They were pouring out into the street at the Crustacean in Beverly Hills Monday night. And well-mannered, faithful fans armed with autograph pens and souvenir books waited politely near the valet pickup area as the honorees departed after the 10th anniversary Celebration of the Archive of American Television. They were some of the 532 legends who have contributed to TV’s history and who have recorded their histories to/for the TV Academy Foundation’s’ Archive. While only seconds-long clips of the 532 screened about the eatery, the Acad’s Chairman Dick Askin welcomed them with brief remarks.
The senior and still-active member on hand was 94 years-young Art Linkletter. Others getting congrats, swapping reminiscences — not necessarily in chronological order — included Carl Reiner, Doris Roberts, Betty White, Edie Adams Jayne Meadows, Tom Bosley, Jack Klugman, Elinor Donahue, Barbara Eden, June Foray, Marla Gibbs, Florence Henderson, Jack Larson, Rose Marie, Marion Ross, Loretta Swit, George Shapiro, Warren Cowan, Gil Cates, Bob Mackie, Nolan Miller, Tommy Schlamme, Doris Singleton and yours truly. (I started my regular TV show in 1953.) Chairman Askin reminded through the Acad’s association with Google, TV Land and other partners, the Archive is available online to anyone, anywhere. “And we’re working on new ways to make the collection even more accessible as we move forward.” Some of the interview subjects, recorded for posterity include Milton Berle, Sheldon Leonard, Joe Barbera, Leonard Goldenson, Edna Farsworth, widow of Phil T. Farnsworth, inventor of electronic television. Also the “Show of Shows” quartet: Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart and Mel Tolkin. Gary Rutkowski, the TV Academy’s manager of Archives of American Television, said recent additions include Robert Vaughn, Ray Dolby, Gil Cates, Brad Garrett and Bob Schieffer.
As guests departed the party, they were gifted with a DVD “Selections from the Archive Comedy Collection Sponsored by Bob Hope.” Hope had contributed $1 million to the TV Academy Foundation. Those interviewed about comedy on the Hope disk are Tom and Dick Smothers, Edie Adams, Florence Henderson, Bob Carroll and Madelyn Pugh Davis, Don Knotts, Barbara Eden, Robert Guillaume, Betty White, Rob Reiner, Isabel Sanford, Sherwood Schwartz, Tim Conway and Harvey Korman, Bob Banner, John Rich, Leonard Stern, Phyllis Diller and Bob Newhart. The Foundation is also proud to hold interview collections including those of Johnny Carson with Jack Benny, George Burns and Jackie Gleason. The program continues at a rate of 50 interviews a year–lest we forget, the TV Academy does not.