Archive for the ‘"Captain Video and His Video Rangers"’ Category

The World Needs More Ernest Borgnine!

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Today the Archive interviewed film and television icon Ernest Borgnine at his home in Beverly Hills. It was a fun trip down merriment lane, as Ernie reminisced about his theatrical beginnings at the Barter Theater, to his Broadway turn in “Harvey”, which led to bookings on early live dramatic series for Philco Television Playhouse (where he met director Delbert Mann), to eventually being cast as a lead in the Academy-Award-winning film “Marty” in 1955 (and made writer Paddy Chayefsky cry at the first reading!) He discussed working with Bob Aldrich and Sam Peckinpah, and entertained us with tales from his days on “McHale’s Navy” with Tim Conway, Gavin MacLeod, and Joe Flynn. He joked how a girl scout group didn’t know him from the 200 films he’s been in, but when he said “Anyone ever hear of Spongebob Squarepants?” they howled with delight at the realization that they were in the presence of “Mermaid Man”. At 91, Ernie kept us laughing with his anecdotes and amazed at his memory for the smallest details. He had much sage advice for actors of all ages, and he’s beginning work on a new film in a few weeks, so there will be much more of Ernie to come. Stay tuned for postings about this archive interview going online!

The Original "American Idol"— "The Original Amateur Hour" Debuted 60 Years Ago on Television

Thursday, January 17th, 2008


Following WWII, as American television began to take off, many of the popular shows on radio began to be adapted to the new medium. Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour was one of radios old stalwarts, having debuted in 1934, and it was one of the first shows to make the leap. The American Idol of its day in terms of its allure to the fame-seeking hopeful, amateur acts (musical and otherwise) traveled from all over the country to be on the radio show. The show ended in 1945, when it had run its course and the ratings had slipped; Bowes died in June of 1946.

Emcee Ted Mack (in photo, left), who was an associate of Major Bowes during the radio days, brought the show back in 1948 to both television (it premiered on January 18th) and radio (in September). The show had the same format and used the same booking staff. Viewers voted for favorite acts although they were not “gonged” off as on radio (that element would return more famously on an amateur talent show in the 1970s!). All over again, the show was a major success— lasting 22 years on television (in evening and daytime versions).

Additionally, the show was the most popular program of the fledgling Du Mont television network. It was one of the only shows that could compete with the more established CBS and NBC. The show ran through September 1949 on Du Mont, until NBC lured it away.

The Archive of American Television interviewed Ted Bergmann who began at Du Mont on the time sales staff (it was he who made the sale for The Original Amateur Hour which he sold to P. Lorillard, maker of Old Gold cigarettes). Bergmann eventually moved up to the executive suites and became the Managing Director of the Broadcast division of the Du Mont Television Network.

Bergmann talks about The Original Amateur Hour and such other popular Du Mont shows as The Small Fry Club, Magic Cottage, and the well-remembered Captain Video and His Video Rangers in Part 2 of his 10-part interview.