Charles Michelson, Radio and Television Pioneer
dies at 93. Charles Michelson, best known for his syndication
work as a distributor of Old Time Radio programs, died on
July 4th at Cedar Sinai in Los Angeles. He was 93 years
Born in 1909 in New York City, Michelson was
drawn to the radio business in 1937 when his father's export
company began receiving requests for the first RCA/Victor
electrical transcriptions available on phonographic discs.
For over 50 years Charles Michelson Inc. was the leading
distributor throughout the world of more than 1000 episodes
from 26 dramatic radio series.
Had it not been for Michelson's efforts, programs
like The Shadow, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, Fiber
McGee and Molly, Dragnet, Gunsmoke, Gangbusters, Jack Benny,
Burns and Allen, and many more, might not have been available
to listeners everywhere.
His commitment to the success of radio dramas
extended in many directions including the creation of sound
effects to enhance the dramas.
When audio tape recording became available
in the 1940's Michelson was on the front lines of the field
with his Wollensak reel-to-reel tape recorder creating one
of the largest collections of sound effects ever assembled
for radio, film, and later for television.
The library, housed in his Manhattan office,
contained over 10,000 sound effects. It was distributed
by EMI at that time, and it eventually became the heart
of the CBS sound effects library.
As radio was eclipsed by television in the early 1950's,
Michelson formed what was to become a 30-year relationship
with newspaper magnate Sir Frank Packer's TCN 9 Network in
Sydney, Australia. Soon thereafter, his work expanded to represent
more than 30 foreign buyers of US programming; this allowed
Michelson to form early cartels where rights were purchased
for multiple international territories. He purchased programs
like "I Love Lucy", "The Dick Van Dyke Show",
"Perry Mason", and "Walt Disney's Wonderful
World of Color". Later, in 1965, his efforts to bring
programming to overseas audiences earned him the US Government's
distinguished E Award for Excellence in Exports.
Naturally it was Michelson who was on hand to bring the world
closer together in the early 70's when satellite technology
first became available. With his international media relations
Charles became a specialist linking live telecasts to world
audiences. Before true station-to-station connections were
possible, he put relationships together whereby hybrid space
and land line interconnects ushered in the era of the global
village we now enjoy. Some of the first "live telecasts",
from Elvis Presley to Cassius Clay, were made possible through
international deals arranged by Michelson.
In the 1980's Michelson relocated to Beverly Hills, California
and continued his effort to bring radio programming to new
and younger audiences. Among his many successful releases
was the Halloween re-broadcast of Orson Wells' classic "War
of the Worlds". From his early days in radio and throughout
his career in television, Charles Michelson professed his
firm belief that "A story well told will live forever".
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Vivian, his two sons
Robert Michelson and Steve Michelson, and his three grandchildren,
Miles Michelson, Erin Michelson-Thiem, and Megan Michelson.
A memorial service in his honor was held at Hillside Memorial
Park on Wednesday, July 9th at 11:00 am.
Photos Available. For more information, contact Steve Michelson