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tv   Trish Regan Primetime  FOX Business  February 29, 2020 3:00am-4:00am EST

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kennedy: i am singing you to sleep, thanks for watching the best hour of your day you can fellowman twitter an instagram at kennedy nation facebook kennedy fbn [ gongs chiming ] >> it's a "strange inheritance" "gong show." >> and this is the set of gongs. >> the very set? [ gongs chiming ] >> a piece of history. >> you want to liken it to a stradivarius except there's only one set of true puccini gongs. >> a musical mystery. >> how the heck did they end up in a warehouse in queens? [ drumroll plays ] >> but drumroll, please. [ castanets clicking musically ] can she strike a deal to fund her husband's dying wish? >> are you hoping that someone will see them and say, "here's a check"? >> you better believe it. [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] ♪
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>> i'm jamie colby, heading into the town of hastings-on-hudson, new york, a suburb about 18 miles north of manhattan. i'm on my way to meet a woman who wrote to me about her strange inheritance -- a piece of musical history with the most improbable tale of how she came to own it. >> my name's marlene piturro. when my husband died, he left me a musical treasure along with clear marching orders on what he wanted done with it. [ gongs chiming ] >> hi, marlene. >> hi, jamie. come on in. it's so nice to meet you. >> as we settle in, marlene tells me about her harmonious first meeting with her husband, howard, a concert percussionist. >> it was love at first sight. >> really? >> he was 6'3", and he had these twinkly blue eyes. he went to work every day in his gig suit and his tuxedo with his white shirt and bow tie. >> howard van hyning, born in 1936 in central florida, inherits an interest in percussion from his
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great-grandfather, a drummer boy in the civil war. >> howard had his drumsticks, and he practiced quite a bit, mostly with his drum pad in his bedroom, thank goodness. >> howard joins the drumline in high school, and at just 15 lands a spot in the orlando symphony orchestra. >> he was the youngest percussionist that they had, and he did very well. >> so well that after high school, howard heads to the renowned juilliard school of music in new york city. there he adds to his skill set by mastering a variety of drums and buying them up whenever he can. >> not just drums, but anything that you hit -- xylophones, bells -- anything that was a percussion-type instrument. >> most percussionists are, to some extent, collectors. >> greg zuber, lead percussionist with new york's metropolitan opera. >> percussionists end up in charge of all kinds of
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instruments -- snare drums, cymbals, timpani. >> it happens that percussion is my favorite part of any orchestra. >> well, you're a woman of refinement and taste. >> i would like to learn something percussion-y. >> absolutely. let's go do it. >> we start with the tambourines. >> it's simple to play. you just tap it... [ tambourine jingling ] that. >> no, greg. sorry to disappoint you, but i've seen these played. >> yeah? [ tambourine jingling ] >> well, that's more like the gospel church, but maybe we should switch to castanets. >> okay, ready? and... [ castanets clicking musically ] >> that's a good start. >> now it's time for the bass drum. >> so think about using your whole arm. [ bass drum resonates ] >> great. >> i love the sound of this. >> are you busy tuesday? i might be needing a player. >> you get to do this for a living? >> i get to do this. i get to play with these toys. >> and so does howard. he graduates from juilliard in 1966 and begins to perform with the new york city opera.
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it's not a little deal to be part of the new york city opera. >> absolutely not. >> in 1975, howard takes on a prestigious summer gig in central park. on the calendar, "turandot," an opera written in 1924 by giacomo puccini. ♪ now, even if you're no opera buff, you probably heard the most famous part of "turandot," says fred plotkin, author of "opera 101." ♪ people recognize that it's been in an number of films. >> it was in "mission impossible," starring tom cruise. >> oh, and "the sum of all fears" and "the mirror has two faces," among others. >> so we know it very well. >> it's a percussionist dream. there are tam-tams, tubular bells, glockenspiel, and, most crucially, several different-sized gongs. [ gong chimes ] >> it's set in ancient mythical
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china, and puccini wanted to convey mystery. >> i won't get into the plot right now, but those gongs are really important to the story. so when puccini's writing the opera, he looks all over italy for just the right gongs. no luck. then he does what any perfectionist would. >> puccini had gongs manufactured specifically for "turandot" so that he could have those ethereal chinese sounds that he heard in his head, but had not necessarily seen an instrument to produce. >> a half-century later and half a world away, howard van hyning harbors the same perfectionist streak. preparing for his big moment in central park, he searches for a set of gongs worthy of puccini's masterpiece. turns out howard doesn't have to look far -- just across the east river from manhattan to the humble outer borough made famous
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by the new york mets, archie bunker, and kevin james. how they heck did they end up in a warehouse in queens? >> everything ends up in a warehouse in queens. >> but first our "strange inheritance" quiz question... the answer after the break.
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>> so, which of these three bands had the most drummers? well, nirvana had six drummers through the years. that beats pearl jam's five. but if you count the fictional heavy-metal group spinal tap, it had as many as a dozen, some of whom died of spontaneous human combustion. >> [ singing operatically ] >> you don't need to know a lot about opera to appreciate the strangeness of the inheritance marlene piturro gets from her husband, howard van hyning. but a little bit of knowledge can't hurt. so let's go back to lucca, italy, 1924. maestro giacomo puccini is composing the second act of his masterpiece "turandot." >> turandot is a princess. she's beautiful, of course. she does not want to marry anyone because her ancient relative had bad luck with men. so she tells three riddles,
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and if you can answer the riddles, then you get to marry turandot. if you don't answer the riddles, you lose your head. >> off with you. >> yeah. it's a brutal story. [ gong chimes ] >> when each suitor arrives at the palace, he bangs a bronze gong. but puccini can't find gongs that make the sounds he wants, so he commissions a family of cymbal makers in italy to handcraft them. >> the great composers like puccini often had instruments manufactured to produce sounds that did not exist before. >> his precise gongs are completed, but puccini dies in 1924 before finishing his masterpiece. how many famous operas are there that are unfinished? >> very few, and the most famous of all is "turandot" by puccini. >> a ringer named franco alfano finishes "turandot" based on
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puccini's notes, and it becomes one of the most performed operas from sydney to cincinnati, where, fatefully, in 1955... [ gong chimes ] ...a production is being directed by new yorker anthony stivanello, whose nickname is "instant opera." >> he had the nickname "instant opera" 'cause he could produce an opera literally in an instant. >> he may be quick, but he ain't sloppy, and there's something about his cincinnati "turandot" that's just not right. guess. >> he was unhappy with the sound of the gongs. >> the gongs. the clanging in anthony's ears never stops, and years later on a trip to italy, he looks for something better. instant opera hits the instant lottery at the office of puccini's publisher. >> my father found that the publisher ricordi had the actual gongs they had specially made that puccini wanted in the production. >> it's a startling find.
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>> you want to liken it to playing a stradivarius except there's only one set of true puccini gongs. so my father, being a colorful figure, started playing cards with ricordi, and he talked him into having a bet, and he won the gongs. >> and takes them home to queens. now we can return to the summer of 1975, when howard van hyning gets hired for a "turandot" production in central park. howard already has a collection of more than 1,000 percussion instruments, but no gongs that are right for "turandot." then he gets a tip that puccini's own custom-made gongs are in the stivanello shop in queens and may be available to rent. >> howard said, "i've got to see them. i've got to see them." >> anthony leads him into the back of his shop, pries open a dusty crate, and reveals 13 heavy bronze gongs, one note of the musical scale on each gong in italian.
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for howard, got to see turns to got to have in a new york minute. no doubt in your mind they're the real deal? >> there's no doubt of anybody who really knows about opera that they are the original set of puccini's gongs. >> howard almost can't bring himself to return the puccini gongs after the central park rental. >> he just kept asking my father, "hey, if you ever sell them, do you promise to sell them to me?" >> his desire doesn't wane even after he claims his own princess in 1982 from the city opera audience. >> i came back from the intermission, and my friend said, "these two guys have asked us out for a drink after the show." howard and i locked eyes, and he said, "i'll take the little one." >> howard and "the little one" soon marry and have two children. all the while, howard adds to his stockpile of percussion instruments. >> he started with one room. it grew to six rooms,
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and he had a whole room of just timpani shells, huge kettle drums, and the mallet instruments were everywhere. >> then one day howard walks in the door of their home in suburban new york with a big announcement. >> he came home with a burlap bag, and he said, "look what i have," and he dumped out a few of the gongs. >> how much did he pay for them? >> $8,000. >> and do you say, "holy glockenspiel. the kids need to go to college"? >> i was speechless. >> luckily for howard, his opera-loving wife learns to appreciate the gongs as much as he does. >> and they're very special, and i'll show you why. i'm going to play first a regular gong, which sounds pretty good, and this is onstage all the time. [ gong chiming ] sounds pretty good. >> yeah, pretty good to me. >> but here is the puccini gongs. [ low-pitch chime resonating ] >> [ gasps ] >> it's extremely resonant. and that's the sound that he wanted. would you like to try one? >> i'll give it a whirl.
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[ high-pitch chime resonating ] >> perfect. >> howard plays the puccini gongs in operas all over the country, showing them off for music experts everywhere. in 1991, he even has one of the gongs signed by legendary opera singer luciano pavarotti. i see his signature. >> yep, there it is. >> howard continues to play with the new york city opera into his 60s. then in 2001, he notices a change. >> he said, "my hands are not right. my playing is not right." >> an mri confirms that howard's in the early stages of parkinson's disease, a disorder of the nervous system that often causes tremors. for a musician, that is devastating. >> it was devastating for him. >> howard fights the disease and keeps playing until 2009. the following year, he dies of cardiac arrest. he's 74 years old. >> he's buried with his sticks. >> really?
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♪ >> i knew that when he got to heaven, he'd be able to play. >> but before howard departs, he leaves marlene not only a piece of musical history... >> [ sighs ] we talked before he died. he would like two things to happen. >> he asks her to set history straight. it's a big responsibility. >> it's a big responsibility. >> here's another quiz question... the answer when we return. there's a company that's talked to even more real people than me: jd power. 448,134 to be exact.
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they answered 410 questions in 8 categories about vehicle quality. and when they were done, chevy earned more j.d. power quality awards across cars, trucks and suvs than any other brand over the last four years. so on behalf of chevrolet, i want to say "thank you, real people." you're welcome. we're gonna need a bigger room.
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puccini's opera "la bohème"? it's "rent," a tale about a group of bohemians living in the east village of new york city. ♪ >> something about puccini's opera "turandot" always irked renowned percussionist howard van hyning. remember, puccini dies in 1924 before finishing his masterpiece, and another composer, franco alfano, is hired to complete it. does alfano get it right? >> there's no way of knowing. >> for howard, it was all about the gongs puccini obsessed over. they're prominent throughout his opera, but alfano's ending hardly features them at all. >> it's a jarring transition from when puccini wrote his last note. >> howard, whose most prized possession was puccini's custom-made gongs, had one dying wish for his wife, marlene -- fix "turandot" by selling the gongs for enough money
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to commission a new ending for the opera. ♪ tall order. howard bought the gongs in 1983 for $8,000, and marlene had them appraised in 2010 for, she says, 100 grand -- still not enough to get a first-rate composer to write a new "turandot" ending. what's your price? >> i think that they're worth between $1 million and $2 million. nothing like this has ever been sold. [ gong chimes resonating ] >> think they're worth $1 million? >> [ chuckles ] well, you can hope. i'm not sure about that. >> greg zuber, the met's current lead percussionist, who we met earlier, chimes in. it sounds to me like puccini had to have these gongs. >> he absolutely needed them for the right flavor of the opera to suggest china in its ancient setting. [ gong chimes resonating ]
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>> just like that. >> just like that. >> spectacular. marlene thinks they're spectacular, too, and wants them heard and appreciated. while waiting for a buyer to step up, she rents them to opera houses where they're a big draw. >> howard would want them to be played, and i did rent them out. >> until 2011 when she gets a frantic call about her strange inheritance. what happened? what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website, ♪ limu emu & doug and now for their service to the community, we present limu emu & doug with this key to the city. [ applause ] it's an honor to tell you that liberty mutual customizes your car insurance
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♪ >> now back to "strange inheritance." >> it's 2011, and marlene piturro is terrified about her strange inheritance -- a rare set of percussion gongs that trace back to renowned
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opera composer giacomo puccini. what happened? >> we were renting them, and they were lost in transit. >> oh, my. >> the national carrier who was doing this couldn't find them. >> for three awful days no word. then she gets a call. >> it turned out that they were in newark for three days, and when we finally knew where they were, they went on to their ultimate destination. >> phew! >> [ chuckles ] >> the mishap forces marlene to change her tune and stop renting out the gongs. >> howard was more than willing to send them. he loved that they could go to different opera houses, but i feel i can't take that risk. >> so marlene tucks them away, unseen, unheard, and with each passing year, increasingly forgotten by the opera world. she's still hoping to find a way to do as howard wanted -- sell them to a musician or opera company and commission a new ending to puccini's
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"turandot" that features the gongs. it's a big responsibility. >> it's a big responsibility, and i'm not the best person to have them. they belong in an opera house. >> then in 2016, music director antony walker of the pittsburgh opera hears tale of how howard van hyning's widow has puccini's gongs hidden away in a trunk. >> we were very excited to hear that the puccini gongs were still around. >> he implores marlene to lend him the famous gongs for his upcoming production of "turandot." marlene relents, but this time, she has the gongs hand-delivered. ♪ we're there for the first official rehearsal. everyone is amped up over those gongs. >> it makes it much realer. you can smell and taste and feel this thing. it's not some ancient artifact in mothballs. it resonates, and it gets people
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very excited. ♪ [ gong chimes resonating ] >> this set is so important because we have the sounds that puccini had in mind, which is really amazing. [ gong chimes resonating ] >> it's like a stradivarius. if you don't play it, what's the point? puccini heard in these gongs how his music should sound. >> [ singing operatically ] [ gong chime resonates ] >> marlene still intends to turn her strange inheritance into a new ending that makes "turandot" even more of a percussionist dream, just as her husband envisioned. are you hoping that by sharing your strange inheritance
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that someone will see them, come along, and say, "here's a check"? >> you better believe it. [ chuckles ] that would be a wonderful outcome. >> whatever happens, this performance would surely be music to her late husband's ears. >> he had his destiny, and that was to play this music. he loved music, and he loved the gongs. ♪ >> a half dozen other composers have written new endings to "turandot," and now one more has tossed his hat in the ring. in march 2017, four days after his 100th birthday, maestro anton coppola, uncle of film director francis ford coppola, conducted a two-hour concert in tampa, florida, which included his own alternate ending for "turandot," gongs and all. the contest for the perfect ending continues. i'm jamie colby. thanks for watching
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"strange inheritance." and remember -- you can't take it with you. [ gong chimes resonating ] ♪ >> a babe who photographed babies... >> she would get them to do the craziest things. >> ...becomes a celebrity herself. >> people knew her by name. she was a pin-up. >> there were definitely stories of skiing with the kennedys, definitely a lavish lifestyle for sure. >> what was her secret? >> isn't she adorable? >> what a winner shot. >> is it still gold today? >> is this collection potentially worth six figures, seven figures? [ door creaks ] [ wind howls ] [ thunder rumbles ] [ bird caws ] ♪ >> i'm jamie colby, and today i'm in littleton, colorado. it's a suburb of denver that,
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like all of suburbia, really expanded after world war ii because of the baby boom. and speaking of babies, every parent, including me, knows the frustration of trying to get your little one to smile at just the right moment for just the right photo. well, we're about to tell the story of a woman who turned that challenge into an art form. >> my name is lynda bannister. when my mother, constance, passed away in 2005, she left me more more than 100,000 baby photos. she was the most accomplished baby photographer of her day. >> hi, lynda. i'm jamie. >> hi, jamie. nice to meet you. >> nice to meet you, too. you wrote me about your mom and something about babies. >> yes. >> are they here? >> yes, they are. please come in. >> okay. >> inside lynda's house is her strange inheritance left to her by her mother, baby photographer constance bannister. >> you've basically put together a museum all about your mom and all these babies.
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>> in total, there are more than 100,000 baby pictures -- yes, 100,000 photos. >> there are many files full of negatives. >> all negatives? >> all negatives. >> lynda has mom's old cameras, too. >> she was able to carry this? >> yes. actually, she would wear a harness and strap herself into it, as you can see. one of the first self-portraits, she's got the clicker in her hand. >> a selfie? >> yeah. >> lynda's mother's story begins in 1913 on a farm in tennessee. >> what kind of childhood did your mom have? >> she's second from the oldest of 17 children. >> 17? >> 17. she talked about playing in the creek, riding the cow -- just a real simple, healthy lifestyle. >> in the mid 1930s, young connie leaves her country home with dreams of becoming an artist in the big apple. >> she wanted to be somebody
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and somebody big. >> in 1937, she enrolls at the new york institute of photography, and later that year marries the first of three husbands, stephen arthur bannister. >> that was finishing school for her. >> the marriage? >> yeah. >> why? >> he took the country girl, and he really showed her the life of an upper-class woman in manhattan. >> but the rich investment broker just can't compete with connie's greatest love -- the camera. they soon divorce, and connie gets her first paying gig as a society photographer in palm beach for the associated press. >> women, when she first started out, they were not doing careers. she basically stepped into a man's world and ran the show. >> after one year on the job, she returns to new york and works as a public-relations photographer on the maiden voyage of the s.s. brazil. then a lightning bolt of
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inspiration strikes. >> she went into central park, and she basically just started photographing babies. >> why babies? >> when she was a young girl, she was always around babies. she naturally gravitated towards babies. she ended up going back the next day with prints selling some of her pictures to a mom, and the career was born. >> in 1940, constance opens a photo shop on central park south. she quickly becomes known for her ability to capture faces and expressions other baby photographers cannot. >> how unique were her techniques? >> she had a way with communicating with the baby, and she would get them to do the craziest things. [ camera shutter clicking ] >> she develops a lot of tricks, like filling her studio with plenty of toys, using honey to achieve that perfect hair curl, and brushing the baby's face with a feather before snapping the shot.
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>> she just knew exactly when to snap that shutter and get that perfect shot. >> today lynda's gonna let me in on a few more of her mother's trade secrets at an actual baby photo shoot. >> oh, no, no, no. >> adele. >> look. we have a feather. >> i got a feather for you. >> [ crying ] >> ohh. >> this is more difficult than i thought, lynda. >> [ crying continues ] >> what's a wannabe to do, seriously? lynda tells me that's why mom always had back-up models. >> wow, two little teeth and a lot of drool. >> [ laughs ] >> can i take your picture? yes? >> no tears yet. >> can you explain, lynda, what you would do to make this perfect baby even more perfect? >> mom would always have a little jar of lemon juice and water, and she'd just take her finger and put it right in her mouth, and that's to get that kind of puckered face. isn't she adorable? >> what a winner shot. i got a whole calendar.
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>> oh, wonderful. [ camera shutter clicking ] >> i may not have captured a bannister-caliber photo, few ever have, but constance has a knack for much more than photographing babies. she'll learn the camera loves her, too, and soon all of america will know her face. >> was she a celebrity? >> yes, in every sense of the word. >> that's next. >> but first, our "strange inheritance" quiz question... is it brad pitt and angelina jolie? kate middleton and prince william? or ivanka trump and jared kushner? the answer when we return. ♪ it's surprising how the bigger a city gets... the smaller it starts to feel. which makes it even more surprising, how big it feels in here.
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with sliding rear seats... and more available second row legroom than say... a chevy suburban. this is the completely reimagined 2020 ford escape.
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to be listed on the endangered species list for the very first time. [chewing] this is the sound of wild populations plummeting by nearly 40 percent over the last 30 years. [crickets] this is the sound of a silent extinction. break the silence and be heard for the herd. [sounds of nature continue]
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♪ [ objects rattle ] >> so, which power couple sold photos of their newborn for $15 million? it's "a." in 2008, people and hello! magazine bought the exclusive rights to the baby photos of twins vivienne and knox jolie-pitt. the couple donated the proceeds to charity. ♪ >> it's 1941 and constance bannister has built a reputation as the go-to photographer to capture just the right baby shots. "she was a true pioneer," says getty images executive eric rachlis. >> she was able to capture the emotions of babies in a very pure form.
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a lot of people relate to that sort of very innocent expression of emotion. >> during world war ii, her photos are used to help sell war bonds and promote the u.s.o. but when a magazine article is printed about her pin-up babies, connie becomes the babe the troops want to see. >> look magazine did an article called "pin-up babies," and they put a little picture of her in a bathing suit, a pin-up picture, and the servicemen just wrote her from all over the world, asking for an 8x10 signed picture of her for their foxhole or their bunker, and she did. >> i mean, a lot of guys had your grandmother's picture in their locker. >> oh, lord. yeah. [ laughs ] yep. that definitely happened -- yeah. she was definitely involved in some different shoots that were a little edgy for her time. >> meanwhile, after the war, births in the u.s. start surging as soldiers return home. america's great baby boom is on.
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perfect timing for a celebrity baby photographer with tv-ready looks and a savvy business plan. >> she was a bit of a wheeler and dealer, so she would negotiate with the families and say, "okay, i won't charge you. you sign the release, and i'll give you beautiful pictures of your child for free." >> so your mom owned the pictures. >> she owns them. >> smart. >> very smart. ♪ >> with the photo rights secured, connie uses the images in her own business ventures -- books, calendars, magazines, her babies often accompanied with sassy one-liners. >> she took sort of traditional cute baby photography and kind of put sort of a satiric bent on how she pictured children and babies. >> soon bannister and her babies are everywhere, from newspapers... >> this is a comic strip that she did called "baby banters." it was syndicated for six years across the country. >> department stores. >> mom produced a doll?
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>> mom produced a doll. she produced that in the '50s, and, actually, macy's had it on sale for $9.98. >> did she also earn a lot of revenue? >> she did very well. she had an apartment at 24 central park south, her summer house, which was an estate on the north shore of long island -- 15 acres, pool, tennis court. >> tv host jack paar dubs constance the world's most famous baby photographer. her photo tips are even used to promote flashbulbs. >> was she a celebrity? >> yes, in every sense of the word. i have all her appointment books from the '40s and '50s, and every single page is filled with appointments, meetings, radio shows, television shows. people knew her by name. they knew her on sight. >> there were definitely stories of skiing with the kennedys, taking fabulous trips to different international places -- lavish lifestyle for sure. >> by the late 1950s, constance,
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now in her 40s and on her third marriage, wants to start a family of her own. but the world's most famous baby photographer is the victim of a cruel irony. >> she wanted children, but she went to the doctor, and he said it just was not gonna be possible for her. it was actually very sad. >> connie and her husband, joseph hatcher, are blessed in 1958, adopting a baby girl, lynda. two years later, lisa joins the family. the real bannister babies quickly become regulars at mom's photo shoots. >> that's me and mom. >> oh, how sweet. >> and that's me. >> oh! oh, my god. she really could get babies to do everything. >> constance is still a hot ticket in the 1960s as the final frontier inspires another bannister business venture. >> the astronauts went to the moon, she created a baby book called "astrotots." >> this is adorable.
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>> she also weighs in on the civil rights movement. >> she's one of the first women to put a black baby on a cover. >> so it wasn't just about picture-taking. >> no. >> she had a message. >> yes, she did. ♪ >> in the mid 1970s, however, constance, now in her 60s, decides it's finally time to hang up the camera and enjoy a well-deserved retirement far from the limelight. >> she was done. she just wanted to have peace and quiet. >> and that is pretty much all america hears from constance bannister, though she does pick up the camera from time to time behind closed doors. >> did she ever take your picture? >> um, sure. absolutely. it got very interesting behind the camera when she got back there. you can kind of see this different side of her. she got very expressive and silly almost. >> she would always bring out the best expressions out of children. >> in 2005, constance bannister passes away at age 92. lynda is named sole heir to her mother's baby pictures, all 100,000 of them. by then she assumes her mom
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and the bannister babies are long forgotten. boy, is she wrong about that! >> i was fielding phone calls left and right from reporters from all over the country. >> that's next. >> here's another quiz question for you. this constance bannister model went on to become a big hollywood star. is it...? the answer after the break. there's a company that's talked to even more real people than me: jd power. 448,134 to be exact. they answered 410 questions in 8 categories about vehicle quality. and when they were done, chevy earned more j.d. power quality awards across cars, trucks and suvs than any other brand over the last four years. so on behalf of chevrolet, i want to say
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"thank you, real people." you're welcome. we're gonna need a bigger room. i am totally blind. and non-24 can make me show up too early... or too late. or make me feel like i'm not really "there." talk to your doctor, and call 844-234-2424.
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>> so, who is this child model who grew up to become a famous actor in hollywood? it's "b," christopher walken. the star of "the deer hunter" and numerous "saturday night live" appearances kick-started his career working with constance bannister.
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>> over her four-decade career, connie bannister snapped some of the most iconic images of infants and toddlers known as bannister babies. after her death in 2005, her daughter wonders how the woman once known as the world's most famous baby photographer will be remembered, if at all. >> when she passed, i contacted the associated press 'cause i didn't know if it was news or i had to write an obituary. >> the family quickly gets their answer. for the first time in decades, the name constance bannister is back in the public view. >> i was fielding phone calls left and right from reporters from all over the country. it was a celebration of her life. it was just wonderful. >> lynda is determined to keep her mother's memory and photos from fading into oblivion. one of her first steps in honoring the family name is to adopt it herself. she changes her given surname,
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hatcher, to bannister. her next challenge, sorting through the massive photography archives that she's inherited from her mom. >> we're talking hundreds and hundreds of pounds of cabinets and drawers. >> pounds? >> it wasn't just the photos and the negatives. it was the cameras, it was the dolls, it was the books. it just was such an enormous collection. >> i was overwhelmed when i first got it all. it was just so mind-blowing. >> did she ever tell you what she wanted you to do with it? >> no. she actually told me, "don't mess it up, lynda." >> those are some fighting words. >> i know the pressure's on for me to do a good job and to make her proud. >> lynda starts to catalog and digitize over 100,000 photos. fortunately, mom left at least a little guidance. >> that's a signed release that she kept from when -- the '50s? >> i have them dating back to the early '40s. >> a little o.c.d.? >> yes, a lot o.c.d., actually.
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>> among those old releases, lynda discovers some familiar names who modeled for her mother. >> name names. >> christopher walken, paris hilton's mother, kathy, kristina hagman, larry hagman's daughter. >> here's actress anne francis. she would star in two 1950's classics -- "blackboard jungle" and "forbidden planet." but what really gets lynda thinking is the thousands of regular old american babies. she decides to see how their lives turned out. >> how much time are you putting in to finding these bannister babies? >> i'm spending some serious time with it, but i'm enjoying every minute of it. >> what is it like for you when you hear from a bannister baby? >> it's a treat beyond treats. it intrigues me to know that she made so many people happy. >> people like lindley thomasset, a bannister baby from the late 1940s. >> she had a very special way of getting kids to respond to her. many of these photos were used
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in advertisements for things like gerber baby food. >> were you a gerber baby? >> yes, that's right. >> excuse me. i've just met a gerber baby, okay? >> today lindley is hosting a bannister baby reunion at her home here in bedford, new york. >> i'm so glad you could all get together. it's incredible. i feel like you're a part of history. lynda has a surprise for you. >> lindley, we have from her archives for you... >> [ gasps ] >> oh, lindley. >> that's for your collection. >> thank you. >> this is linda byers. >> oh, linda. >> oh, my. >> let's see yours. >> oh. >> oh, wow. >> oh, my hair is different. >> and, also, mom made a note under the remarks that linda was cute. >> [ laughs ] >> how many bannister babies are there left? >> oh, there's hundreds left still. >> i bet we find more. >> that'd be great. >> it could make a good book, lynda thinks. meantime, as word gets out about the collection, lynda receives an offer from a buyer who
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wants to purchase the entire photo library. it could be a big payday. other vintage collections are said to be worth millions. >> is this collection potentially worth six figures, seven figures? >> no idea. i don't know, and as far as i'm concerned, homina, homina, homina, i don't want to know. >> will lynda mess it up? or does she inherit her mom's business genius, too? find out in a snap. >> what's your "strange inheritance" story? we'd love to tell it. send me an e-mail or go to our website --
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>> now back to "strange inheritance." ♪ >> lynda bannister inherits more than 100,000 professional baby pictures taken by her mom, a true genius who was once the most famous baby photographer in america. >> and is this collection potentially worth six figures, seven figures? >> no idea.
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i don't know, and as far as i'm concerned, homina, homina, homina, i don't want to know. >> it could be worth millions, but lynda won't talk to any potential buyers. >> you didn't even let him tell you what they were willing to pay? >> no. i don't want to sell it. my goal really is to just share the baby pictures with people around the world. her images were just so loved, beautiful pictures of children, and i just would like everybody to enjoy them. >> but we're not talking charity here. lynda's betting she can make more holding on to her strange inheritance. in 2010, she cuts a deal with stock photo agency getty images, which markets the pictures to clients who pay each time they use them. >> looking at constance's work, her eye, and the way that she captured these babies has really been a very commercially viable type of imagery that our customers, even today, are using. >> over time, the bannister babies begin
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to regain some of their former popularity, starting with greeting cards. >> this is adorable. so they're taking the original images and then they're making them into characters? >> reinventing the babies. >> it's almost, john, like grandma's coming back. >> yeah. i'm seeing a rebirth of her through my mother. it's pretty incredible. >> getty strikes similar deals with the likes of microsoft, yahoo!, and sony. more cash flows in. >> so are you cleaning up financially? >> it's growing. i'm looking at it as my retirement. >> what can one image be worth? >> well, we actually got $25,000 for one image. it can be worth quite a bit of money. >> and here's that photo -- a cute girl in braids hugging her dog licensed for a national ad campaign for the tv show "true blood." >> you're sitting on thousands of these. this could be more than your retirement. >> it could be, it could be. we'll see. >> a tennessee farm girl hits the big time, becomes
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a glamorous celebrity, then retires to the quiet life. but now she's back in the spotlight thanks to a dedicated daughter and all those adorable babies. >> i think what my grandmother accomplished was really remarkable, and my mom is giving us an opportunity to bring that amazing work back up to the surface, and that has just been such a remarkable thing for our family. >> she was bigger than life. she had a vision of just creating things with babies and making people laugh and happy, and she was just a wonderful woman. >> you've seen a lot of baby pictures in this episode, but there is one you haven't seen -- mine. here i am propped up on my brother jonathan's shoulders. this photographer got him to smile. i guess i needed some of constance bannister's magic. nope, i was no bannister baby, but if you were, i'd love to hear from you. e-mail that photo to me at
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thanks so much for watching. and remember -- you can't take it with you. ♪ >> a daughter inherits a mysterious diary from her father, an artist who survived the holocaust. >> he had to live so that he could show the scenes that he witnessed. >> his words become her quest. >> i made a promise to my father that i would show his artwork to the world. >> these pages, her road map. >> here is a man who went through so much horror. >> but can she recover what the nazis stole from him? >> what do you think went on in that room? ♪ i'm jamie colby, and, today, i'm in rockland county, new york, an hour north of new york city. i am meeting a viewer who wrote


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