Jeff Kisseloff

Oral Historian


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour interview, Jeff Kisseloff talks about his early years, and the fact that his family were early adopters of television, color television, and cable television. He describes doing the research and conducting the interviews for his book “The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961,” which included speaking to Elma Farnsworth, Frank Stanton, Bob Keeshan, Dominick Dunne, and many others. Kisseloff chronicles the various narratives that emerged during his interviews for the book, including the Quiz Show Scandals, the Hollywood Blacklist, and the decline of the medium into what Newton N. Minow called “a vast wasteland.” He discusses his early involvement with the Archive of American Television, and where he hopes The Interviews: An Oral History of Television will go in the future. He speaks of his then-current project on Alger Hiss, who Kisseloff determined though research and interviews was innocent of spying. He details the challenge of maintaining historical data in the digital age and proposes a solution to this problem. Adrienne Faillace conducted the interview on December 12, 2018 in Saugerties, NY.

“I wanted to preserve those early days of TV. Their work was heroic. They knew they were on the ground floor of something that was great and they wanted to do something great. I desperately wanted to not only preserve their stories, but make sure that their work and who they were, were appreciated.”

Highlights
Jeff Kisseloff on his grandfather, an early salesman of televisions
01:17
Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:50
Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing Studs' Place host Studs Turkel
08:15
Jeff Kisseloff on what got him interested in oral histories
03:59
Jeff Kisseloff on donating his research materials from his book "The Box" to the Archive of American Television
03:42
Jeff Kisseloff on how being an oral historian has impacted his life
02:21
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his family being the first ones on the block to have color television, and on being an early cable television adopter; on his grandfather, an early salesman of televisions
11:01
On going into journalism, and on his interest in the technological development of television; on what got him interested in oral histories; on his methodology when compiling oral histories
08:48
On interviewing celebrities, including "Buffalo" Bob Smith and Bob Keeshan; on getting people to talk to him for his oral histories; on his experience of watching the coverage of President John F. Kennedy's assassination and funeral on television
08:24
On the process of compiling interviews and finding narratives for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"; on interviewing Frank Stanton about the Hollywood Blacklist; on covering controversial topics like the Blacklist for his book
12:58
On interviewing television ad executives for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"; on looking at people's paperwork and memorabilia when compiling interviews for his book; on his interview with Elma Farnsworth, wife of Philo T. Farnsworth
07:59
On how he started his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"; on the scope of his interviews for his book; on choosing the end point for his book
12:44
On dealing with human limitations (memory lapses, etc.) when compiling his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"; on interviewing people about the classic live anthology 1950s series for his book; on the importance of capturing older people's experience for oral history projects
09:32

Chapter 2

On dealing with various personalities and situations when conducting oral history interviews, including Norman Felton and Greg Garrison; on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"; on his interview with Twenty-One producer Al Freeman, Jr.
15:05
On attempting to interview Charles Van Doren; on interviewing Studs' Place host Studs Turkel; on the code of ethics and best practices he follows for his oral history interviews
15:49
On his involvement with the Archive of American Television; on the differences between interviewing on audio tape and video tape; on watching his old Archive of American Television interviews, and on his current opinion of The Interviews: An Oral History of Television
15:47
On the research for the Archive of American Television interviews he did; on people he would like to see interviewed for The Interviews: An Oral History of Television; on the notion of the Television Academy collecting television memorabilia
08:22

Chapter 3

On oral historians working with advancements in technology; on what he hopes viewers will take away from The Interviews: An Oral History of Television; on the books he authored being used in academia
06:37
On the emergence of podcasts; on what makes a great interviewer, and getting valuable information from subjects; on how being an oral historian his impacted his life
06:59
On the truth of the Alger Hiss story emerging in his oral history research; on maintaining his website and on the emergence of the Internet as a journalistic force; on the challenge of maintaining historical video, audio, and documents in the digital age
20:01
On career highlights; on how he would like to be remembered; on donating his research materials from his book "The Box" to the Archive of American Television
09:51
Shows

Playhouse 90

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Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing television ad executives for his book,"The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961," and on the censorship of the Playhouse 90 episode "Judgment at Nuremberg"
01:46

See It Now

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Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:49

See It Now: "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"

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Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:49

Studs' Place

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Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing Studs' Place host Studs Turkel
08:15

Twenty One

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Jeff Kisseloff on his interview with Twenty One producer Al Freeman, Jr.
04:01
Topics

Anthology Drama

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Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing people about the classic live drama anthology 1950s series for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
04:38

Cold War

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Jeff Kisseloff on the truth of the Alger Hiss story emerging in his oral history research
09:54

Historic Events and Social Change

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Jeff Kisseloff on his experience of watching the coverage of President John F. Kennedy's assassination and funeral on television
01:48
Jeff Kisseloff on the truth of the Alger Hiss story emerging in his oral history research
09:54

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing former president of CBS Frank Stanton about the Hollywood Blacklist
03:06
Jeff Kisseloff on covering controversial topics like the Blacklist for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
02:14
Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:49

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing former president of CBS Frank Stanton about the Hollywood Blacklist
03:05
Jeff Kisseloff on covering controversial topics like the Blacklist for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
02:14
Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:49
Jeff Kisseloff on his interview with Twenty-One producer Al Freeman, Jr. and attempting to interview Charles Van Doren
08:03

JFK Assassination and Funeral

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on his experience of watching the coverage of President John F. Kennedy's assassination and funeral on television
01:48

New Media

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on the emergence of podcasts
00:45
Jeff Kisseloff on maintaining his website and on the emergence of the Internet as a journalistic force
02:35

Quiz Show Scandals

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on his interview with Twenty-One producer Al Freeman, Jr. and attempting to interview Charles Van Doren
08:03

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing people about the classic live drama anthology 1950s series for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
04:38

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on his family being the first ones on the block to have color television, and on being an early cable television adopter
04:08
Jeff Kisseloff on the challenge of maintaining historical video, audio, and documents in the digital age
07:32

Television Industry

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing former president of CBS Frank Stanton about the Hollywood Blacklist
03:05
Jeff Kisseloff on covering controversial topics like the Blacklist for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
02:14
Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:49
Jeff Kisseloff on his interview with Twenty-One producer Al Freeman, Jr. and attempting to interview Charles Van Doren
08:03
Jeff Kisseloff on the emergence of podcasts
00:45
Jeff Kisseloff on maintaining his website and on the emergence of the Internet as a journalistic force
02:35

War

View Topic
Jeff Kisseloff on the truth of the Alger Hiss story emerging in his oral history research
09:54
Professions

Journalists & News Producers

View Profession
Jeff Kisseloff on his methodology when compiling oral histories
02:49
Jeff Kisseloff on getting people to talk to him for his oral histories
03:53
Jeff Kisseloff on the process of compiling interviews and finding narratives for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
06:12
Jeff Kisseloff on the facts vs people's versions of history
01:26
Jeff Kisseloff on looking at people's paperwork and memorabilia when compiling interviews for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
01:18
Jeff Kisseloff on the people he didn't get to interview for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
01:30
Jeff Kisseloff on how he started his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
09:13
Jeff Kisseloff on the scope of his interviews for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
02:27
Jeff Kisseloff on choosing the end point for his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
01:05
Jeff Kisseloff on dealing with human limitations (memory lapses, ect.) when compiling his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
03:06
Jeff Kisseloff on the importance of capturing older people's experience for projects like his book "The Box: An Oral History of Television, 1929-1961"
01:48
Jeff Kisseloff on dealing with various personalities and situations when conducting oral history interviews, including Norman Felton and Greg Garrison
08:10
Jeff Kisseloff on the code of ethics and best practices he follows for his oral history interviews
03:31
Jeff Kisseloff on the differences between interviewing on audio tape and video tape
01:47
Jeff Kisseloff on oral historians working with advancements in technology
03:58
Jeff Kisseloff on the books he authored being used in academia
01:13
Jeff Kisseloff on what makes a great interviewer, and getting valuable information from subjects
03:53
Genres

Game Shows

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Jeff Kisseloff on his interview with Twenty-One producer Al Freeman, Jr.
04:01

News and Documentary

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Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:49
People

Charles Van Doren

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Jeff Kisseloff on attempting to interview Charles Van Doren and various other figures involved with the Quiz Show Scandals
04:02

Elma Farnsworth

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Jeff Kisseloff on his interview with Elma Farnsworth, wife of Philo T. Farnsworth, and Danny Simon
03:22

Philo T. Farnsworth

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Jeff Kisseloff on his interview with Elma Farnsworth, wife of Philo Farnsworth, and Danny Simon
03:22

Norman Felton

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Jeff Kisseloff on dealing with various personalities and situations when conducting oral history interviews, including Norman Felton and Greg Garrison
08:10

Al Freeman, Jr.

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Jeff Kisseloff on his interview with Twenty-One producer Al Freeman, Jr.
04:01

Fred Friendly

View Person Page
Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:49

Greg Garrison

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Jeff Kisseloff on dealing with various personalities and situations when doing oral histories including Norman Felton and Greg Garrison
08:10

Bob Keeshan

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Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing celebrities, including "Buffalo" Bob Smith and Bob Keeshan
02:31

Edward R. Murrow

View Person Page
Jeff Kisseloff on Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly's See It Now "A Report on Senator Joseph R. McCarthy"
02:49

Bob Smith

View Interview Page
Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing celebrities, including "Buffalo" Bob Smith and Bob Keeshan
02:31

Frank Stanton

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Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing Frank Stanton about the Hollywood Blacklist
03:05

Studs Terkel

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Jeff Kisseloff on interviewing Studs' Place host Studs Turkel
08:15

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