Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

HOW TO GET YOUR OWN NATIONAL TV SHOW

INTRODUCTION


The above picture is of ten year-old me looking into the future (circa 1937). I may look like a future don for the Toledo Mafia, but to me, my neat attire was merely a costume for some future role in TV (possibly lip-syncing a Frank Sinatra record?). One thing I did know at the time; I was meant to perform on TV. All I had to do was wait for it to be invented.

I title this effort, “How To Get Your Own National TV Show” because that is the main question I have been asked over the years from fans, students, audiences and emailers. For the next series of blogs I will outline a life driven by the sole desire (main ingredient for success) to be able to someday stand up in front of a TV camera and announce, “Welcome to The Lloyd Thaxton Show.”


In the process I also hope to dig intro some interesting history of my life (at the least, it was interesting to me). Perhaps this could even be inspirational to young people who have the same desires as to a career in show business. I did it and I can’t even sing, dance or act. I would be a joke on American Idol. But I persevered. And, I have to admit, got just a little bit lucky.

I would hope, as I write this that you give me comments along the way by asking questions about what you personally would like know. Your input, like any observer, during any performance, is invaluable.

This is the introduction and first chapter. I will keep writing until I run out of things to say, or – just run out. Hey, this could be the do-it-yourself obituary I promised to write. The filling in of that dash between the dates on a tombstone that represents a person’s whole life.

Think of it as me getting my shit together.

CHAPTER ONE

If you have been reading this blog, you already know that I grew up in Toledo, Ohio, “The Glass Capital of the World.” Toledo was the home of the Owens Corning Glass Company. At one time they even changed the name of their baseball team from “The Toledo Mud Hens” to “The Toledo Glass Sox.” I’ll tell you how bad that decision went over. As bad a name as it was, Mud Hens was preferred over Glass Sox and after a couple of seasons they went back to “The Toledo Mud Hens.”

I had two older sisters, Georgia and Betty. They were wonderful sisters, more like second and third mothers. It was through Betty that I learned that TV would soon be coming to Toledo. How did I know that? In 1940 Betty bought a brand new beautiful all wood Zenith Model 12-S-471 Console Radio.

Picture from Phils Old Radios - http://antiqueradio.org/welcome.htm

With its sleek styling and black "robot" dial, this large Zenith console typified a great design period in radio history.

But more important, this new beauty had seven buttons to set for your favorite radio stations.

AND ... IT EVEN HAD A BUTTON FOR "TV!"



That’s right. A button for watching (?) TV.

The promotion went like this, “

“Your 1945 Radio Here Now! Television Sound Connection—which means you can buy Zenith for the future with confidence. When television comes . . . you will be ready for it.”

But, where was the screen? Were they kidding us?

No, not at all. You see TV was on it’s way and this was a hedge against obsolescence.


Fearing that customers would quit buying radios while waiting for TV to arrive "any day now," manufacturers provided an audio connector in the back that would, in theory, permit you to connect a TV receiver which used your radio for audio amplification. In practice, this never happened. When TVs arrived in the late 1940s, they naturally included their own audio amplifiers. It was the "TV" button that was obsolete.

The “TV” button may have been a useless come-on, but I have to tell you, that button was magic to me. I used to sit in front of that console, push the TV button and dream. I imagined a screen on the front of this radio with singers and dancers coming right out at you. I had seen some experimental TV at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, but, this was real. A “TV” button right in my own living room.

That was when I made the decision. I had to be on TV.

It took awhile but I got there. How, will be coming up in the next chapters.

As I said in the Introduction, I need your comments along the way. Give me some stories of your first brush with television. Or what you would like to read about re: How To Get Your Own National TV Show.


Stay tuned.

13 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK … I’ll be the first to put in my two cents on this … what gave me the bug to get into the TV biz. It was in 1948… My mother bought our first TV. It was a Motorola … the only stations on the air were channels 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13. As a child I watched KTLA channel 5 in Los Angeles a lot. There was a show seen on that channel late at night at 10 pm on Wednesdays called CITY AT NIGHT with Ken Grall. The station was owned by Paramount Pictures and operated by Carl Lansburg. Who was very inventive in the new world of TV? Anyway this show use to go to a different location somewhere in the Los Angeles area to show some business at work and doing whatever they might do in the night time. Like a visit to the LA times… to show how the paper is put together from story, to type set, to print, to folded finished paper, to the delivery trucks that take the papers to the newsboy carriers. And they would go to these places without any pre promotion. The location as to where they were going was always kept a secret. So that was the fun of tuning in each Wednesday night to see where they were going. Well this one night they stayed at the station on the Paramount lot, to show the behind scenes of the operation of KTLA. They showed the behind scene of the TIME FOR BEANY puppet show in rehearsal. Plus a lot of other stuff. Like many of the shows that were on KTLA at that time. So I got to see all these behind the scenes stuff. The cameras … the monitors… the boom mikes…. My little eyes just lit up like a flash bulb. From that moment on I knew that TV biz was where I wanted to be. I built make believe TV cameras out of a leggo blocks. Imagination is a wonderful thing. My mother also helped me to build a bigger toy out of a 3x5 file box and some tinker toys. Then every Wednesday night I was there in front of the TV waiting for the CITY AT NIGHT program to start. So I could play TV camera guy with that show. So THEN in the summer time, of 1957 I was in Las Vegas with my mother visiting the grandparents. Since there isn’t much for a 14 year old to do in Vegas but wander around Fremont Street watching the people gamble. As I was walking back to my grandparent’s home, I spotted a local TV station remote truck sitting in the alley behind the Mint club. As I approached to see what was going on. The engineer was sitting up to do a remote telecast of the grand opening of the Mint Club. So he was there all by himself running back and forth to the cameras tweaking things to get it up and ready for the show the next day. So he asks if I was interested in the TV biz. I responded … OH YEAH!! ! ! . He asked if I wanted to help … Again my eyes lit up like flash bulbs. So he walked me to one of the cameras in the hall way on the outside edge of the casino. Showed me the knobs he wanted me to tweak… while he went back to the truck. There I was with the PL headset on my head standing all of 5’5” feeling like I was 20 feet high, awaiting his instructions. I must have spent over two hours there with this guy. I was on top of the world. So this fellow invited me out to the station after the show aired the next day. That’s when I got the internship to work in the station as a gopher. I worked there every summer for the next four years. I learned more at those times than anything I ever learned at the college I went to years later for telecommunecations. That fellow became my mentor for the rest of his life. Before he passed away, he was able to come to see me working at the MGM Grand when the Tonight show with Jay Leno went there the first time. He was soooo proud. And I was too.

Later,
Robert V

5:12 PM

 
Blogger duke said...

Hi anonymous: I nice remembrance story. Did you mean Ken Grauer?

duke

11:43 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story, Robert V (anonymous).

I'd enjoy hearing about the early days, Lloyd. I was raised in the late '50 to late '60's in Orange County, and remember many of the kiddy shows and some of the others.

Did you get to meet some of the more colorful characters in TV? I'm thinking of Count Marco, Joe Pyne, Virginia Graham, Gypsy Rose Lee, or Pamela Mason? They all had shows I remember in the '50's and '60's. How about Sheriff John (my personal favorite), Skipper Frank or Tom Hatten?

I'd love to hear about the real person, vs the characters they portrayed on their shows.

After reading your blogs, I have to say you certainly appear to be much as I hoped you'd be. Witty, smart, funny, clever, and original. Originality is a difficult thing to witness in show business today, isn't it?

The Lloyd Thaxton Show was just such a joyful and fun show to watch. You all never seemed to take things too seriously, which made it all the better.

Thanks for refreshing my memories.

Trees

9:23 AM

 
Blogger Lloyd Thaxton said...

Hi Trees:

Yes, great story from Robert V.

You asked the question:

Did you get to meet some of the more colorful characters in TV? I'm thinking of Count Marco, Joe Pyne, Virginia Graham, Gypsy Rose Lee, or Pamela Mason? They all had shows I remember in the '50's and '60's. How about Sheriff John (my personal favorite), Skipper Frank or Tom Hatten?

I met Joe Pyne,tough on TV, a pussycat in person. I knew Virgnia Graham, great lady. Gypsy Rose Lee was a frequent guest on a game show I hosted. Sheriff John was, like me, from Toledo. He was the first person I went to for help when I arrived in Hollywood. He was a big help by the way.

Never met Skipper Frank but Tom Hatten is still a good friend.

Good times,

Lloyd

4:22 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Robert V.:

You are both a legend and an icon at a certain junior college in Southern California.

No need to explain why. :)

The standing ovation you received at the banquet a few years back, was very well deserved.

I personally want to thank you for, uh, showing us the way. :)

Cheers, Rico Gregg

4:04 AM

 
Anonymous nancy said...

Hi, I wasn`t around at that time but it must have been fun growing up then. I enjoyed reading your blog and have to say I watch too much TV these days. ...It was very nice to meet you Mr Lloyd Thaxton!

8:03 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I meant to, but forgot to wish you a happy birthday last Saturday. Hope you had a good one. It is great that you are writing this. I have the same lack of talent as you, plus some. You were able to be so creative on, what I assume was a limited budget. You said ask, so I will. What kind of budget did the Lloyd Thaxton Show operate on (before and during syndication)?

Ron

10:28 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Thaxton,
First of all Happy belated Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you (belated) Happy Birthday Mr. Thaxton; HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU. I love that pic of you as a kid. What does this have to do w/ what you posted and wanted feedback for on this specific blog; not much; I leave that to the ones who wanted to have t.v. shows. But I wanted so much to WISH YOU A HAPPY BIRTHDAY and for you to know how important you are and the gr8 memories and the blogs here I'm loving (well, not the obit ones so much, just lost Bo Diddley). Sorry for rambling. You are loved Mr. Thaxton; Blessings.

4:57 PM

 
Blogger Michele said...

Trying to get my name to show; I wrote the above so you know Mr. Thaxton-- you can delete if you want!

5:03 PM

 
Anonymous Wow Gold said...

nice blog.

9:14 PM

 
Anonymous Wow Gold said...

nice blog.

9:14 PM

 
Anonymous Aion Kinah Kaufen said...

Good posting

3:51 AM

 
Anonymous wow gold kaufen said...

Good post

3:36 AM

 

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