TV Begins

John Logie BairdThe great Sweedish physicist and one of the founders of the study of spectroscopy Anders Jonas Angstrom was born in 1814. The angstrom is now a standard unit of measure: about the size of a hydrogen atom. Abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone was born in 1814. Physicist George Stokes, known for his work in fluid dynamics, was born in 1819. Sculpter Gleb Derujinsky was born in 1878. “English impressionist” composer John Ireland was born in 1879. Here is his Piano Concerto in E Flat that is representative of his work. It’s very nice:

Actor Bert Lahr was born in 1895. He is best known for playing the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.

The great director Alfred Hitchcock was born in 1899. I was half inclined to give him the day. But there is a problem. As great as Hitchcock was, he is probably the most overrated director in history. It amazes me how much people over-analyze him. When I was an undergraduate, the TA in my film class was working on her Master’s thesis on Hitchcock. I thought it was pretty cool at the time, but now I look back and think, “Really?!” There are so many films and filmmakers one could study, why Hitchcock? I like his work, but it is all very simple popular entertainment. And the man wasn’t careful. The effects in his films are often pathetic. Consider the airplane crash in North By Northwest or the terrible rear projection in The Birds. Unquestionably his greatest film, Psycho is just his attempt to be like William Castle. Don’t get me wrong, I like his work. But deep it ain’t.

Singer Don Ho was born in 1930. Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg was born in 1951. Here he is doing a very sentimental but perfect pop song, “Same Old Lang Syne”:

And comedy writer Tom Davis was born in 1952. Here he is in 1987 with Al Franken on Late Night:

Double Nobel Prize winning chemist Frederick Sanger is 95 today. Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro is 87. Director Paul Greengrass is 58. And CIA agent Valerie Plame is 50.

The day, however, belongs to the “father of television” John Logie Baird who was born in 1888. Unlike most inventions, television was one where a lot of different people and groups were trying to make it happen. That doesn’t make Baird especially great, but it does mean that he was the right man at the right time. Here is a brief video about his invention; it is quite amazing:

Happy birthday John Logie Baird!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

0 thoughts on “TV Begins

  1. The obsession with Hitchcock among auteur-type film students with too much time on their hands is pretty silly.

    That said, his films hold up really well as popular entertainment, and maybe somebody will eventually do a look at why that is. Certainly the charm of the actors in his best movies is a major key, and writers like Ernest Lehmann. There also might be a good investigation into how people absorb stories in a visual medium, what makes certain twists of perspective work, that sort of thing. Hitch had a definite feel for that, which is why he could use pretty varied source material to produce good results fairly consistently.

    "Psycho" is great, but I think I love James Mason and Cary Grant in NBNW better . . .

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