Remembering the Spalding Hotel

Today’s News Tribune features an article on the 50th anniversary of the demolition of the landmark Spalding Hotel in downtown Duluth. The photo above, from the News Tribune files, appears to date from the late 1920s or 1930s. The hotel was demolished in 1963 as part of a larger urban renewal project.

The Spalding was the subject of several previous Attic posts, with a number of old photos. You can find them here, here, here and here.

Local authors and historians Tony Dierckins and Maryanne Norton featured the Spalding in their 2012 book “Lost Duluth.” You can find that information – and much more about Duluth history – at Zenith City Online.

Do you remember the Spalding? Do you have some memorabilia from the old hotel? Share your stories and memories by posting a comment.


Duluth TV personality Jack McKenna dies at age 91

We received word from KUWS radio’s Mike Simonson, on the Radio Superior Facebook page, that longtime Twin Ports radio and TV personality Jack McKenna died Sunday, Dec. 8 at age 91.

Jack McKenna does a weathercast at WDIO-TV in 1977, the same year he was chosen favorite TV personality by Twin Ports residents. (News Tribune file photo)

McKenna spent time as a weathercaster at WDIO-TV in the 1960s and 1970s, took some jobs elsewhere in the country and returned to Duluth as a weathercaster and news host at KBJR-TV in the 1980s.

He played the character “Captain Q” on a Duluth children’s TV show, and the News Tribune files report that he also played “Professor Fantastic” on a late-night horror movie show on WDIO.

McKenna also was an alumnus of Denfeld High School, and a good recap of his career can be found on their website.

Jack McKenna portrays the kids TV show character “Captain Q” in the early 1960s. (News Tribune file photo)

In more recent years, McKenna took part in the Radio Superior vintage radio program on KUWS.

I talked with him briefly a few weeks ago when writing an obituary for fellow Duluth TV veteran Dick Wallack. McKenna had had health issues in recent years, but his mind was sharp when we discussed the time he and Wallack spent working together.

Jack McKenna in 1970. (News Tribune file photo)

Several video clips of McKenna exist on YouTube, including….

McKenna as part of the WDIO news team in a 1973 newscast (I’ve included two of the five clips below – the ones that feature McKenna most prominently; find the rest here):

McKenna giving the weather on a 1986 KBJR newscast:

McKenna giving the weather on a KBJR newscast with Barbara Reyelts in 1988:

McKenna in character as Captain Q (this clip starts with footage of Ray Paulsen as Mr. Toot; Captain Q comes in the second half):

There aren’t many Twin Ports TV pioneers left… share your memories of Jack McKenna and other early Duluth TV personalities by posting a comment.

Duluth front pages from Kennedy assassination, 50 years later

On this 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, here are four Duluth front pages covering the assassination and its aftermath.

In 1963 Duluth was served by two papers – the morning News-Tribune and the afternoon Herald. The Herald was able to provide same-day coverage of the event; here’s its Nov. 22, 1963 front page (with all of these, click on the image for a much larger, readable version):

Here’s the Nov. 23, 1963, News-Tribune:

And here are two more News-Tribune front pages from the days following the assassination:

Share your memories by posting a comment.

The Louie Show, 1996

Comedian Louie Anderson, in character as Duluth psychotherapist Louie Lundgren, in a CBS publicity photo for “The Louie Show” from January 1996. (Cliff Lipson / CBS / News Tribune file)

There’s been some discussion over on Perfect Duluth Day recently about “The Louie Show,” a short-lived 1996 CBS sitcom set in Duluth and starring Minnesota-raised comedian Louie Anderson.

I dove into the archives here at the News Tribune and present here what may be the most extensive collection of Louie Show-related content ever assembled online. While the show’s handful of episodes aired in early 1996, the story in Duluth started back on March 9, 1995, when word of the prospective sitcom made the front page of the News Tribune under the headline “Pilot episode of Anderson sitcom will be filmed in Duluth” (with all of these, click on the image for a larger version):











Well…. the “pilot episode filmed in Duluth” part didn’t happen. What did happen was a film crew shot scenes in Duluth for an opening to the show, on April 30-May 1, 1995. The sequence featured the News Tribune; here’s an account from the May 2, 1995, News Tribune, headlined ” ‘Louie Show’ offers momentary fame to Duluth paper boy”:










Here are the photos that ran with the story:

Jason Koskinen, Duluth News-Tribune carrier and actor in the opening scenes of an upcoming Louie Anderson sitcom, is seen in Duluth on May 1, 1995. (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune)

Jason Koskinen, 15, of Duluth walks through his role as a paper boy for the opening scene of “The Louie Show,” on Fifth Street East in Duluth on May 1, 1995. A sophomore at Marshall School, Koskinen had done some modeling and just a bit of acting which helped him get the part. (Kathy Strauss / News-Tribune)


The articles above are images, not text, because they predate the News Tribune’s electronic archive by just a few months. I was able to find them on (and take photos of) microfilm thanks to some other clues. There may have been additional stories about “The Louie Show” in summer or fall 1995, but the next one I could find is from the Eh? column on Dec. 12, 1995:

‘Louie Show’ update

There’s still no word on when a based-in-Duluth sitcom starring comedian Louie Anderson will hit the airwaves, but producers have asked for more local footage.

And so, a film crew from Duluth’s Parthe Film & Video Production will brave the winter winds today to shoot more scenes in and around Duluth that will be folded into “The Louie Show.”

Filming is scheduled around the house at 1601 E. Fifth St. this afternoon. The Victorian-style duplex owned by Jane Koskinen was chosen last spring as Louie’s house — at least for the purposes of the show’s opening credits.

Shukovsky/English Entertainment Co., the show’s producer, hasn’t been given an airdate for the show. CBS — the network that picked up the show as a mid-season replacement — also is keeping mum as to when the show might air.


On Jan. 11, 1996, the News Tribune reported big news – an air date for “The Louie Show”:


Dominic P. Papatola, News-Tribune staff writer

Duluth and “The Louie Show” will go national this month.

CBS announced Wednesday that the set-in-Duluth sitcom featuring Minnesota comedian Louie Anderson would begin airing at 7:30 Wednesday nights starting Jan. 31.

Louie climbs into the prime-time lineup over the corpse of “Bless This House,” a comedy starring Andrew (formerly “Dice”) Clay that was canceled after finishing 75th out of 92 shows in last week’s Nielsen ratings.

Six episodes of the show featuring Anderson as a Duluth psychotherapist have been filmed and will run Wednesday nights during the February rating “sweeps” period. The show will air locally on KDLH-TV Channel 3.

But it’s highly unlikely that “The Louie Show” will be picked up as a full-time series this season, said John Whitman, executive in charge of production at Shukovsky/English Entertainment Co., the show’s producers.

“If there was an instant attraction to the show in a big way, then other variables would pop into place,” Whitman said. “But the likelihood of that happening is small.”

More likely, Whitman said, is that the show’s six episodes will run this winter, then possibly be rerun at a later date. “If it gets reasonable (ratings) numbers, then it’s got a shot in the fall with a legitimate launch.”

Just how prominently Duluth is featured in the program won’t be known until “The Louie Show” actually airs.

Riki McManus, a local casting agent who’s been working with the show, reported that the set designer requested several photos of Duluth, including images of the Aerial Lift Bridge, of locals ice fishing, even of a men’s room in Duluth’s City Hall.


Here’s the next update, which ran in the Eh? column on Jan. 16, 1996:


More than two weeks before the premiere of “The Louie Show,” Duluth is already in the national spotlight.

Promotional ads for the show feature Louie Anderson wearing a dusty blue sweatshirt with “DULUTH” screaming across his chest in bold, white letters.

The ads have been airing on CBS affiliates across the country, including KDLH TV-Channel 3 in Duluth, which will carry the show.

The show, which will debut Jan. 31, features Anderson, a comedian and native Minnesotan, as a psychotherapist working in Duluth.


Louie Anderson (center) as Louie Lundgren and Kate Hodge (right) as Gretchen Lafayette during filming for “The Louie Show.” (CBS publicity photo / News Tribune file)

The News Tribune got an advance screening of the pilot episode, and ran this review on Jan. 29, 1996 – two days ahead of the series premiere. The Duluth-filmed opening sequence was nowhere to be seen:



Dominic P. Papatola, News-Tribune staff writer

In his new situation comedy, “The Louie Show,” Louie Anderson stars as a hinterlands psychotherapist whose ingenuous instinct for truth-telling often gets him into trouble.

If this show is to last beyond the six episodes already commissioned by CBS, it will need — like Louie’s patients — a little self-examination and a little help.

Because this is the ’90s, Louie earns his salary working for an HMO. Because this is a TV sitcom, his friends come from a variety of eclectic and interesting professions.

His best buddy is Curt (Bryan Cranston), a gung-ho, anal-retentive but well-meaning detective on the Duluth Police Department.

Hanging around in Louie’s house or in the corner coffee shop is Jake (Paul Feig), a wise-cracking physician who works with Louie.

Into this mix breezes Gretchen (Kate Hodge), a high-octane, slightly ditzy certified massage therapist. She moved to Duluth from Los Angeles after she saw a billboard on Santa Monica Boulevard that said “Duluth: Think About It” and interpreted it as a cosmic sign.

Clearly, the aim here is to develop an ensemble-type comedy around a successful stand-up comedian — a la “Seinfeld” or “Ellen” — but things don’t immediately jell with this batch of characters.

In the early, character-establishing episodes, there are laughs, but the writing rambles and the jokes feel forced. One of Curt’s first lines, for instance, is a complaint to Louie about a loose board on his porch that could cause a twisted ankle. “Instead of chasing the criminals,” he deadpans, “I’d have to drop ‘em with my .45 . . . wouldn’t that be a shame?”

Anderson himself sometimes seems to be vamping, literally dancing around to maintain some sense of energy as the scripts drag along.

The humor is neither especially pointed nor particularly witty. Though Louie’s clearly the center of the action, his laugh-lines and those of the supporting characters seem to exist in a vacuum.

There’s little sense of how these characters will play off each other. There’s even less sense of how Anderson’s kinder, gentler, more introspective brand of humor will translate into weekly television.

With the exception of Anderson’s endearing and amiable presence and Hodge’s full-speed-ahead adrenalin shot of a character, “The Louie Show” feels cumbersome and in need of streamlining.

Local viewers might be disappointed in the relative lack of northern exposure in the show. Except for a few shots of the Missabe Building, passing references to the Vikings or the occasional joke about our Minnesota Nice attitude, there’s not much of Duluth in these early episodes.

That much-ballyhooed opening sequence featuring Duluth landmarks, for instance, has been replaced with a dizzying montage of Louie in hip-waders, a barbecue apron and an immense blue Duluth sweatshirt.

As the “outsider,” though, Gretchen speaks in the show for what is evidently Los Angeles’ perspective of life here on the tundra: The people are emotionally frostbitten and it’s hard to track down a good half-caff mocha latte with nonfat milk.

The characters in the show have a good start on their Midwestern sensibilities and they’re earnest and likable.

But earnest and likable only get you so far in Sitcomland. Good television comedy is fueled by offbeat ideas, sharp writing and bright performances.

Given a chance, “The Louie Show” might evolve in that direction. But it’s not there yet. Right now, the only thing inventive or special about the show is its Northland setting.


Here’s a clip of that dizzying montage opening sequence, posted by Paul Lundgren over at Perfect Duluth Day. It’s preceded by a clip of Anderson interacting with a patient played by Valerie Mahaffey, who won an Emmy for her work on “Northern Exposure”:

The News Tribune wasn’t the only one to pan the show. Other negative reviews included these from Variety, the Deseret News in Utah and the Los Angeles Times. But it wasn’t all bad. The New York Daily News had praise for the show, as did a reviewer for the New York Times Syndicate.

On the same day as the review, the News Tribune also ran an interview with Louie Anderson:


Dominic P. Papatola, News-Tribune staff writer

Of all the places on the planet, how would you ever get the idea to set a television show in Duluth, Minnesota?

It helps if you’re a native of the state, as is comedian Louie Anderson, who stars in “The Louie Show” premiering Wednesday night on local CBS affiliate KDLH-TV Channel 3.

Anderson grew up and cut his performing teeth as a stand-up comedian in the Twin Cities. But he’s been to Duluth several times and under a variety of circumstances.

“In about 1979, I drove my friend to Duluth to read letters to his father at his grave,” Anderson said. “I thought it was kind of an interesting city.”

That experience was the inspiration for “Dear Dad,” one of Anderson’s two autobiographical books. It also set him thinking that Duluth might make a good springboard for his entrance into situation comedy.

“I thought there was a lot of character there,” Anderson said, speaking from his car phone somewhere on the Los Angeles roadways. “And there were a lot of characters there.”

Home-state pride plays into the equation, too.

“I think people think that people in Minnesota don’t have much going; that they’re just shoveling the walk all the time,” he said.

“But in Minnesota, there’s something very much like me in the sense that, no matter how hard things seem to be, you can see it through and you might even be able to get a laugh out of it.”

In “The Louie Show,” Anderson plays a psychotherapist at a fictitious Duluth health maintenance organization. The character is close to the heart of the performer.

Anderson was a social worker in the Twin Cities before becoming a stand-up comedian. He also spent a large part of his adult life in therapy dealing with his own chronic depression.

“There was a lot of mental illness in my family, and had I not found comedy, I think I would have been dead,” he said.

That perspective, Anderson believes, gives his show more humanity than other situation comedies.

His character “is something I could have very easily have been. I think it’s believable that I’m in a position where I care about people and their problems.”

The first half-dozen episodes of “The Louie Show” have already been taped and were pretty much devoted to establishing the characters of the ensemble cast.

That didn’t leave much room in the spotlight for Duluth or the moods of Lake Superior. But that’s something Anderson plans to change if the series gets picked up for a full-scale run in the fall.

“If the show goes, we’ll come up there this summer and shoot the main titles,” Anderson said. “We wanted to do it (for the pilot episodes), but the lake was frozen.”

It’s even possible that portions of a couple episodes could be shot on location in Duluth. The show’s writers are considering a story line, for example, that would feature the Duluth-Superior Dukes, the community’s minor-league baseball team.

Another idea for a show has Louie running for mayor of Duluth — and winning.
Although “The Louie Show” is coming on the air as a mid-season replacement series, Anderson is optimistic about its prospects.

“I think people have been waiting for me to do a sitcom and I think I have a lot of fans out there,” he said. “The show’s a lot better than most of the shows on TV. With the dedication and the work, it’ll be a classic TV show.”

His prediction? “The Thursday after the third week of the show, (CBS will) order more shows,” he said.

And if not? Anderson said that would be a disappointment, but he’s learned that life goes on.

“Then,” he said, “I’ll be off the air and I’ll be on to something else.”


Louie Anderson as Duluth psychotherapist Louie Lundgren in “The Louie Show,” a short-lived 1996 CBS sitcom. (CBS publicity photo / News Tribune file)

On the day the show premiered – Wednesday, Jan. 31, 1996 – the News Tribune ran this item seeking viewer / reader feedback:


Tonight’s the night that “The Louie Show” moves from the imaginings of its creators and to a few million television sets across the country.

Louie Anderson’s career as a sitcom actor rides on tonight’s 7:30 premiere episode on KDLH-Channel 3 and the five shows that are scheduled to follow Wednesday nights on CBS.

Too, Duluth’s place in the pop culture firmament rests on how well “The Louie Show” does. Will the Northland be thought of in the fond glow that the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” brought to Minneapolis? Or will the Twin Ports become like Portland in the wake of the disastrous and little-remembered McLean Stevenson sitcom, “Hello, Larry” — merely the answer to a trivia question?

The Nielsen households and their little ratings diaries will decide, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a say.

Watch the show tonight. And then, from 8 to 9 p.m., call in to our special “LouieLine” and give us your review. What did you like? What did you hate? Will the show live? Or will it die?

The number is 723-xxxx. Be sure to leave us your name and your phone number in case we need to get back to you. We’ll publish some of your responses in Thursday’s News-Tribune.


Here was the response from Northland residents, as reported in the News Tribune on Feb. 1, 1996…

Jane Koskinen and her son, Jason, watch the premiere episode of “The Louie Show” Wednesday night, Jan. 31, 1996, at the Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe. Footage of a house in Duluth owned by Koskinen was used to give the show some Duluth flavor. (Josh Meltzer / News-Tribune)


Dominic P. Papatola, News-Tribune staff writer

“The Louie Show” was a big hit Wednesday night at the Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe, where Jason Koskinen and a group of about 25 friends watched the premiere episode of the set-in-Duluth situation comedy.

The 16-year-old Koskinen spent a day last May in front of the camera, filming what he hoped would be the show’s opening credits. Those scenes didn’t make it into Wednesday’s broadcast on CBS, but Koskinen proclaimed himself satisfied with the result nonetheless.

“It was interesting to see how they portrayed Duluth and Duluth people,” Koskinen said. “I’m hoping that they’re going to be able to get us in the next time, as well as some other Duluth stuff, instead of just showing Louie spinning around.”

If Koskinen’s enthusiasm for the show was tempered a bit by missing his national television debut, most of the rest of the Northland was wowed.

Dozens of Northlanders flooded the News-Tribune’s “LouieLine” to offer their comments. By their estimation, “The Louie Show” is a smash . . . at least in the community where it’s set.

Here’s a sample of the local reviews:

Marjorie Lake, Duluth: “Thumbs up for Louie!”

Jan Melton, Duluth: “We love `The Louie Show.’ We want to see more of Duluth in it, but definitely want to see it stay on the air.”

Pat Martin, Duluth: “ `The Louie Show’ ” had a lot of charm. Problem is that it didn’t have sex and violence so it won’t go. It did a lot to make Duluth look kind of nostalgic.”

Pauline Palmer, Superior: “Both my husband and I like the show. If we’re not home on Wednesday night, we’ll tape it. My only suggestion would be I would like to see more of the Duluth locale.”

Dave Wittke, Superior: “Louie Anderson and his show both kick.”

Mary Overlie, Duluth: “It would be nice if we could all be that happy throughout the year, but it’s not realistic. No one in Duluth is that happy right now. I’d like to see it make it, but I think he’s probably going to do his six weeks worth and then it’ll be over with.”

Peg Campbell, Pike Lake: “We’re a lot of a `bit over 60′ and we loved it. Everybody is believable except Louie’s friend who’s a doctor. We don’t have such flaky, flaky doctors here.”

Judy Helgesen, Duluth: “Louie’s very real. He could be someone who lived up here.”

Dawn Mankoski, Superior: “Louie has done it again. He’s shown us we can laugh at ourselves and we just might make it through this winter.”

Joe Howard, Duluth: “I thought the show was boring, pretty dry. He needs better writers.”

Phyllis and Art Barschdorf, Duluth: “Very gentle humor and good family viewing.”

Terie Suliin, Duluth: “The roofer with the Swedish accent was too fakey. Louie doesn’t pronounce `roof’ like he used to when he lived in Minnesota.”

Lucy Wills, Barnum: “It’s so nice to have a show without a lot of dirty talking.”

Pat Bergholm, Duluth: “I thought the characters were real, especially the female housemate and detective. I hope they won’t make fun of Duluth.”

Rick Klemond, Duluth: “I hope people on the East Coast and West Coast can understand it. Keep it on.”

R. Warren Peterson, Cloquet: “It’s got good humor and good energy. If he can keep it going, I think it’s got a chance.”

Florence Anderson, Duluth: “We loved the interesting and appealing characters, the funny story line and it was great to see Duluth in prime time.”

Nancy Johnson, Superior: “The only thing: It should have been an hour long instead of a half-hour.”


A couple weeks later, things were not looking good for “The Louie Show.” The Eh? column had this to say on Feb. 14, 1996:


Quick: Call a Nielsen family and tell them to tune into “The Louie Show” tonight.

In its second week on CBS, the set-in-Duluth sitcom starring Minnesota’s own Louie Anderson fell eight places in the prime-time ratings as compiled by Nielsen Media Research for Feb. 5-11.

The show finished 75th with a 7.4 rating, representing about 7.1 million households. The premiere episode posted a 8.6 rating, good enough for 67th place.

The bad news is that “The Louie Show” seemed to lose ground to ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show” and finished ahead of only four shows in CBS’ limping prime-time lineup.

The bright spot? Well, Louie still beat Montel Williams, whose hourlong drama on CBS, “Matt Waters,” finished the week tied for 84th place in the ratings.


Comedian Louie Anderson, in character as Duluth psychotherapist Louie Lundgren, in a CBS publicity photo for “The Louie Show” from January 1996. (Cliff Lipson / CBS / News Tribune file)

Two weeks later, the News Tribune’s Eh? column reported this news on Feb. 28, 1996:


Don’t start singing the dirge for “The Louie Show” just yet.

According to the weekly prime-time ratings compiled by Nielsen Media Research for Feb. 19-25, Louie Anderson’s set-in-Duluth sitcom bounced up nine places to finish in 72nd place.

It was the second-best finish for the show in its month on the air. The premiere episode of the comedy placed 67th in the weekly ratings.

“The Louie Show” is still among CBS’ lowest-rated programs, but the sitcom finished above network-mates “Due South” and the special “Wynonna: Revelations.”

And here’s a little news that will make you either laugh or cry. Louie even did better than Dan Rather, beating out the network’s coverage of last week’s New Hampshire primaries.

The last episode of “The Louie Show” is set to air April 3. The show’s fate after that is in the hands of CBS honchos.


Then there was this longer update the next day, Feb, 29, 1996:



Dominic P. Papatola, News-Tribune staff writer

“The Louie Show” didn’t make it to the airwaves Wednesday night, but that doesn’t mean CBS has pulled the plug on the situation comedy starring Minnesota comedian Louie Anderson.

This week’s episode of the set-in-Duluth sitcom was bumped off the air so that the network could broadcast the annual Grammy Awards production. “Louie” will return next Wednesday for the fifth of its scheduled six episodes.

The show will also be preempted on March 13, meaning the last episode of the show will air on March 20.

“Louie” has never finished higher than 67th in the prime-time Nielsen ratings. Those numbers disappoint the show’s producers, but they’re not ready to give up on the show yet.

“We knew that, going into Wednesday evening, we were never going to be a breakthrough hit,” said John Whitman, executive in charge of production at Shukovsky/English Entertainment Co., the show’s producers.

Wednesday night has been a poor night for CBS this season, Whitman said, as the network struggles to recover ground lost from its disastrous last season.

Whitman also said “Louie” also suffers from a weak “lead-in,” the show that immediately precedes it in the schedule. “Dave’s World,” finished last week in the 66th slot in the Nielsen ratings. “The Louie Show” finished 72nd.

“The Louie Show” is “a show that’s worth being on the air,” Whitman said. “But it has to have substance around it to help it launch.”

Anderson’s program was roundly praised by television critics in the Twin Cities but received mediocre to negative news from other critics around the country.

A spokeswoman at CBS would say only that “it’s too soon to say” what will happen to“The Louie Show.” The networks generally announce their fall lineups in May.

Whitman, too, said it was too early to make a call on the eventual fate of “The Louie Show” — or to determine if the show’s cast or setting needed to be retooled.

The network’s decision would be based on a number of factors, including the show’s relative strength against other similar shows, the network’s need for another comedy and the crop of new shows proposed for the coming season.

“It’s up for grabs,” Whitman said. “I would not try to put a probability or even a thought” on what the network will do.

For now, he said, “we wait till May.”


Minnesota-raised comedian Louie Anderson portrays Louie Lundgren on “The Louie Show,” a 1996 CBS sitcom that was set in Duluth. (CBS publicity photo / News Tribune file)

On March 7, 1996, the Eh? column reported that “The Louie Show” ran up against tough competition in Duluth:


Everything seems to be conspiring against “The Louie Show”: It’s stuck on a bad night with bad shows surrounding it. Now, the Minnesota high school hockey tournament is getting in the way.

KDLH-TV Channel 3 preempted Wednesday night’s broadcast of the set-in-Duluth sitcom in favor of the tourney. Die-hard fans of the show can catch the program at 5 p.m. today on Channel 3.


Another ratings report, from the Eh? column of March 13, 1996:


In Duluth, “The Louie Show” got bumped from its regular Wednesday night slot last week in favor of the high school hockey tournament. Other markets, however, carried the episode that made a strong showing the Nielsen ratings.

The show finished the week at number 67, its best performance since the Jan. 31 premiere episode that also ranked 67th.

And remember that the set-in-Duluth sitcom will be pre-empted again tonight. The sixth and final episode will air March 20.


 And that is where the News Tribune files end on “The Louie Show.” The show was canceled after six episodes.

The show included several notable names among its cast members – Bryan Cranston, later of “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Breaking Bad”; Laura Innes, who played Dr. Kerry Weaver on “ER”; Paul Feig, who was directed episodes of “The Office” and “Arrested Development,” and who created the show “Freaks and Geeks”; and Kimmy Robertson, who played Lucy Moran on “Twin Peaks.”

Also notable – the casting of Nancy Becker-Kennedy as Louie’s assistant, Helen. According to a 2009 CBS News story, it marked the first time an actress in a wheelchair had a regular role on a sitcom.

I wish there was a full cast photo in the DNT archives – or at least one of pre-stardom Bryan Cranston – but there is not.

Louie Anderson has made several trips to the Northland to perform in the years since the sitcom was canceled.

What do you remember about “The Louie Show” and/or the local buzz surrounding it? Share your memories by posting a comment.

38th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

The Edmund Fitzgerald in the Twin Ports with the tug Arkansas, circa early 1960s. (News-Tribune file photo)

Other duties at work have kept me from posting many new items to the Attic in recent months, but I have to note that today – Nov. 10, 2013 – is the 38th anniversary of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald in a massive storm on Lake Superior. The freighter’s crew of 29 men, including several from the Northland, died when the ship sank in eastern Lake Superior off Whitefish Point on Nov. 10, 1975; it had been heading from Superior to Detroit with a load of taconite.

A little after 7 p.m. that day, the Fitzgerald was in radio contact with the nearby Arthur M. Anderson, and reported that they were “holding our own” in heavy seas. There was no further contact with the freighter; minutes later the ship had disappeared from radar screens.

I compiled a number of archive photos and other information about the Fitzgerald in 2010, on the 35th anniversary of the wreck. You can view that post here.

Among the items posted there is this well-done video for Gordon Lightfoot’s famous song about the wreck:

Split Rock Lighthouse northeast of Two Harbors will host its annual beacon lighting and memorial service for the victims of the Fitzgerald, and all Great Lakes wrecks, this afternoon. They will toll a bell 29 times for each man who lost his life on the Fitzgerald, and then toll the bell a 30th time for all lost mariners. After that, the lighthouse’s beacon will be lit. It’s the only time each year when visitors can climb to the top of the tower while the beacon is lit and revolving.

The lighthouse will be open from noon to 6 p.m. today; the memorial service is at 4:30 p.m. Admission is $7 per person, free for Minnesota Historical Society members.

Here’s a News Tribune video of the Nov. 10, 2011, memorial ceremony at Split Rock:

Share your memories by posting a comment.

Some new old Duluth TV news clips

Every so often I take a spin through YouTube to see if any old clips from Duluth TV stations have been posted – newscasts, commercials, etc. On my latest visit, I found these three brief clips from 1991, showing the openings of the newscasts for KDLH, KBJR and WDIO:

Wish we could have a few more minutes of each of those clips… but still interesting to see.

There are a number of old Duluth TV news clips posted to YouTube, and over the years we’ve featured several in the Attic. Here are links to a few of those posts:

Complete 1973 WDIO newscast

Clip of 1985 WDIO newscast, and 1970s WDIO holiday promos 

KBJR newscast from 1990

KBJR newscast from 1975

Here are a few more Duluth TV news clips – stay tuned to the end of the first one for a report from a familiar Duluth TV name, on 1980s youth trends…

KQDS / Fox 21 hasn’t been around as long as the other three stations, of course. But here’s one “from the archives” clip, of the original opening music to the 9 p.m. newscast:

And finally, this assemblage of KBJR clips from 1989, with a lot of familiar faces:

Thanks to those who posted the clips to YouTube over the years. Share your Duluth TV memories by posting a comment.

Miller Hill Mall turns 40

Crowds fill Duluth’s Miller Hill Mall during its official grand opening on July 25, 1973. (News Tribune file photo)

As featured on the front page of the Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013 News Tribune, Duluth’s Miller Hill Mall is turning 40 years old this year. The mall opened in stages, with the “official” grand opening in July 1973.

The mall has been featured in a number of past Attic posts, including several with photos from its opening year. Here are links to those posts:

Montgomery Ward store at the Miller Hill Mall, 1973

J.C. Penney store at the Miller Hill Mall, 1973 (Part 1)

J.C. Penney store at the Miller Hill Mall, 1973 (Part 2)

The buffeteria was one of the most popular places in the Montgomery Ward store at the Miller Hill Mall when this photo was taken in July 1973, four months after the store opened. (News Tribune file photo)

Here’s one more mall-related post:

Aerial view from 1979

And here are images of a couple articles from the mall’s grand opening (one article “jumps” to a second image); click on the images for a larger version:

Share your memories of the mall by posting a comment…

Duluth’s Fidelity Building comes tumbling down, 1977

April 1977

Wrecking crews start to demolish the Fidelity Building in downtown Duluth in April 1977. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

The Fidelity Building stood in downtown Duluth for about 65 years, on the site now occupied by Lake Superior Plaza – along the south side of Superior Street just west of Lake Avenue. Demolition crews knocked it down in 1977 to clear the way for Lake Superior Plaza, home to Allete and Minnesota Power’s headquarters.

Freimuth’s Department Store was right on the corner of Superior and Lake on that block; it was the subject of a previous Attic post. Fidelity was next door. Articles at the time of demolition reported it as both 12 and 14 stories tall; perhaps there was a difference of opinion on whether the small structures up top were actual “stories.”

Initially, the plan was to demolish the Fidelity Building with explosives; less than two weeks before the demolition date, the News-Tribune reported:

“The Fourth of July, minus the rockets’ red glare, will arrive three months early in Duluth, but not for the reason you think. There will be a massive explosion in downtown Duluth at 8 a.m. April 3, and when the dust clears, it will mark the first time that a Minnesota building was destroyed by blasting. The victim is the Fidelity Building.”

Officials with Minnesota Lumber and Wrecking of St. Paul told the paper in March 1977 that smokestacks and concrete footings had previously been destroyed by explosives, but at that time no Minnesota building had been imploded.

However, difficulties in obtaining insurance scuttled plans for the implosion, and the building was razed using more traditional wrecking methods. It took less than three weeks for the building to be reduced to rubble.

Bystanders look on as the Fidelity Building in downtown Duluth is razed in April 1977. (News-Tribune file photo)

There had been efforts to find a new use for the Fidelity Building back in 1968. It was having troubles then – only 30 percent occupied, with thousands owed in back property taxes. In November 1968, the News-Tribune reported that a group of Duluth businessmen wanted to remodel the Fidelity Building “for use as a motor hotel of about 100 units. It would be in conjunction with a parking ramp and retail shops to be constructed on the site of the Freimuth Building,” which had been razed earlier that year.

But the plans never came to pass, and a decade later the Lake Superior Plaza project spelled the end for the Fidelity Building.

Demolition work continues on the Fidelity Building in downtown Duluth on April 20, 1977. (Charles Curtis / News-Tribune)

There was one last bit of controversy regarding the Fidelity Building – or, rather, what was left of it. Brick and concrete rubble from the building was dumped in West Duluth near the corner of Main Street and 52nd Avenue West, where the NewPage paper mill now stands. The proximity of that site to St. Louis Bay prompted complaints and the possibility of fines from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the News-Tribune reported in July 1977.

I’m not sure how the dispute was resolved – the clipping file for the Fidelity Building ends with that article.

Share your memories of the Fidelity Building by posting a comment.

The demolition of the Fidelity Building is almost complete in this view from April 26, 1977. (News-Tribune file photo)

Phillips 66 gas station on Superior Street, 1961

Here are a couple views of a then-new Phillips 66 gas station and the offices of Como Oil Company along Superior Street at Eighth Avenue East in 1961. This view is from April of that year:

And here’s a photo from November 1961:

Here are a couple of zoomed-in views of the signage in the November photo (including what looks like a Hires Root Beer ad):

This Phillips 66 gas station was located across Eighth Avenue East from what is now Sir Benedict’s Tavern (what was then another gas station). The station is listed in city directories through 1983, the year it and many other buildings along Superior Street in that area were razed to make way for the eastward extension of Interstate 35. That was covered in an Attic post last year, and you can see the Phillips 66 station in the photos with that entry.

Past Attic posts have included photos of several gas station chains, including Clark, Pure and Holiday, among others. What gas station chains do you remember? Share your memories by posting a comment.

Happy 72nd birthday, Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan – then Bobby Zimmerman – as a sophomore in the Hibbing High School yearbook, circa 1957. (News-Tribune file photo)

Today, May 24, 2013, is the 72nd birthday of Northland native and music icon Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth in 1941 and raised on the Iron Range, in Hibbing.

Two years ago, on the occasion of Dylan’s 70th birthday, I posted a collection of text and photos of Dylan from the News Tribune files. If you have not yet seen that – or even if you have – you can find the post here.