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Open House Hints For Homemakers

Who said that TV is the homemaker's menace - hypnotizing the little woman in her ringside seat while mirth and music pour forth and housework goes undone? Nay, not in St. Louis at least. For here's KSD-TV to the rescue with "Open House," The new program that helps put more "home" in homemaking and takes some of the work out of housework.

This Thursday afternoon show (2:30) is really a clinic on homemaking, where Mrs. St. Louis gets hints and helps to make daily chores lighter and the old homestead more livable.

Behind the scenes of this locally produced television program is a staff of professional experts whose sole aim is to see that all material conforms to practical home situations and that it is presented in a manner easily understood by the viewer.

So when the doors of "Open House" swing open at the beginning of every telecast, it represents a considerable amount of planning and "fixing for company."

For instance, Kay Morton, hostess of "Open House," appreciates the dilemma of being both a housewife and mother.

Kay Morton
Kay Morton

Her 3-year-old Jimmy clamors for his share of her attention as she prepares her program every week. But like many other "working mothers," she must arrange her work and time so that all phases of the homemaker's task plus job are adequately handled.

Planning her material far in advance of the program, the "Open House" hostess submits her outlines to the program's Technical Advisor, Miss Esther Lee Bride of the Union Electric Company, for a careful checking before it goes into script form.

Follows then eight hours of rehearsal, two before camera, before the show finally goes on the air.

Rehearsal: Mel Randoll, Esther Lee Bride, Emerson Russell, Bradford Whitney
Rehearsal: Mel Randoll, Esther Lee Bride, Emerson Russell, Bradford Whitney

Fifteen minutes after the door of "open House" closes and ends the program, the entire staff: actors, producer, director, consultant go into a huddle to begin the round of conference and work of producing the next week's show.

Hostessing the "Open House" show is a "natural" for Kay Morton, who spent 8 years behind microphones of several St. Louis radio stations before going before television cameras. Her specialty was women's features and fashions. She also found time to serve as a board member for the Girl Scouts and do publicity work, and her career since her graduation from Washington University with a degree in Journalism also includes selling in a prominent downtown shop and handling the advertising campaign for a personal appearance of comedian Bob Hope in St. Louis.

As a radio news and feature woman, she covered the Churchill-Truman appearance and addresses at Fulton, Missouri, has wire-recorded broadcasts from a dirigible and a glider, broadcast the Veiled Prophet Ball and claims to be the only woman to do a lion cage interview, complete with lions.

Speaking of lions may be a good place to present her "opposite" on "Open House," Dave Russell, who has done a bit of kicking about himself. His interest in the theater was so compelling that he admits to working as a bouncer to get money to live on while attendiong the American Repretory  Theater where he studies acting technique with Madam Maria Ouspenskaya and was protege of the famed director Alexander Korionsky. Always the man's man, Dave Russell once became a prospector in the Majove Desert. No gold was discovered but he did find a deposit of a substance valuable in oil well drilling called "rotary mud."

Kay Morton, Dave Russell
Kay Morton, Dave Russell

If Kay Morton and Dave Russell could talk about their own, personal experiences on "open House," they would, in themselves, make good program material. But they would rather do the demonstrations of the topics selected for the homemakers' benefit and to talk about the prize of refrigerator and electric range offered for the most valuable Household Hint submitted.

Rounding out this valuable service to women who must shop the food markets is Catherine Brent, Home Economist in Marketing with the Marketing Extension Service of the University of Missouri. A portion of "Open House" is given over to the Marketing Extension Service for its report on "News For Food Shoppers." Aside from her professional training, Catherine Brent, too, knows homemaking from the practical angle. She is the mother of three little Brents, and women may know that when Catherine Brent makes a recommendation regarding fruits, vegetables, meats and produce on the market, it deserves a full and careful noting. A pencil in hand during her report is definitely advised.

This is what you see on an "Open House" telecast. What you do not see is the impatience of the program's direction handled by Director Bradford Whitney now with KSD-TV but formerly of the St. Louis Community Playhouse; of the contribution of Technical Director Elmer Peters and other members of the studio staff who put the feature on the air; of property manager Bill Speers and his crew, floor manager Mel Randoll, cameramen, control room men, all cooperating whole-heartedly with producer Emerson Russell to give to the homemaker what may be, for her, one of the most profitable half-hours of the week, in television's "Open House."

(Originally published in TV Review 6/2/1951).