(Left to right) Actress Zsa Zsa Gabor
Channel 6 celebrity Bill "Wee Willie" Webber
WFIL-TV Producer/Director Lew Klein
on the interview set in Hess' Department Store, Allentown

For years, the Hess' Department Store in Allentown, Pennsylvania aired a fashion broadcast, a flower program and a toy show on Channel 6, WFIL-TV (now WPVI). These broadcasts were hugely popular.

Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Webber was talent on most of these programs. Broadcast Pioneers member Lew Klein was pressed into service as producer and director. Those of you outside of the industry will know Lew from his work as Executive Producer of "American Bandstand" during its Philly days. Later, he would go on to co-own Gateway Communications.

To show the success of these broadcasts, a letter from Wayne W. Holben of Hess Brothers to Bill Webber said: ...Never before have we enjoyed as large a share of the ...audience as we did for the March 10 show (80% in the Lehigh Valley and 48% in Philadelphia). ...Everyone here was delighted with the results.

For about ten years, these broadcasts aired on Channel 6. The store's policy (under the direction of Max Hess) was to bring in celebrities to make personal appearances. They became nationally known for their publicity campaigns, like the one for topless swim suits. (The store didn't sell any but got a million dollars in free publicity).

Many times, they were interviewed for the Channel 6 camera, but often the discussion was simply for persons visiting the store. It was entertainment that brought people into the stores (and hopefully would buy something). On this occasion, the guest was hollywood actress Zsa Zsa Gabor (Miss Hungary of 1936). Zsa Zsa (married nine times) had always been known for her quick remarks about men like: A man in love is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished. or I never hated a man enough to give him the diamonds back.

From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Bill Webber
Written and researched by Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson
© 2006, All Rights Reserved

The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is pioneers@broadcastpioneers.com