Video Vault: WEWS celebrates 66 years on air with vintage movies of Gene Carroll and Uncle Jake

WEWS celebrates 66 years on the air

CLEVELAND - Happy birthday to us.

WEWS signed on as Cleveland’s, and for that fact Ohio’s, first television station Dec. 17, 1947.

Our first show was the Cleveland Press Christmas party hosted by Hollywood legend Jimmy Stewart.

That’s old news, but what’s new is in our video player.

Thank you Candy Lee Korn!

As a child, Candy Lee was Gene Carroll’s co-star on the Uncle Jake Funhouse. Gene Carroll hosted a five-day-a-week kids show beginning in 1948 and it ran a couple of years. The Gene Carroll Show began in 1950 and Candy Lee joined him frequently on the show.

Candy Lee’s father took home movies at the shows and I’ve posted 11 minutes of those home movies.

Candy Lee Korn, she sent these home movies to the station in 1992.

They sat in a box in a closet until I discovered them a few weeks ago.

Korn included a note inside the film cannister when she sent the reel of 8mm film – yes, 8 millimeter film.

The note dated Oct. 14, 1992 reads:

            Dear Bill,
                            I’ve been watching some footage from the “early” days at WEWS.
            I don’t think you have much from Uncle Jake’s Funhouse so I am enclosing
            some 8mm film my dad shot. There’s some footage of the show with Bobby
            Driscoll – Helen (Gene’s wife) (Speck’s the dog and Clarence the cat).
            There’s the day we had a bad snowstorm and none of the kids showed up
            so my dad and Will Collins rolled up their pants and were on the show. At
            The end of the reel is something from the Sunday Show.

Bill, I’ll have to assume, is director Bill Wiedenmann, who worked at WEWS 52 years.

I’ve edited the film and switched a few things around. It closes with some footage of Gene and Helen Carroll away from the studio, out having fun.

The film is silent; some is color and some black and white. Starting near the 8:20 mark is footage that appears to have been shot off the TV screen as the show aired.

Sadly, there are no shots of the famous elevator from Uncle Jake’s Funhouse.

Frank Artino, a regular on the Gene Carroll Show, told me at age 5, he and his younger sister were on the Funhouse.

The premise was kids rode an elevator to the funhouse, but it was all a TV illusion.

Children were herded into the “elevator”, a small mock up of a real elevator, and through trick camera effects, they moved floor to floor. The kids were told to shake as if they were in a real elevator.

“It made my sister cry,” said Artino.

Until now, there had been no known footage of Gene Carroll hosting the Gene Carroll Show or of Uncle Jake’s Funhouse.

Thank you Candy Lee Korn for sending is this priceless present as we celebrate WEWS’s 66th birthday.

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