Robert John Wagner Jr. is an American actor of stage and television, best known for starring in the television shows It Takes a Thief and Hart to Hart. He had a recurring role as Teddy Leopold on the TV sitcom Two and a Half Men and has a recurring role as Anthony DiNozzo Sr. on the police procedural NCIS. In movies, Wagner is known for his role as Number Two in the Austin Powers trilogy of films, as well as for A Kiss Before Dying, The Pink Panther, The Towering Inferno and many more. In 2018, Wagner was named a person of interest in an ongoing investigation into the mysterious drowning death of his wife Natalie Wood in 1981. Wagner was born February 1930, in Detroit, Michigan, he is the son of Hazel Alvera, a telephone operator, Robert John Wagner Sr. a traveling salesman who worked for the Ford Motor Company. His paternal grandparents were born in Germany and his maternal grandparents were Norwegian. Wagner has Mary, he graduated from Saint Monica Catholic High School in 1949. Wagner became interested in acting, after an unsuccessful screen test directed by Fred Zinnemann for his film Teresa, Wagner was represented by Albert R. Broccoli.
He made his uncredited film debut in The Happy Years. "I started off as an ingenue," recalled Wagner. "I was 19 years old. I was the boy next door, but you always felt you could work your way up, that you could have a better part in the next picture. Darryl Zanuck was always placing me in different positions."Wagner's first film for Fox was Halls of Montezuma a World War Two film. Wagner had a support role, with Richard Widmark as the star; the studio had him perform a similar function in another war movie, The Frogmen, again with Widmark. Let's Make It Legal was a comedy where Wagner again supported an older star, in this case Claudette Colbert. Wagner first gained significant attention with a small but showy part as a shell-shocked soldier in With a Song in My Heart, starring Susan Hayward as Jane Froman."You were part of 20th Century Fox," he said. "You felt proud of being part of the organization. When I wasn't working, I was on the road, going out and selling movies or dancing on the stage and meeting the public.
They never let you rest."Fox started to give Wagner better roles. He was the romantic male lead in Stars and Stripes Forever, a biopic about John Philip Sousa starring Clifton Webb, he supported James Cagney and Dan Dailey in John Ford's version of What Price Glory and supported Webb again in Titanic. He was in The Silver Whip with Rory Calhoun. Fox gave Wagner his first starring role in Beneath the 12-Mile Reef. Reviews were poor but the movie was only the third to be shot in CinemaScope and was a big hit. Popular was a Western, Broken Lance, where Wagner supported Spencer Tracy for director Edward Dmytryk, appearing as Tracy's son. Fox gave Wagner the lead role in Prince Valiant. While popular, critical reception was poor and Wagner joked his wig in the movie made him look like Jane Wyman, he was teamed with Jeffrey Hunter in a Western, White Feather. Wagner was borrowed by Paramount for The Mountain, directed by Dmytryk, where Wagner was cast as Spencer Tracy's brother, having played his son just two years earlier in the same director's Broken Lance.
He received more critical acclaim from the novel by Ira Levin. Back at Fox he was Between Heaven and Hell, a war movie, The True Story of Jesse James, playing the lead role for director Nicholas Ray. Both movies were box office disappointments and it seemed Wagner was unable to make the transition to top level star; this appeared. In 1959, Wagner disparaged the film: When I started at Fox in 1950 they were making sixty-five pictures a year. Now they're lucky. There was a chance to get some training in B pictures. TV struck. Everything went big and they started sticking me into Cinemascope spectacles. One day, smiling Joe Juvenile with no talent was doing a role intended for John Wayne; that was in a dog called Stopover Tokyo. I've had to work to keep up, he supported Robert Mitchum in a Korean War movie, The Hunters, appeared with a number of Fox contractees in a World War Two drama, In Love and War. After a cameo in Mardi Gras, Wagner supported Bing Debbie Reynolds in Say One for Me. Trying to kick start his career, he appeared with his then-wife Natalie Wood in All the Fine Young Cannibals, made for MGM.
The film was a flop. In 1960 Wagner signed with Columbia Pictures for three films. Wagner's first marriage to Wood had broken up and he relocated to Europe, he had a small role in The Longest Day, produced by Daryl Zanuck for Fox. He had a larger part in The Condemned of Altona, a commercial and critical disappointment despite being directed by Vittorio de Sica. More popular was The Pink Panther, a massive hit, although Wagner's part was much in support to those of David Niven
Kay Thompson was an American author, vocal arranger, vocal coach, musician and actress. She is best known as the creator of the Eloise children's books and for her role in the movie Funny Face. Thompson was born Catherine Louise Fink in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1909, the second of the four children of Leo George Fink, a Jewish, Austrian-born pawnbroker and jeweler, his American born, gentile wife Harriet Adelaide "Hattie" Tetrick. Thompson's parents were married on November 1905, in East St. Louis, St. Clair County, Illinois. Thompson's siblings were: Blanche Margaret Hurd, George "Bud" Fink, Jr. and Marian Antoinette Doenges. Thompson began her career in the 1930s as a choral director for radio, her first big break was as a regular singer on the Bing Crosby-Woodbury Show Bing Crosby Entertains. This led to a regular spot on The Fred Waring-Ford Dealers Show and with conductor Lennie Hayton, she co-founded The Lucky Strike Hit Parade where she met trombonist Jack Jenney. Thompson and Her Rhythm Singers joined André Kostelanetz and His Orchestra for the hit series The Chesterfield Radio Program, followed by It's Chesterfield Time for which Thompson and her large choir were teamed with Hal Kemp and His Orchestra.
For her motion picture debut and her choir performed two songs in the Republic Pictures musical Manhattan Merry-Go-Round. In 1939, she reunited with André Kostelanetz for Tune-Up Time, a show, produced by radio legend William Spier. On an installment of Tune-Up Time in April 1939, 16-year-old Judy Garland was a guest, it was at this time that Thompson first met and worked with Garland, developing a close personal friendship and professional association that lasted the rest of Garland's life. In 1943 Thompson signed an exclusive contract with MGM to become the studio's top vocal arranger, vocal coach, choral director, she served as main vocal arranger for many of producer Arthur Freed's MGM musicals and as vocal coach to such stars as Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Frank Sinatra, June Allyson. Some of the many MGM musicals Thompson was the vocal arranger for include Ziegfeld Follies, The Harvey Girls, Till the Clouds Roll By, Good News, The Pirate; as a film actress, Thompson played one major role only: that of fashion editor Maggie Prescott in the musical Funny Face.
Reunited with her colleagues from MGM, producer and songwriter Roger Edens and director Stanley Donen, Thompson garnered critical praise for her stylish turn as an editor based on real-life Harper's Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland, opening the film with her splashy "Think Pink!" and performing duets with Astaire and Hepburn. In a December 6, 2006, interview on Turner Classic Movies, Donen said that Funny Face was made at Paramount with a MGM crew, including Donen and Thompson, because Paramount Pictures would not release Hepburn for any film except one made at Paramount. Thompson only acted in one additional feature film, 1970's Tell Me That You Love Me, Junie Moon, according to its star Liza Minnelli, Thompson disliked the slow speed of movie production. Thompson left MGM in 1947 after working on The Pirate to create the night club act "Kay Thompson and the Williams Brothers", with the four Williams men as her backup singers and dancers, they became an overnight sensation. Within a year, they were the highest paid nightclub act in the world, breaking records wherever they appeared.
She wrote Robert Alton did the original choreography for the act. Thompson, who lived at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, became most notable as the author of the Eloise series of children's books; the books have been speculated to be inspired by the antics of her goddaughter Liza Minnelli, daughter of Judy Garland and film director Vincente Minnelli, though when asked if this was true, Thompson responded, "I am Eloise." The four books in the series, illustrated by Hilary Knight, are Eloise, Eloise in Paris, Eloise at Christmastime and Eloise in Moscow. They follow the adventures of a precocious six-year-old girl. All have been adapted into television projects. Thompson composed and performed a Top 40 hit song, "Eloise". A fifth book, Eloise Takes a Bawth, was posthumously published by Simon & Schuster in 2002, culled from Thompson's original manuscripts once slated for 1964 publication by Harper & Row. However, in 1964 Thompson was burned out on Eloise; as a singer, Thompson made few records, starting with one side, "Take a Number from One to Ten", on a 1934 session by the Tom Coakley band.
In 1935, she recorded four sides for Brunswick, another four sides for Victor. The 4 Brunswick sides are excellent examples of mid-1930's sophisticated New York cabaret singing, she recorded for Capitol, Decca, most for MGM Records, which issued her only complete album of songs, in 1954. In February 1956, Thompson wrote and recorded the song "Eloise" at Cadence Records with an orchestra conducted by Archie Bleyer; the song debuted on March 10, 1956, became a Top 40 hit, selling over 100,000 copies. Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, Thompson mentored the solo career of the young Andy Williams, she helped land hi
Marion Mitchell Morrison, known professionally as John Wayne and nicknamed'Duke', was an American actor and Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient. He was among the top box office draws for three decades. Wayne grew up in Southern California, he was president of Glendale High School class of 1925. He found work at local film studios when he lost his football scholarship to the University of Southern California as a result of a bodysurfing accident working for the Fox Film Corporation, he appeared in bit parts, but his first leading role came in Raoul Walsh's Western The Big Trail, an early widescreen film epic, a box-office failure. Only leading roles in numerous B movies followed during the 1930s, most of them Westerns. Wayne's career was rejuvenated, he starred in 142 motion pictures altogether, including the dozens with his name above the title produced before 1939. According to one biographer, "John Wayne personified for millions the nation's frontier heritage. Eighty-three of his movies were Westerns, in them he played cowboys and unconquerable loners extracted from the Republic's central creation myth."Wayne's other roles in Westerns include a cattleman driving his herd on the Chisholm Trail in Red River, a Civil War veteran whose niece is abducted by a tribe of Comanches in The Searchers, a troubled rancher competing with a lawyer for a woman's hand in marriage in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, a cantankerous one-eyed marshal in True Grit.
He is remembered for his roles in The Quiet Man, Rio Bravo with Dean Martin, The Longest Day. In his final screen performance, he starred as an aging gunfighter battling cancer in The Shootist, he appeared with many important Hollywood stars of his era, made his last public appearance at the Academy Awards ceremony on April 9, 1979. Wayne was born Marion Robert Morrison on May 1907 at 224 South Second Street in Winterset, Iowa; the local paper, Winterset Madisonian, reported on page 4 of the edition of May 30, 1907 that Wayne weighed 13 lbs. at birth. His middle name was soon changed from Robert to Mitchell when his parents decided to name their next son Robert. Wayne's father, Clyde Leonard Morrison, was the son of American Civil War veteran Marion Mitchell Morrison. Wayne's mother, the former Mary "Molly" Alberta Brown, was from Nebraska. Wayne's ancestry included English and Irish, he was raised Presbyterian. Wayne's family moved to Palmdale, in 1916 to Glendale at 404 Isabel Street, where his father worked as a pharmacist.
He attended Glendale Union High School where he performed well in academics. Wayne was part of its debating team, he was the president of the Latin Society and contributed to the school's newspaper sports column. A local fireman at the station on his route to school in Glendale started calling him "Little Duke" because he never went anywhere without his huge Airedale Terrier, Duke, he preferred "Duke" to "Marion", the nickname stuck. Wayne attended Wilson Middle School in Glendale; as a teen, he worked in an ice cream shop for a man. He was active as a member of the Order of DeMolay, he played football for the 1924 league champion Glendale High School team. Wayne applied to the U. S. Naval was not accepted. Instead, he attended the University of Southern California, he was a member of the Trojan Knights and Sigma Chi fraternities. Wayne played on the USC football team under coach Howard Jones. A broken collarbone injury curtailed his athletic career, he lost his athletic scholarship, without funds, had to leave the university.
As a favor to USC football coach Howard Jones, who had given silent western film star Tom Mix tickets to USC games, director John Ford and Mix hired Wayne as a prop boy and extra. Wayne credited his walk and persona to his acquaintance with Wyatt Earp, good friends with Tom Mix. Wayne soon moved to bit parts, establishing a longtime friendship with the director who provided most of those roles, John Ford. Early in this period he had a minor, uncredited role as a guard in the 1926 film Bardelys the Magnificent. Wayne appeared with his USC teammates playing football in Brown of Harvard, The Dropkick, Salute and Columbia's Maker of Men. While working for Fox Film Corporation in bit roles, Wayne was given on-screen credit as "Duke Morrison" only once, in Words and Music. Director Raoul Walsh saw him moving studio furniture while working as a prop boy and cast him in his first starring role in The Big Trail. For his screen name, Walsh suggested "Anthony Wayne", after Revolutionary War general "Mad" Anthony Wayne.
Fox Studios chief Winfield Sheehan rejected it as sounding "too Italian". Walsh suggested "John Wayne". Sheehan agreed, the name was set. Wayne was not present for the discussion, his pay was raised to $105 a week. The Big Trail was to be the first big-budget outdoor spectacle of the sound era, made at a then-staggering cost of over $2 million, using hundreds of extras and wide vistas of the American southwest, still unpopulated at the time. To take advantage of the breathtaking scenery, it was filmed in two versions, a standard 35 mm version and another in the new 70 mm Grandeur film p
Ralph Nelson was an American film and television director, producer and actor. He was best known for directing Lilies of the Field, Father Goose, Charly, films which won Academy Awards. Nelson was born in New York, he served in the Army Air Corps as a flight instructor in World War II. Nelson directed the acclaimed episode "A World of His Own" of The Twilight Zone, he directed both the television and film versions of Rod Serling's Requiem for a Heavyweight. He directed Charly, the 1968 film version of Flowers for Algernon, for which Cliff Robertson won an Academy Award, as well as several racially provocative films in the 1960s and early 1970s, including the Academy Award-winning Lilies of the Field...tick...tick...tick... Christmas Lilies of the Field, The Wilby Conspiracy, Soldier Blue; the starring role in "Lilies" led to Sidney Poitier winning the Academy Award for Best Actor. Nelson directed the Cary Grant comedy Father Goose, the offbeat Soldier in the Rain with Jackie Gleason and Steve McQueen, the crime story Once a Thief, Rita Hayworth's last film, The Wrath of God.
He both directed, appeared in, Duel at Diablo, starring James Garner and Sidney Poitier. Nelson's other credits include several episodes of TV's Starsky & Hutch, the'70s camp horror classic Embryo, A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich. A television drama about mounting the live show of Requiem for a Heavyweight called The Man in the Funny Suit was made in 1960, with Nelson both writing and directing. Nelson, Red Skelton, Keenan Wynn and Ed Wynn appeared in it as themselves, he returned to TV in the late 1970s with a string of TV movies, including a sequel to Lilies of the Field called Christmas Lilies of the Field which starred Billy Dee Williams, Maria Schell, Fay Hauser. He died in 1987 in Santa Monica, California at the age of 71. Ralph Nelson on IMDb Ralph Nelson at the Internet Broadway Database 1953 Time Magazine
Rock Hudson was an American actor known for his turns as a leading man during the 1950s and 1960s. Viewed as a prominent "heartthrob" of the Hollywood Golden Age, he achieved stardom with roles in films such as Magnificent Obsession, All That Heaven Allows and Giant, for which he received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actor, found continued success with a string of romantic comedies co-starring Doris Day in Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers. After appearing in films including Seconds and Ice Station Zebra during the late 1960s, Hudson began a second career in television through the 1970s and 1980s, starring in the popular mystery series McMillan & Wife and the primetime ABC soap opera Dynasty. Numerous film magazines declared Hudson Star of the Year, Favorite Leading Man, similar titles, he appeared in nearly 70 films and starred in several television productions during a career that spanned more than four decades. Although Hudson was discreet about his privacy throughout his life, the fact that he was homosexual was known in the film industry.
His sexual orientation became public knowledge following his death from AIDS-related complications in 1985, becoming the first major celebrity to die from an AIDS-related illness. Hudson was born Roy Harold Scherer, Jr. on November 17, 1925 in Winnetka, Illinois at Sarah A. Jarman Memorial Hospital, the only child of Katherine, a homemaker and telephone operator, Roy Harold Scherer Sr. an auto mechanic. His father was of Swiss descent, while his mother had English and Irish ancestry. During the Great Depression, Hudson's father abandoned the family. Hudson's parents divorced. Fitzgerald adopted his stepson without his consent, whose legal name became Roy Fitzgerald; that marriage ended in a bitter divorce and produced no children. Hudson attended New Trier High School in Winnetka, he sang in the school glee club, was remembered as a shy boy who delivered newspapers, ran errands, worked as a golf caddy. At some point during his teenage years, he worked as an usher in a movie theater and developed an interest in acting.
He tried out for a number of school plays, but failed to win any roles because he could not remember his lines, a problem that continued to occur through his early acting career. He graduated from high school in 1943, the following year enlisted in the United States Navy, during World War II. After training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, he departed San Francisco aboard the troop transport SS Lew Wallace, with orders to report to Aviation Repair and Overhaul Unit 2 located on Samar, Philippines, as an aircraft mechanic. In 1946, he returned to San Francisco aboard an aircraft carrier, was discharged the same year. Hudson moved to Los Angeles to live with his biological father, who had remarried, to pursue an acting career, he worked at odd jobs, including as a truck driver. He applied to the University of Southern California's dramatics program, but was rejected due to poor grades. After he sent talent scout Henry Willson a picture of himself in 1947, Willson took him on as a client, changed the young actor's name to Rock Hudson.
The name was coined by combining the Rock of the Hudson River. Hudson made his acting debut with a small part in the 1948 Warner Bros. film Fighter Squadron, took 38 takes to deliver his only line in the film. Hudson was signed to a long-term contract by Universal Studios. There he was further coached in acting, dancing and horseback riding, he began to be featured in film magazines where, being photogenic, he was promoted, his first film at Universal was Undertow. He had small parts in Peggy, Winchester'73, The Desert Hawk and Air Cadet. Hudson was billed back down the cast list for Bright Victory, he had a good part as a boxer in Iron Man, starring Jeff Chandler, as a gambler in Bend of the River. He supported the Nelson family in Here Come the Nelsons. Hudson was promoted to leading man for Scarlet Angel, opposite Yvonne de Carlo, in Desert Hawk and Tomahawk, he co-starred with Piper Laurie in a comedy, Has Anybody Seen My Gal?, directed by Douglas Sirk. In Horizons West Hudson supported Robert Ryan, but he was star again for a pair of Westerns, The Lawless Breed and Seminole.
In 1953 he appeared in a Camel commercial. He and de Carlo were borrowed by RKO for an adventure set during the Napoleonic Wars. Back at Universal he played in Harun al-Rashid in The Golden Blade. There was Gun Fury, a Western, Back to God's Country. Hudson had the title role in Taza, Son of Cochise, produced by Ross Hunter. Hudson was by now established as a leading man in B adventure films. What turned him into a star was the 1954 film Magnificent Obsession, co-starring Jane Wyman, produced by Hunter and directed by Sirk; the film received positive reviews, with Modern Screen Magazine citing Hudson as the most popular actor of the year. It made over $5 million at the box office. Hudson went back to adventure films with Bengal Brigade, set during the Indian Mutiny, Captain Lightfoot (19
Dean Jones (actor)
Dean Carroll Jones was an American actor best known for his roles as Agent Zeke Kelso in That Darn Cat!, Jim Douglas in The Love Bug, Albert Dooley in The Million Dollar Duck and Dr. Herman Varnick in Beethoven. Jones was born in Decatur, Alabama, to Andrew Guy Jones, a traveling construction worker, the former Nolia Elizabeth Wilhite; as a student at Riverside High School in Decatur, Jones had his own local radio show, Dean Jones Sings. Jones served in the United States Navy during the Korean War, after his discharge worked at the Bird Cage Theater at Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. Jones attended Asbury University in Wilmore near Kentucky. A member of its Class of 1953, he did not graduate, but the university in 2003 awarded him an honorary degree. On March 4, 2011, he addressed the ceremony for the dedication of Asbury's Andrew S. Miller Center for Communications Arts. After appearing in minor film and television roles, Jones made his Broadway debut in the 1960 play There Was a Little Girl.
He stepped into the role in Massachusetts, at only one day's notice. In 1960 he played Dave Manning in the Broadway comedy Under the Yum-Yum Tree, a role which he repeated in the 1963 movie version starring Jack Lemmon. After achieving success in film and television, Jones was set to return to Broadway as the star of Stephen Sondheim's musical Company in 1970. Shortly after opening night, Jones withdrew from the show, due to stress that he was undergoing from ongoing divorce proceedings. Director Harold Prince agreed to replace him with Larry Kert if Jones would open the show and record the cast album. Jones agreed, his performance is preserved on the original cast album. In 1986, Jones, by having become a Christian, starred in Into the Light, a musical about scientists and the Shroud of Turin, which closed four days after it opened, he had far more success touring in the one-man show St. John in Exile as the last surviving Apostle of Jesus Christ, reminiscing about his life while imprisoned on the Greek island of Patmos.
A performance was filmed in 1986. He made one more Broadway appearance, in 1993, at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, in a special two-day concert staging of Company featuring most of the original Broadway cast. Jones started his film career by signing a contract at MGM, beginning with a small role as a soldier in Somebody Up There Likes Me and he played disc jockey Teddy Talbot in the Elvis Presley film Jailhouse Rock, he portrayed a soldier in both Imitation General with Glenn Ford and Never So Few with Frank Sinatra. Jones had a major role in an episode of ABC's Stagecoach West, he portrayed one of two outlaws, with Harold J. Stone as Tanner, they are trapped during a sandstorm in a frontier house with series stars Robert Bray and Richard Eyer as Simon and Davey Kane, respectively. The outlaws are sought by the death of two guards; the young woman of the house, Martha Whitlock, played by Diana Millay, was deserted by her husband. She becomes attracted to Jones' character, who considers himself a failure since he had been orphaned at an early age.
In the story line, it is determined that Brady is not guilty of the robbery and shooting of the guards, but is culpable as an accessory after the fact. Jones subsequently starred in the NBC television sitcom Ensign O'Toole, produced by Four Star Television, portraying an easy-going and inexperienced officer on a U. S. Navy destroyer, his co-stars included Jack Mullaney, Jack Albertson, Jay C. Flippen, Harvey Lembeck, Beau Bridges. Jones recorded a singing album, Introducing Dean Jones, for Valiant Records; as Ensign O'Toole was the lead-in show on NBC to Walt Disney's The Wonderful World of Color, Disney ordered a print of Jones' latest film Under the Yum Yum Tree to study. Disney signed Jones on for a string of Disney films in the 1960s and 1970s, beginning with That Darn Cat!. His performance was so well-received that Disney used him for future movies including The Ugly Dachshund, Blackbeard's Ghost, "Million Dollar Duck" and Snowball Express. Jones' signature Disney role would be as race car driver Jim Douglas in the successful The Love Bug series.
He appeared in two feature films, The Love Bug and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, as well as the short-lived Herbie, the Love Bug television series and the made-for-TV movie The Love Bug. In 1969, Jones was the host of a short-lived sketch-comedy hour on ABC-TV titled What's It All About, World? that became a variety show midway into its run, when the title was changed to The Dean Jones Variety Hour. Away from Disney, Jones co-starred with Broadway-era co-star Jane Fonda in the romantic comedy, Any Wednesday and, in a dramatic turn, portrayed Ed Cooper in the NBC television movie When Every Day Was the Fourth of July. In the film, Jones played an attorney in the 1930s who agrees to defend a man, accused of murder. Jones reprised the role of Ed Cooper in the ABC television sequel The Long Days of Summer, he appeared with Gregory Peck and Danny DeVito as Bill Coles, the president of Peck's company, fighting a hostile takeover by DeVito, in Other People's Money. Jones, always famous for playing nice characters, took on the role as Dr. Herman Varnick, the evil veterinarian, in the family film Beethoven.
Jones employed method acting for the first time in his prolific ca
The National Broadcasting Company is an American English-language commercial terrestrial television network, a flagship property of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast. The network is headquartered at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City, with additional major offices near Los Angeles and Philadelphia; the network is one of the Big Three television networks. NBC is sometimes referred to as the "Peacock Network", in reference to its stylized peacock logo, introduced in 1956 to promote the company's innovations in early color broadcasting, it became the network's official emblem in 1979. Founded in 1926 by the Radio Corporation of America, NBC is the oldest major broadcast network in the United States. At that time the parent company of RCA was General Electric. In 1930, GE was forced to sell the companies as a result of antitrust charges. In 1986, control of NBC passed back to General Electric through its $6.4 billion purchase of RCA. Following the acquisition by GE, Bob Wright served as chief executive officer of NBC, remaining in that position until his retirement in 2007, when he was succeeded by Jeff Zucker.
In 2003, French media company Vivendi merged its entertainment assets with GE, forming NBC Universal. Comcast purchased a controlling interest in the company in 2011, acquired General Electric's remaining stake in 2013. Following the Comcast merger, Zucker left NBCUniversal and was replaced as CEO by Comcast executive Steve Burke. NBC has thirteen owned-and-operated stations and nearly 200 affiliates throughout the United States and its territories, some of which are available in Canada and/or Mexico via pay-television providers or in border areas over-the-air. During a period of early broadcast business consolidation, radio manufacturer Radio Corporation of America acquired New York City radio station WEAF from American Telephone & Telegraph. Westinghouse, a shareholder in RCA, had a competing outlet in Newark, New Jersey pioneer station WJZ, which served as the flagship for a loosely structured network; this station was transferred from Westinghouse to RCA in 1923, moved to New York City. WEAF acted as a laboratory for AT&T's manufacturing and supply outlet Western Electric, whose products included transmitters and antennas.
The Bell System, AT&T's telephone utility, was developing technologies to transmit voice- and music-grade audio over short and long distances, using both wireless and wired methods. The 1922 creation of WEAF offered a research-and-development center for those activities. WEAF maintained a regular schedule of radio programs, including some of the first commercially sponsored programs, was an immediate success. In an early example of "chain" or "networking" broadcasting, the station linked with Outlet Company-owned WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. C. WCAP. New parent RCA saw an advantage in sharing programming, after getting a license for radio station WRC in Washington, D. C. in 1923, attempted to transmit audio between cities via low-quality telegraph lines. AT&T refused outside companies access to its high-quality phone lines; the early effort fared poorly, since the uninsulated telegraph lines were susceptible to atmospheric and other electrical interference. In 1925, AT&T decided that WEAF and its embryonic network were incompatible with the company's primary goal of providing a telephone service.
AT&T offered to sell the station to RCA in a deal that included the right to lease AT&T's phone lines for network transmission. RCA spent $1 million to purchase WEAF and Washington sister station WCAP, shut down the latter station, merged its facilities with surviving station WRC; the division's ownership was split among RCA, its founding corporate parent General Electric and Westinghouse. NBC started broadcasting on November 15, 1926. WEAF and WJZ, the flagships of the two earlier networks, were operated side-by-side for about a year as part of the new NBC. On January 1, 1927, NBC formally divided their respective marketing strategies: the "Red Network" offered commercially sponsored entertainment and music programming. Various histories of NBC suggest the color designations for the two networks came from the color of the pushpins NBC engineers used to designate affiliate stations of WEAF and WJZ, or from the use of double-ended red and blue colored pencils. On April 5, 1927, NBC expanded to the West Coast with the launch of the NBC Orange Network known as the Pacific Coast Network.
This was followed by the debut of the NBC Gold Network known as the Pacific Gold Network, on October 18, 1931. The Orange Network carried Red Network programming, the Gold Network carried programming from the Blue Network; the Orange Network recreated Eastern Red Network programming for West Coast stations at KPO in San Francisco. In 1936, the Orange Network affiliate stations became part of the Red Network, at the same time the Gold Network became part of the Blue Network. In the 1930s, NBC developed a network for shortwave radio stations, called the NBC White Network. In 1927, NBC moved its operations to 711 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, occupying the upper floors of a building de