» » Our World Duels in the Sun: Summer 1952 (1986–1987)

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    • Author: mr.Mine
    One of the duels in 1952 was a political one between Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson, both running for President. This would be the first time both political conventions in Chicago were covered gavel to gavel, and an estimated 55 million people were able to watch. It was here that the term "anchor" started being used in reference to Walter Cronkite, who led the CBS-TV broadcast. Unlike today's conventions where the networks have on-site studios which overlook the convention floor, this was not the case in '52. Cronkite made his comments/analyses from a desk at the convention hall, but watched the proceedings on television. Cronkite got that job because all the "old timers" were working the radio side. TV hadn't quite been accepted yet for this type of event. However, once it became apparent how many people watched the TV broadcast, opinions soon changed. Delegates were told that they shouldn't read newspapers, smoke cigars, or pick noses because of the live coverage. Betty Furness did commercials for Westinghouse from a kitchen set in the convention hall. It is said that she logged more air time than any speaker of either party at either convention. Lots of good footage here! Television was kind to Eisenhower, but Stevenson had a difficult time adjusting to the medium.

    Senator Nixon had his own duel, and TV was kind to him. Nixon had gotten himself into trouble for having a slush fund. Ted Rogers had realized what television did for selling product, so he urged Nixon to go on TV and present his side of the story. Nixon, with his wife at his side, said that he had gotten help from a friend, and then ticked off his living style, debts, and obligations. He mentioned that his wife didn't have an expensive Democrat fur coat, but did have a respectable Republican cloth coat. He also mentioned that the family had been given a cocker spaniel dog which they had named Checkers. His daughter had become very fond of the dog, and Nixon said that he wouldn't give that back. This was a very powerful speech and caused a flood of wires to be sent to the GOP headquarters. The speech has since been called the "Checkers Speech." Two other duels were taking place this summer, both involving the U.S. and the Soviet Union. One of those duels involved the fighting of the Soviet Union along with North Korea against the United States and South Korea in the Korean War. The other duel involved the Soviet Union and the United States at the Olympic Games in Helsinki, Finland. This was the Soviets' first Olympic participation, and the animosity of Korea was not evident in Finland. There was no television coverage of those Olympics. We relied on newsreel footage to show us Bob Richards (pole vaulter), Horace Ashenfelter in the Steeplechase, Lindy Remigino (100 meter finals ending in a photo finish, and it 20 minutes to get the photo), and Floyd Patterson (boxing).

    Gas was .27 cents a gallon, but traveling became expensive if one had a family and had to stay in motor lodges. Travel lodges, or motor courts, in those days charged extra for children. Kemmons Wilson didn't like that, so he decided to build a motel with large clean rooms and a big sign and letter marque, but he would not charge extra for children. He opened the first one in Memphis, his hometown under the name of "Holiday Inn." Wilson's draftsman had been watching the movie "Holiday Inn" while making the plans and had the name written on the blueprints. The name stuck.

    Theater box offices were dueling with television. Sitcoms like Ozzie and Harriet and Our Miss Brooks were gaining popularity. Only 108 westerns, mostly "B" films or worse, were made. ("B" films were usually shot in about a week and sometimes used scenes from other westerns. No one ever ran out of bullets, and one could fight all day without losing his hat or showing any marks on his face.) Once popular Gene Autry only made six films, and Roy Rogers only made one..."Son Of Paleface" starring Bob Hope. The Durango Kid series, which had been going a dozen years or more ended. It was a stereotype: white horse, masked man, fearless, couldn't be defeated, and always showed up at just the right time.

    One other film which showed up that year starred Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly (hired from a photograph)..."High Noon." This was almost a non-western western. There were no Indians, no fights between farmers and ranchers, land barons and homesteaders. It was about commitment. The theme song, which recurs during the film, tells the conflict which the Marshall has with in himself. The length of the film, 85 minutes, is the same length of time unfolded in the story itself. (In my opinion, whatever that is worth, it is, was, and always will be an excellent film.) Hit song: "You Belong To Me" by Jo Stafford. ***Ronald and Nancy Reagan were newlyweds. ***There were 60 UFO sightings in a two week period. ***World Heavyweight Champion was Rocky Marciano. ***The Estate of William Randolph Hearst was reappraised at $40,449,214.70. ***Dr. and Mrs. Norman Vincent Peale were the first husband and wife team to broadcast a religious program on TV. ***The first issue of Mad Magazine came out.
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