Let’s kick off 2016 then. One thing I haven’t written about on this blog much so far is news presentation, but recently I found a very interesting video featuring some old adverts with are then interrupted for the announcement of one of the most famous news stories of its era. The video is taken from what was shown on an American station called KTLA in California in August 1977, and it was uploaded to YouTube by “MicroJow” so credit goes to them.
I found one of the first adverts in the break very amusing, which was for a carpet store called Carpeteria. This was because if the salesman had a moustache he would look exactly the same as the comedy character Swiss Toni. I was half expecting him to begin by saying “selling carpets is very much like making love to a beautiful woman”. I was also very amused by a YouTube commenter who said that the best-looking rug in that advert was the one on his head.
After that is a rather odd advert for Capitol Home Loans featuring some puppets before our hoarse-voiced Carpeteria friend returns to rather enthusiastically tell us about some “six buh nine” carpets that are available for only $49.99, what a bargain. Just as we are about to put our coat on to go to our nearest store, the start of the next advert is interrupted by a newsflash caption and the sound of an old teletype machine.
There is a long pause, and viewers must have been wondering what could possibly have happened, but eventually an announcer breathlessly informs us that the singer Elvis Presley has died at the age of 45 (this is incorrect, he was actually 42). And that’s all the information that we get, we are simply promised that there will be an update later and then we return to the adverts.
Mr old smoothie Carpeteria salesman then returns for a third and final time in the break trying to flog us some more rich-looking lovely carpets, followed by a lot more adverts and trails, but it all seems of little importance now. The death of Elvis was an event that happened six years before I was born, but from the people who do remember the news from the time it seems that it came as a real shock. It hasn’t stopped him from having chart-topping albums to this day though.
In the days before 24-hour news coverage and social media it is rather odd to see a programme interrupted for a brief announcement, nowadays time would be filled with endless rumours and speculation as to what exactly happened and the idea of TV newsflashes has been greatly devalued. It was fascinating taking a look at how this story was announced at the time though and how the message would have spread.