Friday, June 6, 2014

Thomas Stewart Lee -- Climb Every Mountain

Pellissier Building
The wealthy son of automobile and communications magnate Don Lee, "Tommy" Lee was a pioneer in bringing television to Southern California.  In 1931 he built the first transmitter in Los Angeles and later moved it in 1939 to the top of Mt. Lee in the Hollywood Hills.  Known today as station KTSL, for years it was known only by its call numbers, W6XAO.  In another first, Lee received the initial permit in the Southland for full commercialization of television programs starting July 1, 1941.  As a result of a vertebra injury sustained in an automobile accident, Lee was declared mentally incompetent in a medical hearing on August 27, 1948.  Ironically, the court-appointed guardian picked to oversee Lee's estimated $9,500,000 estate, Lewis Allen Weiss, a board member of the Don Lee Broadcasting System, would later commit suicide on June 15, 1953 via the gunshot route.  Less than a year after being declared incompetent, Lee's petition to terminate his guardianship was denied by a judge who personally interviewed him at a Pasadena sanitarium.  On January 13, 1950, Lee flew in his private plane from Palm Springs to Los Angeles for a dental appointment in the Pellissier Building on 3780 Wilshire Boulevard.  While his nurse and pilot parked the car, the 43 year old entered the building alone, made his way to the 12th floor, and after smoking part of a cigarette, jumped out of a fire escape window.

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