New worst word ever: This time from the 1950’s.

Posted in blog post on February 7th, 2010 by Merrill Markoe

As if show business in general and television in particular wasn’t hard enough on women. there is an  obituary today in the NY Times about  the first woman  ever to direct a TV show. She looks like a lovely woman. She had a nice long life. But wasn’t it punishment enough for Frances that it had to come to an end? Did she really need to be further punished by having the word FEMCEE disinterred, even momentarily,  in her obituary?  SHEESH!


Frances Buss, who at the dawn of commercial television parlayed a job as a temporary receptionist into a pioneering career as a director whose work helped establish the talk show, the game show and the cooking show as television staples, died on Jan. 19 in Hendersonville, N.C. She was 92.On July 1, 1941, by declaration of the Federal Communications Commission, the era of commercial television broadcasting began, and it was that same month that Ms. Buss, an aspiring actress in New York, took the temporary job at CBS. By dint of her skills at drawing and mapmaking, and because of the poise she had developed as an actress, she was asked to stay on, assisting in the production of what was then rudimentary news and features programming.“I was put on the air almost right away,” she said, in a 2005 interview for the Archive of American Television, a video library compiled by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation. “I was capable on my feet, my voice was audible — and I had good legs.”

Ms. Buss was the prototype for Vanna White; she held props and kept score for television’s first regularly broadcast game show, “CBS Television Quiz.” She was the M.C. — or “femcee,” in the showbiz lingo of the time — for a series of instructional shows demonstrating first aid; she was a dancer on “The Country Dance,” a sort of antediluvian “American Bandstand.”

Frances Buss Buch in 2008.

5 Responses to “New worst word ever: This time from the 1950’s.”

  1. SusanM says:

    She does look like a lovely person!

    • Margaret says:

      She really IS beautiful.

    • Wow. Amazing. Apparently the hip hop world is helping us all get back to the lamest part of the fifties!!

      1. femcee
      A woman who raps or freestyles. The feminine equivalent of an ’emcee’.
      Yeo, my favourite femcee be Rah Digga.

      AND, to make things more 21st century, the definition page also adds “buy femcee mugs, tshirts and magnets”. It saddens me to think that Frances Buss Buch didn’t come up in an era where they could merchandise her breakthrough abilities on magnets.

      • Margaret says:

        Maybe the letters “fem” should be off limits for pretend words from now on. Femcee is reason enough but what about femcee’s cousins feminazi and FEMA?

        Let’s stick to authentic fem words like femur, feminine and fembot.