Founders At Cbs Murrow and Godfrey

Get Paid To Write Online

Get Paid to Write at Home

Get Instant Access

Edward R. Murrow, 1948-1961

Edward R. Murrow pioneered three forms of news talk: live investigative reporting, celebrity journalism, and live trans-oceanic dialogue. As executive producer, newscaster, and host, Murrow charted new territory in television. He joined CBS radio in 1935 as Director of Talks, after an earlier career working with student groups and international education. Over the next twenty-five years he assumed near-statesmanlike status in broadcast journalism at CBS. When he moved to CBS television in 1951, Murrow used his status as CBS's premier radio news broadcaster and his close relationship with CBS founder William Paley to establish several innovative news talk formats.

As a host, Edward R. Murrow illustrated the power of the spoken word as no one had done before or has done since, demonstrating in terse but eloquent first-person narrations that the boundary between the written and spoken word is at best a fragile one. As the host of See It

Now (1951-1958), Person to Person (1953-1959), and Small World (19581960), he showed that a single host could pass back and forth among three kinds of talk show and do justice to each. Finally, he exemplified the multiple roles of the talk-show host as character, creator, star-commodity, and entrepreneur.

Murrow's biographers describe the roots of his verbal power in the story-telling traditions he absorbed growing up in Guildford County, North Carolina.8 The oral tradition was strong on both sides of the Murrow family. By many accounts, the person who had the most to do with molding Murrow's character and his ability as a speaker was his mother, Ethel Lamb Murrow, a strong-minded woman who instilled in her three sons a compulsion for hard work and a respect for the sounds and rhythms of the English language. ''At home, the boys had to read aloud from the Bible, a chapter every night. ... a first encounter with formal speech in the strong, rhythmic measures of the King James Version of the Bible.''9 Murrow's speech, like his mother's, never lost its Southern intonation and Spenserian quality. It was the kind of English that was spoken in Elizabethan times and that still survives in isolated cultural pockets of the South. The exact choice of words and their precise use, inverted phrases like ''this I believe,'' and verb forms like ''I'd not'' and ''it pleasures me,'' which Ed Murrow used on and off the air, came directly from his earliest years.10

In his London ''blitzkrieg'' reports during World War II, Murrow established himself as the foremost radio foreign correspondent of his day. In crisp, condensed cadences he employed vivid metaphors to paint verbal pictures of what he was seeing. Describing a plane taking off at sunset, Murrow spoke of ''rivers and lakes of fire atop the clouds.'' Small bombs fell ''like a fistful of white rice thrown on a piece of black velvet,'' and bigger ones went off ''like great sunflowers gone mad.'' Looking down on a burning Berlin, he described fires that merged and spread ''like butter on a hot plate.''11

Murrow's broadcasts from London brought radio listeners an intensity they had rarely experienced before. BBC correspondent Frank Gillard remembers Murrow's agonies as he hunched ''over his typewriter, enveloped and isolated in cigarette smoke, oblivious to all around him.'' Murrow's intensity on the air was lifelong, and it is what many viewers recall from his famous See It Now broadcasts on Senator Joseph McCarthy.12

The sense that Murrow forged his words as he spoke them came from his method of composition. Unlike Eric Sevareid and other report ers of the day, who wrote drafts and then polished them, Murrow dictated his broadcasts to long-time secretary Kay Campbell shortly before delivering them. This was to remain his practice for twenty-five years on the air. The words were copied down exactly as he spoke them. Though the syntax might seem awkward on the page, when Murrow spoke, the words emerged in smooth and perfect cadences.

In looking back at Murrow's remarkable career on television in the 1950s, we can now see his contribution: he demonstrated the power of the written-as-spoken word on television, a tradition that extended itself on television in the work of veteran broadcasters like Eric Seva-reid, Charles Kuralt, David Brinkley, Bill Moyers, and Charles Osgood. By the early 1990s this tradition had all but died out on network television, but Murrow's legacy remained. His contribution was not just to television news but to talk on television, with three major talk traditions emerging from his three most influential shows: See It Now, Person to Person, and Small World.

See It Now (1951-1958) See It Now, coproduced by Murrow with Fred Friendly, went on the air at 3:30 p.m., Sunday, November 18,1951, sponsored by Alcoa Aluminum, then attempting to bolster its corporate image with a ''class act'' on national television.13 Murrow's personal relationship with Alcoa executives was a good one,14 and survived, for a time, the battering he took from rabid anti-Communists after his McCarthy broadcasts. He also had a long-standing and intimate relationship with CBS founder and president William Paley, who appointed Murrow a CBS vice president when he returned from London in 1947. Murrow's position within the executive hierarchy of CBS gave him an unusual degree of control and authority over his first television show.

Looking up from an odd, cramped corner of the See It Now control room, cigarette smoke curling up from the bottom of the screen, Murrow introduced the first edition of See It Now in 1951 as follows:

''This is an old team, trying to learn a new trade,'' Murrow told his viewers. ''We are fully conscious that there is no such thing as a wholly objective reporter. We are all the prisoners of our own experience, of our leanings, of our indoctrination and our travels.''15

The cramped control room setting was a last-minute decision. It was characteristic of the chaotic, spur-of-the-moment conditions under which See It Now was produced. Those conditions helped give the program a sweaty, present-tense, improvisational feeling. The first program included a shot of both coasts, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, captured in split screen at the same moment. It was a scene made possible by the coaxial cable that had just been completed. ''Three thousand miles compressed to a vanishing point,'' said one critic.16 Along with interviews of major newsmakers, Murrow and Friendly had sent See It Now crews to Korea to interview soldiers on the front. It was, wrote one critic, ''the first Korea picture report that actually brought the war home to us,''17 and it displayed the kind of intimacy and authority that were to become Murrow's trademark on See It Now.


Of all Murrow's work on the air, it was the five programs Murrow did on Senator Joseph McCarthy that insured his place in television history. The first program in this series focused on the dismissal of Air Force lieutenant Milo Radulovich for the alleged ''Communist associations" of family members, and aired October 20,1953.18 It was one of Murrow's finest programs, and it is worth reconsidering for two reasons. It shows the importance of the historical and social context of television talk, and demonstrates the power of the written word when, in the Murrow tradition, it takes on the force of the spoken word.

The charges of ''Communist'' sympathies leveled against Milo Radulovich, a young Air Force ROTC officer, were similar to charges that affected tens of thousands during the McCarthy period, causing many to lose theirjobs without proof, evidence, or the ability to confront their accusers.The television networks themselves had been the targets of''anti-Red'' campaigns. Names were listed in Red Channels: The Report of Communists in Radio and Television, a pamphlet distributed by three former FBI agents,19 putting hundreds in jeopardy of losing theirjobs and causing hundreds of others to be fired. Before the Radulovich program went on the air, Murrow had been under some pressure to act as Eric Sevareid and a few other responsible journalists had done, to oppose the smear and innuendo tactics of McCarthy and his committee. Murrow and Friendly decided the time was right in October 1953, and the veteran newscaster gathered his staff before the show to ask if any had a reason to think he or she might be the target of an investigation. Production manager Palmer Williams said that he had been formerly married to someone engaged in Communist Party activities in the 1920s and 1930s. Murrow didn't think it would be a problem. Every person in the room, however, knew that See It Now was taking on a powerful and vengeful foe. CBS management had distanced itself from the program, and Murrow and Friendly had gone into their own pockets to promote the show in an ad in the New York Times. Murrow said that the terror was right there in the room.

Much of the show was based on the live, in-the-field testimony of people who lived in the small town where Radulovich resided. Field producer Joseph Wershba had found a chorus of support for the young career officer among the citizens of Dexter, Michigan. His camera recorded their comments. A carefully coiffured young woman spoke directly to the camera: ''I felt like so many others in Dexter that Milo was getting a pretty bad deal.''20 An older man in rimless glasses, standing very upright, spoke forcefully: ''My viewpoint: I can't see how you can hold a man responsible for the views and actions of his relatives." A middle-aged man with a crew cut and wearing a worker's shirt told the camera: ''I know I wouldn't want to be held responsible for what my father did.'' Then the camera came to a guy who, in Wershba's words, ''evidently had just come out of a bar with a face to match, and he was the head of the American Legion. I figured this guy is really going to tear him apart.''21 This t-shirted man made one of the program's strongest statements: ''If the Air Corps or the United States Army or who they are that are purging this man — I believe they're purging him, gets away with it, they're entitled to do it to anybody— you, me or anyone else.'' Murrow ended the program with a biblical injunction: ''We believe that the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, even though the iniquity be proved, and, in this case, it is not.''

The ''Case of Milo Radulovich'' was one of Murrow's most important shows and, in a tradition that 60 Minutes would continue, it effected changes at the highest level. The culmination came when Murrow received a call at home at 8:00 a.m. in late November.22 It was from Secretary of the Air Force Harold Talbott. He asked that Murrow's camera operator, Charlie Mack, be sent to the Pentagon by 9:00 a.m. to take a statement.23 Hours later in the See It Now screening room the staff let out a cheer and Murrow broke out the scotch. The Air Force exonerated Radulovich.24

The citizen-crusader/star-reporter formula of See It Now was to inspire 60 Minutes sixteen years later when it aired under the direction of Murrow's old studio director, Don Hewitt, with many of the old See It Now team still on board. Over time the formula would become, some would argue, stale, even a parody of itself. However, during the period from 1951 to 1954, Murrow and his team established a ''fresh talk'' news show that brought investigative reporting to a new level with the power and immediacy of live TV. The live, on-camera introductions and the filmed as-if-live television talk of See It Now set a standard for broadcast journalists.

Person to Person (1953-1961) See It Now and those that followed in its tradition were not talk shows per se; they were magazine news shows featuring a distinctive kind of television talk. In contrast, Murrow's next major venture on the air, Person to Person, was a show based entirely on conversation between individuals. It certainly wasn't news, but it wasn't just entertainment either. It had informational value as well. The show is perhaps best described as celebrity talk.

Person to Person was an idea brought to Murrow by his longtime associates and friends, Johnny Aaron and Jesse Zousmer, who had been with Murrow in radio and produced remote interview work for See It Now, including interviews with Senator Estes Kefauver in Tennessee and Senator Robert A. Taft in Ohio. Aaron and Zousmer believed that people were fascinated with the private lives of famous people, and eventually persuaded Murrow that a show based on weekly visits to the homes of celebrities would be successful.

Person to Person ran from October 1953 to September 1961 on CBS.25 Murrow's stature and the innovative technology of the show attracted some of the world's great newsmakers and stars. It was also commercially one of CBS's most successful shows. Conducting two fifteen-minute interviews a week with Aaron and Zousmer as associate producers, Murrow introduced his first Person to Person as follows:

Now this is really an ordinary studio in midtown Manhattan. We have no applause meter. We have no jackpot. We have no audience. We have no scripts.26

The program did not have a "gimmick," he said, but it would have a "device."

The device is that window [pointing to the interview screen] and we hope to make it something of a long range window in order that you may . . . look into the homes of some interesting people doing usual things.27

Murrow, Aaron, and Zousmer would characteristically pair guests from very different worlds. In the first program, for instance, Murrow interviewed catcher Roy Campanella of the Brooklyn Dodgers in his

179th Street home in St. Albans, Long Island, and then went to the fashionable Upper East Side apartment home of conductor Leopold Stokow-ski and his socialite wife, Gloria Vanderbilt.28

From 1953 to 1961, 312 guests appeared on Person to Person.29 Some of Murrow's most notable guests were Marilyn Monroe, Senator John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline, ex-President Harry Truman, film stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Supreme Court Judge William O. Douglas, and the president of NBC, David Sarnoff. Notably lacking from this list were the ordinary citizens who had been part of Murrow's ''small picture'' news accounts on radio and See It Now. Murrow himself had wanted to interview non-celebrities, but ratings were poor for these shows and the host eventually succumbed to his producers' arguments that non-celebrities did not work in this format.

The technical conditions for producing Person to Person were formidable. It took twelve technicians several days to set up the broadcast with five cameras, ten stage lights, miles of wire, and several tons of portable control-room equipment packed into twenty suitcases. On the day of the broadcast the interview subject's home was invaded by six members of a camera crew, six more technicians for microwave relay, electricians, producers, directors, makeup artists, and telephone company engineers. As many as twenty-six technicians were on standby at the studio to receive incoming pictures.30

Murrow's comments often dipped into the banal on Person to Person, and critics became more and more severe. Gilbert Seldes of The New Yorker, for example, who admired See It Now, attacked Person to Person, saying, ''the Edward R. Murrow [of Person to Person] is not to be confused with the man of the same name who is the star and co-producer of See It Now. One of them is an imposter.''31

Stung by these criticisms, but unwilling to give up a show that had given him financial returns and a good deal of clout with the network, Murrow continued his grueling schedule of working on both See It Now and Person to Person. Then, to complete his legacy at CBS, in the spring of 1958 Murrow added a third show: a Sunday afternoon interview program called Small World.

Small World (1958-1959) Small World appeared on CBS from October 1958 to April 1959.32 Using phone lines and location cameras on separate continents, Murrow captured live exchanges with such noted contemporaries as philosopher Bertrand Russell and nuclear scientist Edward Teller on the prospects for nuclear disarmament. Playwright

Noel Coward, writer James Thurber, and actress Siobhan McKenna discussed the essence of theatrical performance. Irish dramatist Brendan Behan, American comedian Jackie Gleason, and English literary critic John Mason Brown debated the nature of humor. It was a high-order engagement in the world of ideas that equaled anything Bill Moyers was to do three decades later on PBS.

Small World was broadcast with a high order of civility, wit, and charm. The guests and ideas expressed were not always predictable. Irish playwright and humorist Brendan Behan became so inebriated in the course of a discussion that he simply dropped out before it ended. ''The art of conversation is gone,'' Behan wailed in one of his last lucid comments, ''murdered by lunatics—most of them in the United States.''

As important as Small World was in enlarging the scope and tone of talk on television, it is scarcely mentioned in standard Murrow biographies.33 A footnote in television history, Small World established a precedent. It showed that a host could balance serious news talk with light-touch celebrity journalism, while encountering some of the world's greatest thinkers on the air and recording them for posterity.

The "Higher Murrow'' vs. "Lower Murrow'' Debate As Edward R. Murrow's career on television in the 1950s developed, the ''higher Murrow'' vs. ''lower Murrow'' debate among TV critics dragged on. This debate refused to acknowledge how intimately Edward R. Murrow had always been involved with the commercial side of broadcasting. From his earliest days as CBS administrator, managing news editor, host, and newscaster, Murrow had close working relationships with sponsors. In London he had defended America's free enterprise system against Harold Laski and others who proposed the BBC model for broadcasting, with programming supported by the sale of receivers and government funding. For all its failings, Murrow argued, commercial broadcasting had the ability to produce the best kind of programming as well as the worst, and it was inherently more democratic.

In an overview essay on Person to Person in Journalism Monographs (1988), Jeffrey Merron argued that Murrow's apparently contradictory roles on See It Now and Person to Person were actually a successful attempt to bridge two different audiences. Using Dwight Macdonald's terms, Merron suggested that See It Now was Edward R. Murrow's ''midcult'' attempt to attract to television an informed, aware, and news-conscious viewership, whereas Person to Person was a ''mass-

cult'' program, regularly attracting eight to nine million viewers a week, a mass audience for the time.34

A gender element played a role in the "higher" Murrow vs. "lower" Murrow debate as well. The news world that Murrow lived and worked in was dominated by men. Hard news and the serious issues of the day were associated almost exclusively with male newscaster figures. The parlor-room interviews of Person to Person entered a feminine space. No matter how much a husband or male partner may have dominated many of these conversations, the home was the woman's domain. A newsman entering that world, especially a newsman with a cultivated image as a tough, independent war correspondent who knew how to handle his cigarettes and his scotch, produced an interesting series of gender tensions in 1950s television. It was one thing for Arlene Francis or later Barbara Walters to do these kinds of interviews. It was quite another thing for the country's foremost war correspondent, a man considered to be one of the most serious news broadcasters of his time, to engage in this parlor talk.

While the critical debates continued, with his trilogy of shows in the 1950s—See It Now, Person to Person, and Small World—Murrow established three major trajectories in the history of television talk.

Arthur Godfrey (1948-1959)

What Murrow was to news broadcasting at CBS in its first decade, Arthur Godfrey was to entertainment programming. "Broadcasting's Forgotten Giant," as he was called in Arthur Singer's 1996 documentary on his life and broadcasting career,35 Godfrey institutionalized a form of intimacy and wry, rebellious charm that has set a standard for entertainment talk on television.

In Arthur Godfrey and His Friends (1949-1957), Arthur Godfrey and His Ukulele (1950), Arthur Godfrey Time (1952-1959), and The Arthur Godfrey Show (1958-1959), and in time slots that occurred in almost every part of the day on radio and on television, Arthur Godfrey was one of the most popular entertainers of the 1950s. At the height of his career Godfrey had two prime-time shows on television with an estimated weekly audience of 82 million viewers. He brought in 12 percent of CBS's total revenues.36 Variety estimated that Godfrey was responsible for $159 million in billings by 1959, with more than eighty on-air sponsors.37 He was also broadcasting's "big, bad boy,'' famed for his sudden bursts of anger and jealousy, for feuds with members of his broadcast "family" and with other major stars (including Ed Sullivan), and for headline-provoking off-camera episodes (he once buzzed an airport control tower in his private plane). A photo recognition poll taken before the 1960 elections registered 71 percent for Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, 86 percent for Vice President Richard M. Nixon — and 91 percent for Godfrey.38

Godfrey's major contribution to the history of television talk was the persuasive, intimate, sometimes sarcastic person-to-person tone he brought to broadcasting. It is a tone that viewers of David Letterman and his followers in the 1980s and 1990s will immediately recognize. Indeed, it was specifically Godfrey's morning show that NBC executive Fred Silverman had in mind when he negotiated the original Letter-man morning show on NBC in the early 1980s. But Godfrey brought to television more than a style. He was a master salesperson as well, selling, and selling very well, the same products that he would sometimes mock over the air.

Arthur Godfrey was born in 1903. His father was a freelance writer and lecturer, an expert on horses, his mother an aspiring piano player who had played at silent movie theaters. His father's work dried up, and the family was very poor through his early life, his mother selling jams door to door. Godfrey himself resorted to stealing milk bottles. Eventually, the children were split up and sent to foster parents. At ten, Godfrey went to work after school, and he quit school entirely at fifteen, moving across the country in a succession of jobs. He worked as a coal miner in Pennsylvania, a typist in an army camp, a tire finisher in Akron. In 1920, at the age of seventeen, he enlisted in the Navy. The Navy sent him to radio school, where he went up in an airplane for the first time (flying later became a lifelong passion), and learned to play the ukulele. When he got out of the Navy in 1924, he drifted again, for a time selling cemetery plots door to door. Signing up for the Coast Guard in 1927 as a radioman, he was sent to Baltimore to design radio equipment, and it was there that his career as a radio performer took off.39

He had always had a gift for talk, serving as captain of his school's debating team before he left school to work. Godfrey's broadcasting career began in radio in Baltimore in 1929 at the rate of $5 a day. He answered a call for amateur talent as ''Red Godfrey: The Warbling Banjo and His Ukulele Club." The station manager who heard him do his own commercials on the air told him, ''You talk twenty times better than you sing,'' and hired him for a regular spot.40 In 1931, after the Coast Guard let him go and his first marriage broke up, Godfrey moved from Baltimore to the local NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. Here a life-changing event occurred. A severe car accident shattered his knees and broke both hips and six ribs. The accident left him with ongoing pain, a permanent limp, and a prolonged hospital stay. It was there, Godfrey said, listening to radio announcers from his hospital bed, that he realized the old oratorical styles of broadcasting no longer had relevance for the small audiences gathered around their Philcos and Emersons. What the old-time announcers with their ''Good eeeevening, ladies and gentlemen'' did not know, Godfrey decided, ''was that the audience is one person sitting in a room and if there's two they're probably fighting. I saw that you have to talk to that one person.''41

Eventually Godfrey was picked up by the CBS network and began to build a national reputation. Another turning point in his career arrived when he was assigned to cover Franklin Delano Roosevelt's funeral procession in April 1945. His relaxed, reassuring broadcast and his heart-felt delivery (at several points his voice cracked as he described the funeral) made him a national figure. In 1947 a humorous song Godfrey recorded, ''The Too Fat Polka,'' went to the top of the hit parade, beating out Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra, the most popular singers of the day. In a characteristic downplaying mode Godfrey said, ''Never in my life did I waste so much time over junk. Gosh it was awful.''42 But the record sold 3.5 million copies. When in 1948 radio/television simulcasts became economically feasible,43 Godfrey took his radio show in front of the television cameras of CBS, and he was an immediate success.

Godfrey's broadcasting style is documented in a rare 1948 film recording of an early rehearsal simulcast for television of his radio show.44 The film shows Godfrey sitting at his desk with his radio headphones on, a somewhat dyspeptic smile on his face as his announcer, Tony Marvin, intones the opening: ''Yes, it's Arthur Godfrey and all the little Godfreys . . . and now here's that man himself, Arthur 'you'll-be-tickled-pink,' Godfrey.''45 Godfrey's first lines reflect the combination of rambunctiousness and sarcasm that made him famous:

Thank you, Tony, thank you very much. This is the Godfrey bringing you a whole hour of entertainment through the miracle of radio. Isn't it wonderful? If this stuff entertains you, it's a miracle.

He commented on the conversion of the studio for television that day.

This morning we've got lights all around this joint—they're driving us crazy with 'em. They said we'll come in, Arthur, and you won't even know we're there. We'll just take the pictures. [Godfrey grimaces and, with a carefully timed gesture, thumbs his nose at the studio camera, and the studio audience breaks into laughter.] A penny postcard, I'll explain that laugh to you folks.

Throughout the program Godfrey pitches products: Chesterfield cigarettes, Glass Wax cleaners, Nabisco foods. He reads letters on the air from fans and letter writers who ask questions but also try to emulate Godfrey's humor. One of the show's sponsors, Nabisco, sends him a turkey and parsley for the Thanksgiving season. Godfrey is apparently not amused. ''I know just what to do with that parsley. If you folks can guess where I just shoved the parsley.'' An explosion of laughter from the studio audience greets this remark. ''Really,'' says Godfrey, eyeing the fowl caustically, ''it's a very nice bird. I thank you very much for giving me the bird, Mr. Nabisco.''

Just as Edward R. Murrow articulated a characteristic tone and broadcast tradition for news and celebrity journalism, Arthur Godfrey's rebellious word play also influenced generations of talk-show hosts. His spontaneity—''you never knew what Godfrey was going to say, because Godfrey never knew what he was going to say''46—is evident in every appearance. Godfrey himself seemed to be aware of his equivocal position as a talk-show personality, an immediate presence to millions of viewers with no discernible special ability in any one particular form of entertainment, yet someone who was able to seize and hold the attention of his viewers. As Godfrey put it in a later interview:

I knew that I didn't have any talent. I knew that if I were to have any longevity at all I would have to be someone upon whom you would depend, somebody—whether you liked me or not—you had to believe what I told you because it was true.47

Godfrey's Irish wit and rebellious honesty enabled him to sell products as no one had done before him. His agent said he never sold a product he didn't totally believe in. But it also got him in trouble, increasingly so as his career soared. His flippant, caustic personality had a darker side. Millions of his fans saw this side when he fired his young lead singer, Julius LaRosa.48

On October 19, 1953, Arthur Godfrey fired Julius LaRosa, live, on the air, and it was front-page news. LaRosa had been a popular member of Godfrey's broadcast family—too popular, for Godfrey's taste, as he saw him parlay his appearances on the Godfrey show into nightclub engagements and a record contract, get more fan mail than Godfrey himself, and hire a lawyer to represent his interests.49 When LaRosa missed one of the ballet lessons that Godfrey had mandated for all cast members to develop their physical agility and grace, Godfrey decided to take action.50

The show of October 19,1953, was in its sixth segment, which was broadcast nationally on radio only. Godfrey's voice asked LaRosa to sing a song. ''I would like Julie, if he would, to sing that song called 'Manhattan,''' he said. ''Have you got that?'' An attentive listener could pick up a note of coldness in Godfrey's voice; most considered it a simple introduction. When LaRosa finished his song, Godfrey announced: ''That was Julie's swan song. He goes out now as his own star, soon to be seen in his own programs, and I know that you wish him Godspeed same as I do.'' Andy Rooney, a writer on the show at the time, recalls LaRosa coming backstage and asking, ''Was I just fired?'' Newspaper headlines fanned the flames. LaRosa called a press conference, and Godfrey called his own press conference to answer him. Julius had lost his humility, Godfrey said. Never noted for humility himself, he triggered a backlash from critics and fans. The largely favorable press he had received began to turn against him. Biographer Arthur Singer feels this was a turning point for Godfrey. The ''bad boy'' image that was so attractive at first had been allied to a certain innocence. The innocence was gone.

Grandiloquent gestures such as the firing of Julius LaRosa on the air and its attendant publicity could only happen in live television, and only an established titan of live television could obtain front-page headline publicity from such a moment. At CBS in the 1950s, William Paley was building the network's fortunes, in part, on talk stars like Godfrey and Edward R. Murrow. Over at NBC another television executive was building recognition and profits with stars of TV talk. The executive was Sylvester ''Pat'' Weaver, and the programs Weaver founded—Today (1952-), Home (1954—1957), and Tonight (i954-)—proved to be three of the most influential and durable on television.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment