TeeVee Honors Its Patron Saint

by Paul Schatzkin
Philo T. Farnsworth on
The only on-air tribute Philo T. Farnsworth ever received from the industry he helped to create was a 1957 appearance on the popular TV quiz show, "I've Got a Secret."

Because revealing his identity would have given away his secret, he was identifed only as "Dr. X". His secret - shown to an audience of more than 40 million- was simply, "I invented electronic television." A silence fell on the studio audience as they were shown the second card: "In 1922 when I was 14 years old."

Celebrity panelists Bill Cullen, Jayne Meadows, and Harry Morgan questioned Dr. X. Cullen thought he was a medical doctor involved in some new form of surgery and asked it he had invented some kind of machine that might be painful when used. The mysterious doctor replied, "Yes, sometimes, it's most painful."

Meadows asked if his work was associated with psychiatric cases. The doctor, noticing the laughter in the audience, answered, "Well, no, not especially." But master of ceremonies Garry Moore could not ignore the opportunity for a joke and added, "In very rare instances, it has been known to cause a few. . ."

The questions became increasingly off­target, so Moore terminated the game and introduced his special guest to the panel. Some discussion ensued about Farnsworth's early career as well as his new experiments with nuclear physics. But the emcee had to make room for a commercial, and he dutifully curtailed the conversation.

"Dr. Farnsworth," Moore said politely, "we could sit here for many, many hours and talk - most fascinating man I've ever met in many a long year-but, unfortunately, television being what it is, it's your baby, and we're out of time."

With this Philo T. Farnsworth was presented his reward for inventing television: a carton of Winstons, eighty dollars cash, and Garry Moore's eternal gratitude: "we'd all be out of work if it weren't for you."

 


 


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