March 2003

The Du Mont Television Network: What Happened?
(Scarecrow Press, Inc., 176 pages, $60)
By Ted Bergmann and Ira Skutch

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, the surge of commercial television found Americans mesmerized by shows from four networks: ABC, CBS, NBC and Du Mont. Most people today under 50 are unaware of Du Mont as a fourth network — or that multitudes watched programs on Du Mont TV sets.

Ted Bergmann, a former managing director of the Du Mont network, and Ira Skutch, who has written and edited several books for the DGA, tell the important story of the network's rise and fall, and of the man behind it.

Alan Du Mont (1901–1965) helped build the first transmitter to broadcast sight and sound simultaneously. He developed the Electrocam — a 35 millimeter motion picture camera mounted beside a television camera to record live TV shows. This let pre-videotape era directors "edit together the output of three cameras [and] ... produce a film program with live techniques."

The Du Mont network carried Cavalcade of Stars, where Jackie Gleason dazzled audiences with his now famous characters. (When Gleason first moved to CBS, The Honeymooners segments were saved for posterity thanks to Du Mont's Electrocam.)

In addition to presenting other Du Mont innovations in content as well as technology, Bergmann and Skutch provide essential information on the history of broadcasting as they salute the man "who made television possible.

Review written by Nick Redman


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