Inside the hidden PIX vault: How TV station found lost Christmas episode of ‘Magic Garden’

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NEW YORK (PIX11) —  We bring you the news everyday from one of the most historic buildings in New York:The News Building, the fictional home of the Daily Planet where the real Daily News was published for years.

WPIX-TV has been here from our first day on the air in 1948, and we quickly became a pioneer in news and entertainment. Much to our surprise, we recently found a secret room in the bowels of this building, a forgotten place we didn’t know about, a hidden vault that to our surprise contains priceless New York TV history.

It’s not every day you find a tape and film vault full of classic movies, sitcoms, dramas and news reports. This long-lost room full of what made WPIX one of the greatest independent stations of the 20th century.

On these shelves are precious TV history. But how we found it is incredible. Recently, the WPIX engineering department was surprised to learn from the building management that we had two storage spaces in the building. We thought we had just one. When PIX finally checked out this mystery room, we couldn’t even see what was inside. The room had been abandoned so long, the lights didn’t even work. Building security had to break open the door for us.

The newest thing in the room was a crumpled newspaper from 2000.  Once we got some light in there, we were stunned to discover a room full of hundreds of videotapes, film reels, and film projection equipment.

 Rolando Pujol, our executive editor for digital, along with Tribune’s producer for licensing, Joan De Jesus, went over this collection with a fine tooth comb to find the good stuff.

“This is a time capsule of classic WPIX you remember from years ago, the station that showed classic sitcoms, movies, the Yule Log and so much more. We found original master tapes of The Yule Log, March of the Wooden Soldiers, a lost Magic Garden Christmas reunion and much more. Countless TV shows — reel after reel of Cheers, Wonders Years, Star Trek, The Honeymooners,shows we all associate with WPIX,” Pujol said.

Yankee fans will appreciate a Billy Martin special we found, and even an Odd Couple episode we’d always show during Yankee rain delays.

We found a documentary we made on college marijuana use in 1969, and other news reports, including a famed documentary we produced on Adolf Hitler in 1958.

WPIX also found a massive 2-inch tape labeled Clay Cole. We hoped it might contain some footage of the classic1960s WPIX rock-and-roll show. The Rolling Stones made their East Coast TV debut on this show. But alas, the episode has been taped over.

And we founds tons of movies too — we were after all New York’s Movie Station. One of my favorite finds was Superman, which was filmed right here in 1977 and made our historic globe lobby famous.

Alas, early kid shows like Joe Bolton, the Merry Mailman, Time for Joya and many others fans always request were not there. But fear not, classic TV fans. WPIX has several off-site storage warehouses we plan to explore soon. Here’s hoping for more amazing discoveries.



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