Monday, February 20, 2017

This Week in Television History: February 2017 PART III

As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history,
the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.

February 20, 1972
Radio personality and newspaper columnist Walter Winchell dies at the age of 74. 

Winchell's influential gossip and news show, Walter Winchell's Jergens Journal, ran for 18 years.
Winchell started as a vaudeville performer, working with an array of future stars, including Eddie Cantor and George Jessel. He began writing about Broadway in 1922 for the Vaudeville News and in 1929 began writing a syndicated column for the New York Daily Mirror, which ran for three decades. But dishing on socialites became his claim to fame when he began his radio news show in 1930. His fast-paced show was packed with short news and gossip items-his rapid-fire radio prattle was clocked at 215 words a minute. Millions of people tuned into his witty and extremely popular Sunday evening show, which he introduced with, "Good evening, Mr. and Mrs. North and South America and all the ships at sea. Let's go to press!"
A gossip columnist when few others existed, Winchell ruined more than a few careers with reports that some maintained were sensationalistic, reckless, and actually untrue. His show popularized catchphrases like "blessed event" and "scram," and peers admired his penchant for finding fresh ways to report on Hollywood's elite. Winchell starred as himself in several films, including Love and Hisses in 1937 and Daisy Kenyon in 1947.
What some called captivating reporting was labeled yellow journalism by others. His career declined in the 1950s. Like so many other radio stars, Winchell's career lost its sparkle when Americans' allegiance turned to television. Meanwhile, he made an unpopular decision to back Senator Joseph McCarthy's "Red Scare," publicly accusing a number of Hollywood stars of being communists. In the 1960s, the New York Daily Mirror closed and his column ended. One of his last major jobs was narrating "The Untouchables," a popular television drama series, from 1959 to 1963. When he died penniless in 1972, it was reported that just one person-his daughter-showed up at his funeral.

February 23, 1997
Schindler's List is shown on NBC, the first network to broadcast a movie without commercial interruption. 

Ford Motor Company, which sponsored the broadcast, showed one commercial before and after the film.
The 1993 film about German factory owner Oskar Schindler, who saved the lives of Jewish workers in his factory during World War II, was Spielberg's most ambitious movie to date. The picture, filmed in black and white, won Spielberg his first Academy Award as Best Director, and it also garnered Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay awards. The film's screenplay, by Thomas Keneally and Steven Zallian, was adapted from Keneally's novel, Schindler's Ark, published in 1982.
Spielberg started making amateur films in his teens, and by the late 1970s he had become heavily involved in production and scriptwriting. He gained fame early in his career for directing such blockbusters as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, E.T., Poltergeist, and a string of other phenomenal successes. He established his own independent production company, Amblin' Entertainment, in 1984, where he produced Gremlins, Back to the Future, Arachnophobia, Cape Fear, and more. In 1994, he formed DreamWorks SKG with Jeffrey Katzenberg and David Geffen, and the following year the trio announced a partnership with Microsoft Corporation, called DreamWorks Interactive, which produced interactive games and teaching tools. Just months before he released Schindler's List, Spielberg released Jurassic Park, which featured computer-generated dinosaurs that took the world by storm. He won his second Academy Award for Best Director in 1999 for Saving Private Ryan. Virtually all of Spielberg's films have been box office smashes.

To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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