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Museum Of Broadcast Communications, Media Burn Archive To Air Studs' Place Episodes Not Seen In 60 Years

By Chuck Sudo in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 20, 2012 8:45PM

Phil Lord, Win Stracke and Studs Terkel on the set of Studs's Place.
Before he found enduring fame as one of America’s greatest oral historians, Studs Terkel aspired to be an actor. From November 1949 through 1951, Terkel was the central character of a television program called Studs’ Place that aired first on NBC and later ABC. Set in a diner, Terkel and co-stars Beverly Younger, Win Stracke and Chet Roble improvised the dialogue for each episode from an outline, with Roble and Stracke often adding musical performances.

The chemistry between the four was so palpable, Terkel said, that many viewers believed Studs’ Place was an actual diner, and the program is often listed along with Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Marlin Perkins’s Zoo Parade, and Garroway at Large as the first wave of classic Chicago television.

The Media Burn Archive recently came into possession of seven episodes of Studs’ Place, courtesy of Terkel’s son, Dan Terkell. Media Burn’s Tom Weinberg told Chicagoist that four of these episodes, from 1950 and 51, have not been seen in over 60 years.

“Dan found these while cleaning out (Studs’s and wife Ida’s) basement after Studs died in 2008,” Weinberg said. The episodes were filmed on 16 mm kinescope directly from the video monitors while the episodes aired live. The kinescopes were in pristine condition (”they’ve been in their canisters all this time,” Weinberg said) so transferring them to video was simple.

Weinberg enlisted the assistance of Chicago Film Archives to transfer and digitize them. The four episodes are now set to be viewed at the Museum of Broadcast Communications Sept. 5 from 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Weinberg also said the museum will air a 1989 reunion of the cast of Studs’ Place, all as part of the Studs Terkel Centenary celebration.

“This is a great opportunity to see how live, unscripted television worked in the infancy of the medium,” Weinberg said. Chicago tribune staffer Rick Kogan will interview Weinberg about the discovery of the episodes and Studs’ life.