Stephen Bowie is a film and television historian with a Bachelor of Arts in Cinema and Television Studies from the University of Southern California.  As a writer or archivist he has worked for the New York Public Library, the Archive of American Television, BAMCinématek, and Getty Images.  He was the archival researcher for the HBO documentary Casting By (NYFF, TIFF 2012).

During high school he first published his work in Laser Marquee, a laserdisc review journal, although he never actually got around to owning a laserdisc player.  Since then he has written for Scarlet Street, Television Chronicles, Outré, Senses of Cinema, World Cinema Paradise, and The A.V. Club.  Critic Matt Zoller Seitz called his appraisal of director John Frankenheimer “a major piece of criticism and scholarship.”  Stephen’s survey of the political blacklist in fifties television appears in the three-volume anthology Jews and American Popular Culture.

Stephen has conducted on-camera interviews with pioneers of television’s early days for the Archive of American Television.  He has been a guest on radio’s Talking Television and TV Confidential, and has consulted on the home video releases of various TV shows, including The Invaders, Mad Men, and Evening Primrose.  He is the founder and editor of this blog, which since its inception in December 2007 has been cited by The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Maclean’s, The Wrap, and other mainstream publications.

Stephen is a defender of the Oxford comma, an unapologetic two-spacer, and a texting refusenik.

He lives in New York City.

(For media inquiries or general questions, Stephen can be reached at stephen@classictvhistory.com, or on Facebook.  He is on Twitter as @smilingcobra.)

46 Responses to “About Me”

  1. Tise Vahimagi Says:

    Hello Stephen,

    Just a few days ago, while Googling for something in relation to ROUTE 66, I happened upon your excellent website. What a discovery! Worried that I had not come across your website before, that perhaps I had missed much discussion concerning the art and craft of b&w filmed American television from my favourite period (generally 1959 to 1964), I was pleased, in a way, to discover that your site is relatively new (a few months?).

    Your comments and observations regarding the DVD release of season 1, part 2 of ROUTE 66 was fascinating – and a welcome forewarning. Having been grateful that part 1 of the series was made available at all, I had been looking forward to the release of part 2. I will now take your good advice regarding the dismal quality of the second release with one part disappointment in the results and one part gratitude for the insight. It’s all too easy to be seduced by the pristine prints of, say, Image’s NAKED CITY releases; trickled out, selectively, as they were a few years back.

    The Barry Morse/The FUGITIVE overview was also a pleasure. Not for so much that I’m particularly interested in the career of Barry Morse, but quite simply for a refreshingly knowledgeable appraisal (another rare treasure) that combines a specific study with, in this instance, comparisons of performance in other, lesser known, episodic television. It’s this care for detail that always counts. In my belief, each episode of any TV work should and must be considered and evaluated on its own individual merits. For filmed television, every episode should be viewed as something of a, let’s say, ‘mini movie’, often identifying itself with its own unique attributes (when the possibilties present themselves, of course).

    I have yet to explore the other pleasures in full (such as the intriguing EAST SIDE/WEST SIDE piece), but from the sense and spirit of affection and scholarly insight that is received from your observations here it will indeed be a pleasure to continue reading your examinations, discoveries and further evaluations.

    Many thanks for classictvhistory,

    Tise Vahimagi

  2. Marty McKee Says:

    Hi, Stephen,

    I just discovered your blog and find it absolutely fascinating. Not even the film buffs of my acquaintance appear as interested in the names and careers of television writers and directors as you are. I agree that TV-makers have received short shrift by historians and buffs. Hopefully, sites like yours will help rectify the situation.

    Keep up the great work,
    Marty McKee

  3. Joe Baltake Says:

    Hey, Stephen–

    I’ve been meaning to write. Love your site and recently gave you a small plug on mine. Just go to:

    http://thepassionatemoviegoer.blogspot.com/

    Thanks.

    –Joe

  4. John Desmond Says:

    Dear Stephen, I learned from and enjoyed your article on East Side, West Side, a series that deserves more notice and perhaps even a DVD of at least a few of its episodes. John

  5. medusamorlock Says:

    Wonderful blog, Stephen! I have added a link at our television blog The Flaming Nose here: http://flamingnose.blogspot.com/

    Your research is fascinating and though you’re obviously a young fellow, you have the true love of television that is so good to see!

  6. Phil Nichols Says:

    Stephen, I just stumbled on your blog. I can’t even remember how I got here, but I’m glad I made it.

    I run a website about Ray Bradbury’s media work, and recently reviewed three different TV versions of “The Jar”. I just added a link to your Collin Wilcox interview.

    Keep up the good work.

    – Phil Nichols

  7. Worley Thorne Says:

    Stephen,

    I had never read your blog before and am very impressed with your knowledge of Philip Saltzman’s work as a TV writer, particularly, and TV scripts in general. I came across the blog looking for information on where services would be held for Phil, so I could attend. I was, of course, distressed to learn of his recent-years dementia, this man whom I only knew as possessing a brilliant mind. I last saw Phil about 20 years ago. He was the best producer I’d ever worked for, not only gifted but a kind compassionate person with a great sense of humor. It’s traditional to say good things about those who are gone, but with Phil it’s all true.

  8. Jennifer Saltzman Says:

    I would like to thank you for the wonderful things you have written about my father, Philip Saltzman. I too am sorry you never met him, he was a bright, kind man and you would have enjoyed his stories. Thank you all for responding and knowing my fathers work

  9. Caroline Veiller Saltzman Says:

    Dear Stephen:

    I was delighted to read your obituary on Philip. You did such an incredible amount of research. It meant so much to Jennifer and me, and when they finally read it, his sons will be equally pleased.
    It is especially gratifying, after several years of
    caring for him with dementia, to have the real Philip brought back so vividly.

  10. Caroline Veiller Saltzman Says:

    Dear Stephen:
    I hit the wrong key. All that’s left to say is Thank
    you. Sincerely, Caroline (Saltzman)

  11. Ruth Peck Says:

    PLEASE share your insights and commentary on the Prisoner with us. I just learned about the new AMC miniseries and I am too excited- but the experience will be incomplete without your contribution to both my understanding of the original series as well as your take on the life cycle of the new project. Thanks in advance- if something is already on your site I wasn’t able to find it (but this could certainly be a consequence of my current 70-hour work weeks!)

  12. Stephen Bowie Says:

    Hi, Ruth. I think the original PRISONER is terrific, although I haven’t seen it since I was a teenager. It’s one of the great cultural mind-trips of the late 60s.

    I know very little about the new mini-series, except that it seems … unnecessary. And for years now I’ve joked that Jim Caviezel is the go-to guy after every other leading man in Hollywood has turned a role down. So that’s not a good sign.

  13. tancred62 Says:

    Hello Mr. Bowie.

    I came to know ES/WS through the excellent soundtrack LP by Kenyon Hopkins that I picked up at a local thrift. I already had his soundtrack to the movie Mr. Buddwing (staring James Garner), so it was quite a find as Hopkins has become a favorite of mine. Anyhow, your sites have given me a lot of good info and some context by which I can better understand the soundtrack.

  14. Larry Granberry Says:

    I have really enjoyed your columns on classic TV, especially the one on “The Fugitive” DVD debacle.

    I would love to know your thoughts on ABC’s “Lost.” I have been hooked on the show since it began and have found it to be one of the most challenging shows ever broadcast on TV.

    Thanks for the great memories – I look forward to reading your future blogs.

  15. Stephen Bowie Says:

    Thanks for reading, Larry. LOST though … well, I gotta be honest, I think it’s a phony.

    I’ve stuck with it, because it’s gotten a little better as the mysteries have grown more elaborate. But the characters’ backstories are all cliches (and some, like the Korean couple’s and the Australian girl’s, are deadly dull) and no one from the original cast can act, except for Matthew Fox and of course Terry O’Quinn. Those are flaws the show never escaped, even as it moved away from them (by dumping those dreadful flashbacks and adding some ringers to the ensemble, like Michael Emerson).

    But the bigger problem is pretentiousness — yes, there are characters named Locke and Rousseau, and yes, there are nice product-placement shots of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and Stephen King paperbacks. But I don’t think the show has anything profound to say about fate vs. free will, or whatever, beyond the name-checking. This season I’ve watched a few of the episodes in the rerun with the “Cliff Notes” at the bottom of the scene, and I concede that there are complexities embedded in LOST that I haven’t picked up as I’ve watched the show season-by-season … but they mostly seem to be just narrative details. Even the new BATTLESTAR GALACTICA had more ideas in it (it’s just that most of those ideas were stupid).

    But, we’ll see how it ends — maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  16. Stephen Says:

    Stephen,

    Great interview with Jason Wingreen. My Dad, Patrick Connolly grew up with Jason in Howard Beach and they played alot of ball together. He ended up becoming one of those cops and firemen that used to go to Wingreen’s tailor. Anyway, he loved reading the interview as well. If you have the chance to be in contact with Mr. Wingreen please tell him one of the guys from the old neighborhood who had fond memories of playing ball with him and loved his parents, says hello. Thanks.

  17. Mick Says:

    Are you related to David Bowie?

  18. James Says:

    Holy crime! 2:30 a.m. and I cannot stop reading these posts. Fascinating. I loved “Have Gun Will Travel” for many of the reasons you point out in your analysis of “A Head of Hair,” but as a passive consumer of T.V. culture, I would never have consciously identified or articulated, e.g., the philosophical underpinnings of Paladin’s ethics vs. the nihilism of the supporting character. I just took it in and enjoyed it for being something other than typical Cowboys-and-Indians fare.

    Tearing myself away from your blog, I can at least take comfort in the fact that it will still be here to read tomorrow.

    Thanks!!

  19. Sony Guy Says:

    Found this blof while doing research… Impressive! Absolutely essential reading for TV buffs… well researched and full of common sense observations of many ambiguous issues relating to the culture of the box…

    Good Show!

  20. ron thomas/denison,tx Says:

    Mr Bowie, At the second scene in the pilot of “The Restless Gun” a young Micheal Landon plays a hotshot gunslinger with a sidekick that looks to me like a young Robert Urich. Is that him? He’s not recognized in any credits that I’ve found.


  21. I love your blog. Keep up the good work. Loved the Batman piece by Martin Grams, thanks for pointing that out to me. Have you considered writing a blog entry about the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention? Patty Duke, Karen Valentine, Tony Dow. Grams runs the event and it’s put on for the benefit of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. More people need to know about it. Hugs and kisses, Gerald Snyderman

  22. michael Says:

    As a fellow fan of TV history, I thought you might like to know (if you did not all ready) about the Paley Center’s declaring July 1, 2011 commercial TVs 70th birthday.

    Some interesting stuff but I wish they had done more. They cover the three New York stations, but just mention the other twenty or so stations. Where were those twenty? What programs did they air?

    http://www.paleycenter.org/p-70-tv-countdown-july-1-1941


  23. Hello Stephen,
    I had the chance to read your interview with Harry Landers. Great piece. My Father worked on Casey and was Vince Edwards stand-in and assistant. Vince was also my Godfather. Everything Harry said about the Casey show was true. My father and Harry were great friends and for a time my Dad was managing him. Would love to talk with him if possible but don’t have his contact info.

  24. G. Weiss Says:

    I just wanted to thank you for your outstanding blog, especially your informative entries on The Naked City.

  25. Chris Emert Says:

    I’m have been putting together pic collages-per-episode that I have gleaned from my DVD’s …..There is an uncredited actor in “Naked City” Debt of Honor, episode character name, Scott, the barber, and Frank is pumping him for info…..any Idea what this actor’s real name is? Thanx

    • Stephen Bowie Says:

      My notes from the original cast sheets list an actor named Donald Cohen as playing Pete the barber. I assume that’s your man.

  26. Larry Granberry Says:

    I’d be curious to know what you think of some of the dramas on cable right now, specifically:
    Dexter
    Breaking Bad
    Boardwalk Empire

  27. Pat Davis Says:

    I am curious about an old episode of “Picket Fences” that I watched last night. It is from 1992 and the title was “Potato Man”. In it someone is braking into the homes of teenage girls and taking a bath – and leaving a very dirty ring around the tub. The homeless and dirty “potato man” is everyone’s suspect, but a young DA is accidentally electrocuted in the act of taking a bath with the suspect’s paraphernalia (rubber tub toys) and therefore is deemed the culprit.
    This made no sense because he was an extremely well dressed young professional and would not have left a filthy ring around the tub. I’m wondering if the situation turns up in a later episode and the question of the dirty ring around the tub gets answered.
    Silly, but I’m curious.
    Pat

  28. Pat Davis Says:

    Will I get an answer to my question at my Email address or will I need to keep checking this website?

  29. SJohnson Says:

    In regard to Jeri Emmett…….For the record Jeri was never leaglly married to Jack Laird and is a red head

  30. michael Says:

    I recently did a post about the 1977 CBS series “Hunter”. David Shaw was the executive story consultant. I read your piece about doing an interview with him. I still need to watch the Archive’s review, but did Shaw have anything to say about the spy series “Hunter” during your interview?

  31. MDH Says:

    Your post on THE BILL COSBY SHOW got a shout-out here:

    http://www.movingimagesource.us/articles/nobodys-fool-20120315

    It uses a couple of your screen grabs, too. BTW, Joyce Bulifant turned up in a few of the show’s second-season episodes; in a couple of them she’s hugely pregnant.

  32. JSBach Says:

    It’s as if I was the only person left on the TV planet of the 60s, with no one to recall the magnificent masterpieces which were produced for a period of about six years. Absolute perfection. Too bad so many films were re-taped upon, or deteriorated. I doubt there is any of “The Nurses” series left. Thanks for the memories and interesting background stories.

    • Stephen Bowie Says:

      Always nice to hear from a fellow enthusiast, Mr. Bach. I can tell you with certainly that every single episode of The Nurses exists. The snag is that there’s no commercial imperative to make them available to the handful of us who care. Alas.

  33. Andrea C. Says:

    If you can get through it without your head exploding, I’d love to see you demolish this piece:
    http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/04/04/whats-a-classic-anyway/

  34. michael Says:

    Stephen, I know how you enjoy interviewing writers and actors of TV’s past. Have you ever interviewed Teddi Sherman?
    I did a review recently of “Danger Has Two Faces,” a movie created from episodes of the ABC TV series “The Man Who Never Was” and discovered she was one of the writers who created the series. She is still alive and teaching acting in Malibu.
    I don’t have the time to interview her, but as a rare female writer of 60s TV, I thought it might be something you would enjoy.

  35. Jon Says:

    Stephen,
    I am making a film about an little known story in TV history..check out my Kickstarter campaign..Love to hear your reactions.
    Thanks – Jon Nealon

    kck.st/KcvGwN


  36. Thanks to Mark Evanier’s link in News From Me I found and enjoyed your Bert Leonard article. Grew up watching Route 66 first hand and in the late ’60’s bought a “new” 16mm print of the show with the boys at Riverside Raceway…it’s still in storage and if needed by anyone I’ll be glad to pass it along no charge. Regards, Richard Pryor nostalgiabooks@hotmail.com

  37. Steve Vertlieb Says:

    Dear Stephen

    Just read your fascinating piece about Herbert Leonard and “Route 66.” I recently wrote a short personal remembrance of both the four year run of the series, and my personal encounter with the cast and crew when they were filming “The Thin White Line” in Philadelphia. The article will be published in the next (or soon thereafter) issue of the print magazine “Mad About Movies” from Midnight Marquee Press. I’d love to send you a copy of the text. Let me know if you’d like to see it. I can be reached through the E-Mail address that follows: sjv1215@aol.com

    Steve Vertlieb

  38. keithroysdon Says:

    Stephen, I just discovered your site today and I’ve spent hours here already. You do great work. This is an exhaustive and absorbing site that’s already told me things I didn’t know. Thanks!

  39. jorge L. Perez Says:

    Just a question. I seem to recall reading in one of your articles something about a scriptwriter named John David James, in that it was’nt a real name but instead a blanket name to cover for several writers. I saw his credit a lot in Run For Your Life and he appears as ‘creator’ of the Lawyers in The Bold Ones, a series that almost feels like a continuation of Run For Your Life. When I searched both series on the internet, his name is never mentioned, even though I’m sure I saw it a lot in both series. Can you clear this up for me?

    • Stephen Bowie Says:

      Sounds like you’re thinking of “John Thomas James,” a pseudonym used often by Roy Huggins. The reasons behind it are discussed here. Before settling on that name (a combination of his children’s first names, I believe) in the late 60s, Huggins deployed a few others, all Irish-sounding, on the shows he produced — “Thomas Fitzroy,” “John Francis O’Mara,” and maybe others. Paul Green has a book about Huggins coming out this month that will hopefully add more info.

  40. jorge L. Perez Says:

    OK, now I remember. Can you please send me the link again? It’s not visible in your original response.

  41. Natasha Says:

    Love this blog and everything about classic tv!! I write for http://doyouremember.com/ you’ll be able to find a lot for retro stuff there including a lot about classic tv and classic actors! We just wrote an article on Jackie Coogan aka Uncle Fester from The Addams Family! Let me know what you think? :)
    http://doyouremember.com/parents-swindled-jackie-coogan/


  42. Hi Stephen,

    Engaging site. Thought you might be interested in our current book or know some people who might be interested in an rather obscure part of TV history:


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