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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
Landsberg’s 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.
1939 he went to New York for the National Broadcasting Company television division.
It was during this period that Landsberg helped NBC make possible the first public
TV demonstrations in America --- at the New York World's Fair.
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.
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 world’s 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
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, Paramount’s KTLA has dominated
the seven station competitive Los Angeles market …there's no brushing aside the
phenomenal record of KTLA."
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.”
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.
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
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 Hutton’s
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
1944 brought him the Television Broadcaster’s
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’s Association honored him again
when he was presented with the Gold Medal for the Outstanding Public Service Contribution
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 Magazine’s 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 ... KTLA’s 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 Magazine’s 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.
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.
March 4, 1949, the west coast’s 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.
coast’s 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.
to the nation that Klaus Landsberg’s coverage of the Kathy Fiscus Tragedy wasn’t
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.
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
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 doesn’t stand for Klaus Television
Landsberg & Associates." But maybe it should. Landsberg passed away on
September 16, 1956.
Picture furnished by Jesse Wayne
- VITAL STATISTICS
- REAL NAME: Klaus Landsberg
- BIRTH DATE: July
- COLOR OF HAIR: Light brown
- EYES: Brown
- HEIGHT: 5’ 8½”
- PASSED AWAY: September
- From another source
- KTLA's Klaus Landsberg
- born in Berlin - became electrical engineer
1935 - built Braun tubes for
Reich Radio Group - RRG
1936 - set up 1st TV broadcast of Olympics in Berlin
1938 - immigrated to U.S. - worked for NBC in New York
1939 - 1st commercial
broadcast from World's Fair Apr. 30
1939 - built Allen DuMont's station WABD
1941 - sent by Paramount to LA to build W6XYZ
1942 to 1947 experimental period
1947 - 1st KTLA commercial broadcast Jan. 22
Sept. 1942 WXYZ, an experimental station, begins from Paramount Studios in Los
Angeles. It was the vision of Klaus Landsberg, (then 22, and only recently having
escaped from Nazi Germany) who made it successful.
Oct.1942 First telecast inside a motion picture studio (Paramount) “This Gun for
1946 KTLA brings the first telecasts of wrestling, boxing and
most other sports.
Jan.1, 1947 First telecast of the Tournament of Roses Parade. Now an annual
At 8:30 PM Bob Hope announces the first broadcast of KTLA - the first commercial
TV station west of the Mississippi. Hope mistakenly calls the station “KTL”
Feb. 27, 1947 KTLA broadcasts
from a Pico Boulevard electro-plating plant explosion, the world’s first on-the-spot
live television news coverage.
Oct. 30, 1947 First man-on-the-street television broadcast “Meet Me in Hollywood.”
Jan. 12, 1948 KTLA televises a speech by president Harry Truman, becoming
the first west-coast station ever to do so.
Aug. 7, 1948 KTLA is the first to present “Hopalong Cassidy,” soon a national
- 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.
1949 The first telecast from sea is made as KTLA broadcasts from aboard the “U.S.S.
May 18, 1951
KTLA introduces the world to Lawrence Welk, live from the Aragon Ballroom in Santa
- May 23, 1951 KTLA
offers the first coverage of an actual police investigation of a crime with the
“Patty Jean Hull kidnapping.”
May 22, 1952 “Operation Big Shot.” Klaus
Landsberg and a team at KTLA present the first live telecast of an atomic bomb
test. The broadcast, fed to all three networks, was also notable in that it was
fed via a 140 mile link - the longest ever attempted at that time.
- Jan. 1, 1955 First Los Angeles station to originate
color programs “Tournament of Roses Parade.”
16, 1956, Klaus Landsberg succumbs to cancer .
- May 1958 KTLA unveils the revolutionary “Telecoptor”
- the first flying remote unit by any broadcaster.
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
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