Rod Erickson

Advertising Executive / Producer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his five-hour Archive interview, Rod Erickson (1916-2006) talks about his early years and his early interest in theater. He chronicles his time in radio, first at WMAL in Washington D.C., and later with WOR in New York. He recalls joining Proctor & Gamble as the executive in charge of their soap operas, and details working with the prolific writer and show creator Irna Phillips. He speaks of his earliest year in television, shepherding shows like We, The People and The Gulf Road Show. Erickson talks about becoming an account executive at Young & Rubicam where he worked with such shows as I Love Lucy, The Red Skelton Show, The Goldbergs, Henry Aldrich, and I Married Joan. He addresses various topics facing the television advertising industry in his day including lack of diversity, the Hollywood Blacklist, and the ethics of advertising cigarettes on television. He concludes by discussing many of the people he worked with in his career including Desi Arnaz, William S. Paley, Leonard Goldenson, Jim Aubry, Dan Enright, and Jack Barry. Jeff Kisseloff conducted the interview on October 17, 1997 in Pound Ridge, NY.

"All we said was that if you invented something which had sight, sound demonstration, and color, had the attention of the audience in their own living room, you couldn't do better than taking some money out of their pocket, by stealing it like a pickpocket. Everything was laid out for you. There was no way you could lose if you handled it correctly."

Highlights
Rod Erickson on early rumblings of television in 1943
00:53
Rod Erickson on the technical aspects of putting filmed content on early television and realizing the need for audience laughter on I Love Lucy
06:11
Rod Erickson on working with creator of many radio serials Irna Phillips
02:13
Rod Erickson on going to work for Young & Rubicam and putting We, The People on television
04:25
Rod Erickson on how commercials were inserted into shows in the early days of television
05:22
Rod Erickson on subjects that were taboo on Proctor & Gamble's serials and getting Proctor & Gamble into television
03:58
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on coming to New York City, and putting on the off-Broadway play "The Ascent of F6"; on getting into radio and on being in charge of production for WMAL, an NBC blue network affiliate
11:13
On meeting Arthur Godfrey at WMAL and his later relationship with him; on his experience in summer theater; on working in sales at WHP radio and joining CBS radio in 1941 in production; on going to work for the advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding as executive director of the radio version of "Your Hit Parade" on behalf of American Tobacco
16:06

Chapter 2

On working with American Tobacco Co. president George Washington Hill and selling Lucky Strike cigarettes; on working with Frank Sinatra on the radio version of "Your Hit Parade"; on being fired from the radio version of "Your Hit Parade" by George Washington Hill
05:44
On going to work as a director for NBC radio; on early rumblings of television in 1943; on going to work for Procter & Gamble in 1944 as a supervisor of 44 of their radio programs including many daytime serials
11:37
On working with Paul Rhymer, the creator of the radio show "Vic and Sade"; on working with creator of many radio serials Irna Phillips; on working with writer Elaine Carrington
06:06
On the rules of radio advertising and his time at Proctor & Gamble; on subjects that were taboo on Proctor & Gamble's serials and getting Proctor & Gamble into television
07:20

Chapter 3

On Procter & Gamble's initial reluctance to sponsor television programs; on his decision to leave Procter & Gamble and going to work for WOR radio in New York; on his awareness of the coming of television in New York in 1947
10:59
On working in New York radio in the 1940s; on he deal he made with Pat Weaver for the radio show "We, The People"; on going to work for Young & Rubicam and putting We, The People on television
09:03
On pushing his clients into advertising on television while at Young & Rubicam, and on reading the television ratings of the day; on how early advertising on television worked and on broadcasting We, The People
08:32

Chapter 4

On the first television broadcast of We, The People and attempts to improve the show; on dealing with Gulf, the sponsor of We, The People
12:38
On Gulf sponsoring The Gulf Road Show and dealing with guest star Billie Holiday; on delegating responsibility for We, The People and The Gulf Road Show
09:41
On how Holiday Hotel, sponsored by Packard, got on the air produced by Felix Jackson; on how commercials were inserted into shows in the early days of television
08:35

Chapter 5

On creating a commercial for Goodyear Tires; on advertisers discovering that television was a great sales tool; on the process of pairing advertisers with shows and attempting to pair Whitman Chocolates with The Red Skelton Show
07:25
On the sponsorship of I Love Lucy by Phillip Morris and later by Jello; on the preferred networks of sponsors in the 1950s; on working with David Sarnoff at NBC and William S. Paley at CBS
08:10
On the notion of networks providing a public service; on the reasons companies have for sponsoring a television show; on the types of shows that sponsors generally preferred and on working on The Silver Theater
12:04

Chapter 6

On the construction of ABC's studios for Paul Whitman's Goodyear Revue; on working on The Fred Waring Show, sponsored by General Electric; on working on The Arrow Show, sponsored by Arrow Shirts
10:57
On working on Hopalong Cassidy; on the technical aspects of putting filmed content on early television and realizing the need for audience laughter on I Love Lucy; on early television being based in New York and his life in those days
13:17
On moving to Los Angeles; on working on The Goldbergs, The Aldrich Family, and I Married Joan; on the differences between working on a filmed show and working on a live show
04:10

Chapter 7

On television making the transition from live shows to filmed shows; on the advent of packaging television shows by William Morris Agency and MCA; on being involved in a lawsuit with MCA
15:23
On networks being paid off by agencies to carry their packaged programs; on his dealings with Desi Arnaz; on ad men dealing with the mob
12:58

Chapter 8

On advertising being a "people business" and the role of alcohol in the business; on the factors that go into the decision to advertise on a show and the importance of the writer; on turning down Danny Thomas' Make Room for Daddy
05:57
On the advertisers control over time slot and other factors dealing with a show; on the dearth of black actors on television in the 1950s and 1960s and anti-Semitism in the ad industry
06:15
On the Hollywood Blacklist's effect on television advertising; on the ethics of advertising cigarettes on television
16:18

Chapter 9

On product placement in television and movies; on the shift away from sponsors owning a whole show; on reading the Neilson ratings and predicting people's television viewing habits on given nights of the week
15:53
On ad agencies getting out of the business of producing shows and how his job changed as a result; on the effectiveness of commercials; on the research involved in making effective commercials and on the psychology of commercials
07:52
On the power of television and on violent television programming; on retiring from the advertising industry in 1961; on how the advertising industry had changed since he retired
05:29

Chapter 10

On the then-current state of television advertising; on television ratings and demographics, and going to work for the American Research Bureau
08:40
On various people he's worked with in his career
17:44
Shows

Aldrich Family, The

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on working on The Goldbergs, The Aldrich Family, and I Married Joan
02:01

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on turning down Danny Thomas' Make Room for Daddy
01:05

Fred Waring Show, The

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on working on The Fred Waring Show, sponsored by General Electric
06:23

Goldbergs, The

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on working on The Goldbergs, The Aldrich Family, and I Married Joan
02:01

Gulf Road Show, The

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on Gulf sponsoring The Gulf Road Show and dealing with guest star Billie Holiday
06:45
Rod Erickson on delegating responsibility for We, The People and The Gulf Road Show
02:56

Holiday Hotel

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on how Holiday Hotel, sponsored by Packard, got on the air produced by Felix Jackson
03:13

Hopalong Cassidy

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on working on Hopalong Cassidy  
04:32

I Love Lucy

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on the sponsorship of I Love Lucy by Phillip Morris and later by Jello
03:36
Rod Erickson on the technical aspects of putting filmed content on early television and realizing the need for audience laughter on I Love Lucy
06:11

I Married Joan

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on working on The Goldbergs, The Aldrich Family, and I Married Joan
02:01

Paul Whiteman's Goodyear Revue

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on the construction of ABC's studios for Paul Whitman's Goodyear Revue
01:32

Red Skelton Show, The

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on the process of pairing advertisers with shows and attempting to pair Whitman Chocolates with The Red Skelton Show
02:41

Silver Theater, The

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on working on The Silver Theater
02:48

We, The People

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on going to work for Young & Rubicam and putting We, The People on television
04:25
Rod Erickson on how early advertising on television worked and on broadcasting We, The People
03:08
Rod Erickson on the first television broadcast of We, The People and attempts to improve the show
08:10
Rod Erickson on dealing with Gulf, the sponsor of We, The People
04:29
Rod Erickson on delegating responsibility for We, The People and The Gulf Road Show
02:56

Your Hit Parade

View Show Page
Rod Erickson on going to work for the advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding as executive director of the radio version of "Your Hit Parade" on behalf of American Tobacco
03:39
Topics

Advertising and Sponsorship

View Topic
Rod Erickson on going to work for the advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding as executive director of the radio version of "Your Hit Parade" on behalf of American Tobacco
03:39
Rod Erickson on subjects that were taboo on Proctor & Gamble's serials and getting Proctor & Gamble into television
03:58
Rod Erickson on Procter & Gamble's initial reluctance to sponsor television programs
06:47
Rod Erickson on going to work for Young & Rubicam and putting We, The People on television
04:25
Rod Erickson on pushing his clients into advertising on television while at Young & Rubicam, and on reading the television ratings of the day
05:24
Rod Erickson on how early advertising on television worked and on broadcasting We, The People
03:08
Rod Erickson on dealing with Gulf, the sponsor of We, The People
04:29
Rod Erickson on Gulf sponsoring The Gulf Road Show  and dealing with guest star Billie Holiday
06:45
Rod Erickson on delegating responsibility for We, The People and The Gulf Road Show
02:56
Rod Erickson on how Holiday Hotel, sponsored by Packard, got on the air produced by Felix Jackson
03:13
Rod Erickson on how commercials were inserted into shows in the early days of television
05:22
Rod Erickson on creating a commercial for Goodyear Tires
03:01
Rod Erickson on advertisers discovering that television was a great sales tool
01:44
Rod Erickson on the process of pairing advertisers with shows and attempting to pair Whitman Chocolates with The Red Skelton Show
02:41
Rod Erickson on the sponsorship of I Love Lucy by Phillip Morris and later by Jello
03:37
Rod Erickson on the preferred networks of sponsors in the 1950s
02:36
Rod Erickson on working with David Sarnoff at NBC and William S. Paley at CBS
01:56
Rod Erickson on the notion of networks providing a public service
02:23
Rod Erickson on the reasons companies have for sponsoring a television show
04:50
Rod Erickson on the types of shows that sponsors generally preferred
03:03
Rod Erickson on working on The Silver Theater
01:48
Rod Erickson on the construction of ABC's studios for Paul Whitman's Goodyear Revue
01:30
Rod Erickson on working on The Fred Waring Show sponsored by General Electric 
06:24
Rod Erickson on working on The Arrow Show, sponsored by Arrow Shirts
03:03
Rod Erickson on working on Hopalong Cassidy
04:32
Rod Erickson on the advent of packaging television shows by William Morris Agency and MCA
04:42
Rod Erickson on being involved in a lawsuit with MCA
07:12
Rod Erickson on networks being paid off by agencies to carry their packaged programs
01:36
Rod Erickson on his dealings with Desi Arnaz
02:55
Rod Erickson on his trips to California to meet clients
02:27
Rod Erickson on ad men dealing with the mob
05:58
Rod Erickson on advertising being a "people business" and the role of alcohol in the business
02:19
Rod Erickson on the factors that go into the decision to advertise on a show and the importance of the writer
02:33
Rod Erickson on turning down Danny Thomas' Make Room for Daddy
01:05
Rod Erickson on the advertisers control over time slot and other factors dealing with a show
02:24
Rod Erickson on the dearth of black actors on television in the 1950s and 1960s and anti-Semitism in the ad industry
03:51
Rod Erickson on the Hollywood Blacklist's effect on television advertising
13:33
Rod Erickson on the ethics of advertising cigarettes in television
02:41
Rod Erickson on product placement in television and movies
02:04
Rod Erickson on the shift away from sponsors owning a whole show
07:11
Rod Erickson on reading the Neilson ratings and predicting people's television viewing habits on given nights of the week
06:38
Rod Erickson on ad agencies getting out of the business of producing shows and how his job changed as a result
01:19
Rod Erickson on the effectiveness of commercials
03:14
Rod Erickson on the research involved in making effective commercials and on the psychology of commercials
03:18
Rod Erickson on the power of television on violent television programming
01:55
Rod Erickson on retiring from the advertising industry in 1961
00:44
Rod Erickson on how the advertising industry had changed since he retired
02:49
Rod Erickson on the then-current state of television advertising
03:34
Rod Erickson on television ratings and demographics, and going to work for the American Research Bureau
04:40

Hollywood Blacklist

View Topic
Rod Erickson on the Hollywood Blacklist's effect on television advertising
13:35

Industry Crossroads

View Topic
Rod Erickson on the Hollywood Blacklist's effect on television advertising
13:33

Television Industry

View Topic
Rod Erickson on going to work for the advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding as executive director of the radio version of "Your Hit Parade" on behalf of American Tobacco
03:39
Rod Erickson on subjects that were taboo on Proctor & Gamble's serials and getting Proctor & Gamble into television
03:58
Rod Erickson on Procter & Gamble's initial reluctance to sponsor television programs
06:47
Rod Erickson on going to work for Young & Rubicam and putting We, The People on television
04:25
Rod Erickson on pushing his clients into advertising on television while at Young & Rubicam, and on reading the television ratings of the day
05:24
Rod Erickson on how early advertising on television worked and on broadcasting We, The People
03:08
Rod Erickson on dealing with Gulf, the sponsor of We, The People
04:29
Rod Erickson on Gulf sponsoring The Gulf Road Show  and dealing with guest star Billie Holiday
06:45
Rod Erickson on delegating responsibility for We, The People and The Gulf Road Show
02:56
Rod Erickson on how Holiday Hotel, sponsored by Packard, got on the air produced by Felix Jackson
03:13
Rod Erickson on how commercials were inserted into shows in the early days of television
05:22
Rod Erickson on creating a commercial for Goodyear Tires
03:01
Rod Erickson on advertisers discovering that television was a great sales tool
01:44
Rod Erickson on the process of pairing advertisers with shows and attempting to pair Whitman Chocolates with The Red Skelton Show
02:41
Rod Erickson on the sponsorship of I Love Lucy by Phillip Morris and later by Jello
03:36
Rod Erickson on the preferred networks of sponsors in the 1950s
02:36
Rod Erickson on working with David Sarnoff at NBC and William S. Paley at CBS
01:56
Rod Erickson on the notion of networks providing a public service
02:23
Rod Erickson on the reasons companies have for sponsoring a television show
04:50
Rod Erickson on the types of shows that sponsors generally preferred
03:03
Rod Erickson on working on The Silver Theater
01:48
Rod Erickson on the construction of ABC's studios for Paul Whitman's Goodyear Revue
01:30
Rod Erickson on working on The Fred Waring Show sponsored by General Electric 
06:24
Rod Erickson on working on The Arrow Show, sponsored by Arrow Shirts
03:03
Rod Erickson on working on Hopalong Cassidy
04:32
Rod Erickson on the advent of packaging television shows by William Morris Agency and MCA
04:42
Rod Erickson on being involved in a lawsuit with MCA
07:12
Rod Erickson on networks being paid off by agencies to carry their packaged programs
01:36
Rod Erickson on his dealings with Desi Arnaz
02:55
Rod Erickson on his trips to California to meet clients
02:25
Rod Erickson on ad men dealing with the mob
05:58
Rod Erickson on advertising being a "people business" and the role of alcohol in the business
02:19
Rod Erickson on the factors that go into the decision to advertise on a show and the importance of the writer
02:34
Rod Erickson on turning down Danny Thomas' Make Room for Daddy
01:05
Rod Erickson on the advertisers control over time slot and other factors dealing with a show
02:21
Rod Erickson on the dearth of black actors on television in the 1950s and 1960s and anti-Semitism in the ad industry
03:51
Rod Erickson on the Hollywood Blacklist's effect on television advertising
13:33
Rod Erickson on the ethics of advertising cigarettes on television
02:41
Rod Erickson on product placement in television and movies
02:04
Rod Erickson on the shift away from sponsors owning a whole show
07:12
Rod Erickson on reading the Neilson ratings and predicting people's television viewing habits on given nights of the week
06:38
Rod Erickson on ad agencies getting out of the business of producing shows and how his job changed as a result
01:19
Rod Erickson on the effectiveness of commercials
03:16
Rod Erickson on the research involved in making effective commercials and on the psychology of commercials
03:16
Rod Erickson on the power of television and on violent television programming
01:53
Rod Erickson on retiring from the advertising industry in 1961
00:44
Rod Erickson on how the advertising industry had changed since he retired
02:49
Rod Erickson on the then-current state of television advertising
03:34
Rod Erickson on television ratings and demographics, and going to work for the American Research Bureau
04:40
Professions

Advertising Executive

View Profession
Rod Erickson on the factors that go into the decision to advertise on a show and the importance of the writer
02:34
Rod Erickson on reading the Neilson ratings and predicting people's television viewing habits on given nights of the week
06:38
Rod Erickson on the research involved in making effective commercials and on the psychology of commercials 
03:16

Executives

View Profession
Rod Erickson on the factors that go into the decision to advertise on a show and the importance of the writer
02:34
Rod Erickson on reading the Neilson ratings and predicting people's television viewing habits on given nights of the week
06:38
Rod Erickson on the research involved in making effective commercials and on the psychology of commercials 
03:16
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

View Genre
Rod Erickson on working on The Silver Theater
01:48

Comedy Series

View Genre
Rod Erickson on the process of pairing advertisers with shows and attempting to pair Whitman Chocolates with The Red Skelton Show
02:41
Rod Erickson on the sponsorship of I Love Lucy  by Phillip Morris and later by Jello
03:37
Rod Erickson on working on The GoldbergsThe Aldrich Family, and I Married Joan
02:01

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

View Genre
Rod Erickson on going to work for the advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding as executive director of the radio version of "Your Hit Parade" on behalf of American Tobacco
03:41
Rod Erickson on how early advertising on television worked and on broadcasting We, The People
03:08
Rod Erickson on the Gulf sponsored programs We, The People and The Gulf Road Show
22:19
Rod Erickson on how Holiday Hotel, sponsored by Packard, got on the air produced by Felix Jackson
03:13
Rod Erickson on working on The Fred Waring Show, sponsored by General Electric 
06:23
Rod Erickson on working on The Arrow Show, sponsored by Arrow Shirts
03:03

Western Series

View Genre
Rod Erickson on working on Hopalong Cassidy
04:32
People

Desi Arnaz

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on his dealings with Desi Arnaz
02:55

Gertrude Berg

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on working on The Goldbergs and his thoughts on Gertrude Berg
01:05

Paddy Chayefsky

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on working on the Paddy Chayefsky series First Camera
01:24

Joan Davis

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on working on I Married Joan with Joan Davis
00:47

Dan Enright

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: Dan Enright
04:26

Arthur Godfrey

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on meeting Arthur Godfrey at WMAL and his later relationship with him
05:28

Leonard H. Goldenson

View Interview Page
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: Leonard Goldenson
01:12

Billie Holiday

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on Billie Holiday guest-starring on The Gulf Road Show
04:52

Felix Jackson

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on how Holiday Hotel, sponsored by Packard, got on the air produced by Felix Jackson
03:13

David Levy

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: David Levy
00:57

Tom McDermott

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: Tom McDermott
00:22

William S. Paley

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on working with David Sarnoff at NBC and William S. Paley at CBS
01:56
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: William S. Paley
01:03

Irna Phillips

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on working with creator of many radio serials Irna Phillips
02:13

Gilbert Ralston

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: Gilbert Ralston
00:40

Paul Rhymer

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on working with Paul Rhymer, the creator of the radio show "Vic and Sade"
02:43

David Sarnoff

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on working with David Sarnoff at NBC and William S. Paley at CBS
01:56

Frank Stanton

View Interview Page
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: Frank Stanton
00:30

Martin Stone

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: Martin Stone
00:36

Danny Thomas

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on turning down Danny Thomas' Make Room for Daddy
01:05

Oliver E. Treyz

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on various people he's worked with in his career: Oliver E. Treyz
02:30

Fred Waring

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on working on The Fred Waring Show  sponsored by General Electric
06:23

Sylvester L. Weaver

View Person Page
Rod Erickson on he deal he made with Pat Weaver for the radio show "We, The People"
02:09

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