December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve, 1965

Those of us of a certain age remember seeing Guy Lombardo ring in the New Year from New York, usually on CBS. If you're a little younger, you probably grew up watching Dick Clark and his New Year's Rockin' Eve on ABC. Easy enough, because neither of those networks had regular late-night programming on a consistant basis.

Nowadays, NBC has its own show, with Carson Daly. But for many years the peacock network stuck with its regular programming - that is to say, Johnny Carson and the Tonight Show. Johnny didn't do a regular New Year's special per se, but especially during the years when he broadcast from New York, he'd cut away as the clock approached midnight to provide live coverage from Times Square. Here's a rare clip from New Year's Eve 1965, as Johnny goes to (I believe) Ben Grauer to watch the ball drop. (Note how the studio broadcast is in color, but the live remote is still black and white.) Frankly, from the looks of this footage, I think they'd already been celebrating back at the studio.

2011 has not been a great year, and there's a lot of apprehension about 2012 - the economy, the state of the nation at home, tensions overseas, the election. It's somewhat poignant listening to Ben talking about 1965 and all that had happened, particularly the escalation of the war in Vietnam, and his hopes that 1966 will be better. In fact, I thought as I watched this, the worst was yet to come - even more war, even more drugs, even more death, MLK, RFK, riots, and more. John Lindsay, the new mayor of New York, will turn out to be a disaster, and it will take the city until the time of Rudy Giulianni to return to its former glory. Carson himself will leave New York for Hollywood in a few years.

Tonight we hope that 2012 will be a better year. Personally, I think that it will - at least, let's hope that 2012 will be kinder to us than the end of the 1960s was to that crowd in Times Square on New Year's Eve, 1965.

2 comments

  1. Yep, it was Ben Grauer who, frankly, I hadn't realized was such a fixture at NBC's three classic networks (Red, Blue, and Television.)

    Perusing YouTube a bit more, you can find him hosting a 1949 broadcast celebrating WNBT New York's tenth anniversary (they included their experimental years as W2XBS in the calculation.) As one of the commenters on the vides points out, it's an anniversary show from the days before television history was really even written.

    Grauer apparently retired from NBC in 1972, but found himself in Times Square on New Years' Eve 1976/1977 on CBS, handling the chores for Guy Lombardo's broadcast (the final one for both.)

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  2. Thanks for the info, Sean. Interesting to think of Ben Grauer in the color era!

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