Wednesday, April 16, 2003
Los Angeles Rare recordings of a radio broadcast on the Lindbergh trial and a landmark TV drama have been discovered, the Museum of Television & Radio said Tuesday.
The recording made about the 1935 trial of Bruno Hauptmann for the kidnapping and killing of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh's baby son is the only known one in existence, the museum said.
The other discovery, the acclaimed 1954 jury room drama "Twelve Angry Men," has not been seen in its entirety since the initial broadcast and was among the museum's most sought-after programs.
Broadcasting in its early days was considered disposable and so much was lost that the discoveries take on greater importance, said Robert Thompson, professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University.
"Whenever anyone is able to reclaim even a little corner of broadcasting history, it warms our hearts," he said. "It's a little bit more to sink our teeth into."
The Lindbergh recordings features prominent New York defense attorney Samuel Leibowitz's daily accounts of the trial. His trial analysis was broadcast from the studio of New York radio station WHN and was recorded on metal disc.
The recording was in the possession of Leibowitz's children, who also had a 16mm film copy of a kinescope of "Twelve Angry Men."
The museum learned of the historic recordings from filmmaker Joseph Consentino, who is producing a documentary about Leibowitz scheduled to air in June on the History Channel.
Museum curators validated the material and remastered it. The recordings will be featured at the museum's Los Angeles and New York locations May 23 to July 6 and will be available for viewing afterward as part of the permanent collection.
Leibowitz had been hired by WHN to comment on the trial. During the approximately five hours of recordings, the attorney discusses the evidence, the jury's behavior and the strategy of the prosecution and defense.
He did not offer an opinion on Hauptmann's guilt or innocence. The defendant, who maintained he was innocent, was convicted of killing 20-month-old Charles A. Lindbergh Jr. and was executed.
"Twelve Angry Men," with a cast that included Robert Cummings and Franchot Tone, aired as part of CBS' "Studio One" series. It earned Emmys for writer Reginald Rose, director Franklin Schaffner and Cummings.
Rose adapted it as a movie starring Henry Fonda in 1957, and it received several Academy Award nominations. It was remade in 1997 as a TV movie for Showtime featuring Jack Lemmon, Ossie Davis and George C. Scott.
In 1976, CBS gave the museum the first half of the program, a partial copy that was the only one known to exist. Because of his interest in the law, Leibowitz had requested a kinescope of the program from CBS. He died in 1978 at age 84.