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WGN Channel 9 - Len Johnson and the News (Part 2, 1965)

Here's Part 2 (the final part) of an incredibly rare find - an edition of Len Johnson and the News on WGN Channel 9 from 1965! This was a forerunner to their overnight Night Beat newscast that ran from the late-sixties well into the 1980s.

You'll notice that this was during that awkward transition phase from black-and-white to color with most of the broadcast appearing in black-and-white, but then interspersed by random color commercials and a few color slides.

This came from an original 2" quad tape recording that likely hadn't been played since the day it was recorded. It came from the estate of Len Johnson, whose wife gave it to a family friend after Len passed away. That family friend, Kevin McCarthy, held on to it for a number of years but always wondered what was on the unmarked, unlabeled videotape. Kevin got in touch with us and we arranged to get the tape transferred digitally using funds donated by our loyal visitors here. :-) Robert Feder reported the news this week in his popular Chicago media blog.

You can read more about Len's WGN career here, and see a rare clip from his pre-Chicago days in Pittsburgh here.

Tech Note: Next to Len at the anchor desk is an Electro-Voice EV-667 microphone.

This part includes:

Len reading the following items:

- Albert Cardinal Meyer remains in stable condition at Mercy Hospital, breathing through a tube and fed intravenously (though not mentioned, this was after he suffered a heart attack following an operation to remove a brain tumor; Meyer died on April 9th)

- A new underground parking garage in Grant Park South opens, with Mayor Daley's limousine crashing into a paper "wall" to signify its opening; it stretches from Adams to Van Buren Street, and is well-lit with ramps that are not as steep as its northern equivalent; Daley cuts a cake celebrating Chicago's 128th anniversary during the opening ceremonies

- Earlier, the Associated Retail Bakers of Greater Chicago whipped up a 70-pound cake to commemorate the city's incorporation in 1837, with the message "Providing Dynamic Leadership in Water Conservation and Inland International Shipping" written on it (Len misspoke "providing" as "proving"); film footage of the cake and accompanying celebration (with Daley cutting the cake) is shown; St. Joseph's Home for the Friendless received the rest of the cake

- Women's Bar Association of Illinois holds a meeting on the topic of reapportionment, and both political parties debate the issue; features film footage of a press conference given by Rep. Albert Hackmeister (R-Chicago), Minority Leader of the State House, who charges that Democrats want an "at large" election for both Senate and House in 1966; Democrat Daniel Doherty, asked by WGN's Steve Schickel if that's what his party wants, denies this to be the case

Commercial: 4-Way Cold Tablets - comparing its relief (nasal, aches and pains, sluggishness, and fever) to a regular cold capsule (just nasal relief) (voiceover by Phil Tonken, longtime Channel 9 staff announcer - WOR Channel 9 in New York, that is ;-) )

Len reads the following sports items:

- In the NHL, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs tie 2-2 as Canadiens try to creep up on league-leading Chicago Black Hawks; New York Rangers defeat Boston Bruins 4-3; WGN will carry contest between Black Hawks and Maple Leafs in Toronto on Saturday (the 6th) at 7pm (the Hawks lost that game 4-1)

- In college basketball, St. Louis University defeats North Texas 90-73 in Missouri Valley Conference game; St. Louis and Bradley are given bids to National Invitation Tournament

- Four college basketball teams advancing to semi-finals of Public League; film footage of Marshall-Harlan matchup (with Marshall winning 87-60), and other scores: DuSable beating Harper 98-58, Carver defeating Crane Tech 104-98, and Dunbar winning over Tilden Tech 72-52; semi-finals to be played the following Tuesday (the 9th) at International Amphitheater; Channel 9 will carry Illinois High School Tournament Finals on March 19th and 20th from Champaign

- In baseball, Chicago White Sox announce that pitcher Joe Horlen has arrived in Sarasota to sign his 1965 contract after a holdout; he signed for $21,000 but wanted $3,000 more, and general manager Ed Short didn't budge

- Film footage of the Cubs at their spring training camp in Mesa, AZ, with brief shots of coaches Bob Kennedy and Alvin Dark (this would be the final year of the Cubs' "College of Coaches," which ended upon Leo "The Lip" Durocher's being named manager in 1966), followed by shots of the pitching staff warming up including Dick Ellsworth (whose 1966 Topps card #447 infamously featured a photo of his late teammate, infielder Ken Hubbs, who was killed in a plane crash prior to the start of the 1964 season), former Milwaukee Braves aces Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl, and Larry Jackson (Buhl and Jackson would be traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1966 in exchange for Ferguson Jenkins who would become one of the Cubs' top fireballers into the early 1970's) (notice, among the pitching staff as then constituted, the absence of Ernie Broglio, who came to the Cubs in the infamously lopsided 1964 trade that sent future base-stealing legend Lou Brock to the St. Louis Cardinals); also featured are infielder Ron Santo, utility player Leo Burke, and "Mr. Cub" Ernie Banks

- In golf at the Pensacola Open, four men tied for lead after the first round: Jack Nicklaus, Doug Sanders, Kel Nagle and Dave Marr (all hit 68); tied for second are Billy Casper, Don Cherry (one and the same as had a hit with "Band of Gold" in 1956), Chuck Courtney and Billy Martindale; Arnold Palmer tied with fourteen others at 71; Gary Player and Ken Venturi tied with 26 others at 72; WGN (who else?) will air the final round on Sunday (the 7th)

Commercial: Calgon Water Conditioner - "Mommy's Choice" - gets rid of bathtub ring film on clothes - animation done in the style of children's drawings (in color)

Len reads the weather forecast for Chicago and vicinity, including snow; and closes the newscast with mention that it was a presentation of Channel 9 News, written and edited by Charles Schreiber.

Title card slides (in color):

Len Johnson and the News

A Presentation of WGN News - Portions of the preceding program were mechanically reproduced

Commercial: Wrigley's Doublemint Gum - "Doublemint Time" with Tommy & Joy - backed by orchestra (anyone know who Tommy and Joy are?) - "Double Your Pleasure" (in color) (tape cuts out in middle of this ad)

This aired on local Chicago TV early Friday, March 5th 1965 at 12:30am.

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This clip aired on Friday, March 5th 1965, and is included in the following categories:

Viewer Comments

EXCELLENT!! :) (I also noticed at the end of the newscast, it says, "Len Johnson and the news."

Another Grand slam!!!

Comment posted by Matt on Saturday, September 1st 2012 at 12:29pm.

The Cubs also got Adolfo Phillips in that trade with the Phils.

Great find, Fuzzy!

Comment posted by HUdson 3-2700 on Saturday, September 1st 2012 at 8:56pm.

St. Joseph's Home For The Friendless? What an odd and sad name for an institution.
Comment posted by Erniebaud on Saturday, September 1st 2012 at 10:00pm.

Erniebaud, I suppose calling it the St. Joseph's Homeless Shelter would've been sadder than St. Joseph's Home for the Friendless to the folks trying to run the place.
Comment posted by OldTVNut on Sunday, September 2nd 2012 at 9:29am.

The "new" Nightbeat theme from the 70s did fit the program better, the theme on this show gives me visions of Donna Reed running down the stairs to answer the phone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnIC7j-xrUY

Comment posted by yarsdad on Sunday, September 2nd 2012 at 9:13pm.

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This clip has been viewed 3135 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Saturday, September 1st 2012.
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Check out the technician fleeing the shot at 3:45 as the Camaro comes into view! Lucky his yellow shirt matched the car to help camouflage his exit...


Comment posted in WMAQ Channel 5 - NewsCenter5 - "Mount St. Helens" (1980) by OldTVNut on Wednesday, May 20th, 2015 at 11:26am CT

Am I the only person who thinks that Jerry Taft should be surprised on his next birthday with this clip?


Comment posted in McDonald's - "We Do It All For You" (Commercial, 197?) by T.K. on Friday, May 15th, 2015 at 11:21pm CT

Can't beat the million-dollar sound of a jingle performed by the Ron Hicklin Singers. Even after 40 years, "At McDonaaaald's..." still sticks to the brain. It's been so long since a memorable uptempo jingle has been used in a national ad campaign, using one would stand out against all the maudlin and futuristic aural wallpaper used today.

If I'm not mistaken, that's a billboard for Ronrico rum visible through the window at 0:35. Even though no one at home was going to be putting this spot on "pause" in 1975, it surprises me they let that slip into something so tightly produced.


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - The 1985 Chicago Automobile Show Special (First 10 Minutes, 1985) by FuzzyMemories on Friday, May 15th, 2015 at 11:05pm CT

T.K. - You're correct - I hadn't noticed that, but this is the last regular appearance of Frazier Thomas on Family Classics that has yet been found. I don't have the opening for "The Black Swan" but I do have the last half hour or so including the complete ending, some of which you see here. I'll have to give this a proper posting at a later time.


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - The 1985 Chicago Automobile Show Special (First 10 Minutes, 1985) by T.K. on Friday, May 15th, 2015 at 10:37pm CT

Less than two months before the death of Frazier Thomas... am I right in that this is the latest of his regular appearances to have surfaced so far? (I'm not counting the clips used in the retrospective stories in April.)

The intro music to the car show sounds like it came from this catchy number used on the CHEK-TV Friday Night Movie in 1981. WGN's recording sounds like it came from someone holding a mic up to a record player in their basement, however. I'd love to hear it in full.


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She sounds as if she's doing an ad-lib news report on NPR's All Things Considered.


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Correct me if I am wrong BUT is that Dee Wallace at 0:29??


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Pete: "The guy that does the V/O for Forensic Files?"

Yep. Still going after all these years!


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The guy that does the V/O for Forensic Files?


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You're correct, Detroit4Chicago. The Ocean Catch was the name.


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