I am a theatre director in Portland Oregon who
is preparing to produce a play entitled "Ruby
Sunrise," about the invention of television. In
researching the play I found your site.
I happen to have a family history of an early
encounter with TV and thought you might be
interested in the below information!
my father's recollections to me.
20, 1939, PLUS OR MINUS A DAY OR SO.
JAMES FORD LEWIS, BORN OCT 14 1914 AND NOW 25 YEARS OLD,
GOES TO THE NY WORLD'S FAIR AND SINGS FOR THE
happened this way: Ford Lewis was on his way to Hyde
Park as a part of a quartet of young men from Salem
College in Salem, West Virginia. When he stopped in
to the World's Fair and went into the TV Pavilion,
an exhibitor there said, "Say there young man, what
brings you to the fair today?
I'm on my way to Hyde Park to sing for the
president, and I thought I'd come here on my way,"
my father replied proudly. "Now
that's terrific -- say, how would you like to sing
for the people here today on television?"
believe I could do that," he said. And he did!
National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) was RCA's
broadcasting wing. It began regular U.S. television
broadcasting on April 30, 1939, with a telecast of
President Franklin D. Roosevelt opening the New York
World's Fair. Programs were transmitted from the NBC
mobile camera trucks to the main transmitter, which
was connected to an aerial atop the Empire State
days prior to Roosevelt's speech, David Sarnoff,
President of the Radio Corporation of America(RCA)
made the dedication speech for the opening of the
RCA Pavilion at the New York World's Fair. Staging this event prior to the World's Fair opening
ceremonies ensured that RCA would capture its share
of the newspaper headlines.
ceremony was televised, and watched by several
hundred viewers on TV receivers inside the RCA
Pavilion at the fairgrounds, as well as on receivers
installed on the 62nd floor of Radio City in
Manhattan. Programs of 1939 included operas,
cartoons, cooking demonstrations, travelogues,
fashion shows, and skaters at Rockefeller Center.
There were also numerous live telecasts relayed from
within the fair itself.
FORD LEWIS CONTINUES ON TO HYDE PARK, TO SING FOR
PRESIDENT ROOSEVELT AND ELEANOR, AND THE PRINCE AND
PRINCESS OF DENMARK.
between April 27, 1939 - May 2, 1939
27: The Norwegian Crown Prince and Princess arrive
in Hyde Park and stay as guests of the President
(length of stay not clear)
30: Crown Prince and Princess of Denmark arrive in
Hyde Park for the day as guests of the President.
JAMES FORD LEWIS BEAT FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT
TO TELEVISION! THE REST IS HISTORY.
is in response to your E-mail of December 16
regarding your father's performance for the
Roosevelt family. The
quartet from Salem College entertained the Crown
Prince and Princess of Norway who visited the
United States in April-May 1939.
her "My Day" column, Mrs. Roosevelt noted:
"After dinner last evening, we had a short
musical program for their entertainment. *
During the intermission, a quartette of boys
from Salem College, Salem, West Virginia, gave
us some purely American music which was
Mrs. Roosevelt's papers is a letter from S.O.
Bond, dated May 5, 1939, thanking Mrs. Roosevelt
for the opportunity for the quartet the sing
before their distinguished guests at Hyde Park.
Library could provide you with photocopies of
the "My Day" column, Mr. Bond's letter and the
carbon reply for our minimum charge of $10.00.
We accept payment by check, money order, or
credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express,
Discovery). You may send a check or money order
made payable to the Franklin D. Roosevelt
Library to the Library at 4079 Albany Post Road,
Hyde Park, NY 12538. Or, you may call us with
the credit card number, expiration date and a
daytime telephone number at (845) 486-7762.
shall await further word from you.
ALYCIA J. VIVONA