Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Madman Muntz


As I was browsing through the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this morning, an article about the 1961 Plymouth Fury caught my eye. What was I doing in 1961, I thought? Oh, yes, I had been working at Collins Radio in Cedar Rapids for several years. And before that, I was selling and repairing TVs. What kind of TVs? Among others the “gutless wonders” manufactured by one Madman Muntz. I wonder if Mr. Google will help my memory here? He could and he did, by pointing me to Wikipedia.

Muntz produced and marketed the first black-and-white television receivers to sell for less than $100, and created one of the earliest functional widescreen projection TVs. He was credited with coining the abbreviation “TV” for television.

Bet you didn’t know that. To be honest, I don’t recall selling his TVs for less than $100, but we probably did. I was in a partnership doing business as “Reno Television Service Company” with a college friend named Howard Anderson in Hutchinson, Kansas, 100 miles from the nearest television station. (I wonder if Howard is still alive and kicking? I lost track of him.)

Madman Muntz And here he is in person. “Madman” Muntz in one of many television advertisement performances. Born in Elgin, Illinois, in 1914, he died at age 73 in 1987, according to Wikipedia. He also designed, manufactured and sold a sports car, the Muntz Jet in 1951. You can read a lot more about this fascinating man at Wikipedia.

Dave, a little mad hisself sometimes.


4 Responses to “Madman Muntz”
  1. Linda says:

    I do believe Madman Muntz was Uncle Tom’s mentor! Do you remember when all the cousins congregated in a back bedroom on Coffee Court? Except for Larry and Mike who often congregated in the branches of the pin oak tree in the front yard. With no TV back there and no PCs or any handheld electronics we had 2 main forms of entertainment. We had the mysterious metal tube that unscrewed from the lamp. We stuffed small cylinders of paper up there with secret notes. Our other entertainment was Uncle Tom who would periodically poke his head around the corner and practice his face contortions. Quite amusing.

  2. Leslie says:

    Dad, I know what you were doing in 1961…. Conceiving me! Ha. Linda, I remember the Coffee Court entertainment. it was the guest bedroom (or den) across from the bathroom. I also remember climbing the big tree with cousin Mike in the back yard. Many good memories.

  3. Larry Ayers says:

    I’ll leave aside the interesting question concerning Dad’s conception activities way back when.

    I have a memory from those early days in Hutchinson, KS. I was about three years old, I reckon.

    Dad came into the house at 1909 Cone Street lugging a bulky B&W TV. I exclaimed:

    “A TV that works! Does it have the cartoon channel?”

  4. Dave says:

    Linda, I doubt he had to practice. And Larry, congratulations for coming up with our address in Hutchinson.

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