Blast from the Past: Electronic TV Inventor Philo Farnsworth on "I’ve Got a Secret"

Here’s a little 8-minute gem we found on YouTube — electronic television inventor Philo Farnsworth’s full 1957 appearance on the panel show I’ve Got a Secret.

Here’s what his widow, Elma “Pem” Farnsworth, said about that historic appearance in her 1996 Archive of American Television interview:

Q: Phil’s contributions, to television had been somewhat forgotten by then. It was driven home by an appearance on, I’ve Got A Secret.
Elma Farnsworth: Oh dear. (laugh) You know, a lot of programs like What’s My Line had wanted him to be on television. And actually, he’d been very ill. They approached him about [host] Garry Moore’s show, and I don’t know, it just hit him right I guess and so he agreed. That was a very great experience because that night, he had Buster Keaton on [as a guest]. As well as a fellow that had something like 22 snakes on his person (laugh).

Q: And Phil’s secret was?
Elma Farnsworth: Okay, his secret that Gary showed the the audience, was the that he had invented television, when he was 15. Of course they addressed him as Doctor Farnsworth and so they, were thinking a medical doctor.

Q: I recall they didn’t guess it.
Elma Farnsworth: No they didn’t. So Gary said, I’d like this to go on and on and it could very easily but he says it’s your baby and we have to stop here …. and so they gave him something like, a check for $80 and a, carton of Chesterfields or whatever they were advertising.

Q: What did Phil think of commercial television towards the end?
Elma Farnsworth: He, (sigh) he could see the potential for television. He felt that it wasn’t being used. He said, the public will get what they demand. And that’s the way it’s been.

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