Fans of the 1968 independent horror movie, “Night of the Living Dead, ” might not know that the sound effects and music heard in the film were mixed and recorded on audio equipment used by Hardman Eastman Studios in Pittsburgh.
That year, studio owner Karl Hardman helped produce and later starred in the cult classic alongside Marilyn Eastman, another owner of the Hardman Eastman Studios.
For the movie’s sound effects, the studio turned to the “showboat,” a broadcast console with three turntables, several microphones and earphones along with mixing equipment such as an audio compressor and a reel-to-reel tape machine. Built in 1965 by Bell Laboratories, the “showboat” earned its nickname from engineers who manufactured the console and from producers, actors and writers who used the equipment to entertain their listeners. Collections Advancement Project Curator Carol Buck nominated the “showboat” as this week’s Pennsylvania Treasure.
Other items in the Hardman Eastman collection used for sound effects in the production of radio shows at the studio are a door, glockenspiel, washboard and sleigh bells.
In 1966, Hardman Eastman Studios used the “showboat” console to create and broadcast the morning comedy program, ”The Teahouse with Jason Flake” on WTAE in Pittsburgh. Two of the talents behind the show were studio owners Hardman and Eastman. Hardman Eastman Studio continued using the “showboat” for numerous productions until it was retired in 1974.
About Pennsylvania Treasures:
In early 2012, The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission launched the Collections Advancement Project (CAP), a program to inventory and catalog our vast and significant holdings of art and artifacts. These efforts are resulting in better stewardship of our collections which represent Pennsylvania arts, culture, history, sciences, business and agriculture. As a component of the project, CAP curators have researched rarely exhibited artifacts and works of art. We are sharing these Pennsylvania Treasures with the public through weekly updates.