Thursday, January 8, 2015

Cleveland TV Tales

Cover of "Cleveland TV Tales" By Mike and Janice Olszewski.

     Today I want to review the latest book from Gray and Co, Cleveland TV Tales, by Mike and Janice Olszewski. Mike has been a well known Cleveland radio DJ and has had a long interest in Cleveland TV history. Wife Janice is a Photographer and Travel Expert.

  The book itself is quite an enjoyable read, first Mike delves into the circumstances behind the birth of WEWS, "First In Cleveland" in December 1947, and goes into some detail about Paul Hodges, the first "Personality" on Channel 5..With the station only a short time in 1948-49..
Paul Hodges, with his signature show "Dress and Guess" TeleVue Magazine, early 1949..

The first chapter also talks of early WNBK and WXEL days..
WNBK Bus used for a Mobile Studio..Courtesy Cleveland TV Tales and Tom Feran at
Sleek looking WXEL mobile unit at the Parma Transmitter site (1949-50) Courtesy Richard Warner..

      Even early on, big stars would frequent Local Cleveland shows to plug their projects, etc..Jimmy Stewart visited WEWS to emcee the Cleveland Press Christmas Party..James Cagney is pictured with Tom Haley in an early WNBK segment..In 1961 Chuck Connors visited WEWS and invited Captain Penny (Ron Penfound) to appear in a January 1962 "Rifleman" episode.
Promo Photo/screengrab from Rifleman "The Princess" January 8, 1962 (Courtesy, A Rifleman Tribute Site)..

The next chapter talks of TV News and how it changed over the years, from the "rip and read" headline service in the late 40's, early 50's to the Multiple anchor setups of the 60's and 70's..With several great stories of TV News in Cleveland..

WXEL News Slide (Early 1950's?) Courtesy Neil Zurcher's NEO TV Memories..
Next: a chapter on the musical heritage in Cleveland. (Few know that Country star Dottie West got her start on WEWS Landmark Jamboree with WERE's Tommy Edwards)

Next, Mike writes about personalities..A great chapter on Linn Sheldon/Barnaby opens things up. Sheldon was one of the first popular performers in Cleveland. He could do anything.. then Miss Dorothy Fuldheim The pioneering newscaster that opened the door for women nationally in the news business..Lots of good stories about people who made TV and TV history in the Cleveland area..
Captain Penny with Wilbur Wiffenpoof (Earl Keyes. later known as Mr. Jingeling)-Cleveland Press Collection

Bill Gordon, host of "Tumbleweed Theater" on WJW-TV 8-Cleveland Press Collection
Romper Room with Miss Barbara Plummer-Cleveland Press Collection
Dorothy Fuldheim with Bob Hope "One O' Clock Club" Cleveland Press Collection

The stories Mike writes here are more than dry bio's..Great stories, some rarely or never put in print before and over 60 photos, some not published before anywhere. Had the privilege of meeting Mike at Ghoulardifest a few years back and have been looking forward to this book since then..A great read and well worth picking up..There is already talk of a volume 2..
Link to The book page: Gray and Company-Cleveland TV Tales