Lewis Gomavitz

Director/Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-hour Archive interview, Lewis Gomavitz (1912-2010) describes his involvement in the Chicago experimental station, W6XBK during World War II. He recalls being hired on to the station, renamed WBKB, and serving as a stage manager until he was tapped to direct a new show starring Burr Tillstrom's puppets and Fran Allison. The show, originally called Junior Jamboree, evolved into the classic, Kukla, Fran & Ollie. Gomavitz recounts directing the show for ten years, until it went off the air. He outlines moving to Los Angeles where he directed and associate-produced various specials. He speaks working as the prop master for Sanford and Son, and later directing several episodes of the series. He details acting as prop master for Dinah Shore's talk show Dinah!, as well as the Toni Tennille Show. Karen Herman conducted the interview in Northridge, California on February 2, 2000.

"I'd like to be remembered as one of the original pioneers. I would like to be remembered for my relationship with 'Kukla, Fran & Ollie' which in our day, without being bashful, I think we were one of the top shows to the American public. There have been times when I'm introduced to somebody and they say, 'he was the director of 'Kukla, Fran & Ollie' or the director of a part of 'Sanford and Son.'  They say, 'Really?' Yes. Really. I've had a good life."

Highlights
On becoming a prop master for Sanford and Son and on his duties in that job; on the cast of Sanford and Son including Redd Foxx; on directing episodes of Sanford and Son
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences
On his early experiences in theater and on meeting Burr Tillstrom at the 1939 World's Fair; on going to work for Billy Rose; on his experience with World War II

Chapter 2

On his experiences with World War II, and on working at an experimental television station
On working at an experimental television station; on the kinds of cameras and other equipment used at the experimental television station he worked at
On the genesis of Kukla, Fran & Ollie created by Burr Tillstrom, including the casting of Fran Allison

Chapter 3

On his first meeting with Burr Tillstrom regarding Kukla, Fran & Ollie (orignally Junior Jamboree), and on the format of the show; on his duties as director of Kukla, Fran & Ollie working with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison, and on the show being ad libbed; on the early reviews of Kukla, Fran & Ollie and on the format and sponsorship of the show
On his duties as director of Kukla, Fran & Ollie and on the content of a typical episode with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison; on a typical day directing Kukla, Fran & Ollie; on working with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison on the set of Kukla, Fran & Ollie

Chapter 4

On the personality of Kukla, Fran & Ollie creator Burr Tillstrom, and on their friendship; on the death of Burr Tillstrom
On the puppets of Kukla, Fran & Ollie, created by Burr Tillstrom; on the personalities of the Kukla, Fran & Ollie puppets

Chapter 5

On the personalities of the puppets on Kukla, Fran & Ollie; on Fran Allison on Kukla, Fran & Ollie; on Kukla, Fran & Ollie moving networks, and on the studio where the show was produced
On Tallulah Bankhead being a big fan of Kukla, Fran & Ollie; on Kukla, Fran & Ollie being used for tests of color broadcasts

Chapter 6

On the color test episodes of Kukla, Fran & Ollie , and on Bud Yorkin being a stage manager; on Kukla, Fran & Ollie's productions of "St. George and the Dragon" and "The Mikado"; on the Kukla, Fran & Ollie theme song
On favorite episodes of Kukla, Fran & Ollie; on various guest stars who appeared on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
On the end of Kukla, Fran & Ollie in 1957; on working at the 1952, 1956, and 1960 Democratic National Conventions

Chapter 7

On the Hollywood Blacklist; on going to work at KNBC News in Los Angeles on getting into advertising; on working with Ernie Kovacs on The Ernie Kovacs Show
On going to work for North American Rockwell making instructional videos for the space program; on being in mission control during the Moon Landing

Chapter 8

On becoming a prop master for Sanford and Son and on his duties in that job; on the cast of Sanford and Son including Redd Foxx; on directing episodes of Sanford and Son
On acting as prop master for Dinah Shore's show Dinah!; on acting as prop master on The Toni Tennille Show, and on his retirement
On advice to aspiring television directors; on the legacy of Bill Eddy

Chapter 9

On the legacy of Bill Eddy; on how he'd like to be remembered
On b-roll pictures from his career- at WNBC in New York; with the cast and crew of Kukla, Fran & Ollie; Kukla, Fran & Ollie book; Burr Tillstrom and Fran Alison with the puppets "Kukla" and "Ollie"; painting that was the first color picture ever to be broadcast in the United States; Bill Eddy; the 1956 Democratic Convention; with Redd Foxx; with Loretta Lynn and Dinah Shore; with Dinah Shore
Shows

Dinah!

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Lewis Gomavitz on acting as prop master for Dinah Shore's show Dinah!
06:39

Ernie Kovacs Show, The

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Lewis Gomavitz on working with Ernie Kovacs on The Ernie Kovacs Show
06:53

Kukla, Fran & Ollie

View Show Page
Lewis Gomavitz on the genesis of Kukla, Fran & Ollie created by Burr Tillstrom, including the casting of Fran Allison
05:17
Lewis Gomavitz on his first meeting with Burr Tillstrom regarding Kukla, Fran & Ollie (orignally Junior Jamboree), and on the format of the show
05:13
Lewis Gomavitz on his duties as director of Kukla, Fran & Ollie working with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison, and on the show being ad libbed
02:38
Lewis Gomavitz on the early reviews of Kukla, Fran & Ollie and on the format and sponsorship of the show
06:51
Lewis Gomavitz on his duties as director of Kukla, Fran & Ollie and on the content of a typical episode with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison
02:04
Lewis Gomavitz on a typical day directing Kukla, Fran & Ollie
05:08
Lewis Gomavitz on working with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison on the set of Kukla, Fran & Ollie
02:06
Lewis Gomavitz on Kukla, Fran & Ollie creator Burr Tillstrom
05:03
Lewis Gomavitz on the personality of Kukla, Fran & Ollie creator Burr Tillstrom, and on their friendship
08:17
Lewis Gomavitz on the puppets of Kukla, Fran & Ollie, created by Burr Tillstrom
09:50
Lewis Gomavitz on the personalities of the Kukla, Fran & Ollie puppets
05:44
Lewis Gomavitz on the personalities of the puppets on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
06:58
Lewis Gomavitz on Fran Allison on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
06:07
Lewis Gomavitz on Kukla, Fran & Ollie moving networks, and on the studio where the show was produced
03:43
Lewis Gomavitz on Tallulah Bankhead being a big fan of Kukla, Fran & Ollie
07:34
Lewis Gomavitz on Kukla, Fran & Ollie being used for tests of color broadcasts
03:32
Lewis Gomavitz on the color test episodes of Kukla, Fran & Ollie , and on Bud Yorkin being a stage manager
02:34
Lewis Gomavitz on Kukla, Fran & Ollie's productions of "St. George and the Dragon" and "The Mikado"
04:13
Lewis Gomavitz on the Kukla, Fran & Ollie theme song
01:44
Lewis Gomavitz on favorite episodes of Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:37
Lewis Gomavitz on June Lockhart appearing on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:51
Lewis Gomavitz on Raymond Scott and Dorothy Collins appearing on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:11
Lewis Gomavitz on Studs Terkel appearing on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:52
Lewis Gomavitz on Marlin Perkins appearing on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
05:27
Lewis Gomavitz on the end of Kukla, Fran & Ollie in 1957
03:55

Sanford and Son

View Show Page
Lewis Gomavitz on becoming a prop master for Sanford and Son
05:01
Lewis Gomavitz on his duties as prop master on Sanford and Son
01:38
Lewis Gomavitz on the cast of Sanford and Son including Redd Foxx
01:28
Lewis Gomavitz on directing episodes of Sanford and Son
02:22
Topics

1939-40 World's Fair

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on his early experiences in theater and on meeting Burr Tillstrom at the 1939 World's Fair
06:30

Advertising and Sponsorship

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Lewis Gomavitz on getting into advertising
02:35

Historic Events and Social Change

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on his early experiences in theater and on meeting Burr Tillstrom at the 1939 World's Fair
06:30
Lewis Gomavitz on his experience with World War II
03:56
Lewis Gomavitz on his experiences with World War II and on working at an experimental television station
11:57
Lewis Gomavitz on being in mission control during the Moon Landing
02:16

Hollywood Blacklist

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Lewis Gomavitz on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:24

Industry Crossroads

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Lewis Gomavitz on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:24

Moon Landing

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on being in mission control during the Moon Landing
02:16

Pop Culture

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on the Kukla, Fran & Ollie theme song
01:41

TV Theme Songs

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on the Kukla, Fran & Ollie theme song
01:41

Technological Innovation

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on working at an experimental television station
07:00
Lewis Gomavitz on the kinds of cameras and other equipment used at the experimental television station he worked at
03:52
Lewis Gomavitz on Kukla, Fran & Ollie being used for tests of color broadcasts
03:34

Television Industry

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on the Hollywood Blacklist
03:24
Lewis Gomavitz on getting into advertising
02:35

Television and the Presidency

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Lewis Gomavitz on working at the 1952, 1956, and 1960 Democratic National Conventions
03:36

War

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on his experience with World War II
03:56
Lewis Gomavitz on his experiences with World War II and on working at an experimental television station
11:56

World War II

View Topic
Lewis Gomavitz on his experience with World War II
03:56
Lewis Gomavitz on his experiences with World War II and on working at an experimental television station
11:56
Professions

Directors

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Lewis Gomavitz on advice to aspiring television directors
04:13
Genres

Children's Programming

View Genre
Lewis Gomavitz on the genesis of Kukla, Fran & Ollie created by Burr Tillstrom, including the casting of Fran Allison
05:17
Lewis Gomavitz on directing Kukla, Fran & Ollie
28:53
Lewis Gomavitz on directing Kukla, Fran & Ollie
28:09
Lewis Gomavitz on directing Kukla, Fran, & Ollie
27:50
Lewis Gomavitz on directing Kukla, Fran & Ollie
24:25

Comedy Series

View Genre
Lewis Gomavitz on working with Ernie Kovacs on The Ernie Kovacs Show
06:53
Lewis Gomavitz on acting as prop master for Sanford and Son
05:27

News and Documentary

View Genre
Lewis Gomavitz on going to work at KNBC News in Los Angeles
03:47

Talk Shows

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Lewis Gomavitz on acting as prop master on The Toni Tennille Show, and on his retirement
02:53
Lewis Gomavitz on acting as prop master for Dinah!
06:44
People

Fran Allison

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on the genesis of Kukla, Fran & Ollie created by Burr Tillstrom, including the casting of Fran Allison
05:17
Lewis Gomavitz on his duties as director of Kukla, Fran & Ollie working with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison, and on the show being ad libbed
02:36
Lewis Gomavitz on his duties as director of Kukla, Fran & Ollie and on the content of a typical episode with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison
02:04
Lewis Gomavitz on working with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison on the set of Kukla, Fran & Ollie
02:06
Lewis Gomavitz on Fran Allison on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
06:00

Tallulah Bankhead

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on Tallulah Bankhead being a big fan of Kukla, Fran & Ollie
07:32

Dorothy Collins

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on Raymond Scott and Dorothy Collins appearing on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:10

Redd Foxx

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on the cast of Sanford and Son including Redd Foxx
01:27

Ernie Kovacs

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on working with Ernie Kovacs on The Ernie Kovacs Show
06:54

June Lockhart

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on June Lockhart appearing on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:52

Dinah Shore

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on acting as prop master for Dinah Shore's show Dinah!
06:24

Toni Tennille

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on acting as prop master on The Toni Tennille Show, and on his retirement
02:53

Studs Terkel

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Lewis Gomavitz on Studs Terkel appearing on Kukla, Fran & Ollie
01:53

Burr Tillstrom

View Person Page
Lewis Gomavitz on his early experiences in theater and on meeting Burr Tillstrom at the 1939 World's Fair
06:30
Lewis Gomavitz on the genesis of Kukla, Fran & Ollie created by Burr Tillstrom, including the casting of Fran Allison
05:17
Lewis Gomavitz on his first meeting with Burr Tillstrom regarding Kukla, Fran & Ollie (orignally Junior Jamboree, and on the format of the show
05:13
Lewis Gomavitz on his duties as director of Kukla, Fran & Ollie working with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison, and on the show being ad libbed
02:36
Lewis Gomavitz on his duties as director of Kukla, Fran & Ollie and on the content of a typical episode with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison
02:04
Lewis Gomavitz on working with Burr Tillstrom and Fran Allison on the set of Kukla, Fran & Ollie
02:06
Lewis Gomavitz on Kukla, Fran & Ollie creator Burr Tillstrom
04:29
Lewis Gomavitz on the personality of Kukla, Fran & Ollie creator Burr Tillstrom, and on their friendship
08:17
Lewis Gomavitz on the death of Burr Tillstrom
04:34
Lewis Gomavitz on the puppets of Kukla, Fran & Ollie, created by Burr Tillstrom
09:50

Bud Yorkin

View Interview Page
Lewis Gomavitz on the color test episodes of Kukla, Fran & Ollie , and on Bud Yorkin being a stage manager
02:32

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