Topics in the News
Need for Ratings.
"How many people were watching?" That question captivated (and still captivates) television executives and advertisers. To find the answer, television networks and individual stations began in the late 1940s to hire firms to do the surveys that determined program popularity and audience. With such information the networks and stations could determine what they might charge companies to advertise on particular shows.
History of Ratings.
The idea of audience testing was not new. The radio networks and individual stations had begun in 1930 to test the level of audiences by the use of telephone interviews. New techniques were then developed to improve the validity of survey results. The most important of these were the printed roster, in which listeners marked down on a preprinted list the programs they watched; the mechanical recorder; and the interview. While the radio-ratings service field was very competitive—dominated by such firms as Cooperative Analysis of Broadcasting, C. E. Hooper, A. C. Nielsen—the television end of the industry was the kingdom of Nielsen in the 1950s.
How Nielsen became king is a story of wrong guesses and missed opportunities. Late in the 1940s, as television was not yet widely available, no company offered a television...
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The closing of Colliers magazine in 1956 shockingly illustrated the postwar changes in magazine economics and the entertainment and editorial tastes of the American reading public. A venerable name in magazine history, Collier s had reached its peak of circulation of above four million at the time of its demise. But rising costs and competition from television and more nimble and aggressive magazines had cut drastically into advertising revenues.
The magazine began publishing as Once a Week in 1888 and as Colliers in 1895. It finally became consistently profitable in 1929 as circulation broke through the two million mark. During the Great Depression Collier's prospered. This was the result of the magazine editors' decision in 1925 to reverse their stand and editorialize against Prohibition; after the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution was repealed in 1933 and liquor again flowed legally, Collier s became a favorite of liquor advertisers.
Editorial High Point.
The 1930s were its editorial high point. Editorial precision, however, was never the hallmark of what was a competent, popular, general-interest magazine. The lack of a precise market to which the editors could attract advertisers was a serious...
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Though they first appeared after World War I and in significant numbers in the first years after World War II, drive-in theaters boomed in popularity during the 1950s. In 1948 there were only 820 drive-ins operating in the United States. In 1952 this number had ballooned to over 3,000. The prosperity of postwar America was the source of this increase, as workers and farmers, newly flush with cash and driving new automobiles, sought recreation. The drive-ins catered to a new audience of moviegoers who did not frequent the traditional movie theater. In 1950 the Saturday Evening Post described the appeal of drive-ins to people with special needs:
Leading the list are moderate-income families who bring the kids to save on babysitters. Furthermore they don't have to dress up, find a parking place, walk a few blocks to a ticket booth and then stand in line. The drive-ins make it easy for them and for workers and farmers, who can come in their working clothes straight from the evening's chores, and for the aged and the physically handicapped.
The Quality of Drive-In Movies.
The quality of the drive-in movies seemed to matter little. Most drive-ins showed second and third-run features, long since gone from traditional theaters. Some showed newer, low-budget,...
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The Hollywood Ten
In 1957, when Robert Rich was announced as the winner of the Academy Award for Best Screenplay, few realized that the name was a pseudonym. Robert Rich was the pen name of screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the so called Hollywood Ten, who had been cited in 1947 for contempt of Congress and sentenced to varying terms in prison. He had also been a victim of the Hollywood blacklist that prohibited real or suspected Communist party members from working openly in the movie industry.
HUAC and Hollywood.
The Hollywood Ten case began in postwar America during the first rustlings of the cold war. The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which had been permanently established in 1938, decided in 1947 to conduct hearings on communist influence in Hollywood. In November HUAC subpoenaed forty-one people involved in making Hollywood movies. Nineteen of those subpoenaed protested loudly that they would under no circumstances cooperate with HUAC.
During the hearings, which ran from 28 October to 30 October 1947, ten witnesses refused to answer the committee's famous question: "Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?" All ten were cited for contempt of Congress and were sentenced to between six months and one year in federal prison...
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" I Love Lucy"
"I Love Lucy" was one of the most successful television shows in the history of American broadcasting. First broadcast on Monday night, 15 October 1951, on the CBS television network, the show captured the loyalty of millions of viewers with its comic depiction of marital life. The story of its development and its long prime-time run illustrates many of the forces and trends that shaped television in the 1950s.
In the mid 1940s actress and comedienne Lucille Ball was the star of a CBS radio program called "My Favorite Husband." When television began to search for programming, CBS executives approached Ball about switching from radio to television. Ball and her husband, Cuban bandleader Desi Arnaz, responded to the approach in 1950 by buying the RKO film studio properties and ambitiously forming their own production company, Desilu, to develop and produce television shows. William S. Paley, CBS president, rejected Ball's ideas for an adaptation of "My Favorite Husband"; in response Ball and Arnaz developed an entirely new project. Desilu planned a filmed program rather than a live show.
Desilu produced the pilot program for "I Love Lucy" for five thousand dollars; CBS had no financial interest in the show as yet. Desilu's advertising agency...
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The Movie Industry
In 1948 the Supreme Court ordered the major Hollywood studios to sell their theater holdings, ruling that the system of film distribution was anti-competitive, and the way Hollywood movies had been produced and delivered to audiences since their beginnings abruptly changed. The Supreme Court decision had many unintended and surprising effects, not the least of which was to restructure the business radically.
Selling the Theater Chains.
Early in 1951 the major movie studios—Universal, Columbia, Paramount, Warner Bros., M-G-M, 20th Century-Fox, and RKO Radio—agreed with the Justice Department on the details of selling the theater holdings. The theater chains were sold, freeing a market that for decades had been run as separate monopolies, each studio distributing its own films to its own theaters. The sales had the effect of reducing the number of films produced by the studios, since there was no theater that was obliged to show them without question. In 1954 the seven largest movie studios planned to make fewer than 100 movies as opposed to the 320-400 per year that was common in the late 1940s. With the reduction in the number of movies, the theater owners were hard-pressed to keep the screens busy.
The emergence of television as an entertainment...
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Newspapers in the 1950s
A Turbulent Decade.
The 1950s was a turbulent decade for the newspaper industry. In the aftermath of World War II, the economic realities of a radically changed world hit newspapers especially hard. Between 1950 and 1958, 180 daily newspapers either suspended publication, merged, or converted to weekly papers. Many papers also suffered crushing strikes, as labor attempted to raise wages and keep employment levels high.
Return to Normal.
After World War II the economy returned to normal for the first time since the beginning of the Great Depression in 1929. As a result, long-stagnant prices and wages began to rise. Newsprint, the paper on which the newspapers were printed and the basic commodity of the industry, rose from a price of $44 a ton in 1938 to $88 a ton in 1947 and $134 a ton in 1958. Labor unions demanded increased wages, keeping personnel costs high. Revenues, on the other hand, grew slowly if at all.
In the 1950s newspapers competed with a new information, entertainment, and advertising medium: television. Not only did television have the advantage of novelty, but it also made fewer demands on the intelligence and literacy of the audience. Television's share of the advertising market grew from 1 percent in 1949 to 30 percent in 1957, while the newspaper...
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The comic strip Peanuts, written and drawn by Charles Schulz, was immensely popular in the 1950s. First syndicated in eight newspapers in 1950, the comic strip Peanuts was the most successful strip of the decade. By the end of the 1950s the strip appeared in more than four hundred newspapers in the United States and in thirty-five foreign papers. The strip was notable in that its characters, all children, acted and talked through their childhood activities with all the seriousness and insecurities of adults. As the Saturday Evening Post commented in 1957, readers of the comic strip imagined Schulz as a "superintellectual."
In 1956 a staffer for Adlai Stevenson telephoned Schulz to ask him to support her candidate. During their conversation she called Schulz, on the basis of his comic strip Peanuts, "the youngest existentialist." Schulz politely declined to endorse Stevenson but did have one question: "What is an existentialist?"
Image Pop-UpCharles Schulz works on an image of Snoopy while creating a strip at his Santa Rosa studio.
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New War of Ideas.
The 1950s ushered in the modern era of American political thought. World War II had thrust the nation into the position of leader of the Western democracies in a world increasingly divided along ideological lines defined by the cold war. The Communist governments of the Soviet Union and mainland China were poised to challenge U.S. influences, and fearful Americans began to peer beyond their country's borders and consider the potentially devastating impact of foreign affairs on their lives. The cold war was thus not only characterized by spy intrigue and threats exchanged by Eastern and Western officials, it was also fought on the domestic front. The war of ideas between the American Right and Left was the struggle to forge a political philosophy that would usher the American people through dangerous times. The struggle was fought increasingly between the covers of magazines.
The Nation and the New Republic were the most influential political magazines of the American Left. Founded in 1865, the Nation had a long tradition of criticizing the conservative influences in American government and society. In 1955 Carey McWilliams became editor of the Nation and devoted the magazine to espousing civil rights, arms control, and social programs that would move beyond the limits set by...
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" See it Now" Canceled
Significance of Cancellation.
The 1958 cancellation of Edward R. Murrow's repected news and documentary television show "See It Now" by CBS showed many the growing importance of profit over public interest in broadcasting.
"See It Now" first aired on 18 November 1951. Though the first two shows were without a sponsor, by the third episode ALCOA (Aluminum Company of America) had signed up to pay CBS thirty-four thousand dollars a week to air its commercials during the show and an additional twenty-three thousand dollars to subsidize production costs; anything above that figure was paid by the network. As "See It Now" garnered positive reviews and respectable ratings, network chief William S. Paley resigned himself to the fact that the show made the network no money.
But "See It Now" was also controversial. On many occasions Paley had to endure angry phone calls from irate congressmen and business leaders, upset that Murrow had questioned their behavior. Still Paley persevered with the show, partly out of reluctance to end a show of such importance and partly out of his friendship and respect for Murrow.
A Glimpse of the Future.
In 1955 "The $64,000 Question" premiered on CBS. Watching the...
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Soap Operas from Radio to Television
The Rise of the Soap Opera.
Gilbert Seldes writes that "the daytime serial was the great invention of radio." Three "women's serial dramas"—daily radio programs intended for an audience of women, featuring a stable cast and a melodramatic, domestic story which advanced slowly-—premiered in 1931. The three were "Clara, Lu and Em"; "The Goldbergs"; and "Myrt and Marge." The shows, in the beginning only fifteen minutes long, soon became a staple on radio. By 1939 the number of shows had grown to sixty-one. In 1950 the four television networks—NBC, CBS, ABC, and Du Mont—devoted seventy-five hours per week to daytime serials.
Importance of the Sponsor.
From the early years of the serials, most were sponsored by soap manufacturers who were interested in advertising their products to women. The daytime serials became so associated with the sponsors that in 1939 some wag coined the term soap opera to describe them. Humorist James Thurber memorably described the fifteen-minute radio serial formula:
Between thick slices of advertising, spread twelve minutes of dialogue, add predicament, villainy, and female suffering in equal measure, throw in a dash of nobility, sprinkle with tears, season with organ music, cover with a rich announcer sauce, and serve five times a week....
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" The Today Show"
A Risky Morning Show.
On 14 January 1952, at 7:00 A.M., NBC premiered "The Today Show." A risky offering in the until-then-barren early-morning television hours, "Today" faced problems that other television programs did not face. First, "Today" faced an audience that was more concerned with preparing for work or school than watching a television show. NBC executive Pat
We are not trying to get people to rise earlier to see the show, nor to stay at home and be late.… We therefore must repeat key information … all important hunks or points should be made in each of the two hours … We are not trying to get a 10 rating for two hours, but we are trying to get sixty per cent of all sets to turn on the show, with time from the viewers varying between a fast two-minute look at the time and the headline from a bachelor who eats out and has a big apartment… to a longish hour from a large family … where the...
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In 1952 Walter Annenberg, the president of Triangle Publications, the publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily Racing Form, had a brain-storm. Astounded by the success of the TV Digest, a Philadelphia area publication featuring television listings—circulation exceeded 180,000—Annenberg's idea was to launch a national publication that promised local television listings while offering national editorial and advertising scope.
Inquiring whether other such magazines existed across the country, he was told that TV Guide in New York had circulation exceeding 400,000 and that TV Forecast in Chicago reached 100,000 readers. So Annenberg bought them at a cost of several million dollars. TV Digest, TV Guide, and TV Forecast became the first three local bureaus of TV Guide. More bureaus were signed up by franchising the national section of TV Guide to local magazines in Boston; Davenport, Iowa; Minneapolis; and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Teams were sent to Los Angeles and Cincinnati to start local operations from scratch.
The First Issue.
By the end of March 1953, four months after Annenberg's initial idea, ten cities were equipped for TVGuide; The magazine was first published...
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The development of television as a new entertainment medium was news in the 1950s: coverage of television in newspapers increased by 500 percent from 1953 to 1955. Along with this increased coverage came the rise of the television critic. Writing in both newspapers and magazines, these men—there were few female critics in the 1950s (Janet Kern of the Chicago Tribune was the most prominent)—debated and commented on not only the content of television shows but the nature of the medium itself.
The two most respected television critics of the 1950s were Jack Gould of the New York Times and John Crosby of the New York Herald Tribune. Their careers have paralleled each other. In the manner of newspapermen of the time, neither Gould nor Crosby graduated from college, though Crosby did attend Yale University for two years. Both men trained on the Herald Tribune by covering Broadway theater. In 1945, the beginning of the end of the radio era, Gould was hired by the Times as radio editor. A year later Crosby became radio columnist for the Herald Tribune, With the relative decline of the importance of radio and the meteoric rise of television, the direction of both men turned toward television.
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Television vs. Radio.
In addition to becoming the primary source of home entertainment in the 1950s, television also became a major source of news and information. Many commentators regarded television as inherently lowbrow and not disposed to serious news gathering and reporting. H. V. Kaltenborn, a distinguished radio news analyst, stated in 1956 that "there are no advantages to TV newscasting.… Pictures are a distraction. Remembering camera angles is a bother. TV news should pay more attention to intelligent discourse."
Distraction of Entertainment.
Television news from the beginning was believed to value pictures, personality, and technology over good writing, competence, and content. The technology was seen as an obstacle to good news reporting. New York Times correspondent A. M. Rosenthal said in 1953 that television "is not interested primarily in news but in entertainment." The technology required by television broadcasting, he said, forced newsmen to work in a "hectic, noisy, movie-set atmosphere."
There was confusion in the 1950s over the place of news in television. One source of this confusion was that television news was seen as the third generation of professional news. The first generation, and the most respected, was print journalism....
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Alsop, Joseph 1910-1989 and Alsop, Stewart 1914-1974
Syndicated in up to two hundred newspapers by the New York Herald Tribune from 1946 to 1958, Joseph Alsop and his brother Stewart were two of the most influential newspaper columnists of the 1950s. Earning sixty thousand dollars for their column and espousing a hard line against the Soviet Union and communism, the Alsops used their contacts within official Washington, D.C., to report inside information on world affairs. The Alsops' column, "Matter of Fact," which appeared four times a week, provided, as Edgar Kemler in the Nation commented in 1954, the "only remaining pipelines into the National Security Council."
Their column first appeared on 1 January 1946, the first in a long litany that predicted impending doom for the United States and the world. The Alsopian habit of making dire predictions garnered them many nicknames, including "the Brothers Cassandra," "disaster experts," "Old Testament prophets," and the "All-slops," the last given them by Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
The Alsops came from an upper-class background, their mother being a niece of Theodore Roosevelt, a first cousin of Eleanor Roosevelt, and a sixth cousin of Franklin Roosevelt. The Alsop brothers possessed markedly...
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Ashmore, Harry 1916-
The winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, Harry Ashmore, the editor of the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock, was part of the new breed of southern newspaper editors in the 1950s that eschewed the narrow racial conservatism of previous eras in favor of religious and racial tolerance. Ashmore, Jonathan Daniels of the Raleigh (N.C.) News and Observer, George Bingham of the Louisville Courier-Journal and Louisville Times, and Gene Patterson and Ralph McGill of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution were at the forefront of editors who took controversial stands as spokesmen for an enlightened South.
Born in Greenville, South Carolina, and a 1937 graduate of Clemson College, Ashmore began his journalistic career that same year with the Greenville Piedmont. Following his service in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, Ashmore was named associate editor of the Charlotte (N.C.) News. He succeeded to editor in 1947 and began writing editorials in favor of two-party politics, voting rights for blacks, increased funding for education, and racial harmony. Ashmore's editorials garnered national attention and gained for him an appointment in 1947 as the editorial-page editor of the Gazette. He...
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Berle, Milton 1908-
COMEDIAN AND ACTOR
The First Star.
Milton Berle was television's first star and helped establish home television as an entertainment medium. starring in the NBC comedy-variety series "Texaco Star Theatre" from 1948 to 1956, Berle became known as "Mr. Television." The popularity of his show, which aired every Tuesday evening at eight o'clock, helped secure an audience for the fledgling medium during its early years.
Born in 1908 to show-business parents, Berle began performing professionally in vaudeville at the age of five, honing the skills as a comedian that prepared him for his radio and television career. Vaudeville was adapted to television as the variety show, and Berle was one of the first in television to take advantage of the public's familiarity with the form.
The show was a live musical-comedy act with Berle acting as master of ceremonies and participant. Filled with sight gags, songs, dancing, comedy routines, jokes about current topics and New York City, and Berle's signature routine, dressing as a woman, the show was a manic sixty minutes written, scored, rehearsed, and broadcast for thirty-nine weeks a year. It was live television at its best and an example of why live television was so difficult to sustain. The show was...
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Gaines, William M. 1922-1992
Growth in Circulation.
The publisher of the most unlikely magazine success story of the 1950s, William M. Gaines made Mad magazine a household name and an icon for American youth. The magazine, a compendium of satire and humor aimed at the high-school and college market, grew from a circulation of 195,000 in 1953 to a level of 1.3 million in 1958. In 1959 Mad was chosen as the favorite magazine by 58 percent of college students and 43 percent of high-school students. The editorial rationale is that "anything, even death and destruction, can have a humorous side."
Gaines began his publishing career when he inherited a comic-book publishing firm, Educational Comics, from his father in 1947. EC, as the firm was called, published a weak line of children's comics and by 1948 was one hundred thousand dollars in debt. In 1950 Gaines developed a new line of horror comics, the first two titled Toe Crypt of Terror and The Vault of Horror. The horror series, which expanded to seven titles, was tremendously successful and helped wipe out the EC debt by the end of 1952.
In summer 1952 Gaines oversaw the development of the first EC humor comic, tentatively called Mad Dog but shortened by...
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Gleason, Jackie 1916-1987
COMEDIAN AND ACTOR
Jackie Gleason enjoyed a meteoric rise in television during the early 1950s. From humble beginnings in Brooklyn, New York, Gleason worked his way to success through all kinds of show business jobs—at different times Gleason was a bouncer, carnival barker, radio disc jockey, and cabaret performer—before signing a one-year contract with Warner Bros. Pictures in 1941. After appearing in three movies for Warner Bros, and one for 20th Century—Fox in 1941 and 1942, Gleason returned to New York to work on Broadway and in comedy clubs. He continued to work in clubs and at resorts for seven years, until he was signed in 1949 by the Du Mont television network to star in the adaption to television of the "Life of Riley" radio series.
"Cavalcade of Stars."
After twenty-six weeks as Chester A. Riley, Gleason was named host of the Du Mont television show "Cavalcade of Stars." It was this show that Gleason used to hone the characters that made him a television institution. Ralph Kramden, the Poor Soul, Joe the Bartender, and Reginald Van Gleason III all made their television debuts on "Cavalcade of Stars." Gleason's presence raised the show's ratings from nine to thirty-eight in two years, garnering the attention of the other networks. The executives at CBS were especially interested in...
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Higgins, Marguerite 1920-1966
Marguerite Higgins was the most publicized newspaperwoman of the 1950s. Although a seasoned reporter from her experience during World War II—she was with Allied troops as they liberated the Dachau and Buchenwald concentration camps in 1945—Higgins first gained widespread public notice as a war correspondent during the Korean War.
Higgins joined the staff of the New York Herald Tribune in 1942 and remained with the paper throughout her career. From 1946 to 1950 she served as Berlin bureau chief for the Herald Tribune. In 1950 she was transferred to Tokyo as chief of the Far East bureau just before the invasion of South Korea by North Korea. She arrived in Korea two days after the initial Communist invasion and remained near the front for much of the war, to the dismay of both Homer Bigart, the official Herald Tribune war correspondent, and the U.S. Army.
Feud with Bigart.
For much of the war Higgins shared the front page with Bigart, both of them filing competing stories. The Herald Tribune often printed both dispatches. The relationship between the two reporters was competitive and tinged with bitterness. A colleague captured the flavor of the situation: "As soon as Homer...
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Luce, Henry R. 1898-1967
EDITOR AND MAGAZINE PUBLISHER
As the most powerful American media figure during most of the twentieth century, Henry R. Luce through his publishing empire dominated the magazine industry during the 1950s and wielded strong political influence. The cofounder (with friend and partner Briton Hadden) of Time, the first modern news magazine, Luce affected the way in which many Americans received their news. His other magazine ventures, including Fortune, Life, and Sports Illustrated, helped secure a media empire that in 1959 grossed more than $271 million.
Luce's parents were Presbyterian missionaries, and he was born in China, where he lived until the age of fourteen. He arrived in the United States at age fifteen, enrolling at the prestigious Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. He met Hadden at Hotchkiss, working with him at the school newspaper and...
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Murrow, Edward R. 1908-1965
TELEVSION NEWS REPORTER
Early Career in Radio.
Edward R. Murrow virtually invented modern radio and television news. Renowned for his thoroughness, fairness, and curiously charismatic seriousness, Murrow began his career at CBS News in 1935 not as a broadcaster but as the CBS "director of talks," or educational programs. He served as CBS representative in Europe beginning in 1937; he began his radio broadcasting career by covering the forced merger of Austria with Germany in 1938, beaming reports of the entrance of German troops into Vienna. He gained notoriety for his dramatic radio coverage of the Battle of Britain. But his television documentary news programs, "See It Now" and "CBS Reports," made him a fixture of 1950s television. In the public eye Murrow became the very ideal of a television newsman and a prime source of the great reputation of CBS News.
Not trained as a journalist or a broadcaster, it was those two fields which soon gathered...
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Paley, William S. 1901-1990
TELEVISION NETWORK EXECUTIVE
William S. Paley was the most dynamic tycoon in the television industry of the 1950s. As president and chairman of the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), Paley built a struggling radio network into a radio and teleivision empire. No person had greater influence on the development of television, its broadcasting content, and its cultural power.
Born in Chicago in 1901, Paley began his career in the Congress Cigar Company, which the Paley family owned. As vice-president of Congress, Paley contracted in the mid 1920s to advertise on the Columbia Phonograph Broadcasting System, a small struggling radio network headquartered in Philadelphia and owned by United Independent Broadcastings. His interest in broadcasting piqued, Paley bought United in 1928 for five hundred thousand dollars and renamed it Columbia Broadcasting System. By 1929 he had increased the size of the network from sixteen stations to forty-nine.
Paley continued to expand at CBS during the onset of...
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Sarnoff, David 1891-1971
TELEVISION NETWORK EXECUTIVE
Born in Minsk, Russia, David Sarnoff immigrated to America in 1900 to reside with his family in a tenement on New York City's Lower East Side. To support his family, nine-year-old David, the eldest son, almost immediately found work selling newspapers. Soon he had his first real job, as a five-dollars-a-week messenger boy. In 1906 he took a position with American Marconi, the American office of the first wireless-telegraph company, Marconi Wireless. As a telegrapher for Marconi, Sarnoff stayed at his post for three straight days after the sinking of the SS Titanic on 14 April 1912, receiving wireless transmissions of the names of the dead and survivors. The Titanic tragedy had the effect of boosting the infant wireless industry, which could communicate with vessels at sea.
Sarnoff's fortunes rose with American Marconi's, and when the company merged with several others to form the Radio Corporation of American (RCA) in 1919, he was one...
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Sullivan, Ed 1902-1974
King of Variety Shows.
Ed Sullivan was the king of variety shows in the 1950s. With his CBS shows the "Toast of the Town" and "The Ed Sullivan Show," Sullivan parlayed his expressionless manner and untelegenic face into a television institution.
Sullivan first gained prominence in 1932 as the author of the "Little Old New York" column, which was published in the New York Daily News and syndicated to newspapers across the United States. The same year he began a radio variety show that was notable for broadcasting Jack Benny, Irving Berlin, and George M. Cohan, among others. In 1942 he began a network radio show on CBS called "Ed Sullivan Entertains."
His premiere on television occurred without his knowledge. Sullivan was the master of ceremonies of the annual Harvest Moon Ball, a dance competition sponsored by the Daily News and held in Madison Square Garden. In 1947 CBS televised the competition without Sullivan's knowing about it. On the...
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People in the News
Samuel Blackman was named general news editor of the Associated Press in December 1958.
Dick Clark hosted the national premiere of his "American Bandstand" music show on ABC on 7 October 1957.
In 1957 Nat King Cole became the first black performer to have his own television show. Because southern stations threatened a boycott, no national advertiser could be found, and the show was canceled in 1958.
After eight years on the show, Dorothy Collins and her husband, Raymond Scott, were dropped from "Hit Parade" in February 1957.
John Denson was named editor of Newsweek on 22 July 1956.
In 1954 Roscoe Drummond was hired from the Christian Science Monitor to be the Washington bureau chief for the New York Herald Tribune.
Pauline Frederick was hired in 1953 as an NBC news correspondent. Her hiring opened many career doors for women.
Radio disc jockey Alan Freed hosted the first prime-time television special featuring rock 'n' roll music on 4 May 1957.
Radio and television personality Arthur Godfrey under-went surgery for lung cancer on 30 April 1959.
In 1951 graphic designer William Golden conceived the CBS Eye as the...
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Best Sports Program: "Rams Football" (KNBH)
Best Variety Show: "The Alan Young Show" (KTTV, CBS)
Best Dramatic Show: "Pulitzer Prize Playhouse" (KECA-TV)
Best News Program: "KTLA Newsreel"
Most Outstanding Personality: Groucho Marx (KNBH, NBC)
Best Dramatic Show: "Studio One" (CBS)
Best Comedy Show: "Red Skelton Show" (NBC)
Best Variety Show: "Your Show of Shows" (NBC)
Special Achievement Award: U.S. senator Estes Kefauver, for outstanding public service on television
Best Dramatic Program: "Robert Montgomery Presents" (NBC)
Best Variety Program: "Your Show of Shows" (NBC)
Best Public Affairs Program: "See It Now" (CBS)
Best Mystery, Action, or Adventure Program: "Dragnet" (NBC)
Best Situation Comedy: "I Love Lucy" (CBS)
Most Outstanding Personality: Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (Dumont)
Best Dramatic Program: "U.S. Steel Hour" (ABC)
Best Situation Comedy: "I Love...
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Julius Ochs Adler, 62, general manager of the New York Tim es, publisher of the Chattanooga Times, 3 October 1955.
Frederick Lewis Allen, 63, editor in chief, Harper's magazine (1941-1953), 13 February 1954.
Bert Andrews, 52, chief Washington correspondent of the New York Herald Tribune, Pulitzer Prize winner (1947), 21 August 1953.
Edwin Howard Armstrong, inventor of FM radio, 1 February 1954.
John Balaban, 62, motion picture executive and president of Balaban & Katz Corporation since 1949, 4 April 1957.
Suzan Ball, 22, television actress, 5 August 1955.
Marshal Ballard, 74, editor of the New Orleans Item (1906-1947), 24 March 1953.
Meyer Berger, 60, newspaperman, New York Times correspondent (1928-1959), 1950 Pulitzer Prize winner, 8 February 1959.
Stephen Bonsai, 86, foreign correspondent, diplomat, author, 1944 Pulitzer Prize winner for Unfinished Business, 8 June 1951.
Edna Woolman Chase, 80, editor of Vogue magazine (1914-1952), initiated women's fashion shows in the United States, 20 March 1957.
Lou Costello, 52, comedian in motion pictures and...
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Robert Lee Bailey, An Examination of Prime Time Netword Television Special Programs, 1948-1966 (New York: Arno, 1979);
Erik Barnouw, The Image Empire: A History of Broadcasting in the United States from 1953 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1970);
Bliss, Edward, Jr. In Search of Light: The Broadcasts of Edward R. Murrow, 1938-1961. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1967.
William Boddy, Fifties Television: The Industry and Its Critics (Urbana & Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1990);
William Y. Elliott, Television's Impact on American Culture. (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 1956)
Karen Sue Foley, The Political Blacklist in the Broadcast Industry: The Decade of the 1950's. (New York: Arno, 1979);
Larry James Gianokos, Television Drama Series Programming: A Comprehensive Chronicle, 1947—1959 (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1980);
Thomas F. Gordon and Mary Ellen Verna, Mass Communication Effects and Processes: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1950-1975 (Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage, 1978);
Ben Gross, I Looked and I Listened: Informal Recollections of Radio and Television (New York: Random House, 1954);
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Important Events in Media, 1950–1959
- A total of 101 television stations are operating.
- Some 4,835,000 television sets are installed.
- In The Lonely Crowd, published this year, social scientists David Riesman, Nathan Glazer, and Reuel Denney argue that the mass media is a powerful force in shaping behavior and enforcing conformity.
- On February 21, the Justice Department files a civil antitrust suit charging Lee and Jacob Shubert with monopolizing U.S. theater ownership.
- On April 13, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) warns radio stations that present editorial opinions on controversial issues that they have a "duty to seek out, aid and encourage the broadcast of opposing views."
- On October 2, Charles Schulz's comic strip Peanuts begins appearing in newspapers across the country. This is Schulz's second try at syndicating the cartoon. His strip was previously rejected by several major newspaper syndicates when it was titled Lil' Folks.
- On October 11, the FCC votes to allow CBS to begin color television broadcasts starting 20 November.
- On December 12, CBS asks twenty-four hundred employees to sign loyalty oaths.
- Marquette University televises the first course over...
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