If you grew up without a fireplace, you might have never known the comfort of a crackling fireplace on Christmas Eve. For those unlucky many, the televised yule log brought holiday comfort to the masses without the messy clean up.
In the spirit of the season, TVSpy brings you a safe conversation starter describing the origin of the televised yule log, courtesy of New York CW flagship station WPIX. You know, for when you’ve had one too many cups of eggnog or wassailed a little to much and need to drone on about something. Enjoy!
It debuted as a 3-hour program, originally consisting of a 17-second 16 millimeter filmed loop of a festively decorated roaring fireplace while traditional Christmas carols played over the video.
The Yule Log premiered in full-color on Saturday, December 24, 1966, at 9:30 PM on WPIX Channel 11 in New York City.
The original one was filmed in 1966 on 16 millimeter film at Gracie Mansion, the home of then Mayor of New York, John Lindsay. Four years later, in 1970, WPIX decided to re-shoot the footage on state-of-the-art 35 millimeter film, as the original 16 millimeter footage had become worn by this time.
Unfortunately, when WPIX shot the original Gracie Mansion footage, to capture the log in all its flaming glory, the crew decided to remove the protective screen and a stray spark damaged a valuable antique rug. Needless to say, the Mayor’s office was not receptive to the idea of letting WPIX come back and re-shoot the footage.
The search was then on for an identical fireplace. One was eventually found in California and a crew of technicians was then dispatched out to complete the re-shoot. This time from the footage they shot, they were able to edit out a perfect 7-minute loop that magnificently captured the fire when it was at its roaring best. It is this iconic fireplace footage that has captured the fascination of millions in the tri-state area and across the nation since 1970.
The station also has a list of songs used over the crackling video logs. Click here to see.
Here’s some yule log footage:
image – WPIX