Frances Buss Buch

Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In her two-hour Archive interview, Frances Buss Buch (1917-2010) describes how a two-week temporary job at CBS led to an over decade-long association with the network, and her historic role as CBS' very first female director. She details her work at CBS before and after broadcasting was interrupted during World War II. She talks about her assistance creating maps for the news program on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. She describes several of the earliest commercial broadcasts on CBS which featured her on-camera, including The Country Dance, a monthly dance program by the American Country Dance Society; Children's Story, in which a story was read to a child, "illustrated" by an artist on camera; and the CBS Television Quiz, which featured such games as "Peanuts in the Bottle" in which a contestant attempted to spoon peanuts into an empty milk bottle that they held on their head. She talks about some of her earliest directorial efforts such as Sorry Wrong Number, an adaptation of the famed radio show. Buch talks about several of the key creative talents at CBS at the time including Worthington Miner and Gilbert Seldes. She speaks in great detail about other early CBS series including The Missus Goes A-Shopping, To the Queen's Taste with Dione Lucas, The Whistling Wizard, and Mike and Buff. She also talks about CBS' color experimentation and her role as a director of the first color broadcast for the network on June 25, 1951. (She says she directed the show's "live" commercials). She also discusses "Telecolor Clinics," a series of television documentaries done for the American Cancer Society. Karen Herman conducted the interview on June 16, 2005 in Hendersonville, NC.

"There's no way that I could have anticipated the little bitty cameras that people walk around with and use. It was all so big and bulky then and everything had these great coaxial cables you had to drag  everywhere the camera went. The changes are just magical."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Frances Buss Buch on early CBS TV technology and directing color tests and demonstrations
Frances Buss Buch on host Dione Lucas and directing the cooking show To the Queen's Taste
Frances Buss Buch on her advice to a person aspiring to work in a new medium
Frances Buss Buch on how she directed a television program
Frances Buss Buch on working on the CBS TV news program when Pearl Harbor was attacked
Frances Buss Buch on the games featured on CBS Television Quiz
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her early years growing up in St. Louis and her early interest in theatre
On her first jobs as an actress in radio, theatre, and modeling in New York
On getting her first job at CBS TV, as a replacement receptionist where Peter Goldmark was secretly testing color television technology; on remaining at CBS where she was put on the air
On some of the first shows on CBS, including dancing on Country Dance; Red Cross First Aid; on appearing on-camera on CBS Television Quiz
On appearing on Children's Story; on why the television industry was starting to expand; on CBS Television Quiz games
On being on-camera 
On learning about Pearl Harbor being attacked and going to CBS TV and working on the news reports; on Gilbert Seldes

Chapter 2

On how World War II affected CBS' development of TV; on working on Navy training films; on meeting her future husband
On returning to CBS after the war; on working on Navy training films "Castaways" about a Navy pilot who bailed out over the Pacific and "Makeup from the Neck Down" an exercise film for the WAVES
On her first directing work on such programs as The Missus Goes A-Shopping, CBS Television Quiz, and King's Party Line
On directing sports shows for CBS including a boxing show where boxers didn't have enough trunks to go around; on directing Dodgers games
On being a female director in early television; on directing To the Queen's Taste aka Dione Lucas Cooking School

Chapter 3

On her role as a camera director and her process
On directing To the Queen's Taste and working with host Dione Lucas
On directing What's It Worth?, and on the technology in television at the time of the early 1950s; on directing Mike and Buff and The Whistling Wizard

Chapter 4

On directing The Whistling Wizard
On directing the magazine show Vanity Fair
On the layout of a control room
On directing Sorry, Wrong Number
On directing The Stork Club remotes
On being aware of the Hollywood Blacklist and signing a loyalty oath for CBS
On working with crews and her direct demeanor on the set; marrying in 1949
On seeing changes in the television business with ad agencies becoming more powerful; on her last project, directing American Cancer Society documentaries, "Telecolor Clinics" 

Chapter 5

On retiring from CBS and moving to New Jersey with her husband
On her favorite memory of working at CBS: the Grand Central Terminal where studios were located
On summing up her thoughts on television; on the press she received; on her advice to aspiring professionals
Shows

CBS Television Quiz

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Frances Buss Buch on director Worthington Minor (CBS Television Quiz) during the first years of CBS TV
Frances Buss Buch on the games featured on CBS Television Quiz
Frances Buss Buch briefly on directing CBS Television Quiz

Children's Story, The

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Frances Buss Buch on substituting for the host of Children's Story

Country Dance, The

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Frances Buss Buch on dancing on The Country Dance

Mike and Buff

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Frances Buss Buch on directing Mike and Buff

Missus Goes A-Shopping, The

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Frances Buss Buch on directing The Missus Goes A-Shopping

Premiere

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the first color commercials during the 1951 CBS program Premiere

Sorry, Wrong Number (1946)

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Frances Buss Buch on directing Sorry, Wrong Number for television starring Mildred Natwick

Stork Club, The

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Frances Buss Buch on directing The Stork Club

To the Queen's Taste aka Dione Lucas Cooking School

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the CBS cooking show Dione Lucas Cooking School
Frances Buss Buch on host Dione Lucas and directing the cooking show Dione Lucas Cooking School

Vanity Fair

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the magazine show Vanity Fair

What's It Worth?

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Frances Buss Buch on directing What's It Worth?

Whistling Wizard, The

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Frances Buss Buch on directing The Whistling Wizard
Frances Buss Buch on directing The Whistling Wizard

Winner Take All (1948-52)

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Frances Buss Buch on seeing Winner Take All many years later and thinking it was dull
Topics

Diversity in Television

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Frances Buss Buch on the press she got for being one of the first women directors at CBS

Health and Medicine

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Frances Buss Buch on directing "Telecolor Clinics" for The American Cancer Society

Historic Events and Social Change

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Frances Buss Buch on working on the CBS TV news program when Pearl Harbor was attacked
Frances Buss Buch on the press she got for being one of the first women directors at CBS
Frances Buss Buch on directing "Telecolor Clinics" for The American Cancer Society

Hollywood Blacklist

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Director Frances Buss Buch on being aware of the Hollywood Blacklist and signing a loyalty oath for CBS

Industry Crossroads

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Director Frances Buss Buch on being aware of the Hollywood Blacklist and signing a loyalty oath for CBS

Technological Innovation

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Frances Buss Buch on early CBS TV technology and directing color tests and demonstrations

Television Industry

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Director Frances Buss Buch on being aware of the Hollywood Blacklist and signing a loyalty oath for CBS

War

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Frances Buss Buch on working on the CBS TV news program when Pearl Harbor was attacked

Women

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Frances Buss Buch on the press she got for being one of the first women directors at CBS

World War II

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Frances Buss Buch on working on the CBS TV news program when Pearl Harbor was attacked
Professions

Directors

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Frances Buss Buch on how she directed a television program
Genres

Children's Programming

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Frances Buss Buch on substituting for the host of Children's Story
Frances Buss Buch on directing The Whistling Wizard
Frances Buss Buch on directing The Whistling Wizard

Commercials

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the first color commercials during the 1951 CBS program Premiere

Game Shows

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Frances Buss Buch on CBS Television Quiz
Frances Buss Buch on directing The Missus Goes A-Shopping
Frances Buss Buch briefly on directing CBS Television Quiz
Frances Buss Buch on seeing Winner Take All many years later and thinking it was dull
Frances Buss Buch on directing What's It Worth?

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Frances Buss Buch on dancing on The Country Dance

News and Documentary

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the magazine show Vanity Fair

Service Shows

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the CBS cooking show Dione Lucas Cooking School
Frances Buss Buch on host Dione Lucas and directing the cooking show To the Queen's Taste
Frances Buss Buch on host Dione Lucas and directing the cooking show Dione Lucas Cooking School

Sports

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Frances Buss Buch on directing sports events on early television (boxing, baseball)

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Frances Buss Buch on directing Sorry, Wrong Number for television starring Mildred Natwick

Talk Shows

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Frances Buss Buch on directing Mike and Buff
Frances Buss Buch on directing The Stork Club
People

Bil Baird

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Frances Buss Buch on directing The Whistling Wizard with Bil Baird
Frances Buss Buch on directing The Whistling Wizard starring Bil Baird

Lucille Ball

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Frances Buss Buch on the games featured on CBS Television Quiz

Buff Cobb

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Frances Buss Buch on directing Mike and Buff with Buff Cobb and Mike Wallace

Dorothy Doan

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the magazine show Vanity Fair hosted by Dorothy Doan

Gil Fates

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Frances Buss Buch on directing What's It Worth? produced by Gil Fates

Anne Francis

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Frances Buss Buch on substituting for the host of Children's Story

John Houseman

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Frances Buss Buch on directing Sorry Wrong Number for television produced by John Houseman

Dione Lucas

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the CBS cooking show To the Queen's Taste

Worthington Miner

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Frances Buss Buch on Worthington Minor during the first years of CBS TV

Mildred Natwick

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Frances Buss Buch on directing Sorry, Wrong Number for television starring Mildred Natwick

Gilbert Seldes

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Frances Buss Buch on Gilbert Seldes

Lela Swift

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Frances Buss Buch on how she directed a television program, and working with then-floor manager Lela Swift

Maria von Trapp

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Frances Buss Buch on directing the magazine show Vanity Fair hosted by Dorothy Doan with guests like Maria van Trapp

Mike Wallace

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Frances Buss Buch on directing Mike and Buff with Buff Cobb and Mike Wallace

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