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Old 09-01-2018, 07:36 PM
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Correct Wikipedia Colonial Theater info

Before someone makes another error in the realm of early color television -- in this case the Colonial Theater in Manhattan -- here's my correction. It originally said that ABC acquired the Colonial Theater in 1956.

Colonial Theatre (New York City)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Colonial Theatre in New York City was at Broadway and 62nd Street on the Upper West Side, Manhattan.[1] Originally named the Colonial Music Hall, it was opened in 1905 by Fred Thompson and Elmer Dundy.[2] Designed by George Keister, the theater had a seating capacity of 1,293.[2]

Thompson and Dundy operated the theater for only a few weeks before selling it to Percy G. Williams, who changed the name to Colonial Theatre. It functioned exclusively as a vaudeville house during Williams' stewardship.[2] In 1912, under the management of B.F. Keith, the name was changed to Keith's Colonial Theatre. Five years later the theater was under the management of E.F. Albee, who renamed it the New Colonial Theatre.[2]

During the early 1920s, the New Colonial Theatre was a venue for many African-American musical revues such as Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle's show Chocolate Dandies and James P. Johnson's Runnin' Wild. The latter show premiered at the theater on October 29, 1923, and was instrumental in making an international dance craze of the Charleston.[1]

From 1925 to 1932, the theater was named Hampden's Theatre, and under the management of actor Walter Hampden it presented Shakespearian fare and classic drama. In 1932, as the RKO Colonial Theatre, it became a movie house.
=============my update/correction===============
After 1951 NBC used it to develop color television equipment (the TK-40 color television camera) and studio techniques, and functioned as a television studio until about 1971.
==========================================
[2] Rebekah Harkness subsequently purchased the theater, renovated it, and reopened it in 1974 as the Harkness Theatre. After presenting a sporadic schedule of ballet and legitimate theater, it closed in 1977,[2] and the building was razed later that year.[3]

Last edited by Pete Deksnis; Today at 11:43 AM.
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Old 09-01-2018, 10:45 PM
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Cinema treasure mentions a period of ABC use after NBC:

http://cinematreasures.org/theaters/2943

"RKO sold the theater to NBC in 1956, and converted [should say "who converted"] it into one of its numerous New York television studios. A decade later, ABC took over, and used the Colonial Theatre mainly for taping game shows until 1971.

Multi-millionaire Rebekah Harkness bought the Colonial Theatre in the early-1970’s,..."
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Old 09-02-2018, 11:59 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old_tv_nut View Post
Cinema treasure mentions a period of ABC use after NBC:
"RKO sold the theater to NBC in 1956,
(1) Here's why I took umbrage with those two sources. I walked and drove past the Colonial Theater often in the early 1960s. In fact, in late 1962 I lived three blocks away on 65th street. Therefore, I feel a certain attachment to the subject.

(2) There are many references to four TK-40's at the Colonial Theater BEFORE the FCC approved color television on December 17, 1953. These references include dated photographs. But...
on March 18, 1953, a trip to the Colonial Theater was made by RCA Camden to measure the spectral response of the four TK-40 color cameras in use at the theater. My information comes from an original copy of the internal correspondence issued by RCA Camden on April 10, 1953 to Robert E. Shelby of NBC. Therefore, there's no doubt in my mind that NBC/RCA was in that theater long before 1956.

RCA was in the Colonial Theater in early 1953, and because of the lead time required to set up, from scratch, an NTSC television studio, it makes sense to believe it was sometime in 1951 that RCA gained access to the Colonial Theater.

Of course, it's always possible that RKO leased the theater to NBC/RCA for five years before selling it. But that seems to be a stretch.

Pete

Last edited by Pete Deksnis; 09-02-2018 at 12:06 PM.
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:08 PM
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Thanks Pete, I didn't notice the 1956 discrepancy in that reference, just the note about ABC using it later.
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Old 09-02-2018, 03:20 PM
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BTW, this reminds me that, for a long time, TV cameras at the Ed Sullivan theater had to be kept some distance from the back of the stage because there was a subway power substation right behind the theater that produced strong magnetic fields. Apparently there was no such problem at the Colonial.
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Old 09-02-2018, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by old_tv_nut View Post
BTW, this reminds me that, for a long time, TV cameras at the Ed Sullivan theater had to be kept some distance from the back of the stage because there was a subway power substation right behind the theater that produced strong magnetic fields.
Yes, pass the Ed Sullivan theater on Broadway and turn right at W.53rd. You heard the whirl of huge generators being driven by large electric motors. They were clearly visible from the street through a metal mesh. I guess to help keep things relatively cool in summer. I heard the noise and went exploring while my parents waited. I was about 11.

Pete

Last edited by Pete Deksnis; 09-02-2018 at 07:43 PM.
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Old Today, 11:43 AM
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In early 2011, color television historian, the late Ed Reitan, shared with me a page he was developing for his website. It included information about the Colonial theater. I have been unsuccessful finding a finished version on either his site or the internet, so I have extracted pertinent information about the Colonial and generated the following edited information:

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Colonial Theater, at Broadway and 62nd Sreet in New York City, was NBC’s first large-scale production Color Television Studio. The first color transmission from the Colonial was on March 19, 1953; it featured the puppet show Kukla, Fran, and Ollie.

The Colonial Theater was the second RCA-NBC Color studio in New York. It followed the experimental Color Studio, 3H, at Rockefeller Center. This earlier studio had been where color television evolved from RCA Dot-Sequential Color to NTSC Color.

Operational experience gained from Studio 3H was used in the development of the Colonial Theater. Four TK-40 cameras were installed in the Colonial along with a slide scanner and a 16mm motion picture film scanner.

Beginning in March 1953, the Colonial Theater studio was the origination point for all NBC network colorcasts. Studio 3H continued to be used only for experimental purposes.

Then, gradually, after the opening of a Brooklyn Color Studio in September 1954, NBC's New York color operations began transitioning to Brooklyn. With the opening of a second color studio (Brooklyn II) MAJOR operations at the Colonial Theater were phased out, but the Colonial continued to produce live color commercials for insertion into productions from the Brooklyn studios.

Some of the programs for which COMMERCIALS originated from the Colonial include:

"Satin and Spurs" Sunday September 12, 1954. (The First Color Spectacular) With Betty Hutton, Kevin McCarthy, Genevieve.

"Peter Pan" Monday March 7, 1955. with Mary Martin and Cyril Richard.

"The Esther Williams Show" Saturday September 29, 1956.

In 1960-1961, operations at the Colonial Theater were phased out.
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Old Today, 12:27 PM
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Thanks, Pete! Great info!

It boggles my mind a bit that they were coordinating live color program and commercial segments from different locations so early on. It would be interesting to know what interconnects they used - coax? microwave? both?

Now it has me wondering if the Kraft food live commercials were produced in a separate studio from the programs.

Another question: I wonder if they had color gen-lock yet, or were doing hot switching during black.
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