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Longtime CBS 2 Stagehand Remembered

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Vintage CBS 2

A CBS 2 production in the 1950s. (Credit: CBS)

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NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (CBS) – The Chicago broadcasting community is remembering Bernard Benjamin Klein, a television stagehand who spent his career at CBS 2 as the medium evolved from its infancy.

Mr. Klein, 85, now of New Port Richey, Fla., died of complications this past Sunday at Hernando Pasco Hospice in New Port Richey, the Chicago Tribune reported.

He was born in Chicago, to a father who worked as a projectionist for the Balaban and Katz movie theater chain, the Tribune reported. He graduated from South Shore High School, and served in World War II with the Navy, the newspaper reported.

Mr. Klein began his career in local television at age 22 in 1947, at the old WBKB-TV, Channel 4, the predecessor to CBS 2. The studios were at the old Garrick Theater at 64 W. Randolph St.

In 1953, CBS bought WBKB-TV and changed the call letters to WBBM-TV, and soon afterward moved the station down the dial from channel 4 to channel 2. Mr. Klein followed the station to new studios in the Wrigley Building, and in 1956 to the station’s home of more than a half century at 630 N. McClurg Ct. in the Streeterville neighborhood.

At CBS 2, Mr. Klein was present for numerous watershed moments in broadcast history, from the “Kukla, Fran and Ollie” show to the first televised presidential debate in 1960, between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

In later years, he worked on “The Phil Donahue Show” and “Siskel & Ebert,” both of which were broadcast from CBS 2’s McClurg Court studios for several years.

Mr. Klein retired in 1991.

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