THE MYSTERY OF THE MISSING BANDSTAND RERUNS
As told to Sharon Sultan Cutler
The question on Bandstand fans’ minds is how and when will they be able to see reruns of American Bandstand, especially from the early years 1956 through 1964.
The answer is not so simple.
George Yates, son of American Bandstand director Ed Yates, explained that the show was broadcast live, using three cameras. The only way to preserve live television broadcasts from the early 1950s through the mid-1960s (when videotapes were invented) was with kinescopes.
A kinescope is basically a recording of a television program on motion picture film.
Yates said “During the early years, American Bandstand was on every day Monday through Friday, averaging 250 shows a year. Hardly any of these were recorded as kinescopes because they were considered to be too expensive.”
The exceptions were for Specials or events like Christmas shows*, Yates added.
Some American Bandstand shows were filmed outside of Philly (Called “Remotes”) so these shows usually had Kinescopes made. A perfect example is the Mar 8th, 1963 season 6, Episode 1469, that was in Miami Florida with Nancy Sinatra as a guest star, singing her hit “Like I do”.
Kinescopes and later video tapes were made for Special events such as the Dr. Pepper Celebrity Show in Nov 1963 (still available on DVD from kvideodvd.com) The bonus on this DVD is a Complete American Bandstand Kinescope from Sept 9th, 1964! There are 4 American Bandstand Beatle Specials. (The Beatles were “too big” to be guest stars but Dick played their records for the kids to dance to, showed Beatle news broadcasts & film clips, and Beatle memorabilia were brought in to carry out the “Beatle Theme”)
Another noteworthy special (most watched) was the Dec 5th, 1961 broadcast of “Backstage Bandstand” where you get to watch the process of the initial setup and inner workings of Studio B before the American Bandstand show. You watch the kids come in and hang up their coats in WFIL’s locker room and you see the stage crew pull out the famous bleachers. The crew setup the AB set backdrops and Dick’s podium. And when the show starts, Dick turns the cameras onto the stage crew and the control room and even the cameramen take turns filming each other!
Yates estimated that there might only be a “couple of dozen” American Bandstand kinescopes in existence taken in its Philadelphia days. Usually the lead cameraman handled the kinescope transfers off of the television monitors.
He believes that the new owners of Dick Clark Productions may have some kinescopes and others have been bought up by private collectors.