Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Claude in Color

Color television was still a novelty in 1956 when "The Perry Como Show" became the first live nationally-broadcast program to adopt color for a majority of its episodes. Even if your family had a color television set then, almost all of the programming you could watch would have been in black-and-white. Nevertheless, color TV was a talked-about new technology and the most talked-about new technology has a way of getting talked about in New Yorker cartoons.

Claude Smith's cartoon in the April 21, 1956 issue shows how strongly people were drawn to television for their entertainment. Here two well-dressed couples pair off with the men in front and the women in back to enjoy a broadcast with a dancing chorus line. Watching TV is already an upscale social activity in America. Smoking is already an upscale social activity for women. Probably no one in 1956 got rid of their color television set and went back to black-and-white, but that's the premise of the gag.
Abe Birnbaum, The New Yorker, April 21, 1956

"We had color, but it kept clashing with the room."
Claude Smith, original art
The New Yorker, April 21, 1956, page 32

"We had color, but it kept clashing with the room."
Claude Smith, original art
The New Yorker, April 21, 1956, page 32

Claude Smith's signature

Detail

Detail

Abe Birnbaum, The New Yorker, April 21, 1956

Verso

"We had color, but it kept clashing with the room."
Claude Smith, The New Yorker, April 21, 1956, page 32

"We had color, but it kept clashing with the room."
Claude Smith, The New Yorker, April 21, 1956, page 32

Claude Smith
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"We had color, but it kept clashing with the room."
Claude Smith, original art
The New Yorker, April 21, 1956, page 32
"We had color, but it kept clashing with the room."
Claude Smith, The New Yorker, April 21, 1956, page 32
http://archives.newyorker.com/?i=1956-04-21#folio=032

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