Frank Biondo

Camera Operator


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour interview, Frank Biondo talks about his childhood in Brooklyn, joining the Navy, and being a bond clerk on Wall Street before going to school for TV production and learning to be a camera operator. He discusses his early jobs in production at WTTV in Washington, D.C. and WBZ in Boston before getting hired by NBC in New York. He describes being a camera operator at the 1964 World's Fair, at the United Nation's General Assembly sessions, on the show Supermarket Sweep, on the soap opera The Nurses, on Barbra Streisand's TV special A Happening in Central Park, and on the ABC show That's Life. He talks about evolving technology in cameras over the years, and differences between operating a Chapman and a jib. He details his then-fifty years as a camera operator on Sesame Street, recalling memorable episodes and songs, working with the cast and Muppeteers, changes to the set and the way the show is shot, and his role as emcee of the Sesame Street wrap parties for the last forty-five years. He also discusses being a camera operator on two other Children's Television Workshop programs -- The Best of Families and The Electric Company -- and on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He tells stories of interactions with people he's worked with over the years, including John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Danny Devito and Rhea Perlman, Diana Ross, and Michael Jackson. He shares what he enjoys about being a camera operator, offers advice to aspiring camera operators, and concludes with remarks about how he'd like to be remembered. Adrienne Faillace conducted the interview on October 2, 2019 in Long Island, NY.

"Everybody came in with a smile on their face. How can you not smile on Sesame Street?"

People Talking About ...
Highlights
Frank Biondo on working the 1964 World's Fair color television display for NBC
Frank Biondo on how Sesame Street is shot
Frank Biondo on shooting the "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" episode of Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on the Sesame Street cast interacting with kids and fans of the show
Frank Biondo on competition for Sesame Street -- Barney & Friends -- and Sesame Street producing fewer episodes
Frank Biondo on advice to an aspiring camera operator
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early years and influences; on how he started to go by the name "Frank"; on his childhood in Brooklyn; on the first time he saw television; on going to school for radio and television repair; on joining the Navy; on being a bond clerk on Wall Street
On going to school for TV production and getting his first production job at WTTG in Washington, D.C.; on working at WBZ in Boston and turning down a full-time position there; on getting hired at NBC as a cameraman and working with color television at the 1964 World's Fair; on shooting the UN General Assembly sessions
On wanting to do summer relief shows at NBC; on getting a job as a cameraman on Supermarket Sweep; on shooting a three-camera setup on the soap opera The Nurses; on famous people he worked with in the '60s at NBC, including Andy Warhol
On differences between a Chapman crane and jib and becoming a Chapman operator; on shooting hockey games, Barbra Streisand's TV special A Happening in Central Park, That's Life, and shooting John Lennon in studio; on his interactions with Yoko Ono

Chapter 2

On how he became a camera operator on Sesame Street; on the original cast of Sesame Street; on the expansion of the show's set; on the Muppeteers
On how Sesame Street is shot; on the music and monitors on the show; on emceeing the Sesame Street wrap parties for the past forty-five years
On a typical week on Sesame Street; on the kids and guest stars on the show
On working on the Children's Television Workshop shows The Best of Families and The Electric Company

Chapter 3

On changes in how Sesame Street is shot over the years; on memorable songs on the show; on shooting the "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" episode of Sesame Street; on memorable episodes and Christmas specials; on the types of camera shots on Sesame Street and on the Christmas specials
On being a camera operator for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade; on Sesame Street getting a jib and the technical crew on the show; on the Muppet version of Frank Biondo; on writing a song for Sesame Street
On competition for Sesame Street -- Barney & Friends -- and Sesame Street producing fewer episodes; on production not changing on Sesame Street with the HBO first-run deal; on the legacy of Sesame Street and what it's meant to him to be a part of the show; on what he enjoys about being a camera operator; on advice to an aspiring camera operator
On his proudest career achievement and how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Barbra Streisand Specials

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Frank Biondo on being a Chapman camera operator on Barbra Streisand's TV special, A Happening in Central Park

Barney & Friends

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Frank Biondo on competition for Sesame Street -- Barney & Friends -- and Sesame Street producing fewer episodes

Best of Families, The

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Frank Biondo on working on the Children's Television Workshop program The Best of Families

Electric Company, The

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Frank Biondo on working on the Children's Television Workshop program The Electric Company, a show with difficult camera work

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Frank Biondo on being a camera operator for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Nurses, The

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Frank Biondo on getting a job as a cameraman on the soap opera The Nurses -- a three-camera setup

Sesame Street

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Frank Biondo on how he became a camera operator on Sesame Street, his early thoughts on the show, and how he came to like the program
Frank Biondo on the original Sesame Street cast
Frank Biondo on the expansion of the Sesame Street set and bringing senior citizens onto the cast
Frank Biondo on the Muppeteers on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on how Sesame Street is shot
Frank Biondo on the music on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on setting up the monitors for Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on Richard Hunt getting him to be in charge of the Sesame Street wrap parties; on emceeing the wrap parties
Frank Biondo on a typical week on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on the kids on Sesame Street and meeting a young Whoopi Goldberg
Frank Biondo on the guest stars on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on changes in how Sesame Street is shot over the years
Frank Biondo on memorable songs on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on shooting the "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" episode of Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on the Sesame Street cast interacting with kids and fans of the show
Frank Biondo on Sesame Street episodes in response to 9/11 and to hurricanes
Frank Biondo on the wedding of "Maria" and "Luis" on Sesame Street and Christmas specials; on the types of camera shots on Sesame Street and the Christmas specials
Frank Biondo on Sesame Street getting a jib and on the technical crew on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on the Muppet version of Frank Biondo
Frank Biondo on writing a song for Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on being a camera operator on Sesame Street for the last fifty years and all of the accomplishments of the show
Frank Biondo on competition for Sesame Street -- Barney & Friends -- and Sesame Street producing fewer episodes
Frank Biondo on production not changing on Sesame Street with the HBO first-run deal
Frank Biondo on his then-current thoughts on how much longer he'll continue to work at Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on the legacy of Sesame Street and what it's meant to him to be a part of the show

Sesame Street: "Farewell, Mr. Hooper"

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Frank Biondo on shooting the "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" episode of Sesame Street

Supermarket Sweep

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Frank Biondo on getting a job as a cameraman on Supermarket Sweep, which shot on location

That's Life

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Frank Biondo on being a camera operator on the ABC show That's Life
Frank Biondo on the studios where That's Life was shot
Topics

Advice

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Frank Biondo on advice to an aspiring camera operator

Emmy Awards

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Frank Biondo on winning Emmys

Historic Events and Social Change

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Frank Biondo on working the 1964 World's Fair color television display for NBC

Pivotal Career Moments

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Frank Biondo on going to school for TV production

Technological Innovation

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Frank Biondo on the types of cameras he worked with in TV production in the 1960s
Frank Biondo on working on NBC's early color television work
Frank Biondo on differences between a Chapman crane and a jib
Frank Biondo on meeting the man who invented the jib

Television Industry

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Frank Biondo on advice to an aspiring camera operator
Professions

Camera Operator

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Frank Biondo on going to school for TV production
Frank Biondo on the types of cameras he worked with in TV production in the 1960s and working in early color television
Frank Biondo on the types of camera shots on Sesame Street Christmas specials and Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on what he enjoys about being a camera operator
Frank Biondo on advice to an aspiring camera operator
Frank Biondo on advice to an aspiring camera operator

Production Professionals

View Profession
Frank Biondo on going to school for TV production
Frank Biondo on the types of cameras he worked with in TV production in the 1960s and working in early color television
Frank Biondo on the types of camera shots on Sesame Street Christmas specials and Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on what he enjoys about being a camera operator
Genres

Children's Programming

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Frank Biondo on being a camera operator on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on being a camera operator on The Best of Families
Frank Biondo on being a camera operator on The Electric Company
Frank Biondo on memorable songs and episodes of Sesame Street and types of camera shots on the show

Daytime/Primetime Serials

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Frank Biondo on getting a job as a cameraman on the soap opera The Nurses -- a three-camera setup

Game Shows

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Frank Biondo on getting a job as a cameraman on Supermarket Sweep, which shot on location

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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Frank Biondo on being a camera operator on the ABC show That's Life
Frank Biondo on being a Chapman camera operator on Barbra Streisand's TV special, A Happening in Central Park

Sports

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Frank Biondo on being a Chapman camera operator for hockey games at the old Madison Square Garden
People

Bill Barretta

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Frank Biondo on seeing Yoko Ono again thirty years after he first met her (while at dinner with Kevin Clash and puppeteer Bill Barretta)

Northern Calloway

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Frank Biondo on the many talents of Northern Calloway

Kevin Clash

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Frank Biondo on seeing Yoko Ono again thirty years after he first met her (while at dinner with Kevin Clash and puppeteer Bill Barretta)

Bill Cosby

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Frank Biondo on Bill Cosby on The Electric Company

Danny DeVito

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Frank Biondo on guest stars on Sesame Street - Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman

Jill Eikenberry

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Frank Biondo on working with Jill Eikenberry on the Children's Television Workshop show The Best of Families

Morgan Freeman

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Frank Biondo on Morgan Freeman on The Electric Company

Whoopi Goldberg

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Frank Biondo on the kids on Sesame Street and meeting a young Whoopi Goldberg

Jim Henson

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Frank Biondo on first seeing Jim Henson and Kermit on the ABC show That's Life
Frank Biondo on Jim Henson and Frank Oz not being there for the day-to-day of Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on Jim Henson staying for one of the Sesame Street wrap parties

Gregory Hines

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Frank Biondo on being camera operator for the televised production of the play "Eubie," featuring Hines, Hines and Dad

Richard Hunt

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Frank Biondo on the Muppeteers on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on Muppeteer Richard Hunt on Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on Richard Hunt getting him to be in charge of the Sesame Street wrap parties; on emceeing the wrap parties

William Hurt

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Frank Biondo on working with William Hurt on the Children's Television Workshop show The Best of Families

Michael Jackson

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Frank Biondo on Michael Jackson on a Sesame Street Christmas special

Van Johnson

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Frank Biondo on an experience working with Van Johnson

Will Lee

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Frank Biondo on Sesame Street's "Mr. Hooper," played by Will Lee

John Lennon

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Frank Biondo on shooting John Lennon mix a record and on Yoko Ono treating the crew to a late-night/early morning meal

Loretta Long

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Frank Biondo on Loretta Long on Sesame Street

Joey Mazzarino

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Frank Biondo on Joey Mazzarino writing sketches for the Sesame Street wrap parties and how kids began coming to the parties

Rita Moreno

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Frank Biondo on Rita Moreno on The Electric Company

Robert Morse

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Frank Biondo on becoming good friends with Robert Morse while working on the ABC show That's Life

Jerry Nelson

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Frank Biondo on the Muppeteers on Sesame Street

Yoko Ono

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Frank Biondo on shooting John Lennon mix a record and on Yoko Ono treating the crew to a late-night/early morning meal
Frank Biondo on seeing Yoko Ono again thirty years after he first met her (while at dinner with Kevin Clash and puppeteer Bill Barretta)

Roscoe Orman

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Frank Biondo on the actors who played "Gordon" on Sesame Street

Frank Oz

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Frank Biondo on Jim Henson and Frank Oz not being there for the day-to-day of Sesame Street

Rhea Perlman

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Frank Biondo on guest stars on Sesame Street - Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman

Diana Ross

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Frank Biondo on guest stars on Sesame Street - Diana Ross

Caroll Spinney

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Frank Biondo on the many talents of Caroll Spinney
Frank Biondo on shooting the "Farewell, Mr. Hooper" episode of Sesame Street
Frank Biondo on Caroll Spinney always being gracious with kids and fans

Barbra Streisand

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Frank Biondo on being a Chapman camera operator on Barbra Streisand's TV special A Happening in Central Park

Andy Warhol

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Frank Biondo on doing a blue screen test with Andy Warhol

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