Singers Adjust to Television in 1939

The other day I explored how announcers were forced to change their presentation for television in 1939 and yesterday I quoted an NBC executive discussing how women must have personality to get ahead on television. Today I’ll look at how singers acclimated to the new medium. Here’s a brief article from the July 16th, 1939 edition of The New York Times:

Singers are reported to be wondering what is to be their fate in television. After seeing a number of them on the air during the past few weeks it become [sic] increasingly evident among viewers that they must change from the concert hall technique to a more intimate style. It is not enough merely to sing. The artist must have a pleasant visual personality.

A young tenor recently introduced on the air as Larry Burke seemed to point the way. Nonchalantly he walked into the studio with hat on, collarless, and shirt open at the neck. There was nothing cold or blustery about his appearance; it was more as if a talented neighbor had dropped in the living room and some one invited him to sing. Mr. Burke accommodated, and most pleasantly so, for he had a friendly smile, a voice of excellent ultra-short wave quality, and, incidentally, a fine set of teeth in a singer which show up on the tele-screen in surprising fashion. All in all, it was noticed by the audience that his personality fit with the intimate atmosphere which distinguishes television from all other mediums of entertainment.

Notice that again the emphasis is on personality.

“Notes on Television.” New York Times. 16 Jul. 1939: 112.

One Reply to “Singers Adjust to Television in 1939”

  1. Burke HAD to keep his hat on during the telecast (even without wearing a jacket) because his head would have caught fire via the hot lights directly above him. That’s how “primitive” [and potentially dangerous] TV studios were in 1939. Did he ever make it to “commercial” television? Who knows?

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