Recollections: Carl Sagan’s ‘Cosmos’

Thirty-seven years ago this month, the 13-part television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, hosted by Cornell University planetary scientist Carl Sagan, began airing weekly on PBS. While I was likely a little too young to have watched that premiere broadcast, I definitely remember watching the entire uncut series during one of its many rebroadcasts in the early 1980s…

Recollections: Vehicle Cutaways from the 1966 ‘Thunderbirds’ Annual

I’ve chosen to talk about the cutaways of the Thunderbirds from a Thunderbirds annual, but I could just as easily have chosen the ones of the vehicles from Captain Scarlet or Fireball XL5, because they’re all beautiful. Despite the fact that they’ve got practically nothing in common with each other, the Thunderbirds and pretty much all of the vehicles featured in the the Andersons’ TV shows somehow form a cohesive aesthetic whole which often transcends the programs themselves…

Green Cross Code Adverts, 1975

In the Britain of the early 1970s, growing salaries meant that private car ownership was on the rise. Yet children were still often expected to circulate unsupervised, and worry was growing at the increasing numbers of them who were being hurt or killed on the roads…

“People Can Stop It”: Three Ecology PSAs, 1971 – 1977

With the first Earth Day in 1970, ecology and environmental protection entered the public consciousness in a way not seen since the 1962 release of biologist Rachel Carson’s investigation into the effects of DDT, Silent Spring. Earth Day tapped the nascent environmental movement among scientists and conservationists and gave it a public face…

A Dream of Middle Class Respectability: ‘Crisis in Levittown’, 1957

After returning from World War II, William Levitt, the son of an upscale real estate developer, set out to build affordable homes for the millions of veterans that needed one. Using mass production methods innovated at the beginning of the century by the Ford Motor Company and taught to him during his tour as a Navy Seabee—and by cutting out union workers and middlemen—Levitt did exactly that…

Nancy Reagan Appears on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, 1983

As part of her anti-drug Just Say No campaign, First Lady Nancy Reagan made a guest appearance on the NBC sitcom Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986) on March 19, 1983. In the episode, titled “The Reporter,” Arnold Drummond (Gary Coleman), a reporter for his school newspaper, breaks a story on drug pushers at his school and submits it to a major city newspaper…

Cannon Films Print Advertisements in ‘Variety’, 1979 – 1986

In 1979, Israeli film industry giants (and cousins) Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus purchased tiny independent American film production house Cannon Group, Inc. Cannon had spent the ’70s producing B-movies with occasional surprise hits (like the 1970 “hardhat revenge” tale Joe starring Peter Boyle). Golan and Globus saw in Cannon a way to gain a foothold in an American market that they’d long eyed entering…