The Best of "Garroway at Large": Part II

January 14th, 1951: The "Boom Ballet":

Curator's note: Two days before this broadcast from which these clips are taken, Dave Garroway was honored in New York at a Look Magazine awards ceremony as television's "most original" performer. Faye Emerson (often remembered in the early days of the video medium for her "plunging neckline" attire) was likewise honored as the performer with the "most appealing personality." Ms. Emerson returned to Chicago with Garroway for this broadcast---where she appears for roughly fifteen seconds at the top and bottom of the show (a perfect example of the "Garroway at Large" and "Chicago School" minimalism).

The unwanted intrusion into the picture of the boom microphone was a fairly common event in the days of live television (since the advent of video tape which can be edited, "retakes" have eliminated this problem). But on the 1/14/51 broadcast, Garroway turned the the microphone, the boom and its operator into a production asset.

The boom microphone is always visible in the number---but it's not there for show. It remains functional, picking up the voices of the singers, the tapping of the dancers---even the clicking of fingers.
And the boom operator becomes one of the performers in the process. In this case it's Walt McKechnie, an NBC-Chicago engineer who remained on the job even into the 1980's. (The "Chicago fire" reference at the end of the number refers to a July 12th, 1951 explosion and fire at a warehouse at 320 N. LaSalle. WNBQ covered it from cameras positioned on the Merchandise Mart roof.)
  • Download segment 1 (1:55): Show open (featuring announcer Bill Griskey and the NBC-Chicago orchestra directed by Joe Gallicchio). Garroway intro and Fay Emerson.
  • Download segment 2 (runs 3:59): The boom ballet ("Zing Zing, Zoom Zoom) with performers Jack Haskell, Connie Russell, Bette Chapel, Cliff Norton, Russell and Aura (plus Walt McKechnie on the boom).
  • Download segment 3 (runs 1:14): The show close. A portion of the closing Congoleum-Nairn commercial; Dave says good-bye and gives his famous "peace" signoff; closing credits (read by Bill Griskey); Faye Emmerson returns with a variant on the "this program has come to you from Chicago" tag; NBC television chimes.

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