by Tony Karp
Photographing the Perry Como Show
 - Perry Como and Gary Cooper share a joke at a rehearsal. - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Perry Como and Gary Cooper share a joke at a rehearsal.
One of my first commercial assignments, back in 1958, came through a friend of a friend. It was a one-shot deal, photographing the Perry Como Show for NBC.

The show was broadcast from the Ziegfeld Theatre in Manhattan. I showed up, not knowing quite what to expect. As the show was broadcast live, I could only shoot the dress rehearsal. I was to stay out of the way and not interfere with the production. Luckily, my assortment of 35mm lenses included several telephotos, so I was able to stay in the background while producing close-in shots.

The Perry Como Show was a variety show, with its own ensemble singers and dancers, plus guest appearances by stars of stage and screen to liven things up. I don't remember who I photographed that day, but I produced a number of interesting images.

Now we get to the interesting part. I took my pictures up to the office of the Perry Como Show's production company and made them an offer. In return for access to the show during rehearsals, I would give them the pictures I shot. It was an offer they couldn't refuse, a win-win for all involved. So, for the next six months, I showed up most weeks and practiced taking pictures in this very specialized environment. It was soon to pay big dividends.

The pictures here are from the black and white prints that still remain in my collection.
 - Perry Como with guests Maureen O'Hara and Dave King. - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Perry Como with guests Maureen O'Hara and Dave King.
 - Perry Como with friend. Yes, it's a real bird. - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Perry Como with friend. Yes, it's a real bird.
 - Sitting in the audience seats, talking to the show's writers. - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Sitting in the audience seats, talking to the show's writers.
 - France Nuyen and Juanita Hall reprise a song from the film version of <i>South Pacific</i> - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
France Nuyen and Juanita Hall reprise a song from the film version of South Pacific
 - A moment of reflection. - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
A moment of reflection.
 - What TV used to look like. Notice the cue cards, eventually replaced by the teleprompter. - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
What TV used to look like. Notice the cue cards, eventually replaced by the teleprompter.
 - Obviously, the bird likes Perry's singing. - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
Obviously, the bird likes Perry's singing.
 - This photo ran full page in the New York Times as part of the NBC advertising for the Perry Como Show. - Perry Como Show - NBC - - art  - photography - by Tony Karp
This photo ran full page in the New York Times as part of the NBC advertising for the Perry Como Show.

Some technical notes: The original pictures were shot with miscellaneous Canon rangefinder cameras. The film was most likely Tri-X or Plus-X, developed in UFG. The prints were photographed with a Sony DSC-R1 camera and post processing was done with LightZone 3.
Copyright 1958-2016 Tony & Marilyn Karp