News from the Archive

For Golden Girls Fans in Los Angeles, the Sequel

January 20th, 2007

Join author Jim Colucci for a look inside the world of The Golden Girls this Sunday, January 21st, 2 PM at the Santa Monica Public Library (601 Santa Monica Blvd). We attended his last book signing (Archive of American Television: For Golden Girls Fans in Los Angeles) and are happy to report that Jim is an engaging speaker and really knows the show. Also planned, a panel discussion focusing on the show's enduring appeal to the gay and lesbian community with writers Marc Cherry, Stan Zimmerman, Winifred Hervey, Robert Bruce, and Richard Vaczy. A booksigning follows.

Jim's book, The Q Guide to the Golden Girls chronicles the genesis and key gay-themed episodes of The Golden Girls with interviews with the stars, producers, writers and viewers. (Excerpts of Archive interviews are also included.)

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Larry Rhine's Archive of American Television Interview Is Now Online!

January 17th, 2007

Writer Larry Rhine wrote or co-wrote several of television's most classic sitcom episodes including The Brady Bunch's "The Subject Was Noses," The Odd Couple's "Felix Remarries" (the series finale), and All in the Family's "Archie the Hero." His full interview is now posted online.

Click here to access Larry Rhine's 8-part Archive of American Television Interview.

Rhine was one of Red Skelton and Bob Hope's writers.

Larry Rhine on writing for Red Skelton (Excerpt from Part 4):

"He didn’t want the writers to be at rehearsal. It bothered him because we’d be shaking our heads. So... I had to poke holes through the backdrop to watch to make sure that the physical things would work because with Skelton you had to have a raised stage with holes in it for flowers to spring up. You had to have a backdrop with water squirting. You had to have wires. We had to make sure that it would work. That’s the only way we could do it but he was a wonderful performer. And his pantomimes were most unusual and when we had the Skelton tribute at the Academy I got warmed up and did a couple of the pantomimes cause we had to do them in order to write them. The pantomimes were like fifteen pages each."

Larry Rhine on writing for Bob Hope (Excerpt from Part 5):

"When you work for Hope you not only do the three of four shows he does, specials during the year, but you’re responsible for everything that he does every day which is open auto shows and beauty contests and schools and appearances on other shows and so forth and Bob doesn’t like to work more than a day ahead of time so what would happen, like right now the phone would ring it would be Bob... and he says I need three pages of chorus girl jokes so what I would do would be excuse myself, go back and write three pages of chorus girl jokes, phone them in to a secretary and go back to what I was doing... He had a very friendly kind of relationship with the writers. He liked nothing more than to come back in the writing headquarters and put his feet up on the desk and chat with you and to this day, after all these years I get Christmas cards every year from him. So he never loses a friend but we had some funny things happen when I was on the Hope show. Bob resented the fact that Saturday Evening Post came out with the story that he was worth $500 million and it demeaned him as one of the fellows and we felt that right away and he said, you know, this is a gross exaggeration. ....So he goes out on stage and says to the audience it’s a gross exaggeration... this article... that says I’m worth five hundred million. He says "maybe three hundred." So when I left him to go on All in the Family I said how much I enjoyed being with him. "I said, too bad that we have to sever relationships, we’ve got so much in common. Neither of us is worth $500 million."

Interview description:
Larry Rhine (1910-2000) was interviewed for four hours in Los Angeles, CA. He spoke of his early years as a writer in radio, which culminated in the position of head-writer of Duffy’s Tavern (1949-50). He spoke of his work as a television staff writer on Private Secretary, Duffy’s Tavern (the TV adaptation), and The Gale Storm Show and his many years (1960-67) working on The Red Skelton Show. He described how he simultaneously worked on the television sitcom Mister Ed and discussed the episodes he wrote with collaborator Lou Derman. He recounted his work with other comics such as Bob Hope and Lucille Ball. He spoke about his freelance work on such series as The Brady Bunch in which he co-wrote the well-known “The Subject Was Noses” episode and The Odd Couple in which he co-wrote the series finale. In great detail, he discussed his work on the Norman Lear series All in the Family and Archie Bunkers Place in which he collaborated with writer Mel Tolkin. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on February 25, 2000.

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Lee Grant's Archive of American Television Interview is Now Online!

January 11th, 2007


Actress/Director Lee Grant's interview is now posted on Google Video.

Click here to access all interview segments.

Interview Description:
In her seven-part (each 30-minute segement is posted separately) oral history interview, actress/director Lee Grant discusses her long and distinguished career in stage, television, and film. She describes her breakthrough role in the stage and film versions of Detective Story. She talks about her early television work in the anthology series The Play’s The Thing and Danger. She discusses her role as a regular on the daytime serial Search For Tomorrow. Ms. Grant describes in detail the Hollywood blacklist period which affected her and her husband of the time Arnold Manoff. She talks about her Emmy-winning role on the prime time serial Peyton Place and her work on the sitcom Fay, which followed her Oscar® win for the film Shampoo. She discusses her television directorial debut, for the special The Shape of Things and her work in front of and behind the camera for television movies and documentaries in the 1980s and 1990s. The interview was conducted on May 10, 2000 by Henry Colman.

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A New Book by the Author of "The Box"

January 5th, 2007

Anyone interested in the history of television, has undoubtedly come across the book, The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961 by Jeff Kisseloff, published in 1995 (Penguin Books). For the book, Jeff interviewed over 300 individuals involved in all aspects of early television -- the audiotaped collection of interviews now resides at the Archive of American Television. What most people don't know, is how instrumental Jeff was in the early days of the Archive, particularly in guiding us to the still-living early pioneers of the medium and interviewing television luminaries Elma Farnsworth, Joseph Wershba, Dick Smith and others for the Archive.

Recently, Jeff focused his oral history talents on another topic, the political and cultural upheaval of the 1960s, in his new book Generation on Fire: Voices of Protest from the 1960s An Oral History. In it, he interviews those who pushed for change in the tumultuous decade filled with such issues the quest for Civil Rights, free speech, communal movements, the Vietnam War, and the National Guard shootings at Kent State University. For anyone who wants to know more about the 1960s, the power of individuals to instigate change, or who wants to experience the work of a master oral historian, Jeff's book should be at the top of the list.

Visit Jeff's Website.

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David Shaw's Archive Interview Is Now Online!

January 4th, 2007

Writer David Shaw's five-part interview is now available for viewing on Google Video. Shaw was one of the most prolific writers during television's "Golden Age."

In part 2 of his interview, David Shaw talks about his work as a writer on Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, one of the key dramatic anthology series of the "Golden Age," for which he wrote the most teleplays of any single writer.

From Part 3:

Q: There was a term called "kitchen sink" dramas. What did that refer to?

A: It referred to many of the Philcos that are family dramas. With family problems. They weren't shoot 'em ups, they weren't crime, they weren't sexy. They were just family dramas.... They're not too far away from soap operas, really. But they're easy to produce and didn't call for big sets or lavish outdoor production.

Q: What is the legacy of Philco-Goodyear Playhouse?

A: I think that it was the beginning of good drama on television.

Q: How important do you think [Philco-Goodyear Playhouse producer Fred] Coe was to what is referred to as the "Golden Age of Television"?

A: How important? He was it! Fred was it. There was nobody like him.

Interview Description:

Shaw discussed his prolific career as a television writer that began in 1949 for the ABC “live” dramatic anthology series Actors Studio. He spoke in great detail about his work on the series Philco-Goodyear Playhouse, for which he contributed the most teleplays of any writer. For Philco-Goodyear, Shaw commented on several of his individual teleplays and talked about working with legendary producer Fred Coe. Shaw described knowing and working with other such figures of the “Golden Age of Television Drama,” as director Delbert Mann, writer Paddy Chayefsky, and actress Eva Marie Saint. Shaw discussed several series for which he served as a story editor including Mr. Peepers and The Defenders. He described his teleplays for Producer’s Showcase (including his Emmy-nominated adaptation of “Our Town”) and the six shows he wrote for Playhouse 90. The interview was conducted by Gary Rutkowski on August 31, 2004.

Click here to access David Shaw's entire interview.

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