Thursday, December 10, 2020

Christmas TV Variety: List of Favorites

Variety specials and episodes are some of the most popular Christmas programs each year on television. Every year new variety Christmas programs are made. 2020 will see the debut of a new CMA Country Christmas concert on ABC, Christmas in Rockefeller Center concert on NBC, another Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance on PBS, Dolly Parton's A Holly Dolly Christmas on CBS, Mariah Carey's Magical Christmas Special on Apple TV, Carrie Underwood's My Gift: A Christmas Special on HBO Max, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas with Vanessa Williams on PBS, The Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular on NBC, Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas: The Musical on NBC, High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special on Disney+, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood's Garth and Trisha Live: A Holiday Concert on CBS, and The Wonderful World of Disney: Magical Holiday Celebration on ABC. This is not a complete list but just the highlights! And, this long list is just the NEW variety programs this year--there are MORE airing and streaming that made their debuts in previous years too. Whew! How many of these are you planning on watching?

I'll certainly be watching them all and adding their details to what will be the updated, expanded encyclopedia Tis the Season TV (scheduled to be released in 2021). But some of my favorite variety programs are ones from the past. Here's a quick list--with links--of discussions of some of my favorites from decades past.

 


The 1957 Christmas episode of The Frank Sinatra Show features special guest Bing Crosby. This episode has also become known by the title Happy Holidays from Bing and Frank. The two biggest pop singers of the 20th century entertain with Christmas songs and charm like no one else. Click HERE to read more about it.


The 1968 Christmas episode of The Dean Martin Show is another of the swinging good times captured for the cameras. This installment includes special guests actor Dennis Weaver, comedian Bob Newhart, and actor Dom DeLuise. There are a couple young visitors to the set that have also gone on to have their own long careers in Hollywood. Can you recognize them? Click HERE to read more about this episode.

 

 


 

Judy Garland had a Christmas episode of her short-lived variety series too. The 1963 installment features the singer and her three children: Lorna, Joe and Liza. She also welcomes singer Jack Jones and the series' music director Mel Tormé. Judy's struggles during the making of this series have been well documented but even when she's not at her best, she's still better than everyone else! Check out the song list and descriptions of performances by clicking HERE.

 

 

When Andy Williams died in 2012, I wrote up a description of the best of those 1960s Andy Williams Show Christmas episodes. The overview continues to be THE most popular post on my website. Maybe soon I'll write up a single Christmas episode, perhaps the 1965 or the 1966 one. Got a favorite? Let me know. Click HERE to see the overview again.




Let us not forget Perry Como! Click HERE to see my discussion on the 1978 Christmas TV special Perry Como's Early American Christmas filmed in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. Perry had been on TV at Christmas for thirty years at this point, and his annual Christmas specials in the second half of the 1970s through the 1980s saw him visiting exotic locations and landmarks around the globe. What American would join Perry in this historic location? John Wayne of course. And yes, Wayne sings. 




Who can forget the 1960 Christmas episode of The Shirley Temple Show and their staging of the musical "Babes in Toyland?" The singing-and-dancing extravaganza features an amazing cast with young Angela Cartwright and Michel Petit, alongside show biz masters Jonathan Winters, Carl Ballantine, Joe Besser, and Jerry Colonna. An adult Shirley Temple introduces the story--accompanied by her own young children. And, Temple stars in the story too, donning ugly make-up to play the role of Floretta the gypsy witch. Click HERE to read more of my discussion.




And my favorite--a discussion on the 1956 TV musical The Stingiest Man in Town. The musical originally aired as an episode of The Alcoa Hour. A kinoscope turned up after decades of fans assuming any record of the lavish production had been lost forever. Basil Rathbone appears as a singing Ebenezer Scrooge, with Vic Dame as a young Ebenezer and opera star Patricia Munsel as his fiancé Belle. There is so much goodness in this original musical, it absolutely deserves the accolades given upon its original release. Read more about it by clicking HERE.



Kurt (Chris Colfer) and Blaine (Darren Criss) welcome TV viewers into the "home," just like Judy Garland does.


Younger TV viewers have laid their claim to the cultural history of Christmas variety as well. The 2011 Christmas installment "Extraordinary Merry Christmas" of the TV series Glee created a shot-by-shot remake of numerous key scenes from the 1963 Christmas episode of The Judy Garland Show. Taking it one step further, the show's characters acknowledge the dreadful 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special too. Christmas TV fans are frequently blown away by this pop culture holiday spectacle. Click HERE to read more about it.

Here's a little taste of Christmas variety from the website's archives to remind you about the history of the holidays on television. Let me know what you think. Please feel free to leave comments below.

 

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for a 2021 release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

 

 

Monday, November 16, 2020

Where to Watch Christmas TV Programs (2020)

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? The Christmas TV movies have already begun airing, Christmas music is playing on local radio stations, the days are growing shorter, and the air outside is crisp.

The viewing options for Christmas movies and specials during November and December each year can get overwhelming. Last year, I counted almost 400 new Christmas and New Year's TV programs and movies released. Let me help you with the details of where to find the best holiday programming for 2020. This is not an exhaustive list and new information is still forthcoming. I've noticed that the long lists of premieres show that the pandemic has not forced most networks to cut back on Christmas programs for 2020. That's good for all of us.

 


Christmas TV Movies:

For many Christmas TV movie fans, the Hallmark Channel is the network schedule to check first.  In 2020, Hallmark will be debuting 23 new Christmas TV movies, alongside many classics from their archives. If you didn't already know, the movie marathon has already begun--Hallmark started Friday, October 24th--and continues all day and all night through the end of December. They typically debut their new holiday movies on Saturday and Sunday nights. HERE is link to a checklist of Hallmark's Christmas TV movie premieres. The daily schedule of their holiday movies can be found on their website HERE.

 

 

Hallmark's sister channel--Hallmark Movies and Mysteries (HMM)--also airs new Christmas TV movies and older classics. In fact, the older holiday movies they broadcast are pulled from a deeper archive so this is the place to see some of your older Hallmark Christmas TV movie favorites. HMM will debut 17 new Christmas titles in 2020. Between Hallmark and HMM, this company will premiere 40 new movies this holiday season. Whew! Have you already started watching them? HMM is also making their debuts on Saturday and Sunday nights. Click HERE for the checklist of HMM Christmas movie debuts. And, just like the Hallmark Channel, HMM has already begun their holiday programming--which will continue through the end of the holidays.  Click HERE for the link to the daily HMM Christmas movie schedule.

 

  

Lifetime is debuting 34 new Christmas TV movies in 2020 as well. I know, right? Those new movies will be airing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Click HERE for more info about each of those. Lifetime is all-in on the Christmas TV movies this year just like they were last year. They also started airing a 24/7 marathon of their new movies and Christmas classics from their archives. You don't want to miss out. I'm looking forward to their new movie "Christmas Ever After" which debuts on Dec. 6th. This movie features Tony-winner Ali Stroker who first impressed me on the TV series The Glee Project. Click HERE for the daily schedule of Lifetime Christmas movies. [Please note: the initial release of information in October about Lifetime's Christmas movies was for 30 movies. They have since added 4 more movies to the schedule, to air the third week of December.]

 

 


Freeform is a major source of Disney-owned holiday movies and programming every year. But I didn't need to tell you that, right?  We're all familiar with their marathons of Christmas movies and family-friendly entertainment. They have a November schedule with holiday programming, and Freeform's 25 Days of Christmas programming marathon which begins Dec. 1st. Click HERE for the full December marathon schedule.

 

 

(Click on image to enlarge)

In 2020, AMC is once again branding themselves "Best Christmas Ever" network. They continue to invest in airing a tremendous amount of Christmas movies and holiday programming beginning Nov. 16th. Here is where you'll be able to view most of the Rankin/Bass classic animation (other networks have Rankin/Bass titles too but a limited number of them).  For a schedule of all the Christmas movies and animation coming on AMC and AMC+, click here.

 


 

UP TV Network will also debut 8 new family-friendly Christmas TV movies, as well as showing older favorites too. For a list of their new Christmas movies, click HERE. For UP TV's 2020 Christmas programming movie schedule, click HERE.

 

 


ION Television's schedule is filled with holiday movies too. They are already airing holiday movies from their archives but will debut four new ones starting Nov. 29th. Look for the movie premieres on Saturday and Sunday nights. Click HERE for their website and a complete schedule.

 

  

OWN has three new TV movies this year: A Christmas for Mary debuting Dec. 8th,  Cooking Up Christmas on Dec.15th, and First Christmas on Dec. 22nd.

TV One usually debuts a Christmas TV movie each year featuring African-American characters in the lead as well. This year's new movie is Christmas Dilemma premiering Sunday, Dec. 6th. Here's more info on their website. Look to BET to premiere Christmas TV movies with African-American actors in lead roles as well. They too have yet to release more information for this year.

 


And of course, Netflix is debuting more than a dozen new Christmas movies and series episodes on their streaming service too. Several of those movies have already premiered, including the popular Holidate starring Emma Roberts, Operation: Christmas Drop, the musical Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, and more. So many Christmas movies, so little time, right?

 

Food Network's Holiday Baking Championship judges and host.

 

Netflix features several Christmas series including Sugar Rush: Christmas season 2, Great British Baking Show: Holidays season 3, and Holiday Home Makeover with Mr. Christmas. But did you know that the Food Network also includes several Christmas series? Sunday nights and Monday nights the Food Network rolls out Holiday Baking Championship, Holiday Wars, Christmas Cookie Challenge, and The Big Bake Holiday. Check their listings for even more holiday series' episodes and specials.

Hulu has a wonderful feature that the other streaming platforms haven't figured out yet: you can search for 'Christmas' and they'll provide not just Christmas movies, but Christmas episodes buried inside the seasons of sitcoms and dramas they have. YES! That's a great use of a search option. Hulu this year also is airing 2019's popular indie film Last Christmas with Emilia Clarke, and starting Nov. 25th, they will have 2020's Happiest Season with Kristen Stewart.

Disney+ is debuting Lego Star Wars Holiday Special starting Nov. 17th. This new program is drawing the attention of quite a few fans who love the Lego animated movies and those who fan over the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special too. I'm looking forward to seeing it.


Classic Christmas Specials and Episodes:
   

  

Me TV is rolling out their retro programming's Christmas programs on Sunday early evening marathons throughout the holiday season. HERE's the schedule of episodes for the Sunday marathons. Look at all those Thanksgiving episodes too! I see Dec. 6th they're airing the 1988 TV movie A Very Brady Christmas, and early morning on Dec 24th, they are airing the 1970 movie musical Scrooge. Mark your calendars now.

 

 
FETV is airing Christmas episodes of their classic sitcoms and dramas too. I'm excited to see Father Knows Best: Home for Christmas--the 1977 reunion TV movie airing too. More on their website about their holiday programming here. And Antenna TV, another retro programming network, usually airs a Christmas Eve and Christmas Day marathon of holiday episodes from their current classic TV line-up. I hope they repeat that tradition this year.

I'm sad to see Get TV cut back on their usually extravagant schedule of holiday programming. I'll post more about their schedule when I know more.

 

 

Major Networks:
 
Of course, the major networks have their holiday programming as well. NBC has an all new animated TV special: Illumination Presents Minions Holiday Special. (Yes--the minions from your favorite animated Despicable Me movie franchise). It debuts Friday, Nov. 27th. The annual Christmas in Rockefeller Center live concert and tree lighting ceremony always airs the first Wednesday after Thanksgiving (Dec. 2nd this year). They haven't announced yet about the live concert or any potential guests yet. But the concert is followed by Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. NBC is also airing Dr. Seuss' The Grinch Musical starring Matthew Morrison from a London stage production. It airs Dec. 9th. The Saturday Night Live clip show of everyone's favorite Christmas sketches will air Dec. 16th. And, the original 1946 movie It's a Wonderful Life is airing again on Dec. 24th.

 

 


ABC is happily airing the Rankin/Bass animated Santa Claus is Comin' to Town in honor of it's 50th anniversary. Watch that 1970 classic on Nov. 27th. On Thanksgiving night, ABC is airing the animated specials Olaf's Frozen Adventure, and Toy Story That Time Forgot. You don't want to miss those. And once again ABC is airing the variety special CMA Country Christmas. This year's concert features host Trisha Yearwood. It airs Monday, Nov. 30th at 9pm(ET). Also on Nov. 30th is The Disney Holiday Singalong--the third in their very popular singalong TV specials.

 

 


CBS is airing many animated classics. On Friday, Nov. 27th they are airing Frosty the Snowman and Frosty Returns.  On Saturday, Nov. 28th, CBS is running two Robbie the Reindeer animated stories, and The Story of Santa Claus. On Tuesday, Dec. 1st is Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. And on Dec 6th is an all-new Dolly Parton Christmas special A Holly Dolly Christmas. So much good stuff coming.

Note: Broadcast TV networks are NOT airing A Charlie Brown Christmas this year--you'll only be able to see it on TV streaming on Apple+ this year. Good thing you own the DVDs, right?

UPDATE: PBS has picked up A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving to air Nov. 22, and A Charlie Brown Christmas to air on Dec. 13th. Check your local lists and local PBS networks for time.

 

Stay close to my social media links for more announcements about fantastic holiday programming. If you'd like reminders of the new Christmas TV movie debuts and other exciting holiday TV  programming, don't forget to follow my Facebook page Tis The Season TV and/or my tweets at @TisTheSeasonTV.  

Where on the metaphorical television dial do you watch your favorite Christmas movies and specials?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

 

Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for a 2021 release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Christmas in July 2020: Canceled



It is with great pain that I finally announce that the Christmas in July event that I host each year here will be canceled for this summer. Both professionally and personally, the year 2020 has been a daunting challenge for me so far. The publishing world is in chaos as fellow writers and authors have all had their projects pushed back for release--myself included. If you haven't already seen on social media:

the updated and expanded 2nd edition of the encyclopedia Tis the Season TV has been rescheduled for release in 2021. This year (2020) would have been the tenth anniversary of the first edition and I have been working feverishly toward getting the next edition to print. Since this effort has been ten years worth of improvements and expansion, it only makes sense to ensure its release is on the best possible footing. As hard as it is to accept, I'm patiently waiting until book publishing, reviewers, and sellers are back to business before releasing the book. The worldwide pandemic continues to create rippling effects on health and business.

A second unexpected circumstance has pushed me to canceling the summer's Christmas in July blogathon. The pandemic has effected my family such that I'm merging my household with several family members and we're moving to another house. Organizing the typical Christmas in July festivities this summer is impossible.

However, I hope you'll join me in another project this summer. I've been recently motivated to explore even further on black entertainment, and the history of African-Americans starring in and making television. Below you'll see a brief list of reading recommendations, as well as lists of Christmas TV episodes, specials, and movies featuring black artists. Please feel free to leave comments with your own recommendations too. I would love for this to become a valuable resource for us all. As always, please support your local libraries, make purchase requests, and inter-library loans as a way to strengthen your communities (for both books and visual media). If you don't immediately know where to watch the TV programs listed below, google "where can I watch (add title)" and the search engine will list the platforms available.


READING LIST: I highly recommend Donald Bogle's Primetime Blues: African Americans on Network Television. This is an impressive book that I have used and referred to quite a bit in the past. I highly recommend it. I'm going to try to read a couple new-to-me books on the subject as well, including Watching Race: Television and the Struggle for Blackness by Herman Gray,
Color by Fox: The Fox Network and the Revolution in Black Television by Kristal Brent Zook, Sitcommentary: Television Comedies that Changed America by Mark A. Robinson,  
Pimpin' Ain't Easy: Selling Black Entertainment Television by Beretta E. Smith-Shomade, and Revolution Televised by Christine Acham.


from 1988's Roots: The Gift TV movie.

CHRISTMAS TV MOVIES: I highly recommend viewing
Greyson Family Christmas (2019) inspired by the 1967 movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," this thoughtful rom-com acknowledges some of the complexities and layers of cultural conflict for an inter-racial young couple. While most escapist, fantasy Christmas TV movie stories go the extra mile to avoid conversations like these, this movie takes on this contemporary hurdle to love in an authentic and sincere way.
A Dream for Christmas (1973) a reverend and his family in 1950 move from rural Arkansas to Los Angeles to start a new life and church. The cast includes Hari Rhodes, Beah Richards, and Lynn Hamilton.
Roots: The Gift (1988) a TV movie follow-up to the groundbreaking mini-series "Roots," with characters from the book by Alex Haley.  This story’s plot focuses on Kunta Kinte’s efforts on Christmas Eve 1775 to shuttle slaves to freedom on the developing underground railroad. Louis Gossett Jr. and LeVar Burton return to their original roles. The TV movie is directed by Kevin Hooks.
Christmas Lilies of the Field (1979) the made-for-TV sequel to the much-beloved 1963 theatrical release "Lilies of the Field." Here, Billy Dee Williams takes over the role of Homer Smith, the role which garnered Sidney Poitier the Academy Award for Best Lead Actor in the original film.
Ms. Scrooge (1997) and A Diva's Christmas Carol (2000) both imagine African-American women in the central role as Ebenezer Scrooge in TV movie adaptations of Dickens' A Christmas Carol (played by Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams, respectively).  
Call Me Claus (2001) sees an African-American woman (Whoopi Goldberg) asked to become the next in line to replace a retiring Santa Claus.




CHRISTMAS TV SPECIALS: I highly recommend viewing
Santa, Baby! (2001) Rankin/Bass animated musical, starring Vanessa Williams, Gregory Hines, Eartha Kitt, and Patti LaBelle.
J.T. (1969) originally produced for CBS’ Saturday morning "Children’s Hour," this moving story was later aired in prime time. It went on to win the prestigious Peabody Award. Starring Kevin Hooks and Ja’net Du Bois.
The Hot Chocolate Nutcracker (2014) the popular stage production is taped for TV. It features choreographer Debbie Allen's re-invention of the Nutcracker ballet in an all-new contemporary adaptation, incorporating traditional ballet as well as hip hop and jazz dancing.
The Snowy Day (2016) the hour-long animated TV special is adapted from the Caldecott Medal-winning book written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats. The story is narrated by Laurence Fishburne, and features Boyz II Men singing “Snowy Day.”
A Legendary Christmas with John and Chrissy (2018) major network, prime time TV variety special featuring recording artist John Legend.




CHRISTMAS TV EPISODES: I highly recommend viewing
Black-ish (ABC) the thoughtful sitcom has produced Christmas episodes in each of its six seasons. The new spin-off Mixed-ish also includes a Christmas episode.
Gullah Gullah Island (Nickelodeon) the adorable children's series draws upon the unique cultural heritage of the Gullah, the African-Americans that live along the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia. The 1997 Christmas episode is charming.
The Proud Family (Disney) the animated series includes a 2001 holiday episode with the Prouds taking in a homeless family at Christmas. The homeless family shares their Kwanzaa celebration and everyone better understands one another.
Good Times (CBS) the comedy series' four holiday episodes (three Christmas and one New Years) explore the family's strength concerning alcoholism, friendship, and adoption. I also like the 1978, sixth season Christmas variety show-within-a-show.
Pose (FX) this ground-breaking drama includes the largest cast of trans actors ever assembled for television. The first season Christmas episode explores themes of re-defining family, and pursuing happiness for the holidays.

I feel like these lists barely scratch the surface for books and TV that demand to be read and watched. Again, please feel free to add your recommendations for meaningful black Christmas entertainment in the comments below. I'm sorry there won't be a Christmas in July party this year--I miss it and it's not even July yet. But we'll do Christmas in July even bigger next year!



Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for a 2021 release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com




Saturday, February 8, 2020

Pop Culture Destination: Columbus, Ohio

TV & Film Destination: Columbus, OH

You might be a little surprised--as I was--with the potential for interesting Christmas pop culture destinations in Columbus, Ohio. I made the journey last week to the state capital city to visit a friend who lives there. I had free time before I reunited with my friend so I decided to look for Christmas film & TV landmarks, if there were any. I ended up in unexpected locales and connecting to Christmas programs in new ways. Here's what I found in the greater Columbus area.


TV Guide ad from 1977.

Comedic actor Paul Lynde appeared in quite a few Christmas TV programs. He appeared in a sketch on the 1969 Christmas installment of the Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour--I wrote about that program HERE. He made guest appearances on several yuletide episodes of The Donny & Marie Show in the late '70s, and he even had his own Christmas special: 1977's Twas the Night Before Christmas. (It's awful). This is just to name a few.

A very small Amity Cemetery, just outside Mount Vernon, Ohio.
I arrived at my destination in a snowstorm. February in Ohio--this is how we do it.

Lynde died in 1982, and was buried in a tiny cemetery just north of Columbus, near Mount Vernon, Ohio. Many other fans have visited Lynde's final resting place. His monument has quite a few coins left by fans paying their respects. I left a coin in the snow too.

Rest in Peace: Paul Lynde

A statue dedicated to bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger.


An unexpected sight in downtown Columbus is a life-size bronze sculpture of body builder/actor/politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, at the Columbus Convention Center. This sculpture honors Schwarzenegger's bodybuilding career, and his participation and awards in the Mr. World competitions, some of which were held in Columbus, Ohio. Christmas movie fans remember that Arnold plays the lead in the 1996 movie Jingle All the Way.

The snow stopped. Arnold in Columbus.

Last year I had the pleasure of discovering a TV special Arnold starred in from 1988. He hosted A Very Special Christmas Party, which is a holiday tribute to athletes from The Special Olympics. The hour-long program originally aired on ABC, and also included celebrity guests Barbara Mandrell, Randy Travis, New Voices of Freedom, boxer Mike Tyson, Danny Devito, Susan Saint James, ice skater Scott Hamilton, Maria Shriver, and John Kennedy Jr. It's a pleasant Christmas TV special drawing attention and awareness to the importance and success of a worthwhile program.


The next day I stopped at The Early Television Museum. It was sunny, windy and 65 degrees. The previous day's snowstorm completely forgotten.


I found another hidden gem, located in Hilliard, Ohio--a city just outside of Columbus. This museum had me giggling with delight! The Early Television Museum is room after room, filled with TV sets and displays showcasing the history of televisions. There are sets from Europe and the United States manufactured in the 1920s and '30s, through the history of different technological and design concepts, into the 1950s.

A gorgeous German-made TV set made between 1930-32. The screen size is 1 3/4" x 1 3/8." How big is your hi-def screen at home?


Early spinning disc technology for the Televisor.


Close-up photo of plaque on the Televisor.

Another Art Deco cabinet. Perhaps a 4" screen? maybe.


In the museum, there is an audio tour and placard displays that give the details behind each set, including model, manufacturer, and date. Some of the TVs were functioning, and you could see what quality the various monitors provided. Many of the early TV cabinets were mindful of furniture design, and incorporated radios and record players. These were NOT your grandparents' Curtis Mathis cabinet TVs of the 1970s.

Radio console on the left, TV monitor in the center, and record player on the right.

Many of the early TV monitors faced the ceiling, and a mirror reflected the image at a 90 degree angle to watch seated from across the room.

A three-fold screen provided by the manufacturer for a sales display. Very mid-century.

Another sales display for an early RCA television set.

This early TV set was functioning--it was showing the movie "The Wizard of Oz."

There was even a display showing off a specific kind of camera technology--still primitive by today's standards. Utterly fascinating!

I have to warn you. This museum draws you in and you end up standing in front of each TV set in amazement! You don't need to know anything about the changing technology--there's information provided. But the history and changes seen across the development of television sets has an appeal all its own. This museum was much larger than I expected. It's quite easy to feel overwhelmed. I loved it!

A Christmas cardboard display for RCA color TV sets featuring Disney's Donald Duck.

My favorite TV set at the museum.

There were also early TV ephemera displays of sales materials, sales displays, repair manuals, and viewing accessories. There were several rooms dedicated to early cameras and remote camera technology too. It would be easy to return and see things I missed on my first visit.


There are TV cameras showing off the changing technology as well. This place was amazing!

LOL! Plastic film to lay across early black-and-white TVs to simulate color images. Blue skies across the top and green grass across the bottom seems to work if you're watching landscapes. As you can imagine, it becomes impractical to watch medium shots of people talking with this adaption.


More cameras.

If you're ever in the Columbus region, I recommend the Early Television Museum. Check out their website HERE. Look for me while you're there, I plan on going back.

Interested in seeing what other interesting Christmas TV & film, pop culture destinations I have visited? Have you read about them all? Here's the list:

Mary Tyler Moore/Peanuts in Minneapolis, MN
Little House on the Prairie in Walnut Grove, MN & DeSmet, SD
John Denver statue/Mork & Mindy House in Colorado
Perry Como's statue in Canonsburg, PA
Dean Martin's hometown of Steubenville, OH
Rosemary Clooney's home in Augusta, KY
The Jimmy Stewart Museum in Indiana, PA
It's a Wonderful Life Museum in Seneca Falls, NY
Lucille Ball's birthday celebration in Jamestown, NY
A Christmas Story House & Museum 5k Run in Cleveland, OH
The Waltons Museum in Schuyler, VA
"Twas the Night Before Christmas" & "A Child's Christmas in Wales" in NYC-Part 1
Honeymooners Statue/Odd Couple address/Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center in NYC-Part 2


Joanna Wilson is a TV researcher and book author specializing in Christmas entertainment. More about the TV programs mentioned on this website can be found in her book "Tis the Season TV: the Encyclopedia of Christmas-themed Episodes, Specials, and Made-for-TV Movies." Her latest book "Triple Dog Dare: Watching--& Surviving--the 24-Hour Marathon of A Christmas Story" was released in 2016. She is currently updating and expanding the encyclopedia for a 2020 release. Her books can be found at the publisher's website: 1701 press.com

*Support this website and its research by purchasing the books at 1701 press.com