In 1949, Louis D. Snader, who made much of his money in real estate and started “Snader Telescriptions” had a light bulb go off in his head. This new medium of television needed a lot of product and in the early days, a lot of filler. They thought that there was a market for short music segments.
These were shot live on to 35mm black & white film (TV stations aired 16 mm versions) and are considered to be the first TV music videos. They were done on the cheap and most were done in one take with no editing, many at California Studios. A normal eight-hour production day would yiel ten or more films. Duke Goldstone shot most of them for the upstart company. The films were made in 1950 through 1952.
They made about a thousand titles, especially made for television and featured some of the top musicians of the day like Mel Torme, Charlie Barnet, Frankie Carle, The DeCastro Sisters, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Burl Ives, The King Sisters, Steve Lawrence, Sarah Vaughan, The McGuire Sisters, Tony Pastor, The Pied Pipers, Gale Storm, June Christy, Peggy Lee, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, The Four Aces featuring Al Alberts, Cab Calloway, Lionel Hampton, The Weavers with Pete Seeger, The Ink Spots, The Four Freshmen, Lawrence Welk, George Shearing, Nat King Cole and Teresa Brewer.
When the film studios raised the price of British movies and “B” films, Roger Clipp, Vice-President of WFIL-TV, Channel 6 in Philadelphia decided not to pay the freight. He went a different way and purchased the rights for our market of “Snader Telescriptions.” Broadcast Pioneers member George Koehler, who was Station Manager for WFIL-TV said that Roger “got them really cheap” and so “we used them a lot.”
They created a show around them called, “Parade of Stars” which aired in the mid-afternoon. The host was the station’s sports director, Tom Moorehead. We know that the program was on the air by Monday, March 19, 1951 because we have a WFIL-TV log from that date (donated by Norm Gagnon).
George Koehler said that Tom Moorehead continued with the show into the summer of 1952 when Bob Horn, a popular radio disc jockey from WFIL Radio took over (also continuing his radio work).
About this same time, Clipp was negotiating with WPEN’s Grady and Hurst. Broadcast Pioneers members Joe Grady and Ed Hurst wanted to make the move to WFIL radio where their popular afternoon radio program could be simulcast over WFIL-TV. WPEN which was owned by Sun Ray Drugs told WFIL that if they “raided” Grady and Hurst from the WPEN stable, Sun Ray Drugs would pull their million dollar advertising budget from the Philadelphia Inquirer (the paper owned the WFIL stations) and place the revenue with the competing newspaper, “The Evening Bulletin.”
That pretty much killed any chance of Grady and Hurst going to WFIL. Meanwhile, “Parade of Stars” was originating out of Studio C from WFIL’s 46th and Market facilities. When Horn took over, they started to let nearby teenagers hang around the studio and listen (and dance) to the music, all off camera. Eventually, more and more kids attended the broadcasts. Broadcast Pioneers member Lew Klein, directed many of the “Parade of Stars” and “Bandstand” broadcasts and later became Executive Producer of the network program, “American Bandstand” which originated from WFIL-TV and was broadcast live over the ABC Television Network.
Lew told us that he doesn’t recall the kids actually ever dancing on camera on “Parade of Stars.” He said that maybe a couple of times, they were put on air, not as entertainment just because they were in the studio. However, he said that it gave the station the bright idea of putting the kids on camera dancing and they re-invented the program into “Bandstand.”
Since the station couldn’t get Grady and Hurst, they decided to create their own duo by putting “Mad Man Muntz” with Bob Horn. “Mad Man Muntz” was, in reality, Lee Stewart, a distant relative of the WFIL staff announcer Shelly Gross. Stewart did the Muntz TV commercials and acted like a nut.
Broadcast Pioneers member Jerry Blavat (who was a dancer on Bandstand) said that one reason Lee Stewart was teamed with Bob Horn was so that Muntz TV would spend their advertising dollars on the new program, Bandstand, which was born on Tuesday, October 7, 1952 and moved to Studio B, a much larger facility.
Many sources have attributed these Snader films as running on “Bandstand.” This isn’t true. They ran on Bandstand’s ancestor, “Parade of Stars.” Many sources have said that the show was short lived, only a couple of months. This isn’t correct either. The program ran for, at least, 19 months, but Bob Horn did the broadcast for only a couple of months before it evolved into Bandstand.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Researched, written and compiled by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
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