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.
May 15th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 20, Issue #633
On the Cover: Robert Lansing (photograph by Ivan Nagy).
This week’s cover article “The General Died at Dusk” by Jerry D. Lewis asks why ABC decided to replace Robert Lansing, star of the network’s new military drama 12 O’clock High. The series premiered in September 1964 and was renewed for the 1965-1966 season but will be moving from its Friday at 9:30PM time slot to Monday at 7:30PM. With the move, Lansing is out. Lewis references Variety, which in turn quotes executive producer Quinn Martin as saying ABC told him they want Lansing for a 10PM show and, had 12 O’clock High stayed in its original time slot, Lansing would have stayed, too.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
There are a lot of rumors circulating in Hollywood about the reason for Lansing’s departure. Maybe ABC wants a younger actor to reach a younger audience at 7:30PM. But Paul Burke, Lansing’s replacement, is actually older than Lansing. Maybe ABC wants a more “versatile” star. Only Lansing has had a wide-ranging career. Yet another theory suggests that viewers can’t identify with a leading character who is a general, so Burke’s character will be a colonel.
Whatever the reason, Lansing is not angry. “I can’t hate ABC,” he says. “Hating a network would be like hating Dodger Stadium. Maybe I could be sore at the individual executive, but I have no idea who he is. My contract was with Quinn Martin, and he’s the only one I’ve talked to. I can’t be mad at Quinn, either. He says it was the network’s decision, and I have no evidence to make me doubt him.”
He refused to return in a recurring role next season, however, because he felt the changes made to the series to reach a younger audience will reduce the quality and “12 hours a day is too long to work at something you don’t like.” So far, he has turned down a few other series roles (he once turned down the lead role in The Fugitive, according to Martin). Instead, Lansing plans to focus on features. [Lansing would return to series TV during the 1966-1967 season in The Man Who Never Was on ABC.]
Richard Warren Lewis finishes his look at Gilligan’s Island with “Only You, Sherwood Schwartz,” which isn’t quite as interesting as last week’s article. It focuses on all the problems Schwartz faced trying to get Gilligan’s Island on the air, from his original 10-page outline to the $175,000 pilot to dealing with former CBS-TV president Jim Aubrey who hated the pilot. United Artists Television didn’t want him to include a theme song. The pilot was shipped to CBS with a note from Schwartz stating it did not represent his “original thinking” and CBS rejected it.
Schwartz then wrote a theme song, reedited the pilot, and shipped it back to the network. A test audience loved it. CBS couldn’t believe the reaction and tested it two more times. Both audiences loved it. Aubrey finally gave in and picked up Gilligan’s Island but insisted on recasting several of the characters which led to two extra and costly days of filming. The first episode aired was “a pastiche of three separate shows, including half of the pilot, welded together by the CBS group think.” Schwartz wanted the pilot to air first but was overruled. Viewers didn’t seem to mind, however.
Also in this issue is a lengthy TV Guide poll asking various TV newsmen to respond to Walter Cronkite’s recent suggestion that the political parties should ban television from their convention hall floors: “It certainly makes a mockery of the fact that this is a convention of delegates who are supposed to be listening to the speeches and tending to some sort of business on the floor.” The vast majority of the those questioned are strongly opposed to Cronkite, including Chet Huntley (NBC), Mike Wallace (CBS), Howard K. Smith (ABC), William R. McAndrew (NBC), David Brinkley (NBC), Peter Jennings (ABC), Sander Vanocur (NBC), and Eric Sevareid (CBS).
There were some who agreed with him, however, at least in part. ABC’s William H. Lawrence feels “there are some points in Cronkite’s approach that ought to be taken into consideration,” primarily the idea that TV cameras “create diversions from the regular, more important business of the convention.” Elmer W. Lower, ABC News Chief, argues that the entire convention system needs to be revised. ABC’s Edward P. Morgan would like to see the networks demand the parties “put an end to the programmed nonsense […] which drive away viewers and listeners” and threaten to drop live coverage if they don’t. Harry Reasoner of CBS also agreed with Cronkite, stating “this is one of several changes that would make the relatively new coverage of conventions more professional.”
Melvin Durslag’s “Why Atlanta will be the home of the Braves” is a two-page article that has every little to do with television. He discusses the reasons why the Milwaukee Braves (formerly the Boston Braves) will soon become the Atlanta Braves. It all comes down to fewer fans attending games and in turn fewer sponsors.
Finally, there’s a one-page profile of actress Marlyn Mason, who will appear in the first five episodes of Ben Casey in the fall. She lives above the Sunset Strip in an apartment with a window covering an entire wall. Despite being high above her neighbors, she always waves when she walks past the window in the nude, “just in case anyone is looking.” At 24, she’s been married once but is now single. Her living room and deck are filled with flowers. It’s possible she would have more TV work if she and her manager did not “insist upon guest-star billing.” [A look at her Internet Movie Database page reveals I’ve seen absolutely nothing Mason appeared in.]
The “As We See It” editorial this week includes little editorializing. Instead, it’s just a list of cancelled shows and an overview of the new TV fare for the 1965-1966 season. There will be more comedies (35 compared to 33 during the current season) and more Westerns (11, up from 6 this season) as well as more crime and adventure shows. Losing ground are drama and music-variety. The networks will air 99 shows, an increase from 93 this season due to the addition of more half-hours next season.
Cleveland Amory’s review of Branded is pretty negative. He says it is obviously a Western take on ABC’s The Fugitive. He also points out the absurdity of Chuck Connors, all 6-foot-5 of him, playing a character (Jason McCord) who is routinely beat up by men much smaller than he is, suggesting that “NBC’s idea of keeping down the violence is apparently to keep down the height of the guys who do it.” The plots are thin and repetitive and almost always involve someone or groups of someone beating up McCord.
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- Eddie Albert will star in a CBS sitcom next season currently called Country Cousins but the name will likely change. [It did, to Green Acres.]
- NBC’s The Mr. and the Misses has been renamed The John Forsythe Show.
- Pat Woodell will leave Petticoat Junction after this season to resume her singing career.
- NBC’s Saturday morning cartoons next season will include new shows called Atom Ant and Secret Squirrel, both courtesy of Hanna-Barbera.
- Robert Preston has signed on to host a series of ABC color specials next season, to be broadcast once a month from November 1965 through April 1966. Phil D’Antoni and Norman Paer will produced the specials, which aim to “reaffirm the glories of our country” and will examine, in order, the East, South, Midwest, Southwest, West, and Great Plains. [The first installment of This Proud Land aired on November 9th, 1965.]
- The First Look, a new NBC educational series, will air next season on Saturdays from 12-12:30PM ET. Bob Bendick will produce. Topics will include color, time, birds, and mathetmatics.
- NBC’s George Rosen is scouring London for suitable 60 and 90-minute specials that can be carried by NBC via Early Bird, one in December 1965 and another during the spring of 1966.
Rounding out the national section is a TV Jibe list of ways viewers know they are watching old movies on television, courtesy of Harold Winerip; a picture featuring showcasing the animals of Zoorama on CBS; and a profile of soprano-turned-actress Helen Traubel, who plays Tony Franciosa’s mother on ABC’s Valentine’s Day; plus the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There are four news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- The news departments of the three networks are jointly upset with the White House over the handling of the President’s television appearances. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the recent Dominican Republic crisis when President Johnson twice took to the airwaves at the last minute. They insist they’re not given enough notice and are asking for early warning, if possible, and details about the contents of the addresses so they can decide how extensive their coverage needs to be. A meeting between press secretary George Reedy and network representatives was cancelled reportedly because the President is upset about the criticism.
- Viewers on the West Coast were treated to the same ten minutes of an episode of The Virginian after the wrong film reel was loaded. NBC called it “just a human error.”
- After deciding to get rid of Robert Lansing, ABC initially planned to kill off his 12 O’clock High character but Lansing refused executive producer Quinn Martin’s invitation to return to shoot a death scene. “I’m out of the show, and that does it,” Lansing explained. Network executives will have to settle for his character being transferred and disappearing forever.
- ABC and CBS have announced that they will both colorcast one-third of their prime time programming next season. CBS plans to be 100% color by September 1966 and ABC will no doubt follow suit. NBC, of course, is more than a year ahead of the game and nearly all of its nighttime programming will be in color next season.
The letters page this week includes four letters gushing about “My Name is Barbra” on CBS:
To find a show in the same league as CBS’s “My Name Is Barbra” one has to go back to Ford’s 50th anniversary special with Mary Martin and Ethel Merman–nearly 15 years ago.
Can there be any doubt as to who is the musical star of this generation?
William J. Blewett Jr.
I hope, for the sake of television, that was just the beginning of many Barbra Streisand specials.
West New York, N.J.
Please, let’s have a repeat soon.
An editorial note informed readers that CBS does plan to repeat the special at some point and additional Streisand specials are to follow.
There is also another letter lamenting the end of For the People:
What in the world ever made the producers of For the People think they could get away with presenting a consistently fine actor in a series with realistic stories and imaginative photography? Such hopeless idealism. Bless them for it.
Steven B. Lynch
Other letters: a complaint about the networks scheduling specials opposite one another, in this case “Melina Mercouri’s Greece” and “Lorne Greene’s American West”; a correction regarding the use of the word “bears” in a caption rather than “bares”; and criticism of all the repeats on television starting in April and May (“I am quite sure that next year we will see only three episodes of some series before reruns will start.”)
The TV Listings
[This was the third issue I had to purchase because the relative who collected TV Guide from 1964-1965 didn’t keep this issue. The copy I have is the Iowa Edition, which includes listings for ten stations in Iowa and two in Illinois. Keep in mind that both states are in the Central Time Zone, so prime time in 1965 started at 6:30PM rather than 7:30PM.]
The week featured a variety of sports and specials, all scheduled during the first half of the week. On Saturday, May 15th at 12PM, ABC aired a baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Angels. At 1PM, CBS aired the first round of the CBS Tennis Classic featuring Rod Laver and Mike Davies. Jack Whitaker and Jack Kramer called the match, which was taped in Dallas. At 3:30PM, CBS broadcast the 90th running of the Preakness live from Baltimore’s Pimlico Race Course. Jack Drees called the race.
At 4PM on Sunday, May 16th NBC aired a news special about Russian leaders Leonid I. Breshnev and Alexei N. Kosygin anchored by Frank Bourgholtzer with Elie Abel reporting from Washington. At 5:30PM, NBC aired “Kristie,” the last episode of NBC Children’s Theatre for the season. Ed Begley hosted. CBS premiered the first of 17 repeats of The Twilight Zone at 8PM, replacing For the People. NBC pre-empted Karen at 6:30PM on Monday, May 17th for a color special called “The Changing Face of England,” taped earlier in the day from the first live colorcast of the Early Bird Satellite. CBS Reports repeated “Abortion and the Law” at 9PM.
On Tuesday, May 18th at 7:30PM NBC aired “Best on Record,” a taped hour-long special featuring winners of the 1964 Grammy Awards. Dean Martin hosted the special, which featured Sammy Davis, Frank Sinatra, The Beatles, Petula Clark, Roger Miller, Billy Cosby, and many others. From 9-10PM NBC aired another special, “The Middle Ages,” from producer George A. Vicas. It explored Viking raids, the Crusades, the aftermath of the collapse of the Roman Empire, and the rebirth of town life.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- Special: Preakness (CBS, Saturday at 3:30PM)
- The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS, Sunday at 7:00PM)
- Special: Best on Record (NBC, Tuesday at 7:30PM)
- Special: Middle Ages (NBC, Tuesday at 9:00PM)
The listings section includes listings for the following stations:
WOI-TV (Channel 5) – ABC
KRNT-TV (Channel 8) – CBS
KDPS-TV (Channel 11) – Educational
WHO-TV (Channel 13) – NBC
KQTV (Channel 21) – NBC
KTVO (Channel 3) – CBS/NBC
WMT-TV (Channel 2) – CBS
KWWL-TV (Channel 7) – NBC
KCRG-TV (Channel 9) – ABC
WHBF-TV (Channel 4) – CBS [Illinois]
WOC-TV (Channel 6) – NBC
WQAD-TV (Channel 8) – ABC [Illinois]
[A notice at the top of every listings page stated the three stations from the Quad Cities were on Daylight Time. Presumably that meant all other stations were on Standard Time. Although TV Guide only indicated that KTVO shared affiliations, other stations also aired programs from multiple networks. For example, despite being an ABC affiliate, WQAD-TV aired the Preakness horse race alongside several CBS affiliates on Saturday, May 15th. Likewise, both WQAD-TV and KQTV (an NBC affiliate) aired CBS Sports Spectacular on Sunday, May 16th.]
The amount of local programming broadcast throughout the week was impressive. KWWL-TV (Channel 7) premiered a new children’s show called Fearless and His Friends at 11:30AM on Saturday, May 15th. A spin-off of the weekday Captain Jet, the 90-minute series featured games, cartoons, and features. [I’m not actually sure if this was a local KWWL-TV series or a syndicated series.] At 12PM, WMT-TV (Channel 2, CBS), WQAD-TV (ABC), and KQTV (Channel 21, NBC) all aired coverage of a bowling match pitting Dick Hoover and Jack Biondolillo against Carmen Salvino and Glenn Allison. [If this was a network broadcast, I have no idea which network was airing it.] At 3PM, WOI-TV (Channel 5, ABC) aired the annual Iowa State University intra-squad football game. At 3:10PM, KWWL-TV aired a baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and the Kansas City Athletics.
On Sunday, May 16th at 1:55PM, KWWL-TV aired another baseball game between the Twins and the Athletics. At 4PM WQAD-TV aired something called Iowa Varieties with Bill Riley. WOI-TV aired an installment of what appears to be a local educational documentary series called Status 6 at 4:30PM, showcasing the Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Des Moines.
Weekdays from 9-9:45AM WOI-TV aired a 45-minute children’s show called The Magic Window, hosted by Betty Lou. KWWL-TV aired a half-hour exercise program hosted by Chuck Hazama every morning except Wednesday from 9-9:30AM. On Wednesday, the station aired a history documentary in that time slot. Here’s an advertisement:
Advertisement for The Y’s Way to Health with Chuck Hazama on KWWL (Channel 7) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
[I believe The Y’s Way to Health with Chuck Hazama was a syndicated series.]
Romper Room aired weekdays from 9:30-10AM on WQAD-TV, hosted by Miss Carolyn. Weekdays at 5PM, KQTV aired Fun House, a half-hour children’s series hosted by Dick Johns. Here’s an advertisement:
Advertisement for Fun House on KQTV (Channel 21) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
At 5:15PM on weekdays, WMT-TV (Channel 2, CBS) aired Iowa Story, a five-minute documentary series (except on Tuesday, when Iowa History aired). Topics covered included “The River Boats,” “Early Dentistry,” “Indian Weapons,” and “The Old Post Office.” From 6:20-6:30PM each weeknight WOC-TV (Channel 6, NBC) aired an almanac program hosted by Bob Allard. Also, at 10:25PM on weeknights WOC-TV aired five minutes of commentary featuring Bill Gress.
At 6:30PM on Monday, May 17th WOC-TV aired Bill Gress: Focus ’65, examining development in downtown Rock Island, Illinois. On Thursday, May 20th WOI-TV pre-empted Jonny Quest from 6:30-7PM to broadcast a special news report highlighting former President Eisenhower’s visit to Grinnell College in Illinois on May 13th and 14th.
WHO-TV (Channel 13, NBC) pre-empted Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre from 6:30-7:30PM on Friday, May 21st for taped highlights of the May 16th Junior League Horse Show from the Iowa State Fairgrounds, with Jim Zabel. KQTV also pre-empted Bob Hope, airing instead a live and taped Memorial Dayu documentary celebrating historic figures in he Fort Dodge area narrated by Bob Dean.
Here’s an advertisement for KTVO’s news programming:
Advertisement for news on KTVO (Channel 3) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
And here’s an advertisement for news on WOC-TV:
Advertisement for news on WOC-TV (Channel 6) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Finally, here’s an advertisement for news on WQAD-TV:
Advertisement for news on WQAD-TV (Channel 8) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.