W2XBS Schedule, Week of August 13th, 1939

Here’s the schedule for NBC’s experimental station W2XBS in New York City for the week starting Sunday, August 13th, 1939, straight from television listings printed in The New York Times. There was a rare broadcast on Sunday (tennis finals from Rye, New York) and the usual assortment of variety and films. On Wednesday, August 16th part of the variety hour was a discussion on “How to Exercise the Baby,” something I would very much like to see. There were also two pick-ups from the Worlds Fair, although the Saturday, August 19th broadcast was tentative in the weekly listings and vague in the daily listing. I don’t know what the film titled “Grand Illusion” (broadcast on Friday, August 18th from 8:30-9:30PM) was; the famous Jean Renoir film of the same name (or, more specifically, La grande illusion) was released in 1937 but it ran longer than an hour.

Sunday, August 13th, 1939
2:30-5:30PM – Finals of Eastern grass court tennis championships, at Rye, N.Y.

Tuesday, August 15th, 1939
12-1:00PM – Earl Wild, pianist; films; Alice Cornett, singer, and news.
4-5:00PM – Parade and pageant of Volunteer Fire Departments, at World’s Fair.
8:30-9:30PM – Film, “Death Goes North.”

Wednesday, August 16th, 1939
12-1:00PM – Discussion on “How to Exercise the Baby;” films; George Ross, Broadway columnist; shoe styles; and news.

Thursday, August 17th, 1939
12-1:00PM – Fashion show; films; “Facts and Fancies,” Alice Maslin, and news.
8:30-9:30PM – Film, “Three of a Kind,” with Evelyn Knapp.

Friday, August 18th, 1939
12-1:00PM – “Designing of Stage Sets,” Victor D’Amico of Museum of Modern Art; films: “Total Eclipse,” a Negro comedian, and news.
4-5:00PM – Water Ballet, at Manhattan Beach.
8:30-9:30PM – Film, “Grand Illusion.”

Saturday, August 19th, 1939
4-5:00PM – Pick up from World’s Fair (tentative).

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3 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    It probably was THE “Grand Illusion” (with subtitles); remember, W2XBS had a steady supply of recent foreign films, primarily of French origin, to “fill” their schedules between 1939 and ’41. However, it was quite possible that W2XBS’ film editors slightly “condensed” the movie to fit an hour’s time period [remember when they telecast "Hell's Angels" in two parts during that same period, as IT had a two-hour running time?]. I’d like to think those films had an influence on SOMEONE watching one of those early TV sets In New York during that period, which led them to….

    “Three Of A Kind” [aka "Mistaken Identity" in future TV prints] was a 1936 “Poverty Row” light comedy produced by the defunct Invincible Pictures Corp., with Evalyn {that’s how her name was spelled} Knapp, Chick Chandler, Richard Carle, Billy Gilbert, and other veteran character actors and actresses you’ve never heard of. “Death Goes North” was a 1939 Canadian Western, released the month before (and probably shown on American TV for the first time on the 15th) from the independent Kenneth J. Bishop Productions, featuring Edgar Edwards, Sheila Bromley, James McGrath- and Rin Tin Tin, Jr. as “King” [probably the equivalent of "Sergeant Preston's" lead sled dog "Yukon King" in the later radio and TV series, "SERGEANT PRESTON OF THE YUKON" {originally "THE CHALLENGE OF THE YUKON" on radio}].

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  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Earl Wild, the pianist who performed on Tuesday afternoon, August 15th, died last Saturday [January 23rd] at the age of 94. According to his obituary in the NEW YORK TIMES, his 15 minute televised performance was the first recital EVER given by a classical pianist on television (he was working for NBC at the time, and they obviously asked him to perform on W2XBS for an “experimental” audience). Later, after his naval tour of duty in World War II, Wild became associated with ABC as a composer/conductor [and "staff pianist"] from 1944 through 1968, and was well known in classical music circles. His memoirs, completed before his death, will be published later this year. Perhaps there were recollections of his appearance(s) on W2XBS in his manuscript….

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