Save Our Show Campaigns Prior to Star Trek


The letter writing campaign that saved Star Trek from cancellation after its second season has become part of television lore. But there were a number of shows before Star Trek that evoked the passions of viewers. The very first example of may have taken place in June 1951 when a CBS children’s show was returned to the airwaves months after being cancelled due to angry viewers. Read all about several examples of successful and not-so-successful campaigns to save such shows as Mister Peepers, It’s a Man’s World, East Side/West Side and more.

Introduction

NBC’s Star Trek may be the most well-known example of a television program saved from cancellation by the actions of ardent fans. But it certainly wasn’t the first. From the very beginning of broadcast television, letter writing was a way for viewers to respond to the programs they were seeing on their sets. Perhaps they felt the need to complain about a storyline or praise a particularly noteworthy documentary or special.

It was the idea of losing a favorite series that occasionally led viewers to write in huge numbers to networks, sponsors and advertisers. The earliest “save our show” campaigns began when newspapers would report that certain shows would be taken off the air. They weren’t organized in any real way, just thousands of fans across the nation deciding on their own to write letters or postcards or telegrams.

In some instances, television critics would attempt to drum up support among viewers. Or perhaps producers or actors would get involved. In one case, a non-profit organization was formed. Of course not all of these campaigns worked but they demonstrated that when properly motivated, some portion of the viewing public will take to the streets, so to speak, to support their favorite shows.

Mr. I. Magination (CBS, 1951)

When it premiered on Sunday, May 29th, 1949, this half-hour children’s series was seen on CBS affiliates in just four cities: New York City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Baltimore [1]. It ran from 6:30-7PM. Paul Tripp hosted the series as the titular Mr. I. Magination, who made the dreams of young boys and girls come true each week in Imagination Land (Tripp also scripted each episode and wrote the lyrics to all the songs) [2]. Hugh Rogers served as director while Ray Carter composed the music. Worthington Minor and Norman and Irving Pincus produced the series.

Critic Jack Gould lavished praise on the series in The New York Times:

Although use of child actors often leads to disaster, Mr. Tripp has a magic of his own to make them behave naturally and plausibly. Accordingly, his show has the infectious enthusiasm of the younger generation, yet avoids any trace of embarrassing precocity.

[…]

In the difficult part of “Mr. I. Magination,” where a false move might so easily destroy the illusion, Mr. Tripp is consistently effective. He portrays a sort of guide and general Mr. Fixit in the world of make-believe, but he is never condescending and does not try to be cute, which as an adult on a children’s program should rate him an award or two at least. [3]

In June 1951, Mr. I. Magination went off the air. The last episode was last seen on June 17th. In August, CBS let its option for additional episodes lapse [4]. Gould lamented the show’s cancellation in early December, calling it “one of the finest presentations on the air for children” that was “thoroughly engaging for the younger generation” [5].

At the end of the month, Gould was able to report the news that Mr. I. Magination would be returning to CBS beginning January 13th, 1952. He noted that “this is perhaps the first instance in video’s brief history where public demand has been an important factor in restoring to the airways a program of genuine quality” [6]. According to CBS vice president Hubbell Robinson Jr., the decision to revive Mr. I. Magination was “influenced” by the outcry [7].

Of course, letters alone hadn’t saved the series. Gould pointed that “economic conditions and a timely opening in the Sunday evening schedule played their part” [8]. Nonetheless, it was an stunning example of how television viewers could impact the programming on the air. Unfortunately for Gould and other fans of the series, when Mr. I. Magination went off the air for the second time in June 1952, it wouldn’t come back.

Mister Peepers (NBC, 1952)

A summer replacement, this sitcom premiered on Thursday, July 3rd, 1952 on NBC. Wally Cox starred as Robinson Peepers, a somewhat meek science teacher at Jefferson Junior High. Reviewing the series in early September for The Chicago Daily Tribune, Anton Remenih called the series a “splendid program” that deserved to be part of NBC’s fall schedule [9]. A lot of viewers agreed with him. But the network, it seems, didn’t.

In mid-October, Walter Ames reported that Mister Peepers going off the air “was the signal for an avalanche of letters to pour into NBC headquarters in New York seeking reinstatement of the show” [10]. Unfortunately, despite being “amazed at the hubbub created by the show’s departure,” NBC couldn’t find a spot on its schedule for the sitcom [11].

Thankfully for fans of the series, a new NBC sitcom called Doc Corkle, starring Eddie Mayehoff, was cancelled after just a handful of episodes, allowing Mister Peepers to return to the air on Sunday, October 26th [12]. According to The Los Angeles Times, NBC had received more than 15,000 letters supporting Mister Peepers; said the paper, “it represents a tremendous pulling power for any show to receive that many communications” [13].

Father Knows Best (CBS, 1955)

Robert Young and Jane Wyatt starred in this family sitcom that started life on radio in 1949 with Young providing the voice of patriarch Jim Anderson. He was the only cast member to make the transition to television. The sitcom debuted on Sunday, October 3rd, 1954 on CBS. Although popular with critics, the show did not do well in the ratings, perhaps in part because it was broadcast from 10:30-11PM.

In early 1955, the P. Lorillard Company announced that it would drop its sponsorship of Father Knows Best after the March 27th broadcast. Said Robert Young, “It’s ironic. More attention has been called to our show, more favorable public reaction, since the announcement of its cancellation than at any time before it was canceled. I’m impressed by the number of letters that have been written to CBS-TV expressing approval of the show and asking that it be continued” [14].

According to Richard Orr, writing for The Los Angeles Times on February 1st, 1955, the P. Lorillard Company had an option to continue sponsoring Father Knows Best for another 13 weeks but decided against doing so; without another sponsor agreeing to step in by February 15th (six had apparently indicated some interest), the show would end [15].

Orr stated that even if a sponsor failed to materialize for the additional 13 episodes, a second season would begin filming in May, suggesting that production company Screen Gems had enough faith in the series to continue production even without a new sponsor in place [16]. Later reports, however, indicated that Father Knows Best would go off the air for good.

On February 14th, Val Adams reported in The New York Times that the P. Lorillard Company had picked up a new series, Adventure Theatre, as a replacement for Father Knows Best. He noted that “reports had circulated for weeks that ‘Father Knows Best’ was about to be dropped. C.B.S. said it had received an unusually large number of protests from viewers. However, no future arrangements for the show have been announced” [17].

On February 23rd, The Los Angeles Times reported that “producers for Robert Young’s Father Knows Best show are jubilant even though the show leaves the air March 27 because of lack of sponsor interest. It is gaining ground in all the polls and they figure a new sponsor should be easy to find” [18]. In mid-March, Val Adams revealed that the Scott Paper Company was in talks with N.B.C. to move Father Knows Best to that network, in which case it would drop its sponsorship of NBC’s My Little Margie [19]. Furthermore, Screen Gems had announced it would start production on 13 new episodes at the start of May, an investment of half a million dollars. Adams believed that Screen Gems wouldn’t do that “without new sponsor money being imminent” [20].

On March 25th, J. P. Shanley wrote in The New York Times that Father Knows Best “continues to be the most appealing and believable family situation comedy on television” and then noted that “since the decision to end the series on C.B.S. was announced, there have been heartening developments. Many viewers have protested and their remonstrations have brought action” [21]. Shanley reported that “some C.B.S. executives, who regard ‘Father Knows Best’ as a desirable property, have expressed their dismay privately over its replacement. At one point, the network displayed interest in buying full rights to the show but no progress was made” [22].

Father Knows Best returned for a second season, now broadcast by NBC, on Wednesday, August 31st, 1955. It was now broadcast from 8:30-9PM. On September 5th, Larry Wolters The Chicago Daily Tribune declared that a “great hullabaloo” on the part of the public, with support from critics, helped bring the series back [23]. Father Knows Best continued until May 1960; repeats were then broadcast for an additional three years.

NBC Matinee Theater (NBC, 1958)

Matinee Theater, a daily dramatic anthology series, premiered on Monday, October 31st, 1955. It was broadcast live and in color from 3-4PM, with both original stories and adaptations of famous works of literature. Albert McCleery was executive producer and John Conte served as host. On March 20th, 1958 The New York Times reported that the series was in danger of being cancelled, with “an even chance of surviving the summer option period” and Albert McCleery trying to convince the show’s six sponsors to stay with it [24].

On March 28th, the day after Matinee Theater airs its 600th installment, The Los Angeles Times reported that the show would go off the air after its June 30th broadcast [25]. Fans of the series began writing letters. Ruth Conte, wife of host John Conte, set up the Foundation for the Preservation of Matinee Theatre and Favorite Television Programs, and “organized a doorbell ringing and mail campaign to solicit financial aid to keep the show alive. NBC has not said what it will do, even if the campaign should raise considerable money” [26].

The New York Times reported that the Foundation “hopes to receive enough money to purchase network time to produce the show under the auspices of the audience rather than a product” [27]. NBC took “no official recognition of the foundation or its efforts. In private discussions some N.B.C. executives express distress at the efforts being made on behalf of the series. It is felt that the move can only end in failure and subsequent embarrassment for N.B.C.” [28].

The final broadcast of Matinee Theater — its 666th — took place on Friday, June 13th, 1958. On November 24th, the Foundation’s financial drive officially ended. A total of $312,670 had been donated, not even close to the hoped for $1 million (NBC spent more than $12 million to produce the series and made only $9 million) [29]. All the money was returned. Said Ruth Conte: “It must be assumed that the number of persons concerned enough with this bid for higher programming standards is far too small to insure fulfillment of the foundation’s goal” [30].

The Play of the Week (WNTA-TV, 1959)

Independent New York City station WNTA-TV (Channel 13) debuted this anthology series on Monday, October 12th, 1959. Each two-hour installment was broadcast seven times a week: 8-10PM Monday through Friday, 10:30PM-12:30AM on Saturday and 3-5PM on Sunday. The premiere was a production of “Medea” starring Judith Anderson, staged by Jose Quintero from an adaptation by Robinson Jeffers.

On December 26th, The New York Times reported that the board of directors of National Telefilm Associates, owner of WNTA-TV, was conflicted over whether to continue The Play of the Week. It cost roughly $40,000 a week to produce the series but sponsors were only footing 60% of the bill [31]. On December 29th, critic Jack Gould revealed that The Play of the Week could be cancelled as soon as January 30th, 1960 and lamented that advertisers in New York City could reach a larger audience with a repeat of Highway Patrol and at a lower cost [32].

Gould had a suggestion for fans of the series:

Meanwhile, those who have enjoyed “The Play of the Week” and believe in its purpose can render tangible aid. Is a season of perhaps twenty-six plays with fine casts worth a 3-cent postcard to WNTA-TV, 20 Columbus Circle, to demonstrate that there is a sizable audience for grown-up television? The viewer must help, too. [33]

Viewers responded in droves. By December 31st some 5,000 letter, telegrams and postcards had been mailed to WNTA-TV, along with $96.40 in donations [34]. National Telefilm Associates were said to be “heartened by the inflow” and The New York Times noted that “there have been some signs of increasing interest on the part of advertising agencies and prospective sponsors” [35].

On January 14th, 1960, Jack Gould reported that the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey had agreed to fully sponsor The Play of the Week for thirteen weeks beginning February 8th, with only limited commercial breaks. According to Ogilvy, Benson & Mather Inc., the advertising agency retained by Jersey Standard, “the response from viewers had been an important factor in influencing the company’s board of directors to sponsor the series” [#36]. Some 27,000 letters and postcards had been sent to the WNTA-TV. Furthermore, Jersey Standard insisted that their contract make clear the company would have no say in the production of The Play of the Week [37].

The Play of the Week remained on the air in New York City through the first week of May 1961, although repeats were later shown in the fall of 1961. It ended not because of financial concerns relating sponsorship but because National Telefilms Associates was in the midst of selling WNTA-TV. The station became non-commercial WNDT in 1962 (the name was changed to WNET in 1970).

In addition to airing on WNTA-TV, The Play of the Week was also syndicated nationally to individual stations across the country.

The Law & Mr. Jones (ABC, 1961)

James Whitmore starred in this half-hour legal series as lawyer Abraham Lincoln Jones. Janet De Gore played his secretary, Marsha Spear, and Conlan Carter his clerk, C. E. Carruthers. Whitmore developed the idea for the series himself after turning down countless other television roles, telling The Los Angeles Times “I was particular about tying myself up with a regular series for which I would be responsible” [38]. He brought the idea writer Sy Gomberg, who developed it, and it eventually landed on ABC. It premiered on Friday, October 7th, 1960.

In early April 1961, as The Law and Mr. Jones neared the end of its first season, Larry Wolters of The Chicago Daily Tribune reported that the series “apparently will be dropped next season” but suggested that “it’s possible that protests from viewers might save this one” [39]. Although viewers may have protested, the series went off the air its last summer repeat on September 22nd, 1961 (it was replaced by Target: The Corrupters.

Then, in late January 1962, Hal Humphrey wrote in The Los Angeles Times that Whitmore and Gomberg were throwing a party celebrating the filming of a new season of The Law and Mr. Jones. Said Gomberg: “Even Ollie Treyz, the president of ABC, admits now that the network made a mistake. I think that’s pretty big of him, too” [40]. Humphrey noted that the show’s sponsor had wanted to continue the series as had production company Four Star.

According to Humphrey, the cancellation of The Law and Mr. Jones had led to “one of the largest mail protests ever to accumulate on one network’s doorstep” [41]. Whitmore broke down the number of letters for The Chicago Daily Tribune:

We didn’t actually count all the letters. In fact, we stopped counting at 75,000, and acknowledged only 7,500 of those before we ran out of stamp money. We estimate that 500,000 letters were received in total, here at Four Star, at the ABC-TV stations around the country, and at the FCC in Washington. They said they got more letters of protest when our show went off the air than they got after Mr. Minow’s famous “wasteland” speech. [42]

Gomberg told a similar version to The Los Angeles Times:

It’s the first time that a show has ever been brought back on the same network by the same sponsor after going off the air. These letters [in two large envelopes] are just a handful — the 65,000 or so we got in the office. The network got 400,000. The sponsor was getting around 20,000 a week. Ted Meyers told me that the mail about Jones that poured into the FCC was second only to that regarding Minow’s “wasteland” speech. [43]

The Law and Mr. Jones returned on Thursday, April 19th, 1962. Unfortunately for all involved, it was soon cancelled for a second time. Thirteen episodes were broadcast during its second season with the final episode airing on July 12th.

It’s A Man’s World (NBC, 1962)

Anchoring NBC’s 1962-1963 line-up, It’s a Man’s World premiered on September 17th, 1962. On November 6th, Hal Humphrey opined that the network “seems almost ashamed of having the most original TV series on the air this season” and revealed that actress Jan Norris had decided to pay for advertising in eleven newspaper television listings in the Los Angeles area out of her own pocket in an attempt to get the show noticed [44]. According to him, the NBC publicity machine didn’t know what to do with It’s a Man’s World because the characters “are too normal and honest” [45].

On November 28th, Cecil Smith reported that NBC had officially axed It’s a Man’s World, writing that “the cancellation announcement was made with regret–it simply pointed to the figures that the show rated far behind the competing To Tell the Truth and Cheyenne” [46. It would go off the air following its January 28th, 1963 episode. Hal Humphrey raged in a November 30th article that “anyone who wants a share in the future of TV programs had better sit down now and write NBC a letter. Otherwise, the Nielsen rating sytem [sic] and a bunch of scared TV executives will be regurgitating today’s Simple-Simon entertainment at you for the next 20 years” [47].

Producer Peter Tewksbury explained that the decision to cancel the series was made two hours before he arrived in New York City to fight for his show. Walter Scott, NBC-TV vice president, pointed towards the 8.6 multi-network Nielsen rating for It’s a Man’s World, compared to a 20.1 for To Tell the Truth and a 13.7 for Cheyenne [48]. This led the network to cancel the show, according to Tewksbury, despite the fact that the numbers were from the first Nielsen report of the season, was weeks old, and probably didn’t reflect the current viewing patterns.

Also working against It’s a Man’s World was the likelihood that it would soon have no sponsors. Tewksbury, however, was willing to fight:

I’m going to travel this country from coast to coast and speak before every group that will have me between now and January 28, when Man’s World is scheduled to go off the air. I refuse to believe that people don’t want quality in their entertainment, but I’m going to find out. [49]

On December 10th, Humphrey wrote that “thousands of letters” had arrived at NBC’s New York City headquarters in “the fastest public mail response to a problem cancellation ever witnessed, according to an NBC official who prefers to remain anonymous. And the peak of this mail is not expected for another week” [50]. But no amount of mail would sway NBC executive vice president Walter Scott, who reportedly said “I don’t care if we get 2 million letters. The decision to cancel Man’s World is irrevocable” [51].

Not every critic was as enthusiastic about saving It’s a Man’s World as Humphrey, however. Cecil Smith wrote in mid-December “I’m afraid I’m getting a little weary of the bleeding hearts campaign to save It’s a Man’s World from extinction” and even lambasted Hal Humphrey for making such a fuss about the show only after it was cancelled [52]. He did concede that the show “had qualities of freshness and originality which place it among the best of a poor lot” [53].

Humphrey continued to champion It’s a Man’s World, however, writing on December 23rd that cast members Ted Bessell and Randy Boone had traveled across the country drumming up support for the show, while Jan Norris had left her children with a babysitter to talk to a potential sponsor and later NBC to talk with Mort Werner himself [54]. He also revealed the network had received some 60,000 letters with another 15,000 directed to the show itself [55].

All the newspaper articles and letters of protest failed to convince NBC to reverse its decision. It’s a Man’s World left the air after its 19th episode was aired on January 28th, 1963. In a January 25th article by Hal Humphrey, Tewksbury admitted that “until there are at least a million viewers who care enough about what they watch to take pen in hand and notify the networks, I’m afraid that their efforts cannot have any lasting effect” [56]. He also conceded that “NBC must be quite right in its statement that the Man’s World’s audience is definitely in the minority and that the show does not have a place in its present form in the ranks of commercial TV” [57].

Still, the letters had some impact. Humphrey wrote that NBC “was impressed with the amount and quality of mail received on Man’s World” [58]. He ended his article by suggesting that “one of these days–unless new ideas and improved quality are allowed to breed in TV–the networks will wake up to find much of their audience has disappeared just because it suddenly got bored” [59].

East Side/West Side (CBS, 1964)

George C. Scott starred in this drama series about a social worker confronting the worst of society’s problems in New York City. It premiered on Monday, September 23rd, 1963 and was produced by David Susskind. When it was time for CBS to put together its 1964-1965 schedule, Susskind decided to give his show a boost by putting together a campaign painting East Side/West side in a very positive light. According to a January 10th, 1964 article in The New York Times, Susskind mailed letters to some 150 “government officials, newspaper editors and other people who might express an opinion with authority” and received several replies, including one from former FCC chairman Newton Minow, who wrote that “the uncompromising way you face tough, hard situations is like a fresh breeze” [60].

Although Susskind believed that “the series was doing well and was in no way threatened with extinction,” The New York Times reported on January 28th, 1964 that a tentative CBS schedule didn’t include East Side/West Side [61]. Rick Du Brow of The Los Angeles Times wrote on January 30th that the news of East Side/West Side‘s problems with renewal came as a shock to many in the television industry.

“Several key television figures,” he wrote, “told us they could not believe it. They noted that the series was not doing too badly in the ratings for a first-year drama show” [62]. Susskind, however, held no grudges, telling Hedda Hopper “I think a medal should be struck for the company. They took a $1,900,000 bath trying to make the program a success, when they could have axed it after a few weeks” [63].

Slattery’s People (CBS, 1964)

Another hard-hitting dramatic series broadcast by CBS, Slattery’s People starred Richard Crenna as the minority leader in an unnamed state’s legislature. It had ratings problem right off the bat, competing with Ben Casey on ABC and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on NBC. Ironically, both Slattery’s People and Ben Casey were produced by Bing Crosby’s company.

Cecil Smith reported on December 7th that the news that Slattery’s People might be cancelled led to “bushel baskets” filled with mail arriving on his desk [64]. On January 17th, 1965 he wrote while the show’s fate was still somewhat up in the air, CBS executives were reportedly “very bullish about the show” [65]. Hedda Hopper asks fans of the series to write letters in support of Slattery’s People in her March 4th column [66]. In her March 20th column she thanked “all you civic-minded people who wrote letters to keep Slattery’s People on the airwaves. You’ve succeeded. It continues. Hurrah” [67]!

Hal Humphrey, writing on March 29th, wondered just how much of an impact letters of support from viewers had on the decision to renew the series. Michael Dann, CBS programming chief, stated that “never have we seen so much mail accumulate in support of a TV series. Without this and the support of critics, Slattery wouldn’t have had a renewal” [68]. Humphrey, however, felt that the removal of James Aubrey’s as president of CBS-TV had more to do with the show getting a second season.

Aubrey had planned to cancel the show. Overall CBS president Frank Stanton “wanted to do something to reverse the image Aubrey had cast” so Dann suggested renewing Slattery’s People. But renewing the show was just the first step. Said Humphrey: “Just remember though that Slattery had better damn well show a better rating next fall” [69]. It didn’t. Slattery’s People was cancelled for good ten episodes into its second season.

Save Our Show Campaigns Today

Despite the occasional high-profile success, most “save our show” campaigns fail to keep a low-rated program from being cancelled or an already cancelled show from being suddenly renewed. By the mid-1990s, when the Internet made organizing simple and fast, it became increasingly common for even the lowest-rated programs to have some sort of letter writing (or e-mail writing) campaign attempted, or at the very least an online petition.

Some of these campaigns are well-organized and expensive, with advertisements placed in industry magazines, billboards purchased, and various foodstuffs somehow connected to a certain show mailed in huge quantities to make a statement. Some receive widespread coverage in the news, although even that doesn’t do much good.

Even the largest “save our show” campaigns reflect a vocal minority of a television show’s audience. When a show has poor ratings to begin with, an even smaller number making a lot of noise isn’t going to do much to change a network’s mind, especially if the decision to cancel a show has already been made. Making a lot of noise may do more to help a show that is “on the bubble” or neither a hit or a miss.

Still, there will always be those fans willing to spend a few minutes writing a letter or an e-mail if a show they love is in danger of being cancelled.

Works Cited:

1 “Variety Show, Featuring Jack Carter, to Be Introduced on WABD Starting June 4.” New York Times. 25 May 1949: 58.
2 Gould, Jack. “Programs in Review: ‘Mr. I. Magination’–Songs by Downey–‘Blind Date’–A Variety Revue.” New York Times. 29 May 1949: X9.
3 Ibid.
4 “Radio-TV Notes.” New York Times. 24 Aug. 1951: 16.
5 Gould, Jack. “Something Is Amiss.” New York Times. 2 Dec. 1951: 133.
6 Gould, Jack. “Radio and Television: Viewers’ Protests Held Important Factor in the Return of ‘Mr. I. Magination’ to C.B.S. Jan. 13.” New York Times. 26 Dec. 1951: 30.
7 Ibid.
8 Ibid.
9 Remenih, Anton. “Television News and Views.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 2 Sep. 1952: A8.
10 Ames, Walter. “Stevenson Makes TWo Local Video Appearances Tonight; Daniels Debuts TV Musical.” Los Angeles Times. 16 Oct. 1952: 30.
11 Ibid.
12 Wolters, Larry. “Television News and Views.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 22 Oct. 1952: B9.
13 Ames, Walter. “15,000 TV Viewers Howl; Mr. Peepers Returns to Screen.” Los Angeles Times. 2 Nov. 1952: D8.
14 Orr, Richard. “Where to Dial Today: Hail Show Too Late; It’s Closing.” Los Angeles Times. 1 Feb. 1955: B10.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 Adams, Val. “Adventure Show Will Bow April 3.” New York Times. 14 Feb. 1955: 29.
18 W.A. “Video-Radio Briefs: Patterns Repeated Tonight on KRCA.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Feb. 1955: 24.
19 Adams, Val. “‘Father’ TV Show May Go To N.B.C.” New York Times. 14 Mar. 1955: 33.
20 Ibid.
21 Shanley, J. P. “TV: Dad Is No Dimwit.” New York Times. 25 Mar. 1955: 32.
22 Ibid.
23 Wolters, Larry. “Where to Dial Today: Public Gets Its Family Show Back.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 5 Sep. 1955: C10.
24 Godbout, Oscar. “TV Drama Series May Be Canceled.” New York Times. 20 Mar. 1958: 59.
25 Smith, Cecil. “The TV Scene — Sad News: It’s Good-by Matinee.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Mar. 1958: A6.
26 Wolters, Larry. “Where to Dial Today: TV Keeps Ex-Radio Star Busy.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 22 May 1958: D12.
27 Godbout, Oscar. “Union Backs Plea to Save TV Show.” New York Times. 21 May 1958: 67.
28 Ibid.
29 “TV’s Matinee Theater Gifts to Be Returned.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Nov. 1958: 5.
30 “Quit Fight to Revive TV Show.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 27 Nov. 1958: E8.
31 Shepard, Richard F. “Pressure to Drop ‘Play of the Week’ Is Said to Divide Telefilm Board.” New York Times. 26 Dec. 1959: 25.
32 Gould, Jack. “TV: Madison Avenue Case Study.” New York Times. 29 Dec. 1959: 49.
33 Ibid.
34 Shepard, Richard F. “5,000 Write Plea to Save TV Series.” New York Times. 31 Dec. 1959: 37.
35 Ibid.
36 Gould, Jack. “TV ‘Play of the Week’ Gets Sponsor Who Pledges to Keep Hands Off.” New York Times. 14 Jan. 1960: 1.
37 Ibid.
38 Gaver, Jack. “Whitmore Finds Idea, Will Do Series.” Los Angeles Times. 7 Oct. 1960: A12.
39 Wolters, Larry. “The Return of the Reruns.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 2 Apr. 1961: NW9.
40. Humphrey, Hal. “How to Keep Up with the Joneses.” Los Angeles Times. 31 Jan. 1962: A11.
41 Ibid.
42 “What 500,000 Protests Did.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 14 Apr. 1962: C3.
43 Smith, Cecil. “Viewers issue a mandate.” Los Angeles Times. 15 Apr. 1962: N3.
44 Humphrey, Hal. “Man’s World Too Good to Qualify as Press Agent’s.” Los Angeles Times. 6 Nov. 1962: D14.
45 Ibid.
46 Smith, Cecil. “It WAS a Man’s World.” Los Angeles Times. 28 Nov. 1962: C18.
47 Humphrey, Hal. “TV Viewers: It’s Time to Speak Up.” Los Angeles Times. 30 Nov. 1962: C13.
48 Ibid.
49 Ibid.
50 “The Mailed Fist Pointed at NBC.” Los Angeles Times. 10 Dec. 1962: D18.
51 Ibid.
52 Smith, Cecil. “‘Man’s World’ Too Lost for Rescue.” Los Angeles Times. 13 Dec. 1962: C18.
53 Ibid.
54 Humphrey, Hal. “The Strange World of NBC and Man’s World.” Los Angeles Times. 23 Dec. 1962: A14.
55 Ibid.
56 Humphrey, Hal. “Network Shaken by Mail Blitz.” Los Angeles Times. 25 Jan. 1963: C13.
57 Ibid.
58 Ibid.
59 Ibid.
60 Shepard, Richard F. “‘East Side’ Solicits Support for Renewal of TV Show.” New York Times. 10 Jan. 1964: 87.
61 Du Brow, Rick. “Its Tragedy: TV Drama Suffers Another Blow.” Los Angeles Times. 30 Jan. 1964: C10.
62 Ibid.
63 Hopper, Hedda. “Looking at Hollywood: Susskind Lauds Networks Even Tho TV Show Folds.” Chicago Tribune. 7 Feb. 1964: A4.
64 Smith, Cecil. “The TV Scene: Slattery’s People in Landslide Vote.” Los Angeles Times. 7 Dec. 1964: D26.
65 Smith, Cecil. “Slattery: the people’s choice?” Los Angeles Times. 17 Jan. 1965: A1.
66 Hopper, Hedda. “Looking at Hollywood.” Chicago Tribune. 4 Mar. 1965: D3.
67 Hopper, Hedda. “Looking at Hollywood.” Chicago Tribune. 20 Mar. 1965: D3.
68 Humphrey, Hal. “Slattery Thrown Lead Life Ring.” Los Angeles Times. 29 Mar. 1965: C22.
69 Ibid.

Originally Published July 9th, 2009
Last Updated April 21st, 2013



2 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    The problem with “MR. I. MAGINATION” was, even though CBS renewed it in January 1952 (after original sponsor Nestle’s dropped it in 1951), they scheduled it on early Sunday evenings at 6:30pm(et)- and not ONE sponsor came forward to sustain it. The network was losing money each week it aired (this was at a time when being “profitable” started to become the goal in network television), and, despite the prestege and small core of loyal viewers, CBS simply couldn’t afford to sustain it after 26 weeks. The Pincus brothers went on to create and produce “THE REAL McCOYS” (1957-’63) with Danny Thomas and Walter Brennan. Paul Tripp went on to host a highly acclaimed local Saturday morning series {produced in cooperation with the New York Board of Education}, “ON THE CAROUSEL” (1954-’60), then went to Hollywood to try his luck at being an actor, returning to New York to open his daily “BIRTHDAY HOUSE” on WNBC-TV (1963-’67).

    Lorillard Tobacco [Kent] made a mistake in agreeing to sponsor “FATHER KNOWS BEST” in their 10-10:30pm(et) Sunday night time period on CBS in the fall of 1954 {“WHAT’S MY LINE?” followed, at 10:30}. The tobacco firm had just finished sponsoring the live mystery anthology, “THE WEB” [produced by Goodson-Todman], and, because of the “competition” opposite them (see below), decided they wanted to sustain a filmed series instead. But people who watched “FATHER KNOWS BEST” WEREN’T smokers, and did not respond to the Kent cigarette ads as Lorillard hoped viewers would. And then there was the fact it was scheduled opposite ANOTHER “wholesome” series, the highly inspirational {and highly rated} “LORETTA YOUNG SHOW” on NBC. That, and a slight dip in Kent’s overall sales, forced Lorillard to drop “FATHER KNOWS BEST” in March 1955, in favor of sponsoring another live New York-based dramatic anthology with more appeal to smokers, “APPOINTMENT WITH ADVENTURE” (replaced by “THE $64,000 CHALLENGE”, exactly one year later). Even though CBS was willing to buy “FATHER KNOWS BEST” outright in order to continue it on their network, Robert Young and his production partner Eugene Rodney refused to sell it to them, preferring to remain “independent” through their deal with Screen Gems/Columbia. When Scott Paper Company realized “MY LITTLE MARGIE”‘s ratings weren’t as high as they once were, they decided “FATHER KNOWS BEST” was not only a good family program, it was a “better buy” (and a perfect showcase for their line of family-oriented paper products) for their Wednesday night time period [8:30pm(et)] on NBC in the late summer of 1955. It was- Scott was the show’s primary sponsor for the rest of its original run {Lever Brothers became an “alternate sponsor” from 1957 through ’60}, including the first season of prime-time repeats in 1960-’61.

    Procter & Gamble sponsored “THE LAW & MR. JONES”- first, in its Friday night time period [10:30pm(et)] in the 1960-’61 season, and then, after the outpouring of viewer’s mail, in its Thursday night time slot [9:30pm(et)] in the spring of 1962. Unfortunately, because “HAZEL” got more viewers opposite them on NBC, P&G eventually dropped it to sponsor “McHALE’S NAVY” in the fall.

    Jim Aubrey, “The Smiling Cobra”, who was president of CBS in the early ’60s, HATED “EAST SIDE/WEST SIDE” with a vengeance. He really didn’t want to schedule series that discussed and championed “social issues”, and did everything he could to “sabotage” it. Star George C. Scott once visited his office around mid-season to discuss it. He was eating an apple with a pocket knife he carried with him as he talked to Aubrey. Suddenly, he leaped at Aubrey’s desk, holding the knife close to his throat, telling him his show WOULD stay on for the full season, quietly said good-bye, and left. That may have been the factor in Aubrey’s decision to finally cancel the show at the end of the season- no one was going to bully HIM into renewing a series he didn’t want.

    And what did he replace it with? “SLATTERY’S PEOPLE”. Again, he just didn’t want THAT kind of show on the air, but the fact that BING CROSBY was behind the series made it impossible for him to refuse. Aubrey tried to “bury” it on Fridays in mid-season [to cover his “mistake”, “THE REPORTER”, produced by his old pal Keefe Brasselle, who sold him that series without a pilot episode, which had become bogged down in production problems and bad ratings]. Fortunately, “SLATTERY’S PEOPLE” survived its first season BECAUSE Jim Aubrey was no longer around to threaten its existance. However, the competition of “THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.” on NBC and “THE JIMMY DEAN SHOW” on ABC left very few viewers to watch “SLATTERY” on Fridays that fall….

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Oh, yes- about “MISTER PEEPERS”. It was originally scheduled as a summer replacement for the Ford Motor Company’s 9:30pm(et) time slot on Thursdays on NBC. However, they’d already contracted with Screen Gems/Columbia to sponsor a filmed anthlogy produced by them in that time period that fall, “FORD THEATER”. And they had no intention of altering their plans [“FORD THEATER” continued on NBC through 1956, when the sponsor replaced it with “THE FORD SHOW STARRING TENNESSEE ERNIE FORD”, lasting through 1961].

    In the meantime, the Reynolds Metals Co., the makers of “strong, dependable, rust-proof Reynolds Wrap alumninum foil”, was talked into sponsoring a filmed situation comedy on Sunday evenings at 7:30pm(et) on the network, “DOC CORKLE”, starring Eddie Mayehoff as a dentist surrounded by a “nutty family” and equally “nutty relatives” {obviously an emulation of the highly-successful “I LOVE LUCY”, the season before}. Once viewers and critics saw it, they stayed away in droves!! After just three episodes, Reynolds was desperate to find another series to quickly replace it. SOMEONE suggested to them, “What about ‘MISTER PEEPERS’?”…and they agreed. So producer Fred Coe, head writers Jim Fritzell & Everett Greenbaum, and Wally Cox and almost all of the cast hastily “reassembled” the series in time to return on the fourth Sunday in October 1952…and, despite appearing opposite “THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM” and “PRIVATE SECRETARY” on CBS for most of its run, “MISTER PEEPERS” endured for three seasons, until the summer of 1955.