The Search for Lost TV Programmes of the 50s,60s and 70s.

Ian K McLachlan

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Ian Kenneth McLachlan
Here in Britain lots of television programmes made in these decades no longer exist. Probably Doctor Who is one of the best known but there were many others. Just recently ITV (one of our main television channels) has initiated a search for lost shows. There is a special website devoted to this. I have been told that not many American shows are lost. Does anyone know what the main missing American TV shows are? Thanks.
 

MatthewA

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Well off the top of my head I can remember:

—The first 10 years of Johnny Carson Tonight Shows were systematically erased by NBC.
—The situation for daytime TV is especially tragic. There are huge gaps in the runs of soap operas such as As The World Turns, The Guiding Light, Search For Tomorrow, Another World, The Edge of Night, All My Children, etc. (no network or advertiser started keeping these around until the late 1970s, and only those produced by a movie studio or an independent producer still remain intact). This is because they produced five shows a week, there was no cable TV, videotape was expensive, and no one thought of selling these shows abroad until the damage had been done.
—Many pre-1980s game shows are almost completely gone, such as Art Fleming-era "Jeopardy", Chuck Woolery-era "Wheel of Fortune", the 1960s "Match Game", etc. Videotaped Goodson-Todman shows starting in the 1970s seem to have fared better.
—In 1978, NBC erased much of their daytime material because they were running out of space.
—Most of the DuMont Network kinescopes were dumped into the East River in the 1970s.

On the positive side:
—several 1970s Hollywood Squares episodes believed to have been erased were found a few years ago.
—16mm kinescopes of live TV managed to get into the hands of private collectors.

Unfortunately, none of the networks or producers in the USA seem interested in cooperating with those who taped these shows or film collectors with kinescopes to fill in their gaps.
 

Michael Alden

Supporting Actor
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Jun 5, 2005
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My Living Doll - Only 10 of the 26 filmed episodes are known to exist

The Tycoon - 22 of the 32 episodes are known to exist

Don't Call Me Charlie - Films supposedly burned up in a warehouse fire

Steve Donovan, Western Marshall - Wherabouts unknown

Beulah - Only a handful have ever turned up


That's all I know regarding filmed series. Obviously videotaped and live shows are a completely different category. Many taped shows had their episodes erased over or the tapes discarded. Live shows may have been kinescoped (or as you refer to them, telerecordings) and those tend to be difficult to place. Having no centralized system for cataloguing what exists and where tends to be a big problem. Even the major television archives (UCLA, University of Wisconsin, Museum of Television) don't communicate with one another. For years, the Museum of TV had the first All in the Family pilot listed on it's most wanted list. I was the one who told them that it was sitting in UCLA's collection all along. Things like that are not uncommon. It would be great if an entity in this country took it upon themselves to try to seek out and determine what shows exist and where and which shows need to be found. However, the archives in this country aren't very big on doing a lot of legwork. They much prefer to wait for shows to be dropped into their laps as opposed to actually going out and finding them.
 

Charles Ellis

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Ian, can you provide a link to the ITV site? Btw, here's some more facts on lost US shows:

The first two Super Bowls (1967, 1968) exist only on film right now as the master videotapes were either lost or erased.

Believe it or not, portions of JFK's inaguration ceremony from January 20, 1961 was broadcast in color on NBC, and the tapes were erased in the 70s, along with most of the color tapes from the 1964-66 pop music show Hullabaloo- a few still exist and are on DVD.

Johnny Carson was mad as hell over what NBC did regarding his earlier shows. Once he took over ownership of the show, he made sure that everything he did was preserved. So today, practically everything from 1972-92 is in a salt mine in Kansas. Reminds me of when Milton Berle sued NBC over his lost kinescopes, but they were found at the last minute before the case could go to court.

Also, check out the Museum of TV & Radio website- scan down to the "Get Involved" section, and there's lists for the most wanted lost US TV and radio broadcasts, dating back from 1920 to the 1980s!

http://www.mtr.org

Also, here's a link to a great site regarding the history of color TV in the US- you can see clips from the earliest surviving color and B/W videotaped shows. Here's a hint: the color show starred a Hollywood icon known for keeping the whole world tapping.....

http://www.kingoftheroad.net/colorTV/index.html
 

MielR

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MielR
The tapes of Barbra Streisand's week of co-hosting the Mike Douglas Show in 1963 were erased (among other early episodes of his show) so the tapes could be re-used.
 

Bob Hug

Screenwriter
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May 19, 2005
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Here's a link to a great web article on the DuMont Network:

http://members.aol.com/cingram/television/dumont.htm

At the site, you'll see a listing of DuMont programming that resides in UCLA's archives:

http://members.aol.com/cingram/television/dumonta5.htm

Also, Alpha Video is releasing four episodes from DuMont's "Rocky King, Detective" series next month and have syndicated versions (titled "Follow That Man") of DuMont's "Man Against Crime" series that starred Ralph Bellamy.

Rocky King release: http://www.oldies.com/product-view/5219D.html
 

Bob Hug

Screenwriter
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I have heard conflicting reports that some episodes of the 1950s syndicated series "Sky King" were destroyed in a fire. Does anyone have information about this?
 

JeffWld

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The first 2 years of "The Mike Douglas Show" were all erased. Approx. 15% of the subsequent years are also MIA
 

Michael Alden

Supporting Actor
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Jun 5, 2005
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That appears to be false. People get confused because the show ran for so many years on Saturday mornings. In reality, only 72 were made and these all do exist.
 

Mark Y

Screenwriter
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Mar 20, 2006
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I read somewhere that the producers of "Howdy Doody" had (key word being "had") a film and/or tape archive of almost the entire series run (the original series). Supposedly, some time in the 1980s, a fire destroyed the whole thing. What's left are kinescopes and for some reason, someone (or more than one someone) saved the very last show on color videotape. I have read that for years, one entity had the first half-hour and another party had the second half-hour, and it wasn't until recently that the two parties got together and released the entire show in color on DVD (as part of a 4-disc series including 15 other episodes, all from B/W kinescopes, even though the majority of the episodes were from the last few years of the show's run and were produced on color videotape and played back later). This is not uncommon at all.

Many of Soupy Sales's shows were not archived, and Paul Winchell was involved in a well-known court case with Metromedia over ownership of "Winchell-Mahoney Time." While the case was going on, someone at Metromedia erased all the tapes, except for a very few which were saved only due to tape damage (they could not be reused).

For local and regional shows, you can pretty much forget it. WGN-TV in Chicago apparently saved two episodes of "Ray Rayner And His Friends" (One from 1974 and another from 1978), and the final episode (aired January 23, 1981) only exists because someone taped it on a Betamax. Four episodes of "Garfield Goose And Friends" were archived by WGN (March 14 and 15, 1974, and September 9 and 10, 1976--the last two shows). Producer Don Sandburg saved one "Bozo's Circus" daytime show (March 25, 1968) and one other complete show, the final installment of "Big Top" (an evening version of the show with taped highlights) (January 4, 1967), plus a compilation tape of various skits and guest acts which runs about 50 minutes. I believe WGN saved one "Romper Room," one "Treetop House" (plus one more which someone kinescoped), and three WGN-era "BJ & Dirty Dragon" shows.
 

JeffWld

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I'll believe that one when I see it. Recent contact (after these postings) with Jack Chertok Productions resulted in a claim that they didn't have the elements. Also: the claim of assembling "hi def" transfers won't do us any good...unless "My Living Doll" will be the first TV series to be released on Blu Ray or HD-DVD.
 

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