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ABC News - "Death of Karl Wallenda" (1978)

Here is an ABC News report on the death of circus performer and tightrope walker Karl Wallenda, (of The Flying Wallendas) who fell to his death while performing at the age of 73.

From Wikipedia: "Karl attempted a walk between the two towers of the ten-story Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on a wire stretched 37 metres (121 ft) above the pavement, but fell to his death when winds exceeded 48 kilometres per hour (30 miles per hour). The Wallenda family attributes the tragedy to "several misconnected guy ropes along the wire" and not the windy conditions. A film crew from WAPA-TV in San Juan taped the fall, and the video, featuring anchorman Guillermo Jose Torres' anguished narration of the fall, circled the world. Rick Wallenda went back the following year and completed the walk successfully.

He was quoted as saying, "Life is being on the wire, everything else is just waiting."

Harry Reasoner introduces the story and James Walker reports.

Also includes at the end after a channel change a short report from another station, which looks like the local Rockford NBC affillate WTVO Channel 17.

This aired on local Rockford, IL TV on Wednesday, March 22nd 1978. (not Chicago, but close enough)

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This clip aired on Wednesday, March 22nd 1978, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

This clip is not even for the weak at heart I'll tell you what.
Comment posted by ChitownTVFan on Monday, March 23rd 2009 at 12:10am.

Wow! This man was truly insane?
Comment posted by pantaloon123 on Monday, March 23rd 2009 at 9:22am.

The debate has been raging ever since there were news cameras going back to the early days of photography where hangings of convicts would be in just about every news paper. Before film journalism, you had a choice of seeing the hangings or not.
When the use of photos, motion pictures, and video came around, you had no choice but to look at death when all you wanted to do was check the box scores or the results of the race as you flip the pages, change the channel, etc.

Nothing is sacred, not even a family's personal tragedy.

I remember CBS news using this as their closing piece. Kronkite should have said something to the producers about teasing this story all through the show and using it as a "grand finale".
I am not sure if ABC did in this case.

I didn't watch any news for a long time after seeing that!

It wasn't so much as to witnessing the tragedy, it was the way it was handled and sensationalized.

Prime example: 1983; Cecil Andrews' attempted self immolation to protest unemployment. In an alledged drunk, he called a local TV. station to video tape it! Of course the station jumped all over it, taped it, and distributed freely to other outlets!
(BTW: He lived. But, he ended up suing the station for "egging him on" when they knew he was drunk and could parish as a result...Not to mention, no one from the crew lifted a finger to extinguish the flames that eventually engulfed him and scarred him for life. A passerby with a fire extinguisher saved him.)

But, then again, there are those instances such as Oswald being shot by Ruby, 9/11, etc.

Comment posted by armitagenlowell on Monday, March 23rd 2009 at 6:01pm.

Didn't another family member die a few years later? Ok, this is something you couldn't pay me enough to do.
Comment posted by LaPrincess on Monday, March 23rd 2009 at 9:44pm.

You guys are forgetting Budd Dwyer, that politician who killed himself in a press conference after he was convicted of accepting bribes.
Comment posted by Officedrone1 on Thursday, March 26th 2009 at 12:37am.

drone, that was in 1987 I believe. And I had the rather grim take of seeing this video online at another site. I thought I was gonna have nightmares!
Comment posted by BobAnthony on Thursday, March 26th 2009 at 5:25am.

I remember Budd Dwyer on the news the day it happened, but they blanked out the vid after a certain point. As a kid, I was always curious as to what they didn't show...stupidly, I went & found it on the internet a few years ago. Don't listen to the 12 year old kid inside of you.
Comment posted by kietdoke on Thursday, March 26th 2009 at 7:07am.

I remember Budd Dwyer too, kietdoke. He was the State Treasurer of Pennsylvania who got busted for taking kickbacks. I rembered watching the video showing him with the gun and waving people off. But that was it. I did see part of the video showing him pulling the trigger in Michael Moore's 'Bowling for Columbine', but only for a split second.
Comment posted by Loyal32fan on Thursday, March 26th 2009 at 10:04am.

This video is right up there with an old Vietnam war film footage showing a South Vietnamese cop casually shooting a Viet-Cong prisioner in the head as if it was no big deal. Although the anti-war movement in this country started long before the incident happened, it sure must have accelerated the movement even more.
Comment posted by Loyal32fan on Friday, March 27th 2009 at 10:41am.

ABC is turning Nik Wallenda's attempted tightrope walk over Niagara Falls into a prime-time television event with a three-hour special on June 15, 2012 with the daredevil attempt. Part of the show will be an examination of the greatest stunts of all time. His great-grandfather, Karl, fell to his death in a tightrope walk in Puerto Rico in this video clip.
Comment posted by Szake on Friday, May 11th 2012 at 1:00pm.

And Nik recently crossed the Grand Canyon successfully with no safety measures.
Comment posted by VintageCanada on Wednesday, July 3rd 2013 at 5:56am.

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This clip has been viewed 19943 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Sunday, March 22nd 2009.
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Spout (Commercial, 1979)

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Most Recent Site Comments

Comment posted in Old Chicago - "Charlie Baffle" (Commercial, 1977) by Brian1978 on Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 9:52am CT

I'm WAY too young to remember Old Chicago, but from looking at these old commercials, it looks like it was an indoor type of amusement park, kind of like what Camp Snoopy or I think it's Nickelodeon Land at Mall of America. Am I right?


Comment posted in Old Chicago - "Monsters of the Midway" (Commercial, 1979) by FuzzyMemories on Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 9:43am CT

@Brian1978 - Well, they did air the same commercial that day (almost - see below) but the one posted here did come from an entirely new and undiscovered Bozo's Circus episode that I found, which aired on Wednesday, July 11th 1979.

By the way, the version of this ad that did air during Chicagofest interestingly has a slightly different opening title card - all in white versus the oscillating multi-color seen here. Take a look.


Comment posted in Old Chicago - "Monsters of the Midway" (Commercial, 1979) by Brian1978 on Monday, July 28th, 2014 at 9:09am CT

This was the second commercial during the first break of the special, "Bozo at Chicagofest" taking place on August 3rd, 1979. I will always think of it being after the commercial for Dispensa's Kiddie Kingdom.


Comment posted in WLS Channel 7 - AM Chicago (Preview & Pre-Show Break, 1981) by Studio76Art on Sunday, July 27th, 2014 at 8:02pm CT

Wow, old post! Anyway, that's Steve Vinovich ("Mannequin") as the hapless father in the Aunt Jemima ad.


Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Big Movie - "Waterloo Bridge" (On-Screen Station ID & Commercial Break, 1978) by Studio76Art on Saturday, July 26th, 2014 at 8:23pm CT

I like that several minutes of the film was shown, even if it was just for the onscreen ID. After watching, I felt as if I actually earned that commercial break. :')


Comment posted in Spout (Commercial, 1979) by GalagaFleetCommander on Saturday, July 26th, 2014 at 3:14pm CT

"So whaddya got Johnson?"

"A brand new gum named for something your bathwater comes out of!...and wait until you see the commercial I came up with!"



Comment posted in WFLD Channel 32 - Monstrous Movie - "I Was A Teenage Frankenstein" (Opening, 1981) by VintageCanada on Friday, July 25th, 2014 at 4:44pm CT

What? No MGM Lion here?


Comment posted in WMAQ Channel 5 - The NBC News Midnight Special Report - "Death of Rockefeller" (1979) by Studio76Art on Thursday, July 24th, 2014 at 4:57pm CT

Felipe Rose (the Indian) scarily resembles the Twi'lek dancer from Return of the Jedi who's dumped into the Rancor pit by Jabba, the way he's moving around on stage with the headdress swinging behind him.


Comment posted in WMAQ Channel 5 - NBC Monday Night At The Movies - "A Case Of Rape" (Commercial Break, 1975) by Studio76Art on Thursday, July 24th, 2014 at 4:55pm CT

Matt Snell is famous for having scored the only Super Bowl touchdown in NY Jets history, in their 16-7 win over the Colts in 1968.


Comment posted in Spout (Commercial, 1979) by Studio76Art on Thursday, July 24th, 2014 at 4:43pm CT

Wow, that looks...gross. No wonder it didn't stay on the market for very long.

I'm almost positive that's Eddie Deezen as the groom; his face is a giveaway but I couldn't find any pictures of him with that hair. This would've been a year after he appeared in Grease.


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