Created by
WENR-TV Chicago, American, 1948 - 1953
Subject of
Jackson, Mahalia, American, 1911 - 1972
Terkel, Louis "Studs", American, 1912 - 2008
16mm Film (a): acetate film;
Film Reel (b): metal;
Film Shipping Box (c): cardboard
Duration: 24 Minutes
Length (Film): 1065 Feet
The Christmas Eve 1949 episode of Studs Terkel's improvisational television drama guest stars Mahalia Jackson. Together with Studs and his coterie of players, Mahalia Jackson performs: "Go Tell It On The Mountain" and "His Eyes Are on the Sparrow."
16mm black and white kinescope film features a performance by Mahalia Jackson on "Studs' Place," an unscripted television drama that often featured famous people. This episode is a Christmas episode from 1949. It is a prime example of the late-1940s "Chicago School" of television in early broadcast television history.
Consists of: 16mm Film (a), Original 1200 foot Film Reel (b), and Original Film Shipping Box (c).
2014.141.1.1a: 16mm film. This film opens with a shot of store sign that reads "Studs' Place, Fine Eats, Fine Friends, The Place To Meet and Eat." The narrator welcomes the audience and invites them inside to see who is in attendance that night. Inside, a man and woman, Grace, decorate a tree and converse. The phone rings, and Studs Terkel enters the room for a brief moment before leaving to answer the phone. Another man enters the room and offers to add tinsel to the Christmas tree. Eventually, all three men and Grace are standing around the tree talking about the tree and other things. They begin to talk about the one customer who is still in the restaurant and wonder why she's there alone on Christmas Eve. One of the men grabs his guitar and begins to play "Mockingbird," and the young girl walks over to the Christmas tree to talk with them. The man continues to play and the young girl starts to cry. Grace checks in on her to see if she's ok and offers to accompany her to the powder room, so she can talk to her in private. Studs Terkel enters the room again and is briefly happy to learn the young girl is no longer there, before learning she only went to the bathroom. The third gentleman reenters the room, and is aggravated to learn the girl is in fact still there as well. Mahalia Jackson enters in a fur coat and the men are excited to see her. They all sit around the table to talk and catch up. She tells them that she dropped in to try Louie's famous ribs, one of the chefs who is absent on account of it being Christmas Eve. The man who was playing the guitar offers to go fix the ribs in Louie's absence. Studs invites Mahalia to a Christmas party they're all attending later that evening, but she tells them she's very tired from touring so much. Even though she's tired, they convince her to sing. The man gets up and begins playing the piano. Mahalia slowly walks over the piano and sings "Go Tell It On The Mountain." After, they applaud her singing and go check on the ribs being prepared in the kitchen. Grace and the young girl reenter the room, and the woman introduces the young girl as Nancy Nichols. The woman tells Mahalia that Nancy isn't feeling very well, and Mahalia insists that Nancy tell her what's ailing her. Grace leans over to the man and tells him that they can't just leave poor Nancy in this state. A title card that reads "Get In The Scrap" appears as the narrator describes how important scrap dealers are to the nation's defense. The program continues. One of the men inform Mahalia that he accidentally burned the first batch and the second batch will be done very soon. Grace gathers all three men and tells them how Nancy is sad because she is pregnant and her husband is away in the Army. They plot to try to reach her husband for her on the payphone to surprise Nancy on Christmas Eve and cheer her up. Grace explains to Mahalia what they're trying to do for Nancy. One of the men plays the piano for Nancy in an attempt to cheer her up. Nancy tries to leave, but Mahalia convinces her to stay and listen to her sing. Mahalia sings "His Eye Is On The Sparrow." When she finishes, the payphone rings, and it's Nancy's husband. She's very excited! Mahalia begins to sing again. When she finishes, Nancy thanks everyone for what they did. They all decide to attend the Christmas party together. The narrator says the show will be right back and talks about another show viewers should check out. The credits play for "Studs' Place."
Terkel's and a young girl who becomes separated from her loved ones on Christmas Eve. Together with Studs and his coterie of players, Mahalia Jackson attempts to cheer up the young woman by singing. It features two musical performances: "Go Tell It On The Mountain" and "His Eyes Are on the Sparrow."
2014.141.1.1b: Original 1200 foot film reel.
2014.141.1.1c: Original cardboard film shipping box. The top of the shipping box has an adhesive shipping label from the American Broadcasting Company addressed to [Miss Mahalia Jackson]. Handwritten on the bottom of the shipping box is [Studs/ Terkel] with a circle drawn around it.
Place filmed
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States, North and Central America
Time-based Media - Moving Images
sound films
black-and-white films (visual works)
16mm (photographic film size)
Gospel (Music)
Holidays and festivals
Variety shows (Television)
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Paul & Claire Blumenfeld
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No known copyright restrictions
Proper usage is the responsibility of the user.

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