William Klages

Lighting Designer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his four-and-a-half hour Archive interview, William Klages describes at length, the craft of lighting for television, from his first interest in pursuing the field, to the challenges involved in the lighting of various types of programs. He talks about his early years learning to use light in the relatively new medium of television and touches on the companies that supplied the equipment in those days. He recounts his entrance into the business as a video maintenance engineer at NBC, working on such shows as Robert Montgomery Presents and details the anthology series Playwrights '56, his first job as a lighting director. Klages recalls his significant contributions to The Perry Como Show (and Como's later Kraft Music Hall) and outlines several examples of lighting setups on this variety series. He discusses the many specials on which he served as lighting director, including Merman on Broadway (Ethel Merman), Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, and Sills and Burnett at the Met (Beverly Sills and Carol Burnett), as well as specials he did featuring Dolly Parton, Barbra Streisand, Dorothy Hamill and Olivia Newton-John. Additionally, he speaks of working on such varied programs as the Ali vs. Frazier title fight to the series Hullabaloo and Faerie Tale Theatre. Henry Colman conducted the interview in Los Angeles, CA on February 12, 2001. 

"There is something more to lighting design, the more to it, of course, is enhancement and making the image more interesting-looking and certainly making it consistent with the material that you're presenting." 

People Talking About ...
Highlights
William Klages on working on JFK's inauguration
William Klages on the role of a lighting director and HMI; on early unions for lighting technicians
William Klages on lighting The Ernie Kovacs Show
William Klages on lighting the Miss America Pageants
William Klages on working on the Barbra Streisand Specials
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood and early influences; on excelling in high school; on attending engineering/Polytechnic school; on getting a higher degree at Columbia University and becoming a video maintenance engineer for NBC; on his interest in lighting; on attending the 1939 World's Fair
On his first job at NBC; on the early equipment at NBC; on the influence of cinematography on him; on lighting techniques and lighting faces

Chapter 2

On NBC's Studio 8H; on early kinescopes; on working on Your Hit Parade and All Star Revue; on early color TV; on his responsibilities as a video control engineer; on control rooms for live television
On rehearsals for live television; on working with Milton Berle; on being a video man on Your Hit Parade and Robert Montgomery Presents; on returning to the Navy; on becoming lighting director at NBC

Chapter 3

On his role as lighting director at NBC; on working with Delbert Mann and Fred Coe on Playwrights '56; on lighting mishaps
On the role of a lighting director; on his preparations for lighting on Playwrights '56; on unions

Chapter 4

On the role of a lighting designer; on the greatest compliment he's ever received; on putting a design together and happy accidents from which he learned techniques
On lighting equipment; on techniques he developed on The Perry Como Show

Chapter 5

On flattering lighting for actors and actresses; on working with Liza Minnelli; on lighting tricks; on lighting and makeup working together; on lighting in multi-camera shows
On basic shots a director uses on TV shows - single shots, reactions, etc.; on lighting an Ethel Merman Special; on lighting and pre-lighting The Perry Como Show; on losing power during a Dick Clark show

Chapter 6

On working on a Dick Clark show when the power went out; on shooting on location all over the world; on the toughest show he ever did - a Dolly Parton Christmas Special;on how color TV changed lighting; on how lighting can help create a mood for a show - lighting for romance, suspense, etc.;
On contrast ratios; on lighting for film and video; on color temperature; on doing commercials at NBC

Chapter 7

On lighting safety; on lighting The Ernie Kovacs Show, Ray Bolger's Washington Square, and The Grammys; on lighting The Nat King Cole Show
On lighting Queen for a Day, The Miss America Pageants, and The Kraft Music Hall; on working on JFK's inauguration; on Pat Boone's Coca Cola Special and Barbra Streisand's TV Specials

Chapter 8

On working on the Barbra Streisand Specials ;on lighting Barbra Streisand on The Rosie O'Donnell Show; on lighting Hullabaloo; on leaving NBC in 1970 and moving to Los Angeles
On working on the Joe Frazier-Muhammed Ali fight; on Alex Segal; on his Emmy nominations and wins; on lighting award shows; on Fairy Tale Theater with Shelley Duvall; on special effects

Chapter 9

On entertainers with whom he's worked
On technological improvements in lighting during his career; on working on In Living Color; on his current projects; on directors with whom he's enjoyed working; on lighting equipment; on advice to aspiring lighting directors; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

All Star Revue

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William Klages on working on All Star Revue

Barbra Streisand Specials

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William Klages on working on the Barbra Streisand Specials

Ernie Kovacs Show, The

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William Klages on lighting The Ernie Kovacs Show

Grammys, The

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William Klages on lighting The Grammys

Hullabaloo

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William Klages on lighting Hullabaloo

In Living Color

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William Klages on working on In Living Color

Kraft Music Hall, The

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William Klages on lighting The Kraft Music Hall

Miss America Pageant

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William Klages on lighting the Miss America Pageants

Perry Como Show, The

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William Klages on working on The Perry Como Show
William Klages on lighting The Perry Como Show
William Klages on lighting The Perry Como Show, later The Kraft Music Hall

Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse

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William Klages on NBC wanting to copy Playhouse 90

Playwrights '56

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William Klages on working on Playwrights '56

Queen for a Day

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William Klages on lighting Queen for a Day

Robert Montgomery Presents

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William Klages on Robert Montgomery Presents and Robert Montgomery

Rosie O'Donnell Show, The

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William Klages on lighting Barbra Streisand on The Rosie O'Donnell Show

Your Hit Parade

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William Klages on being the video man for Your Hit Parade
William Klages on being the video man for Your Hit Parade
Topics

Emmy Awards

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William Klages on his Emmy nominations and wins

John F. Kennedy

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William Klages on working on JFK's inauguration, which Frank Sinatra produced

Memorable Moments on Television

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William Klages on working on JFK's inauguration, which Frank Sinatra produced

Technological Innovation

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William Klages on early color TV
William Klages on lighting equipment and technology; on video vs. film
William Klages on how color TV changed lighting
Professions

Lighting Designer

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William Klages on the question of safety on a stage as a Lighting Director

Lighting Director

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William Klages on his interest in lighting
William Klages on the role of a lighting director and HMI; on early unions for lighting technicians
William Klages on the profession of Lighting Directors and the interaction with the Director
William Klages on putting together a lighting design
William Klages on handling demands of performers as a Lighting Director
William Klages on advice for aspiring lighting directors
Genres

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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William Klages on lighting an Ethel Merman Special
William Klages on working on Barbra Streisand's TV specials
William Klages on working on the Barbra Streisand Specials
People

Edie Adams

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William Klages on lighting The Ernie Kovacs Show

Muhammad Ali

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William Klages on the Joe Frazier-Muhammed Ali fight

Anne Bancroft

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William Klages on working with Anne Bancroft

Milton Berle

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William Klages on working with Milton Berle
William Klages on working on JFK's inauguration, which Frank Sinatra produced

Ray Bolger

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William Klages on lighting Ray Bolger's Washington Square

Pat Boone

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William Klages on working on Pat Boone's Coca Cola Special

Carol Burnett

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William Klages on working with Carol Burnett and Beverly Sills

Glen Campbell

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William Klages on working with

Jack Carson

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William Klages on working on All Star Revue

Dick Clark

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William Klages on losing power during a Dick Clark show
William Klages on working on a Dick Clark show when the power went out

Fred Coe

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William Klages on working with Fred Coe on Playwrights '56

Nat King Cole

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William Klages on lighting The Nat King Cole Show

Perry Como

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William Klages on working with Perry Como

Jimmy Durante

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William Klages on lighting Ray Bolger's Washington Square

Shelley Duvall

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William Klages on Fairy Tale Theater with Shelley Duvall and special effects for the show

Aretha Franklin

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William Klages on working with Aretha Franklin

Joe Frazier

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William Klages on the Joe Frazier-Muhammed Ali fight

Bob Galvin

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William Klages on technical directors at NBC who then became executives

Mitzi Gaynor

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William Klages on working with Mitzi Gaynor

Dorothy Hamill

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William Klages on working with Dorothy Hamill

Goldie Hawn

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William Klages on working with Liza Minnelli and Goldie Hawn

Doug Henning

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William Klages on working with Doug Henning

Bob Hope

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William Klages on working with Bob Hope

Andy Kaufman

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William Klages on working with Andy Kaufman

John F. Kennedy

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William Klages on working on JFK's inauguration, which Frank Sinatra produced

Ernie Kovacs

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William Klages on lighting The Ernie Kovacs Show

Delbert Mann

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William Klages on working with Delbert Man on Playwrights '56

Ethel Merman

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William Klages on lighting an Ethel Merman Special
William Klages on working with Ethel Merman

Bette Midler

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William Klages on working with Bette Midler

Liza Minnelli

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William Klages on working with Liza Minnelli

Robert Montgomery

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William Klages on Robert Montgomery

Olivia Newton-John

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William Klages on working with Olivia Newton-John

Dolly Parton

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William Klages on the toughest show he ever did - a Dolly Parton Christmas Special
William Klages on working with Dolly Parton

Alex Segal

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William Klages on Alex Segal

Beverly Sills

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William Klages on working with Carol Burnett and Beverly Sills

Frank Sinatra

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William Klages on working on JFK's inauguration, which Frank Sinatra produced
William Klages on working with Frank Sinatra

Barbra Streisand

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William Klages on working on Barbra Streisand's TV specials
William Klages on working with Barbra Streisand

David Susskind

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William Klages on working with Alex Segal on David Susskind productions

Marlo Thomas

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William Klages on working with Marlo Thomas

Arturo Toscanini

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William Klages on NBC's Studio 8H, where Toscanini performed

Nick Vanoff

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William Klages on Nick Vanoff

Barbara Walters

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William Klages on working with Barbara Walters

Robin Williams

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William Klages on working with Robin Williams

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