Beachcombing

By: 
Jay Beeler

Long Beach Rotarians were regaled with a look at CBS Television’s studio archives on Wednesday, Nov. 30, by Robert Haxby, director of Media Library and Program Archives. Haxby is a former Long Beach resident who graduated from CSULB’s Radio/TV Department and went to work at CBS Television City’s Beverly and Fairfax studios in 1974.

Haxby said that first attempts at recording live television shows were in 1949, using a 16 mm movie camera pointed at a television screen. In 1957 video came into popularity in part because Bing Crosby wanted to play golf and record his TV show at a more convenient time.

One of Haxby’s first jobs at CBS 42-years ago was to hold up the “applause” sign for the Carol Burnett show, since audience members ignored the overhead version with their eyes peeled on the star. The following year the “best duty I ever had” was escorting Groucho Marx at the Emmy Awards broadcast.

“I wanted a picture with Groucho and he wanted the replica duck that was used on his ‘You Bet Your Life’ show. I climbed up the ladder and got the duck and then got my photo – a most cherished souvenir,” Haxby said.

Later he started working in the video library, holding a variety of jobs that allowed meeting people whom he used to watch on TV when he was young. Eventually he became manager of the library, responsible for 900,000 pieces of film and videos.

“This is what makes our job fun … finding that needle in a haystack that brings satisfaction to the job,” he said. Among the treasures was the only color video of an “I Love Lucy” performance that was filmed by an audience member who smuggled in an 8 mm movie camera. It featured three minutes of Lucy jumping through a ring of fire at the Tropicana.
Haxby said that he was not a fan of colorization, even though the company recently completed its third upgrade of I Love Lucy. “Colorization didn’t matter due to the show’s popularity. It doesn’t make it funnier.”
He told the audience that he was “Very proud of where I work and I love showing it off. ‘You’ are our client, since our job is to deliver audiences to advertisers.”

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From a personal perspective I can relate to those golden days of black and white television in the 1950s when we were treated to dozens of great television shows, many of them “live, from Hollywood.”
My personal favorites were shows like I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners, You Bet Your Life, Howdy Doody, The Ed Sullivan Show and American Bandstand. Favorite entertainers included Milton Berle, Martha Raye, Red Skelton, Carol Burnett, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jimmy Durante and Dinah Shore.

In general, if a program made you laugh or was musically entertaining, it was worth my time to view it. Like Haxby, I pursued a 1970 bachelor’s degree in radio/TV and journalism at CSULB but found success in a variety of public relations jobs. In my teen years a television show that featured a PR professional sparked my interest as a possible career that ultimately has lasted almost 50 years.

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Time to remind our readers that they can bring cheer to their newspaper carrier by sending along Christmas greetings and perhaps a small token of cash/check gratitude if your paper has been arriving on time and dry.

Mail your greetings to: Beachcomber Carrier, Post Office Box 15679, Long Beach, CA 90815-0679. We’ll look at your return address to determine which carrier should be the recipient and forward same in a timely manner.

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Ponderism: Television may insult your intelligence, but nothing rubs it in like a computer.

publisher@beachcomber.news
 

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