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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 22250 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Sunday, March 22nd 2009.
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Most Recent Site Comments

Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - It Takes a Thief (Break #3, 1982) by Smctopia on Sunday, November 23rd, 2014 at 10:06pm CT

Here's some info I found on Tony the Pony. It doesn't appear to be locally produced.
http://www.tvobscurities.com/2008/12/q-and-a-the-gunslinger-tony-the-pony/


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - Bozo's Circus (Commercial Break #2, 1977) by GalagaFleetCommander on Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 at 9:41pm CT

It was Missy Gold in the Burger King ad. Funny because I knew that the second I saw her. She wouldn't be known to a national audience until Benson's debut in 1979.


Comment posted in WDIV Channel 4 - News 4 Detroit (Preview & Pre-Show Break, 1979) by Smctopia on Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 at 4:39pm CT

You are correct. I can't believe I typed the wrong thing and no one caught it earlier!


Comment posted in WDIV Channel 4 - News 4 Detroit (Preview & Pre-Show Break, 1979) by Tuberman67 on Friday, November 21st, 2014 at 5:23pm CT

The F & M in Buffalo Grove was at Dundee and Buffalo Grove Roads, not Dundee and 12.


Comment posted in WDIV Channel 4 - News 4 Detroit (Preview & Pre-Show Break, 1979) by GalagaFleetCommander on Thursday, November 20th, 2014 at 10:33pm CT

There was also an F & M in Joliet off Larkin Avenue. Last I checked it was home to Big Lots.


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - Creature Features - "The Raven" (Opening & Bumper Excerpts, 1978) by AdoreSixtyFour on Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 1:59pm CT

I'm so glad this footage has turned up--I remembered seeing Creature Features in the late '70s and early '80s, but every historical reference I could find on the Interwebs told me that it ended in May 1976, so I assumed my memory was just wrong...until now! I also remember the simple opening with the blue slide. I must have been up late during summer vacation to see it, and I don't know which movie I saw (Kronos, maybe, since I remember seeing that on CF, though it only aired once in the "classic" era...when I was 9), but I remember being shocked (and thrilled!) to see it still on the air. I still have dreams about the show, too--usually that somebody has at least briefly revived it and I've stumbled across it on cable. (You listening Antenna TV? Cozi? This?)


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - Monster Rally Movie - "Opening Outtakes" (1976) by AdoreSixtyFour on Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 1:47pm CT

Wow...I remembered Monster Rally (I think I watched every local horror-film showcase in the '70s & '80s), but had completely forgotten this super-cool opening!


Comment posted in WLS Channel 7 - Fahey Flynn Presents Seven's Greetings (Part 2, 1972) by Larkin Royal on Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 2:02am CT

These puppets were later used on a show called I.N.K. -- Interesting News for Kids. I thought it was on WMAQ, but maybe I'm wrong on that. The mic was named Mike Rafone, (get it?), and the show also featured a character who was a spider that looked like a black glove with a huge black pin cushion sewn onto the top of it. This is the ONLY reference I've seen to the show in years.


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - Monster Rally Movie - "Opening Outtakes" (1976) by Larkin Royal on Monday, November 17th, 2014 at 1:47am CT

Did this ever go anywhere, or was it just an opening, which was also used, (as I remember), as a commercial? I don't remember ever seeing the host doing any bumpers or skits, ala Svengoolie.


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - Monster Rally Movie - "Opening Outtakes" (1976) by NuBnPrnc2k on Sunday, November 16th, 2014 at 3:03pm CT

That was great! Put this with the Long Chevrolet Newsboy commercial.


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