953. He went on to star in several other popular films of the mid-1950s, including "Young at Heart" with Doris Day, "Suddenly" with Sterling Hayden, "The Man With the Golden Arm" and "High Society" with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. "High Society" was one of the highest-grossing movies in 1956, before this TV special. He also rejuvenated his recording career during the mid-1950s with many recorded albums with the likes of Nelson Riddle and his orchestra. 

Meanwhile, Bing Crosby was also very active in film, TV, and radio, having hosted a long-running radio variety special and appearing in the "road" pictures with Bob Hope, who makes a cameo appearance in this special. He was also a broadcast owner, purchasing KCOP-TV in Los Angeles in 1954. He also owned, for a time, KPTV in Portland, Oregon.

Rosemary Clooney began with a hit record in the early 1950s called "Come On-a My House," "Botch-a-Me," and many others. She starred with Bing Crosby in the 1950s color version of "White Christmas." She was the mother of actor Miguel Ferrer, the sister of Nick Clooney, and the aunt of actor George Clooney. 

Bing Crosby died in 1977, Frank Sinatra in 1998, and Rosemary Clooney in 2002. The Edsel was removed from production in 1960.

Edsel Show
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The Steve Allen Show

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Steve Allen was one of the 1950s and 60s favorite entertainers in radio and television, but also a composer, musician, comedian, writer, and movie actor.

He's best known for being the original host of "The Tonight Show" but also hosted his show during the late 50s and early 60s. After that, he delivered "I've Got a Secret" and "What's My Line" for CBS and wrote, produced, and hosted the PBS show "Meeting of the Minds."


If you ever watched his show, you would have known he was a pianist and composed many era standards, including "This Could Be the Start of Something Big." You probably wouldn't know he also wrote over 50 books, from novels to children's books.


He was born in 1921 in New York but listed his hometown as Chicago. He died in 2000 and was active in show business for 60 years.


Beginning in 1956, NBC would air "The Steve Allen Show" opposite "The Ed Sullivan Show" to try to chip at the ratings of a long-time CBS popular variety show. His show contributed to the TV careers of Tom Poston, Bill Dana, Pat Harrington Jr., Don Knotts, and Gabe Dell. His guest stars included Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Elvis, and other movie/TV personalities Kim Novak, Abbott, and Costello.


We show samples of "The Steve Allen Show" as the Chrysler Corporation sponsored it. To read more about Steve Allen go to Wikipedia here

From January 1956, "The Tonight Show" starring Steve Allen from Miami, Florida. Guests include Andy Williams and Eydie Gorme, with comedian George DeWitt. This would have been seen on WICS, WEEK, WGEM-TV, and KSD-TV. 
(You T

Compare the 1958 version of a space in NBC Burbank studios to how it looks in 2013 on YouTube.

"The Steve Allen Show" took place on February 9, 1958, where a tour of the new NBC Burbank, California studios was staged. Steve Allen, along with Eydie Gorme, Ann Southern, and others, performed a single shot for the tour and sang Allen's "This Could Be the Start of Something Big." The performance can be found on YouTube.YouTube.

Here is a kinescope recording of "The Steve Allen Show" from April 5, 1959. The show features regulars such as Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Gabrial Dell, Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Pat Harrington Jr., and Gene Rayburn. The episode also includes special guests such as Lenny Bruce, The Three Stooges, Connie Russell, and David Allen.

Here is a syndicated half-hour episode of "The Steve Allen Show" from the late 1950s that was originally broadcast on NBC. The video features a modern introduction to the late Steve Allen. It was aired on The Comedy Channel's predecessor in the 1980s and produced by MTM Productions. You can find it on YouTube.

Steve Allen hosted many primetime variety-type series,  including "The Steve Allen Show" on CBS, Monday-Friday from 1950-51, then a Thursday evening series from July through September of 1952. These would not be seen in mid-Illinois as there were no local TV services.

The above were broadcast on NBC from 1956 to 1960 and were seen on NBC stations across mid-Illinois, WICS, WEEK-TV, and KSD-TV. From September to December 1961, the last season would air on ABC and the stations WTVP, WTVH, and KTVI.

In 1967, he hosted an hour-long comedy series called "The Steve Allen Comedy Hour" for CBS. Supporting players included Ruth Buzzy, Louis Nye(from the original series), John Byner, and his wife, Jayne Meadows. It would air on WCIA, WMBD-TV, KMOX-TV, and WTHI-TV. 

The "Steve Allen Comedy Hour" would return to television on NBC from October 1980 to January 1981 and included a very large group of supporting actors in various comedy bits. It was broadcast on WICS, WEEK-TV, WTWO-TV, and KSD-TV.


"The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows 1946-present" by Tim Brooks and Darle Marsh

Steve Allen Show
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This 2-hour, 40-minute video is from a kinescope of a live CBS Special that was broadcast on November 15, 1952 (before any local TV stations were on the air in mid-Illinois to watch it) on CBS. It features stars from its many TV shows, which were broadcast either live or recorded on film at the facility's grand opening.

(Note: Audio might not play on some smaller devices.)

In October 2018, it was announced that CBS had decided to sell its iconic studio located in Los Angeles. By December 2018, the announcement came that CBS had sold their home for $750 million to an LA-based real estate developer, Hackman Capital Partners.

This agreement means that Hackman Capital Partners will continue to use the name "Television City," but CBS will continue to produce TV shows there, at least in the foreseeable future.

The network purchased the property in 1950, located at Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard. The facility was built for 7 million dollars.


On April 27, 2002, CBS celebrated the 50th year of CBS Television City with a variety show that included many who had worked and performed there. Carol Burnett hosted the special.

This is the oldest videotape recording in existence. The Edsel Show stars Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, and Rosemary Clooney. Produced at CBS Television City on October 13, 1957. Seen live across the USA in all time zones except the Pacific, The Edsel Show was tape-delayed for broadcast 3 hours later in the Pacific Zone. A few early videotapes were saved...most were erased and reused.

See the Edsel Show section at the top of this page

for more details.


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CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow takes us on a tour of Television City in Hollywood. The facility began its life in 1953 and became the originating studio of many of CBS's classic TV shows. 

Along with "The Jack Benny Show" and the "Art Linkletter House Party" for example, it was the home of many live and filmed TV shows.  It wasn't until some time later, in the late 1950s that videotape was used to record shows. 

Other shows included "The Price is Right," "Bold and the Beautiful," "Young and the Restless," "Smothers' Brothers," the Norman Lear shows, including "All in the Family," "Welcome Back Kotter(for ABC), "The Gong Show(for NBC), "The Carol Burnett Show," "One Day at a Time," "Threes Company"(for ABC), "Red Skelton Show," "Wheel of Fortune," "Match Game," "Family Feud," "The Twilight Zone" and " 

To see more about CBS Television City, visit the Historical TV Highlights page.


Here's a glimpse of CBS Television City in 1987, showcasing clips from the 1953 special, beloved classic shows, and memorable moments from the 1960s. This includes the Smothers Brothers' struggle with censorship, the iconic Carol Burnett sketch parodying "Gone With the Wind," and the controversial episodes of "Maude" and "The Jeffersons." (Source: YouTube)

CBS Television City

American Bandstand


"American Bandstand" was one of ABC's longest-running TV series and certainly the first musical series to feature rock and roll. It premiered on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia and was hosted by Bob Horn from 1952 to 1956, then Dick Clark. Soon after, in 1957, "Bandstand" became "American Bandstand" when it went national on ABC every afternoon Monday-Friday.

In August 1963, it would cease being a weekday series and only be seen on Saturday afternoons. The following year, it would be relocated to Los Angeles, I assume to fit the schedule and location for what would be Clark's growing empire in entertainment and production of TV series. He would also produce "Where the Action Is" and "It's Happening" for ABC in the mid-1960s.

On April 4, 1959, Edd Byrnes joined "American Bandstand" with his hit (with Connie Stevens) "Kookie, Kookie Lend Me Your Comb." Both were Warner Brothers contract actors and stars of the ABC WB series. Byrnes with "77 Sunset Strip" and Stevens with "Hawaiian Eye."

Dick Clark

Danny and the Juniors had the hit "The Hop," and this video begins with a shout-out to one of the TV stations featured on this website, KTVI, Channel 2 in St. Louis. See it here as it was broadcast in 1958, right after Channel 2 became a full-fledged ABC affiliate. This was from the prime-time version of "American Bandstand" from 1957-58.

From 1958: The Silhouettes and "Get A Job." A number one song for 2 weeks.

Dick Clark on TV Guide

This is a rare episode of "American Bandstand" that aired on March 8, 1963, from Philadelphia. During this period, the show was shortened to just thirty minutes, but by September of that year, it was expanded back to its original one-hour format. This particular episode is unique in that it is the only known surviving weekday half-hour version of the show. It is worth noting that the Top 10 segment was edited out, according to the submitter on YouTube. The show was hosted by Dick Clark, with Charlies O'Donnell serving as the announcer. (Source: YouTube)

The American Bandstand "Scrapbook Gallery"

This is a mostly complete installment of "American Bandstand" from June 18, 1966, we see Steve Alamo, Captain Beefheart, and "Love."


Here's a nearly complete installment of "American Bandstand" from August 2, 1969, as broadcast on ABC. It's missing the number one song of the week, having been blocked by YouTube for copyright issues. Once again, historic videos are being defaced by copyright issues on YouTube.


The 50th Anniversary of "American Bandstand" aired on ABC in 2002 and was the final one of the series. This is a short clip from the show's beginning featuring the guest stars of the early 2000s.

The final American Bandstand edition from the original series was seen in 1987, ending its run on ABC. It was later seen in syndication for a season with Dick Clark, then with replacement hosts. Dick Clark died in 2012 after suffering a stroke in 2004. He continued co-hosting the New Year's Eve Specials on ABC until his death.

American Bandstand


Locally Produced 
Programs for

Children's Panel Show/Cartoons Based

The first is the traditional "kids' panel show," in which at least several children would be a part of the on-camera production. Most of these shows for the kids were modeled after "Howdy Doody," with a host who would be the adult "leader" talking and relating to the local kids on the show. The host would sometimes have a co-host who was usually there as comedy relief and to help keep the show rolling as the kids would participate in games and contests between the airing of local cartoons. Sometimes, the show's theme would coincide with the cartoons being shown. You'll see examples below.

WCIA, Channel 3 late weekday afternoon kids shows included: "The Popeye Show," "Popeye's Circus," "Captain Eddy," and "Sheriff Sid."


WTVP Channel 17 broadcasts "Davey's Locker," "Space Angel," "Dick Tracy's Crimestoppers," and "Kartoon Kampus" as well as others. "Romper Room," the young children's show franchise, is also included.


WICS, Channel 20 aired "Pegwill Circus," "Pegwill Pete," "Clickity Clack(or Clicka T. Clack," "The Funny Company," "Kim's Kiddie Korner," and "Popeye and Kim."


WEEK, Channel 43/25, Peoria had the "Captain Jinks and Salty Sam Show."


WTVH, Channel 19, Peoria, was the franchise holder for "Romper Room."


KTVI, Channel 2, St. Louis broadcast "Mr. Patches."

KMOX, Channel 4, St. Louis featured "Cooky and the Captain."


KSD-TV, Channel 5, St. Louis had "Corky the Clown."


KPLR, Channel 11, St. Louis broadcast " Captain 11's Showboat."


KACY, Channel 14, Festus(St. Louis) featured "Millie and Cricket."
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Funny Company was a syndicated concept children's program that would be done locally with local hosts and kids participating. It aired on WICS with Clicka T. Clack as the host. Unfortunately, no videos of the local production are seen on Channel 20. These are the opening titles used by WICS.


This is a segment from more recent days as WEEK's children's program "Captain Jinx and Salty Sam." 

Here is "Cooky and the Captain" from KMOX-TV, Channel 4, St. Louis. It's unknown when this particular clip from videotape aired but it's definitely from the early 1960s.

This goes back to February of 1953 with someone's home movies of their child's appearance on "Romper Room" in 1953. This took place at WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Maryland. I'm hoping that someone at WTVP(WAND), WTVH(WIRL, WRAU) has similar home movies of their child's appearance on "Romper Room" or any other locally produced children's show. If you have one in a digital format, I would like to feature it here!  Please contact me!


Childrens Shows


Teen age Dance Programs

Teenager Dance/Music Shows



The second type of children's show was for teenagers. It was top 40 radio on TV as teens danced to their favorite songs of the day. 

They were all pretty much the same format, consisting of a male host who also was the disc jockey. He would interview the teens, perhaps include a "rate-a-record" review of newly released records and an occasional dance contest.

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, local TV stations would include a Saturday afternoon or sometimes a weeknight hour-long program dance program.

WCIA broadcasts "The Hop" with John Coleman and later Ed Mason.

WTVP, Channel 17 broadcast "The Frank Monte Show" and later "Marty's Dance Party."

WICS, Channel 20 aired "The Pepsi Dance Party."

WDAN-TV broadcast "Danville Bandstand."

Unfortunately, virtually no video of local dance shows exists, other than some kinescope segments from "The Hop" that were broadcast on WCIA. I don't have access to those, but I'll try. 

Local Teenage Dance Programs
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Disneyland Opening, from ABC July 17, 1955

Seeing current plans by the Disney people to reopen their parks, namely Disneyland and Disney World, it won't be like the original grand opening from 65 years ago, July 18, 1955.

This was broadcast across the ABC television network live with various guest stars, interviews, and many personal observations from Anaheim, California.

From a technical broadcast standpoint, it was an incredible logistic feat to organize and construct a network of video cables all across the park, with black and white video cameras, alongside an audio system in synch with the video and organize the writing and talent to be where they should be on cue. The communication system between everyone in the production was also built. See the video below! 

The final step was to link the production with the ABC network feed from Los Angeles(Hollywood) to master control in New York and then via network feed to the ABC affiliates, at least those with a live network feed, to be broadcast to viewers. This production would have been seen in mid-Illinois on WTVP, WBLN, KTVI, and possibly WTVH.

Enjoy this kinescope of the event, which was probably recorded to be sent to ABC affiliates that did not have a live network feed from the network.   

Curious about how the live broadcast from Disneyland on July 17, 1955, was produced? ABC produced a 14-minute documentary called "Operation Disneyland" that delves into the technical logistics behind the live TV broadcast. Whether you're in the TV production industry or involved in live field broadcasts or sporting events, it's worth checking out how it was done 65 years ago!

"Disneyland's 10th Anniversary" on "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, NBC 1965

Let's advance 10 years to "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" as broadcast on NBC. This episode celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Disneyland and is hosted by 64-year-old Walt Disney. As a side note, Mr. Disney suffered from lung cancer and died in December. 

The show doesn't include commercials, but you'll notice some product placement with Kodak cameras that sponsored the show during a good part of the 1960s.

This would have been seen on NBC affiliates in color on WICS, WCHU, WEEK-TV, WTWO, WGEM-TV, and KSD-TV. It was also seen in black and white on WICD. (Find out why it was in black and white on the History of WICD section of this site).

Disneyland Opening


Season Premiere Special, ABC, 1963-64

It’s that time of year…the network season premieres!  It’s a time of TV viewing excitement as we anticipate new episodes of your favorite shows…and a healthy mix of new shows. Except that this new TV season has been met with much less enthusiasm. The last few years have been met with far less excitement, even with the pandemic. The networks don’t promote the new seasons they used to. I miss the full-page ads in TV Guide(at least the old TV Guide that listed local stations), the ads in local newspapers, and the half-hour or hour-long promotional network infomercials that would air multiple times from late August to mid-September. 

In 1963, ABC was going through an “image” update with a schedule of some groundbreaking shows matched to the available audience each night.  Some notes along the way:

The Sunday night schedule was set up with basic family viewing beginning at 6:30 with Kurt Russell as “The Travels of Jamie McPheeters” followed by the more adult shows, each 45-minutes long, “The Arrest” and “The Trial” starring “The Rifleman” star, Chuck Conners. That was followed by a Quiz Show, “Hundred Grand.”

Monday started with classic science fiction, “Outer Limits.” I remember watching this series as an 8-year-old; several episodes scared me. That was followed by “Wagon Train” at 7:30 (CT). It had just shifted from NBC (and in color) to ABC (back to black and white, but in color the year after).  It also became a 90-minute show to compete with NBC’s 90-minute epic western “The Virginian.” At 9, it was “Breaking Point,” an hour-long medical drama.

Tuesday began with another classic, “Combat,” the World War II drama. (Remember that it was only 20 years after WWII). But not all World War II shows had to be serious, as “McHale’s Navy” followed at 7:30 pm (CT). This became one of my all-time favorite shows. At 8 pm, Jack Palance was in “The Greatest Show on Earth,” a Desilu-produced drama based on a traveling circus show. Check out the promo for this one with an incredible list of guests, including Tuesday Weld, Russ Tamblyn (“Twin Peaks”), and Robert Webber, among others. The series would go on to star a long list of past and future guests, including one of its producers, Lucille Ball. Then, at 9, it was the pilot show of  “The Fugitive” with David Janssen.

Wednesday night was “family night” on ABC with the long-running “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” at 6:30 pm, then “The Patty Duke Show” at 7. The genre changed to the game show “The Price is Right” with Bill Cullen at 7:30(originally on NBC). The attention shifted back to the adults at 8:00 with “Ben Casey,” the medical drama with Vince Edwards. “Channing” aired at 9:00, starring Jason Evers(he made many guest appearances in QM-produced dramas) and Henry Jones(later on “Phyllis”). This drama was based on events at a university.

Thursday, ABC’s successful family animated series “The Flintstones” led off the night at 6:30, followed by “The Donna Reed Show.” (Most audiences remember Donna Reed as being Jimmy Stewart's love interest in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.) It also starred Carle Betz as her doctor husband. You’ll notice Bob Crane(later on "Hogan's Heroes) as their wacky neighbor. The children of the family were Shelly Fabares (later on “Coach”), Paul Peterson (who had a couple of top 40 hits at the time), and Patty Peterson. This family sitcom aired on ABC from 1958 to 1966. At 7:30 it was “My Three Sons” where it aired from 1960-65 (moving to CBS in 1965-1972).  The variety show “The Jimmy Dean Show” followed at 9 pm. Yea, that’s the sausage king, THE Jimmy Dean.

Friday night began with the hip detective drama “77 Sunset Strip” with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Roger Smith (Ann Margaret’s husband), and Edd Byrnes (the movie “Grease”). That was followed by another detective drama “Amos Burke” starring Gene Barry (both “War of the Worlds” movies) and was one of Aaron Spelling’s first produced shows (including "The Mod Squad," "The Love Boat," "Charlie's Angels," "Fantasy Island," and many more). At 8:30, we were back to sitcoms with “The Farmer’s Daughter” starring William Windom(later in one memorable episode of "Star Trek" and many other series) and Inger Stevens(who starred in one of the most popular "Twilight Zone" episodes, "The Hitchhiker"). At 9 pm, it was “The Fight of the Week” with boxing.

Saturday night had a musical start with “Hootenanny,” a show featuring the then-popular musical genre “folk songs” at 6:30. That was followed by “The Jerry Lewis Show,” a two-hour talk/variety show that aired for only 13 weeks. It was a programming disaster for the network. A couple of notes, one of the show's writers was Dick Cavett, and it was broadcast from the same theater/studio which would serve as the broadcast home to “The Hollywood Palace” and, many years later, “The Jimmy Kimmel Show.”

Mel Brooks wrote this entire production with the animation segments produced by Chester Gould (“Dick Tracy” cartoonist). 

Edie Adams was the singer at the beginning and end of the show. She was the widow of TV comedy pioneer Ernie Kovacs, who was killed in a car accident in January of 1962. He died, leaving her with many debts. There seemed to be an effort by many of the couple's friends to employ her in commercials, TV shows, and even movies to help her free herself from her husband’s debts.

It appeared the new ABC TV season was off to a great start. You'll notice that most of the westerns were gone. All the Warner Brothers westerns were gone. The only real Western was "Wagon Train," and it was made into an epic with a full 90-minute presentation. "The Tales of Jamie McPheeters" might qualify as a Western. The only Warner Brothers series was "77 Sunset Strip." The daytime TV schedule was full at the time, with every period after 10 am with at least some type of programming. The day consisted of off-network sitcoms, dramas, game shows, and daytime serials. 

About two months into the season, a major event would stop the programming presentation for all three networks for over a week. The assassination of President Kennedy would bring the news departments to the forefront of viewing. CBS and NBC had active and established successful news departments, but ABC was playing catch-up. The Kennedy assassination would help boost the efforts of ABC News and bring respect to the once-third-string network.

Throughout Central Illinois, ABC programming could be seen on WTVP(later WAND), WTVH(later WIRL, WRAU, WHOI), and KTVI. The Quincy market, with stations KHQA and WGEM, shared the programming of ABC airing certain programs via tape delay at various weekends and late-night times.  

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(Source: YouTube and various posters and contributors.

They may be removed without notice)

ABC 1963 Season Premiere
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The CBS Color Story

CBS tried its mechanical color TV system, and even though it was perhaps slightly better at presenting color, it wasn't compatible with the then-current television system. The CBS system included using a fast-moving large disc that was somewhat dangerous, spinning at over 1400 rpm with red, green, and blue filters in radial arcs, allowing the human eye to retain the separate lit images of multicolor simultaneously. To see what the CBS color system looked like, take a side trip to the site and the CBS color converter page.

 The RCA system used in this film shows the color cameras with the RCA logos removed.  The ones used by CBS were RCA TK-40 or TK-41s and were the first television cameras able to broadcast live color images. Networks and local stations used RCA color cameras like these throughout the 1960s.

It wasn't just the cameras that had to be color models, as each camera's controlling unit (seen in the control room) and the video switcher had to be able to accept and mix the color signals coming from the camera and the camera's controlling unit, mixed and sent out across the network. The network coaxial and microwave system that allowed local television stations to accept and broadcast color had to be converted for color. Each network spent millions to make that all happen. 

Meanwhile, local TV stations were slowly being converted to broadcast in color by the mid-1950s, but only the network signal. It was still about 5-10 years before local TV stations could broadcast film (movies and syndicated TV shows) in color, then another 5-10 years before they could broadcast color from their studios.

Despite the incredible effort made by those producers and technicians in the film above, CBS would delay presenting its normal programming schedule in color until some dozen years later. William Paley, CBS Founder and President, insisted that producers of filmed programming (and commercials) pay a surcharge for the network to transmit their product in color. CBS only had a handful of studios in New York that could produce color programming. By the late 1950s, only a few specials were presented in color by CBS, with virtually none in the early 1960s.

Being produced in color would have increased the future syndication of such classic black and white CBS shows as "Perry Mason" (in which only one episode was produced in color), "Route 66," "Playhouse 90," "Gunsmoke," "Ed Sullivan Show," "Rawhide," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," with many others.

In 1965, only 3 hours of weekly color programming were broadcast on CBS.  By the fall of 1966, CBS claimed to be full color across the network. 

CBS prepared this film during the Summer of 1954 to present to affiliates and advertisers, showing the massive amount of effort and equipment it took to present any broadcast, even in black and white, but now in color. This film includes a backstage and production room view of several productions shown on CBS during the year, just after the FCC adopted and approved the black-and-white compatible color system for television broadcasts. Being compatible was the key, in that even a show produced in color could be seen in black and white for those without color television.

CBS Color
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The Roots of 


Reading the Sterling Quinlan book "Inside ABC," I learned how paralyzed ABC was competitive with the other networks in the early 1960s. Quinlan wrote, "ABC had the serious problem of lack of sufficient capital to introduce color programs into its schedule."  In 1962, ABC collected $10.7 million in profits, compared to $29 million in profit for CBS, then the year after, CBS profits rose to $41 million. CBS had the money to build its color operation, and it did by the mid-1960s.

The networks were going to be in a bidding war for Hollywood movies that would help fill the prime-time schedules in the coming years. ABC needed capital for that "war" that was coming. The costs of movie rights to Hollywood films were staggering, and ABC didn't have the money to bid or the ability to broadcast them in color. 

The budget for colorizing studios, production centers, transmitters, and bidding on theatrical films was an incredible $134 million. Another fear was corporate raiders waiting for signs of weakness to swoop up and buy the network at a bargain price.

Over the next several years, ABC and ITT wrangled over the possible merger of the companies. It became a bees nest of confrontation between the two companies, but even more so with the Department of Justice and lawmakers skeptical about such action's reasoning and logic. During that time, ABC borrowed $25 million from ITT to fully convert the network to color for the 1966-67 TV season and purchase the rights to a few Hollywood films. Even Leonard Goldenson, president of ABC, admitted that the amount was much less than needed, with $ 100 million being mentioned as a minimum investment. All of this happened during the ABC-ITT mess.  

Well, enough about that part of the story, as the merger did not go through after two years of a contentious battle between all involved. 

Let's return to the beginning of the ABC colorcast of "The Jetsons." According to "," since ABC had no way of showing/airing a color program and only a few affiliated stations could broadcast in color, a plan was put into motion involving both ABC, Hanna-Barbera and, I kid you not, NBC.  Each Sunday when "The Jetsons" aired, A 35mm master and a 16mm copy (master and a safety film) would be driven to NBC's Burbank, California studios where NBC technicians would play them simultaneously down their two AT&T video lines to ABC-New York for the east coast and central time zones. Then, later, they would do the same for the Pacific and Mountain time zones.

"The Flintstones" would benefit by being broadcast in color the same way when it aired on Friday evenings. This method would continue from late 1962 through late 1964 when ABC installed an RCA color film chain in the New York network operations studio. I'm assuming that NBC charged ABC studio production time; if it was, the cost is unknown.

Locally, WTVP Channel 17-Decatur would not broadcast a network program in color until sometime in 1965 when "The Flintstones" and "Jonny Quest" were both broadcast in color with the ABC color logo and a video text crawl with the words, "The following is a WTVP Color Presentation." 

--Doug Quick


and "Inside ABC: American Broadcasting Company's Rise to Power

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