Thursday, 28 February 2019

Stabbing Snafu by Amos Quito

A malaria mosquito on a reconnaissance flight has discovered how the allies can be attacked—Private Snafu has been careless and has a hole in his mosquito netting.

The mosquitos set out on their mission—infect Snafu.



Here are some of the drawings after the swarm jabs Snafu en masse.



Mission accomplished!

Target Snafu, a little satire on basic training from the enemy side, was animated by the Friz Freleng unit. It was part of the Army Screen Magazine of October 1944.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Bill Frawley's Just Desserts

The word “irascible” must come up in every newspaper story about Bill Frawley.

It describes the characters he played on TV and, from what I gather, pretty much describes him.

If you really want to feel old, consider that Frawley would have turned 132 today if he were alive. And he’d be complaining about something, I’ll bet.

Here are a couple of stories after he joined the cast of My Three Sons in 1960, a show that did nothing for me. In the first, from October 3, 1960, Frawley tells United Press International he’s not going to learn how to cook. In the second, from May 28, 1961, it appears he did.

MAN'S MAN WEARS APRON
Don't Call Him ‘Sissy’

By VERNON SCOTT

HOLLYWOOD (UPI)—It takes a man’s man to wear an apron and play housekeeper in a television series, and the sissy who's doing it is William Frawley.
Frawley, you will recall, played the irascible Fred Mertz in “I Love Lucy.”
And he'd better not hear me or anyone else calling him a sissy.
Bill does wear an apron and does play “house mother” in the new Fred MacMurray show “My Three Sons.” The comedy role calls for him to shepherd three rambunctious kids around, too.
But don't think old Fred Mertz, er . . . Bill Frawley . . . has gone soft. He's still the same cantankerous, crusty codger he always was.
“I'M BOSSY AND MEAN as ever,” he grinned over a martini on the rocks, “but I'm loved, too. Those three boys—Tim Considine, Don Grady and Stanley Livingston—are my buddies. We got along just fine.”
Does Bill miss Vivian Vance, who played his wife, Ethel, on the “Lucy” series?
“Only because I don't have a nagging wife to bounce the comedy off of,” he growled. “There's nothing better than a battle-ax as a foil for laughs.
“As it is, I berate the kids and a dog named ‘Tramp’ in the new show. That dog is really funny; a big sloppy, good-natured slob who takes two or three steps and lies down right in front of me.
“I spend a lot of time in the kitchen and cleaning up the house.
“I can't fry an egg in real life. But on the show I turn out layer cakes and prune whip. I also sweep the dust under the rugs.”
FRAWLEY'S ONLY COMPLAINT about the ABC-TV program is the lack of females in the format. “So far the only girls who have shown up are romantic interest for MacMurray,” he explained. “There aren't any girl friends written into the script for me, though.
“Maybe it's just as well. I might wind up with another old crow-type. On the other hand, it wouldn't be bad if they brought in some young chick for me to chase around the set,” said the 67-year-old campaigner.
Frawley admits his role of ‘Bub,’ father-in-law to widower MacMurray and grandfather to the three boys, is similar to the Mertz part.
“So far it's been a lot of fun?” he concluded. “But I'll tell you one thing, I'm not learning to cook.”


CAN'T COOK A PRUNE!
Frawley's Recipes
By CYNTHIA LOWRY

Associated Press TV-Radio Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — William Frawley, once of "I Love Lucy" and currently of "My Three Sons" (Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.), has been a railroad hand, chorus singer, vaudeville song-and-dance man, dramatic actor and comedian. But now, in some quarters, he is considered an authority on cooking and other aspects of domestic science.
"It's pretty funny," confessed the stocky actor with the prize-fighter's nose and the buzz-saw voice. "I don't even know how to cook a prune. But all these letters come in asking me for my recipes."
Frawley's emergence as a pseudo home economist is the result of his part as "Bub." housekeeper, cook and dishwasher-in-chief of the Douglas household. Fred MacMurray plays a widowed father with three boys, and "Bub" is his father-in-law.
Frawley, in New York for a brief vacation before going back to start on next season's quota of "My Three Sons" episodes this week, was at first confounded when feminine viewers started asking him to share his cooking secrets.
"It started, I think, in an early episode when I yelled to the kids to come and get their mulligan stew," he said. "There's about a million things in a stew and I didn't know one of them. But I got hold of a recipe from a restaurant and sent it along."
Since then, Frawley—who keeps an eye on his waistline—has been forced to do some research on such unlikely subjects as pecan pie and caramal whip. Recently, the ladias have been sending recipes to him.
"One was pretty good," he said. "It was a dessert—they always are sending in dessert recipes—made of custard with cocoanut and stuff like that." Frawley, determinedly undomesticated and grass widower for many years, admits he's been having a perfectly horrible time trying to simulate convincingly the fine art of housewifery.
"I always eat in restaurants," he growled over a breakfast consisting of a whisky sour made healthful by extra orange juice, a cranshaw melon and black coffee. "I've lived in the El Royale Apartments for years, and there is maid service. One of the things that I have the worst time with is a vacuum cleaner. Every time I have to use one of the con founded things, my respect for women already high goes way up."
Pressed, non-cooking Bill Frawley admits he does rustle up his own breakfast. "I'm crazy about prunes," he said, "so I get three or four jars of them at a time and put them in the refrigerator. For breakfast, I have a few prunes, instant coffee and a few of those little wheat crackers that are shaped like triangles.” Frawley says it seems to him that he always has to be ironing something in the show.
"And I'm always doing it wrong," he said. "I just can't get the hang of it. Except for that I how to iron a shirt—I learned that from my mother a hundred years ago.”
* * *
THE 68-YEAR-OLD performer is one of the very few who have moved from one successful TV series to another. For years, Frawley played irascible Fred Mertz. who with Vivian Vance as Ethel, his wife, were the neighbors and pals of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz in "I Love Lucy."
When Bill was in New York, he went to see Lucy Ball, whom he loves dearly, in "Wildcat." Lucy, at the end of the show, introduced him from the audience, and the reception was so warm Bill's gravelly, gruff voice actually became soft and sentimental just recalling it.
"My Three Sons" turned out to be one of the past season's hit shows. Frawley had little time for his favorite pastimes—baseball-watching and golf-playing. At one time Frawley was one of the owners of the minor league Los Angeles baseball club and he has won cups for his golf.
Although he has been in the theater almost 50 years, Frawley comes from Iowa parents so far removed from show business that his interest in the entertainment world puzzled and worried them.
He started work at 19. as a clerk in an Omaha railroad office, but quit after two years and went to Chicago to try his luck in the theater. But his two brothers hauled him back to Iowa.
Eventually he talked his younger brother into joining him in a vaudeville comedy and song act. Bill later played vaudeville houses up and down the Pacific Coast for several years, went into motion pictures, returned to vaudeville and ultimately — in 1927 — hit Broadway in musical shows. Hollywood called in 1939, and he built a reputation as a crusty character actor. With "I Love Lucy" he became nationally known.
"It has been interesting," Frawley said. "And I've enjoyed life. I still do. I don't know what you think success is, but I think it's working steady and making money. I'm doing both those things, and I like it fine."

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Jivin' Shoemaker

“When the old couple saw all the shoes finished, they were very happy, and danced with glee,” we learn from storyteller Daws Butler in The Peachy Cobbler.



The shoemaker go from being shaky and feeble to a couple of jive turkeys.



This is from Tex Avery’s The Peachy Cobbler, a 1950 MGM release animated by Walt Clinton, Grant Simmons and Mike Lah, with the story by Rich Hogan.

Oh, happy 111th birthday, Tex. You’re still my favourite cartoon director.

Monday, 25 February 2019

I'll Have a Foot

A pie-eyed, odd looking version of wrestler Willie Whopper turns a malformed foot of his opponent into a hamburger in Rasslin’ Round (1934).



Is this how Burger King got the “Whopper”? (That’s about as creative as anything in this weak cartoon).

Bob Stokes and Norm Blackburn get screen credit for animation, with Carl Stalling providing the music.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

The Last of Jack Benny?

When Jack Benny’s series left television in 1965 after 33 years (including radio), he wasn’t finished with the small screen. He and NBC signed a pact to do a special. One aired on November 3, 1965 and featured some sketch material with Bob Hope that could make even the most ardent Benny fan cringe (in exchange, Benny appeared on Hope’s 1965 Christmas show).

Ratings must have been good enough for the network and Benny to get together again. Another The Jack Benny Hour aired on December 1, 1966 with Phyllis Diller (who had her own professional connections with Bob Hope), Trini Lopez (photo to left ) and Jack’s long-time friend Mel Blanc, who evoked nostalgia for Benny’s radio days by recreating the Si-Sy-Sue routine they did many times.

Fred Allen had done a joke on radio years earlier about NBC cutting off Benny’s radio show two weeks in a row for running late. To paraphrase Allen, he explained there was a new saying: “You’ll never hear the end of Benny.” Was this 1966 special the end of Benny? That was a subject broached by the entertainment columnist of the Indianapolis News in his review of the show the day after it aired.
'The Jack Benny Show' May Be Only A Memory
By RICHARD K. SHULL

Although not a word was said about it, the audience saw what was probably the last of its kind last night -- "The Jack Benny Show."
For the first time in 35 years, the 73-year-old comedian is no longer under any contract for future shows of his own with any network.
But if you're getting the wrong idea, stop. Don't plan on sending flowers just yet.
Although Benny has made his exit from broadcasting, he still has his full schedule of club dates, and a commitment to take his theater revue to England next spring.
And he's still whittling away on his perennial project: donating a benefit concert to every symphony orchestra in the country. So far he has been at that particular pastime 10 years and he has raised $4 million for orchestras, including the Indianapolis Symphony.
And he'll still be seen on television occasionally in guest appearances, such as on "Hollywood Palace" Feb. 4.
There's also the possibility he may become bored in a couple of years and decide to come back to TV for a special or two of his own. But at the moment, there are no more Jack Benny shows in sight.
Entertaining
To say that Benny went out in a blaze of glory last night would be an overstatement, but his show was substantially entertaining, thanks primarily to the Smothers Brothers and the singing of Trini Lopez.
Benny also had Phyllis Diller and 10 pretty girls -- a rather grotesque parlay.
His mark in entertainment has never been to say funny things, but to say things funny. His swishy gestures and walk, his insufferable vanity, his ability to milk an extra 30 seconds of laughter from an audience by freezing in position, have been his great assets.
It's a pity there's such a spread in ages between Benny and Tom Smothers, because never has Benny had such a perfect working companion.
Tom's dullhead mutterings and comments are perfect for Benny's reactions. The segment last night played between Benny and the Smothers was the high spot of the show.
The closeout portion of the hour had Benny in a luxuriant black wig (he has a thing about wigs) mimicking Bert Parks' as host of a phony beauty-contest.
The girls were eyefilling and the gimmicks abounded, even though Phyllis Diller did assault the nation's ocular faculties by appearing in a swimsuit alongside the beauties.
The Smothers played the judges which gave occasion for Tom to tell Benny, "I just gave you eight points for your walk."
And Just for old-times sake, Benny had Mel Blanc on the show for a repeat of one of their comic dialogues which they've been doing together for more than a quarter century.
Nearly five years ago, I sat with Benny in his Hollywood office, lazing in overstuffed chairs while he reflected on his long career in show business.
His heart bled for his old pal, the late Eddie Cantor, whose health at the time prohibited him from working even though his spirit was willing.
To Benny, the greatest tragedy which could befall a comedian would be to have the desire to entertain, yet for reasons of health or public indifference not have the opportunity.
Fortunately, Jack Benny still has the desire to entertain, the health to permit it, an audience that wants him, and the financial independence to pick and choose what he'll do. That's awfully nice for the aging comedian, even though he still practices on his violin daily in hope that someday someone may say, "Jack Benny, the violinist."
As we know, Jack didn’t bow and walk off the television stage for good after the special. He continued to appear on TV and had a special scripted and ready to go when he died in 1974. But, for the record, Variety reported on February 6, 1967 that NBC was “impressed by the high ratings” of the two specials, so long-time network executive Mort Werner signed him for a third. However, it didn’t air until 1968 (it was called Jack Benny’s Bag). Benny was busy with casino appearances in Vegas, hosted The Hollywood Palace, was honoured by the Variety Club for his charity work and maintained a busy schedule performing violin concerts across the U.S. It’s a wonder he had time, at age 72, for specials at all.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

The TV Station That Clipped the Wings of Steel

He was a cartoon super hero fighting bad guys who was brought down in the real world by good guys. Or at least people with good intentions.

Who was he?

“A name to strike terror in the hearts of the cartoon world's evildoers everywhere. Batfink! Champion of justice and defender of the weak, who with his supersonic radar, wings of steel and faithful assistant Karate, responds to urgent calls from citizens in distress.” At least, that’s how the Ottawa Citizen newspaper described him in its 1967-68 TV listings. In reality, he was Hal Seeger Productions’ attempt to make some bucks from the Batman TV craze.

Batfink was a series of five-minute cartoons designed for the syndication market, though it was picked up by CTV in Canada. It was originally distributed by Mission Productions, the TV arm of toymaker WHAM-O. But another company looking for a cartoon series came sniffing around. Back Stage, a trade publication, reported on March 3, 1967:
Screen Gems has acquired world-wide distribution rights to the new color cartoon series “Batfink” from WHAM-O Manufacturing, San Gabriel-based toy manufacturer, it was announced by Dan Goodman, Screen Gems V.P. in Charge of Syndication Sales. The deal, which also gives Screen Gems merchandising rights on the show, is exclusive of the 40 key market stations previously sold by J.W. Packer, Pres. of Mission Prods, the tv subsidiary of WHAM-O.
The pre-sold markets for “Batfink” include: Metromedia stations WNEW-TV N.Y., KTTV L.A., WTTG, Wash., and KMBC-TV Kansas City; also WGN Chicago; KWGN Denver, KTVT Dallas, WEWS Cleveland, WXYZ-TV Detroit, WTCN Minneapolis and KPLR St. Louis; and the Triangle Broadcasting group.
Ah, but there was a time bomb in that sale and as Batfink’s mentor would say “Some days, you just can’t get rid of a bomb.” Batfink’s potential rise coincided with social activist groups carping and griping about “violence” in children’s programming, waving studies as “proof” that kiddie’s little brains were being warped. One of the stations carrying Batfink decreed the batty caped crusader was responsible—along with The Flying Nun!

Here are two stories from the Minneapolis Tribune of July 5, 1968.
Area TV Stations Blame Networks for Violent Shows
By RICK EDMONDS

Minneapolis Tribune Staff Writer
"Batfink" cartoons are no longer going to be shown on WTCN-TV kiddie shows, but that's the only change any local station has made in response to the growing outcry over "television violence."
The networks have cancelled at least a score of scheduled programs in the weeks since Sen. Robert Kennedy's assassination, and are busily editing film and rewriting scripts for next fall.
Episodes of "I Spy," "Tarzan," "Bonanza," "Wild Wild West," and "Gunsmoke" have been pulled and even installments of such generally innocuous situation comedies as "The Mothers-in-Law" and "The Flying Nun" have been canceled.
Fifty House members Tuesday introduced a measure that would direct the Federal Communications Commission to study the effects on viewers of violence, in television programs.
EXECUTIVES of the three networks have written memos to their writers and editors asking that violence be de-emphasized. The "Batfink" program is a series of about 100 five-and six-minute episodes that had run during WTCN-TV's Casey and Roundhouse shows, the most popular children's TV offering in the Twin Cities. A spokesman for the station said the program was canceled because it contained much "that was almost violence for violence's sake."
But the four Twin Cities commercial stations generally are standing firm with program policies that they say they have been using for years.
AS A RESULT, fans of explicit conflict could tune in this week for "Cry of Battle," "Earth vs. the Flying Saucers," "Battle of Apache Pass" of "Escape From San Quentin,"—all local late show offerings.
Spokesmen for the four stations defend their policies in similar terms.
They all point out that the local stations originate very few shows—only a few news broadcasts, a children's program or two, and maybe a travelogue—and so they claim that primary responsibility for policing violence rests with the networks.
Movies which might be objectionable are always shown late at night, the local stations say, and they do edit out offensive segments ("though mostly for sex reasons not violence," one spokesman said).
WCCO-TV substituted the soapy "Magnificent Obsession" for "The Fly," a science-fiction horror film, the night after Sen. Robert Kennedy was assassinated, but since then none of the local stations has juggled its movie lineup.
The stations buy their movies in packages. They don't have to show every one they buy, but usually they do.
"We haven't bought any pictures that can't be shown on TV," WTCN-TV Program Director Howard Reiser said.
Most of the spokesmen think the criticism being aimed at the TV industry is unjustified.
SHERM HEDLEY, WCCO-TV program director, said, "A few years ago ABC introduced some violent programs to get a competitive edge. CBS never has gone in for it much, but now the whole industry's being talked about as violent."
Don Swartz of the local ABC outlet, KMSP-TV, complained of "undue criticism of television as an industry. We have always had a policy of not running violent shows in an early time period."
Spokesman Bill Davy of KSTP-TV said, "I thing [sic] a lot of this talk about violence is phony concern I don't think there's any great problem there." Kiddie shows have taken much of the heat from critics of TV violence, but spokesmen for the local stations defended the Three Stooges and slam-bang cartoons as being so fanciful that they are innocuous.
EVEN IF the local stations continue to stand pat, Minneapolis viewers should be able to notice a change in their TV diet this summer and fall. NBS [sic] has canceled several Saturday morning shows and one spokesman said viewers should expect "a big change—from the bird-man-superman kind of thing to sweetness and light—in children's shows."
Though the networks' fall schedules are heavy with police shows, an unheard of number of captures probably will be accomplished by scuffles in which no one pulls a gun.
NBC has announced that it will eliminate all violence in its trailers and teasers, and a spokesman said his station was following the same policy in one-minute plugs for local movies "because it's good business."
"For the time being," he said, "that kind of thing discourages people from tuning in."


'Children's Hour' TV Found Violence-Rich
BUFFALO, N.Y.—Violence is common in early-evening television programming, according to a recent survey conducted by a western university research team and cited in the current issue of The Humanist magazine, a publication of the American Humanist Association.
The researchers found that in a single five-day period (Monday through Friday), early-evening television featured over 100 separate acts of violence, including:
One stabbing in the back, three suicides, four people falling over cliffs, two attempts to run cars over persons on sidewalk, 12 murders, 16 major gun fights, 37 hand-to-hand fights, two stranglings and 42 incidents with guns.
According to a 1963 Federal Communications Commission study, also cited by The Humanist, a youngster growing up before the set would witness, between ages 5 and 14, representations of 13,000 violent human deaths.
Whether other stations copied WTCN-TV’s example, I don’t know, but Batfink aired here and there into the early ‘70s (it was sold in Australia as well), and the U.S. networks reacted just as the story said: Space Ghost was out, Wacky Races, The Archie Show and The Banana Splits Adventure Hour were in.

However, nostalgia digs its claws into the memory, and Batfink still had his fans. Here’s a neat story from the Edmonton Journal of January 19, 2002. It was accompanied by a drawing of Batfink covering a good deal of a full page. (A fan reproduction accompanies the article).
Batfink flown but not forgotten
Satirical '60s super-rodent deserves TV resurrection

By Sandra Sperounes
"Your bullets can't harm me. My wings are a shield of steel!"
As a kid, I ran around yelling these magical phrases. They were the words of Batfink, a cartoon superhero with a kung-fu fighting sidekick, Karate, and an evil, bald nemesis, Hugo A-Go-Go.
Nowadays, none of my friends have any idea who Batfink is. Most think he's a product of my own imagination. For a time, I thought so too, until I spotted a rerun in Cambridge, England, of all places. Dubbed into German.
Eric Strong feels my pain.
"In my 31 years here on Mother Earth, I've met exactly one other person who remembers Batfink. As an aside, that person's name is Matt, so I've taken to calling him Mattfink," says Strong.
Batfink first appeared on TV in 1966 as a satirical antidote to the Batman TV series. Created by Hal Seeger, the cartoon crusader didn't have a long life -- he was cancelled in '67 after 100 episodes.
But in the '70s, Batfink reappeared on CFRN's Popcorn Playhouse, which is where Strong fell in love with the pointy-eared superhero, who looks more like a grey cat than a flying mammal.
Strong is a rabid fan of Batfink. He would even be willing to take time off work to attend a Batfink Film Festival, if there ever was one. He hasn't seen the show in 10 years, but he remembers the tiniest details, from Batfink's red boots to the "BEEP" of his supersonic sonar-radar tracking abilities. "The cartoon was like a James Bond movie made for five-year-olds," says Strong.
Glenn Arnold is also haunted by memories of Batfink and his car, the Batillac.
"A Volkswagen with bat-wings is not the product of a sane mind," says Arnold.
"To this day, I have an obsession with Volkswagen Beetles which I believe was precipitated by my sponge-like brain spending hours in front of the television absorbing stray supersonic-sonar-radar waves. There is no cure for my condition and I believe that I am doomed for the rest of my life."
So are the rest of us Batfink fans. In the mid-'90s, he aired on Nickelodeon in the U.S., but he's been missing from Canada's airwaves since the '80s.
The reason? Some speculate Batfink's sidekick, Karate, may now be considered an offensive Asian stereotype. But I disagree -- otherwise Jackie Chan wouldn't be allowed to make movies.
No, I think Batfink is overlooked because he's simply faded from the minds of most TV viewers and executives. They might have a vague recollection but, like erectile dysfunction, they're too embarrassed to talk about an animated bat with their friends.
So, hopefully, this will jog some memories and inspire a nationwide campaign to resurrect Batfink! Or maybe not.
Batfink did get a resurrection. His cartoons were released on video—in the U.K.—in 2004, a year before creator Hal Seeger died. And a couple of fansites and two Facebook pages. The pages are still there and the fansites are preserved on that magnificent site, archive.org. A UK site is here (you need Flash to see it), while a Hal Seeger tribute site is here.

Friday, 22 February 2019

Ising's Fantasia

After watching about 15 seconds of Dance of the Weed, a 1941 cartoon by Rudy Ising, a thought came to me. And it came to others at the time the cartoon was released. From the Motion Picture Herald:
This seemed almost like a piece of “Fantasia.” The adults liked it but the children did not appreciate it. (W.V. Nevins III, Alfred Co-Op Theatre, Alfred, N.Y.)
A very good cartoon and enjoyed by all. Was quite different. Could have been a bit of “Fantasia.” (Alex Slendak, St. Clair Theatre, St. Clair, Mich.)
Humanised plants? Coyness? Balletic dancing? Classical-like music? Yeah, Fantasia came to my mind, too.

Ising is at his most ersatz Disney-est here. At the start, leaves in the pastel mist laugh at a Ray Bolger-like weed that stumbles and falls while pulling himself out of the ground. The laughter is actually provided by a flute and other wind instruments.



Aw, shucks.



The weed backs into a stinging nettle. Pussywillows hiss like cats at him. He sprouts several heads before zipping away in multiples behind a rock.



Ising takes extremely good advantage of Technicolor in this short and the background paintings are impressive, but if I want Fantasia, I’ll watch Fantasia. As usual, Ising’s name is the only one in the credits.

Thursday, 21 February 2019

The Dog's Still There

Tex Avery and Mike Maltese both knew how to let gags talk without dialogue. Here’s an example from The Legend of Rockabye Point (1955). When a polar rushes into a locker full of frozen fish, a door closes revealing a sign reading “Beware of Dog.”

There’s a reason for the sign.



The dog taps the bear on the back. A look. A take.



A zoom skyward. End of scene. On to the next gag.



Don Patterson, La Verne Harding and Ray Abrams are the credited animators. This was the last cartoon Avery and Maltese worked on together. Maltese went back to Warner Bros. Avery made one more cartoon for Lantz and was preparing others when he walked away from theatrical animation for good.

More fun frames from this cartoon in this post, this post, this post and this post.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

The (Not Exactly) First Anchor

Douglas Edwards is credited with being the first anchorman of the CBS-TV evening newscast in 1948. That’s a simplification. Edwards anchored television newscasts before this, and there were other anchors before Edwards, such as Richard Hubbell starting in 1941. However, May 3, 1948 is when the newscasts were expanded to five nights a week.

CBS had was a three-station network at the time—WCBS-TV, New York, WCAU-TV, Philadelphia, and WMAR-TV, Baltimore, though the Philly station was still in test mode. Affiliation deals had been signed with nine other stations that were under construction.1

Edwards first anchored the CBS Television News on March 20, 19472 when the network was a whopping one station—in New York City. He replaced Larry LeSueur. The news aired for 15 minutes on Thursdays and Saturdays; Tom O’Connor continued to handle the weekend newscast. The news had been sponsored by Gulf since June 1946 when Milo Boulton was the anchor.3

The roof soon caved in. CBS needed to save money, so it eliminated all studio TV programming effective May 11, 1947.4 But Edwards kept anchoring. He commented off-camera while charts and pictures were broadcast. Gulf must have been happy with this as it continued to sponsor the newscasts which eventually could be seen on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. With a small network in place, CBS re-opened its studio at Grand Central Terminal on April 28, 1948 with Edwards’ newscast as the first live programme from it.5

Let’s go back to those days and find out what the print news media was saying about Edwards. Here’s an unbylined story from The Boston Globe of June 6, 1948. The city didn’t have a CBS TV affiliate yet.
Edwards Prepares 10 Hours for 15-Minute TV Broadcast
Reporting News While Electronic Cameras Stare Is Not World’s Easiest Job

Douglas Edwards, native of Oklahoma who spent his boyhood in Alabama and his college days in Georgia, hasn’t seen any of those places in quite a while. But they will be seeing him one of these days—on television receivers.
Better known as a Columbia Broadcasting System correspondent and news analyst, Edwards is piling up an impressive record of pioneering experience in the new medium in addition to his regular broadcasting assignments.
The latter comprise six mornings a week as New York anchor mean for the “CBS World News Roundup” which calls in overseas reporters by shortwave and his five-day-a-week noontime stint as a reporter of the day’s events on “Wendy Warren and the News.”
His broadcast time on CBS-TV is a mere 15 minutes a week, but after a year before the cameras, mostly under Gulf Oil sponsorship, he still needs 10 solid hours of preparation per broadcast.
Reporting the news with a couple of big electronic cameras staring at you in the eye needs that kind of preparation if you’re going to be caught off base, Edwards explains.
“A television news broadcast,” the sandy-haired 31-year-old newsman explains, “is a combination of reporting-up-to-the-minute happenings, analysing the day’s big events, and acting as interlocutor for films, photos and other illustrative material that the audience is busy looking at while listening to you. That means you have to know when to shut up too.”
While he can depend on his typewritten script in his other broadcasts Edwards has to work mostly from memory for the television shows even though he holds a script in his hand from time to time for reference to figures or other tricky bits of information.
He got his first taste of broadcasting while in high school. Some of his friends rigged a 100-watt station and Doug, who had been practicing newscasting into a telephone since he was 12 years old, was naturally appointed news broadcaster.
His first regular radio reporting job came in 1935 at WAGF, Dothan, Ala. He stayed there for three months, then joined the Atlanta Journal and radio station WSB, doubling as radio and newspaper reporter.
In 1938 Edwards transferred to a new job with WXYZ, Detroit, stayed on for a couple of years and in 1940 returned to WSB, Atlanta, to become assistant news director for the station.
In December, 1942, he joined Columbia network’s news staff, worked on such shows as “Report to the Nation,” “The World Today,” Behind the Scenes at CBS.” In March, 1945, he went overseas, was heard from London, Paris and Germany and went on an 8000-mile roving assignment to inspect Army Air Corps Communications installations in Marseille, Rome, Athens, Cairo, Ankara and other cities. He returned to the United States in June, 1946.
Edwards, 5 feet 9, 160 pounds, is married to the former Sara Byrd of North Carolina and has two children, a 7-year-old daughter, Lynn Alice, and a son, Robert Anthony, 2½.
Edwards had some further comments to Jack Perlis of the New York Times on January 2, 1949.
[Edwards] feels that the ever growing video audience “is entitled to as full a news covering on this newer medium as it gets on radio. The news and its interpretation are the important things—news has its own dignity—and it is our job at CBS to present it in an informative and visually effective manner.” He goes on to add that “while our news format is fairly well established, we are constantly on the look-out for innovations that will heighten the visual impact of our news presentation.”
As regards that operation bugaboo—reading from scripts while “on camera”—Douglas is equally explicit. He feels that a script is absolutely essential on news broadcasts, not only for content but for the technical demands of timing and cue-ing. The trick is to consult the script rather than read from it. This is done by becoming familiar with the news, so that only occasional glances at the caption heads and cues are necessary to assure continuity.
Regular appearances before the video cameras by Edwards have resulted in some interesting reactions from some members of his audience whom he meets while they are in pursuit of their livelihoods. Often elevator operators, newsboys, clerks in department stores (especially in the video department) glance at him curiously as though they had seen him somewhere before, and audibly check their hunches. One cab drive, on being told his fare was indeed on CBS-TV, remarked: “You know, mister, you look a whole lot better on screen than on the street!”
Members of his own household are not much more encouraging. Two of his three youngsters—Donna (1 year) and Bobby (3 years) maintain an impartial objectivity—their tastes running to electric trains and “Lucky Pup.” However, his 7-year-old charmer, Lynn, is outspoken. She feels that her daddy should smile more often when “on camera” but conceded he has a good point when he replies that a good deal of the news he talks about is far from a smiling matter.
One final matter: Doug Edwards insists that he had proof positive that the CBS telecamera was actually rendered hors de combat during the fateful performance of Gypsy Rose Lee at the Air Force Show held in Madison Square Garden several months ago. It will be recalled that a good portion of the citizenry waxed skeptical at the coincidence of a fuse blowing just at the critical moment. Well, Doug had the guilty fuse in his possession—it had actually blown out—but he sent it along to Miss Lee to be autographed. It was never returned.
Just before Edwards began broadcasting Monday through Friday, Bob Trout left CBS for NBC. In the early 1930s, Trout had emerged as CBS radio’s number one news/public affairs reporter. But the war came along and Trout dropped further and further down the CBS news pecking order to Edward R. Murrow and his team of war correspondents. The same thing eventually happened to Doug Edwards. The CBS Television News was renamed Douglas Edwards With the News in 1950. For whatever reason, the network decided not to have Edwards anchor the biggest showcase in the TV news business back then—the political conventions. That job was bestowed on Walter Cronkite in 1952, 1956 and again in 1960. In 1962 Cronkite, who had been anchoring a 15-minute network cast on late Sunday nights, hosting CBS Reports, Eyewitness and The Twentieth Century, space flight coverage, and conversing with former president Eisenhower in a short series of specials, was handed the prime-time news job on April 16th.6

Anyone that tells you that CBS News was floating in some lofty journalist heights where no one paid attention to ratings is full of it. The idea sounds grand but it wasn’t a fact, though “a CBS spokesman” denied it to the New York Herald Tribune at the time. Edwards was more than capable, but increasing numbers of TV viewers were getting their network news from Chet Huntley and David Brinkley at NBC. Cronkite was brought in by news president Dick Salant to get the numbers up. It took time (and a strike at NBC News combined with incisive coverage of Vietnam) for Cronkite to make CBS number one.

Edwards told the Associated Press in a story published on March 15, 1962 that he asked for his release, saying “I have had a very good substantial offer. But they refused me. I don’t know quite what to do. But one thing I’m not the least bit ashamed of the showing I’ve made on the show against the competition.” Salant’s damage control to the AP was that Edwards would take on an increased schedule of “informational programming.” But clearly, Edwards’ career had peaked. He spent the rest of it at CBS anchoring local late news and brief mid-day network newsbreaks on TV and appearing on radio before retiring in 1988.

1 Broadcasting magazine, April 12, 1948, pg. 26
2 Newsday, Mar 20, 1947, pg. 31
3 Variety, June 26, 1946, pg. 35
4 The Billboard, May 10, 1947, pgs. 15, 17
5 New York Herald Tribune, April 24, 1948, pg. 19
6 New York Times, March 15, 1962, pg. 71.