November 7th, 2013 will be the 50th anniversary of the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California.
November 7th, 1963 I was a newreel cameraman for KHJ-TV in Los Angeles. The occasion was the world première of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” in a theatre based on a geodesic dome developed by R. Buckmaster Fuller. This premier marked the dawn of “single lens” Cinerama.
Photo of the Cinerama Dome on November 7, 1963
Directed by Stanley Kramer, the cast was outstanding: Spencer Tracy, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas, Jonathan Winters, Edie Adams, and a host of other stars including legendary Buster Keaton.
Jonathan Winters recently passed away in Montecito, CA, and it brought back memories of the ’60s when I worked as a newsreel cameraman in Los Angeles for Channel 9, KHJ-TV. I had a special license plate on my car. It was exactly like the one in this picture, but without the license plate holder and the words “SLO Skiers.” This was during the days when gas station attendants filled up your tank with gas. So many attendants would ask me what the “PP” meant. These were the days of the 20th Century Fox TV hit “Payton Place.” Of course, I would always reply “Payton Place.”
PP License Plate
I covered hundreds, maybe thousands of news stories and one of them was the world premiere of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,” which also happened to be the grand opening of the newly built Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood.
Recently while I was supervising some video mastering of “Atlas Shrugged – The Strike” at FotoKem in Burbank, I saw this picture of the premiere of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” on the wall in the lobby of the Conversions Department. The place has lots of expensive video recorders, monitors, etc. You don’t want to have to pay the monthly electrical bill to power this equipment, and dozens of skilled technicians inhabit this place, which is not cheap, either.
Getting back to this picture, I think I can recognize myself in the crowd of photographers and newsreel cameramen outside on the sidewalk. If you look very carefully, you can see the reflection of me taking this picture. In show biz, this is a twofer. Oh well, I’m not a comedian.
World Premier at new Cinerama Dome in Hollywood
I worked with Dale Robertson back when he formed the theatrical distribution company United Screen Arts (USA), run by Harry Kopelan.
One of the films The Man From Button Willow, which I recall being animated, was produced by Dale. Another film A Swinging Summer with Raquel Welsh doing the twist at Lake Arrowhead before she became a movie star. And another film starred Tom Laughlin who delivered the 35mm film elements to me in his horse trailer.
And so it goes, all things must end. RIP