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"Spotlight" on Louise Bland

Louise Bland

Louise Bland hosted her own daily talk show, "Spotlight", on KTUL in the early 60s, and later produced a weekly show on KOTV. She also covered the Democratic and Republican conventions as special events reporter. She has written a book, Art of Charm.

"Spotlight" is listed on this 1961 TV schedule. At 12:15 pm, she and Jack Morris news were opposite Betty Boyd and George Tomek news on KOTV, and Oralee Attaway on "2 About Town".

In GB 182 are pictures of Louise with an Acoma Indian chief and two Shawnee dancers who appeared on her show. She also mentioned there that she learned to dance at the Lew Miller Dance Studio (Mike Miller's dad).

Responding to a GroupBlog 285 item about Anita Bryant, Louise said:

"A lot of people were in Anita's life to help get her started. I was there as the fashion coordinator, who called upon designers over the USA to provide her wardrobe. Full page photos of her were mentioned by the AP as being the most outstanding in Atlantic City. A little feather in "T" town's hat."

Anita Bryant on Louise Bland's set.
Louise, 4/19/2009: "Anita on the TV set with me prior to broadcast on KTUL in the early 60's.
She was practicing the song as we were getting the TV set organized for 'air-time'."

Louise Bland and Lawrence Welk
Louise, 4/19/2009: "Lawrence Welk wanted me to sing with his orchestra one night.
One song only! What an honor!"

(via email, 4/19/2009) Louise Bland said of Lawrence Welk:

Years long after this occasion, I saw his band getting off a plane, as I was catching one directly across from them. Lawrence, saw me, and that was it. We walked toward each other as if there'd been no time lapse. He was a great soul! He was loved and respected by all.

Note: Lawrence said the best thing to happen was leaving the network and going on his own. Sometimes when doors close, it the best for a career, he said. Of course he was talking about the network dropping his contract!

Webmaster: I hadn't realized that Louise was also a singer. I asked her about it:

(via email, 4/19/2009) Louise Bland responded:

I started out in Austin, Texas with KTBC TV, Mrs. Lyndon Johnson's station. Had a show called: "Steady Date" produced by an agency out of Houston. Did many singing jingles in that day, such as "What a burger" ---Shopping centers or whatever was needed.

The lady who wrote the jingles was Ray Florence. She's the one who pushed me into television. At that time, I did records for songwriters to be sent to recording companies. Anything I could do to make money for school. Anyway, that's the way I received my start in the field of broadcast.

In Tulsa, I was the singer for a band who broadcast over KOME every Saturday night. It wasn't a field I tried to break into, since TV hosting was my favorite. Lawrence Welk heard me sing on my show. I used to sing pretty often since I had a piano player on the show for that purpose. It was part of the format. Oh, gee. I even did the soft shoe a time or two. It wasn't boring, that's for sure.

(from Guestbook 181) Randall White said:

I haven't stumbled through the full site, but was remembering the Treasure Hunt that KTUL did at one point in the late '50s or early '60s. It had people crawling all over Lookout Mountain with shovels. I remember that a guest celebrity that day was Nick Adams (TV's Johnny Yuma in "The Rebel"). I was star struck.

Nick Adams and Louise Bland
Nick Adams and Louise Bland at the KTUL Treasure Hunt, circa 1960

(from Guestbook 122) Louise Bland said:

Just reading something Hurst Swiggart had written sometime ago about KTUL (below). He mentioned the big promotion we had on Lookout Mountain called the "Treasure Hunt" - I thought it only appropriate for some of you to know more than the production side. This promotion was for a superstar, Nick Adams who starred on ABC - a show called "The Rebel". He dressed the part.

Louis Armstrong Nick Adams was a big star, with a good personality. Little Rebel caps were handed out to children in the downtown area for a parade prior to our Treasure Hunt on the Mountain. Nick riding his fabulous horse opened the parade and the rest of our KTUL talent followed behind him. After the parade, Nick Adams and I opened the "Treasure Hunt" and appeared on television for the next two or three hours. It's the "Treasure Hunt" - The interviews lasted forever, it seemed to me. We finished in time to get dressed for a dinner the station was giving for Nick Adams.

I generally worked with the director Vic Bastian and Tim Penland, and my hero Al Clauser - Roy Pickett, was forever loyal and always there when we'd interview superstars like John Wayne, Jeff Chandler, Louie Armstrong, etc. He'd edit the film and have it ready for Vic Bastian the following day. It was a fast "rock 'n roll" kind of show with upbeat jazz bands on when we didn't have a superstar. It was always fun. Vic would borrow props from a display house to suit the interview. We had fun! No wonder we won National Awards for best show in the Southwest and others. I've often wondered why ABC didn't get at least one "soap" like "As the World Turns" - to have that advantage, in my day would have been too perfect.

(from Guestbook 5) Hurst Swiggart said:

Channel 8 was owned by John Griffin of Griffin Grocery and Jimmy Leake, so the grocery put prize certificates in Griffin Coffee cans and buried hundreds of them all over Lookout Mountain...the people came in droves to seek their treasure.

(via email, 4/17/2005) Louise Bland said:

Jimmy Leake didn't own the station, his wife was a Griffin and she owned it. Jimmy Leake took over for her when she was given the Tulsa station during a business transition between the Griffins. The Griffin sons took KWTV (CBS) in Oklahoma City.

Louise with John Wayne
John Wayne and Louise Bland, 1960

Letter from the Duke (via email, 4/17/2005) Louise Bland said:

I was at the Cowboy Hall of Fame in OKC with John Wayne when he was inducted. What a sweet man. He had cancer then, but took to the time to be personable to everyone and stayed until the last of the crowd left.

The Cowboy Hall of Fame was something I made a habit of attending anytime one of the big cowboy stars were inducted. John Ritter came for his dad. I was able to spend time with him and his Mom, who had been an actress.

We learned in Guestbook 119 that Woodward "Tex" Ritter was named after the doctor who delivered him: Lee Woodward's uncle.

At left is a letter from the Duke thanking Louise and asking her to remember "The Alamo" (1960).

Johnny Weissmuller and Louise Bland
Johnny Weissmuller (the most famous "Tarzan" ) in "Jungle Jim" garb with Louise Bland.

(via email, 4/17/2005) Louise Bland said:

Johnny was one of my favorites to interview. He was great. The night before the interview with him, my Maltase, King Cotton, died. Johnny wanted to buy me another, putting his arms around me telling me, he knew how I felt.

Van Heflin and Louise Bland
Van Heflin with Louise Bland

(via email, 4/17/2005) Louise Bland said:

Van Heflin was in Tulsa on business. I was able to catch him for an interview.Very impressive, much better looking in person.

Van Heflin was born in Walters, Oklahoma (southeast of Lawton). He later moved with his family to OKC, then to Long Beach, CA in his teens. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma.

During WWII, he served as a combat cameraman in the Ninth Air Force in Europe.

He played the title character in NBC Radio's "The Adventures of Philip Marlowe" (1947).

He turned down the role of Eliot Ness on "The Untouchables" (TV series).

He starred in many major pictures such as "Green Dolphin Street", "The Strange Loves of Martha Ivers", "Shane", "Stagecoach", and "Patterns", adapted from Rod Serling's teleplay (5/1/2005: which I just had the pleasure of viewing on OETA's Movie Club...webmaster).

Louise Bland and Brian Donlevy
Louise Bland and Brian Donlevy

(via email, 4/17/2005) Louise Bland said:

Brian Donlevy was very nervous because KTUL was his first exposure to TV. Films were easier he thought. Brian walked around looking into the camera and finally said, let's hit it.

Brian Donlevy (official site) starred in "Beau Geste" (1939), "Destry Rides Again" (1939), director Preston Sturges' "The Great McGinty" (1940) as the title character, and "The Virginian" (1946) as Trampas.

He is best known to science fiction fans as Dr. Bernard Quatermass in the 1950s British films, "The Creeping Unknown" and "Enemy From Space" (aka "The Quatermass Xperiment" and "Quatermass II").

He was co-star of "Canyon Passage", the first movie to be shown at Tulsa's Hi-Way 66 Drive-In (later renamed the 11th Street Drive-In).

Louise Bland with King Donovan and Imogene Coca
Louise Bland puts King Donovan, Imogene Coca and friend at ease

(via email, 4/17/2005) Louise Bland said:

Imogene and King Donovan were playing in Tulsa - "Once Upon A Mattress". I took care of their dog. Just one big family.

Again, science fiction fans remember King Donovan best as Jack Belicec in the original 1956 "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" with Kevin McCarthy.

Rubber-faced comedienne Imogene Coca was a sketch player in Sid Caesar's "Your Show of Shows", and starred in the 60s series, "It's About Time" and "Grindl".

As I send you these photos, I'm thinking of the times, actors, especially the comedians would come into the studio and ask me if I were a turtle? Do you know what the answer to that is or was in those early days? The answer: "You bet your sweet ass I am." :))

Jeff Chandler with Louise Bland
Jeff Chandler with Louise Bland

Jeff Chandler was one of the kindest actors next to the Duke. He mentioned returning to Tulsa as soon as possible after his back surgery. I sadly recall he died on the operating table.

Brooklyn-born Jeff Chandler got an Oscar nomination for his role as Cochise in "Broken Arrow" (1950). At the end of his career, he starred in "Return to Peyton Place" (1961) and "Merrill's Marauders" (1962).

He recorded several successful singing albums, played violin, and composed music, notably for the Tony Randall/Debbie Reynolds picture, "The Mating Game" (1959). He was also a successful radio actor under his real name (Ira Grossel) and co-starred with Eve Arden in "Our Miss Brooks"

Louise had a bit of a crush, as you may be able to tell.

Jeff Chandler was co-star of the first movie to be shown at the Admiral Twin Drive-In.

Louise Bland today
Louise Bland today (4/2005)

Hurst Swiggart, Fall 1997. Photo by Mike Bruchas (from Guestbook 181) Hurst Swiggart said:

The "Louise Bland Show" was a great show and was so much fun to work on. In those days, I was a member of the floor crew and was a camera operator, etc. for the show.

Louise truly had a great sense of timing and was a genuine soul with a good sense of humor. She was not afraid to tackle any chore and even operated a camera on "Don Woods Weather" one night. She did pretty good even though the populace might have been concerned that an earthquake was in progress...during the show. :-)

She was truly a pioneer in the industry and was a natural talent.

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