Even if you haven’t heard of Imero Fiorentino, chances are you’re familiar with his work. He was the lighting designer on may of ABC’s earliest programs, including U.S. Steel Hour,Omnibus, Paul Whiteman’s Goodyear Revue, and Tales of Tomorrow. He lit the scene for Telstar I’s first live transatlantic transmission on July 10, 1962, and he designed the lighting for the World Showcase Pavilions at Disney’s Epcot Center.
Perhaps the most famous broadcasts with which Fiorentino was involved: he lit the second, third and fourth Kennedy-Nixon debates after Nixon looked so undesirable in the first debate:
She played one of America’s all-time favorite neighbors. As “Trixie Norton” on The Honeymooners, Joyce Randolph was that pal that you wished lived upstairs. She was friend to Audrey Meadows’ “Alice Kramden,” other half to Art Carney’s “Ed Norton,” and along with Jackie Gleason, made up one of the funniest foursomes in television history. In her Archive of American Television interview from 1999, Randolph speaks in detail about her time as “Trixie,” sharing what it was like to do the show with very little rehearsal, since Jackie Gleason preferred it that way, and recalling her memories of the “Classic 39″ episodes.
She shares how she won the role:
Describes her co-star Audrey Meadows:
And gushes about the talents of her on-screen husband, Art Carney:
Learn more about Randolph’s time on The Honeymooners, and about her early stage and television work by watching her full Archive interview.
About this interview:
In her two hour Archive Interview, Joyce Randolph discusses her early years as an actress on the stage and speaks of her first appearance on television in 1946 — on experimental station WRGB in Scenectady, NY. She outlines her roles in early television on the Dumont network, on shows Martin Kane, Private Eye; The Plainclothesman; and The Famous Jury Trials. She describes her first appearance on The Cavalcade of Stars in a dramatic role, before landing the part of “Trixie Norton” in the show’s “Honeymooners” sketches, opposite Art Carney’s “Ed Norton.” Randolph then details her appearances in the “Classic 39” episodes of TheHoneymooners, when the sketches were launched as a 30-minute sitcom series for the 1955-56 season, and shares what it was like to work with Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows. She chronicles her continued appearances as “Trixie” on The Jackie Gleason Show (which ran through 1959) and her return to the role for an episode of the 1991 television series, Hi Honey, I’m Home. Michael Rosen conducted the interview on October 27, 1999 in New York, NY.
Phil Rosenthal wanted to be an actor. He and several friends in New York wrote a show called “Tony and Tina’s Wedding”, in which he acted, and an agent saw his work and told him to come to LA to pursue acting. Rosenthal did, and instead wound up meeting up with high school friend Alan Kirschenbaum, writing a screenplay, and falling in love with writing.
After several years as a staff writer with writing partner Oliver Goldstick on A Family for Joe, Baby Talk, Down the Shore, and Coach, Rosenthal branched out on his own and created the popular sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. In the following clip, he shares how he came up with the show’s title:
Everybody Loves Raymond ran for nine years on CBS, and lives on in syndication. Below Rosenthal describes his vision for what the series finale would be:
To learn more about Phil Rosenthal, and to see his tips for sitcom writing, watch his full interview here.
John Frankenheimer (1930-2002) directed some of television’s most acclaimed productions on Playhouse 90, Climax! and Danger. In his interview from 2000, Frankenheimer speaks in detail about his craft, techniques, and some of his favorite people to direct. He shares tales of working with Edward R. Murrow and in the clip below, describes the valuable lessons he learned from the legendary David O’ Selznick:
John Frankenheimer (1930-2002) was interviewed for six hours (in two sessions) in Century City, CA. Frankenheimer gives a vivid description of his early television work as an assistant director on You Are There, Danger and Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person. He speaks about his first directorial assignments on You Are There and Danger and recalls making a name for himself directing live anthology dramas (“The Comedian” and “Days of Wine and Roses”) on Climax! and Playhouse 90. He discusses his feature film work and his return to television to direct the acclaimed programs Andersonville for TNT and George Wallace for HBO. Michael Rosen conducted the two-part interview on March 21 and April 13, 2000.
The Archive recently had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Mr. Danny Devito. Interviewer Amy Harrington of the Pop Culture Passionistas shares a few thoughts about the experience:
I knew that Danny DeVito was a great actor when I signed up to interview him for the Archive of American Television. After all I’d been watching him since I was a little kid and he was the dastardly Louie DePalma on Taxi. And I grew to admire him over the years for his roles in films like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Throw Mama from the Train,” the latter of which he also directed.
But it wasn’t until about two-thirds of the way through my sit down with the Emmy-award winning actor that I got a first hand glimpse of his incomparable talent. DeVito was discussing his role on the edgy series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. In the course of his response he started to talk about his time in Vietnam.
My mind frantically rifled through his resume for the period in his life when DeVito had served in the military — wondering how I’d missed his turn in the Armed Forces. That’s when I realized I was no longer talking to Hollywood’s Danny DeVito, I was speaking with Sunny’s Frank Reynolds.
At that moment I looked into the eyes of the character, not the actor, and noticed an oh-so-subtle but undeniably present shift. DeVito had disappeared and Reynolds sat there in his place.
Luckily Danny came back for the follow-up question and I was back on track. But I’ll never forget that moment of pure, unadulterated talent staring me in the eyes.
- by Amy and Nancy Harrington, Pop Culture Passionistas
Bo and Hope, John and Marlena, Tom and Alice – some of the most beloved soap opera couples stem from Days of Our Lives. In his Archive interview, Days’ Executive Producer Ken Corday takes us behind-the-scenes of one of America’s favorite soaps. Corday shares that his parents, Ted and Betty, were two of the creators of Days of Our Lives. He discusses their contributions to the program, and describes many of the show’s memorable storylines over the years — from “Marlena’s possession by the devil,” to the harrowing “Cruise of Deception.” In the following clip, Corday describes what it was like to lose Days of Our Lives patriarch MacDonald Carey, who portrayed the lovable “Tom Horton:”
Ken Corday was interviewed for nearly two-and-a-half hours in his office at Corday Productions in Burbank, CA. Corday talks about his parents, Ted and Betty Corday, who, along with Irna Philips and Allan Chase, created Days of Our Lives, which premiered in 1965. He describes the premise of the show and explains his initial involvement with the soap opera – as a composer of music cues for the series. He details his ascent up the ladder from assistant producer, to producer, and eventually to executive producer, taking the reins from his mother shortly before her death. Corday outlines lessons he learned from his mother, talks about all aspects of the show’s production, and reflects upon several of the longtime cast members, including MacDonald Carey, Frances Reid, John Clarke, Suzanne Rogers, Deidre Hall, and Joseph Mascolo. He discusses successful storylines such as the “Salem Strangler,” Marlena’s possession by the devil, the “Cruise of Deception,” the “Salem Stalker,” and Philip’s Iraq War mission. He speaks about his relationship with head writer Jim Reilly, whose unusual storylines have come to define the series over the last decade, comments on the concept of the “super couple” in daytime television, and discusses the future of daytime serials. Beth Cochran conducted the interview on April 26, 2006.
With her success on Everybody Loves Raymond and now The Middle, Patricia Heaton is a household name. But that wasn’t always so. Heaton spent years as a struggling actress in New York and Los Angeles, doing bit parts and odd jobs to make a living. Her first appearance on a television show was on 1989’s Alien Nation; her first recurring role was on the critically acclaimed dramedy, thirtysomething, and her first starring role was on the short-lived 1992-3 series, Room For Two, opposite Linda Lavin. Several more years passed before she won the role of “Debra Barone” on Everybody Loves Raymond.
In her Archive Interview, Heaton describes her audition for Everybody Loves Raymond:
Patricia Heaton was interviewed for nearly two hours in Burbank, CA. Heaton talks of growing up a “daydreamer” in Cleveland and enjoying the attention she got as the daughter of Chuck Heaton, a well-known local sportswriter. She describes her early years as a struggling actress in New York City and Los Angeles, picking up small roles in commercials and television series. She discusses her recurring role in the hit dramedy series thirtysomething and her co-starring roles in the short-lived series Room for Two (opposite Linda Lavin, who mentored her) and Women of the House. Heaton then details the role and series for which she is best known, “Debra Barone” on Everybody Loves Raymond. She chronicles her work on the series from her audition, to shooting the series finale (which was delayed when she contracted laryngitis). She describes the series’ shooting schedule, working with series’ directors Gary Halvorson and Will MacKenzie, and how her real-life pregnancies were covered up on the show. She also notes some of the moments of the show that garnered the biggest laughs, including: Debra’s desperate attempts to get a turkey in the oven, Raymond trying lift Debra onto the refrigerator in a moment of glee and slamming her into it, and Debra dropping ice cream on Raymond’s lap (eliciting a “minute and a half laugh”). Lastly, she touches on her appearances as spokesperson for Albertsons grocery stores and on some of her post-Raymond television movies. Karen Herman conducted the interview on October 23, 2006.
Burrows stated that one of the biggest laughs he’s ever seen on television occurred when he was directing Friends:
Watch James Burrows’ full interview here to hear his tales of Taxi, Cheers, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and other TV favorites.
About this interview:
In his three-and-a-half hour Archive interview, James Burrows discusses his early years working as a stage manger under his father, playwright/director Abe Burrows, and outlines his years directing for the stage in regional theater. He recalls his break into television directing, working at MTM Productions on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and describes directing Fay, The Bob Newhart Show, Laverne & Shirley, and Phyllis. He details working with the cast and creative team behind Taxi, and directing the majority of the series’ episodes. Burrows chronicles the eleven-year run of Cheers, which he co-created with Glen & Les Charles, and for which he directed nearly every episode. As one of the pre-eminent directors of sitcom pilots, Burrows shares what he looks for in selecting a pilot and explains what drew him to directing the pilot episodes of Night Court, NewsRadio, and 3rd Rock From the Sun. He talks of working on the early seasons of Frasier, Friends, and Caroline in the City, and speaks of the joy of being the sole director of the hit series, Will & Grace. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview on December 17, 2003 in Los Angeles, CA.
Carroll Spinney portrays two of the most recognizable characters on television, yet his face might not be a familiar one. He spends most of his time either in a yellow, feathered suit, or hidden behind a trash can. For over 40 years now, Spinney has performed both “Big Bird” and “Oscar the Grouch” on the beloved children’s show, Sesame Street. Surprised that “Big Bird” and “Oscar” are played by the same person? According to Spinney, “that’s the fun of the job, doing them both. It’s refreshing to get to be ‘Oscar’ after being so sweet all day.”
Spinney’s interest in puppetry began at age eight, when he started making his own puppets at the urging of his mother. He attended art school, soon had his own show, Rascal Rabbit, and in 1962 met a young man named Jim Henson, who at the time was beginning to enjoy his own success in the field of puppetry. Henson asked Spinney to come work for him in New York, but it wasn’t until 1969 that Spinney took him up on the offer. The show Spinney traveled to New York to work on: Sesame Street.
Below Spinney shares the genesis of his two characters:
Carroll Spinney on the first version of “Big Bird”:
And on the earliest incarnation of “Oscar the Grouch”:
In his three hour Archive interview, Carroll Spinney discusses his early interest in drawing and puppetry. He describes his first work in television puppetry, with his “Rascal Rabbit” puppet, outlines his time on Boston’s Bozo’s Circus, and recalls the first time he met Jim Henson. Spinney then details joining the cast of Sesame Street and explains the intricacies of performing “Big Bird” and “Oscar the Grouch.” He describes the two characters, what he’s added to their personalities over the years, and why he loves getting to play them both. Spinney speaks of his castmates on Sesame Street, how the death of Will Lee (“Mr. Hooper”) affected the show, and what it was like to shoot the memorable, “Farewell, Mr. Hooper” episode of Sesame Street. Spinney also illustrates the educational nature of the children’s program and offers advice to aspiring puppeteers. Michael Rosen conducted the interview on May 12, 2001 in Woodstock, CT.
Our three-hour interview with Chuck Jones is now online! The legendary animator spoke in great detail about the animation process and the creation of many of his memorable characters, including the lovable “Bugs Bunny,” “Daffy Duck,” and “Wile E. Coyote.” He shared tales of his boyhood – of growing up across the street from Charlie Chaplin’s studio, and of how his childhood dog influenced the way in which he brought the character of “Max,” the Grinch’s dog in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, to life on the small screen. Jones also detailed the origins of the Merrie Melodies shorts, and shared how “Bugs Bunny” got his name.
Below, enjoy a few excerpts from the interview:
Chuck Jones on creating “Bugs Bunny:”
On animating World War II training films with Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel):
And on bringing How the Grinch Stole Christmas to television:
Chuck Jones (1912-2002) was interviewed for three hours in Orange County, CA. Jones fondly recalled creating notable Looney Tunes characters, including “Bugs Bunny,” “Daffy Duck,” “Pepe Le Pew,” “Wile E. Coyote,” and “Road-Runner.” He spoke about attending art school, outlined the early days of Hollywood’s animation industry in the 1930s, and recounted joining the Leon Schlesinger studio in 1933. He discussed Schelsinger’s sale of the studio to Warner Brothers, commented on his brief tenure at Walt Disney’s studio, and spoke of creating training films with Dr. Seuss during World War II. Jones described the basics of the animation process, the importance of story, and the challenges of directing a cartoon, and spoke in depth about directing the successful 1967 television special, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Tom Sito conducted the interview on June 17, 1998.