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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 alleged drunken state, he called a local TV station to have them come and video tape it! Of course the station jumped all over it, taped it, and distributed it 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 perish 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.

Congratulations to Nik Wallenda, whose Great-Grandfather (seen in this clip) was Karl Wallenda. Tonight, Nik successfully traversed, right here in Chicago, a high wire from Marina City's West Tower to the Leo Burnett Building, and then another high wire between the two Marina City Towers.
Comment posted by FuzzyMemories on Sunday, November 2nd 2014 at 10:53pm.

Congrats to Nik Wallenda!
Comment posted by ER3017 on Monday, November 3rd 2014 at 11:19am.

I can't help but wonder if some people were born with the idea to do this. Nik Wallenda said that there were some things that could have caused problems but luckily he made it.
Comment posted by LaPrincess on Tuesday, November 4th 2014 at 4:16pm.

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This clip has been viewed 29733 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Sunday, March 22nd 2009.
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Most Recent Site Comments

Comment posted in WMAQ Channel 5 - News 5 Chicago Night Report (Opening Segment, 1972) by VintageCanada on Tuesday, October 25th, 2016 at 6:22pm CT

Still looking to have the sound fixed in this video.

Comment posted in WWJ Channel 4 - "Partial Station Sign-Off" (1978) by AnnArborMI90 on Sunday, October 23rd, 2016 at 9:13am CT

Channel 4 must have switched to using the Moog "Star-Spangled Banner" not long after this. That happens to be my personal favourite rendition of it.

Comment posted in Primetime Live - "Chicago Cubs - Wait 'Till This Year" (1989) by W.B. on Saturday, October 22nd, 2016 at 10:27pm CT

I'm certainly pullin' for the Cubbies to take the Series, for sure. Someone mentioned the Red Sox - one of the Cubs' execs who helped bring the team to their current position, was in charge at the Red Sox when they assembled the players that took home quite a few World Championships over this century.

Comment posted in WLS Channel 7 - Ending of Saturday Night Movie, Reflections and Station Sign-Off (1977) by W.B. on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 at 8:55pm CT

And New York's Channel 7, WABC, also tended to show badly worn color prints of old movies. One screening of "The Best of Everything" [1959] in the mid-'80's on their "Late Movie" (with Alan Parker's "Unlimited Love" as the theme) was especially yellowish.

As for the bad color on this film, one person on YouTube speculated it may've been due to this being an Eastman print, fading over time.

Can anyone say with certainty what kind of color slide WLS used for their 1974 test pattern (inaugurated the year they began transmitting from their circular polarized antenna atop the Sears [now Willis] Tower), based on the 1984 sign-on and the extreme fading and discoloration seen thereon?

And finally, can anyone envision in their head how the "swirling stars" would have fared with Walter Raim's "Big Show" theme as used for years on WABC's "4:30 Movie" and their other movie shows?

Comment posted in WLS Channel 7 - Ending of Saturday Night Movie, Reflections and Station Sign-Off (1977) by AnnArborMI90 on Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 at 8:11pm CT

Our channel 7 in Detroit was also known for bad colour quality when they were showing old movies. I have a few movie recordings off of WXYZ from the early 80s, and "How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying" has particularly bad colour quality.

Comment posted in WTTW Channel 11 - Doctor Who - "The Max Headroom Pirating Incident" (1987) by Smctopia on Thursday, October 13th, 2016 at 8:17pm CT

I don't think this was asked elsewhere but since he first tried to hack in to WGN and the Channel 11 audio makes several WGN references, is it possible "Max" prerecorded this and wasn't broadcasting it live?

Comment posted in WLS Channel 7 - Ending of Saturday Night Movie, Reflections and Station Sign-Off (1977) by Smctopia on Wednesday, October 12th, 2016 at 7:40pm CT

The woman in the AARP ad kind of sounds like Shirley Jones.

Comment posted in WLS Channel 7 - Ending of Saturday Night Movie, Reflections and Station Sign-Off (1977) by W.B. on Tuesday, October 11th, 2016 at 8:59pm CT

Would anyone out there know what kind of color system was used on that print of "The Guns of Navarone" for the color to go so bad? I know that the print would've been 16mm . . . and what was it about one of the RCA(?) film chains for the blacks on the circle 7 logo to be dark maroonish and the whites almost beigeish? And people thought that no two color cameras of the same model produced the same pictures?

Comment posted in JFK's First Trip to Chicago - "Lost" 16mm Footage (1961) by FuzzyMemories on Monday, October 10th, 2016 at 10:11pm CT

Thanks for the compliments and info, everyone. Hopefully we can incorporate the info into the description at some point.

Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - WGN Presents - "The Two Mrs. Carrolls" (Bumper Promo, 1984) by Burr-Rabbitt on Monday, October 10th, 2016 at 8:38pm CT

@69TH&STONY, that's what I'm talking about!!! I grew up in the IDA B.WELLS of of 37th st. With what you said to that added breeze that comes from the lake, especially on a warm summer night!!

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