Member Rita Pascal
Thanksgiving Day Parade
Broadcast Pioneers member Rita Pascal was a star on "The Children's Hour." We also appeared with Carny the Clown, Hy Lit and many other WCAU-TV personalities. On the float for the Channel 10 TV and radio show, "Cinderella Weekend" was Rita.
Rita e-mailed us:
Wow! 1957! I was doing the "Carny the Clown" show. Merrill Brockway was our director. Right before Thanksgiving, he mentioned that they needed a girl to play Cinderella on the "Cinderella Weekend" float in the Thanksgiving Day parade. Would I be interested? Of course!! What fun-- sitting on a fancy float, waving to the crowd! But--Merrill neglected to tell me that I'd be sitting 12 feet high on top of Cinderella's shoe!
It was a very cold day with a very brisk wind. We had to be there rather early. I couldn't believe how high my seat was. Two men had to lift me up so I could climb on top. I was bundled up-- two sweaters, a turtleneck, a powder blue ski jacket, white wool gloves, and heavy winter boots (which no could see). On top of that, my royal blue velvet cape and my crown.
I looked like a royal "Oompah." I smiled, I waved, I shivered, and almost got electrocuted when some low hanging wires almost touched my crown. The parade seemed to go on forever, but I was somewhat disappointed when it was over. It took me a while to defrost, and realize that I had overcome my fear of height! Would I do it again? You bet!!
"Cinderella Weekend, one of television's first question panel game shows, " had two hosts. The first one was Alan Scott who started the program in 1948. It first was on radio and then a TV version added later that year. Scott hosted both.
In November of 1948, WCAU-TV started a new hour-long television program called "Homemakers' Matinee." It aired from 2 to 3 pm, Monday through Friday. "Homemakers' Matinee" was, in reality, three different shows. From 2 pm to 2:30 pm, it was the "Cinderella Weekend" segment. Then at 2:30, there was a 15 minute piece called "Homemakers at Home" and the last fifteen minutes was a part entitled "On Chestnut Street." The hour-long broadcast had a live studio audience (they were there for all three segments or shows) and originated from the WCAU-TV studios in center city Philadelphia at 1622 Chestnut Street.
"Cinderella Weekend" was basically a TV version of the radio favorite. "Homemakers at Home" was devoted to "home conveniences and time savers." A new 1948 modern kitchen, fully equipped, was installed in one of the WCAU-TV stages. "On Chestnut Street" was a live quarter hour "man on the street" program. Passersby were asked their likes and opinions on various subjects of interest of that time period. The hour broadcast was fully sponsored by Peirce-Phelps, Inc., who distributed home appliances. Also featured on the 60-minute program were Polly Philips, Bill Hart and Gene Crane. Bill and Gene did the "On Chestnut Street" segments.
In 1950, "Cinderella Weekend" became a separate TV broadcast. In the spring of 1954 (when Scott left to go to WPTZ) Bill Hart took over. We don't have an exact date on the change, but an advertisement dated April 3, 1954, referred to Bill Hart as the "new" quizmaster.
The radio and television versions of the show worked very much the same. Each Friday (the show aired Monday through Friday), each version crowned their winner. The TV version had a few more gimmicks but basically it was the same show with the same host.
Both versions had something called "The Faithful Fifteen." While the actual number may have varied from day to day, this group was made up of women who trekked to WCAU every weekday morning to sit in the audience of both the radio and TV version. They usually stayed for any other program, which had a studio audience. The 15 would bring lunch, knitting and sometimes, their hopes. Once in a blue moon, they would get to be on a game show panel. Often, they would win door prizes. In fact, one woman whose husband ran an appliance store, won on four different occasions, a gas stove.
The second host for the show, Bill Hart, said in 1957, "You can count on them even in a blizzard." That was good for the station since the shows went on regardless of the weather. Producer Jack Dolph said, "During the big March (1956) snowstorm, several of them walked all the way here from 54th and City Line Avenue, more than a mile."
All the people on the panel were recruited from the studio audience. Sometimes, they would come as individuals, clubs, church groups or neighborhood organizations. As the women entered the studio, station employees would hand out a printed questionnaire. It asked if they wished to be a panelist on the show. If they did, they were required to supply additional information and some personal background. They weren't screened by quizzes, but four willing contestants were selected at random for each show, whether radio or television. Players had a clock above them that started at 12 o'clock. As they answered questions, they gained minutes. At the end of the game, whoever had the latest time (and the most minutes) was declared the winner.
There was a daily winner per show for Monday through Thursday. On Friday, the four daily winners slugged it out for the "Cinderella" title. That meant each Friday, the station had two winners, one from radio and one from TV.
The winners went to the "Big Apple" the following weekend. They left on Friday and returned to Philly on Sunday evening. If they stuck with prearranged activities, the trip cost them anything. They were given $35 to cover train fare and tips and the rest was charged to the owners of the show.
"Cinderella Weekend" was what was called in the early days of television, "a package show." It was created and developed by a company called "VIP, Inc." of New York City. That company owned the title, controlled the format and actually picked up the tab. In return, each station paid a fee for the rights. Therefore, it would always be a local show.
Several other stations (in other markets) had their version of "Cinderella Weekend." The premise was the same, a trip to New York City. At least two stations (probably more) had the program on the air in 1948. One was WCAU Radio. Who was first? Well, it wasn't WCAU. The program started in Philadelphia in 1948. But on August 4, 1947, it started as a television program on WTIC-TV (Hartford, CT) and remained on the air until May 1, 1953. It was a weekly program. WCAU's versions (both TV and radio) were daily.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Rita Pascal
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