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COMING SOON: A Complete Database Spanning Almost Five Star-Studded Decades of American Television

A vast long-hidden collection of classic television memorabilia glittering with Hollywood Stars will soon be available in its entirety online. The star-studded archive - more than 1,000,000 separate items covering almost 50 years of television programming - comprised the working files of Al and Polly Vonetes. Widely respected Hollywood insider columnists, the Voneteses began accumulating the materials in the early 1960s in conjunction with their work in producing what was one of the first weekly TV guide newspaper inserts. The wildly successful programming guide begun by the Voneteses eventually gained a circulation of over 2.5 million households and was sold in 1982 to United Media, a Scripps-Howard Company.

Single Largest Private Collection of TV Pictures and Content Includes More Than 200,000 Original Items

The contents of the archives were provided directly to Al and Polly Vonetes by the TV networks and studios, or through their own interviews and research on TV stars and programming. Their collection covers more than 26,000 performers and virtually every show that aired on American television from 1960 onward (as well as some fragmentary materials from the 1950s). This is an extraordinary archive comprising 250,000+ unique photographs (sonic shots and stills), 24,000+ slides, and at least 600,000 pieces of written material encompassing biographical sketches, press releases, newspaper clippings, and original studio promotional kits. Many of the items contained in the files are thought to be among the few remaining originals in existence, and many of the photographs have been autographed by the stars themselves.

Movies - 28 file drawers. More.

Biographies - 36 file drawers. More.

TV Programs - 26 file drawers. More.

And more...

  • 24,000 color slides archived in notebooks
  • 75 photo CD's
  • 1,500 videotapes of television movies, specials, documentaries and syndicated shows

Watch for Soon

The archive is no longer on the market for acquisition. After some limited exposure on eBay as well as discussions with several interested companies, we decided to raise the capital needed to digitize this entire archive and plan to make it all available as a one-stop online reference source in 2012. Please feel free to contact us if you're interested in our project. We're open to proposals for strategic partnerships, advertising and cross-linking.

A Treasure Trove of American TV History
Television began to invade the American home during the 1950's. During the early 50s, there were only a few major networks -- NBC, CBS and ABC - joined later by PBS. And television neither had the resources nor content to become the 24-hour medium that it is today. The networks used their limited resources and early sponsors to develop and produce programs like I Love Lucy and Leave It To Beaver. The networks would assemble press releases with photo stills, background materials and an episode synopsis, to media channels for publication, and distribute them to media channels for publication.

At that time, TV guides as we now know them were nonexistent. In the early 1960s, Al and Polly Vonetes started a small business to assemble and produce a Television Guide Insert for newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina. The TV channels, networks, studios and producers provided the Vonetes family companies, Press Features and later Television Newsfeatures Syndicate, with information that is now included in their files along with the interviews, features and articles they produced. Also included are materials produced by the Vonetes themselves who conducted their own interviews with many stars, and wrote original reviews of shows and features

In much the same way as today’s “traditional media” viewed the early onslaught of the Internet, newspapers first looked upon television as a threat with a negative impact on their advertising revenues. With ever increasing success, by 1980 the company founded by the Voneteses was operating in eight states servicing more than 70 daily newspapers with a combined household circulation in excess of 2.5 million. The rapid expansion caught the attention of newspaper giant Scripps-Howard. United Media, a Scripps-Howard Company, acquired the family enterprise in 1982.

The Voneteses have continued to maintain this archive since 1960, even as the existing networks grew and new networks emerged. Al and Polly Vonetes later launched Television Newsfeatures Syndicate which provided interviews and content to national publications, syndicates, and international television networks showing syndicated American programming. After nearly five decades, the Vonetes family's magnificent and unequaled collection of television information will soon be available once again as an online reference.