Stewart-Warner Television - Your theater of the clown world.

Who-art Warner? I know. I'd never heard of the company either. You can find evidence that they existed, but just barely. It looks like their last year of production was 1955, so anyone inspired to make a purchase because of this ad would find themselves moaning a year later, just like the clown.
Actually, I may be motivated to buy a TV that was especially good at reproducing the performance of a screaming clown. Nobody likes clowns any more, even before John Gacy did all his raping, clowning, and murdering (not always in that order). So, watching the agony and sorrow of a clown sounds like quite a nice way to pass an evening. Perhaps The Screaming Clown Show could feature a different not-especially-sharp object being forced through Screaming Clown's abdomen each night. Such possibilities.

Well, the clown in the picture is more of a Pierrot type of character, which is part of the rich European history of clown-heartbreak-related entertainment. The Italians and French have been enjoying the comedy of watching Pierrot's wife, Columbine (hmm) cheat on him with Harlequin even since the 17th century. See? once again, the Europeans are centuries ahead of our culture.

While there's no price mentioned in this ad, other similar-sized TV's of the time (1954) went for around $200. This sounds insane, but the handy inflation calculator shows that this comes out to $1600 in today's money. Yes, you get a better TV for that price today, but at the time, this Stewart-Warner was a similarly badass piece of kit as your $1600 LCD.

Plus, for their $200 price of entry, the denizens of 1954 could watch an Italian clown screaming his head off. The closet thing we have today is Jersey Shore. Talk about your not-especially-sharp objects. Zing.
Update: Found their factory's address in an old ad. Found a news article announcing the plan to demolish and de-asbestos the site. Now we can see that it's all apartments and townhouses there. Not fascinating, but there you go.


Craig F. said...


Stewart-Warner was never a big deal in TVs, but they were a huge deal in automotive instrumentation.

They were also the original producer of the "zerk" grease fitting. Before the zerk fitting, you had to take things apart to apply grease to them. The Zerk fitting allowed mechanics to use a grease gun to squirt grease into steering knuckles, u-joints and Moe Howard's face.

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

I did see an instrument panel pop up in the search results when I was looking for residue of SW's existence. Didn't know they invented the zerk. Because of dad's engineering geekdom, I knew what a grease zerk is when I was single digits old. Genius, that. That's a fine piece of trivia that a simple Google search didn't show me.

Also, Stewart-Warner was yet another Chicago company making TV's. See? We used to build stuff here. It'd be interesting to find the old plant and see what's there now (not really but possibly).

Thanks for the car lore, Craig!

Anonymous said...

'tis the clown from the opera Pagliacci, likely singing the amazing aria Vesti la Giubba. Apparently there was a production of Pagliacci filmed for television in 1954.

I couldn't find the 1954 video, but here's one from a 1952 TV show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdxPXr6s8NE

All the best from your local opera source,

PhilAreGo@gmail.com said...

Holy crap, Crapman! Culture? I'm not sure where to file that fact. The Minister of Culture and Fanciness desk has been vacant ever since The Great Poetry Collapse of '07, when our previous MCF was crushed under an unabridged set of William Shatner's sonnets.

Thanks for the obscura, Non-Mouse! Thanks for keeping us sharp.


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