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Arthur Unger Audio Interview Collection

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: -
Date: unknown

Biographical History

Arthur Unger was born in Brooklyn on March 29, 1925. During World War II, he served in the Army as a cryptographer, afterwards entering Missouri University under the GI Bill from which he graduated in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He quickly found his niche in entertainment journalism, interviewing dozens of well-known and influential actors, entertainers, musicians, journalists, writers, and others over his career and even traveling with the Beatles for two years of their American tour.

During the 1960s and 1970s, Unger owned, edited and published a teen magazine called Datebook; later, he became the television critic for the Christian Science Monitor, where he worked until 1988. After retiring, he continued to contribute articles to Television Quarterly.

A large part of his success derived from his genuine interest in the life and character of celebrities rather than a focus on scandalous or flashy tabloid material. He also enjoyed children, though he had none of his own, and actively sought out ways to work with them. After his retirement he volunteered for a group called RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) and took particular enjoyment in visiting schools, talking with the students about social issues.

Arthur Unger died in 2004.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Arthur Unger Audio Interview Collection consists of 1340 audiotapes of interviews conducted by Arthur Unger, a television critic for the Christian Science Monitor and special correspondent for Television Quarterly. The collection also includes a number of press conferences. Subjects include television shows, actors, comedians, entertainers, musicians, journalists, writers, and other well-known and influential personalities; in some cases there are several interviews with one person.

Tapes are sound cassettes, analog, 1 7/8 ips, mono.

Television shows represented in the collection include ABC News Sunday, Battlestar Galactica, Dallas, How the West Was Won, Laugh In, Love Boat, McNeil-Lehrer Report , T.J. Hooker, Taxi, Upstairs - Downstairs and many more. Individuals present include actors (Alan Alda, Hermione Baddeley, Lloyd Bridges, Tim Curry, Tony Curtis, Bette Davis, Elliot Gould, Mariette Hartley, Helen Hayes, Katherine Hepburn, Derek Jacobi, Captain Kangaroo, Jean-Pierre Leaud, Mary Tyler Moore, Carroll O'Connor, Sidney Poitier, Jason Robards, Jimmy Stewart, Mae West), authors (Erma Bombeck, Ray Bradbury, James Clavell, James Thomas Flexner, Lady Antonia Fraser, Alex Haley, Earl Hamner, Stanley Karnow, David McCullough, Kurt Vonnegut, Joseph Wambaugh), comedians (Lucille Ball, Mel Brooks, George Burns, Allen Funt, Bob Hope, Smothers Brothers, Danny Thomas), dancers (Mikhail Baryshnikov, Martha Graham, Alexander Godunov, Arthur Miller, Isabelle Stevenson), journalists (David Brinkley, Rom Brokaw, Pat Buchanan, Hodding Carter, John Chancellor, Walter Cronkite, Phil Donahue, Mike Douglas, Janet Flanner, Peter Jennings, Charles Kuralt, Bill Moyers, Roger Mudd, Edwin Newman, Dan Rather, Harrison Salisbury, David Susskind, Barbara Walters), musicians (Beach Boys, Black Sabbath, Captain & Tennille, The Jackson Five, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Lobo, Gian-Carlo Menotti, Tony Orlando, Donny Osmond, John Prine, Zubin Mehta), political figures (Abba Eban, Larry Grossman, Henry Kissinger, Peter Kyros, Nancy Reagan, Jack Ruby press conference), and sports figures (Bud Grant, Rosey Grier, Kay Koplovitz, Joe Namath, O.J. Simpson).

Unger also interviewed many unique or unusual people, incluidng Egyptologist Lord Carnarvon, gourmet chef Julia Child, oceanologist Jacques Cousteau, chairman of the Royal Opera House Sir Denis Forman, protector of Anne Frank and her family Miep Gies, primate researcher Jane Goodall, explorer Sir Edmund Hilary, accused Soviet spy Alger Hiss, decathlete Bruce Jenner, television producer Norman Lear, philosopher and social critic Marshall McLuhan, soap opera creator Agnes Nixon, theatre producer Joseph Papp, Prince Rainier of Monaco, economic commentator Louis Rukeyser, astronomer Carl Sagan, historian and social critic Arthur Schlesinger, television executive Fred Silverman, feminist Gloria Steinem, publisher Jacobo Timerman, futurist Alvin Toffler, and French director Francois Truffaut.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection is divided into Television shows and Individuals. Within each series, tapes are arranged by four-digit catalog number as follows:

4000-4057: Box 1
4058-4114: Box 2
4115-4173: Box 3
4174-4232: Box 4
4233-4290: Box 5
4291-4378: Box 6
4379-4464: Box 7
4465-4551: Box 8
4552-4636: Box 9
4639-4723: Box 10
4724-4813: Box 11
4814-4895: Box 12
4896-4979: Box 13
4980-4989: Box 14

However, to simplify locating a particular interview, interviews are listed alphabetically by interviewee in the finding aid below. In some cases, corrected spellings have been inserted in square brackets [ ]. The four-digit catalog number for each item appears in parenthesis ( ).


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Materials do not circulate and no copies may be made without permission of the rights holder(s). Literary rights, including copyright, may belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has a number of television-related collections. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a complete listing

Subject Headings


Unger, Arthur.

Associated Titles

Christian Science monitor.
Television quarterly.


Entertainers -- Interviews.
Popular culture -- United States.
Television -- United States.
Television actors and actresses -- United States.
Television broadcasting of news -- United States.
Television journalists -- United States.
Television producers and directors -- United States.

Genres and Forms

Press conferences.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Arthur Unger Audio Interview Collection,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Arthur Unger.

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