1st Emmys: six prizes, $ 5 tickets and the big winner was a ventriloquist

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There are so many categories for the Emmy Awards that the Television Academy hands out the statuettes in three very long ceremonies. But that was not the case with the first Emmy Awards on January 25, 1949. In fact, there were less than a million televisions in the United States at the time.

The Emmys were held at the Hollywood Athletic Club. Rudy Vallee was supposed to host the event but had to leave town. So radio star Walter O’Keefe direct the debates. Tickets were $ 5. Six prizes were awarded including a special prize for Louis mcmanus who designed the Emmy. The ceremony was broadcast on the local LA station KTSL, which is now KCBS. -TV.

In 1998, I spoke to three of the 1st Emmy Award winners for the LA Times.

Then 22-year-old ventriloquist Shirley Dinsdale – who appeared on KTLA with her puppet Judy Splinters – she received $ 10 per show – won Most Outstanding TV Personality. And “Judy Splinters” was also nominated for Most Popular TV Show.

Dinsdale was initially more interested in going out on a date that night than going to the ceremony. “It was so new,” she recalls. “No one knew what it was. All I know is everyone was cute about it. They said, “You have to go to the Hollywood Athletic Club banquet. And she didn’t have to worry about finding a date. “Walter O’Keefe, he was the first emcee and he awarded the Emmys,” she said. “Of course, when I figured out what it was, it was very exciting.”

Dinsdale began entertaining children on KTLA in 1947 on a six-day-a-week show in which she wished children a birthday. “It didn’t stay like that for too long,” Dinsdale noted. “They added a cartoon and it gradually turned into a half hour family program where we had guests, almost like a talk show. What my strong point was that we were going to improvise. I would write a plan, give it to the producer, and just follow the plan and adhere to it. It was fun. You never knew what was going to happen. There was almost always a moment of surprise. I wouldn’t have given up being at the very beginning of television for the world.

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It was a very big night for KTLA. Besides Dinsdale, the TV station also won the award for Outstanding Overall Performances in 1948 and the Most Popular TV Show for “Pantomime Quiz”, hosted by Mike stokey who lost the TV personality Emmy to Dinsdale.

“Pantomime Quiz” began on KTLA in 1947 and continued until 1949 when CBS took it over for the network. The game show aired on all four networks – ABC, CBS, DuMont, and NBC – before it ended in 1959. Stokey didn’t remember much of the Emmy, but vividly remembered “the time, because that it was so good to be alive. You come from the war that seemed dark. After years [of fighting in World War II] it was so good to be alive. We came back and went home. Your jobs had been guaranteed, which I still find remarkable.

He made many famous names appear in the series. I watched a 1951 episode that featured guests Vincent Price, Hans conried, Marilyn Maxwell, Ella Raines, Walter Brennan and Howard da silva. I found it interesting that Brennan, one of Hollywood’s conservatives, was sitting next to the very liberal Da Silva, who would soon be blacklisted. Stokey noted that the show “literally brought Hollywood into the television industry. People were totally mesmerized. They had never seen it. [stars before except as] those tall and tall figures in the theater, and there they were laughing and joking.

He was making a little more money than Dinsdale. Stokey was awarded $ 300 for an episode “for which I provided eight stars, all my staff, and rented the stage.” After winning the Emmy, KTLA gave him a raise of $ 500. And in October, “Pantomime Quiz” started on CBS.

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Best Directed Film for TV went to “The Necklace” which appeared at the premiere of the NBC anthology series “Your Show Time”. Ironically, the film aired just four days before the first Emmy Awards. “Your Show Time,” which aired until July 15, 1949, was not broadcast live, but was shot on film. “My memory of that night was one of exhilaration,” recalls the show’s executive producer and writer. Stanley rubin, who went on to produce films such as the 1952 noir “The Narrow Margin” and the Marilyn monroeRobert mitchum Vehicle from 1954 “River of No Return”, as well as the ABC series 1968-70, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir”.

“The idea I had for television was to dramatize published news,” Rubin noted, adding that he and his partner “quickly discovered that we couldn’t afford to buy the rights to contemporary writers though. known, so we changed the concept a little bit. The concept became a dramatization of the great short stories of the world, the idea being to find and adapt stories from the public domain. started. “The Emmy changed her career.” It turned out to be good for me in the career that I was going to have, “said Rubin.” It worked out really well. “

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