Edward J. Yates, 87, known to his friends as Ed was director of "Bandstand" and "American Bandstand" for 18 years. He passed away on Friday, June 2, 2006.
Yates' roll with Bandstand goes back to 1952 and the Bob Horn and Lee Stewart days of the broadcast. Dick Clark who we inducted into our Hall of Fame in 1992 didn't come on the Bandstand scene until 1956.
After his graduation from Yeadon High School in Yeadon, PA., Yates started a photography business where he took portrait shoots and photos of weddings, parties and other events. In 1942, Ed was drafted into the United States Army where he served in Europe as part of the 660th Field Artillery Battalion.
After the military, he returned to the Delaware Valley. During 1948, Ed Yates married Teresa Gallen. It was at this same time that he was hired by WFIL-TV, Channel 6 in Philadelphia as a boom operator. The station was a year old.
Then he became a cameraman while attending communication classes at the University of Pennsylvania. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1950.
In October of 1952, "Parade of Stars" was revamped into a dance show called "Bandstand" named after Bob Horn's radio broadcast. WFIL-TV teamed him up with Lee Stewart as co-host. Kids were brought into the studios to dance to records. Channel 6 had a lot of air time to fill and there was little network programming during the daytime. "Bandstand" was a cheap show to produce and could be adapted and extended into whatever afternoon time the TV station needed.
Most of the directors at the station thought the show had little chance of success and no one wanted to direct it, thus Ed Yates was given the opportunity to try his hand.
Until 1963, Bandstand (now re-titled "American Bandstand" with host Dick Clark, our "Person of the Year" in 1980) was a live television program and it was Yates' responsibility to pull the records, cue the commercials and direct the camera operators.
Broadcast Pioneers member Ralph DiCocco said, "Ed was the coolest guy under pressure. Dick relied on him to pick top ten records and songs for 'rate-a-record.' ...Ed also directed other shows, Chief Halftown and the Sally Starr Show."
Sally Starr, who was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 1995 said, "Ed was so mellow, he taught me how to relax when I got nervous."
Broadcast Pioneers member Jerry Blavat (inducted into our Hall of Fame in 2002) was a teenager who danced on "Bandstand" during the Bob Horn days. The "Geator with the Heater" said: "(Yates) was like the eye of a hurricane in his booth. ...In a calm voice he directed 'Camera One, hold that shot. Camera two, get that wide angle. Take One.'"
The broadcast went network on Monday, August 5, 1957 as a 50 minute ABC-TV program but the WFIL-TV audience saw it for an hour and a half with Ed Yates directing both portions. In January of 1964, Dick Clark moved the program to the West Coast and Ed went along to continue directing the show.
In 1969, Yates left the show and returned to the Delaware Valley. Back in Philly, he became the dispatcher for Independence Hall, where he "directed" all the security personnel. He retired in 1974.
One of his hobbies was rebuilding VW beetles. Another one was genealogy. Yates traced his ancestors all the way back to Ireland for several generations. Ed and his wife (who passed away in 2003) had eight children, 6 boys and 2 girls. On Friday evening, November 16, 2012, Ed Yates was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Written and researched by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
Ed Yates photo originally donated by George Yates, Ed's son
Bandstand photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Wright, Sr.
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