A Most Unforgettable Character…
CBS Network News cameraman, Freddie Dietrich was nick-named “Jump Jump” by Fox Movietone’s Chub Lehmann because Freddie graduated from theatrical newsreel and became a staff cameraman for CBS in the formative years of television news. His exploits were legendary.
He once kept a convoy of news cars waiting to travel out to the Nevada test site because he over slept at Roxie’s, a local bordello. He was outraged at having to pay an additional fifty bucks in charges when he ran over the allotted time, “It cost me fifteen bucks every time that damn alarm went off.” After receiving his sixth speeding ticket he tried to catch LAPD motor cops with his camera in compromising circumstances for the news show. When we were covering troops passing in review at Camp Pendleton before departing for Korea, because we were denied good camera positions the Marine Corps became the subject of Freddie’s wrath. Freddie berated a Lieutenant so badly the officer’s hand inched ominously close to his holstered gun.
In 1955 the first POW’s suspected to have been “brain washed” were sailing back from Korea. I was assigned to cover their arrival in San Francisco. So was Freddie, along with CBS bureau chief Sam Zelman. NBC sent Chet Huntley, west coast head Roy Neal, and film editor Rafe Newhouse, who didn’t have proper credentials. But we needed to get Rafe on board the ship so he could run the film to the lab, process and edit it in order for Chet to broadcast to the east by 4:00 that afternoon. We were out to beat CBS.
Ed Arno of NBC’s San Francisco bureau, made special arrangements for me to go out on the pilot’s tug and board the ship a half an hour ahead of everyone, and Freddie. I shot three hundred feet of silent film on the POW’s before we docked and saved enough to photograph Chet and Roy boarding with the rest of the press.
I started to roll as Chet and Roy climbed the gangway holding press passes next to their faces. Rafe was between them. I found out later Rafe faked it by holding his union card up. They were under tight security but the guard was so absorbed by Chet’s presence, he signaled all three aboard.
I gave Rafe the first batch of film and captions and sent him on his way. Freddie was just getting started, shooting frantically, trying to get enough in the can to give Sam who was waiting on the dock below and would rush it to their lab. Freddie canned a couple of rolls, scribbled some hasty captions. Taped it into a bundle and ran to the ship’s rail. Freddie shouted to Sam then threw the package down to him As soon as Sam caught it three Customs Agents caught Sam. Freddie was held on board for questioning. They thought they had an advantage with Sam below, but they barely made the air that night. This situation was too big for Freddie’s usual vendetta.
Freddie was in heaven when we covered the Pasadena Rose Parade in the early fifties. He loved women, especially women with large breasts, particularly Swedish women with large breasts and Anita Ekberg reigned over a float high above a group of lovely girls wearing strapless gowns. None, however was so well endowed. We were not allowed to run alongside the floats once they started moving down Colorado Blvd. so we gathered traditionally near the starting point to get close shots of the queen and her court, and all the other pretty girls.
Anita thoroughly appreciated Freddie’s enthusiasm. He had her waving, bending over from her tall perch revealing more than cleavage. Three times Anita waved and three times her large, beautifully proportioned orbs popped out to the amazement of everyone but Anita. As though it was an every day occurrence she casually tucked them back into the dress.
As her float passed the Elk’s Lodge later that day, Anita’s bosom made a nationwide debut. Flabbergasted TV directors switched to commercials but not until Anita’s dress had failed again.
I had the privilege of photographing the luscious Anita when she posed for students and the press at a Los Angeles Art Center open house. It was easy to see why she held the Miss Sweden title. When she turned and saw my lens a few feet away, she fell in love with it and nothing else existed in that crowded room.