NEW YORK — PIX11 celebrated the 50th anniversary of the beloved Yule Log with a screening of the original, long-lost footage from 1966 on Christmas Eve. It aired Christmas Eve at 11 p.m. and Christmas morning at 7 a.m. At 8 a.m., WPIX switched to the classic, beloved 1970 footage, which will air through noon.
Filmed at Gracie Mansion, the 1966 version aired each Christmas Eve through 1969 until the film degraded. A second Yule Log was filmed in 1970 and has played ever since.
In July of this year, PIX11’s digital director and archivist, Rolando Pujol, discovered the original 1966 Yule Log in the WPIX archives. It was part of a vast WPIX film collection donated by the estate of former PIX11 executive Bill Cooper and his wife, Kay Arnold. Cooper, who died in the 1980s, had produced the 1966 and 1970 versions of The Log. After Arnold’s passing in 2014, PIX was invited to retrieve dozens of tapes and film reels from their home in New Jersey.
As Pujol was exploring the film cans from the Cooper/Arnold collection, he happened upon a 16mm film titled “Original WPIX Fireplace.” Stunned and hopeful this might be a Christmas miracle, PIX immediately had the film digitally transferred at Technicolor-Postworks in Manhattan. A few days later, the station had confirmation; it was indeed the lost 1966 Yule Log.
In addition to the lost footage, WPIX is presenting a fifth hour of the fireplace, featuring a new roster of classic holiday music curated by Lawrence F. “Chip” Arcuri, who also created the playlist for our fourth hour in 2009.