(Left to right) Beau Cunningham, Eleanore Chapin, Ruth Price and unidentified male
Hansel and Gretel
WPTZ, Channel 3 in Philadelphia
circa 1947

After the Second World War, WPTZ started doing alot of local productions. One such show was a dance presentation of Engelbert Humperdinck's "Hansel and Gretel." It was performed live, aired over Channel 3 and directed by Paul Nickell. Set was designed by William Craig Smith, lighting by Carl Weger and choreography by Eleanore Chapin.

(Left to right) Eleanore Chapin, Edna Hyde and Beau Cunningham
Hansel and Gretel
WPTZ, Channel 3 in Philadelphia
circa 1947

Note the camera cable is seen in this shot in the lower, right hand side of the photograph. The show was shot with two cameras and the cable was from the camera not seen in this photo.

Eleanore Chapin had the starring role in this performance. She told the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia that she did dance shows in Philly from 1945 to 1950. Eleanore said:

Our first shows had stage settings around the frame of the camera. ...We were the Chapin Dance Players. ...I always did dance/drama, so there usually was a story involved....

They were all choreographed in dance form which always told the story. They were half hour shows. I was responsible for all aspects of the shows, besides choreography. We were on every week, so there was much work and rehearsing of the shows. Plus we were doing shows at WFIL (which came on the air in September of 1947) for New Era Steel Tile, I had to produce a separate half hour show.

...This was also the time when white performers could not be on camera with blacks. I had asked Katherine Dunham and some of her dancers to be in a show with me, but when they came to the studio I was told we could not appear together. I had worked with Katherine in New York and had no idea this would happen. A sorry day, but fortunately things have changed for the better.

These photos were taken by Broadcast Pioneers member Preston Stover. Preston was on staff at WPTZ but moonlighted taking pictures of Channel 3 shows and selling them. Mrs. Stover told us that Preston would take the snapshot and then develop it that night in their bathtub. They were saving up to purchase a home and his photography work gave them the money for a down payment. Stover started at WPTZ as a cameraman and quickly rose through the ranks to become a Director/Producer. He stayed with the station until it was traded to NBC. At that time, his family moved to Cleveland and the newly acquired Westinghouse properties there.

(Left to right) Eleanore Chapin, unidentified male, Ruth Price and Beau Cunningham
Hansel and Gretel
WPTZ, Channel 3 in Philadelphia
circa 1947

Eleanore Chapin once wrote:

Upon marriage to Edwin, his job to us to Philadelphia. There I choreographed, formed a company, and danced on the local television.... I was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, attended school there, then went to Boston Conservatory to study all forms of dance, drama, and related subjects. ...My last performance before leaving Boston was with the Boston Pops. My next step was going to New York City, where I studied and performed with modern dancers of the time. ...Life changed and I was on my own raising our three children in New York. I became a stage mother, as my sons were busy appearing in soaps and Broadway Theater. ...I ran an off-off Broadway theater for two years and a dinner theater in the Berkshires, choreographed, directed, acted, and danced whenever the occasion arose. (In California) I've directed, had my own cable access show for three years, and am co-chair for the Cincinnati Playwrights Initiative. I volunteer for the Kentucky Symphony, visit retirement homes as a clown, play tennis, (and) swim...."

We have a short video clip from this program. The quality isn't the best. It was filmed right off a television monitor (not a kinescope) and thus there is some flickering. There is no audio on the film but it is a real treasure of Philadelphia television in the forties.

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From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photos originally donated by Eleanore Chapin
Video from the KYW-TV, Channel 3 film library
Researched by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
Special thanks to Broadcast Pioneers member Jerry Klein
© 2011, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
All Rights Reserved

The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is pioneers@broadcastpioneers.com