1937 Ford Woody At Work

1935 Movie woody camera wagon

Now, here’s a real working woody wagon!

In the world before the internet,  there were other popular ways of getting PR, transmitting news and telling stories. It was all hard work and required the right gear to make it happen. The Popular Science of the Screen series that was a newsreel -style show for theater release on the world of science.  It was shown around the globe as promotional for not only Popular Science magazine, but modern American, science and industry.

The show’s popularity grew very quickly and by the third year of production they had this new 1937 Ford station wagon which had been converted into a custom camera-car. When they needed to film from a moving vehicle, they simply converted their Ford and were ready for filming.

The switch over was a brilliant idea! The wagon had a custom one-piece rear door which could be unlatched and hung from either side of the wagon to form a platform on which they could mount their 35mmm cine camera with enough space for the camera man to stand an operate the camera. The roof was also modified as yet another camera platform with a full-length roof rack.

Producer Jerry Fairbanks and his gallant cameraman, traveled around the United States filming stories for fourteen seasons. Jerry could sit in the passengers seat and follow the action while the wagon was being driven. This allowed Jerry to right at the heart of the action as the filming went on. Credit: Popular Science Magazine


The Popular Science series of short films series was created by independent Hollywood film producer Jerry Fairbanks starting in May of 1935. Produced with the cooperation of the editors of Popular Science magazine, the series introduced its audience to advances in medicine, aviation, science and technology, television, home improvement, planes, trains and automobiles, as well as an assortment of strange and whimsical inventions. This series was a serious attempt to chronicle the progress of science, industry and popular culture.

The Series had a 14-year theatrical run and the Popular Science film series was honored with numerous awards and acclaim, including an amazing five Academy Award nominations. The Popular Science series also received a Special Commendation from the US Department of War in 1943 for its unparalleled coverage of American military technology involved World War II.

Filmed in Magnacolor, was the first to profile: father of television Philo T. Farnsworth (1939), Frank Lloyd Wright and his architectural school (1942), building Hoover Dam (1935), building the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge (1936), Academy Award-nominated Moon Rockets (1947), the Electron Microscope (1942), Jet Aircraft (1946), the birth of Plastic Surgery (1937), Telephone Answering Machine (1936), Fuel from Corn Cobs (1949), Rust Heinz and his Phantom Corsair car (1938), world’s first full-scale (whole body) X-ray technique (1936), the “Mechanical Brain” Computer at UCLA (1948), Contact Lenses (1936), the Northrop “Flying Wing” (1948). The series also promoted Paramount with a tour (1938) of the then-new Fleischer Studios facility in Miami, Florida, which produced animated cartoons for Paramount. He would go on to invent some of the best new film recording technology, work on I Love Lucy and so many other famed Hollywood productions for both film and television. Jerry Fairbanks has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6384 Hollywood Blvd, at the corner of Hollywood and Cahuenga.

Credit: Wikipedia for the sidebar information on Jerry.


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