Howdy Doody, and MSU Football in Color

5 11 2018

1955 was special for Michigan State in many ways.  Not only was it the year the school celebrated its 100th birthday, but it was also the year it graduated from being a college to a university.  The centennial was a yearlong celebration where everything seemed better, more fun, and more important.

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One of the three NBC-TV color mobile units on campus for televising the MSU vs Notre Dame football game, as well as several other national broadcasts from campus in October 1955

Take the middle weekend of October — a normal football weekend it was not.  That weekend, NBC produced five television shows on campus for national broadcast, including the first color televising of a MSU football game.  The hoopla surrounding the game was the biggest the campus had seen.  An estimated 400 people were in the press box, including a 35-person television crew.

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A color television camera located on the roof of the press box at Macklin Stadium for televising the MSU vs Notre Dame football game on October 15, 1955

There were also four other color TV shows produced that weekend – NBC’s “Home Show,” telecast from Brody Hall, a coast-to-coast, closed circuit broadcast about speech and drama, and a short, closed-circuit preview telecast filmed at the football field for one of the network’s new shows “NBC’s Matinee Theater.”

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Drama and Speech students enact a scene for a nationwide closed circuit color TV broadcast on NBC-TV from Macklin Stadium in October 1955

The fourth program rivaled in popularity with the football broadcast itself.  The Howdy Doody Show, televised October 14, 1955 from Macklin Stadium (now Spartan Stadium), featured Coach Duffy Daugherty, the freshman football team and, the Spartan Marching Band, led by famed director Leonard Falcone.  Mr. Nick (Bobby Nicholson) and Clarabell the Clown (Lew Anderson) hosted the show.  Approximately 200 children were in attendance, with 100 joining through arrangements with the Ingham County United Community Chest.  Howdy Doody, himself, did not seem to have attended.

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Mr. Nick and Clarabell of the NBC-TV Hoody Doody Show broadcast in color from Macklin Stadium in October 1955

The fifth and final broadcast, the MSU-Notre Dame game was NBC’s “Game of the Week.”  The Spartans won 21-7, with 52,007 in attendance at Macklin Stadium and 50 million watching on TV.

 

Written by Whitney Miller, processing archivist

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