My search for the ORIGINAL MASTER
Video Tape of

The Edsel Show
starring Bing Crosby
with Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney,
Louis Armstrong

and Lindsay Crosby and The Four Preps

Broadcast LIVE from CBS Television City in Hollywood
October 13, 1957

Some background information will help explain my interest in the Edsel automobile and how that passion eventually led to the discovery of the original 2" broadcast master Video Tape of "The Edsel Show."

snapshot from my childhood scrapbook, dated January 1958

I've been a fan of the 1958 Edsel since it was introduced in September, 1957. Being an avid car nut throughout my childhood, I had been well aware of the impeding arrival of the "Newest Thing On Wheels." Almost no one living in the United States during the late 1950's could have been unaware of the Edsel. Ford Motor Company created unprecedented anticipation for the new car using every imaginable resource to whet the appetite of the motoring public. EVERYONE knew that "E-Day" was coming on September 4, 1957!

I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, and a close friend of our family had signed with Ford Motor Company to be a franchisee for the new Edsel. Every evening Charlie Mead would drive a different Edsel demonstrator home from his dealership. In 1959 the Edsel died, and my passion for cars eventually became dormant for many years. After college I moved to California in 1971. In 1980 I spotted a 1958 Edsel coupe in Los Angeles. This was my first Edsel sighting in years, and my interest was instantly rekindled. Several months later I convinced the owner of that pink 1958 Edsel Citation coupe to sell his car to me, and I quickly became immersed in a new hobby of collecting vintage automobiles. That passion is with me today as I now have numerous makes of cars in my collection. The first large scale restoration project I attempted began in 1981 with the extremely rare Edsel Citation convertible pictured below. Only 930 of these convertibles were produced by The Edsel Division of Ford Motor Company. Approximately 25 are known to still exist as of 2002. I am fortunate to be the "caretaker" of this fabulous automobile.

Lucky coincidences

My career as a film and video editor began in 1969. Coincidentally, my career and hobby merged in 1981 when I was hired to edit a television special about classic TV commercials. Among the archives of old films and videotapes that were located for the show were five 1958 Edsel commercials that had been presented on the popular 1950's NBC program, "Wagon Train." Edsel was one of the sponsors of that show during the 1957-58 season. It was a miraculous discovery for me, as I was deeply involved in the restoration of my 1958 Edsel convertible at the time.

Yet another lucky event happened when CBS News did a story about the old Edsel debacle for their "CBS Evening News" program in 1981. I was asked to be interviewed for the story. The producer of the segment had located numerous old Ford promotional films to accent the story, and I asked him to loan me the tapes to make copies. Among the tapes was an extremely poor kinescope copy of "The Edsel Show" starring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Rosemary Clooney, and Louis Armstrong. I vaguely remembered watching the live broadcast of that program as a 7 year old boy back in 1957 1957. This major production was mounted by Ford Motor Company to promote their new automobile model which had been launched just a few weeks earlier.

That copy of "The Edsel Show" was one of the poorest quality kinescopes I have ever seen. The image was fuzzy with bad audio fidelity and countless film scratches and splices. It was nice to see the Edsel extravaganza again, but disappointing that the musical numbers and the precious Edsel commercials were in such a sad state.

There IS a Video Tape of "The Edsel Show!"

Years later in September of 1987 I was reading a story in a broadcast trade publication about the history of videotape. The timeline in the story indicated that CBS had acquired their first generation Ampex Video Tape recorders in 1957 for use at the nearly new Television City complex in Hollywood. The recorders were destined to replace the inferior kinescope process, and one of the immediate uses would be to "tape delay" network programs for re-broadcast in the Pacific Time Zone. The story stated that the first use of Video Tape was for the CBS Evening News broadcast anchored by Douglas Edwards. But the first use for an entertainment program at Television City was around October 1957. WOW!! My imagination went to work OVERTIME. I wondered if "The Edsel Show" had possibly been recorded on Video Tape in addition to the lousy kinescope I had acquired in 1981?

I contacted the videotape archive departments at CBS, both in Hollywood and New York. No luck, both sources stated. "The Edsel Show" only existed as a kinescope - no videotape was recorded or saved, so I was told. Unconvinced, I placed a last-ditch call to the videotape engineering department at CBS Television City. I inquired if there was anyone still working there that had been with the tape department from the beginning. I was soon speaking to a gentlemen on the verge of retirement who remembered "The Edsel Show" well. In fact he had the VIDEOTAPE of the show on his desk! I was in a state of shock. He told me that back in the old days it became common practice at CBS to take advantage of the "miracle" of Video Tape: the ability to erase and re-use the tape stock over and over. But he had personally preserved "The Edsel Show" because it was the FIRST entertainment Video Tape program recorded at CBS Television City. "The Edsel Show" originated at TV City for a "live" broadcast to the East Coast, but was "tape delayed" for re-broadcast 3 hours later in the Pacific Time Zone. A "backup" kinescope had been recorded and was played backed simultaneously with the Video Tape in the event that the new technology failed. Of course the tape did not fail, but only the kinescope went into the CBS archive after the broadcast. A few prints were made and distributed to Ford Motor Company and the stars of the show. Miraculously, "CBS VideoTape # 1 - The Edsel Show" survived as a souvenir of the momentous occasion when CBS ushered in the era of Video Tape.

I had established my credibility as a responsible editor and technician at a Hollywood facility that supplied programming to CBS, and I was given permission in October of 1987 to borrow the master 2" format Video Tape in order to duplicate it. The old cardboard package containing the tape had not been opened since 1957. Fortunately the tape was enclosed in a plastic bag inside the box and the ideal storage environment at CBS preserved the tape in excellent condition. 2" format Video Tape was fast becoming obsolete by 1987, so I made the duplicate recording onto 1" format tape which was the new standard at the time (I have since copied the program again to BetaCam digital format). As the VTR's were making the copy, I watched the show on a professional monitor with a studio sound system, and was absolutely amazed at the quality. A FAR CRY from the poor old kinescope that was thought to be the only surviving copy of "The Edsel Show." The original Video Tape's whereabouts are currently unknown, but its historical value has now been established and it is surely being well cared for.

One more coincidence...

The day that CBS approved the loan of "The Edsel Show" master Video Tape to me was October 13, 1987...exactly 30 years to the day from the original broadcast of "The Edsel Show."

See the copy of the signout sheet from the Videotape Department at CBS - I wouldn't expect anyone to believe me about this coincidence without the proof you are looking at.

The names have been hidden for privacy reasons.

Are you curious about why "The Edsel Show" appears in green on this website?

Back in 1958, the official color of The Edsel Division of Ford Motor Company was "Federal Highway Safety Green," which was just coming into use as the color you see on highway signs to this day.

To view "The Edsel Show" on YouTube click here

To learn about Rosemary Clooney's personal script from "The Edsel Show" click here

To return to "The Edsel Show" homepage, click here

For more information about early video recording, and color television, click here

To view the first Television Tape recorded in "Living Color" click here

To visit my King of the Road home page, click here
See my classic car collection and learn about the early history of COLOR television.