Tales of Lost TV is a monthly column in which I examine a particular TV program either known or believed to be lost forever. The amount of lost TV is truly staggering–aside from a handful of exceptions everything broadcast prior to 1948 no longer exists. That doesn’t mean it all has to be forgotten.
Full disclosure: I know absolutely nothing about “Manhattan Safari” except the title, when and where it aired, the company that produced it, and who was in it. That may seem like a lot of information, but it’s not. Aside from TV listings in The New York Times, I’ve only found one source that mentions the program: a short paragraph published in Broadcasting magazine.
Early TV In New York City
“Manhattan Safari” apparently aired twice on early commercial TV station WNBT in New York City in November 1941. That was only a few months after the FCC authorized commercial television in the United States in July 1941. Why did it air twice? I have no idea.
Here are the TV listings for November 28th, 1941 when “Manhattan Safari” aired:
WNBT (New York City) TV Listings – Thursday, November 28th, 1941
3:30-4:30PM – Film: Boy of the Streets
8:30PM – Manhattan Safari
8:40PM – Harvey Harding, Songs
8:50PM – Civilian Defense Program
9:00PM – Face of the War-Sam Cuff
9:10PM – Manhattan Safari
Is it safe to assume the second broadcast at 9:10PM lasted ten minutes, just like the initial broadcast at 8:30PM? Probably but there’s no way to know.
According to the January 5th, 1942 issue of Broadcasting magazine, a company called Telecast Productions produced “Manhattan Safari.” Myron Zobel, publisher and editor of Screenland Magazine, established Telecast Productions in September 1941 and served as its president. The company planned to work with advertisers and agencies to provide “packaged” TV programs.
Telecast Productions sold “Manhattan Safari” to NBC for use on WNBT. It was the first “packaged” program the company produced. Broadcasting made no mention of a sponsor, however. Nor did it specify whether “Manhattan Safari” was live or filmed.
Exactly what kind of program was “Manhattan Safari?” That’s a mystery. It featured Harry Hershfield, Rube Goldberg, Russell Patterson, and Otto Soglow. All four were cartoonists, among other things, which suggests the program was about cartooning. Joining the men were four of the “most telegenic girls in New York” (that’s according to Myron Zobel).
That is literally all I know about “Manhattan Safari.”
“Radio Today.” New York Times. 28 Nov. 1941: 44.
“Video Package Show.” Broadcasting. 5 Jan. 1942: 40.
“Video Program Firm.” Broadcasting. 22 Sep. 1941: 64.
Does “Manhattan Safari” sound interesting to you? If anyone has information about Telecast Productions or Myron Zobel, please get in touch.