- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2006

Watching new-media pop stars such as Sandi Thom and Geoff Byrd emerge from the technological frontier we call the Web puts us in mind of an entertainment medium — television — that, however moth-ridden it may seem today, once was seen as the cutting-edge invention that would bury radio. These five, all deceased, were indispensable pioneers.

Steve Allen — A recent biography of this Renaissance man (in addition to an illustrious TV career, he also was an author and a prolific composer) aptly credits him as the inventor of late-night television. Before there was Johnny, there was Steve. And how.

Milton Berle — He was called Mr. Television as well as Uncle Miltie. If TV programming had been as slogan-laden in the ‘50s as it was in the end-of-the-century heyday of the sitcom, Mr. Berle’s eponymous variety show would have been considered the anchor of “Must-See Tuesday.”

Arthur Godfrey — A longtime resident of the Washington area (he’s buried in Leesburg, Va.), Mr. Godfrey hosted a variety program (1948-1959) that helped bridge the gap between radio and television and showcased up-and-comers such as singers Julius LaRosa and Pat Boone as well as comedian Lenny Bruce. He also could play a mean ukulele.

Sid Caesar — The comic legend’s “Your Show of Shows” not only was a huge hit in its own right in the early ‘50s, it helped unleash the careers of skit writers such as Mel Brooks, Neil Simon and Woody Allen.

Garry Moore — Emerging, as most of TV’s early stars did, from radio, this Baltimore native is best known for helming CBS’ popular quiz show “I’ve Got a Secret” for 12 years, beginning in 1952. (Later, on his TV variety show, “The Gary Moore Show,” he would give a leg up to a young comedian by the name of Carol Burnett.)

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