Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sepia Saturday- The Scopitone Repairman

In the 1960's I went to Las Vegas with a group of friends from the ad agency that I worked for. One of my friends was named Mark Draper. He reminds me so much of the main character on "Mad Men"- Don Draper. Both of them invented new names and lives for themselves. Sometimes I wonder if the writers on "Mad Men" knew Mark.

I didn't know Mark had invented a new name for himself until we ran into his father in the casino bar in Las Vegas. He called him Skip. Not a name (or even nick- name) that would befit the suave, sophisticated Mark who we all assumed came from a high class, well-to-do family. We certainly didn't picture his father being a Scopitone repairman.

What's a Scopitone you might ask and why is it in this Sepia Saturday post with a juke box theme?
Well, a Scopitone is a juke box with the addition of a movie/video. They were invented and popularized in France in the '50's and then imported to the U.S. (Warning!-This video is waaay too long so you might not want to watch it all. And mute it for the first 16 seconds.)

They didn't last long in the U.S. because of bad marketing and bad management. (or so I read) Apparently they were marketed to cocktail lounges and hotels instead of the teen hangouts as they should have been. Also they were expensive. A song on the juke box would have cost 5 cents... on the Scopitone- 25 cents!!!
Also their production values weren't very high. Here's another example:
(After you watch this go to sepiasaturday.blogspot.com for more juke box stories)


La Nightingail said...

I'd never heard of the Scopitone, but I can see why it was never a big hit - although it is very reminiscent of the Beach Blanket Bingo & Elvis Presley type movies of the early '60s when simple shakin' it dances were big stuff. Oh well.

Helen Bauch McHargue said...

I've never heard of the Scopitone either, but gee whiz, it's really fun. Your Mark Draper story has always interested me. He must be the inspiration for Don! A most enjoyable post.

Tattered and Lost said...

I remember one of these in a restaurant in Northern California. It fascinated me, but yeah…my folks wouldn't cough up the quarter. They'd never give me money for the juke boxes. It took me years and years of begging to give me the dime to put in the Magic Fingers in a motel. So I stuck my dime in, the bed shook very little, and I thought "what a gyp!" My folks laughed at me and figured I learned a very important life lesson.

Now, as to your own Don Draper….

Brett Payne said...

I think the idea of a Scopitone is about as hideous as having a TV screen in a cafe or bar. A real conversation-killer.

North County Film Club said...

I agree, wholeheartedly!

Anonymous said...

Different times, different places, different cultures, what a varied world we live in. So now IO have a new word in my vocabulary. Thanks.


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