Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Man Behind the Lens

Television has revolutionized the way speeches are performed. A large audience is able to access a speech in their own homes and see for themselves every little action a presenter makes. In turn, it is necessary for presenters to try and foster a connection with their audience, and the first way they do this is through eye contact. Nowadays, it is standard for a speaker to look directly into the camera when giving an important address, but this has been made easy through the in-lens teleprompter. Before the in-lens teleprompter, speakers had to either memorize their lines, or know them well enough to not have to constantly look down. This technology was new in the 1950s because there is a small projector atop the rig which sent televised images of the copy to a transparent reflective surface in front of the lens. It was first used by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz for a filmed Phillip Morris cigarette commercial which aired on I Love Lucy on December 14, 1953. The reason why this technology was premiered through Ball and Arnaz is due to the fact that the creator was Jess Oppenheimer, who was the creative force behind I Love Lucy

Oppenheimer was born in San Franciso on November 11, 1913. When he was in third grade, he was chosen to be a subject in a study about gifted children created by Lewis Terman who was a professor at Stanford University. Ironically, Terman's assistant noted during the study that "I could not detect no signs of a sense of humor". Oppenheimer would go on to study at Stanford himself, but became interested in radio during his junior year. He moved to Hollywood in 1936, and was hired as a comedy writer on Fred Astaire's radio program during his first week there. Oppenheimer went on to write on the popular radio program, The Baby Snooks Show. After that program went off the air, Oppenheimer started to write for a new unsponsored radio show called My Favorite Husband which starred Lucille Ball. The show had 124 episodes that ran from 1948 to 1951. The show marked the beginning of the writing partnership between Oppenheimer with Madelyn Pugh and Bob Caroll Jr. who would go on to write I Love Lucy together. Oppenheimer was the head writer of I Love Lucy for 5 out of its 6 seasons, as well as the producer, and wrote the pilot and 153 episodes with Pugh and Caroll.

 Lucille Ball called Oppenheimer the "brains" of the show. Oppenheimer appeared to have control over every aspect of the show, and his actions helped to create one of the most iconic shows of all time. But with 18 patents under his belt, Oppenheimer proved that his genius lied not only within comedy. As stated by Smith and Ward, creativity does not have to be limited to one field. Creativity can exist in many domains and be done in multiple different ways. The cognition that gives way to creativity cannot be simply defined in one manner, and Oppenheimer is a perfect example of someone who's creativity spread itself out into to what should have been radically different fields, but Oppenheimer was able to thrive in both. 

Oppenheimer, Jess, and Gregg Oppenheimer. Laughs, Luck-- and Lucy: How I Came to Create the Most Popular Sitcom of All Time. New York: Syracuse UP, 1996. Print.
Smith & Ward: Smith, S.M. & Ward, T.B. (2012). Cognition and the creation of ideas. In K. J. Holyoak & R. G. Morrison (Eds.), Oxford handbook of thinking and reasoning. New York: Oxford University Press.

1 comment:

  1. I always find it interesting to hear about revolutionary technology because it always seems so commonplace to me. I love that Oppenheimer was able to use his creativity in one field to advance his creativity in another field. It is very impressive that he had a very popular TV show running as well as 18 patents! He was definitely not a one time creative.


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