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Kathleen Jacobitz
Marcia Borcher
Sandi Corbitt-Sears
Dick Taylor


Irish McCalla and The Magic Window of the 1950s

Irish McCalla

© McCalla Enterprises, Inc.
Irish as "Sheena"

In television's early days, ordinary citizens found the novelty of viewing at home to be a convenient means toward cultural enlightenment.  Some folks believed the ‘televison set’ would remain unsurpassed in significance by any later invention.  Unlike movies shown at the local theater, this ‘black & white’ visual phenomenon presented live action in a real-time mode.  But television’s broadcast signal diminished as it travelled far from the station transmitter, and faulty reception would produce unstable ghostly flickerings for a discouraged viewer in some remote location.  A half-century ago on the west side of G Street in Pawnee City, a handsome rural youngster peered through a shop window and witnessed this “snowy” magical display for his very first time.

Already accustomed to the amusements of radio programs, Americans would become curious to actually see broadcast celebrities whose faces they could only imagine previously.  Soon to appear on television were radio favorites Arthur Godfrey, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Groucho Marx, Eve Arden, and Art Linkletter.  Before long, John Daly, Ed Sullivan, Lucille Ball, Dave Garroway, Jan Murray, John Cameron Swayze, Wally Cox, Liberace, Fleda Ziegenbein, and Steve Allen grew familiar to the public, along with Milton Berle, “Mr. Television.”

But it was a Pawnee City girl who quickly emerged as one of TV’s popular stars of the mid-1950’s.  Each week Irish McCalla charmed her loyal national audience while performing as the adventurous and beautiful “Sheena, Queen of the Jungle.”   Family entertainment was at its very best.

These were transitional and innovative times in the enterprising world of show business, beginning a great new era in electronic entertainment.  And the device once thought to be the all-time ultimate wonder of science would later be called the “21-inch peephole into paradise,” a “vast wasteland,” the “boob tube,” and the “idiot box."   But still we fondly remember that wonderful development era of "teevee" and the special sort of enchantment it provided back then.

 


Copyright 2008 Pawnee County History

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