About Christmas TV History

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

1 comment:

  1. OMG, I've been to Columbus a couple of times and never knew there was something like this nearby. Did they by any chance have any Andrea TVs? This was my mom and dad's TV when they first moved into their own home. It had a 10" inch screen and also had a radio in the console.