Obit of the Day: Why Memorize, When You Can Prompt?
When Hub Schlafly was approached by his boss at 20th Centuy Fox to design a machine that would feed actors their lines while on television he responded, “Piece of cake.” He created the first teleprompter in one half of a suitcase which contained a rolled script that was hand-cranked. It worked so well that Schlafly and his boss, Irving Kahn, quit Fox to start TelePrompTer, Corp.
Their invention was first used in 1950 on the soap opera, The First Hundred Years. It gained momentum, though when, in 1952, former president Herbert Hoover used a prompter at the Republican National Convention. (Actually, it was a news item because Hoover panicked when he went off-script and the prompter stopped and he asked, on mic, for it to start again.)
The teleprompter became ubiquitous on television and in politics. The version above, the Lens Line Prompting System, was the third generation allowing actors to look into the camera directly. Schlafly received an Emmy for his work in 1999.
(Image courtesy of manhattaninfidel.com)