News from the Archive

Television's Holiday Specials

December 5th, 2016

Just in time for the holiday season, the Archive has once again partnered with the Google Cultural Institute to create a brand new exhibit: Television's Holiday Specials. Check it out below!

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Remembering Grant Tinker

November 30th, 2016
Grant Tinker

We’re so sad to learn that executive/producer and co-founder of the Archive of American Television, Grant Tinker passed away on Monday, November 28 at the age of 90. Tinker began his career in television in 1949 as an intern at NBC. He is perhaps best remembered as the co-founder of MTM Enterprises, a successful production company known for the critically acclaimed programs The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, Lou Grant, Hill Street Blues, and St. Elsewhere. In 1981, Tinker left MTM to become CEO and chairman of NBC, helping to resuscitate the network. 

Below are some selections from his 1998 interview:

On The Mary Tyler Moore Show:

On starting MTM:

On how he'd like to be remembered:

Watch Grant Tinker's full Archive interview and read his obituary in The New York Times.

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Remembering Florence Henderson

November 25th, 2016
Florence Henderson

We're so sad to learn that actress Florence Henderson passed away yesterday, November 24, 2016, at the age of 82. Henderson began her acting career on the stage, starring in "Fanny" on Broadway in the 1950's. She soon moved to television, making appearances on The Bell Telephone Hour, The Tex and Jinx Show, and Tonight Starring Jack Paar - eventually becoming the first female guest host of the latter. She was a "Today Girl" on NBC's Today and performed on Jim Henson's The Muppet Show, but is perhaps best known for her role as "Carol Brady" on the hit sitcom, The Brady Bunch. She later appeared in several other Brady made-for-television movies and feature films, had a long-time affiliation with Wesson Oil - you may remember her in Wesson's television commercials - and in recent years was a contestant on Dancing With The Stars

Below are some excerpts from her 1999 Archive interview.

On being a "Today Girl":

On being cast on The Brady Bunch:

On playing "Carol Brady" on The Brady Bunch:

Watch her full Archive interview here and read her obituary in The New York Times.

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Aspects of the JFK Assassination: Our Interviewees Remember

November 22nd, 2016
Robert MacNeil

In its roughly seventy-year history, television has, at its best, served to bring the country together in times of crisis and sadness. Watergate, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, and 9/11 are a few that come to mind. But never more so than on November 22, 1963. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was the first time people looked to television for comfort, while everyone tried to make sense of what had happened and where to go from there. From the first news bulletin on CBS News interrupting As the World Turns, to the solemn state funeral, viewers were automatically and compulsively drawn to the television in a way they’d never been before. 

We’ve covered the topic of the assassination with many of our interviewees, but newsman Robert MacNeil’s account is particularly spellbinding. He was riding on a bus directly behind the motorcade in Dallas and he speaks in such vivid detail, if you close your eyes, it’s almost as if you’re there. It is essential viewing for those who want to know what it was like to be there in Dealey Plaza that morning. In our over eight hundred interviews, this might be the most important remembrance we’ve committed to tape.

There are so many aspects to the story of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. A big piece of the puzzle, of course, was the home movie taken by Abraham Zapruder of the terrible event that day. Life Magazine published still frames of the film in 1963, but the original remained in a vault at Time-Life, unseen by the general public for over a decade. Until, in 1975, Geraldo Rivera’s ABC series Good Night America ran a grainy and blurry version of it. One of the few non-governmental citizens who viewed the film before 1975 was Dan Rather. He recounted that experience for us, and, fascinatingly, what he was told to leave out when reporting on the film.

We’ve got many news people speaking on the assassination, but we also have stories of what happened with television shows that were in production that day, how people found out the news, and the reaction of the television community at large. Judy Garland famously sang a stirring, teary rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” on her 1963 variety show The Judy Garland Show in tribute to her fallen president and friend. Skitch Henderson, the then-leader of The Tonight Show band, filled us in on a fact that, but for our interview, may have been lost to history. The evening of the JFK assassination, Johnny Carson did not go on, but NBC had a plan.

We’ve got dozens of interviewees discussing John F. Kennedy, including his presidency, his assassination, and the conspiracy theories it continues to spark to this day. Many knew him and were there, witnesses to history. Among them are Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, Roger Mudd, Bob Schieffer, Ted Koppel, Barbara Walters, and Don Hewitt. It is a treasure trove of information, and an invaluable resource. 

- by John Dalton

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Remembering Cliff Barrows

November 16th, 2016
blog post image

We’re sad to learn that music director Cliff Barrows has passed away at the age of 93. He began his career as a church music director in Minnesota before meeting Reverend Billy Graham. His association with Reverend Graham lasted more than sixty years, from serving as music director and announcer on Graham’s radio show “The Hour of Decision” through to his television work and beyond.

Below are some excerpts from his 2003 interview:

On the power of television in regards to the ministry:

Well, it’s a great influence. And it’s unbelievable in reaching people and touching people. … And I think as long as we’re able to breathe and we have a message to proclaim and the means to pay for it, it ought to be something we ought to make use of. And I’m grateful for it. And I’m grateful for the early days when a local station didn’t have live programming to draw on and they would welcome us to come along and they’d give us time because we could furnish some programming. That was exciting because we were in the early days of television. 

On Billy Graham’s legacy:

The legacy of a man who knew the word and knew the Lord that he proclaimed. And who loved the word of God. And believed absolutely without reservation that it was the word of God. And that had the power to change people’s lives. And a man who was committed to his calling, who didn’t deviate from it. And was not willing to compromise to achieve any other means for his own personal aggrandizement, but to be faithful and proclaiming God’s word.

On how he would like to be remembered:

I’d like to be remembered as a man who was always on key. He wasn’t sharp, he wasn’t flat but he was faithful. I think to be faithful to the calling that you have is a one of the greatest goals that anybody could have. Whether it was a simple man on the street or a simple woman or whatever they felt was simple but they were faithful in doing what they were gifted to do. I’d like to be known as one who was faithful to the task that was before me that didn’t try to do anything else but was faithful and who could stand before the Lord. 

Watch Cliff Barrows full Archive interview and read his obituary in The Charlotte Observer.

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