A Year in TV Guide: December 12th, 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 #13
December 12th, 1964
Vol. 12, No. 50, Issue #611
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: Julie Newmar of My Living Doll on CBS (photo by Carl Frith).

The Magazine

I am happy to report that this issue of TV Guide doesn’t include any articles about football. Gracing the cover is the lovely Julie Newmar, the doll of My Living Doll on CBS. The cover article “Everyone’s Living Doll” offers a range of interesting facts about Newmar. She had a poster of Albert Einstein on her bedroom wall during high school, for example, and used to read books while driving before switching to using a tape recorder to learn Italian and Spanish while driving.

Newmar’s beauty is noted a number of times: “She is much sought after, personally and professionally, on Broadway and in Hollywood. But the hitch seems to be that she is loved for what to her are the wrong reasons. In almost any consideration of Julie Newmar, the emphasis is almost unavoidably upon the physical.” Yet Newmar seems comfortable with herself, if sometimes shy and kooky.

Of her role on My Living Doll, Newmar had this to say: “I have had to learn an entirely new area of comedy–develop a character that’s never been done before. I am giving birth to something!”

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

“How Bing Crosby Has Mellowed” by Leslie Raddatz is a somewhat depressing article supposedly about the new and improved Bing, currently starring in The Bing Crosby Show on ABC. We learn that he films five episodes in three weeks and then takes two weeks off. He got his 12-year-old co-star Diane Sherry tickets to see The Beatles. He wears a toupee. In parenthetical asides Raddatz notes how aloof Bing has always been, how mysterious and unknown he is to even his closest friends, how the change in his singing voice has led some to wonder if he is past his prime, and how his grown sons have shattered his image to some degree.

David Lachenbruch’s three-page article “The New Look for Color TV” is an exhaustive overview of the state of color television. According to the article, since 1954 some 2.5 million color sets have been sold, all with 21-inch screens. I had no idea that for nearly ten years all color sets were bulky — some 26 inches deep — due to the size of the color picture tube (which also happened to feature rounded corners).

Motorola released a 23-inch color television earlier in 1964, the first color set with a short tube, and a 25-inch model is now available. These sets are also more rectangular. The catch? They’re much more expensive. While 21-inch sets sell for $399.95, the 23-inch color set costs $625 and the 25-inch sets run from $795 to $850. If I’m using this inflation calculator correctly, $625 in 1964 dollars would be $4,786.96 today, while $850 in 1964 dollars would be $6,510.26 today.

There have been improvements in brightness, too, now found in all new color sets regardless of the size. Even smaller 19-inch tubes are in the works but they won’t be compact, lightweight and low-priced like similar 19-inch black and white sets. In fact, portable or even easily moveable color sets are a long way off. If a 16-inch color sets hit the market in 1966 as planned, it will weigh between 60 and 100 pounds.

The issue includes two other articles: “‘Oh no, not again!’,” a look at how Hugh Downs surprised his wife for her birthday with a secret trip to Jamaica; and “She Might Have Played Lolita,” about 18-year-old actress Sherry Alberoni, who goes everywhere with her mother and almost starred in Lolita.

This week Cleveland Amory reviewed Wendy and Me, the new sitcom produced by and featuring George Burns. Amory noted that Burns inserted himself into the series at every opportunity but not as his character (who owned the apartment building where the other characters lived). Instead, Burns used his announcer role to poke fun at the show, himself, the titular Wendy (played by Connie Stevens), and more.

Despite all that, Amory wasn’t too negative about the show itself. “It’s not our favorite, but neither is it a complete miss–actually, it’s one of those near Mrs,” he wrote. Amory didn’t seem too taken with star Connie Stevens but ultimately felt “she comes close to making up for the fact that almost every plot we’ve seen is an obvious and often wearing blend of mistaken identity and missed connections.”

The “As We See It” editorial this week praised NBC’s special “The Louvre,” which aired on November 17th, 1964. “Rarely have script, color, photography and narration been blended so smoothly, so movingly,” said TV Guide. All involved with its production were given high marks. In fact TV Guide found fault with only two aspects of the special: that sponsor Xerox too often interrupted it with one-minute commercials (fewer but longer ones would have been better) and that too few people watched it (according to Arbitron, it received a 19% share of the audience compared to 30% for The Doctors and the Nurses and 47% for The Fugitive).

There was a lot of news about pilots in the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • The BBC will start airing NBC’s Profiles in Courage this week.
  • Staring the week of January 9th, 1965 The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson will air six nights a week, with the best episode from each week rebroadcast on Saturday nights.
  • NBC Sports in Action will premiere on January 17th, 1965 at 4PM. The new show will feature drama and excitement from the world of sports.
  • A new daytime NBC series starring Douglas Watson and Louise King will premiere on January 4th, 1965 at 2PM.
  • An untitled pilot starring Bette Davis is in production, with co-stars Davey Davison and Ed Begley.
  • Will Hutchins has signed for the lead in a comedy pilot called “The Lawyer.”
  • NBC has signed Don Adams for a comedy pilot called “Get Smart” about a not-too-competent secret agent.
  • Desilu has an hour-long, science-fiction, color pilot called “Star Trek” in production, starring Jeffrey Hunter.
  • William Dozier is producing a pilot called “The Avenger” for CBS, starring Peter Fonda.

Rounding out the national section is a picture feature showcasing discotheque dresses modeled by Julie Newmar, as well as the regular crossword puzzle.

The “For the Record” column in the listings section once again featured four news reports:

  • The FCC is investigating payola on radio and plugola on television. Ed Sullivan opposed the investigation, calling it “stupid” and arguing that both networks and producers are careful to avoid plugola.
  • The reason the networks have so many rock and roll acts on television may have something to do with an inaccurate Nielsen sample. As of October, 58.3% of the 1100 households in the sample had children despite the fact that the Census Bureau said only 51% of TV households have children. Nielsen last week announced it was revising to better reflect the national average. Will that lead to more adult programming?
  • Dean Jagger, who portrayed the principal on NBC’s Mr. Novak, has left the series on doctors orders due to an ulcer. Episodes with Jagger will continue to air through January after which the character will be either disappear or be recast.
  • Mister Ed will return to TV on December 13th after six weeks off the air due to NFL games.

The letters page in the listings section featured a lengthy article from the crew of a submarine:

As members of the U.S. submarine force, we have been appalled by the reflection on us by the actions of the crew aboard the submarine in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. We are referring to the panic that takes place every time something goes wrong on the Seaview. If this happened on submarines every time something went wrong, there would be very few submarines afloat today. The prestige of our crew and the whole submarine force is high and we believe that the actions of the crew of the Seaview are degrading to us.
Crew Members, USS Jack
New York, N.Y.

There were also two more letters reacting negatively to the November 21st article about Jim Nabors:

Now that you jokers have your hokey dialog out of the way (one or two paragraphs would have been most adequate), let’s have an article on Jim Nabors written in English and let’s see who this guy really is.
Don M. Stalter
Vantage, Wash.

I would have read the article about Jim Nabors but it was written in such obscure language I gave up after the first “coupler” sentences.
Betty K. Robertson

“We’ll be getting around to Jim Nabors again one of these days,” promised an editorial reply.

And there was a letter critical of critic Cleveland Amory:

One of these weeks, I’m sure critic Cleveland Amory is going to turn in a whole column full of those Clever Little Quips and not mention any show at all.
David Wolf
New York, N.Y.

Other letters included one from a reader responding to a November 21st article about actor Edward Andrews; a letter lamenting the cancellation of The Outer Limits (“Why, oh why did ABC move it to the Saturday Night Graveyard?”); and a letter from a reader tired of Dr. Kildare (“I had to cut a few of their more recent house calls short”).

The TV Listings

This was the last week of the regular NFL season, with games on both Saturday and Sunday. The Outer Limits was pre-empted on Saturday for an hour-long documentary about the 1964 Nobel Prize Awards hosted by Alistair Cooke. The 1956 film War and Peace starring Audrey Hepburn and Henry Fonda aired from 8-11:25PM on NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies:

Advertisement for War and Peace on NBC
Advertisement for War and Peace on NBC – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Starting its new season on Sunday at 6PM was The Twentieth Century with an installment focusing on Anne Frank, hosted by Walter Cronkite.

Chet Huntley narrated “The Battle of the Bulge” on Tuesday, December 15th from 10-11PM, an hour-long special about the four-week battle in Belgium the started on December 16th, 1944. CBS Reports was pre-empted on Wednesday, December 16th for “Casals at 88,” a special focusing on cellist Pablo Casals. Perry Como’s second special of the season aired on NBC on Thursday, December 17th. And NBC rebroadcast “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol,” an hour-long color special originally broadcast in 1962, on Friday, December 18th.

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

  • Special: Nobel Prize Awards (ABC, Saturday at 7:30PM)
  • Movie: War and Peace (NBC, Saturday at 8PM)
  • The Twentieth Century – “Who Killed Anne Frank?” (CBS, Sunday at 6PM)
  • Special: Battle of the Bulge (NBC, Tuesday at 10PM)
  • Special: Casals at 88 (CBS, Wednesday at 7:30PM)
  • Special: Perry Como (NBC, Thursday at 10PM)
  • Special: Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (NBC, Friday at 7:30PM)

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: Fail Safe (Saturday at 6:30PM, $1.50)
  • Movie: The Lively Set (Sunday at 7PM, $1.00)
  • Movie: For Those Who Think Young (Monday at 7PM, $1.00)
  • Movie: Kitten with a Whip (Tuesday at 9PM, $1.25)
  • Pro Hockey: Detroit Redwings vs. New York Rangers (Wednesday at 7:30PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: A Shot in the Dark (Thursday at 7PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Guns at Batasi (Friday at 8:30PM, $1.25)

Locally, it was a packed week. WTIC-TV (Channel 3) aired another half-hour installment of From the College Campus on Sunday, December 12th from 11:30AM-12PM. Featured this week was a panel discussion Yale University. That same day WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired a half-hour special titled “Connecticut Welfare” from 12:30-1PM. Along with dramatic vignettes about those on welfare, the special also saw Edward C. Harold of the Child Welfare Association moderate a discussion by a panel of social workers.

Also on Sunday, WWLP (Channel 22) and WRLP (Channel 32) aired an hour-long special called “The High Cost of Medicine” from 4-5PM. A Springfield attorney named John Hird moderated. Participants included Dr. A.A. Palermo, Dr. Robert N. Lamarche, and William L. Putnam (president and general manager of WWLP). Finally, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired live talent auditions hosted by Gene Jones from 4:30-5PM. Participants included vocalist Bonnie Davis, violinist Nancy Pierce, comedian Tony Papa, vocalist Grace Theriault, singer-guitarist Lester Baldwin, vocalist Natalia Melechow, and instrumental group The Cape Cod Hillbillies. This was followed by another installment of Starring the Editors from 5-5:30PM.

WHYN-TV (Channel 40) ran a half-page advertisement for its local series Continental Classroom, which aired 8:30-9AM Monday through Friday:

Advertisement for Continental Classroom on WHYN-TV (Channel 40)C
Advertisement for Continental Classroom on WHYN-TV (Channel 40) – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Also airing Monday through Friday (but only this week) on WATR-TV (Channel 20) was a half-hour of Christmas music featuring church choirs from Waterbury. The musical program ran from 7-7:30PM. WHNB-TV (Channel 30) and its translator (Channel 79) aired a half-hour public affairs report on Monday, December 14th from 7:30-8PM. Reporters Bary Barents, Harvey Olson, and Al Kennedy discussed the current reapportionment complex with attorneys for the state’s Democratic and Republican committees.

On Tuesday, December 15th from 11:30PM-12AM, WWLP (Channel 22) and WRLP (Channel 32) aired a half-hour program on mountaineering featuring William L. Putnam, WWLP’s president and general manager. He was also an expert mountain climber who discussed the difficulty in building a cabin on the Northern Selkirks in British Columbia.

WJAR-TV (Channel 10) aired a live basketball game on Friday, December 18th from 8:30-10:30PM, pre-empting The Bob Hope Show and The Jack Benny Show; The Jack Paar Show was scheduled to be joined in progress at 10:30PM.

Here are the episode descriptions for Dateline Boston, a local series broadcast live and in color Monday through Friday from 6-6:25PM on WHDH-TV (Channel 5):

Monday, December 14th, 1964
Captain Bob gives viewers an opportunity to test their creativity.

Tuesday, December 15th, 1964
Guest author John Kiernan joins Mrs. Beryl Robinson of the Boston Public Library in suggesting worthwhile books for children’s Christmas presents.

Wednesday, December 16th, 1964
Concert pianist Miklos Schwalb plays selections from Brahms to Tchaikovsky.

Thursday, December 17th, 1964
Sue Thurman of the Institute of Contemporary Art presents the highlights of the current exhibit.

Friday, December 18th, 1964
Students from two local high schools compete in a test of knowledge and understanding of chemistry.

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

10 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: December 12th, 1964”

  1. “The 1965 film War and Peace starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter Fonda aired from 8-11:25PM on NBC’s Saturday Night at the Movies:”

    Not to nitpick, but I think you mean the 1956 film “War and Peace”.
    I know it’s just a typo but I was taken aback when I read that they were airing a 1965 film listed in a copy of TV Guide from 1964! Time travel! :)

  2. “A new daytime NBC series starring Douglas Watson and Louise King will premiere on January 4th, 1965 at 2PM”

    Remember Douglas Watson from his role on NBC’s daytime soap “Another World” where he and his character ‘Mac Cory’ died in 1989.

    1. The programme referred to was the Canadian serial, “MOMENT OF TRUTH.” While it only ran for less than a year in the US, it was on for a total of four years out of Toronto. NBC dropped it in favor of another soap based in Los Angeles called “DAYS OF OUR LIVES.” As lousy as the pilot was for that, how much worse could “MOMENT OF TRUTH” have actually been?

  3. Also, it appears from the ad that “War and Peace” stars Henry Fonda and not his son Peter.

    I’ve very much enjoyed reading your TV Guide breakdowns each week!

  4. The “Star Trek’ pilot (Called “The Cage”) was rejected by NBC, but, they did made another pilot (Which would become “Where No Man Has Gone Before”), and the rest is history. As for “The Cage”, it’s on DVD and Blu-Ray, its running time is a little over an hour (Around 65 minutes), actually. It’s also reused mostly as footage for “The Menagerie” from the first season, as well, if you want to compared it.

  5. I have always thought that Julie Newmar is gorgeous. Well, who doesn’t? :) However, I never thought that the photo on this week’s cover was particularly flattering.

    It is amazing how expensive televisions were in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I have seen so many old ads for them, and they were priced at about what televisions are priced at today (and often even more). Yes, you look at inflation, and realize that they were truly major purchases! Nowadays, you can get inexpensive small televisions for $99 (which, according to the CPI inflation calculator, was the equivalent of $12.93 in 1964).

    The Bette Davis pilot was titled “The Decorator,” and can be seen on YouTube. Mary Wickes co-starred as her housekeeper. It is a bit disorienting to see Ms. Davis in a sitcom setting complete with laugh track. However, I quite liked it.

  6. The NBC special on “The Battle Of The Bulge” narrated by Chet Huntley was one among many vintage NBC programs unearthed from the vault on the old MSNBC series “Time And Again” in the late 90s.

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