Thirteen Takes Stroll Down Memory Lane for 50th Anniversary

FishbowlNY readers are well aware that Channel 13 is celebrating the Big 5-0. And if we’re running a series a pieces dedicated to the major achievement, you can be sure that Thirteen has some unique plans.

Tonight, New York’s first public TV station begins anniversary celebration with a special four-part series, Pioneers of Thirteen. The first episode: The 60s–Expermental Days, dust off the WNET archival footage for memorable moments in station, if not television, history.

Interspersed are interviews with early Channel 13 staffers and managers, including the WNDT (13’s original call letters) founding general manager Richard Heffner.

But the show comes alive with the vintage clips, some not seen they aired decades ago. In the precursor to Great Performances, viewers will be treated to a young but talented Dustin Hoffman performing Journey of the Fifth Horse. It was 1966, a year before Hoffman breakout role in The Graduate.

Other were already established, such as A Conversation with Muhammad Ali, featuring, of course, “The Greatest.”

Jazz Casual has clips of Blues great, B.B. King and Mel Torme, while Aaron Copland is featured on Music in the 20s.

That only scratches the surface to the decade and in turn the one-hour program.

Black Journal has clips with Pro Football Hall of Famer turned activist Jim Brown, Andrew Young, Huey P. Newton, and the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is shown from a different inteview.

Even The Doors are part of the special, from their appearance with rock journalist Richard Goldstein on Critique. Beatles fans will get their fix as well, with a John Lennon and Yoko Ono sighting, in their art performance days.

Lighter fare includes Bill Cosby, Bob Newhart, and James Earl Jones on Sesame Street.

Later installments: The 70s–Bold and Fearless, The 80s–Trusted Voice, The 90s and Beyond–Changing Landscape will be broadcast later this year.

Thirteen debuted as a public television station on September 16, 1962.