Lucille Ball’s 1956 Jamestown Homecoming

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Jamestown was never more proud of their favorite daughter, and TV’s biggest star was never more proud of her hometown.

 

“A mirthquake hits Jamestown…”

That was the headline in an ad promoting Forever Darling in the Jamestown Post Journal in February, 1956, as Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz visited Jamestown for the world premiere of their new movie at Dipson’s Palace Theater in Jamestown.

Original video, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz arrive for Movie Premiere in Jamestown NY, 1956, posted by on YouTube by JC4PCP 

The stars of “I Love Lucy,” Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz arrived by helicopter and took Jamestown– and the nearby Village of Celoron, where Lucy actually grew up– by storm.

Lucille Ball arrives on the field outside Jamestown High School via helicopter.

Among the spots Lucy visited were Jamestown General Hospital, Bigelow’s Department Store and the Crystal Ballroom in the Hotel Jamestown.

Hi Lucy and Desi, as seen from Lucy’s helicopter

The headlines screamed that 25,000 people turned out on a cold snowy February day in Chautauqua County– to see the homecoming of American Pop Culture’s biggest star of the early TV era.

When her helicopter landed outside Jamestown High School, she was greeted by a marching band and dozens of students lined up to spell HI LUCY AND DESI, visible from the air.

That same sense of excitement in Jamestown today as the National Comedy Center opens in Lucy’s home town.

Throngs greet Lucy outside the Dipson Palace theater in Jamestown.

Ball was proud of her Western New York and Jamestown heritage. Just like the real life Lucille Ball, it was often mentioned that her TV character Lucy Ricardo grew up in Jamestown.

The crowd gathers under the marquee at The Palace Theater.

In talking about her life and career through the years, Lucy looked back at her 1956 visit to Jamestown, at the height of her fame, as a personal and career highlight, being able to give back to the area which gave her so much.

 

Buffalo’s Top 3 songs: July 31, 1967

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Looking back at the Top 3 songs Buffalo was listening to on the radio this week in 1967:

3. Windy– The Association

2. Jackson– Nancy Sinatra

1. Light My Fire– The Doors

The Top 3 songs as played this week in 1967 on Buffalo’s WKBW Radio.

WEBR’s “The Sound of the City”– it’s gr-r-r-r-r-reat!

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Starting in 1962, The Sound of the City became WEBR Radio’s theme song, and it’s one of the sounds that makes Buffalo, Buffalo.

Chances are you’ve heard it enough times over the 56 years since it debuted that you might even know all the words, but get ready to hear it a bit differently from now on.

The Sound of the City, WEBR 970. 1962 ad.

“The Sound of the City” was rewritten and resung and for many radio stations and cities around the country– Buffalo wasn’t even first. The son was originally written for San Francisco radio station KSFO, which was owned by Gene Autry.

Johnny Mann, who was best known as the music director on the Joey Bishop Show, wrote “The Sound of the City,” and the track is credited to the Johnny Mann Singers.

Thurl Ravenscroft, 1983.

For the original San Francisco version, as well as the Buffalo version, among those nameless faceless Johnny Mann singers was Thurl Ravenscroft.

You might not know his name, but you know Ravenscroft’s work. While Boris Karloff did the speaking parts in the original “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” cartoon movie, it was the big voiced Thurl who did all the singing parts.

Ravenscroft’s bellowing voice is probably most recognizable as the voice of Tony the Tiger, the spokesman for Frosted Flakes.

Next time you listen to “The Sound of City,” make sure you listen for the deep throaty vibrato, and know that “it’s grrrrreat.”

The Glory Days of Downtown Shopping: Part 3, Hengerer’s

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

As we look at the glory days of downtown shopping this week, Hengerer’s is one of the memories that makes Buffalo Buffalo.

William Hengerer started selling dry goods on Main Street in the 1870s, and the tradition of the William Hengerer Company lasted well into the suburban shopping era.

The 105 year downtown Buffalo tradition ended on November 5, 1981, when the signs for Hengerer’s at the downtown store and all the mall and plaza locations were replaced by new signs for Sibley’s.

Workers replace the Hengerer’s sign with Sibley’s.

Sibley’s was a long time, heritage Rochester department store, and was owned by the same conglomerate that had owned Hengerer’s since 1916.

The downtown Hengerer’s/Sibleys store was closed in 1987, and Sibley’s was eventually merged into Kaufmann’s in 1990. Most remaining Kaufmann’s locations became Macy’s in 2006.

Hengerer’s—certainly one of the names that makes Buffalo Buffalo.  

The Glory Days of Downtown Shopping: Part 2, Wednesday Shopping Day

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Wednesdays were a special day downtown through the 1950s and 1960s…

Because of a long running commercial which started running in 1969, you might have one idea from the world of marketing about Wednesdays.

But through the 1950s, Buffalo’s downtown merchants were encouraging the ladies of the house to get on the bus and head downtown to shop on Wednesdays– because Wednesday was marketed as Downtown extra value day.

Women who donned a hat and grabbed the charge-a-plate and a few bus tokens were treated to sales and special bargains were to be had at stores such as Tanke’s, Kleinhans, JN Adam’s, Hens & Kelly, Oppenheim Collins, Victor’s, Hengerer’s, Neisner’s, Flint & Kent, Kobacker’s, LL Berger’s, AM&A’s, Grant’s and plenty of others, all advertised in special sections that were included in the Buffalo Evening News and the Courier-Express.

Long after the marketing had stopped, there were still plenty of Buffalo ladies who made Wednesday their day to go downtown.

The forgotten Black Rock Market

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When we think of old fashioned Public markets in Buffalo, we think of the Broadway Market. But it wasn’t too long ago that there were a handful of them around the city– including in Black Rock.

For 23 years, where Tops is at Grant and Amherst, next to the Scajaquada Expressway, once stood the mostly forgotten Black Rock Market.

The Glory Days of Downtown Shopping: Part 1, AM&A’s

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week, we’re looking back at the glory days of shopping on Main Street downtown, and we begin with the giant: AM&A’s.

Adam, Meldrum & Anderson was Buffalo’s largest and most popular department store for 127 years.

AM&A’s, The Main Place Mall, and The Marine Midland Tower. early 1970s.

Locally owned and operated from 1867 to 1994, more than just a place to shop, it was a Buffalo institution.

logo from a 1980 ad.
The opening of the Walden Galleria in 1989 was the death knell for all remaining locally owned department stores.

Starting in the mid-1970s and lasting through the early 1980s, the store’s italicized green-lettered corporate logo was augmented with an ultra-modern swooshy AM&A’s first in an electric green and blue, then in a more subdued dark blue and red.

In 1995, only months after AM&A’s sold its operations to Bon-Ton, the York, PA based department store announced the closure of the Main Street downtown location which had been hemorrhaging money for quite some time.

Robert Adam, outside his beloved family store. It was sold and closed shortly after his death.

More than 300 jobs were lost with the closure of the store as well as the warehouse behind the store across Washington Street.

We’re in the final chapters of AM&A’s history now, with the Bon-Ton’s never ending going out of business sales in several of AM&A’s former locations.

MORE: http://blog.buffalostories.com/tag/amas/

1946 ad shows the original AM&A’s location (1867-1960) in the spot where Main Place Mall now stands. AM&A’s moved into the JN Adam store when JN’s closed.

The Pioneering Women of Buffalo Broadcasting

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Here’s a complete round up of our week long look at some of the iconic and pioneering women of Buffalo Broadcasting.

You can listen to all the stories here, and scroll down the page for stories, images, and links to more.

In the earliest days of radio in Buffalo, it was unusual to hear a female voice that wasn’t singing.

And when you did hear a woman coming through your speaker in the 30s, 40s, or 50s, she was usually talking about cooking or discussing “women’s issues.”

Among the earliest women announcers:

“Amanda,” whose real name was Dorothy Shank, hosted a show on WEBR, sponsored by AM&A’s.

MORE: WEBR’s “Today with Amanda” with tips from AM&A’s, 1951

 

World War II changed things briefly, but not a lot.

A memo from the executive offices at The Buffalo Evening News warned it’s radio broadcasters to NOT mention the name of a new female announcer– that despite the fact that Vera Holly was a very popular singer on the station for a decade.

Vera Holly was a singer, emcee, and announcer on WBEN in the 1930s and 1940s.

She had been a long-time regular on WBEN’s “International House Party” and had received top billing on the show, but wasn’t allowed to identify herself for the nearly six months she was reading station breaks and newscasts on WBEN.

A CBS gig on “The Jerry Lester Show” landed her in front of the same microphone as the biggest star of 1943– Frank Sinatra.

“I had a great kick working on the same show as Frank,” Holly told The Buffalo Evening News. “Confidentially, he really is cute. And much nicer than I expected.”

When she was picked up for a network show in 1946, she was called “one of the most promising young stars of radio. Holly went on to announce her own network programs on Mutual, CBS, and ABC.

Beverly, WKBW. 1978

Even as late as the 70s, women disc jockeys were an oddity.  A disc jockey known on the air only as “Beverly” was WKBW Radio’s first woman disc jockey, hosting overnights in the mid-70s.

As Beverly Burke, she went on to replace Oprah Winfrey in a local TV news anchoring job in Baltimore.

She’s also anchored TV news in Washington and Los Angeles.


The women of early TV in Buffalo

We’re looking at the women who were the first to make their presence felt in what has traditionally been the male-dominated broadcasting industry.

Television came to Buffalo with Channel 4 in 1948, and the only women prominently featured in the ceremonial sign on of the station were the chorus girls from the Town Casino.

The Town Casino chorus girls were the only women featured on Channel 4’s sign-on in 1948.

Some of the pioneering women in Buffalo TV were the same women who pioneered in Buffalo radio.

Sally Work was called “the dean of women commentators” by the Buffalo Evening News. She’d already been on the radio for 15 years by the time she took her act to the new medium of TV. When Channel 2 signed on, Helen Neville took her radio act to TV as well.

Sally Work, left, and Mildred Miller, right, judge a doll contest in 1954.

Of course, there were those who made their first mark in TV as well.

Starting in 1952, a beloved and strong woman made her debut on Channel 4.

Viewers watched Mildred Miller and her husband Bill cook and interview celebrities for 20 years on “Meet the Millers.

Mildred and Bill Miller.

Doris Jones was first seen as a commercial model on Channel 4 when she was still in high school. She’d eventually host a women’s show on Channel 7, and become Buffalo’s first female staff announcer and weathercaster on Channel 2.

Paula Drew was the spokesperson for Niagara Frontier’s dairy farmers, and as Buffalo’s milk maid, she did weather forecasts wrapped around milk commercials. She was later the voice of Tops Friendly Markets.

While Paula Drew was at Tops, it was Joey at Super Duper in the 70s and 80s.

Super Duper’s Joey Heinz.

The pioneering women of broadcast journalism in Buffalo

 

Our week long look at the women who had pioneering roles in Buffalo radio and TV continues, with a look at the first women of television news in Buffalo.

1962

From the earliest days, there were relatively few women on Buffalo TV– and even fewer in what we’d now consider journalism roles.

In 1962, the Courier-Express reported that WKBW Radio publicist Joan Marshall was about to become Buffalo’s first “lady newscaster” on TV. Doris Jones did the weather on Channel 2.

The first stand-out woman on the air with real news chops was the late Liz Dribben on Channel 7.

Liz Dribben, Eyewitness News.

She’d anchor morning newscasts before co-hosting Dialing for Dollars with Nolan Johannes. She left Buffalo and became a CBS News writer and producer, working with Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite among others.

Susan King, WGR-TV 2. She was the lead anchor on the 6 and 11 newscasts on Channel 2 for several months after Ron Hunter left but before Rich Kellman was hired.
Rich Kellman and Sheila Murphy

Channel 2’s Susan King was Buffalo’s first full-time woman journalist on TV when she joined the Ron Hunter Report in 1972.  She anchored the 6 o’clock news after Hunter left, and before Rich Kellman arrived. She’s now the dean of the UNC School of Journalism.

When King moved on from Buffalo, she was followed by Shelia Murphy at Channel 2, who co-anchored with Kellman before moving onto politics.

Carol Crissey (later Jasen) broke the 31 year streak of men on the Channel 4 anchor desk when she anchored with John Beard and then Bob Koop. Carol joined Marie Rice who had started at 4 two years earlier as a tough street-reporting journalist at Channel 4.

Carol Jasen was at WIVB for 23 years, Marie Rice 27 years.

Channel 4 staff, 1979. Top row: Gary Gunther, Larry Hunter, Marie Rice, Allen Costantini. Middle Row: Kevin O’Connell, Carol Crissey (Jasen), John Beard, Van Miller. Bottom Row: Brian Blessing, Sandy White, Rich Newberg, Suzi Makai

Susan Banks began her Buffalo career on Eyewitness News in 1977. She’d go on to anchor at Channel 2 and Channel 7 before retiring from TV news 29 years later.

 


Iconic women still on the air in Buffalo

This week we’ve been looking at many of the iconic women of Buffalo’s Broadcasting history, and today we’re looking at a few who are still here and still broadcasting.

The world of television news is a transient one, and when we look at the women who’ve been on Buffalo TVs since the 1980s are only a few names to mention.

Van Miller, Jacquie Walker, and Carol Jasen WIVB, 1986

Jacquie Walker has been anchoring newscasts on Channel 4 longer than anyone else ever has at a single station in Buffalo– 35 years at WIVB.

Linda Pellegrino has been at Channel 7 since the 80’s, too, first with the weather outside and then on AM Buffalo since 1990.

Maria Genero started her TV career at Channel 4 in the mid-80s before heading to Miami, LA and New York. She came back to Buffalo at Channel 7 in 2001, and has been at Channel 2 since 2006.

Maria Genero, Rich Newberg, Brian Blessing. WIVB, mid 80s.

Coming to our TV screens has made other Western New York women iconic as well.

Goldie Gardner spent 32 years asking kids to bring their parents to the TV during Sesame Street membership drives on Channel 17.

Bill Devine and Goldie Gardner asking for your membership support of your favorite programs.

Terry Licata-Braunstein’s name might not register immediately, but you know her walk.

The memory of her style long outlasted the TV campaign.

MORE: Buffalo in the 80s: Talking Proud!

 

Iconic women still on the air in Buffalo

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

This week we’ve been looking at many of the iconic women of Buffalo’s Broadcasting history, and today we’re looking at a few who are still here and still broadcasting.

The world of television news is a transient one, and when we look at the women who’ve been on Buffalo TVs since the 1980s are only a few names to mention.

Van Miller, Jacquie Walker, and Carol Jasen WIVB, 1986

Jacquie Walker has been anchoring newscasts on Channel 4 longer than anyone else ever has at a single station in Buffalo– 35 years at WIVB.

Linda Pellegrino has been at Channel 7 since the 80’s, too, first with the weather outside and then on AM Buffalo since 1990.

Maria Genero started her TV career at Channel 4 in the mid-80s before heading to Miami, LA and New York. She came back to Buffalo at Channel 7 in 2001, and has been at Channel 2 since 2006.

Maria Genero, Rich Newberg, Brian Blessing. WIVB, mid 80s.

Coming to our TV screens has made other Western New York women iconic as well.

Goldie Gardner spent 32 years asking kids to bring their parents to the TV during Sesame Street membership drives on Channel 17.

Bill Devine and Goldie Gardner asking for your membership support of your favorite programs.

Terry Licata-Braunstein’s name might not register immediately, but you know her walk.

The memory of her style long outlasted the TV campaign.

MORE: Buffalo in the 80s: Talking Proud!

 

The pioneering women of broadcast journalism in Buffalo

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Our week long look at the women who had pioneering roles in Buffalo radio and TV continues, with a look at the first women of television news in Buffalo.

1962

From the earliest days, there were relatively few women on Buffalo TV– and even fewer in what we’d now consider journalism roles.

In 1962, the Courier-Express reported that WKBW Radio publicist Joan Marshall was about to become Buffalo’s first “lady newscaster” on TV. Doris Jones did the weather on Channel 2.

The first stand-out woman on the air with real news chops was the late Liz Dribben on Channel 7.

Liz Dribben, Eyewitness News.

She’d anchor morning newscasts before co-hosting Dialing for Dollars with Nolan Johannes. She left Buffalo and became a CBS News writer and producer, working with Mike Wallace and Walter Cronkite among others.

Susan King, WGR-TV 2. She was the lead anchor on the 6 and 11 newscasts on Channel 2 for several months after Ron Hunter left but before Rich Kellman was hired.
Rich Kellman and Sheila Murphy

Channel 2’s Susan King was Buffalo’s first full-time woman journalist on TV when she joined the Ron Hunter Report in 1972.  She anchored the 6 o’clock news after Hunter left, and before Rich Kellman arrived. She’s now the dean of the UNC School of Journalism.

When King moved on from Buffalo, she was followed by Shelia Murphy at Channel 2, who co-anchored with Kellman before moving onto politics.

Carol Crissey (later Jasen) broke the 31 year streak of men on the Channel 4 anchor desk when she anchored with John Beard and then Bob Koop. Carol joined Marie Rice who had started at 4 two years earlier as a tough street-reporting journalist at Channel 4.

Carol Jasen was at WIVB for 23 years, Marie Rice 27 years.

Channel 4 staff, 1979. Top row: Gary Gunther, Larry Hunter, Marie Rice, Allen Costantini. Middle Row: Kevin O’Connell, Carol Crissey (Jasen), John Beard, Van Miller. Bottom Row: Brian Blessing, Sandy White, Rich Newberg, Suzi Makai

Susan Banks began her Buffalo career on Eyewitness News in 1977. She’d go on to anchor at Channel 2 and Channel 7 before retiring from TV news 29 years later.

These ladies are just a few of the pioneering women of Television journalism in Buffalo.