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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 2242 times.
This clip debuted on FuzzyMemories.TV on Saturday, September 1st 2012.
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Comment posted in Spout (Commercial, 1979) by HUdson 3-2700 on Monday, July 21st, 2014 at 7:55pm CT

I don't remember this...


Comment posted in Old Chicago - "Monsters of the Midway" (Commercial, 1979) by Smctopia on Thursday, July 17th, 2014 at 8:57pm CT

I know there was an ad to the tune of "Let's Twist Again" but the lyrics went "Let's do it again at Old Chicago".

And wasn't there one of a tap dancer on the dome of the building?


Comment posted in WPWR Channel 60 - Music Video 60 - "Get Well Fast Michael" (1984) by Szake on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 at 9:09pm CT

Brian: True, but Channel 60 was licensed to Aurora, Illinois. When they moved to Channel 50, the city of license was Gary, Indiana.


Comment posted in WGN Channel 9 - Bozo's Circus - "Skylab Synchronicity" (1979) by ChitownTVFan on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 at 7:19pm CT

Another thing about the plummeting of Skylab is no one was injured.


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Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth. Fred always said that Rita was his favorite dance partner. She was just beautiful.

This was the episode wheer Romana regenerated from Mary Tamm to Lalla Ward. It was the season after "The Key To Time" story line.


Comment posted in WPWR Channel 60 - Music Video 60 - "Get Well Fast Michael" (1984) by Brian1978 on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 at 5:01pm CT

It should be pointed out that WPWR 60/50 was licensed out of Gary, Indiana, the birthplace and childhood home of Michael Jackson.


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - TV44 Sports Spotlight with Jim Durham - "The San Diego Chicken, Pre-Demolition" (Part 4, 1979) by BigZMan102 on Monday, July 14th, 2014 at 11:22pm CT

Unreal, just amazing--especially after seeing Harry Caray's promo.


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - TV44 Sports Spotlight with Jim Durham - "The San Diego Chicken, Pre-Demolition" (Part 2, 1979) by ArmitageNLowell on Monday, July 14th, 2014 at 12:51pm CT

I think the chicken gimmick would have been more effective in interviews if he didn't break kayfabe (character). After all, Ted did win the lawsuit! Reminds me of that episode of Married With Children where Kelly is dating an actor who was a cat food mascot named Neuter; He can only be intimate and extroverted if he wore the head from the costume. I wonder if Ted was that way?


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - TV44 Sports Spotlight with Jim Durham - "The San Diego Chicken, Pre-Demolition" (Part 2, 1979) by Smctopia on Sunday, July 13th, 2014 at 7:54pm CT

"Every now and then in sports, there are sideline stories that make bigger news than the sports happenings themselves."

Perfect thing to say right before the game that contained Disco Demolition!


Comment posted in WSNS Channel 44 - TV44 Sports Spotlight with Jim Durham - "The San Diego Chicken, Pre-Demolition" (Part 1, 1979) by W.B. on Saturday, July 12th, 2014 at 1:21pm CT

"(please excuse the ghosty picture quality and buzzy audio)"

Given that this historical pre-show interview was preceded by, of all things, the half-forgotten cartoon series "Funky Phantom" (speaking of ghosts and buzzes), a rather apropos comparison, no? ;-)


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