On Sunday, May 17, 1942, WPTZ, Channel 3 in Philadelphia was already on the air as a commercial television station in Philadelphia for almost a year. On that date, they broadcast a live program produced by the Heger Academy called NEVER TOO OLD. The two actresses have not yet been identified.
The broadcast was directed by Ernest Walling. About five years later, Ernie has been identified as the station's Program Manager. Whether he served in that position in 1942 is not known.
Walling later went on to produce the 1949 to 1952 TV Series on NBC, "Lights Out," which was a long time hit on radio. Ernest also produced "Jeff & Marge," a 15 minute DuMont broadcast during 1953 and 1954. Ernest Walling passed away on Saturday, December 19, 1970.
Leonard Valenta, an actor for W3XE/WPTZ and the director for the TV soap, "The Guilding Light," said in a 1982 interview:
I was a freshman at Temple University in '41 and I was looking around for an assignment and who wanted a "freshie" in their show, the Templayers. But I did read that bulletin board avidly and one day I saw a sign that said, "anyone who's interested in television doing acting in it for nothing - they did say for nothing - please go to C and Tioga Streets and contact Mr. Ernest Walling at W3XE" that was the Philco station at that time, and I think, the call letters were W3XE.
I think as for as acting is concerned, it was a learning process. I saw this at that time as a marvelous potential. I thought, this is going to be a new industry. It's gonna go far and what a wonderful way for an actor to get a screen test and that's how narrow my little television mind was at that time, but it was all exciting.
I'm very proud of Philadelphia. I'm very proud having been with WPTZ. The cameramen. The technicians. The scenic designers. Because there were a lot of highly skilled techno-people with love in their hearts and they put on beautiful things and what I would see later on in New York, where I am now, brand new ideas, brand new shows. I thought that's old hat in Philadelphia. We did it first and we did it just as, we may have done it better.
By 1951, Leonard Valenta was with the networks where he directed "Tales of Tomorrow" for ABC-TV. He also directed "Charlie Wild, Private Detective" for ABC, CBS and DuMont. In 1954, he directed "The Mask," 15 one hour dramas. He also directed the soap opera, "The Edge of Night" in the mid-fifties to early sixties and then moved over to "Another World" where he was the director from 1965 to 1971. Valenta was born on November 22, 1923 and died on January 28, 1999.
Valenta would work again with Ernest Walling. Walling produced and Valenta directed the "Marge and Jeff" for DuMont.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by KYW-TV, CBS 3 in Philadelphia
Used with their permission
Researched by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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