TFTP Will Return After These Messages: Commercial Block from c. 1970

Posted to YouTube by user 'quadvideotape'
Length - 5:31

This block of commercials is from circa 1970--most likely not 1971 as it says in the video clip's title. The most striking commercial of the bunch, for True cigarettes, could not have aired any later than Jan. 1, 1971, as that was the last day that cigarette ads aired on American TV--starting on Jan. 2, ads for cigarettes were banned. (The last day that cigarette ads could run was pushed back by a day from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 so networks could run such ads during football bowl games telecast on New Year's Day.)

Out of the ads seen here, the cigarette ad is the most intriguing to us today, simply because we are unaccustomed to seeing TV ads for tobacco products. Other ads in this block include for the New York Times newspaper, Harry Jacobson menswear, Arco gasoline, Ragu spaghetti sauce, United Airlines ("fly the friendly skies"!), and Quasar television sets by Motorola (Raquel Welch's reference to her TV special, which aired in April 1970, also helps to date the group of ads).


TFTP On This Day: "Great Performances" (public TV) from WNET/New York (Nov. 28, 1986)

Posted to YouTube by user 'pannoni 9'
Length - 9:37

It Was 31 Years Ago Today: "Great Performances" is one of public television's most venerable programs (and there are a lot to choose from), having been on the air on PBS since 1972. Here is a set of clips from a "Great Performances" presentation of Gian Carlo Menotti's opera "Goya" from this day in 1986.

In addition to some mid-1980s "Great Performances" bumpers and logo graphics, we get to see a slew of underwriting announcements from the same era. An introductory segment from the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., is hosted by actor Jose Ferrer, and an extended interpretive segment about Goya's artwork is presented by the director of the National Gallery of Art. Some program promos for WNET (the PBS member station for New York City) include "The Creative Edge", "Adam Smith's Money World", and "The Making of a Continent". "Goya" star Placido Domingo presents an offer for viewers to order the theatrical program for the opera. Finally, the "Goya" end credits are capped off by the opera's curtain call (and a couple of final underwriting credits).


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: Ernie Kovacs as Percy Dovetonsils (c. 1959)

Posted to YouTube by user 'Kovacs Corner'
Length - 2:10

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

Ernie Kovacs is a TFTP favorite (see earlier TFTP posts featuring Kovacs here and here), as his groundbreaking comedy from early television is fascinating even today. Here is a late appearance (probably in a segment from Kovacs' game show "Take a Good Look" which aired 1959-1961) of one of Kovacs' most well-known characters, Percy Dovetonsils.

Kovacs created Dovetonsils in circa 1950 for his local Philadelphia program "Three to Get Ready" (a pioneering early morning show). The character is a take-off of a type of character that appeared on a number of programs in the earliest era of TV--an effete and eccentric high-culture maven that was also a likely spoof of homosexuality in that less enlightened period. Here, Kovacs/Dovetonsils recites a short poem (Dovetonsils was usually introduced, as he is here, as a "poet laureate") that is referred to as a "clue"--most likely for the game play of the "Take a Good Look" episode it appeared in.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Station Sign-Off from WAFF/Huntsville-Decatur, AL (1979)

Posted to YouTube by user 'robatsea2009'
Length - 4:52

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 sign-off from 1979 for northern Alabama station WAFF begins with a few NBC program promos: for an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" (NBC hadn't started to use the "very special episode" trope yet, but if they had, this one would've qualified), for the prime-time special for the 17th anniversary of "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", and for NFL Football on NBC Sports.

A locally-branded bumper for "News 48" sports leads into a short religious segment called "A Seed for the Sower" coming from somewhere called the "Guido Evangelistic Association" in Georgia. The ownership/technical voiceover follows, on images from a TV master control room (WAFF's, presumably). The national anthem film closes out the sequence, with a rather spare piano rendition over stock images of monuments, military transports, and natural wilderness ("Courtesy of the Army National Guard").


Happy Thanksgiving from TFTP: Television from the Past!

Posted to YouTube by user 'Ranger232'
Length - 0:31

As we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, enjoy this Butterball turkey Thanksgiving commercial from 1985. TFTP: Television from the Past wishes everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: "Love of Life" from CBS (Mar. 20, 1953)

Posted on Internet Archive's Classic TV collection by user 'Classic_TV_and_Radio_Fan'
Length - 14:26

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

The soap opera (or daytime serial) was one of the earliest genres transferred from radio to television. In the early years of television, these programs were only 15 minutes in length, as they were in radio. The plots of early soap operas were typically pretty simple, with conversation scenes in simple locations dominating individual episodes (not entirely different from how soap operas have been constructed in all the years since).

This episode of the CBS soap opera "Love of Life" (which aired from 1951 through 1980) features only three scenes, all pertaining to a runaway young boy. First, we see a detective and a school headmaster arguing about the runaway in the headmaster's office, before switching to the boy's home where his mother and a couple of other women fret about the boy's disappearance. Finally, we see the boy himself and his fellow runaway as they attempt to hitchhike by the side of the road, with (implied) unfortunate results.

At the beginning and end of this 1953 episode, we also get to see several commercials. First, a short spot for Aerowax floor wax, with a handy price comparison to other leading brands. Then there is a commercial for Chef Boy-Ar-Dee canned pasta, at a time when the actual Chef in question was still a living, breathing person. At the end of the episode are two more commercials, one for Anacin pills and one for Heet liniment.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Station Sign-Off from KTHI/Fargo, ND (Oct. 14, 1983)

Posted to YouTube by user 'RetroWinnipeg'
Length - 2:27

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...

Here's a sign-off sequence from TFTP's backyard in Fargo, North Dakota, from station KTHI (now KVLY) in October 1983. (Here's another one from our backyard from 1989.) It leads off with the technical/ownership voiceover on a lovely slide of one of the many lakes in the region. The national anthem follows, featuring some local footage of the North Dakota Air National Guard building and fighter jets that are presumably from that same unit. Color bars close out the sign-off.


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: "Art Linkletter's House Party" from CBS (Aug. 21, 1961)

Posted to YouTube by user 'historycomestolife'
Length - 11:27

Art Linkletter is one of the towering figures of the first twenty years or so of American television. Along with a few other figures, such as Arthur Godfrey, Garry Moore, and maybe a couple of others, Linkletter was a versatile television personality who utilized his easygoing and affable manner in an array of programs in the 1950s and '60s.

"Art Linkletter's House Party" was the centerpiece of his presence on American TV for all those years. A daytime variety program on CBS from 1952 until 1969, "House Party" started out as a radio program in 1945, and Linkletter continued to host the radio version as well through most of the TV program's run (until 1967). The program was kind of a grab bag of segments, including Linkletter chatting with a guest on stage about an activity, interviewing audience members about oddities, and Linkletter's most famous feature "Kids Say the Darndest Things" in which he interviewed small children to humorous results (and which resulted in a couple of very popular books in the late-1950s/early-1960s era).

The clip above, the first ten minutes or so of a "House Party" episode from 1961, in about the middle of the show's run, has examples of the first two types of segments mentioned above. First, Linkletter converses on stage with a dentist who has spearheaded a dental mission to "primitive" Madagascar. (The conversation is groan worthy today due to its outdated perspective on the culture found there.) Then, Linkletter ventures into the audience to talk briefly with several different audience members.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Station Sign-Off from WHEC/Rochester, NY (Mar. 1979)

Posted to YouTube by user 'robatsea2009'
Length - 5:30

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 station sign-off from Rochester, New York, CBS affiliate WHEC begins with several great 1979 program promos for the CBS shows "M*A*S*H", "WKRP in Cincinnati", and "Lou Grant", and also for the animated special "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe". Then an oddly-placed bumper for "The CBS Saturday Night Movies" is followed by a promo for the very obscure Brenda Vaccaro-starring program "Dear Detective". A CBS network ID precedes a few local Rochester commercials, including a droll and deadpan local commercial for a music store called House of Guitars.

Then the actual sign-off sequence begins. The ownership/technical voiceover is heard on a slide of the rainbow-striped "WHEC-TV 10" logo. The national anthem film follows, featuring some sort of a military brass band. Finally, another slide with the rainbow-striped "10" logo bids us "Good Night".


TFTP Game Shows: "Classic Concentration" from NBC (Jul. 23, 1987)

Posted to YouTube by user 'TVLubber'
Length - 28:47

The history of TV game shows can in one respect be seen as early, popular game shows being revived later in newer versions--and then revived again; and revived again; and revived again. This is clearly evident in the recent successes by ABC with the latest versions of game show chestnuts like "Match Game" (first broadcast in 1962) and "$100,000 Pyramid" (first broadcast in 1973).

"Concentration" (original run: 1958-73) was far from the first game show to be revived when "Classic Concentration" debuted in May of 1987. (In fact, there had already been one "Concentration" revival--a five-year syndicated run that came on the heels of the original's 1973 cancellation.) But it might be the game show that benefited the most from technology having advanced since its original run--rather than the clunky rotating mechanical game board pieces of the original, the show in its '87 revival featured a state-of-the-art computer screen with digital, and much more versatile, game board elements.

"Concentration" in all its versions consisted of a combination of a memory game, in which contestants had to match two tiles with prize names on them, and traditional rebus puzzles made up of picture and letter clues that formed common sayings, quotes, or axioms.

The new "Classic Concentration" was hosted by Alex Trebek, who in 1987 was already a game show icon and doing double-duty along with "Jeopardy", which he'd hosted since 1984. In the episode above, just a couple of months into the revived run (which would last until the fall of 1991), champion Sten fends off a challenge from former champion Hilary. The episode here has most of the commercial breaks intact, giving us a great glimpse of '87-era commercials for Always maxi pads, Dash detergent, Aqua Fresh toothpaste, and Doan's pills, as well as NBC network program promos for "Miami Vice" and "Crime Story" (and an end-credits voiceover by NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw).


TFTP News: News Opens from KSL/Salt Lake City (1970s/1980s)

Posted to YouTube by user 'TV News Capsule' (top), 'aussiebeachut0' (middle), 'cmsloan2002' (bottom)
Length - 0:17 (top), 0:24 (middle), 0:46 (bottom)

Above are three openings over about a 15 year period for local news at KSL-TV in Salt Lake City, Utah. KSL was at the time of these news opens (from 1975, 1983, and 1989) the area's CBS station--an affiliation it held from its inception in 1949 until switching to NBC in 1995. The clips are brief (all well under a minute in length) and constitute the opening images that would have been seen by viewers at the beginning of newscasts. As such, they are the type of thing that presents an image the station is trying to project for its viewers.

The 1975 version (top) features the signatures of the newscasters, as if they are personally vouching for the content they're about the present. In 1983 (middle), titles declaring "Medicine", "Crime", "Politics", etc., provide a brief summary, and maybe make a promise, as to the types of content viewers can expect to see. This second open also utilizes the slogan "the News Specialists", which carries over into the 1989 open. The 1989 open (bottom) has more dynamic imagery, some of it aerial, of the SLC area, as if to show that KSL has got it covered. All three opens, as would be expected from local news, highlight the newscasters about to appear in the program.


TFTP's Monochrome Monday: "Captain Video and His Video Rangers" from DuMont (1949)

Posted to YouTube by user 'Vintage Fanatic'
Length - 28:42

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

"Captain Video and His Video Rangers" was one of the first science-fiction programs to appear on television. It was also produced in the late-1940s/early-1950s period of TV when production techniques and production values were still developing. And on top of all that, it aired on the marginal DuMont network, an early fourth TV network that would be gone by the mid-1950s.

Because of all these reasons, "Captain Video" can look laughably primitive to us today. But a closer analysis shows a very interesting program that did what it could under the circumstances to present a pioneering sci-fi program for kids day in and day out for several years (from 1949 until 1955). The 1949 episode above is from relatively early in the show's run, and as a serial program, it's a little indecipherable without knowing what came before.

What happens in the episode here is that a group of emissaries, presumably representing different planets, are attending some sort of council meeting. Captain Video, who has just been in some sort of fight in the opening moments of the episode, is tasked, as an emissary in his own right, with visiting an absent representative. Included in the episode are a couple of "Video Ranger Messages" that are short homilies for the young boys viewing. Bizarrely, there are also a couple of segments in the episode that are scenes from some sort of totally unrelated western story.


TFTP Signs-Off for the Week: Station Sign-Off for WFMZ/Allentown, PA (1984)

Posted to YouTube by user 'stevations'
Length - 0:36

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 short and sweet station sign-off comes from Allentown, Pennsylvania, independent station WFMZ. At the time of this sign-off in 1984, the station had been on the air for less than a decade, launching in 1976. The only element in this particular sign-off is the technical/ownership voiceover on a slide of WFMZ's sparkly, combination six-is-nine-is-six "69" logo.


TFTP Signs-On for November: Boston Station Sign-Ons from 1987

Posted to YouTube by user 'MSTS1' (both)
Length - 2:18 (top); 3:20 (bottom)

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

To kick off November, here are two 1987 sign-ons from Boston TV stations--independent WSBK and WBZ, Boston's NBC affiliate at the time.

WSBK's sign-on features a technical/ownership voiceover followed by the national anthem sung by an a capella choir, topped off by a station ID bumper. WBZ's sign-on features a national anthem played by none other than the Future Farmers of America band! Then there are a few quick images (one of a "Morning Prayer" slide) that seem to be technical malfunctions, followed by a stretch of pastoral imagery with soothing music. In both sign-ons, the sequences are preceded by color bars and test patterns.