Female broadcasters have fought for a place in the world of broadcasting right from early days of radio and television. We bring you five such early pioneers of broadcast industry who made their mark in the world of media.
Betty White Ludden (born 1922)
American-born Betty White Ludden, known for her Emmy Award winning roles The Golden Girls and the Mary Tyler Moore Show, was the first women to produce a sitcom. She is regarded as a pioneer of television and received the honorary title as the Mayor of Hollywood in 1955.
During her career span of more than 75 years, she has received numerous awards – which includes a Grammy, three American Comedy Awards, eight Emmy Awards, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards. Her acting legacy and pioneering efforts in early television has won her numerous awards and featured her in the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 2008. She has also been recognized as having the longest television career for a female entertainer by the Guinness World Records in 2013.
Eunice Randall (1898-1982)
The first woman to be hired by the American Radio and Research Company (AMRAD), Eunice Randall started broadcasting on a radio station of Boston area in 1920, when she was only 19. She was both an engineer and an announcer, and came to radio by accident when she was hired as a draftsman by AMRAD. From late 1921 through 1923, she was a host of a sponsored program reading storied to children twice a week, and was popularly known as “The Story Lady”.
Eunice’s willingness to learn and her technical skills earned her respect and took her to greater heights. Later in her life, Eunice built her own ham station and became the first woman in England to hold a first class license.
Alice Guy-Blaché (1873 – 1968)
Alice Guy-Blaché was one of the first woman to make a narrative fiction film. An avid learner who experimented with color tinting, special effects, sound syncing, and interracial casting, she wrote, produced and directed her first film, The Cabbage Fairy in 1896. Alice ran her own film studio in New Jersey and made more than 1000 films in her career span.
Alice began her career as Léon Gaumont’s secretary at the age of 21, where she witnessed demonstration of early 60mm motion-picture camera. During her career, she assisted Santos Dumont, Gustave Eiffel, and Emile Zola.
Bertha Brainard (1890 – 1946)
The first woman to ever hold an executive post at an American network, Bertha Brainard became the head of programming for National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in 1927. Bertha commissioned Raymond Knight to introduce satire to radio by creating a comedy show – The Cuckoo Hour.
Bertha also introduced many singers and launched several variety of musical program in radio during his tenure. She introduced talents like Alice Faye, Kate Smith, Milton Berle, the Mills Brothers, and Burns and Allen through The Rudy Vallée Show, which became very popular during her tenure.
Fatma Begum (1892 – 1983)
Considered the first female film director of Indian cinema, Fatma began her career on stage. She moved to films at a time when men used to play women in movies and cinemas, and became successful in her first film Veer Abhimanyu. Later, she launched her own production house Fatma Films and became the pioneer of fantasy cinema.
Bulbul-e-Paristan, Fatma’s first production in 1926 as a director, is known as a fantasy film with many special effects. She has directed and acted in many films and is known to be a pioneer of using trick photography in films. She directed her last film Goddess of Luck in 1929.