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Gaslight: March in Media History - The LAMP

Gaslight: March in Media History

By February 27, 2010 News 3 Comments

March 10, 1949: Mildred Gillars, aka “Axis Sally,” American broadcaster for Radio Berlin during WWII, is convicted of treason. Born in Portland, Oregon, Gillars pursued an acting career in New York City, and although she did get work, she didn’t realize the success of her dreams. In 1935 she moved to Germany to teach English, but eventually was hired by Radio Berlin as a broadcaster, which gave her a chance to flex her acting muscles. She referred to herself as “Midge on the mic” but was dubbed “Axis Sally” by the American allied forces who listened to her broadcasts. Her radio program was called “Home Sweet Home” and typically tried to weaken the morale of US soldiers with suggestions that their girlfriends and wives back home were being unfaithful. However, her most famous broadcast was “Vision of Invasion,” a play about a woman who dreamed her son had been killed at sea crossing the English Channel, complete with exceedingly graphic sound effects of the exploding ship. To boot, it was aired just one month before the D-Day invasion. When she was being prosecuted for treason, it was largely this broadcast which was used as evidence of her crime (though her oath swearing allegiance to Germany didn’t help her either). Finally, on March 10, her heavily covered, soap-opera trial which also detailed her romance with German serviceman Max Otto Koischwitz, ended with a sentence of 10-30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. She served 12 years and became a kindergarten music teacher when released.

March 25, 1954: RCA begins production of color television sets. Retailing for $1,000 each, the sets came after an intense war in the 1940s between RCA and CBS about development of the color field sequential system which was to be used as the broadcasting standard, and the system’s compatibility with existing black and white television sets. Also complicating matters was the ban on color television sets was the ban on color set production which began in 1951 with the Korean War–the need to allocate funds to the war put a halt on the development of color receivers. But, RCA eventually had its day, and we’ve never watched TV the same way since.

Jack Paar

March 29, 1962: Jack Paar hosts “The Tonight Show” for the last time. After five years of hosting and ultimately creating the late-night talk-show format still used today, Paar left because he wanted to spend more time with his family and escape the press with its ruthless coverage of his internal quarrels with NBC executives and other stars in entertainment. He was replaced by Johnny Carson, who remained the show’s host until May 22, 1992.

  • Marianne Perez

    I just recently checked out a DVD series from our local Library detailing several episodes of the Jack Parr show from beginning to end – including the last episode. I know he was, in many ways, a controversial figure but was extremely impressed with his honesty, humility and ability to draw his audience into an intimate setting which truly made you feel a part of whatever was happening on the show. It is sad that there is no one who has even come close (except for Johnny Carson) to be able to attract such an amazing repertoire of guests (including brothers John F. and Robert Kennedy, Cassius Clay (later to become Muhammed Ali), Liberace, Billy Graham, Fidel Castro, Richard Nixon, etc.) and the amazing performance of Richard Burton reading Winston Churchill’s ‘Iron Curtain’ speech to a very young Bill Cosby – fresh off the Collegiate gridlock at the very beginning of his comedic career. Not to live in the past, but I truly feel we lost more than a late night TV persona when Jack Parr chose to leave the airways. There have been none like him since he walked away from a truly amazing show.

  • Amnah Khan

    Is there any place where Jack Paar’s shows are available for free to watch online?

    • The only thing I can find is here, which looks to be more like clips from selected episodes rather than full episodes. Hope this helps!