Metropolitan News-Enterprise


Thursday, February 6, 2003


Page 14



Films With Live Intros Marked KTTV in the Daytime




Daytime programming on KTTV in the 1950s was reliant on personalities and films. By the latter part of the decade, the station had its system down pat:

Have a familiar face introduce the films, read commercials, and provide some chatter. This was before the days of videotape; it was live.

The films were half-hour TV re-runs, old movies, or, in the case of Dick Whittinghill’s show, dated Saturday matinee serials. And, of course, Sheriff John (Rovick) aired vintage cartoons on his “Lunch Brigade.”

Steve Martin was one of the daytime hosts. His show went by various names including “Martinee.” During a spell when the laid back, pipe-puffing Martin broadcast from his home in Sherman Oaks, the program (co-hosted by his dog, “Pal,”) was called “Martin’s Manor.”

I’m not sure, but I think the tune played at the start and end of Martin’s shows was “The Third Man Theme” (plunked on a zither in the movie of that title, and used on radio on “The Many Lives of Harry Lime”).

For 20 years or so, Martin had been a “cowboy,” starting his own western band, the Nevada Nightherders, when he was still in high school. Bedecked in western apparel, he emceed an early 1950s weekly western-variety show on KTTV, using the moniker “Dude” Martin.





But that ended after three years when his sponsor, Sears, decided to axe the costly nighttime show and sponsor an afternoon program with two re-runs on each daily session. Martin accepted Sears’ invitation to doff his nickname and host the new show. “Sears Double Drama” went on the air Jan. 18, 1954, at 12:45 p.m., following the debut of a daily Bob Clampett puppet show, “Buffalo Billy.”

Martin later added to his duties the hosting of a weekly half-hour Saturday morning show, “Open House,” on which he guided viewers through Southland homes.

Dick Whittinghill was a competitor to Martin in 1955, hosting movies on KRCA, Channel 4, from 1-2:30 in the afternoons. His show was called “Watch Whittinghill.” The next year, however, Whittinghill was on board at KTTV, with a late afternoon, Monday through Friday shift.

It wasn’t long before Whittinghill was additionally hosting a five-hour weekly Saturday afternoon show, “Jamboree,” comprised of a spate of half-hour re-runs, including “Ramar of the Jungle”  and “Orient Express.






In 1958, with ABC’s “American Bandstand” and shows of like nature in vogue, KTTV scrapped the Saturday afternoon reruns, and added Whittinghill emceeing “Dance Party,” featuring students from local high schools, as well as guest performers, such as the Four Freshmen. Whittinghill also presided over a Saturday afternoon hobby show.

He is perhaps better remembered as a morning disc jockey on KMPC radio—a job he held from 1950-1979. In his 1976 book, “Did You Whittinghill This Morning?” there are many remembrances by him of radio stations he worked at, but, oddly, no mention of his days at KTTV or other TV stations in L.A.

Among the photos in the center of the book, however, is one of him with a KTTV camera pointed at him. The caption reads, “Whit began the talk-variety show format before it became fashionable.”

Whittinghill had small roles in the years ahead in movies and in network TV shows, such as “Perry Mason” and “Dragnet.”

Ed Reimers, white-haired and urbane, was host of “Movieland Matinee.” A KTTV retrospective in recent years showed a clip of him opening his show with the greeting: “Well, good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome on another sunny, Southern California afternoon to ‘Movieland Matinee.’ ”

Reimers’ countenance became well known nationally because of his appearances in Crest and All-State commercials. Off-camera, he served as the announcer on “Do You Trust Your Wife” and “Pantomime Quiz.”





An old buddy of his from days at a radio station in Buffalo, New York was Jack Paar. I recall one night on the “Tonight Show” when Reimers appeared as the announcer, with the explanation that he had dropped by to see Paar, announcer Hugh Downs suddenly became ill, and Reimers stepped in. The natural suspicion, of course, was that Downs graciously bowed out that night so that Reimers might have exposure on national television.

In light of his voice, appearance and manner, coupled with his proficiency (he was said to seldom muff a line), it’s surprising that Reimers did not go farther than he did.

Indeed, Reimers had contacts other than with Paar. In 1933, he was a staff announcer at WHO, a radio station in Des Moines, Iowa. That was at the same time that the station had a sportscaster named Ronald Reagan.


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