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CBS (ended 1967)

Ernie Kovacs Forum

  • Avatar of The1Factotum1i1

    The1Factotum1i1

    [41]Jul 20, 2005
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    In #387, Ernie shows a bit of his morbid side by suggesting maybe a barber from the Park Sheraton hotel might appear. This was in reference to the ambush murder of gangster Albert Anastasia while getting a haircut at that hotel's barber shop on 25 October 1957.

    The Park Sheraton was one of New York's leading Hotels, and they even had a small TV studio there once, Gleason's 39 filmed Honeymooners were shot there in 1955-6.
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    ymike673

    [42]Jul 20, 2005
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    I believe Gleason's offices were also there.
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [43]Jul 20, 2005
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    Their studio may have been owned by the DuMont network, then staggering to it's young death, the Honeymooners closing credits have mention of DuMont equitment, anyway.
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    W-B

    [44]Jul 20, 2005
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    The1Factotum1i1 wrote:
    The Park Sheraton was one of New York's leading Hotels, and they even had a small TV studio there once, Gleason's 39 filmed Honeymooners were shot there in 1955-6.

    Actually, Gleason had his offices at the Park Sheraton's penthouse, up to 1964 when he up and relocated to Miami Beach. The Honeymooners' Classic 39 episodes were actually shot at the Adelphi Theatre on West 54th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues - and it was made there because of the DuMont connection (that studio had their patented "Electronicam" cameras, a process that became immediately obsolete with the advent of videotape).
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    ymike673

    [45]Jul 20, 2005
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    I believe the "Honeymooners" was the only show that used this process. Dumont's system was better then kinescopes but would of course be made passe with the advent of video tape.
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [46]Jul 20, 2005
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    I believe the (short-lived) wonder of the Electronicam was that you could film through two cameras at once, alternating when the director chose, just like a live broadcast. Of course with film you can stop and do something over, or take your time to set something up, but these shows still had a live audience and, all involved being veterans of Live TV, were able produce a filmed series quickly and keep the feel of a live series.
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    ymike673

    [47]Jul 20, 2005
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    On several of the "Honeymooners" episodes there are some mistakes made by the cast and they were all left in the show to keep the feel of a "live" show intact.
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    astorino

    [48]Jul 21, 2005
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    In 1984, Jeff Goldblum played the role of Ernie Kovacs in a TV movie called "Ernie Kovacs: Between the Laughter." It plays on television every now and again, and is a rather interesting film about Ernie's search for his two children after their mother kidnapped them. Edie Adams even has a small part in the film. More here:

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087212/
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    astorino

    [49]Aug 17, 2005
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    There is some truth to saying that "Ernie sleeps with the fishes."

    From the net:

    Although the DuMont Network predated videotape, many of the DuMont programs were captured on kinescopes, which were films shot directly from live television screens. These kinescopes were reportedly stored in an ABC network warehouse until the 1970s. Actress Edie Adams, wife of comedian Ernie Kovacs who had done shows for DuMont, testified in 1996 before a panel of the Library of Congress on the preservation of television and video that as a clandestine aside to a business deal in the early 1970s to sell a successor network, it was arranged for all these kinescopes to be removed from the warehouse and dumped into the water of the Upper New York Bay in the dead of night.

    and:

    Sadly, only a relative handful of DuMont kinescopes are still with us today. Those grainy films shot from a television receiver remain the only visible evidence of DuMont's programming history. In 1996, Edie Adams, the widow of inventive comic Ernie Kovacs, testified at a public hearing on video preservation about the fate of her husband's early DuMont shows, along with episodes of "Cavalcade," "Captain Video" and others. They were destroyed. There was a legal fight over the cost of storing and preserving those artifacts of television history. Because of that, Adams noted that an attorney "had three huge semis back up to the loading dock...filled them all with stored kinescopes...drove them to a waiting barge...made a right at the Statue of Liberty and dumped them in the upper New York Bay." Still, a number of DuMont kinescopes are with us. Many of them are now in collections at UCLA, the Museum of Television and Radio in both Beverly Hills and New York City, and the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago.
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    ymike673

    [50]Aug 18, 2005
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    Happily a lot of Jackie Gleason's "Cavalcade of Stars" shows still exist. Including most of the eariest "Honeymoooners".
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [51]Aug 19, 2005
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    Those were saved only because one of the writers, Snag Werris, borrowed them from the DuMont library, and never gave them back. When he died about 1990, they resurfaced.
    In other words, he stole them. That is not a bad thing when it comes to old film. A great deal of praise must be given to those who stole film throughout the years. As we have seen in such cases as Edie cites, and the similar fate Warner Bros. had for it's British holdings, or BBC's disposal of hundreds of thousands of TV kinescopes and radio accetates, or Paramount pictures purging of all their silent film, etc. etc. The survivors are often the items illegally removed.
    The real culprit here is copyright law. The longer a huge corporate entity owns a property, the day draws ever nearer when the shelf space becomes more desirable than the film that occupies it. All the company really needs of the old movie is it's name and story rights. The actual film or kinescope has no commercial value, i.e. showing it to get money from theatre patrons or sponsors, ever again. So, into the drink, or the flames they go. These crimes against culture all happened in the last forty to twenty-five years.
    But if a film's copyright was not kept up, that means that hundreds of copies can be made, and they will live forever. Here's a good illustration: The Hal Roach shorts.
    From 1914 to 1927 he released through Pathe. He then made the jump to super-prestigeous MGM, where he stayed until 1938. At Pathe, they had an arrangement to release the shorts (Harold Lloyd, Charley Chase, Snub Pollard, etc.) on home-use 16mm film. This lasted until about 1933, when American Pathe just bellied up and the rights lapsed. Well, now,most of Roach's Pathe releases have been prolifically reprinted over the years and they have a hearty, robust presence for the world of silent film fans.
    But what about the MGM stuff? They're the exact same product, but they had the misfortune to still be under copyright. MGM had no such home use deal. They were kind of copyright crazy. Their property was jealously guarded. Once the films made their rounds, they came back to the home vaults, and they stayed there, uncopied, unseen and unloved until they literally turned to dust in their nice safe tombs.
    Today, most of the MGM silent Charlie Chases are gone. There's missing Our Gangs, as well as most of the one-shot "ALL-STARS" series, including those with Jean Harlow. This disaster extends into the first talkies as well.But their copyrights are still in force!
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    astorino

    [52]Sep 18, 2005
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    Ernie's Gravestone:

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=kovacs&GSfn=ernie&GSbyrel=all&GSdyrel=all&GSob=n&GRid=587&pt=Ernie%20Kovacs&
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    EveCarla

    [53]Sep 19, 2005
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    Great link to the gravestone, Suzanne...thanks. The marker was witty & ironic & quirky - in other words, perfect for the great Mr. Kovacs!

    If I may, I'd like to give a plug for a terrific book (probably read by many of the experts on this site, now thatI think about it...but just in case) called

    Hollywood Heartbreak
    by Laurie Jacobson
    1984

    Very available through Amazon & elsewhere. She covers a couple dozen celebrities here, but there is a FANTASTIC chapter on Ernie's sad end. Worth reading, I think - great insight & poignance...
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    astorino

    [54]Oct 14, 2005
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    Kovacsland Online!

    The Unofficial Official Ernie Kovacs Website:

    http://users.rcn.com/manaben/kovacs.html
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    astorino

    [55]Nov 8, 2005
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    Ernie's IMDB page:

    http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0468237/
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    TheNooz

    [56]Nov 8, 2005
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    It's ironic and very sad that both of Ernie's children, Kippie and Mia, also died in automobile accidents.

    Midge
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    W-B

    [57]Nov 9, 2005
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    The1Factotum1i1 wrote:
    Those were saved only because one of the writers, Snag Werris, borrowed them from the DuMont library, and never gave them back. When he died about 1990, they resurfaced.
    In other words, he stole them. That is not a bad thing when it comes to old film. A great deal of praise must be given to those who stole film throughout the years.

    Wouldn't it be a miracle if a similar situation existed with pre-recorded videotapes of WML?, black-and-white or color. Not "broody rikery," but I remember reading on the web that two color VT's of To Tell The Truth from its final nighttime season of 1966-67 exist.

    But back to Mr. Kovacs: How many of you out there prefer his verbal-based material to his visual stuff that he did within the final 12 months of his life for ABC and Dutch Masters? My mother and I are among that group. My first exposure to Ernie had been via the 1976 Columbia LP The Ernie Kovacs Album, with such chestnuts as his "Pierre Ragout" reading of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" with the wicked "Queen Zsa Zsa" (he probably did this routine a year before he and Mme. Gabor spoke to each other in Hungarian on WML?) and the dwarfs, of whom the last three had their names changed each time he read them off; his convoluted "Tom Swift" monologue; his priceless "Albert Gridley" number which I believe he did quite a few times (a version he did on television which aired in the early 1990's on Comedy Central differed a bit from the version on the record), under the banner of an ersatz show called "Welcome Transients" in which Ernie practically made up this guy's entire cross-country trip; his ├╝ber-complex "Droongo" game; and of course, Percy Dovetonsils and "Mr. Question Man." I remember on his 1956 NBC-TV show (or, as it would be referred to from time to time on WML?, "another network"), he would have on occasion as musical guests Ferrante & Teicher, long before they became known for their covers of movie themes - and in a period when they were more in the "avant garde" of music. My mother remembers Mr. Kovacs' 1956 radio show, in which he did a recurring bit where he referred to a "concealed lime pit."
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [58]Nov 9, 2005
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    Ernie was an instant favorite in the Delaware Valley when he started doing radio shows at WTTM, Trenton, N.J. in the late 1940's. Primarily because he could make up this kind of crazy stuff on the fly, he was in demand everywhere. He even wrote a column for the then-newly created tabloid, THE TRENTONIAN. I have an issue of the Philadelphia TV DIGEST (The precursor to TV GUIDE) from Dec. 1950 with a full page ad announcing that Ernie was about to be on television, and Channel 3 had him! He was a major local celebrity. He ran with TV's visual possibilities like the classic director-geniuses of Hollywood, but he was definately right at home as a storyteller also.
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    mehitable

    [59]Nov 9, 2005
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    My father watched Ernie in Philly as a small child. I grew up with stories of the program. Dad particularly enjoyed the opening bits.

    I started watching WML this year when I stumbled upon one of Ernie's appearances during a bout of insomnia. I have been taping the show ever since. I miss the TTTT lead-in.
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    ymike673

    [60]Nov 10, 2005
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    mehitable wrote:
    My father watched Ernie in Philly as a small child. I grew up with stories of the program. Dad particularly enjoyed the opening bits.

    I started watching WML this year when I stumbled upon one of Ernie's appearances during a bout of insomnia. I have been taping the show ever since. I miss the TTTT lead-in.


    Unfortunatlt all of Ernie's WML appearances were all in the space of lees than a year.
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