Whenever the history of television is chronicled, the name of Klaus Landsberg is certain to figure prominently. Program-wise and technically wise, television -- both in America and in Europe -- owes a great deal to the man who now bears the title of Vice President of Paramount Television Production Inc.
Though only in his early thirties, Landsberg is recognized as one of the leading authorities and pioneers in the television fields. He has been actively engaged in this work for over 16-years. His credits list direction and production on over 2000 separate telecasts, including 300 remotes. He has started more television programming trends than any other single individual in the nation.
The Landsberg story begins in Germany when television was REALLY an infant in swaddling clothes. As a boy of 9, his interest in radio was quite apparent and most of his spare time was spent building radios, into-everything imaginable -- even match boxes. At 16, Klaus amazed science-minded Germans by building the most effective short wave receiver ever conceived -- using less tubes than ever before thought possible -- for which he won First Prize at a national exhibition. He celebrated his 18th birthday by becoming assistant to Professor Faerber, European pioneer and director of one of the first TV laboratories in the world. It was during, this association that Landsberg designed the mechanical and early cathode-ray tube type television equipment. During this time, he also lectured throughout Europe on television principles and gave many of the first demonstrations of such equipment.
Despite his many activities in radio and TV, Landsberg's educational and cultural training was not neglected. He obtained two degrees----E. E. (Electrical Engineer) and C. E. (Communications Engineer) from the Universities of Berlin and Prague. He followed these with study in Holland and postgraduate work at the Polytechnical Institute in Czechoslovakia.
Even European days have only 24 hours per day, nonetheless, Landsberg combined still another activity into his busy schedule... he found time to learn to play 4 musical instruments (violins piano,, accordion and drums)... as well as to become such a proficient skier that he was featured in exhibition skiing in several European motion pictures.
From childhood on he appeared in many plays. Combining his technical skill and his desire to pursue a strong artistic inclination Landsberg set out to prove that the two could be successfully blended.
In 1936, he was called upon to assist in the history-making telecast of the Berlin Olympic Games, an event that marked television's rounding of one of the proverbial corners.
In 1937, Klaus was appointed laboratory engineer and assistant to Dr. Korm, the Inventor of picture telegraphy. During this association, Landenberg himself created many new electronic devices. The most outstanding of these achievements was the invention of an electronic aid to navigation and blind landings, considered so vital to the Third Reich that upon being patented was declared a military-secret, which Landsberg was determined to destroy as a Nazi weapon and did! This basic radar principle later became Landsbergs passport to America, a story in itself -- with the dramatic impact of a thriller.
Farnsworth Television, Inc. hired Klaus Landsberg as Television Development Engineer in Philadelphia in 1938... shortly after he landed in the 'United States.
In 1939 he went to Now York for the National Broadcasting Company television division. It was during this period that Landsberg helped NBC make possible the first public TV demonstrations ion America --- at the New York World's Fair.
Allen B. DuMont recognized Landsberg's qualifications and signed him as television design and development engineer for the New York DuMont Laboratories ---Pioneer United States TV organization. Here he supervised technical operations of the television unit at the U.S. Army Maneuvers in Cantons N.Y. and developed the automatic synchronizing circuits. Next he put in readiness DuMont's New York Station WABD, and assisted in, producing the first shows for this station.
Paramount was a major DuMont stockholder at that time and Landsberg's next move was a natural culmination of his two years activities with DuMont.... he was sent to Hollywood to organize W6XYZ, the Paramount Picture TV station... this was in 1941.
It was here that Klaus Landsberg's extensive background in show business, radio and television really began to be utilized to the fullest extent. From the very beginning when he designed the KTLA transmitter (then W6XYZ)..... the worlds most powerful… to the present day when he recently received the 1949 Emmy Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for KTLA's Overall-Station Achievement (the second consecutive year that this important award went to the station), Klaus Landsberg has truly earned the title "Mr., Television", which his co-workers have given him.
W6XYZ was on the air for five years on an experimental basis before it became KTLA, Los Angeles' first commercial station to go on the air, in January of 1947. After three years of commercial operation, during which time Los Angeles has added six more stations (including four manor network outlets)... KTLA has remained Los Angeles first station. First in number of top-rated programs, first in public service, first in news scopes, KTLA, today, is pointed to by the entire nation as the most successful operation among TV stations. Sponsor, national magazine of the trade, said recently, "for some time now an independent TV station, Paramounts KTLA has dominated the seven station competitive Los Angeles market …there's no brushing aside the phenomenal record of KTLA."
Televiews Magazine said, "Landsberg is KTLA and KTLA is Klaus Landsberg... KTLA has come on top in so many polls and surveys that it is beginning to be monotonous.” Broadcasting Magazine, national trade publication said, “an Independent TV station is not news but an independent TV Station which ranks so high in a seven station market is decisively newsworthy, the station, KTLA... observers attribute considerable of the success to the driving force of Klaus Landsberg."
Landsberg started KTLA with the parts of two TV cameras which he carried with him on a Westbound train in 1941. First studio was set up in a converted sound stage on the lot of Paramount Pictures in Hollywood.
From that date on, the story of Hollywood TV becomes the story Of Landsberg planned and developed thinking. Broadcasting Magazine says, "KTLA originates more Hollywood programs for Eastern distribution that any network outlet on the west coast."
Just a few of the shows in which Klaus Landsberg has had at least a finger or ten in the development of the format and type of show are: Spade Cooley, Harry Owens, "Bandstand Revue," Bobby Ramos and "Latin Cruise," "Dixie Showboat and Ina Ray Huttons All-Girl Show"-----all musical variety shows, many being remotes direct from the spot. Hopalong Cassidy, Tim McCoy Doye O'Dell and "Cowboy Thrills" --- all western shows featuring both film and live entertainment: "City at Night" (on the spot coverage), "Teleforum" (public debate), "Magazine of the Week" (visual, page-by-page) and "Your Town" (with Mayor Bowron)---- all public service programs: "Hollywood Opportunity" (amateur talent), "Hollywood Career," (dramatic show), "Movietown, RSVP" (charade show), "Man's Best Friend," (dog show), "The comics" (filmed comic strips), Wrestling, Ice Hockey, "Jalopy Derby," "Midget Auto Races," and countless other sports shows," "Meet Me In Hollywood," (interviews), "Handy Hints," (household helps), "Tricks and Treats," (cooking guide), "Fun on the Beach," (remote audience participation direct from ocean side), "Auction Park" (remote direct from an auction) and "Fantastic Studios, Ink." (Complete musical comedy using child talent and too many others to list completely.
In 1941, Landsberg proved that his engineering genius was still as much at work as his alert showmanship. He invented a high sensitivity camera tube, which was declared a U.S. Military Secret.
1944 brought him the Television Broadcasters Association Award for adaptation of motion picture techniques to television. 1945 brought the American Television Society's award for continued excellence in televisions production. In 1946, the Television Broadcaster' Association honored him again when he was presented with the Gold Medal for the Outstanding Public Service Contribution to Television.
W6XYZ became KTLA in 1947 and Klaus Landsberg's handiwork became the property of the nation as a whole with KTLA as the first commercial operation of TV on the West Coast. A year later, at the first Annual Emmy Awards of the Academy, of Television Arts and Sciences.... Landsberg mounted the podium to receive the lion's share of the awards for KTLA and KTLA programs.
1949 paid even greater tribute to Paramount's Vice President, award followed awards: His record breaking 27½ hour coverage of the tragic Kathy Fiscus-San Marino Well Disaster (which he personally directed) focused the nation's spotlight on KTLA and television. The sensational coverage did more to foster TV's future than any other single event, in TV history.
In 1949 Landsberg received the most coveted award in show business -- Variety's Show management Award for "Alert Showmanship … next came Daily Variety's Special Award for the Kathy Fiscus coverage (the only special award ever given by Daily Variety)… next came a Special Award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, in addition to Honorable Mention Emmy for 1949 in the Public Service Category... TV Magazines Special Award... Radio Television Life Magazine's Distinguished Achievement Award for Outstanding Public Service in 1949 and Image Magazine's 1949 Public Service Award.
In 1949, Landsberg and KTLA were further honored by the following other awards... "Time for Beany" (KTLA originated) won the 1949 Emmy as Best Children's Program, KTLA's Wrestling won Honorable Mention Emmy for Best Sports Coverage ... KTLAs Hopalong Cassidy won a Special Emmy Award for 1949.... KTLA sportscaster Bill Welsh won an Honorable Mention Emmy for 1949 as Outstanding Live Personality… "Time for Beany" won an additional eleven other top awards in various popularity policy including the Televiews Magazine 1949 Program Poll, nomination for a Peabody Award and Radio-Television Life Magazines Distinguished Achievement Award for 1949 in the Juvenile Show category...KTLA's "Magazine of the Week" was given a Special Award by the Los Angeles Veteran's Administration… as well as numerous other top awards.
TV really came into its own in the Los Angeles area during 1949, with KTLA keeping its pace and staying ahead of the field. Survey after survey, poll after poll, placed KTLA far and away in the lead. Hooper consistently gave KTLA 9 of the top 10 local shows. Tele-Q Ratings gave KTLA 19 of the top 25. The Woodbury College Survey placed KTLA first among stations viewed most often. A poll of 30,000 readers of TeleVews Magazine gave KTLA 11 of the top'16 shows.
On March 4, 1949, the west coasts first video transcription service was inaugurated by Landsberg and KTLA still presents more transcribed shows to the nation than does any other Los Angeles outlet.
The west coasts first video network was established by Klaus Landsberg and Jack Gross when KTLA, Los Angeles and KFMB-TV, San Diego established direct pick up service from each other on May 16,1948.
Proving to the nation that Klaus Landsbergs coverage of the Kathy Fiscus Tragedy wasnt a happenstance, he followed this with outstanding coverage Of every major happening in the Southern California area ---including the Tournament of Roses Parade, the wreck of the El Capitan Streamliner, the Santa Monica Reservoir Cave-In, the Hollywood Park Fire and many others, all of which he directed personally.
Today KTLA points with pride to its formidable line-up of top talent and KTLA points its proud finger to the man who is directly responsible for this array, of top entertainment -- Klaus Landsberg. Today, he still Personally produces and directs such top shown as the Harry Owens Royal Hawaiians, "Latin Cruise," "Bandstand Revue,” "City at Night," "Dixie Showboat," and most of KTLA's remote jobs.
Working 16 or more hours per day, Klaus Landsberg is the exception to all rules. First, he is one of the rare executives who refuses to sit at a desk all day and then call it a day, at night (no matter what the hour) you'll find him right in there pitching along with his staff. Second, he completely disproves the old theory that engineers should stick to engineering and showmen to show business ---- he has combined the two most successfully. Third, all executives in Hollywood are supposed to have ulcers ---he is never even sick for a day!
In conclusion, the answer to the most oft-asked question is: "No KTLA doesnt stand for Klaus Television Landsberg & Associates." But maybe it should. Landsberg passed away on September 16, 1956.
Picture furnished by Jesse Wayne
REAL NAME: Klaus Landsberg
Birthplace: Berlin, Germany
BIRTH DATE: July 7, 1916
COLOR OF HAIR: Light brown
HEIGHT: 5 8½”
WEIGHT: 145 lbs.
PASSED AWAY: September 16, 1956
From another source
Apr. 9, 1949 The nation watches as rescuers attempt to save three year-old Kathy Fiscus from an abandoned well. KTLA offers the world's first extended news broadcast (over 27 1/2 hours) from the scene. Stan Chambers reports.
Jul. 1949 The first telecast from sea is made as KTLA broadcasts from aboard the “U.S.S. Valley Forge.”
Involved in the development
of the first Television mobile remote units, the development of the
electronic viewfinder for television cameras, worked with the development
of Zworykin's image orthicon tube 1945 and developed Paramount's kinescope
recording capabilities in 1947