Here’s something completely awesome I found while rummaging through some tapes at my office. Some of you might remember Jack Joseph. He ran the late late movie on Reno’s KOLO TV back in the 1980s, coming on after midnight, when the only audience was casino workers, alcoholics, and the unemployed, to air some godawful movie starring Suzanne Somers or Bert Convy. Last year Jack Joseph was inducted into the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and the RN&R did a nice interview with him looking back on his career.
I was too young to remember much about Jack Joseph, I caught him once or twice near the end of his TV career showing Buckaroo Banzai. But today I unearthed a videotape of him at his peak. It’s from February 1986, and the movie of the night is First, You Cry, a 1970s made-for-TV movie starring Mary Tyler Moore as a breast cancer survivor. I didn’t watch the movie itself; it’s all polyester and afros, and it looks absolutely horrible. But I did watch with rapt attention Jack Joseph himself, as a time capsule of what late-night 1980s TV was all about. Every single commercial seemed to be produced and voiced over by Jack himself. They’re all for little stores around Reno, and undoubtedly every single one of them is out of business by now, 20 years later. I’ve pulled out just the parts where Jack is doing on-camera ads, ads for shoe stores and TV repair. Most of the places he is advertising were located in the “MGM Arcade”. This may be more familiar to many of you as the basement of the Grand Sierra Resort (formerly Reno Hilton), where back in the 80s and 90s there used to be quite a shopping mall set up. The mall was closed to make way for convention space, First, You Cry was forgotten in the annals of bad 70’s TV, and Jack Joseph retired to a quiet life of mailing out monthly coupon books. So goes the world.
There is so much to love about this video. First, the budget for the whole thing looks to be about $1.98. He’s in the studio in front of a completely blue wall. He has a dog with him, for no discernable reason, and his first words to the camera, instead of a greeting or hello of some kind, is to basically say, “Look, here’s a dog.” Then he gets down to the business of introducing the movie, and all the while the camera is panning down and zooming in on the dog’s face, until Jack is completely out of frame. 90% of the webcam videos on YouTube today have better production values than this. The rest of the clip is him hawking various stores in the MGM arcade. It’s all horrible hideous clothing, scary dolls, and brass animals. Ugly ugly boots, is what he’s trying to sell on TV. Then he slips in a plug for his own lounge act, at some casino that doesn’t exist anymore, and finally ends the night by bringing the dog back and giving us his signature sign-off: “Blue skies, green lights, hope for peace.”
No disrespect for Jack Joseph, the guy’s an old pro and a Reno institution. But this video’s hilarious from beginning to end.
I’ve got more from this tape, too. Stay tuned.