October 12, 2012

Artifact: This Is the Life director’s chair, 16mm movie reel, script and photograph

22.5 x 17.5 x 34.5 inches (chair)

Date: 1954 (script and movie reel); chair and photograph undated

Significance: This Is the Life, a long-running television series produced by Lutheran Television and the Lutheran Laymen’s League, began broadcasting sixty years ago in the fall of 1952. The series ran for over thirty years, ending its run in the late 1980s.

About the series: This Is the Life was a thirty-minute dramatization that presented everyday problems and a Christian resolution in story format. In the early years the stories revolved around the Fischer family and the people they encountered in their town of Middleburg.
Later the characters changed week by week, but the purpose of showing Christian solutions to lifeʼs problems remained the same.

About the artifacts: The chair was used on site for filming This Is the Life. Also in the CHI collection is a similarly styled chair that belonged to Herman Gockel, the religious director of the program. The 16mm film reel and script are for Episode #114, titled, “Graft” which dealt with the temptation of bribery through a story about Mr. Fischer’s fellow city councilman. CHI has hundreds of movie reels and scripts for This Is the Life in its collection. The first page of this script is featured at right. Episode #114, like many others, began with a scene with Grampa Fischer that served as an introduction to the story. The final artifact, featured at left, is a photograph of Herman Gockel holding a plaque and surrounded by some of the cast; it appears that the location is a shooting set.

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