Don Pardo: The Man with the Big Voice

As a staff announcer at NBC for 60 years, Don Pardo was a robust, velvety virtuoso of enunciation, whose baritone resonated like the aftertaste of a full-bodied fine wine. His trademark gig was performing the introductions at the beginning of each episode of Saturday Night Live, which he did for all but one season between the show’s debut in October 1975 and its most recent season finale in May.   Pardo, who died on Aug. 18 at age 96 in …

Eli Wallach: The Good, the Bad and the Brilliant

Eli Wallach is burned into our memories as the “Ugly” in Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. As Tuco Ramí­rez, the malevolent but clownish bandit who tangles with a bounty hunter (Clint Eastwood) and a cold-blooded killer (Lee Van Cleef) over a cache of Confederate gold, Wallach gave a performance that was lauded as “inspired” by critic Roger Ebert, who wrote that “Wallach took this low-rent role seriously and made something evocative out of it.” …

CNN Summer Series ‘The Sixties’ Debuts May 29

Let’s just proclaim Tom Hanks America’s Official Historian. The first TV program Hanks ever produced was the monumental miniseries From Earth to the Moon (1998).  His G.I. dramas Band of Brothers (2001) and The Pacific (2010) remain the definitive World War II miniseries. And now he’s the executive producer of CNN’s ambitious attempt to crystalize the most turbulent decade of the past half-century, the 10-part documentary series The Sixties. CNN has made a few episodes available to the press for …

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.: The Actor Who Went From Private Eye to Mr. FBI

Back in late 1950s and early 1960s, one of the coolest series on the tube was 77 Sunset Strip, a stylish variation on hard-boiled detective noir infused with wise-cracking hipster humor – sort of Raymond Chandler meets the Rat Pack, set in what TV historian Horace Newcomb describes as “a sun-drenched world of cocktails, cool jazz and convertibles.” The show’s star was Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who, as suave detective Stuart “Stu” Bailey, deftly tangled with tough guys, charmed beautiful dames and unraveled mysteries …

Will Aereo Revolutionize Broadcast TV, or Kill It?

On April 22, the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in a lawsuit that some think will determine the future of television – or, at the very least, whether you can watch local TV news and broadcast channels over the Internet, without having to buy a cable TV subscription. The case involves Aereo, a two-year-old New York-based start-up that offers a new way to watch TV. Aereo captures signals from broadcast TV stations on banks of antennas located close to the …

Sid Caesar: Maestro of TV Sketch Comedy

Without Sid Caesar, we might not have had Saturday Night Live. In the early days of TV, some comedians simply got on camera and performed the same slapstick routines that had been a hit for them on Vaudeville, while others tried to replicate the situation comedy of radio shows. But Caesar, who passed away on Feb. 12 at age 91 in Beverly Hills, Calif., pioneered a new way to make us laugh in the age of television. >> Sign up for the …