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In Memory of Charles Michelson
Portrait of Charles Michelson

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 old.

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 (650) 726-2460


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