Milton Delugg

Music Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly two-and-a-half hour Archive interview, Milton Delugg (1918-2015) talks about his early professional jobs, before his service in WWII, including a job in the orchestra at Paramount. He describes the days of network radio and early television, where he worked with such personalities as Abe Burrows and Morey Amsterdam. He speaks about his role as conductor (and accordion player) on the variety series Broadway Open House, a precursor to The Tonight Show. He comments on his association with several shows from the 1950s and early 60s, including The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show, as well as a string of game shows. He then discusses his one-and-a-half-year stint as the orchestra leader of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, taking the reins in between Skitch Henderson and Doc Severinsen. For The Tonight Show, he talks about the rehearsal process and gives his impressions of host Carson and sidekick Ed McMahon. He then speaks in great detail about his long association with producer Chuck Barris and his participation on all of his most well-known series: The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, The Gong Show, The $1.98 Beauty Show, and others. He goes into great detail about The Gong Show, in which he comments about the panelists who appeared and the unscripted nature of the show. Lastly, he talks about his many years with the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Throughout the interview, Delugg notes his many original compositions, including: "Orange-Colored Sky" (a hit for Nat King Cole) and "Roller Coaster" (for What's My Line?). B-roll consists of photos of Delugg with such notables as Frank Loesser, Jerry Lester, Dagmar, Bing Crosby, Morey Amsterdam, Al Jolson, Johnny Carson, Chuck Barris, and John Lennon. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview in Studio City, CA on May 5, 2008.

"I brought Dagmar on the show because Jerry Lester had picked her, and I said, 'What's she supposed to do?'  And he said, 'She's the girl singer with the band."  So I introduced her that night.  I said, 'Jerry, this is Dagmar.  She's the chick with the band.'  He said, 'How does she sound?' And I said, 'Who cares?" I guess it was my first laugh. After that, I had lines to do." 

Highlights
Milton Delugg on working on Paul Winchell's shows
04:48
Milton Delugg on conducting the "Milton Delugg and the Band with a Thug" band on The Gong Show; on the outrageous acts on the show
09:00
Milton Delugg on working with Abe Burrows and others when he transitioned to television
04:58
Milton Delugg on working with producer Chuck Barris; on composing for The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game; on being the bandleader for The Gong Show (and all of the antics that ensued)
21:21
Milton Delugg on composing the theme to What's My Line?
01:34
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on his early music career where he played "jazz" accordion
07:09
On his college education; on joining the Paramount staff orchestra; on working with Frank Loesser and Marty Melnick; on his World War II service where he worked on radio show
12:30
On working on the Broadway musical "Very Warm for May" composed by Jerome Kern with a libretto by Oscar Hammerstein; on working with Abe Burrows; on his friend Pat Weaver's idea to have a morning, afternoon and evening show on NBC's TV schedule; on wanting to be part of early television; on Broadway Open House
10:59
On working on The Morey Amsterdam Show
04:40
On the rules regarding live music on television and how Dick Clark eventually changed them
03:11
On working with Herb Shriner on Two for the Money; on working on Abe Burrows' Almanac
02:56
On being conductor on Broadway Open House and working with host Jerry Lester and "girl singer" Dagmar; on the production aspects of the show; on working on Seven at Eleven; on the start of The Tonight Show with host Steve Allen
12:05
On working on Paul Winchell's television shows
04:48

Chapter 2

On Carol Burnett's role on The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show;  on The Doodles Weaver Show; on Colgate Comedy Hour; on Dagmar's Canteen; on The Bill Cullen Show
06:26
On working with Fred Allen on Judge for Yourself; on working on Treasure Hunt (where the show's personnel made deals with potential contestants); briefly on I've Got a Secret; on working on Beat the Clock and Dollar a Second
07:28
On composing the theme to What's My Line?; on working with Bill Todman and Mark Goodson; on recording television themes; on composing the theme ("Hooray for Santa Claus") for the film Santa Claus Conquers the Martians; on the advent of pre-recorded music; on directing the music for the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
13:34
On being hired as conductor on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson; on working with the band; on working with musical guests; on being on-camera on the show
09:46
On working with producer Chuck Barris; on composing for The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game; on working on Chuck Barris' revivals of Treasure Hunt and Your Hit Parade; on being the bandleader for The Gong Show (and all of the antics that ensued)
21:21

Chapter 3

On The Gong Show (cont.) including how contestants were chosen and on working with some of the celebrity judges
05:28
On working on various Chuck Barris productions; on various specials
04:36
On working on the music for many Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcasts
03:55
On his then-current projects; on his career favorites; on working with Chuck Barris; on his advice to aspiring musicians; on how he would like to be remembered
07:48
On photos illustrating some of his career highlights and people he worked with
Shows

Abe Burrows' Almanac

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Milton Delugg on working with Abe Burrows and others when he transitioned to television
04:58
Milton Delugg on working on Abe Burrows' Almanac
01:02

Beat the Clock

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Music director Milton Delugg on working on Beat the Clock and Dollar a Second
02:07

Bill Cullen Show, The

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on working on The Bill Cullen Show
01:51

Broadway Open House

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Milton Delugg on NBC exec Pat Weaver's idea to have morning, noon and night shows on NBC; on becoming bandleader on the night show Broadway Open House (precursor to The Tonight Show)
01:56
Milton Delugg on being conductor on Broadway Open House and working with host Jerry Lester and "girl singer" Dagmar; on the production aspects of the show
09:24

Colgate Comedy Hour, The

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Conductor Milton Delugg briefly on working on The Colgate Comedy Hour
01:19

Dagmar's Canteen

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on working on Dagmar's Canteen
01:07

Dating Game, The

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Milton Delugg on composing music for Chuck Barris' The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game
02:49

Dollar a Second

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Music director Milton Delugg on working on Beat the Clock and Dollar a Second
02:07

Doodles Weaver Show, The

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Conductor Milton Delugg on working on The Doodles Weaver Show
01:12

Gong Show, The

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Milton Delugg on conducting the "Milton Delugg and the Band with a Thug" band on The Gong Show; on the outrageous acts on the show
09:00
Bandleader Milton Delugg on The Gong Show (cont.) including how contestants were chosen and on working with some of the celebrity judges
05:28

Judge For Yourself

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on working with Fred Allen on Judge for Yourself
01:14

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

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Milton Delugg on working with pre-recorded music cues on the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and other live events
04:44
Milton Delugg on working on the music for many Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade broadcasts
03:55

Morey Amsterdam Show, The

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Milton Delugg on working on The Morey Amsterdam Show (NBC and ABC)
04:40

Newlywed Game, The

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Milton Delugg on composing music for Chuck Barris' The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game
02:49

Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show, The

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Milton Delugg on working on Paul Winchell's shows
04:48
Milton Delugg on Carol Burnett's role on The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show
00:57

Tonight

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Milton Delugg on the genesis of The Tonight Show with host Steve Allen; on getting called to be the conductor on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson
02:41

Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The

View Show Page
Milton Delugg on the genesis of The Tonight Show with host Steve Allen; on getting called to be the conductor on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson
02:41
Milton Delugg on being hired as conductor (replacing Skitch Henderson) on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson; on working with the band; on working with musical guests; on being on-camera on the show
09:46

Treasure Hunt

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Milton Delugg on playing accordion on Treasure Hunt
00:51
Milton Delugg on the 1974 revival of the game show Treasure Hunt
01:07

Two for the Money

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Milton Delugg on working with Herb Shriner on Two for the Money
01:54

What's My Line?

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Milton Delugg on composing the theme to What's My Line?
01:34

Your Hit Parade

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Milton Delugg on the 1974 short-lived revival of Your Hit Parade
01:30
Topics

Censorship / Standards & Practices

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on the censorship issues on The Gong Show
02:31

Pop Culture

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Milton Delugg on the rules regarding live music on television and how Dick Clark eventually changed them
03:11

Quiz Show Scandals

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on working on Treasure Hunt; on the show's personnel making deals with potential contestants
02:27

TV Theme Songs

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Milton Delugg on composing the theme to What's My Line?
01:34

Television Industry

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Milton Delugg on NBC exec Pat Weaver's idea to have morning, noon and night shows on NBC and on becoming bandleader on the night show Broadway Open House (precursor to The Tonight Show)
01:56
Bandleader Milton Delugg on the censorship issues on The Gong Show
02:31
Professions

Music Director

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Milton Delugg on the rules regarding live music on television and how Dick Clark eventually changed them
03:11

Music Professionals

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Milton Delugg on the rules regarding live music on television and how Dick Clark eventually changed them
03:11
Genres

Late Night

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on NBC exec Pat Weaver's idea to have morning, noon and night shows on NBC; on becoming bandleader on the night show Broadway Open House (precursor to The Tonight Show)
01:56
People

Steve Allen

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Milton Delugg on the genesis of The Tonight Show with host Steve Allen; on getting called to be the conductor on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson
02:41

Fred Allen

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on working with Fred Allen on Judge for Yourself
01:14

Morey Amsterdam

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Milton Delugg on working on The Morey Amsterdam Show (NBC and ABC)
04:40

Chuck Barris

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Milton Delugg on working with producer Chuck Barris; on composing for The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game; on being the bandleader for The Gong Show (and all of the antics that ensued)
21:21
Bandleader Milton Delugg on The Gong Show (cont.) including how contestants were chosen and on working with some of the celebrity judges
05:28

Carol Burnett

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Milton Delugg on Carol Burnett's role on The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show
00:57

Abe Burrows

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Milton Delugg on working with Abe Burrows and others when he transitioned to television
04:58
Milton Delugg on Abe Burrows Almanac
01:02
Milton Delugg on Abe Burrows' wit
01:11

Dick Clark

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Milton Delugg on the rules regarding live music on television and how Dick Clark eventually changed them
03:11

Bill Cullen

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on working on The Bill Cullen Show
01:51

Jerry Lester

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Milton Delugg being conductor on Broadway Open House and working with host Jerry Lester and "girl singer" Dagmar; on the production aspects of the show
09:24

Frank Loesser

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Milton Delugg and working with Frank Loesser 
01:38

Jan Murray

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Bandleader Milton Delugg on working on Treasure Hunt; on the show's personnel making deals with potential contestants
02:27

Herb Shriner

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Milton Delugg on working with Herb Shriner on Two for the Money
01:54

Sylvester L. Weaver

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Milton Delugg on NBC exec Pat Weaver's idea to have morning, noon and night shows on NBC; on becoming bandleader on the night show Broadway Open House (precursor to The Tonight Show)
01:56

Henny Youngman

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Milton Delugg on working on The Morey Amsterdam Show (NBC and ABC)
04:40

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