Archive for the ‘"Kate Smith Hour"’ Category

Producer/Director Alan Neuman Has Died — Archive Interview Online

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008


We’re sorry to report that Archive interviewee, producer-director Alan Neuman passed away on November 23rd, at the age of 84. Alan directed innumerable “live” on-location dramatic, variety, and documentary productions, including NBC’s first televised presidential election coverage and the first show that ever linked four countries together.

Click here to access the entire six-part videotaped interview.

Some interview excerpts are as follows:

On Kate Smith (from part 3):
Kate Smith was a wonderful, remarkable talent. She was a great performer for the theater. When they were traveling she would cut the boys’ hair— she was a barber as well. But I remember the transition. The show became enormously popular. But I remember the girl who cut hair…. Every Friday show, she would sing “God Bless America.” And I’ve probably heard it more than any other person I know has heard it. She had this great voice— big belting voice. And when she sang she filled a room, she filled a hall, she filled anything. She was the one who was always recognized with “God Bless America.” …. In those days, if she walked down the street, they followed her. And she was no beauty. She was not a Marilyn Monroe. But she was Kate Smith. And that meant a great deal.

On the Blacklist (from part 3):
The ad agency would say, the cheese company, or the car company doesn’t want to be in the position of pushing Communism in any shape, manner, or form. They’re out here buying entertainment and we don’t want that. And I could understand their perspective but I wasn’t sympathetic to it…. Who cared if they were a Communist when they were sixteen? It never made much sense…. It literally kept people from functioning, from earning a living…. I found it an abhorrent thing.

On Wide Wide World (from part 4):
I was the first one to do a show in which we linked four countries together— Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. It was Christmas and we sang “Adeste Fidelis.”…. I had a DC-10, a plane, between Miami and Havana, circling overhead relaying the signal, because that’s what was needed. …. I gave [the Emmy the show won] to the technical supervisor who was responsible for it.

On working with President Herbert Hoover (from part 4):
[NBC President] Pat Weaver called me and said I want you to do [a certain series]. I said I never heard of [that] series. He said that’s why I want you on board— jazz it up a little bit. I said “who’s the guest?” He said Herbert Hoover. I said, “Jazz him up?!”…. But I got Hoover to laugh on camera, I got him to tell stories about himself… This is a man that never smiled on camera. I got him to tell the story about the little girl at Mark Hopkins who came over to him and said, “Mr. Hoover, may I have twelve of your autographs?” And he said, “Twelve? Why do you need twelve?” “Because twelve of yours is worth one Willie Mays.” To get him to tell that story on himself on camera was I felt an accomplishment.

On Maurice Chevalier’s interview for Person to Person (from part 5):
Chevalier had not been permitted to visit this country. He had performed before the German officers. The truth was [he had been given an ultimatum]— “Mr. Chevalier you want to appear before the Frenchmen that we’ve captured, you’ve got to appear before a German camp.” So they gave him that, and he appeared before the Germans, so he could appear before the French. Now we were holding up his visa. He’s a famous French entertainer and we weren’t permitting him to come in. This was during the McCarthy time. I hope that by the story being explained when I did it on Person to Person, it helped, because he was permitted to attend the Academy Awards the following year. [In 1959, producing Person to Person abroad] I informed New York that I was gonna do an entire half-hour [on Chevalier]. They said no. The only ones that ever took a half-hour were Kennedy and Nixon. You’re not gonna take a half-hour— it would break precedent. Why are you taking a half-an-hour? I said because I can’t tell the story in just fifteen minutes. I had visited Chevalier where he had a home. And as I walked up the steps he had a photograph of every woman he had ever been with, all these major stars going on up, ending up with a shrine to his mother that he had outside his bed. And I knew there was no way I was gonna get to any of this without a half-hour at least! He was extraordinary, he was very funny, and it was a delightful half-hour. So what I did is, I shot a half-hour. There was no room for a commercial break in the middle. CBS, when they got the material, was stuck with what I sent them…. There was no commercial break in the middle, they had to give me the whole half-hour— if the man is walking up a staircase you can’t cut away.

Interview description:
Alan Neuman talked about joining NBC as a page in 1947 and his rise through the ranks as stage manager and then director. He described the studios at Rockefeller Center and the early camerawork on such series as Kraft Television Theater. He recalled directing NBC’s first televised presidential election coverage in 1948, anchored by Ben Grauer, which lasted so long that he had Grauer doing calisthenics on the air. He talked about serving as director on such early series as The Three Flames, Mary Kay and Johnny, and Broadway Open House (the forerunner to the Tonight Show). He spoke in detail about his work with Kate Smith and her manager Ted Collins on The Kate Smith Hour. Neuman discussed his work as a producer/director on programs that featured several Presidents of the United States, including Presidents Hoover, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. He talked about the first color remote broadcast done by NBC, for Matinee Theater. He spoke in detail about the series Wide Wide World and Person to Person, for which he served as a producer. Additionally, he talked about the era of the Hollywood Blacklist. B-roll consisted of several photos of Neuman with the presidents he worked with and a photo from the premiere episode of Adlai Stevenson Presents. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on February 15, 2006.

40 Years Ago: "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood" Premieres

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

Forty years ago, on February 19th, 1968, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood premiered. Originally titled Misterogers (as its precursor had been called in Canada) the show emanated from WQED Pittsburgh and aired on EEN (Eastern Educational Network). The series moved to PBS in 1970. Production ceased in 2001. Sadly, Fred Rogers passed away in 2003; the series continues to air nationwide.


In 1999, the Archive of American Television interviewed Mr. Rogers. Click here to Fred Rogers’ 9-part interview (and be on the lookout for puppet cameos). Also, check out this link on the show’s homepage for Mister Rogers trivia.

A favorite excerpt from the interview:

“My mother, as long as I could remember, made at least one sweater every month. And at Christmas time she would give us each a hand-knit sweater. And so, until she died, those zipper sweaters that I wear on The Neighborhood were all made by my mother. We would open up the boxes at Christmas and, and we’d all try on the sweaters. Then she would say, ‘Okay, now what kind of do you want next year? Now, I know what kind you want, Freddy, you want the one with the zipper up the front.’ There are ties that many people don’t know, just watching certain programs and it makes the experience so much deeper to know from whence Mr. McFeely came or where the sweaters came from. And the music is a huge part of my work. That was always my way of saying who I was and how I felt. In those days, you didn’t speak your feelings as much as express them artistically. I was always able to cry or laugh or say I was angry through the tips of my fingers on the piano. I would go to the piano, even when I was five years old, and start to play how I felt. So it was very natural for me to become a composer. Having written all of the music for The Neighborhood, I feel as if that’s one of my gifts to children. Here is a way that doesn’t hurt you or anybody else, to say who you are and how you feel.”

Interview description:
In his 4-1/2 hour interview, Fred Rogers described his work as the creator and host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which began its run in 1968. He described the show’s evolution, which started with Misterogers which he produced in Canada for the CBC. He described each aspect of the show including the origin of his trademark sweaters. He described his early years in television working as a floor manager for NBC on such shows as NBC Opera Theatre, The Kate Smith Hour, and The Gabby Hayes Show. He detailed his move into public television in 1953 with his work as the program director for WQED, Pittsburgh. He described his first children’s program The Children’s Corner (1954-61 WQED; 1955-56 NBC), which introduced several puppets later used on Mister Rogers. He talked about the importance of children’s programming and his longevity as a childrens’ show host. The interview was conducted on July 22, 1999 at WQED in Pittsburgh, PA.

Producer/Director Alan Neuman’s Interview Is Now Online

Friday, May 4th, 2007


Producer-director Alan Neuman directed innumerable “live” on-location dramatic, variety, and documentary productions, including NBC’s first televised presidential election coverage and the first show that ever linked four countries together.

Click here to access the entire six-part videotaped interview.

Some interview excerpts are as follows:

On Kate Smith (from part 3):
Kate Smith was a wonderful, remarkable talent. She was a great performer for the theater. When they were traveling she would cut the boys’ hair— she was a barber as well. But I remember the transition. The show became enormously popular. But I remember the girl who cut hair…. Every Friday show, she would sing “God Bless America.” And I’ve probably heard it more than any other person I know has heard it. She had this great voice— big belting voice. And when she sang she filled a room, she filled a hall, she filled anything. She was the one who was always recognized with “God Bless America.” …. In those days, if she walked down the street, they followed her. And she was no beauty. She was not a Marilyn Monroe. But she was Kate Smith. And that meant a great deal.

On the Blacklist (from part 3):
The ad agency would say, the cheese company, or the car company doesn’t want to be in the position of pushing Communism in any shape, manner, or form. They’re out here buying entertainment and we don’t want that. And I could understand their perspective but I wasn’t sympathetic to it…. Who cared if they were a Communist when they were sixteen? It never made much sense…. It literally kept people from functioning, from earning a living…. I found it an abhorrent thing.

On Wide Wide World (from part 4):
I was the first one to do a show in which we linked four countries together— Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and the United States. It was Christmas and we sang “Adeste Fidelis.”…. I had a DC-10, a plane, between Miami and Havana, circling overhead relaying the signal, because that’s what was needed. …. I gave [the Emmy the show won] to the technical supervisor who was responsible for it.

On working with President Herbert Hoover (from part 4):
[NBC President] Pat Weaver called me and said I want you to do [a certain series]. I said I never heard of [that] series. He said that’s why I want you on board— jazz it up a little bit. I said “who’s the guest?” He said Herbert Hoover. I said, “Jazz him up?!”…. But I got Hoover to laugh on camera, I got him to tell stories about himself… This is a man that never smiled on camera. I got him to tell the story about the little girl at Mark Hopkins who came over to him and said, “Mr. Hoover, may I have twelve of your autographs?” And he said, “Twelve? Why do you need twelve?” “Because twelve of yours is worth one Willie Mays.” To get him to tell that story on himself on camera was I felt an accomplishment.

On Maurice Chevalier’s interview for Person to Person (from part 5):
Chevalier had not been permitted to visit this country. He had performed before the German officers. The truth was [he had been given an ultimatum]— “Mr. Chevalier you want to appear before the Frenchmen that we’ve captured, you’ve got to appear before a German camp.” So they gave him that, and he appeared before the Germans, so he could appear before the French. Now we were holding up his visa. He’s a famous French entertainer and we weren’t permitting him to come in. This was during the McCarthy time. I hope that by the story being explained when I did it on Person to Person, it helped, because he was permitted to attend the Academy Awards the following year. [In 1959, producing Person to Person abroad] I informed New York that I was gonna do an entire half-hour [on Chevalier]. They said no. The only ones that ever took a half-hour were Kennedy and Nixon. You’re not gonna take a half-hour— it would break precedent. Why are you taking a half-an-hour? I said because I can’t tell the story in just fifteen minutes. I had visited Chevalier where he had a home. And as I walked up the steps he had a photograph of every woman he had ever been with, all these major stars going on up, ending up with a shrine to his mother that he had outside his bed. And I knew there was no way I was gonna get to any of this without a half-hour at least! He was extraordinary, he was very funny, and it was a delightful half-hour. So what I did is, I shot a half-hour. There was no room for a commercial break in the middle. CBS, when they got the material, was stuck with what I sent them…. There was no commercial break in the middle, they had to give me the whole half-hour— if the man is walking up a staircase you can’t cut away.

Interview description:
Alan Neuman talked about joining NBC as a page in 1947 and his rise through the ranks as stage manager and then director. He described the studios at Rockefeller Center and the early camerawork on such series as Kraft Television Theater. He recalled directing NBC’s first televised presidential election coverage in 1948, anchored by Ben Grauer, which lasted so long that he had Grauer doing calisthenics on the air. He talked about serving as director on such early series as The Three Flames, Mary Kay and Johnny, and Broadway Open House (the forerunner to the Tonight Show). He spoke in detail about his work with Kate Smith and her manager Ted Collins on The Kate Smith Hour. Neuman discussed his work as a producer/director on programs that featured several Presidents of the United States, including Presidents Hoover, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. He talked about the first color remote broadcast done by NBC, for Matinee Theater. He spoke in detail about the series Wide Wide World and Person to Person, for which he served as a producer. Additionally, he talked about the era of the Hollywood Blacklist. B-roll consisted of several photos of Neuman with the presidents he worked with and a photo from the premiere episode of Adlai Stevenson Presents. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on February 15, 2006.