Ira Gallen has been almost single-handedly responsible for saving and preserving a big chunk of television history, both as an archivist/collector and as a video and television producer/director. Born in Brooklyn, NY, Ira Herman Gallen became a film enthusiast while in his teens, and for several years studied with and assisted film historian Seymour Stern. Gallen was fascinated by the silent era, especially the work of D.W. Griffith, and started showing films while in high school. He also began collecting films, and not just feature-length movies -- Gallen found that among the flotsam and jetsam of the 16 mm collecting world were odd instructional and industrial films, and television-related material, including episodes of old series and commercials. It was these categories of material, more than feature films, that ended up comprising the major part of a collection that eventually encompassed over 25,000 subjects, everything from public-service announcements to vintage commercials, as well as complete episodes of classic series.
Even as he built up this collection, Gallen entered the movie business in a formal manner, working his way up as a crew member on movies such as Shaft's Big Score!, Three Days of the Condor, and Rocky II (the latter as second assistant director), and on television shows such as Taxi. He was established as an assistant director, with full DGA membership (and was very active in their internal historical activities), but rather than move to the West Coast, he chose to remain in New York, where he began producing his weekly television series Biograph Days, Biograph Nights on cable television, which ran for two decades. He also became an important provider of material to the Museum of Radio and Television, and indulged his other interest -- in toys and their history -- as a frequent guest on ABC World News Now and other news shows.
During the late '80s, Gallen assembled the mockumentary Ronnie Dearest, devoted to President Ronald Reagan and comprised of clips from public-domain features, trailers, industrial films, and other odd productions in which Reagan appeared during his acting career. Gallen also attempted in the early 21st century to revive interest in the late-'40s children's program Rootie Kazootie, and kept his hand in the movie business as executive producer and cinematographer of John Gallagher's 2004 feature film Cupidity. In 2001, he began exhibiting some of his historical television holdings on a customized website, TVdays.com. ~ Bruce Eder, Rovi