I’m looking for a local tv program from 1957 and would appreciate any leads on where it might be located and some contacts. While not containing an appearance by Ray, it is significant for looking at public perceptions of gender identity and cross-dressing in Ray’s home state around the time that Ray was getting arrested frequently for performing in drag.
In 1957, Dallas tv station WFAA created a show called “Confession”. Working with the local police department, the weekly program consisted of an interview with a criminal in jail, followed by a panel discussion by experts.
In December 1957, the program was devoted to an interview with a transvestite. The program created considerable controversy about its appropriateness for television, with the controversy making the national news magazines, such as “Time”. Response from viewers ran about 80% in favor of continuing the program. Significantly, the show dealt with the topic in a mature, non-sensationalistic manner for the 1950s.
Wikipedia has an entry for the series, outlining the controversy over the transvestite episode.
The hubbub caught the attention of the ABC television network, which took the WFAA program national in early 1958. The series ran on ABC through early 1959 and was replaced by the paranormal drama anthology, “One Step Beyond“.
WFAA probably produced the show on videotape, but I suspect they might have kept a kinescope of the transvestite program, since it was so controversial and led to the show being picked up by ABC. (And, I imagine, they might have wanted to keep a copy in case of complaints to the FCC.)
I checked online and the only archives I can find of WFAA is a collection at SMU of raw news clips used on their evening news broadcasts, with that collection starting in 1960.
Since “Confession” was a locally produced program, I’m assuming WFAA, if they had a copy, would have kept it separate from their news clip library. And they might have sent a kinescope or audio disc of it to ABC.
Another possibility would be the family of the host of the program, Jack Wyatt, an advertising executive in New York and the Dallas area who was ordained an Episcopal priest in the late 1960s – Wyatt might have kept a kinescope or audio tape or disc of the program for his personal collection.
Anyone know if there’s an archives with WFAA’s local programming like this or if the station still has older material like this?