Museum Volunteer Dwight Heasty

Dwight Heasty passed away on March 26. His contributions to the National Capital Radio & Television Museum are in a category by themselves. Dwight volunteered to help about the time the Museum opened its doors in 1999. He served on the board of directors and was the Museum’s volunteer coordinator from 1999 through 2006. Furthermore, he was instrumental in creating innovative interactive exhibit devices for Museum visitors that continue in use today. Dwight could make just about anything mechanical or electrical that anyone could envision. A working exact replica of a Marconi magnetic detector, an elaborate Winshurst static generator, a scanning disc television receiver, and even re-creations of 1900-era laboratory tables are just a few examples of splendid devices that help the Museum tell the story of the development of radio and television. Dwight paid special attention to making devices that children could try out and enjoy. His Jacobs ladder is still a favorite of the kids who visit.

Dwight was a skilled radio engineer. An expert in electromagnetic compatibility, he spent much of his career with RCA, and always had a love for RCA’s “Nipper” dogs. The beautiful Nipper stained glass window at the Museum is yet another example of his skill at making things, and the several donated Nippers placed throughout the Museum remind us daily of Dwight.

As you walk through the Museum and read the artifact labels, you cannot help but notice that many of the finest items in the collection were donated by Dwight. A gentle, friendly, and extremely knowledgeable man, those who had the pleasure of knowing and working with Dwight are richer for that experience. A docent who joined the Museum recently said, “I never met the man, but I feel I knew him because of the displays I see every time I am at the museum.” A bronze plaque on the wall says “With gratitude to Dwight Heasty, developer of superb exhibits, volunteer coordinator, and board member.”

Our hearts go out to his family.

Celebrating the Fab Four — 50 Years Later

This is a free Museum lecture in partnership with and given at the Bowie Branch, Prince Georges County Memorial Library System.

Saturday, February 15
2:00 pm
15210 Annapolis Rd, Bowie, MD

In February 1964 The Beatles appeared on three consecutive Ed Sullivan shows, singing such songs as I Want To Hold Your Hand, She Loves You, Twist and Shout, among others, and America went wild.

As part of the library’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ appearance on American television, Museum Director and Curator Brian Belanger will talk about Toast of the Town–the Ed Sullivan television program on which the famous singing group began to capture the attention of Americans.

Following Brian’s talk, students from the Woodstream Academy will reform the Fab Four and perform many of the same songs that Americans listened to when the Beatles paved the way for The Rolling Stones, The Animals, Herman’s Hermits and many more. As this “Invasion” unfolded over the remainder of the 1960s, both the United States and the world of music would never again be the same. Please be sure to attend this 50th Anniversary program and relive, for the first time all over again, the Beatles’ appearances on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Winter 2014 Screenings Announced

January through May 2014

Dr. Brian Belanger, Curator of the National Capital Radio & Television Museum, has announced the classic television screenings for January through May, 2014.
These screenings take place weekly on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2:00 p.m.

Admission to the Museum is free, with donations encouraged.

January Weekend Showings: Historic Films About Radio and TV

Jan. 3-5 Behind Your Radio Dial: The Story of NBC (1947)
This 24 minute documentary includes a behind the scenes tour of Radio City and NBC’s studios just after WW II.

Jan. 10-12 Independent Radio Station (WMCA)
This 18 minute film describes New York City station WMCA and provides a tour of its facilities.

Jan. 17-19 Magic in the Air
A 1941 General Motors film about the development of television, followed by a 1955 remake with the same title.

Jan. 24-26 Dedication of NBC’s Washington studios on Nebraska Ave.( May 28, 1958)
President Eisenhower speaks, along with David Brinkley, David Sarnoff, and others
Bonus feature: Newsnight local news program (unknown date) and 1962 Thanksgiving day parade.

February is Variety Show Month 

Jan. 31-Feb. 2 Bonnie Maid Versa-Tile Varieties
Starring Harold Barry, Peggy Ann Garner, Anne Francis, and June Walker, this is an example of how crudely produced early TV shows were compared to today’s fare. Telecasting began in 1949 and ended in 1951. Anne Francis appeared in floor covering commercials, accompanied by actors playing “wear” and “tear.”

Feb. 7-9 Chesterfield Supper Club (The Perry Como Show)
Perry Como, with his relaxed singing style, was one of the most popular crooners of his era. This 1949 episode is an early one—Como’s TV show was on from 1948 to 1963. His show often featured celebrity guests.

Feb. 14-16 Toast of the Town (Called the Ed Sullivan Show later)
Ed Sullivan’s deadpan delivery was a frequent target for impersonators, but the guests he had on his
program were top-notch, ranging from the Beatles to classical musicians. The program aired from 1948 to 1971, a remarkably long run for a variety show. This particular show is from April, 1953.

Feb. 21-23 Don McNeill’s TV Club
Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club had a long successful run on radio beginning in 1933, but when a prime time TV version was tried on ABC in 1950, it lasted only about a year, after which McNeill went back to radio.

March is Kid’s Adventure Stories Month

Feb. 28 – March 2 Sky King
Sky King, a show about a pilot/rancher, was on radio from 1946 to 1954. It offered classic radio premiums (e.g., a telescope ring, a glow-in-the-dark ring with a secret compartment) to its devoted listeners. Beginning in 1953, the TV version lasted only one year. Sky King, Penny, and Clipper of the Flying Crown Ranch had more than their share of exciting adventures.

March 7-9 Captain Video and His Video Rangers
By later standards (think Star Trek and Star Wars), this early children’s program about space adventures is incredibly amateurish. (Its prop budget was only $25/week!) Captain Video and his colleagues used atomic rifles and fanciful devices such as a “opticon scillometer” to mete out justice to the universe. (A 1949 episode.)

March 14-16 The Lone Ranger
Beginning as a Detroit-based local radio show in 1933, The Lone Ranger soon went nation-wide, and quickly became one of the most popular westerns ever. Given how many kids tuned in each day, Rossini’s William Tell Overture, which introduced the show, may be the best-known piece of classical music. With his sidekick, Tonto, The Lone Ranger strived to avenge wrongs without bloodshed in the old West.

March 21-23 Lassie
A smart and loyal collie, Lassie was the kind of dog devoted to his master that every kid dreamed of having. On CBS from 1954 to 1971 (later syndicated), Lassie’s adventures over so many years required the use of several different actor dogs.

March 28-30 Space Patrol
“Travel into the future with Buzz Corey, commander-in-chief of the SPACE PATROL!” The popularity of Captain Video may have inspired this program, which was aired on both radio and ABC TV in the early 1950s. Cadet Happy often responded to Corey with “Smokin’ rockets, Commander!”

April is Quiz Show/Game Show Month

April 4-6 Twenty Questions
Bill Slater was the host of this 1952 show on the DuMont Channel. Based on the parlor game “animal, vegetable, or mineral” it aired from 1949 to 1955. In addition to DuMont, at other times it had been shown on NBC and ABC. Before television it had been on the Mutual Radio Network.

April 11-13 What’s My Line
This Goodman/Todman production was one of the most popular game shows of early television. It was on CBS for 17 years beginning in 1950. Panels included big names such as Fred Allen, Steve Allen, and Arlene Francis.

April 18-20 You Bet Your Life
Groucho Marx made his mark in movies in the 1930s, but his hosting of this popular game show lasted from 1950 to 1961. Groucho would say “Say the secret word and the duck will drop down and give you $100.”

April 25-27 To Tell the Truth
Another Goodman/Todson production, it was hosted by Bud Collyer throughout its entire life on CBS (1956-67). Three contestants were introduced, each claiming to be some person with an interesting story. By asking a few questions, the four panelists had to decide which one was telling the truth. (See the September 2012 issue of Dials and Channels for more information about this program.)

May is Detective/Law Enforcement Month

May 2-4 Dragnet Nov. 6, 1952, “The Big 17”
Based on actual Los Angeles Police Department files, Dragnet began on radio in 1949 but beginning in 1952, became one of television’s most popular police shows. Jack Webb as Sergeant Friday was a no-nonsense cop famous for lines like “Just the facts, mam, just the facts.”

May 9-11 Gangbusters “Dillinger,” with Myron Healey
The radio version of Gangbusters aired from 1936 to 1957, but the TV version was on the air for less than a year in 1952. At the end of each telecast a photo of a criminal wanted by the police was shown, and a number of them were apprehended when viewers called in with leads.

May 16-18 Highway Patrol
Broderick Crawford starred in this law enforcement drama. It lasted from 1955 to 1959, and long after that, in re-runs. Episodes were filmed mostly outdoors, probably in California, although that was not stated.

May 13-25 Man Against Crime “The Day Man,”
The “Man” was detective Mike Barnett, played by Ralph Bellamy. Barnett solved crimes in the New York City area by using both his intellect and his fists.

 

Fall Screening Schedule Announced

October is Western Month

October 4-5
Annie Oakley: “Shadow at Sonoma”
Gail Davis starred as Annie Oakley in this syndicated show of the mid-1950s. Ms. Davis was a trick rider and rodeo performer discovered by cowboy star Gene Autry.

October 11-13
The Rifleman: “A Reasonable Man”
North Fork, New Mexico, was the setting for this western. Chuck Conners and Johnny Crawford starred in this ABC telecast, which aired from 1958 through 1963.

October 18-20
Bonanza: “Feet of Clay-The Hard Truth”
Bonanza was one of the most popular westerns ever, and was the first to be broadcast in color. Ben Cartwright (Lorne Green) and his son Little Joe ( Michael Landon) were particularly engaging characters, keeping up their Ponderosa Ranch near Virginia City, Nevada.

October 25-27
The Cisco Kid
156 syndicated episodes of this western aimed at kids, were produced between 1950 and 1956. It was one of the first filmed shows made for television during an era when most programs aired live. The Cisco Kid and his sidekick Poncho had an easy-going camaraderie.

October 25-27
The Adverntures of Jim Bowie: “The Squatter”
Set in the Louisiana Territory in the 1830s, this show aired on ABC between 1956 and 1958. It starred Scott Forbes.

November is Comedy Month

November 1-3
The George Gobel Show
George Gobel had a quiet, restrained sense of humor compared to many of his contemporaries. His quaint expressions such as “Well, I’ll be a dirty bird!” and “You don’t hardly get those no more” caught on with the public.

November 8-10
I Love Lucy: “Lucy Gets Into Pictures”
I Love Lucy is one of the most memorable comedy shows of early TV. It was on the air for a decade (1951-1961) and continued with reruns for many years afterward. It was in the top three shows for most of its existence. In an era of kinescopes, this show was filmed, making it easy to preserve the content for reruns.

November 15-17
The Jack Benny Show: “Income Tax Show with Jimmy Stewart”
Jack Benny had a successful radio show long before transitioning to television. The television shows lasted from 1950 to 1977 although during some of those years the shows were infrequent specials rather than a weekly program. Most of the cast of the radio show (e.g., Don Wilson, Mel Blanc, Frank Nelson) continued into the television era.

November 22-24
Lum and Abner, 1949
Lum and Abner had a highly successful radio show, but never made a successful transition to television. This is a pilot for CBS.

November 29-Dec. 1
Ceasar’s Hour, 1954
Sid Caesar was noted for his zany and imaginative comedy routines. Sidekicks Carl Reiner and Howard Morris contributed much to the skits. The show aired on NBC from 1954 through 1957.

December is Santa’s Big Broadcast Month

December 6-8
The Beverly Hillbillies
CBS got high ratings for this slapstick situation comedy about the Clampett family for almost a decade (1962-1971), at times garnering 60 million weekly viewers.

December 13-15
George Burns and Gracie Allen
George Burns and Gracie Allen had been popular radio performers since the 1930s before their television show was launched in 1950. The program aired on CBS from 1950 through 1958 (when Gracie chose to retire).

December 20-22
Four Star Playhouse: “The Gift”
A dramatic anthology, Four Star Playhouse featured four regular stars, David Niven, Charles Boyer, Dick Powell, and Ida Lupino, plus occasional other guest stars. CBS carried it from 1952 through 1956.

December 27-29
Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
The real-life Nelson family played themselves on this long-running TV show (1952-1966), portrayed as a typical suburban American family of the era. In this Christmas show Ozzie Nelson plays Santa and Scrooge.

Summer Screening Schedule Announced

Curator Brian Belanger recently announced the summer classic television programs schedule. Programs are at 2:00 p.m., every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The museum is free; donations are encouraged.

July 5-7 Four Star Playhouse (Episode: “A Study in Panic”)
This drama anthology show aired on CBS from 1952 to 1956. Regular players included David Niven, Charles Boyer, Dick Powell, and Ida Lupino. Plots ranged from comedy to serious drama. Nightclub owner Willie Dante, portrayed by Dick Powell, appeared in most episodes. Other big names in the theater who appeared now and then included Ronald Coleman, Merle Oberon, and Frank Lovejoy.

July 12-14 Bonanza (Episode: “Everyone Makes Mistakes”)
One of the best-loved TV westerns, Bonanza was on the air from 1959 through 1973, and was the highest-rated TV show from 1964 to 1967. The Ponderosa Ranch in Nevada was home to the Cartwright family: Ben (Lorne Green), “Little Joe” (Michael Landon), and Eric “Hoss” (Dan Blocker).

July 19-21 Dangerous Assignment (Episode: “Mitchell to Barcelona”)
U.S. Government undercover agent Steve Mitchell (Brian Donlevy) was the star of this suspense filled syndicated series (1951-52) dealing with danger and espionage. His boss “the Commissioner” sends him to exotic places where his life is often threatened.

July 26-28 George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (Episode: “Teenage Girl Spends the Weekend”)
George Burns and Gracie Allen got their start in vaudeville in the 1920s. During the 1930s and ‘40s they appeared on the radio regularly. From 1950 to 1958 their CBS television show got high ratings. The plots typically involved George patiently having to deal with Gracie’s scatterbrained escapades.

August 2-4 Trouble With Father (The Stu Erwin Show) (Episode: “Stu Wants a New Car”)
Stu Erwin played himself in this situation comedy on ABC from 1950 to 1955. The principal of Hamilton High School, Stu Erwin was the quintessential bumbling parent. Erwin’s real-life wife, June Collyer, played his TV wife, June, and she was the one that usually cleared up the problems that Stu had created.

August 9-11 The Loretta Young Show (Episode: “I Remember Rani”)
Hostess Loretta Young made a grand entrance at the beginning of each show, swirling her full-skirted dress in a dramatic fashion. She starred in most, but not all of the dramas presented. Stories selected for presentation were uplifting, with a strong moral tone. The show was on NBC from 1953 to 1961, with many re-runs later.

August 16-18 The Bob Cummings Show (Episode: “Bob Judges a Beauty Contest”)
This short-lived CBS comedy program (1961-62) featured Bob Cummings playing the role of pilot Bob Carson, whose motto was “I will do anything that is not illegal, immoral, or underpaid.”

August 23-25 Topper (Episode: “Second Honeymoon”)
This situation comedy aired on CBS (1953-56) and then in re-runs on ABC and NBC. Cosmo Topper was a proper gentleman. His home was haunted by two ghosts, George and Marion Kirby (and their ghost dog, Neil.). George and Marion found Cosmo to be too up-tight, and the comedy revolved around their efforts to make him more laid back.

August 30-September 1 Sergeant Preston of the Yukon (Episode: “One Bear Too Many”)
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon was on the radio from 1947 to 1955, and then migrated to television, appearing on CBS between 1955 and 1958. Children (as well as many adults) who watched TV during that era recall well the theme song (“Donna Diana Overture”) and the cry “On King! On you huskies!” The radio show was created by the same team (George W. Trendle and Fran Striker) that originated the Lone Ranger and the Green Hornet.

September 6-8 Pete and Gladys (Episode: “Gladys’ Nephew Applies to a Fraternity”)
Harry Morgan had played the part of Pete Porter, the sardonic next-door neighbor on the show December Bride, where he often complained about his scatterbrained wife, Gladys. From 1960 to 1962, the Pete and Gladys Show on CBS exploited their relationship. Cara Williams played Gladys.

September 13-15 Red Skelton (Episode: “Freddie and the Spies”)
Comedian Red Skelton, son of a circus clown, was loved by his many fans. His television shows aired from 1951 to 1971, an unusually long run for any TV program. Red’s imaginative characters included Freddie the Freeloader, the Mean Widdle Kid, Sheriff Deadeye, Willie Lump Lump, and others.

September 20-22 The Lone Ranger (Episode: “Enter the Lone Ranger”)
After many years on the radio starting in 1933, the Lone Ranger came to ABC television and lasted from 1949 through 1957. The noble Lone Ranger and his faithful Indian sidekick, Tonto, avenged wrongs throughout the old West. Clayton Moore and John Hart played the Lone Ranger; Tonto was played by Jay Silverheels.

September 27-29 Television Under the Swastika
Electronic television was introduced in Germany several years prior to the start of WWII, in part to showcase German technology to the world. However, instead of providing television for home entertainment, the Nazis used television for propaganda purposes in public spaces. It was strictly controlled by the government and served to advance the Nazi cause. This 54-minute documentary film presents that remarkable story. (Note: viewers may find the content disturbing, given the nature of Nazism.)

Allan Sherman biographer to speak at the Museum

“Allan Sherman was the original. . . . Before Forbidden Broadway, before ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic, there was Allan Sherman—brilliant wit, satirist beyond compare, and stand-up comic with a melody.”
—Jason Alexander, actor and Seinfeld star

Sherman book cover

For the 50th anniversary of Allan Sherman’s Grammy Award-winning summer of 1963 hit, “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” the NCRTV Museum will host a free talk, “Allan Sherman: The Life, Hits, and Lost Recordings,” and book signing by the author of the first biography of America’s greatest song parodist.

In Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman (Brandeis Series in American Jewish History, Culture, and Life) author Mark Cohen presents Sherman, a television producer (I’ve Got a Secret) turned song parodist, as a manic, bacchanalian, and hugely creative artist whose explosively funny parodies of classic songs marked a turning point in American cultural history.

“Sherman led Jewish humor and sensibilities out of ethnic enclaves and into the American mainstream,” said Cohen. “When his three “My Son” albums sold three million copies in just twelve months, it proved that the age of assimilation was over. A new age of ethnic pride had begun.”

Allan Sherman with Kennedy

Sherman with John F. Kennedy

The book is receiving lots of attention.

Overweight Sensation is “a remarkably well-researched, passionately written story,” wrote The Nation columnist Eric Alterman. He continued, “Allan Sherman’s story will remain a crucial episode in the annals of satire, of assimilation, of celebrity seduction.”

“Sherman did as much as anyone to bring Jews out of the American pop-culture closet. One can hope that, thanks to Cohen, his legacy is now safe.” — Josh Lambert, Tabletmag.com

“An interesting and engaging biography of a complicated man.” Lorna, Koski, Women’s Wear Daily

The free event begins at 2 pm on June 2. Q&A and book signing to follow.

Please rsvp for this event.

Take Me Out to the Ballgame!

Orange, blue, white and black Bowie Baysox logo

Enjoy a memorable evening of baseball, fireworks, and camaraderie!

Box seat tickets for the Saturday evening, July 13 game between the Bowie Baysox and the Richmond Flying Squirrels are available through the Museum for only $14. (regularly $17 at the door). Children under 3 free.

Food vouchers available in advance, too. (Beer and wine are available at the stadium.)

Between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. on the 13th the Museum will screen a kinescope of a 1952 World Series game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Yankees, with sportscasters Red Barber and Mel Allen giving the play-by-play.

Reservation form

Deputy Director on Local Cable Show

Deputy Director Laurie Baty appeared on the Bowie Business Journal program on November 6. Host Cindy Freland had invited Baty and Debbie Langdon, Director of the Bowie Interfaith Food Pantry to talk about non-profits in Bowie. The half-house program may be watched on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et1PCLajntQ&feature=youtu.be

Amateur station on air for first time with new call

The Amateur Radio Club was on air Saturday, October 20, for the first time using the new vanity call K3RTM (note: the Museum’s call has now changed to K3RTV). Paul Courson wrote, “The station is now wired and fully functional on the 40 meter shortwave band, tuned to frequency 7290 Kilocycles. By happy circumstance, one of the first contacts was Marco, N5ACR, a member of our club ! He checked in from home at Laurel, Maryland.”

Paul made a short video of the first five contacts, which you can watch on YouTube.

Amateur Station Almost Ready for Airtime!

The Museum is working hard to make its amateur radio station available on a regular basis. An Amateur Club has been established and has the call sign KB3ZAW.

Equipment:
The station has a 1951 Collins broadcast station AM transmitter (250 watts) that has been modified to operate on the 160-meter band. From time to time the Museum fires up the transmitter to operate under the special call W3R, such as during the “Heavy-Metal Rally” for vintage AM transmitters. A 160-meter vertical antenna is used with the Collins.

The Museum also has a restored Johnson Ranger transmitter that is used for AM or CW operating, with a 40-meter inverted-V dipole antenna.

A Hallicrafters SX-42 receiver has been restored and is available for use. Many other receivers from Hallicrafters, National, Hammarlund, RME, etc., may be restored to operating condition at a later date.

Operations:
In addition to using the special event call W3R, the Museum is in the process of applying for regular club station call letters that can be used at any time. The intent is that the station will ultimately be on the air on a regular schedule during hours that the museum is open, so that Museum visitors can experience an amateur station in operation using a 60-year old broadcast transmitter. In addition, special programs and classes will be developed to be used with the station.

Once the station is fully operational, licensed amateurs who are Museum members may operate the station on a first-come, first-served basis. As of right now, there will be no limit on the number of times a member may sign up. We believe that there are many amateur operators who would enjoy the opportunity to work with the Museum in presenting the amateur “story.”

Looking for a few good operators:
In addition, we are looking for volunteers willing to operate the station. Please contact the Museum if you would like to be involved in this activity. WEe also are looking for amateur members living away from the Museum who would be interested in being available during certain times to talk with Museum visitors.

Please contact Brian Belanger if you are interested in participating in this new Museum program.