A Year in TV Guide: October 3rd, 1964

A Year in TV Guide explores the 1964-1965 television season through the pages of TV Guide magazine. Each week, I’ll examine the issue of TV Guide published exactly 50 years earlier. The intent is not simply to examine what was on television each week but rather what was being written about television.

Week #3
October 3rd, 1964
Vol. 12, No. 40, Issue #601
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: Mia Farrow of ABC’s Peyton Place (photograph by Denis Cameron, Pix).

The Magazine

This was a pretty packed week for television but you wouldn’t really know it from any of the articles in TV Guide. Of the four articles in this issue only one — a brief look at actress Ma Farrow, star of ABC’s new twice-weekly Peyton Place — relates in any way to programming then on the air and even if has little to do with the show. There’s another article about another actress (Jill St. John), a brief piece on open auditions held by CBS, and an essay on the history and future of U.S. Presidential campaigns.

Both the article on Farrow and the one on St. John focus mostly on their personal lives: St. John’s marriages and Farrow’s famous parents as well as her friendships with older folks like Salvador Dali. She apparently didn’t have any friends her own age in 1964. The article about the CBS open auditions states that Carol Burnett, Don Knotts, and George Gobel were all discovered at the auditions, which started in 1949, while Jonathan Winters, Carol Lawrence, and Andy Griffith were skipped over.

Front Cover
Front Cover – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Edward P. Morgan’s four-page article “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Business” examines the modern presidential election. Morgan, an ABC News analyst, worries that the rising costs of campaigning means only the rich can afford to run for the Oval Office. Most intriguing is his discussion of the role of computers on elections and worries that computer projections made after polls close on the East Coast could impact voting on the West Coast.

He notes that on election night in 1960, a TV network’s computer projected that Kennedy would win in a landslide, causing President Eisenhower to appear live on television urging voters in California to vote and “keep fighting right to the last minute.” I’d certainly love to see footage of that. It seem at best inappropriate but I suppose since Eisenhower wasn’t a candidate it wouldn’t have run afoul of the FCC’s equal-time rule.

None of these articles offer much in the way of research value but for readers in October 1964 both the Farrow and presidential campaign articles were timely and probably somewhat informative.

The “As We See It” editorial this issue is amusing only because it manages to use the phrase “goof balls” three times, all seriously. It praises a recent CBS News report on the sale of amphetamines and barbiturates. CBS News producer Jay McMullen acquired “more than a million pep pills and goof balls” worth between $250,000 and $500,000 by having fake stationary made up and ordering drugs from pharmaceutical companies.

Getting all those pills apparently cost him just $600 to get all those pills. The CBS News coverage came just as legislation was being discussed in the House. “The network performed a constructive service by exposing an evil,” said TV Guide, “which certainly is as important an area of journalism as reporting the news.” The report in question was broadcast on September 2nd, 1964 on The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite.

Tidbits from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • The Animals will appear on The Ed Sullivan Show at some point in October.
  • CBS will broadcast the Broadway production of The Hollow Crown, to be shown early in 1965. [It aired in two parts, the first on February 16th, 1965 and second on June 20th.]
  • Herbart B. Leonard is working on two new shows: one a drama set in San Francisco and the other a sitcom about a man trying to escape his responsibilities as king of a small country in Europe.
  • The three shows making up NBC’s 90 Bristol Court will be shifted prior to their October 4th premiere, with Karen first, Harris Against the World second, and Tom, Dick and Mary third. Originally, Harris Against the World would air last with Tom,Dick and Mary in the middle.

There are four bits of news in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:

  • CBS News has brought Walter Cronkite back for its election coverage, replacing the Robert Trout/Roger Mudd team. But Cronkite will not be called an anchor but instead the network’s national editor on equal footing with five other reporters: Mudd, Trout, Harry Reasoner, Mike Wallace, and Eric Sevareid.
  • The Steve Allen Show will end after October 28th. According to Westinghouse Broadcasting Company, Allen’s commute between New York City and Hollywood was too much. The company hopes to launch a new late-night series starring Regis Philbin.
  • RCA has developed a device that combines television with an electronic microscope that is 10 times more powerful than any microscope that can also record microscopic movements on videotape.
  • Reacting to the news that CBS has changed the name of The Nurses to The Doctors and The Nurses, producer Orin Tovrov jokes that he might rename his NBC series The Doctors as well. The new name? The Doctors and the Very Good Nurses.

The Letters page, also in the listings section, includes five letters about the new fall TV season. One is opposed to all the comedy, two praise The Addams Family and Bewitched, and the others are critical of Peyton Place (“In my opinion, we have enough sudsy tear-jerkers during the day without clogging up prime evening viewing with them”) and Shindig. Another letter thanks TV Guide for its 1964 TV Set Buyers’ Guide.

One letter from a high school student reports that a poll of modern-history teachers in the Kansas City area found 17 out of 20 teachers consider Walter Cronkite the best presenter of daily news. Two preferred Huntley-Brinkley and one didn’t really care.

The TV Listings

As I said, this was a big week for television, and not just because 90 Bristol Court premiered on Monday, October 5th. I may be a fan of that series, but it wasn’t very successful. The 90-minute sitcom block was the last new show of the season to debut. Set at an apartment complex in California, it included three half-hour sitcoms: Karen, with Debbie Watson; Tom, Dick and Mary with Don Galloway, Joyce Bulifant, and Steve Franken; and Harris Against the World, with Jack Klugman. Appearing in all three sitcoms was Gus Raymond as a handyman.

NBC Advertisement for 90 Bristol Court
NBC Advertisement for 90 Bristol Court – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Karen survived for the entire 1964-1965 season. Tom, Dick and Mary and Harris Against the World weren’t so lucky, ending in January 1965. You can read all about the series here. Also premiering on Monday, October 5th was daytime soap opera The Young Marrieds on ABC, which aired Monday through Friday from 3:30-4PM.

Far more important than 90 Bristol Court was the broadcast of See How They Run on Wednesday, October 7th. An installment of Wednesday Night at the Movies on NBC, it is considered the very first made-for-TV movie. TV Guide notes “this movie is part of the ‘project 120’ series of feature films that will be distributed abroad after their TV premieres here.”

TV Guide Close-Up for NBC's See How They Run Telefilm
TV Guide Close-Up for NBC’s See How They Run Telefilm – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Viewers at the time didn’t realize that within a few years there would be more made-for-TV movies than anyone could possibly watch. See How They Run starred John Forsythe, Senta Berger, and Jane Wyatt. Also in the cast was Leslie Nielsen.

Perhaps even more important than the very first telefilm was the start of the 1964 World Series on NBC, also airing on Wednesday, October 7th. I mentioned in last week’s installment that I’m not a sports person so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I’m only vaguely familiar with how the World Series works. Because TV Guide was published before the deciding regular season games, there was no way to know who exactly would be playing in Game 1 of the series.

The TV Guide Close-Up was pretty sure the Philadelphia Phillies would be involved, unless they “went into a tailspin in the final week of the season.” Apparently they did. The Phillies didn’t make it to the World Series in 1964. Instead, the New York Yankees faced the St. Louis Cardinals. Game 2 was played on Thursday, October 8th as planned.

(TV Guide listed Game 3 as airing on Friday, October 9th but only if the Baltimore Orioles or New York Yankees were playing the Phillies. If it was the Chicago White Sox against the Phillies, Game 3 would be played on Saturday, October 10th. Well, it wasn’t the Phillies but the game was still played on October 10th.)

Another noteworthy sporting event kicked off this week: the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. A live two-hour broadcast of the opening ceremonies, courtesy of the Syncom III satellite, aired on NBC from 1-3AM on Saturday, October 10th but was included in the TV listings for Friday, October 9th. I have to wonder how many people actually stayed up to watch the opening ceremonies.

As if that wasn’t enough, the week also included the return of The Bell Telephone Hour with Bing Crosby on NBC (Tuesday, October 6th) and The Beatles on Shindig on ABC (Wednesday, October 7th). Plus the premiere of Underdog on Saturday, October 3rd on NBC.

Here are all TV Guide close-ups for the week:

  • The Hollywood Palace (ABC, Saturday at 9:30PM)
  • Documentary: La Grande Olimpiade (NBC, Sunday at 4PM)
  • The World Series (NBC, Wednesday at 12:45PM)
  • Shindig (ABC, Wednesday at 8:30PM)
  • Summer Olympics (NBC, Friday at 1AM)

Here are some of the programs available for purchase by subscribers to Zenith Radio Company’s Phonevision pay television experiment on Connecticut’s WHCT-TV (Channel 18):

  • Movie: McHale’s Navy (Saturday at 6:30PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Marnie (Monday at 9PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Good Neighbor Sam (Wednesday at 9PM, $1.50)
  • Movie: The Ceremony (Thursday at 9PM, $1.00)

Locally, this week saw the return of Dance Party on WTIC-TV (Channel 3), Connecticut’s CBS affiliate. Hosted by Brad Davis, the half-hour series aired Saturday at 5:30PM. Guests included Gene Pitney and the McGowman Brothers with Doug Lapham (a folk group). As I get more familiar with the listings each week I’m discovering more and more local shows, like The Barbara Bernard Show, which ran from 1:05-1:30PM Monday through Friday on WHYN-TV (Channel 40) out of Springfield, MA.

There are local advertisements for Sports View with Carl Grande on WNHC-TV (Channel 8) in Connecticut, which ran from 11:25-11:30PM Monday through Friday as well as Newsire on WNHC-TV with Stelio Salmona. Unfortunately, somebody tore out most of that second ad so I’m not sure exactly when the news reports airs. Neither Sports View or Newswire are included in the TV listings by name.

That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.


11 Comments

  • Mike Smith says:

    Thanks goodness the Olympics will be returning to Tokyo in 2020, since NBC will be there showing the Opening Cermonies at 1 A. M on Saturday Morning-on a delayed basis, namely, the edited encore of the Prime Time broadcast!!! That’s how the Sochi Olympics did in February!!! Time surely change since then!!!

    • Joseph says:

      The Tokyo 2020 Olympic group will get pressured by NBC to hold the Opening Ceremonies at 10 A.M. local time on a Friday morning so they can be shown live at 8 P.M. Eastern time on a Thursday night.

      Incidentally, although the TV Guide apparently listed it in black-and-white, the Opening Ceremonies of the 1964 Olympics were broadcast in color, the first ever live color-TV program beamed back to the United States by satellite. But except for that and the closing ceremonies (shown on tape by NBC some hours after taking place), the rest of the 1964 Summer Olympics were broadcast in Living Black And White.

      I was a tyke then, but I thought there was an ad from the builders of the satellite used to beam the ’64 Summer Olympic broadcasts inn newspapers that Friday (October 9th, 1964) that went something like this: “Tonight, 1 A.,M. on NBC, Right After Johnny Carson! The Opening Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics from Tokyo. Live, Not Film! And in Living Color, not dreary Black-and-White! Brought to you thanks to the Hughes Symcom III Satellite”.

  • Bob says:

    Was there a reason why you included the Dan Blocker cover in this article?

    One of the few times I was actually interested in a TV Guide article was when they got the exclusive interviews of Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams after Cindy abruptly exited or was fired from Laverne & Shirley.

  • David says:

    Would you be able to share the letters page with us? I would be interested in reading the letter opposing all the comedy, as well as the two letters praising The Addams Family and Bewitched. Thank you.

    • Robert says:

      Here are the letters relating to the new season:

      I read your “As We See the New Season” [TV Guide, Sept. 19] with interest. I must say that I regard all this ostensible comedy as deplorable. People like to laugh, granted, but there is the fact thatserious matters can be neglected too much.
      William J. Westbrooke
      San Francisco

      Summing up the new fall schedule–“you can die laughing.”
      Arlene Rakon
      Washington, D.C.

      Three cheers for The Addams Family!
      David Faller
      Huntington, W. Va.

      Bewitched is gonna be a fun show.
      Mary Gorrell
      Pensacola, Fla.

      Who says Peyton Place isn’t a soap opera? In my opinion, we have enough sudsy tear-jerkers during the day without clogging up prime evening viewing with them.
      Barbara Cueto
      Opa Locka, Fla.

      Just finished watching the debut of Shindig. Surely someone is joshing?
      Stan Parzych
      Amarillo, Texas

      • David says:

        Thank you so much for sharing those letters, and also for going to the trouble of typing them. You definitely went above-and-beyond, and it is much appreciated. It was great to read them.

  • paul kollmar says:

    …how many times can you harp about 90 bristol court??- i recall two years ago anecdotes about copywrite issues// Gary Marshall cribbed the opening of Happy Days from KAREN, -broadway’s–Hairspray’s plot (john water’s baby) was also cribbed– *but the mechanics of how the BEACHBOYS saved the day with their musical intro?- NO one ever documented nor got the details of its recording——pk

  • Jack Morrow says:

    The Phillies’ 1964 collapse is part of baseball lore. They led the National League for much of the season and were ahead by 6 1/2 games with just 2 weeks left, but they lost 10 straight games before winning their last 2, allowing the Cardinals to finish 1 game ahead of the Phillies and Cincinnati Reds. It’s been said that Philadelphia has yet to recover.

    The American League race was also a close one, with the Yankees finishing 1 game ahead of the White Sox and 2 ahead of the Orioles.

  • Paul Duca says:

    For those who don’t realize….SEE HOW THEY RUN was the first made for TV movie to air–the first one produced as such was a remake of THE KILLERS, starring Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson, and Ronald Reagan in what became his last film appearance. But it was decided the quality was such that it was given a theatrical release instead.

  • Paul Duca says:

    October 7th, 1964 was also the only airing of the LBJ “Daisy” ad…

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