TFTP Special: "Vincent Price's Once Upon a Midnight Scary" from CBS (Oct. 1979)

Posted to YouTube by user 'mrprice07'
Length - 46:56

Vincent Price was, of course, legendary for being associated with spookiness and horror, based on his appearance in a number of such films in the 1950s and 1960s, including "The House of Wax" in 1954 and several films based on Poe stories in the '60s. By the end of the '70s, Price's identification with such themes had reached near-camp levels, a status that certainly informs this 1979 Halloween special that he hosted.

The program is an anthology of three separate ghost stories, one classic and two contemporary: "The Ghost Belonged to Me" by Richard Peck (from 1976), "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" by Washington Irving (from 1820), and "The House With a Clock in Its Walls" by John Bellairs (from 1973). Price doesn't actually appear in any of the stories themselves, rather he appears in segments bookending the stories and provides a little bit of voiceover narration during them.

Price exploits his image to good effect in his segments, levitating a book off of a table, waking up inside a coffin, and holding a raven on his arm. As we celebrate Halloween tonight, the figure of Vincent Price and his spooky image helps us to appreciate the holiday.


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: "Suspense" from CBS (Oct. 11, 1949)

Posted to YouTube by user 'Suspense1949'
Length - 29:29

TFTP's Monochrome Monday brings you a classic black & white TV program or clip every Monday morning to kick off the week....

As we approach Halloween tomorrow night, here is an episode of the early, black-and-white dramatic anthology program "Suspense" from October of 1949--starring the legendary horror movie star Bela Lugosi in an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe's story "The Cask of Amontillado".

Half-hour dramatic anthology programs were a dime a dozen from the late-1940s through the mid-1950s. (Here's a sampling: "Armstrong Circle Theatre", "Crime Syndicated", "Fireside Theatre", "Gruen Playhouse", "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars", "The Silver Theatre".) "Suspense", with its emphasis on suspense stories, was a little different than most.

The Poe story is here updated to a World War II and immediate postwar setting (a period that was basically contemporary in 1949). Two army officers (one played by a young Ray Walston) take the deposition of a man (Romney Brent) who tells the story of how he sealed up a romantic rival (Lugosi) in the vault with the title cask. Lugosi offers a somewhat restrained performance while still providing the flair audiences by this time (nearly twenty years after "Dracula") had come to expect. (Honestly, most of it is in the accent, probably.)

Edgar Allen Poe has been a standby for spooky stories for well over 150 years, and this adaptation of one of his greatest stories does a pretty good job of providing one on the day before Halloween.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Network Sign-Off from HBO (1979)

Posted to YouTube by user 'The Museum of Classic Chicago Television'
Length - 2:09

Each Friday afternoon, TFTP signs-off for the week with a classic station sign-off segment for your enjoyment and to bid farewell until Monday...

This week instead of a local station sign-off (the most common type), here is a network sign-off for cable pay-TV network HBO from 1979. Of course, to us now, the idea of a network like HBO signing-off for the night (and really any kind of TV station) is completely bizarre. But in the early days of cable (in 1979, HBO had only been around for about four years as a national network), programming practices were still evolving.

HBO's sign-off sequence at this time did not consist of much. Here following a promo for a Martin Mull special, it consists only of an animated segment that shows different actions that people take as they turn in for the night--turning off lights, checking on sleeping children, setting alarm clock alarms, locking doors, brushing teeth. With no voiceover of any kind, just a nice relaxing musical score, it's a pretty chill and low-key way of ending a day's programming, culminating with a final logo graphic in which the "HBO" logo (an early version of the same logo the network uses to this day) goes dark letter by letter. Then the clip cuts to color bars for about the last thirty seconds.


TFTP Cable: "Pinwheel" from Nickelodeon (early-1980s)

Posted to YouTube by user 'robatsea2009'
Length - 1:22

A few weeks back we featured a block of promos from early-1980s Nickelodeon, and this clip of the opening credits from the Nickelodeon program "Pinwheel" is from that same era. The segment is light, airy, and whimsical--setting a tone that is unrecognizable from the Nickelodeon of more recent years. "Pinwheel" is a type of program that has also long since disappeared from Nickelodeon: one with this kind of tone, with a mix of human and puppet characters, and with a setting reminiscent of "Sesame Street".

The show mainly took place in a large, Victorian-style boarding house called Pinwheel House in which the human and puppet characters interacted with one another. The program actually pre-dates Nickelodeon altogether, as it premiered in 1977 on one of the channels on Warner cable's QUBE interactive cable TV experiment. This channel, which took the name Pinwheel for awhile in honor of its flagship program, would become Nickelodeon in 1979; "Pinwheel" went along in the transition and continued to air on Nick with original episodes until 1984 and in repeats all the way until 1990.


TFTP On This Day: 1987 World Series, Game 7, Twins vs. Cardinals from ABC (Oct. 25, 1987)

Posted to YouTube by user 'MLBClassics'
Length - 2:43:24

It Was 30 Years Ago Today: Going into the 1987 season, the Minnesota Twins had never won a World Series. They'd gotten close in the mid-1960s, making it to the Series just a few years after moving to the Twin Cities from Washington, D.C., only to get defeated by the Sandy Koufax-era LA Dodgers. By this day in 1987, thirty years ago today, they were on the cusp of their first ever World Series title, having battled the St. Louis Cardinals to a deciding game 7.

Luckily for the Twins, the final game was scheduled for their home field, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. The Metrodome (only five years old in 1987) was still a relative novelty as a domed multi-purpose stadium and had gained a reputation as offering the ultimate home-field advantage. Because of the acoustics of the fabric-roofed, air-pressure inflated dome, the crowd noise was deafening, and as a result the stadium had gained the nickname "the Thunderdome". In addition, during the '87 postseason, Twins fans had become known for waving their white "Homer Hankies", creating a fluttering white sea in the Metrodome stands.

The Twins fielded a team that included Kirby Puckett, Kent Hrbek, and pitching ace Frank Viola, while the Cards countered with Willie McGee, Vince Coleman, and the legendary Ozzie Smith. St. Louis took an early 2-0 lead before the Twins tied it up by the 5th inning. Minnesota took a one-run lead in the 6th, expanding to a two-run lead in the 8th, before finishing as World Series champions for the first time.

The full game broadcast, embedded above, is from ABC with Al Michaels and former ballplayer Tim McCarver doing play-by-play duties. Looking at on-screen graphics from televised sporting events is always fascinating, especially in an era such as the 1980s (or earlier) when the score was not always displayed on screen. There are other interesting touches here, such as the "Inside Pitch" segments in which a current or former player offers some insights into various aspects of the proceedings (including one by current Twins manager Paul Molitor, then a player for the Milwaukee Brewers).


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: "Disneyland" from ABC (Apr. 9, 1958)

Posted to YouTube by user 'EPLtv'
Length - 47:33

TFTP's Monochrome Monday brings you a classic black & white TV program or clip every Monday morning to kick off the week....

The Walt Disney Company empire as we know it today was basically launched with the "Disneyland" television series that started airing on ABC in 1954. ABC (at this time not yet owned by Disney) kicked in some of the funding for the building of the Disneyland theme park in exchange for securing the highly-sought rights to broadcast a weekly series by Disney. The TV show launched a year or so before the theme park did, and both before and after the theme park's July 1955 opening (and clear through each and every version of Disney's network TV show), Disney never passed up an opportunity to promote the park.

This 1958 episode of "Disneyland" is a perfect example of this somewhat shameless practice. Basically an hour-long commercial for Disneyland the park, this episode of "Disneyland" the TV show, entitled "An Adventure in the Magic Kingdom", takes us through the theme park section by section, showing many of the attractions while a kindly narrator explains how much fun everyone is having on them. For Disneyland aficionados, it's a fantastic up-close look that gives a glimpse into a late-1950s Disneyland that still had many now-closed attractions.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Station Sign-Off from KLAX/Alexandria, LA (1988)

Posted to YouTube by user 'jacky9br'
Length - 4:34

Each Friday afternoon, TFTP signs-off for the week with a classic station sign-off segment for your enjoyment and to bid farewell until Monday...

This late-1980s sign-off sequence from Alexandria, Louisiana, station KLAX begins with a few program promos, for "Mama's Family", the local early-morning news program "Sun Up", and "The Greatest American Hero". A "Hooperman" bumper precedes the national anthem film (which has a pretty spiffy a cappella vocal arrangement). The sequence concludes with the ownership/technical voiceover on a "Good Night" slide (followed in the clip by about a minute's worth of black).


TFTP Drama: "Gunsmoke" from CBS (Sep. 10, 1955)

Posted to YouTube by user 'balsamwoods'
Length - 26:52

"Gunsmoke" was one of the most venerable dramas in television history. With its twenty-years on CBS (from 1955 to 1975), it set a record for prime-time TV longevity for a drama. For this TFTP Drama post, we present the pilot episode for this pioneering TV western, from the fall of 1955.

"Gunsmoke" premiered right at the beginning of the trend of TV westerns that by the end of the 1950s would take over television. "Gunsmoke" would sit atop the pile as TV's #1 show for four seasons between 1957 and 1961. Over the course of its run, it would expand from half-hour to an hour in length (in 1961) and switch from black and white to color (in 1966). Its cast of supporting characters would evolve, but at the core of it was always James Arness as Marshall Matt Dillon, flanked by Amanda Blake as Miss Kitty and Milburn Stone as Doc Adams.

In this pilot episode (building on a radio version of the program that had been airing since 1952), Marshall Dillon encounters an outlaw who has the fastest draw known in Texas, and who has killed a number of people (including lawmen) with impunity as a result. Dillon, although he first gets seriously wounded by the outlaw, finally manages to overcome this menace to Dodge City, the frontier town that Dillon is sworn to protect.


TFTP Flow: "ABC Sunday Night Movie" opening credits w/ commercial break from WLS/Chicago (1980)

Posted to YouTube by user 'The Museum of Classic Chicago Television'
Length - 5:57

Television "flow"  -  an unbroken sequence of various on-air elements such as program segments, news breaks, commercials, program promos, PSAs, station IDs, bumpers, and other interstitials, which can be analyzed to understand what viewers of the past experienced when watching TV.

This flow sequence is from a 1980 broadcast of the 1973 film "The Sting" starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford; the film was aired on ABC, with this particular flow coming from ABC Chicago affiliate WLS. It begins with a WLS "Eyewitness News" bumper before launching into the "ABC Sunday Night Movie" intro. This is followed by a commercial break featuring ads for Kellogg's Graham Crackos cereal, Dr. Pepper (one of the David Naughton "Be a Pepper" spots from this era), Johnson's disposable diapers, and Allstate Insurance. It closes with the opening credits and first minute or so of "The Sting".


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: "Arthur Godfrey Time" from CBS (Jan. 1958)

Posted to YouTube by user 'Panonni 9'
Length - 14:27

TFTP's Monochrome Monday brings you a classic black & white TV program or clip every Monday morning to kick off the week....

Arthur Godfrey, although an obscure figure to most people now, was a superstar of network radio and early television throughout the 1940s and 1950s. He was a folksy, informal figure (evident in this clip) who pioneered the deployment of these qualities in a broadcasting career that spanned forty years between the early-1930s and the early-1970s. At his peak in the mid-1950s he had three different TV programs--"Arthur Godfrey and Friends" (a weekly prime-time variety show), "Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts" (a talent-competition show), and "Arthur Godfrey Time" (a weekday morning talk show).

"Arthur Godfrey Time" started as a radio program, before beginning its eight-year run on the CBS weekday morning TV schedule between 1951 and 1959. (It ended on radio, too, airing until 1972 on CBS radio on weekday mornings.) Airing usually between about 10:30 and 11:30 am each weekday, the program ran for thirty, sixty, and ninety minutes at different times. As with many programs during this era, commercials were integrated into the program itself, which we see here with the short opening ad spot for Glamorene and with Godfrey's later demonstration of the carpet cleaning qualities of the same product.

This is the opening portion of an "Arthur Godfrey Time" episode from early (probably January) 1958, at a time when the program ran for a full hour. Guests include actress Faye Emerson, playwright/composer Meredith Willson (of "Music Man" fame), singer Tommy Hunter, and Carmen Quinn. All of the guests are seated in panel fashion in chairs on either side of Godfrey at the start of the program, and the banter and conversation (which also includes the show's band) seems familiar to us because many morning talk shows (such as "Live with Kelly & Ryan" and "The View") still use it. The conversation on this particular morning is dominated by Willson's smash Broadway hit "The Music Man" that had recently opened, in which Emerson had been a minor investor, and for which Quinn badly wanted to get tickets.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Station Sign-Off from WPIX/New York (1979)

Posted to YouTube by user 'tapthatt2012'
Length - 5:03

Each Friday afternoon, TFTP signs-off for the week with a classic station sign-off segment for your enjoyment and to bid farewell until Monday...

WPIX in New York City was for many years--from its 1948 inception into the mid-1990s--one of the most high-profile independent TV stations in the nation. (It has since been New York's affiliate for, first, The WB, then The CW.) It was also one of the first cable "superstations" when that concept took hold in the late-1970s--right around the time of this station sign-off.

Beginning with a copyright statement, the sign-off sequence continues with the technical/ownership voiceover on a slide of the station's late-1970s/early-1980s "11 Alive" logo. The national anthem film follows, in this case consisting simply of a close-up of the stars and stripes fluttering in the wind. (A couple of minutes of black are after that, which then cuts to color bars.)


TFTP Cable: Commercial/Promo Block from Nickelodeon (1983)

Posted to YouTube by user 'JustinInAtlanta'
Length - 6:13

The cable kids' channel Nickelodeon went on the air in 1979, so this commercial/promo block from 1983 is from fairly early in the network's history. It's early enough that the longtime Nick branding with its signature orange color was yet to be implemented (that didn't happen until the following year, 1984). The logo and branding seen here, with the large silver ball underlying the multi-colored "Nickelodeon" wordmark, was known as the "pinball" logo.

There are some great nuggets of vintage Nickelodeon here: The billboard for "coming up next" programs "Third Eye", "Livewire", and "Tomorrow People"; the ads for ViewMaster's line of glowsticks (who knew?), the Simon electronic game, and Stratego board game; the promos for "You Can't Do That on Television" (Nick's flagship program in the early-1980s), Leonard Nimoy-hosted "Standby...Lights! Camera! Action!", and "Reggie Jackson's World of Sports"; and the spot for the "Great Nickelodeon Sweepstakes".


TFTP Local Weather Round-Up! WBAL/Baltimore (1959), KAKE/Wichita (1974), WAGA/Atlanta (1982)

Posted by YouTube users 'EyeLikeTooWatch' (top), 'Troy Diggs' (middle), 'radioman1968' (bottom)

Here is the inaugural TFTP Local Weather Round-Up, a periodic feature in which we will round up a few clips of weathercasts from local TV stations. Typically, the Local Weather Round-Up will consist of three clips, one from the 1950s or 60s, one from the 1970s, and one from the 1980s.

Local weather reports are fascinating to watch now, due in part to the folksy charm that many of them exhibit, in part to the variety of techniques that were used over the years by different stations, and due to the way in which weathercasting technology evolved in the decades between the 1950s and 1980s.

Clip #1 above is from April 12, 1959, on station WBAL/Baltimore. The single-sponsor method of sponsorship, common in the early days of TV, is evident in this clip from the ways in which Luby's Chevrolet is integrated so closely into the weathercast, which utilizes entirely a chalkboard method of weather presentation. Clip #2 is from KAKE/Wichita in 1974. Apart from being in color, the main difference here is a slightly more sophisticated presentation of the weather, largely using a suitably seventies-ish round board with several layers that are progressively revealed (the last couple seemingly utilizing chroma-key). Use of weather radar has begun in this mid-1970s era as well. Finally, the third and final clip--from WAGA/Atlanta from April 3, 1982--is from a time when chroma-key technology has been fully embraced as the chief (although not exclusive) weathercasting technique (as it remains today). (Gotta love those rotating sections of weather map!)


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: Longines Watch Commercials (Apr. 11 & 14, 1952)

Posted to YouTube by user 'MattTheSaiyan'
Length - 1:54 (top), 1:42 (bottom)

Commercials in the 1950s were much longer than we are used to now (and have been used to for decades). Because of the prevalence of single-sponsorship in the first years of TV, a commercial break of one- to two-minutes in length, around the same length as today, would have just one commercial, rather than four or more.

Here are a couple of these lengthier commercials for Longines watches from the same week in April 1952. The two commercials provide a study in contrasts in terms of the different styles of commercials in this era. The first includes on on-camera spokesman David Ross who describes the use of Longines watches for timekeeping by a variety of different sporting associations. Most likely presented as a live commercial during a live program, it includes Ross' testimonial which is presented partially with him visible on screen and partially as voiceover as we see slides of the sporting association logos and a carousel of Longines watches.

The second commercial, which appeared in the program "Longines Chronoscope", a public affairs interview program, has no on-screen spokesman, only voiceover narration on images of another carousel of watches. (Although possibly also live, this one is more likely to have been filmed in advance, a common practice even in these earliest years.) Longines was clearly going for a prestige image with these ads--as well as with the choice of a public affairs program for which to serve as a sponsor.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Station Sign-Off from WKBW/Buffalo, NY (1982)

Posted to YouTube by user 'Retrontario'
Length - 4:29

Each Friday afternoon, TFTP signs-off for the week with a classic station sign-off segment for your enjoyment and to bid farewell until Monday...

TV stations located near the U.S./Canadian border--such as WKBW from Buffalo, New York, featured here--serve a Canadian audience as well as an American one. And so their sign-off sequences sometimes featured the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada!", in addition to "The Star-Spangled Banner". This sign-off sequence starts with a brief religious message and a statement of the Television Code, followed by the technical voiceover on a slide of WKBW's transmitter towers. The two national anthems come after that (followed in this clip, with almost a minute's worth of black).


TFTP On This Day: "Go" from NBC (Oct. 5, 1983)

Posted to YouTube by user 'excuseyou77'
Length - 21:58

It Was 34 Years Ago Today: Having premiered on Monday, Oct. 3, 1983, this episode of the game show "Go"--which aired 34 years ago today--is only the third episode of the series. Kevin O'Connell (before and after "Go" a longtime weatherman) hosted with game-show master Bob Stewart producing--and both would be out of a job by January of 1984 when the show was cancelled.

Two five-person teams (with one celebrity on each team) competed in a game that resembled the one where two people alternate in giving one-word each in a sentence meant to be a clue for guessing a word. (If this sounds a bit elaborate and incomprehensible, it is, and additional rules added on top of this may be one reason why the show only lasted four months.) In "Go", four of the team members gave clues in chain fashion while the fifth was the guesser. In essence, "Go" was a ridiculously overcomplicated (and much faster-paced) version of "Password".

The celebrities in this episode are Richard Kline, then at the height of his fame as a cast member of "Three's Company", and actress Elaine Joyce, by 1983 near the end of her remarkable decade-plus run as a go-to game-show celebrity guest (she appeared on everything from "Tattletales" and "Match Game" to "Super Password" and later versions of "What's My Line" and "I've Got a Secret").


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: Program Promos from CBS (Oct. 29, 1960)

Posted to YouTube by user 'Pannoni 9'
Length - 4:04

TFTP's Monochrome Monday brings you a classic black & white TV program or clip every Monday morning to kick off the week....

This block of black-and-white program promos is from Saturday, October 29, 1960, and includes promos for specials, regular programs, and broadcasts related to the presidential election (between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon) that would take place about a week later.

The first promo is for CBS's election night coverage and touts the network's track record covering the past few elections dating back to 1952. This is followed by regular program promos for "Lassie", "Dennis the Menace", and "The Jack Benny Program". Another election-related promo features Walter Cronkite, who had not yet taken over as the network's evening news anchor but was already a top CBS news personality; he previews an interview program with past presidential nominee Thomas Dewey. Finally, Danny Kaye presents a comical promo for his first TV special, "An Hour with Danny Kaye", which aired the following evening on October 30.


TFTP Signs-On for October: Launch Day Sign-On from WTIC/Hartford, CT (Sep. 21, 1957)

Posted to YouTube by user 'robatsea2009'
Length - 4:37

TFTP marks the beginning of each new month with a classic station sign-on sequence to "sign-on" for the month....

Throughout the late-1940s, 1950s, and even into the 1960s, a new TV station's launch day sign-on was always a special event not just for the station but for the community in which the station was being established. Here we have the launch day sign-on for Hartford, Connecticut, station WTIC, which at its September 1957 launch was an independent station not affiliated with a network (it would become a CBS affiliate the following year).

As with most station launch sign-ons, this one seems to be taking place not in the early morning but rather in the evening, as there is reference to the broadcast of a station launch ceremony that most likely took place in prime time. After a few seconds of test pattern, the sign-on begins with the camera tilting up the WTIC transmitter tower while the opening ownership and technical voiceover is announced. This is followed by a national anthem film before cutting to the station's studio where the president of the Traveler's Broadcasting Service Group, WTIC's owner, gave a brief introductory speech, followed by a priest offering an invocation for the ceremony to follow.