WATCHING TV ON 4/1/74

If you were sitting around your house in Los Angeles on the night of April 1st 1974 and had the TV tuned (as it once was said) to KTLA Channel 5, you would have seen the above two minutes of ads. It’s the night before the 46th Academy Awards which is promo-ed (I believe the first 20 or so seconds provide a glimpse of it–an accidental tape-over I assume) which is how we know the date. Channel 5 had recently acquired the syndicated rights to Groucho Marx’s ‘You Bet Your Life’ and was to begin airing them that summer. (I remember this because, as a 9 year old Marx Brothers fanatic, I made it a point to pretend to go to sleep at my usual bedtime only to sneak out to the den to watch the show on our black and white Zenith). A promo for this upcoming programming event is part of the clip, along with a a very sexy dance by a woman advertising skin cream. There’s also a promo for the Oscars (did they air on 5? Strange–thought it would be an exclusive network event…) as well as a trailer for ‘Papillion’ which was to open a week later. As I recall, the ‘You Bet Your Life’ nightly 11PM airing was followed by ‘The Honeymooners’ which I also stayed up to watch. I love these little time machine glimpses into the TV past–the uncut, unexplained nature of the clip and why it exists at all is part of the ghostly charm. But what were people taping off of in ’74? One-inch? Standard home VCR units were still a couple of years away, weren’t they?

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