February 23, 2018

Around the dial

Kind of a light week this week, what with the blogathon earlier, but still plenty of things worth your while. Let's take a look.

This is certainly worth a listen: Jim Benson's TV Time Machine interviews Mark Dawidziak, author of the book Everything I Needed to Know I Learned in The Twilight Zone.

As part of Black History Month, A Shroud of Thoughts educates us on the first black performer to host his own television show: Trinidadian born singer Hazel Scott, who hosted The Hazel Scott Show on the DuMont Network from July 3 to September 29 1950.

At The Lucky Strike Papers, Andrew remembers the late Vic Damone with a clip of his April 1949 appearance on DuMont's Morey Amsterdam Show. (This must be the week for DuMont.) Jb also remembers Damone with this very nice retrospective at The Hits Just Keep On Comin'.

Jodie shares the story of the Today Show interview that wasn't, with someone who just happened to show up at the famous picture window - former President Harry Truman - at Garroway at Large.

Classic Television Showbiz takes us back to one of television's most famous incidents: Jack Paar walking off The Tonight Show. Audio only, but even if you've heard the scene before, you'll want to check out this recording of the entire program.

That should keep you busy for awhile, or at least until tomorrow. Come back and find out what's waiting for you then.  TV  


  1. About the Hazel Scott item:

    If you're specifying network television, I'd ask you to bear in mind that in 1950, networks didn't extend much beyond the Midwest.
    DuMont had the shortest station lineup of any of the nets; the linked story doesn't indicate how many stations were carrying The Hazel Scott Show.
    But if the Scott Show is the first network series with a Negro star (the term of the time), OK.

    That said, allow me to share an item from TV Forecast, the Chicago ancestor of the national TV Guide.
    From the issue dated April 2, 1949:
    All-Negro Show "Happy Pappy" Bows
    "Happy Pappy", the first television production to feature all-Negro talent stars Ray "Pappy" Grant, veteran radio entertainer made its debut this week on WENR-TV, channel 7.If you missed it, set aside Friday, April 8, for a date with the curator of a mythical Happiness Club.
    "Pappy" Grant will bring you the Four Vagabonds, vocalists, and the Modern Modes, an instrumental quartet. Special guests of the week will be selected throug weekly contests in Chicago's churches, schools, and social groups.

    WENR, which was the ABC network's owned station in Chicago, also has an ad in Forecast that includes Happy Pappy among the station's offerings for the week; whether they offered the show to ABC's other stations (in 1949, this wouldn't have been more than about three or four stations, all in the East or Midwest), I have no idea.
    But 1949 did come before 1950 (it came before me, comes to that), so there too.
    Just thought I'd pass that along, FWIW ...

    1. Quick Add-on:

      I forgot to mention that Happy Pappy only ran for a couple of months in '49; this was the period when local stations would try anything and everything to attract the handful of homes that had television sets, and not many of them were long-lived.

    2. Good stuff, Mike. I was recently watching a documentary about the first decades of WCCO-TV here in Minneapolis, and they make the same points, both about the range of the networks, and how wide-ranging local programs could be.


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