The Ideal Woman for Television in 1939

Here’s what Thomas H. Hutchinson, director of video programs for NBC/W2XBS, had to say about “the qualifications of feminine applicants desirous of appearing before the television camera,” according to a August 9th, 1993 article in The New York Times:

“A dead-pan ‘Miss America’ won’t have a ghost of a chance in competition with a lively and vivacious, but far less beautiful girl. If a girl is beautiful and has personality, that’s all to the good, but we can take a comparatively plain girl and make her look quite attractive in the home receiver.

“Facial structure is important because not only does the actor move about the set and expose every angle of the face to the scrutiny of the iconoscope, or ‘radio eye,’ but the cameras also move frequently in picking up shots from all angles.”

So there you have it. Personality was key. Hutchinson also pointed out that the hair color of aspiring television actresses was inconsequential because they “televise almost equally well.” Interestingly, only three days after this article was published, W2XBS aired an hour-long program called “Do You Want to Be a Model?” hosted by Walter Thornton and June Hynd.

“On the Television Front.” New York Times. 6 Aug. 1939: X10.

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