BOB MURPHY &
|By 1956 Bob Murphy and Kay
Westfall were enjoying the perks of their well-deserved celebrity.
On the air since 1950, they had survived their original station, WENR-TV,
endured the cutting of their show from two hours to as little, at one
point, as thirty minutes. When new management at WBKB
cancelled The Bob & Kay Show because they wanted programs
with more shock value (Shades of contemporary television!), Bob
and Kay proved that their friendly home-style kind of local television
was still in demand by moving over to WNBQ, where the show
continued to grow. They were even invited to The White House.
On Wednesday, January 4, 1956, WNBQ premiered What's The Pixie?, a live panel show starring Bob and Kay and featuring Fran Allison and Sam Cowling (from Don McNeil's morning program) and in what may come as a shock to those who only knew him from his deadpan dead serious deliveries on the channel 5 and channel 9 newscasts, Len O'Connor! There would also be guest celebrity panelists. Steve Allen took time out from his busy schedule to stop by one night.
Airing live with a studio audience from 10:30 pm to 11 pm and sponsored by Sears, Roebuck, & Company, What's The Pixie? was predicated on the concept that what's seen by the mind's eye and the eyes themselves are not always the same thing.
Bob Murphy displays to the panelists, the studio audience, and the audience at home what he calls a "pixilated picture," one which has something missing. It is up to the panelists to fill in the blank. The various perceptions (with a little nonsense added for levity) made the show a delight to watch.
What's The Pixie? also marked the first time Murphy and Westfall headlined a program with a live studio audience since they jumped ship to channel 5. It had also been years since a program with a live studio audience aired on WNBQ.
However, just as television today is a profit-hungry business, so it was in the 1950s. By the middle of the decade, the writing was on the wall. "The Chicago School of Television" was coming to a close. Station management discovered they could make more money airing off network reruns than paying local personalities, technicians, and musicians. In May of 1957, WNBQ, which held high the tradition of "Chicago School of Television" methods since the early fifties, (after the demise of Paramount's WBKB) cancelled The Bob & Kay Show.
But it wasn't over yet. June 24, 1957 newspapers reported that The Bob & Kay Show was moving back to WBKB and scheduled to premiere (this time from the studios at 190 N. State St.) 10 am to 10:55 am Monday through Friday beginning July 1st. Eventually, WBKB also felt the pressures from their New York bosses, and The Bob & Kay Show disappeared forever.
This would be the last move for Bob Murphy. Sadly, he would die after a long illness, on October 25, 1959. Kay Westfall later appeared as a regular playing herself on the 1961 version of The Bob Newhart Show. She retired from the business and later worked in real estate on the west coast.
copyright 2005 Steve Jajkowski
THE VIDEO VETERAN
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