Sunday, August 15, 2010

The DuMont Television Network Is On The Air!

In the beginning there was NBC - Blue and Red on radio but black and white on television; they were the ones to broadcast FDR's historic speech from opening day at the 1939 World's Fair, the occasional sporting event, and the like... Then there was DuMont (pronounced DOO-mont) - an affiliate of DuMont Laboratories, which produced both television broadcasting and receiving equipment, including TV sets.

Beginning on this day in 1946, the Dumont Network managed to struggle through the first decade of broadcast television - airing such high profile and quality programming such as Cavalcade of Stars (the show on which Jackie Gleason first aired The Honeymooners) and Bishop Fulton J. Sheen's weekly devotional program Life Is Worth Living*, which routinely beat Milton Berle's ratings powerhouse Texaco Star Theater - only to fold just ten days before their tenth anniversary. Outdone in every way by stalwart NBC, upstart CBS, (and even the mongrel ABC, which was really just NBC's divested Blue), DuMont effectively ended production on June 1st, but limped along for ten weeks more before calling it quits, in August 1956, following its broadcast of a prize-fight at New York City's St. Nicholas Arena.

Much of DuMont's legacy was destroyed when the network went off the air; almost everything else - kinescopes mainly - had been lost by the 1970s**, and of the scraps which have survived, many are similar in nature to this clip. Most of the surviving DuMont stations are Fox affiliates now, and TV historians generally agree that DuMont and Fox are kindred spirits.

*As well as the show mentioned in the above clip - Captain Video and His Video Rangers - which is the first science fiction program to ever air on American television, and which was wildly popular in those sci-fi crazy days!
**When they were - according to early TV legend Edie Adams' testimony before a panel of the Library of Congress - trucked from the warehouse where they were stored over to Upper New York Bay and unceremoniously dumped therein!
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