Felix and His Early TV Turn



Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Today I share a composite of composition Felix statues. One is a variation on a common shot of Felix on his turn table famously posing for the tv camera to focus on. This photo comes to me courtesy of the very generous Tom Conroy. Thank you again Tom! (You may remember that Tom recently supplied the photo for my post Felix and Betty Boop Affair.)

The back of this photo describes this as the scanning-disk pickup of equipment of NBC’s experimental TV station W2XBS in New York in 1930. The internet weighs in with several sites identifying that this first broadcast, with Felix, occurred in 1928. In addition, one site states that Felix was used ongoing, nightly, to focus the cameras and as a sort of test pattern. I especially like this version – a longer shot than you usually see. It is fun to see all the equipment too. Imagine – most of that probably fits on a computer chip of one kind or another today – one that fits in your phone.

As one site devoted to the history of Felix points out – Felix was willing to work cheap and was extremely patient under the bright, hot lights which he was required to remain under as part of this assignment. Needless to say, he was much more cheerful and welcome than most other test patterns. (Late night test patterns! Television stations that went off the air late at night – and the little white dot that remained after you turned the tv off, until it faded away. Ah, childhood.)

The composition Felix in the tv photo is the same ubiquitous one in the Christmas photo I just purchased. (Kim would like to go on the record as not caring for this photo. It evidently does not live up to his standards.) It is a snap shot, nothing on the back and no date – it measures about 3.5″ x 4.5″. This jolly little homey scene of a Christmas long past features the very same standard issue Felix. Hard to say if he was a gift or part of the decorations. I like the small but heavily decorated and be-tinseled table-tree, familiar to those of us who live in apartments. Failing a fireplace the stockings are placed carefully over a chair and tempting packages are stacked up under around Felix and an elephant toy beside him.

I don’t own one of these composition Felix statues, although I wouldn’t mind scooping one up if the right opportunity came along. I always imagined that they were prizes at fairs, although it seems like you must have been able to purchase them as well. To my, admittedly limited, knowledge they seem to have remained consistent in size and appearance over a long period of several decades – a good design lasts.

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