The Dorothy Dix Column of the Air
This photograph is a real mystery. We know very little about it. Here's what is known as of this moment. It is a black & white photo that is mounted on cardboard. In this way, it was rigid and easily shot by a television camera. Since there are no adhesive marks on the back, we are assuming it was not some sort of display but made for TV usage.
It measures seven and a half inches by nine and a half inches. While you may not be able to see it in the image above, if you look at the original with a magnifying glass, you can see that the left microphone's flag also says WFIL. At that time, the station was an NBC affiliate (probably the Blue Network).
At the top of the photo, handwritten with a fountain pen, it says:
"Dorothy Dix Column of the Air - 2500th Broadcast - May, 1939"
The picture has considerable damage to it and took several hours to restore it to what you see above. It was given to us by Broadcast Pioneers member Neil Harvey's son, Joel Perlish, who found it among his late father's papers. Neil started working at WFIL in the early part of 1942.
We believe we know how this photo came into the possession of Neil Harvey. When Dorothy Dix passed away in 1951, Neil was doing the TV news on Channel 6, WFIL-TV. The staff made up a special cardboard version for air. We feel that after the show, this copy (the original still in the station vaults) went into Harvey's personal files and when he left the station, he took it with him. We're glad he did because the station's files were destroyed years ago. To our knowledge, this is the only print in existence of that picture.
We've had a couple of our members who either worked in the WFIL Widener Building studios or were familiar with it, and they feel that this photograph was taken there inside one of the station's studios.
Dorothy Dix was a well-known advice columnist whose popularity peaked in the mid thirties. Dix was really Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer. Born on November 18, 1870 (although some sources say 1861), she wrote her column under the pen name of "Dorothy Dix." She was the highest paid and widely read woman journalist of her time. She passed away on December 16, 1951.
That's about all we know. If you can supply us with any information about the picture, the broadcast or identify any of the personnel, we would appreciate it.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Joel Perlish, Neil Harvey's son
Image restoration done by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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