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Rudy Bretz Papers

 Collection 0048-MMC-LAB

Rudy Bretz (1915-1997), who first became involved in television production in 1939, was a pioneer in commercial, public, and instructional television, and as an internationally renowned consultant on media for communication. He was the author of The Television Program: It's Production and Direction (with Edward Stasheff) and Techniques of Television Production. Both were, for many years, the primary textbooks in teaching television production.

A large portion of the collection, which covers 1916 to 1997, is devoted to Bretz's work as a consultant and educator during the 1960s and 1970s. Types of materials include correspondence, notes, station program guides, photographs, magazine and newspaper article clippings, brochures, reports, computer disks, and audiovisual material.


  • 1916-1997
  • Majority of material found within 1950-1985

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is unprocessed. This means that materials are in the same condition we received them and have not been reviewed for content or condition. The collection may need to be screened prior to use. Please contact us before visiting the Special Collections reading room to view this collection.

Portions of the collection are stored offsite. Requests to use this material must be submitted in advance. For more information about requesting offiste materials, see our offiste policies:

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be made in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


153.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Rudy Bretz papers cover the years 1916 to 1997 and contains some undated materials. The bulk of the materials date from 1950 to 1985. The collection documents Bretz's career as a consultant and educator on the topic of instructional television in the 1960s and 1970s, with some reference to his role in the formative years of television, especially in the 1950s. Types of materials include correspondence, notes, station, program guides, photographs, magazine and newspaper article clippings, brochures, reports, computer disks, and audiovisuals.


Rudolf Challis Bretz, known to all as Rudy, was a pioneer in the fields of commercial, public and instructional television, and an internationally renowned consultant on media for communication. He was born July 12, 1914. From 1931-1935, he studied social sciences, zoology, and pre-medicine at the University of Chicago.

When CBS-TV began in 1939, Bretz was the first television cameraman hired. He did many production jobs at the station: director, producer, studio manager, control room engineer, news cameraman, editor. He even drew the first weather maps and painted the first scenery.

Bretz was active in the launching of several early educational and public television stations, including KCET-Los Angles, WQED-Pittsburgh, WBOQ Birmingham, and the Alabama ETV Network. He was also a consultant in the establishment of religious broadcasting.

From 1954 to 1958, Bretz was the dean of the School of Radio and Television Technique in New York. In 1956 he became the head of the Television division of UCLA's Theater Arts Department. Throughout his career, he taught workshops, extensions courses, and regular curricula in more than 20 colleges and universities. Additionally, Bretz traveled all over the world—including Canada, Australia, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia—training TV personnel, often sponsored by the U. S. Department of State and United National Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

From 1965 to 1972, Bretz served as a senior consultant for the Rand Corporation. He directed projects toward implementing innovative uses of communications technology. His research was sponsored by the U. S. Air Force, National Institute of Health, and the National Science Foundation.

Bretz worked as a consultant, and eventually vice-president, of Bedacom, a computer services firm from 1974 to 1983. He specialized in management information systems, large scale econometric modeling, instructional technology, and data processing.

Bretz's eight TV production inventions include the "Bretzicon," "Bretzbox," and the "Bretzscope." He was also a prolific writer. He authored or co-authored eight books including The Television Program: Its Production and Direction (with Edward Stasheff) and the definitive Techniques of Television Production. He also illustrated several books, including Producing the Play, by John Gassner, a scenes technician's handbook.

Rudy Bretz died June 1, 1997. At the time, he was working on his ninth book and an active member of the Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers (SMPTE).

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Papers of Rudy Bretz were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries by the family of Rudy Bretz in 1997.

Processing Information

This collection is partially processed. An inventory has been prepared and is available upon request.

Guide to the Rudy Bretz papers
In Progress
Processed by Elizabeth Borja, July 2000.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Revision Statements

  • 2021-07-16: Jim Baxter re-wrote the collection abstract.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742