1958 TV Commercial for Bolex Cameras

April 22, 2007 -- Michael Tisdale
On April 6, 1958, television viewers of WABD-TV Channel 5 in New York tuned in to watch the annual Easter Day parade on Fifth Avenue. Willoughby's Camera store sponsored the program and Fred Scott, WABD announcer, promoted the store's products during several segments. As Willoughby's was a major Bolex franchised dealer, one segment featured Bolex home movie cameras:

As you see at the end of the video, the parade was rained out and WABD resorted instead to filling the time by interviewing celebrities in the Gotham Hotel.

The first three cameras shown in the commercial are the Bolex C8 (priced "surprisingly low"), B8 and B8VS. Two 16mm cameras are shown: the Bolex H16 Leader to the left (most likely an H16T, although the Leader model was still sold in the US through the mid 1950s), and the H16 Reflex on the right. Mr. Scott rounds out the selection with the Bolex H8, which appears to be an H8T model with an eye level focuser. Two SOM Berthiot zoom lenses and a couple of accessories are also displayed on the set but no mention is made of them. I love this commercial; I only wish there had been more closeups.

This rare clip would have likely been lost forever if it weren't for the efforts of Ira H. Gallen and others to preserve the history of classic television programming and commercials. Mr. Gallen has collected kinescopes, home movies and 16mm and 35mm film prints for over 30 years and has recently begun offering these on DVD volumes.

You can view lots of other classic TV commercials, film shorts and home movie footage for free at Ira Gallen's website, TvDays.com. If you're interested in the Bolex commercial, you can download it from Google video, or find it on two DVDs: Classic Commercials, Volume: 27 and Easter Parade 1958.