A Year in TV Guide: July 31st, 1965

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 #46
July 31st, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 31, Issue #644
Eastern New England Edition

On the Cover: Fred MacMurray, Stanley and Barry Livingston (photograph by Ron Thal).

The Magazine

This week’s cover article by Dwight Whitney is a four-page examination of the success of My Three Sons, which will be moving from ABC to CBS for the 1965-1966 season (its 6th) with a 7th season contracted as well and five additional seasons optioned. CBS paid between six and eight million for the series at the direction of James T. Aubrey, the recently departed head of the network. When asked if it was nice having networks fight over him and his show, star Fred MacMurray said “No. Not really.” The move will bring with it changes, including the departures of Tim Considine and Meredith MacRae.

Front Cover
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Whitney interviewed a variety of people for the article, ranging from the cast and crew to June Haver (MacMurray’s wife) and Walt Disney, who warned MacMurray about TV, concerned he might overexpose himself. “Well, he did,” explained Disney. “But with Fred it doesn’t matter. He is able to cull pathos out of ordinary things.” Don Fedderson, executive producer of My There Sons, explained the success of the series as a mixture of the best production men and Fred MacMurray. “This guy can do more with the raise of an eyebrow than a dozen actors. The real father says this is the way I should have handled the situation. Yeah, that’s right, he’s the world’s most likable square.”

“Watching the Cars Go By–FAST” by David E. Davis, Jr. is a four-page article about the popularity of auto racing on television. Although some may insist that viewers tune in hoping to see horrible crashes and the very real possibility that drivers may be killed, those in the business disagree. Davis quotes an unnamed Midwest race promoter who argues that racing fans “like the idea that these guys could get hurt, and they love ’em because they’ll take the risk.” However, “the last thing they want is for their heroes to get killed.” There are many different types of auto racing, including stock-car, Indianapolis-style, Grand Prix, and drag racing (although there is disagreement about whether drag racing is actually racing).

Television started covering auto racing in the early 1950s when local stations began airing local races. About four years ago the networks discovered it and today the coverage is so widespread that a viewer new to racing can become an expert in a single year. ABC’s Wide World of Sports plans to air 20 races this year while NBC will air eight and CBS four. Davis concludes with the suggestion that “it’s safe to hazard a guess that television is at once an important reason for racing’s fantastic rebirth, and the medium most likely to benefit from it.

“Good Morning, Ladies, Hahaha” is a bizarre two-page essay about game show hosts. Bizarre because whoever wrote it (no author is credited) interspersed “hahahaha” throughout the text, perhaps in an attempt to emulate the laughter of either those hosting game shows or those watching at home. There are 14 network game shows airing Monday through Friday, which comes out to some 35 hours. NBC alone airs nine game shows while CBS has three and ABC just two. Robert Aaron, NBC director of daytime programming, suggests that women feel guilty if they watch more than two or three hours of TV a day but feel slightly less guilty about watching game shows because they “may pick up a little general information.” Leonard Reeg of the Leon Burnett advertising agency insists that the hosts make the shows, not the games. Regardless, the popularity of game shows explains why the networks devote so many resources to them.

There is a three-page profile of Leo G. Carroll titled “U.N.C.L.E.’s Uncle” and covers the usual ground, primary his early life and career before The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. He was wounded during World War I and spent two years recovering. He moved to New York City in 1920 and has since appeared in 300 plays, hundreds of movies, and numerous TV shows. Norman Felton, executive producer of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., explains he cast Carroll as the head of U.N.C.L.E. “because I knew he would give the part the right touch of bureaucratic authority. But most important, he would give the series a touch of class in a charming way.” His co-stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum sing his praises. “Leo doesn’t seem to be acting at all and yet,” says McCallum. “When you look at the scene afterward, he has given it reality.”

Richard Gehman’s “Women’s Home Companion” is a four-page profile of Mike Douglas that attempts to identify why he and The Mike Douglas Show are so popular that 40,000 people requested tickets when the show was taped in Boston for a week. Why do women consider him their idol? It may, Gehman suggests, “go down as one of the mysteries of Sixties television. Douglas’s unquestionable magnetism is inexplicable.” His show doesn’t feature big name talent but they are paid well and that may explain why the show’s staff insist that “everyone always asks to come back.” The success of The Mike Douglas Show, which airs in syndication, has led the networks to try to lure away its executive producer, Woody Fraser. Because it is not a network program it “can be freer and less inhibited by policies and taboos.”

Finally, there is a two-page article by Leslie Raddatz profiling actress-turned-press-agent Lenore Roberts. She started acting when she was ten and began doing publicity four years ago when the acting jobs dried up. “I still get my residuals,” she says, “but that’s the only acting I’m doing right now.” She says she gets more recognition as “a public-relations girl” than she did as an actress. She also doesn’t like watching any of her acting work but enjoys the “personal recognition” she gets as a press agent. Still, “I won’t deny I’d prefer to be a working actress.” [According to her Internet Movie Database profile, Roberts never returned to acting.]

The “As We See It” editorial this week discusses the NFL’s recent decision to offer a second package of Sunday football games when its contract with CBS ends after the 1965 season. The editorial sarcastically notes that the NFL did this to avoid the “undignified procedure” of bidding. The two packages can be awarded via negotiations and may cost about $20 million. Each would cost less than the $14.1 million CBS paid for the current single package, so they’re a bargain, right?

Cleveland Amory reviews The Andy Griffith Show this week. It is “the slowest show of the season” but that doesn’t mean it is the worst. “In fact, taking television series all in all–and it is a brave viewer who can take them that way–it is one of the best.” The jokes are worth waiting for and the build-ups themselves can be worthy of a chuckle as well. He goes on to give several examples of slow build-ups to jokes before concluding “This is the No. 1 small-town show we’ve seen, and we like it immensely.”

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • McHale’s Navy is trying to sign former Queen [of Iran] Soraya for several guest appearances.
  • NBC News is working on a documentary called “The Big Ear” about personal privacy and how it can be infringed by wiretapping and other methods.
  • The Trials of O’Brien films in New York City and will feature a slew of actors based in the city, including Buddy Hackett, Al Kelly, Robert Loggia, Cloris Leachman, and Kurt Kasznar.
  • Frank McGee will be the host of NBC’s new Sunday evening news program next season.
  • Tommy Norden has settled his dispute with Ivan Tors, producer of Flipper, and has already returned to work.
  • John Daly will introduce the cast of Green Acres on CBS, sitting by a TV Set as each character appears on its screen.
  • Wolper Productions will present a documentary about the political family of Senator Russell Long and the late Huey Long, titled “The Longs of Louisiana.”

Rounding out the national section are two picture features. The first describes and shows the moment actress Julienne Marie finally saw herself on television. The second examines how a car was rigged to appear to be moving without a driver for an episode of I Dream of Jeannie. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle.

There are five news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:

  • For the first time, the networks will pool their coverage of a manned space shot. The Gordon Cooper-Charles Conrad spaceflight in late August will see ABC manage the pool, with management rotating among the networks for later flights.
  • Viewers may have the opportunity to watch live coverage of the recovery of the Gordon-Conrad space capsule if ITT World Communications is able to use the Early Bird satellite.
  • CBS Vice President Richard S. Salant suggested last week that the networks should rethink their coverage of political conventions and CBS News president Fred Friendly agreed.
  • ABC cameraman Larry Johnson and sound man Wally Oakes were wounded while filming Vietnam battleground scenes with Peter Jennings. Jennings was not injured. The two are not listed in serious condition.
  • UPI’s Alvin Spivak revealed last week that the wire service and other news bureaus all keep reporters in front of TV sets and rewrite the news to sent out over the wire.

The letters page includes six letters, all involving different topics. One reader wrote about Agnes Moorehead, who was profiled in the July 17th issue, arguing that her talents are being wasted on ABC’s Bewitched. Another reader suggested that Walt Disney, who was also profiled in the July 17th issue, is not a pleasure-seeker but a happiness-seeker because “his work is lasting, excites the mind, [and] makes you feel good all over.”

Here’s a letter responding to the July 10th editorial:

Your July 10 “As We See It” ends with the persuasive logic that, “Television is a news medium. It must be permitted access to the news.” No doubt it will not be kept out of the courtrooms long. It is easy to imagine hearing in the near future a hushed, reverential voice announcing the entrance of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and then shifting for a quick word from the sponsor of “this true-to-life” courtroom drama.
Lloyd N. Dendinger
Baton Rouge, La.

A letter correcting Melvin Durslag’s grasp on Wyoming geography prompted an editorial note explaining that Durslag lives in Los Angeles. One reader lamented that Fred Gwynne’s “wonderfully flexible face and versatile talents” are hidden away under his Herman Munster makeup. Finally, a reader noted that Samantha on Bewitched “has finally appeared in that disgusting battledress of the real, red-blooded American housewife–hair curlers.”

The TV Listings

[We return to the Eastern New England edition (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut) this week.]

The big event on the networks this week was ABC’s live coverage (courtesy of Early Bird) of the seventh annual U.S.-USSR track meet, held at Kiev’s Dynamo Stadium. Jim McKay and Jim Beatty served as commentators for the two-day event. The first day’s coverage was scheduled for 12PM on Saturday, July 31st but a notice in the listings section explained that the broadcast might start anytime between 11AM and 2PM. If coverage began before 12PM, a taped repeat would air at 1PM. The teams for ABC’s regular 2PM baseball game were listed as “To Be Announced.” At 5PM, ABC’s World of Sports covered the Japanese All-Star baseball game, taped on July 20th.

On Sunday, August 1st at 11AM, ABC was scheduled to resume coverage of the U.S.-USSR track meet. Again, there was a notice explaining that it could start anytime between 11AM and 2PM. From 5-6PM, NBC’s Encore repeated “Voice of the Desert,” a tour of Arizona’s Sonora Desert featuring Professor Joseph Wood Krutch. [It originally aired on August 22nd, 1963.] ABC aired live coverage of the Thunderbird Classic golf tournament starting at 5PM, with Chris Schenkel, Charlie Brockman, Byron Nelson, and Jimmy Demaret covering the last three holes.

From 8:30-9PM on Monday, August 2nd, Summer Playhouse on CBS aired an unsold pilot called “Kibbee Hates Fitch” starring Don Rickles and Lou Jacobi as a pair of firefighters whose friendship is tested when one of them becomes captain of their company. Neil Simon wrote the script. At 10PM, CBS repeated an hour-long CBS News special called “An Essay on Doors” with Harry Reasoner. [It originally aired on March 8th, 1964.]

At 10:30PM on Wednesday, August 4th, ABC aired a half-hour installment of ABC Scope about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Titled “Hiroshima–and Then There Were None,” the special was hosted by Lou Cioffi. On Friday, August 6th at 9PM, CBS aired the first half of an unsold pilot called “Luke and the Tenderfoot” on Vacation Playhouse. Edgar Buchanan starred as an Old West peddler who strikes up a friendship with a youngster from the East. At 10PM, ABC aired the College All-Stars football game featuring the Cleveland Browns and the year’s top college football players. Commentators included Chris Schenkel, Ken Coleman, Kyle Rote, and Bill Flemming. A kickoff special aired from 9:30-10PM with highlights of past games and films of players.

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

  • Special: U.S.-USSR Track Meet (ABC, Saturday at 12:00PM)
  • Hollywood Palace (ABC, Saturday at 9:30PM, Repeat)
  • Encore – “Voice of the Desert” (NBC, Sunday at 5:00PM)
  • Special: Thunderbird Classic (ABC, Sunday at 5:00PM
  • The Andy Williams Show (NBC, Monday at 9:00PM, Repeat)
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – “Death Scene” (NBC, Monday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • Bewitched (ABC, Thursday at 9:00PM, Repeat)
  • Slattery’s People – “What’s a Swan Song for a Sparrow?” (CBS, Friday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • Special: College All-Star Football Game (ABC, Friday at 10:00PM)

Locally there were a number of sporting events throughout the week and little else. On Saturday, WHDH-TV (Channel 5) aired championship bowling from 12:30-1PM followed by junior candlepin bowling from 1-1:30PM. WPRO-TV (Channel 12) aired championship wrestling from 1-1:30PM. At 1:55PM, WHNC-TV (Channel 8) aired a baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees. WPRO-TV aired top star bowling from 2-3PM. At 4:30PM, WPRO-TV aired the Tidal Handicap horse race live from New York’s Aqueduct Race Course. WTIC-TV (Channel 3) joined the coverage in progress at 5PM while WHDH-TV joined in progress at 5:30PM.

On Sunday from 10-10:30AM, WNAC-TV (Channel) aired championship bowling. WNHC-TV’s Comment and People from 12-12:30PM covered the new Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT as well as the new Job Corps. WJAR-TV aired championship bridge from 12-12:30PM followed by championship bowling from 12:30-1PM. At 12:55PM, WNHC-TV aired another Indians-Yankees baseball game. At 3PM, Massachusetts educational station WGBH-TV (Channel 2) aired NBC’s Encore (“Voice of the Desert”). From 4:30-5PM WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired its live Massachusetts talent show with participants from Newton, Worcester, Reading, Boston, Dedham, and Mendon.

WTIC-TV aired an installment of Connecticut: What’s Ahead from 10:30-11PM on Monday. On Tuesday at 7:55PM, WNHC-TV aired a baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets. WGBH-TV aired the final match of the U.S. Professional Grasscourt Tennis Championships from 7:30-9:30PM on Thursday. It pitted Red Laver against Ken Rosewall.

Here’s an advertisement for capsule weather (in color) on WTEV (Channel 6):

Advertisement for capsule weather (in color) on WTEV (Channel 6)
Advertisement for capsule weather (in color) on WTEV (Channel 6) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for The Mike Douglas Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) that mentions this week’s article about him:

Advertisement for The Mike Douglas Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4)
Advertisement for The Mike Douglas Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for 11th Hour News with Mort Blender on WPRO-TV (Channel 12):

Advertisement for 11th Hour News with Mort Blender on WPRO-TV (Channel 12)
Advertisement for 11th Hour News with Mort Blender on WPRO-TV (Channel 12) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

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, August 2nd, 1965
Capt. Bob takes the viewer, via sketches and drawings, to the resort community of Block Island.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 1965
Highlights in a phase of the development of American music.

Wednesday, August 4th, 1965
“Where to Go This Weekend.”

Thursday, August 5th, 1965
Highlights of an exhibit of dye transfer photography.

Friday, August 6th, 1965
The current water shortage, causes and future outlook is discussed.

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

My Favorite Obscurities: The 1950s

Last month Television Obscurities celebrated its 12th birthday (on June 11th, to be exact). That’s not a milestone anniversary so I didn’t mark the occasion but recognition of one dozen years online, I decided to start examining my personal favorite television obscurities. Once a month I’ll be writing about my 12 favorite obscurities from each decade starting with the 1940s this month and ending with the 2000s in December. Many of these shows I’ve written about over the past 12 years but not all of them. This month I’m tackling the 1950s. So here, in chronological order, are my favorite 12 obscurities from the 1950s:

Young and Gay/The Girls (CBS)
January 1st, 1950 – March 26th, 1950

When this live sitcom debuted on New Years’ Day 1950 it was called Young and Gay but the name was changed to The Girls after just two episodes. Based on the 1942 autobiographical book Our Hearts Were Young and Gay by Cornelia Otis Skinner and Emily Kimbrough, a total of 13 episodes were broadcast live (none of which are known to exist today). The series originally starred Bethel Leslie as Skinner and Mary Malone as Kimbrough. Leslie left the series after nine episodes and was replaced by Gloria Stroock for the last four episodes.

The Girls was set in New York City during the 1920s. I think what I’m most curious is about is how the Roaring Twenties were depicted on television a few decades after they ended.

Hawkins Falls, Population 6200 (NBC)
June 17th, 1950 – October 12th, 1950

Not much is known about the prime time version of this series, which initially aired on Saturdays from 8-9PM and later on Thursdays from 8:30-9PM. Each week, the editor of the fictional Hawkins Falls town paper would recount various events in that would then be shown to viewers. It aired live from WNBQ in Chicago.

In April 1951, six months after Hawkins Falls, Population 6200 went off the air, NBC premiered a new 15-minute daytime serial called Hawkins Falls: A Television Novel. It was part of the new television soap opera craze. Kinescopes of several episodes of the soap opera version survive but no episodes of the prime time version are extant.

Two Girls Named Smith (ABC)
January 20th, 1951 – October 13th, 1951

This sitcom aired live on Saturdays for almost nine months and endured more than its fair share of behind-the-scenes drama. When it premiered, the two Smiths in the title were played by Peggy Ann Garner and Peggy French. Garner left the series in September and was replaced by Marcia Henderson for the rest of its run. In April 1951, a piracy lawsuit was filed against the producers of the series as well as the sponsor and the network by the authors of the book and play My Sister Eileen. Whether that had a role in the cancellation of the series is unknown.

Miss Susan (NBC)
March 12th, 1951 – December 28th, 1951

An estimated 210 episodes of this live daytime soap opera were broadcast by NBC during 1951 but only two are known to survive. The Paley Center for Media has the July 3rd and August 24th episodes in its collection. Actress Susan Peters, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 1945 hunting accident, starred as a New York City lawyer who returned to her hometown in Ohio.

My article on Miss Susan can be found here.

Meet Corliss Archer (CBS)
July 12th, 1951 – March 29th, 1952

This was the first television version of Meet Corliss Archer, the long-running radio program based on F. Hugh Herbert’s 1943 play Kiss and Tell. It starred Lugene Sanders and aired live on CBS from July to September 1951 and again from January to March 1952. Episodes were staged twice for different parts of the country.

The 1954-1955 syndicated version produced by Ziv Television Programs is much better known than the earlier CBS version. Most or all of the syndicated episodes, which were filmed rather than aired live, survive. Some of have been released on DVD and many are available for viewing at the Internet Archive. To the best of my knowledge, none of the live CBS episodes are known to exist (but hopefully some do).

Doc Corkle (NBC)
October 5th, 1952 – October 19th, 1952

It was rare in 1952 for a network to cancel a new show as quickly as NBC did with Doc Corkle. The sitcom starring Eddie Mayehoff as a dentist aired for just three weeks before it was yanked at the behest of the sponsor and replaced by Mr. Peepers. Several other episodes were already completed but never aired.

Just how bad could Doc Corkle have been to merit such a quick cancellation? I’m sure I’m not the only one interested in finding out.

Janet Dean, Registered Nurse (Syndicated)
1954-1955; premiered in March 1954

I’ve seen three of the 39 episodes of this medical series that starred Ella Raines. At least three other episodes are known to exist, including two held by the Museum of Broadcast Communications. If only I’d watched them before the MBC’s online archives were removed. Raines was the only regular character on the series, a private duty nurse sent out on a new assignment each week. Some were mundane (Janet trying to convince a baseball manager to help a friend of hers) while others were a little more unbelievable (Janet rushing into a trapped elevator that might plummet to the ground at any moment).

My article on Janet Dean, Registered Nurse can be found here.

Willy (CBS)
September 18th, 1954 – June 16th, 1955

I can’t say what drew me to this sitcom starring June Havoc as a freshly minted lawyer whose first case involved a dog who scared a cow so it wouldn’t give milk. It was low-rated and according to Havoc viewers didn’t believe that female lawyers existed or, if they did, that they weren’t spinsters. In March 1955, the series was revamped and the setting moved to New York City. Whether that improved ratings is unknown.

My article on Willy can be found here.

The Halls of Ivy (CBS)
October 19th, 1954 – September 29th, 1955

The radio version of this sitcom was marginally more successful, running for more than 100 episodes from January 1950 to June 1952. The television version lasted just one season. Both featured Ronald Colman as the president of the fictional Ivy College. Colman’s wife in real life, Benita Hume, played his wife on radio and TV. Also appearing in both versions was Herbert Butterfield as chairman of the Ivy College trustees.

At least one episode survives although I’ve yet to watch it.

Joe and Mabel (CBS)
June 26th, 1956 – September 25th, 1956

Larry Blyden and Nina Talbot starred in this sitcom about a cabby and his girlfriend. It took a torturous route to television, with a planned September 1955 premiere scrapped at the last minute, six completed episodes tossed out, and a new producer brought on board. It almost made it to the air in January 1956 and again in March 1956 before finally debuting in June 1956.

A total of 13 episodes were filmed and aired. I haven’t seen any of them. Although I’d like to, I’m actually more interested in seeing the six episodes that were scrapped and never aired. Reportedly CBS didn’t think they were very entertaining.

My article on Joe and Mabel can be found here.

Peck’s Bad Girl (CBS)
May 5th, 1959 – August 4th, 1959

I think the name of this sitcom caught my attention more than anything else. It’s been on one of my various “shows of interest” lists since 2009. Patty McCormack starred as Torey Peck, the titular bad girl but despite the name of the show, Torey wasn’t bad at all (which may have disappointed viewers who knew McCormack for her role in The Bad Seed). Wendell Corey played her father, Steve Peck. Rounding out the cast were Marsha Hunt as Torey’s mother, Jennifer, and Ray Farrell as her younger brother, Roger.

I never thought I’d get the chance to see it until Alpha Video released an episode on DVD in December 2013. The video quality is poor but watchable. The plot involves Torey wanting to wear lipstick to a party and her father refusing to let her.

Mr. Lucky (CBS)
October 24th, 1959 – June 18th, 1960

Very few of my favorite obscurities are easily viewable. This is one of them. Mr. Lucky is a popular obscurity if there ever was one; a number of episodes were released on VHS in the late 1990s and the full series was released on DVD in October 2012. I’ve watched 26 of the 34 episodes and one day will get around to watching those last eight. Some of the episodes are a little dull but for the most part they’re enjoyable.

There’s nothing unusually interesting or odd about this half-hour adventure series except for two things: the concept was changed abruptly halfway through the season due to pressure from sponsors and it ended the 1959-1960 season in 21st place but was nevertheless cancelled.

My article on Mr. Lucky can be found here.

Hit the comments with your thoughts on these shows and any favorite TV obscurities you may have from the 1950s. Check back next month for my 12 favorite obscurities from the 1960s.

A Year in TV Guide: July 24th, 1965

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 #45
July 24th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 30, Issue #643
North Texas Edition

On the Cover: Raymond Burr (painting by Al Parker).

The Magazine

I found this week’s cover article, “Pleading His Own Case” by Dwight Whitney, very interesting. I’ve never seen an episode of Perry Mason and I know next to nothing about Raymond Burr. As described by Whitney, he is an indefatigable promoter of the law and the legal process who risks his life to talk with troops in Vietnam and uses his own money to support causes near and dear to his heart. During his third trip to Vietnam he suffered a severe shoulder injury when the helicopter he was riding in came had to dodge enemy fire.

Front Cover
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Burr didn’t plan on returning to Perry Mason for the 1964-1965 season (its eighth). He wanted to star in a new show called The Power. “In it I played the governor of a state, and it had some of the same things going for it that Perry did. It was the best damn thing I ever read, the best new show presentation anybody in this business had ever seen.” Unfortunately for Burr, CBS felt The Power would be too similar to its new political drama Slattery’s People, so Perry Mason continued. He then agreed to return once more for the 1965-1966 season because he wanted to give his actors work and because he felt the 1964-1965 season was “a bad year” and hopes to go out on a good year. [Did he? Perry Mason was cancelled at the end of the 1965-1966 season. Hopefully Burr thought it was a good year.]

“Having a Wonderful Time” is a letter written to TV Guide by Sheldon Leonard, producer of I Spy. TV Guide asked him to write about his experience filming the series in Hong Kong and, according to Leonard, hoped he could include some conflict. Sadly, Leonard felt he couldn’t oblige because he was too busy dealing with problems like weather, language barriers, technical issues, and thousands of curious citizens to come up with any conflicts. During their four weeks in Hong Kong, the cast and crew only saw one day of sunshine. They lost two days to a typhoon.

Leonard found the language barrier particularly confusing because the Chinese people were so anxious to please that they would nod whether they understood their instructions or not. He wonders why a translator would take his six-word sentence and spend five minutes translating it. Also causing problems were a driver who wasn’t used to the car being configured for right-hand driving and two stunt men who followed Leonard’s directions to jump into a harbor despite being unable to swim.

Melvin Durslag’s “They Still Come in With Spikes High” is a two-page essay about ABC baseball color commentators Jackie Robinson and Leo Durocher. Both feel very free to speak their minds on the air, criticizing plays and players. According to Durslag, “a feature of Robinson and Durocher opinions is that they are always positive, if not always correct.” Robinson believes that players should always do their best and calls them out if they don’t live up to their abilities. Durocher feels it is his duty to anticipate and explain how he would direct players. If the manager makes a different decision, Leo will argue his way was better.

“The Kid is Dead…Not Coogan” by Arnold Hano is a three-and-a-half-page profile of former child actor Jackie Coogan, currently playing Uncle Fester on ABC’s The Addams Family. Coogan earned a fortune as a child actor but his mother and step-father spent nearly all of it. He sued them in 1938 but the law was on their side. California later passed a law protecting some money earned by child actors. In 1935, Coogan was the only survivor of a car crash that killed his father. During World War II he served as a glider pilot and earned the Air Medal. His life changed on October 4th, 1956 when he appeared in the debut episode of Playhouse 90. That led to more TV work, including a co-starring role on NBC’s McKeever and the Colonel from 1962-1963, and ultimately to The Addams Family.

Finally, there is a one-page article recounting how Sammy Jackson and Laurie Sibbald fell in love on the set of No Time for Sergeants. They initially weren’t very fond of one another. Jackson felt Sibbald wasn’t taking her job seriously while Sibbald thought Jackson was “a wet blanket.” After spending so much time together, however, they fell for each other and are currently “engaged to be engaged.” The cancellation of No Time for Sergeants has complicated things and the two are waiting to see what happens with Jackson’s career before actually getting engaged.

The “As We See It” editorial this week laments the ease with which satellite communications can be interfered with. In 1963, France denied CBS the use of its ground station for “Town Meeting of the World,” meaning the program could not be aired live in Europe. COMSAT recently refused to let CBS telecast the dedication of the Kennedy memorial in Runnymede (England) via Early Bird because the other networks didn’t want to carry it. “It is COMSAT’s responsibility to see to it that the whims of petty dictators in communications be confined to their own countries. It is COMSAT’s responsibility to avoid petty rules (and ridiculously high rates) that could turn a hope for all mankind into a mere gadget in the sky.

Cleveland Amory’s review this week is of ABC’s The Jimmy Dean Show. Amory notes that once Jimmy was allowed to be Jimmy, the show improved. “For country singing or folk singing–and even for city folks who like the country–this show has many virtues. And once in a while you even get a genuine interview.” He criticized, however, the number of plugs for performers’ records, arguing if the performers are being paid they shouldn’t also expect plugs.

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • ABC will air “Jimmy Durante Meets the Lively Arts” on October 30th, with Durante, Rudolf Nureyev, and Roberta Peters.
  • Dean Jones will star in a new sitcom called My Fifteen Blocks on NBC, to be produced out of Chicago by Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard. [The series never materialized; you can read more about it in my article Building NBC’s 1966-1967 Schedule.]
  • Irwin Allen has cast two of the three new characters to be introduced on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea next season. Terry Becker will be the new comedy relief while Allan Hunt will be for the teen-agers.
  • Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher are working on two new sitcoms for Universal Studios and CBS: Pistols and Petticoats and The First Years. [Pistols ‘n’ Petticoats ran for 26 episodes on CBS during the 1966-1967 season. The First Years never materialized.]
  • Peter Jennings is on a fact-finding mission touring Southeast Asia, Japan, Russia, India, and Egypt for an ABC special on Vietnam to be aired August 25th.
  • Irene Ryan of The Beverly Hillbillies has written a cookbook.
  • Oscar Brand will host NBC’s new children’s show called The First Look, set ot air on Saturdays starting October 16th.
  • A new ABC daytime show called The Young Set will be produced by Norman Baer and Phil D’Antoni. The discussion program aimed at young housewives will premiere in September. [Phyllis Kirk hosted the series with a celebrity guest each week. It ran from September to December 1965.]
  • Ulla Stromstedt will appear in seven of the first 13 episodes of Flipper in an attempt by the producers to add some cheesecake to the series.

Rounding out the national section are a pair of two-page picture features. The first spotlights the new automobile (The Dragula) being added to The Munsters. The second highlights a visit by Fess Parker, in character as Daniel Boone, to the Navajo reservation near Crown Point, NM. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle.

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

  • The CBS Reports examination of “The Ratings Game” on July 12th “did not dispel much of the fog of mystery and controversy that envelops TV ratings.” Some two dozen people were interviewed, some supportive and others critical of ratings. Although neither side could claim victory at the end of the program, it “was well worth doing–and viewing.”
  • Preliminary New York City ratings for “The Ratings Game” are conflicting. Nielsen gave it a 20.8, far ahead of its network competition. ARB, however, gave it an 11.7 rating, which tied it with Ben Casey for second place.
  • Actor Ray Collins, whose lengthy career spanned six decades, died on July 11th at the age of 75.
  • Vincent Edwards has been married since June 13th. He wed 22-year-old actress Kathy Kersh. He used his real name, Vincento Zoino, on the marriage license and was reportedly wearing a disguise.

The letters page this week features six letters on three topics. There are three letters responding to a July 10th article by John Gregory Dunne in which he wondered what an Awful-Awful was. The letters explain that an Awful-Awful is basically a giant milkshake developed by Bond’s Ice Cream Parlor in Upper Montclair, NJ. An editorial note gave specific instructions for the concoction. Supposedly if you drink three, you get a fourth free.

Then there is this letter, written in response to a letter published in the June 19th issue:

Regarding the letter saying that such programs as McHale’s Navy and Gomer Pyle tend to ruin the image of our Armed Forces, if this gentleman prefers more bitter entertainment, such as Combat!, I have at least 50,000 ringside seats in the Vietnam arena–no admission charge.
William J. Tarkington Jr.
News Director, WFAX
Falls Church, Va.

There is also a letter from a reader who wonders if repeats of I Love Lucy “have been re-run into the ground” because her 3-year-old daughter can say the lines before Lucille Ball does. Another letter praises Al Hirt’s show as “a rose among the thorns” this summer.

The TV Listings

[This was the fourth issue I had to purchase to fill a hole in my collection. The copy I acquired is the North Texas Edition with listings for nine stations in five markets. As is always the case with issues I’ve had to buy, I’ve done my best to highlight some of the local programming but please note that I’m not familiar with these stations. All of the stations were in the Central Time Zone, so prime time in 1965 started at 6:30PM rather than 7:30PM.]

On Saturday, July 24th CBS aired CBS Bowling Classic from 12-1PM followed by CBS Tennis Classic from 1-2PM. Both programs were airing their last episodes. ABC’s Saturday afternoon baseball game at 12PM was listed as “To Be Announced.” At 9PM, CBS aired the 14th annual Miss Universe Beauty Pageant live from Miami Beach. Jack Linkletter served as master of ceremonies with John Daly and Sally Ann Howes as commentators. The special was scheduled to run 90 minutes.

NBC’s Encore from 2-3PM on Sunday, July 25th repeated “Orient Express,” a special hosted by Edwin Newman. [It originally aired on January 7th, 1964.] On Monday, July 26th from 7:30-8PM, CBS aired an unsold pilot starring Stubby Kaye as part of its Summer Playhouse series. Kaye played Stubby Fox, a Coast Guard seaman who convinces his new captain to volunteer for Atlantic Fleet duty. From 9-10PM NBC repeated “The Winging World of Jonathan Winters,” a special originally aired in May. Steve Allen, Leo Durocher, Jerry Stiller, and Anne Meara joined Winters.

On Friday, July 30th from 8:30-9PM, Vacation Playhouse on CBS presented an unsold pilot starring Gerald Mohr as an American casino owner living in Mexico who is asked to help smuggle a Mexican revolutionary and his wife out of the country.

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

  • Special: Miss Universe Beauty Pageant (CBS, Saturday at 9:00PM)
  • World War I – “Over There” (CBS, Sunday at 5:30PM, Repeat)
  • Special: The Winging World of Jonathan Winters (NBC, Monday at 8:00PM, Repeat)

The listings section includes listings for the following stations:

Dallas
KRLD-TV (Channel 4) – CBS
WFAA-TV (Channel 8) – ABC
KERA-TV (Channel 13) – Educational

Wichita Falls
KFDX-TV (Channel 3) – NBC
KAUZ-TV (Channel 6) – CBS

Fort Worth
WBAP-TV (Channel 5) – NBC
KTVT (Channel 11) – Independent

Ardmore-Sherman-Denison
KXII-TV (Channel 12) – NBC/CBS

Lawton-Wichita Falls
KSWO-TV (Channel 7) – ABC

Locally, there were a lot of music and religious programs during the weekend. On Saturday, WBAP-TV (Channel 5) aired a half-hour religious program called Planning for Tomorrow from 7-7:30AM. From 3:45-4:45PM the same station aired Gospel Singing Caravan. From 4:30-5PM KRLD-TV (Channel 4) aired a cooking show with David Wade while KTVT (Channel 11) aired Sunset Ranch, a music program.

From 5-5:30PM KAUZ-TV (Channel 6) aired Singing Time in Dixie while KTVT aired Gospel Singing Jubilee. At 5:30PM, KFDX-TV (Channel 3) aired a half-hour country music program with Bill Anderson. From 6-6:30PM, KFDX-TV aired a music program with Porter Wagoner while KTVT aired a music program with the Wilburn Brothers. KTVT aired an hour-long musical-variety series called Cowboy Jamboree from 6:30-7:30PM with Ray Price and the Cherokee Cowboys as guests.

Sunday morning was filled with religious programs, including live church services on nearly every station. KTVT aired an unidentified church service from 9-9:30AM. From 9:30-10:30AM, KRLD-TV aired a live service from Highland Park Presbyterian Church. From 10:40-11:40AM, KXII-TV (Channel 12) aired a live service from the Central Church of Christ.

There were four live church services from 11AM-12PM: KFDX-TV from the First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls; WBAP-TV from the First Christian Church; WFAA-TV (Channel 8) from the First Presbyterian Church; and KTVT from the First Baptist Church of Dallas. At 2:30PM, KAUZ-TV (Channel 6) and WFAA-TV aired the final round of the Insurance City Open live from Hartford, CT. At 3PM, KTVT aired a Texas League baseball game between the Dallas-Forth Worth Spurs and the Amarillo Sonics.

There were a few weekday afternoon children’s programs, some of which were probably local. KTVT aired Fun Time from 3:55-4PM followed by Slam Bang Theater from 4-4:30PM; KXII-TV aired Carol’s Clubhouse from 4:25-5PM; and KAUZ-TV aired Kauzmo and Friends from 4:30-5PM.

On Monday at 6:30PM, WBAP-TV pre-empted a repeat of NBC’s Karen for a half-hour documentary called “Case for Education” about a proposed Community Junior College. KTVT’s Monday night movie started at 9PM and ended at 11PM but was interrupted from 10-10:15PM for news and weather. The same thing happened on Tuesday and Friday. At 9:30PM, KAUZ-TV aired America!, a travel series hosted by Jack Douglas. This week’s episode was titled “Valley of the Sun” and toured Phoenix, AZ.

From 8-9PM on Tuesday, educational station KERA-TV (Channel 13) aired the 10th installment of Pacem in Terris, a 12-part series of meetings hosted by Harry S. Ashmore. The episode was titled “The Terms of Coexistence: Mutual Interest and Mutual Trust.”

KTVT aired another Spurs-Sonics baseball game at 7:30PM on Wednesday.

Here’s an advertisement for news with Earl Ellington on KXII-TV (Channel 12):

Advertisement for news with Earl Ellington on KXII-TV (Channel 12)
Advertisement for news with Earl Ellington on KXII-TV (Channel 12) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for baseball on KTVT (Channel 11):

Advertisement for baseball on KTVT (Channel 11)
Advertisement for baseball on KTVT (Channel 11) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for America! on KAUZ-TV (Channel 6):

Advertisement for America on KAUZ-TV (Channel 6)
Advertisement for baseball on KAUZ-TV (Channel 6) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

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

A Year in TV Guide: July 17th, 1965

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 #44
July 17th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 29, Issue #642
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: McHale’s Navy (photograph by Gene Trindl).

The Magazine

There are an impressive seven articles in this issue, ranging in length from two to five pages. The cover article by Peter Bogdanovich is about McHale’s Navy moving to Italy for its upcoming fourth season. Despite Bogdanovich claiming to have learned, after spending several days with the producer and cast, why the move is being made he never really explains in detail why the series is changing its setting. Producer Si Rose had this to say:

After three years in the Pacific, we thought the Allied and Japanese forces had had enough of McHale. You know, new enemy, new relationships, a new dimension for McHale. We’ll say he had an Italian grandmother and understands Italian. Which, of course, Ernie does. The ratings have held up pretty well, but next year we’ll be up against Skelton and Kildare, both in color, and so really we’re anticipating.

According to Bogdanovich, Rose “grinned weakly” while saying this, suggesting the producer wasn’t entirely on board with the move. The rest of the article examines how cast members feel about the show, its move to Italy, their thoughts on being tied to a weekly TV series, and Ernest Borgnine’s desire to get back to movies. Most of the cast agree that McHale’s Navy is very popular with kids. Joe Flynn and Borgnine aren’t thrilled with the humor, though. Flynn would “prefer a more subtle brand of humor” while Borgnine doesn’t think “a person has to gag it up so much to be funny.”

Front Cover
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The move to Italy, Flynn believes, will “either get the series renewed for three more years or it’ll destroy it and we’ll end this year.” [He was right, it did end after the 1965-1966 season.] Bob Hastings is happy to be continuing for another year while Carl Ballantine would rather be doing movies. Flynn would likewise rather have more varied roles to play but also recognizes the security of a weekly series. He is also thinking about running for state senate. Borgnine is tired of playing the same role week after week and feels the show has become stale. “We’ve got to the point where we don’t even have to rehearse any more–in our mind’s eye we almost direct ourselves.”

Melvin Durslag’s “Look Who’s Joined the Affluent Society” discusses how a number of TV sportscasters have become very rich, very fast. Curt Gowdy is making six figures a year while Chris Schenkel just signed a three-year contract with ABC that earns him at least $125,000 a year. Other successful sportscasters mentioned by Durslag include Jim McKay, Lindsey Nelson, Jim Simpson, and Jack Whitaker. There is one potential problem for these men: the networks are increasingly turning to professional athletes to provide TV commentary. CBS has former Yankees Joe Garagiola, Phil Rizzuto, and Jerry Coleman on its radio/TV team, for example, and they are here to stay.

“A TV Tour of the U.S. — with KGUN and KMRA” by David Lachenbruch is a humorous two-page essay in which the author uses TV call letters as words. Here’s an example:

It’s all right to be a KARD in Wichita, a WHIZ in Zanesville, O., WISE in Asheville–or even a KOOK in Billings, Mont. You can get KUHT in Houston and KCOY in Santa Maria, Cal. But they’ll KUSU in Logan, Utah (you’ll also get KUSD in Vermillion, S.D.).

The longest article is Edith Efron’s profile of Walt Disney titled “Still Attacking His Ancient Enemy–Conformity.” Efron describes Disney as “an international institution” and “one of the few men in show business whose names stand for something significantly larger than their own work.” She also argues that he “is one of the most disguised personalities alive,” using dullness and a “rural affability” to avoid conversation. If you can keep him talking long enough, “a remote twinkle appears in the preoccupied eyes, and the man emerges.”

Disney was a dreamer as a kid, didn’t have much formal education, isn’t motivated by money, hates laziness, and yearns to uncover originality and creativity in his workers, going as far as to spy on them in the hopes of discovering repressed talent. His reputation as a tyrant is not entirely undeserved but Walt Kelly (creator of Pogo) insists that Disney is easy to work with if you are a hard worker. He doesn’t like critics but enjoys compliments from famous men like Henry Ford, the late Supreme Court Justice Burton, and Sergei Eisenstein. He doesn’t worry about having to continually top himself. Instead, he looks for little ideas and gets interested in them.

“Is ‘Sunrise Semester’ Flunking Out?” investigates the CBS educational series offering college credit and concludes that it may not be much of a success. On the air locally in New York City over WCBS-TV since 1957, it was a popular and critical success before joining the network two years ago. Last semester there were 43 colleges using the series and only a few had more than 25 viewer-students enrolled. The problem is making education appealing rather than boring. “Education on TV is generally dull stuff,” explains a CBS official. “But what can we do about it? We can’t back a professor with the Rockettes.”

Dwight Whitney’s three-page article about Agnes Moorehead includes some interesting quotes from the Bewitched co-star. The ABC sitcom’s first season was rushed and nearly always behind schedule due to star Elizabeth Montgomery’s pregnancy, which delayed filming (as described in the November 28th, 1964 issue). Episodes were being filmed dangerously close to air date and during Whitney’s visit to the set, there were all sorts of production problems. “This is the treadmill,” explained Moorehead. “This is TV. Mad, hectic. No time to relax. Every second counts.” She continued:

The treadmill’s a marvelous living. But the actor who’s creative gets terribly depressed. I’ve shied away. I’m not the treadmill type. I haven’t any idea about the story. How could I? I only got it this morning. I don’t care how good you are, you get many scripts not up to par–what you might call ‘hack.'”

Of Montgomery, Moorehead was respectful but unemotional: “She has a quality. Charm, warmth, intelligence. Of course, you know she plays herself. When I was an ingenue, we were always characterizing.” The bulk of the article isn’t about Bewitched, however. It covers Moorehead’s childhood but focuses mostly on her work with Orson Welles and its impact on her career.

The final article is a very brief profile of singer Nancy Wilson. She talks about her childhood and her first TV series back home in Ohio. She married her husband in 1960 and he spends most of his time these days managing their music-publishing company and their talent-management company. They have a two-year-old son who they did not bring with them when they traveled to Montgomery. “I had never been in the south before,” said Wilson, “but when I heard about Montgomery, I knew I just had to go–not to sing but to march.” At the end of the article, Wilson describes how she sees herself: “I’m not a professional Negro. I’m a human being first–an American second–and a Negro third, and I’m not the least bit unhappy about it.”

The “As We See It” editorial this week is a bit unusual, focusing on the blazers worn by network sports production staff and announcers. ABC blazers have either a white and blue symbol over the left breast (for ABC Sports) or a red, white, and blue symbol (for ABC’s Wide World of Sports). Over at CBS, each blazer has a gold emblem with the CBS “eye” in the middle, although the symbols are different for each sport. As for NBC, its blazers are navy blue and the symbol is light blue with a gold border and NBC (in silver) and Sports (in gold). This “blazer blight,” opines TV Guide, has spread to individual stations where cameramen, engineers, and even salesmen wear blazers. “It all smacks a little of uniforms and regimentation, but you’ve got to admit that it makes the broadcasting people look pretty good.”

Cleveland Amory reviews Peter Jennings this week and sings the praises of the youthful ABC anchor. Jennings may have been hired to try and reach younger viewers, and ABC may have had to go to great lengths to highlight his credentials, but he has delivered. “He is, first and foremost, technically competent. He varies his Teleprompter with notes which, we note gladly, when he does look at then, he looks at them firmly and bravely and not surreptitiously.” Amory also points out that Jennings doesn’t make mistakes often, he changes his pacing, he goes out on location, and he isn’t sarcastic.

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • Flipper is losing Tommy Norden due to “contract conflicts.” [Whatever the conflicts were, they were resolved because Norden remained with the series for its entire run.]
  • NBC will air a special about the surrender of Japan during World War II on September 19th.
  • NBC’s Chet Hagan is working on a documentary about the Kentucky Derby that will take a year to finish. It will follow one horse as it prepares for and competes in the race.
  • NET will air a videotaped production of “The Play of Daniel” on Christmas Eve.
  • NBC may get rid of its peacock symbol because there will be so much color during the 1965-1966 season that the peacock’s “preening could get monotonous.” [NBC did eventually drop the peacock but not until 1975. It returned in 1979.]
  • Gunilla Hutton and Linda Saunders have been signed to replace Jeannine Riley and Pat Woodell on Petticoat Junction.
  • Walter Brennan is working on a new series described as a mix of The Tycoon and The Real McCoys.
  • Bob Steele has joined the cast of F Troop.
  • CBS is working on a series for British singers Chad and Jeremy, said to be a musical version of Route 66.

Rounding out the national section is a two-page picture feature revealing how Bob Denver and a dummy teamed up to film a 20-foot fall from a coconut tree for an episode of Gilligan’s Island. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle.

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

  • The FCC last week circulated a policy statement intended to address loud commercials. Broadcasters are urged not to use reverberation chambers, rapid delivery, poor control room procedures, immoderate use of volume compression, and high volume levels on recordings. “Strict adherence” is expected despite the fact that the FCC admits it has no way of measuring loudness.
  • Also last week, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences revoked its Emmy nomination of a documentary called “My Childhood” about James Baldwin and Vice President Humphrey because it wasn’t made available to at least half the nation’s viewers before April 30th. Producer Metromedia, Inc. responded by pulling out of the Academy.
  • Stan Freberg composes radio commercials for the United Presbyterian Church and is looking at bringing them to television, with the church paying production costs and Freberg working for free.
  • Kate Smith will make six TV appearances next season: two on The Ed Sullivan Show, two on The Dean Martin Show, and two on The Hollywood Palace.

The letters page this week features six letters and five topics. The June 28th CBS special “It’s What’s Happening, Baby!” receives two letters:

CBS’s “It’s What’s Happening, Baby!” made me realize that the President does care about teen-agers, and that education is important.
Susan Crabtee
Owensboro, Ky.

If that’s “What’s Happening, Baby!” we’re in Trouble, and that starts with T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for psychoneurotic.
Gene Scott
New York, N.Y.

There was also a letter from Tony Verna, producer/director for CBS Sports, writing in response to a letter published in the June 26th issue. He explains that the use of isolated cameras dates back to “the early days of Roller Derby coverage, when director Dwight Hemion assigned a specific camera to watch Tuffy Brasuhn make her move from deep in the pack.” Verna determined later that videotape could preserve the continuity of the game by replaying the isolated camera shots immediately after a certain play. That was pioneered during the 1963 Army-Navy game by CBS.

In response to a letter printed in the June 19th issue, the head of the Department of the Navy’s Audio-Visual Branch, Lt. Cmdr. H.E. Padgett, wrote a letter to explain that McHale’s Navy never asked for the assistance of the Navy and the Navy never offered it. However, the Navy is cooperating with the producers of Convoy and The Wackiest Ship in the Army.

Another letter dealt with the July 3rd editorial:

Concerning your July 3 “As We See It,” which urges viewers to actively support programs they like, I wish I could agree. But as long as sponsors and networks continue to play the “numbers” game, those of us to whom “Nielsen” is a dirty word shall, I am afraid, continue to be the “disinherited.”

Finally, there was a letter praising FCC Commissioner Lee Loevinger, who was profiled in the July 3rd issue.

The TV Listings

[We’re still about two months from the end of A Year in TV Guide but this is the final Western New England Edition in the collection of TV Guide issues I inherited from a family member. That means this is the last time highlights from Zenith Radio Company’s Phonevision pay television experiment over Connecticut’s WHCT-TV (Channel 18) will be featured.]

ABC’s weekly 2PM baseball game on Saturday, July 17th featured the Baltimore Orioles vs. the Detroit Tigers. At 8:30PM, NBC pre-empted The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo for a half-hour Mariner IV special. NBC News correspondent Roy Neal and Dr. Albert R. Hibbs of Caltech hosted the special from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. NBC’s Encore on Sunday, July 18th from 5-6PM repeated “Changing Matilda: The New Australia” with Chet Huntley. [It originally aired on March 31st, 1964.]

CBS began airing repeats of its short-lived 1963 sitcom Glynis at 9PM on Monday, July 19th as a summer replacement for The Lucy Show. [Just 13 episodes of the series, which starred Glynis Johns, were produced and broadcast by CBS from September and December 1963.] At 10PM, CBS aired a repeat of CBS Reports narrated by Charles Collingwood (“The 150 Lira Escape”) about low budget Italian cinema. [It originally aired on September 2nd, 1964.]

On Friday, July 23rd at 8PM, ABC aired the final episode of FDR, its half-hour documentary series about President Roosevelt. It dealt with the impact of FDR’s death on the United States and World War II. According to a note in the listing, “selected episodes” of the series will start repeating next week. From 9:30-10PM, CBS aired an unsold pilot called “Starr, First Baseman” as part of its Vacation Playhouse series. Martin Milner played a New York Yankee first baseman whose rookie year is going quite well until he’s hit by a fastball.

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

  • Secret Agent – “That’s Two of Us Sorry” (CBS, Saturday at 9:00PM)
  • Discovery ’65 – “Yuri and Irena Come to America” (ABC, Sunday at 12:00PM)
  • Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color – “Ida, the Off-Beat Eagle” (NBC, Sunday at 7:30PM)
  • The Rogues – “Viva Diaz!” (NBC, Sunday at 10:00PM)
  • The Fugitive – “Ballad for a Ghost” (ABC, Tuesday at 10:00PM)
  • Dr. Kildare – “What’s Different About Today?” (NBC, Thursday at 8:30PM)
  • FDR – “Going Home” (ABC, Friday at 8:00PM)

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: Shane (Saturday at 7:30PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Premature Burial (Sunday at 7:30PM, $1.00)
  • Movie: Joy in the Morning (Monday at 9:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Up from the Beach (Tuesday at 7:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Girl with Green Eyes (Wednesday at 9:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: 30 Years of Fun (Friday at 7:30PM, $1.00)

Locally it was a busy week with a mixture of baseball and specials. At 1:55PM on Saturday, WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired a baseball game between the Washington Senators and the New York Yankees. At 2:25PM, WHCT (Channel 18) aired a baseball game between the New York Mets and the St. Louis Cardinals. From 4-5PM, WHDH-TV (Channel 5) aired a special about 75-year-old retired truck driver James Emory Bond, who discussed religion, prejudice, crime, marriage, family, and faith. [I believe this was a syndicated rather than local program.]

At 6:30PM, WNHC-TV aired an hour-long special about the Junior Champs high school sporting event held last week in Hartford, sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. Carl Grande served as commentator. At 7:30PM, WHDH-TV, WWLP (Channel 22), WHNB-TV (Channels 30 and 70), and WRLP (Channel 32) aired a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians. From 9:30-11PM, WNHC-TV aired the “Miss Connecticut Pageant” live from the New Haven Arena. Johnny Desmond hosted the special.

On Sunday at 12:55PM, WNHC-TV aired another Senators-Yankees baseball game while at 1:55PM WHCT aired a game between the Mets and the Milwaukee Braves. From 2:30-4PM, WNAC-TV (Channel 7) aired a water ski show live from the Charles River in Boston. Featured were Ken White, Don Craven, Sandra Ann White, Judith Haskins, and Ken “Punky” Frazier. WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired another installment of its live local Massachusetts talent series from 4:30-5PM with contestants from Brighton, Chestnut Hill, Worcester, Lynn, Lincoln (Rhode Island), and North Providence (Rhode Island).

WHDH-TV, WWLP, WHNB-TV, and WRLP aired a Red Sox-Yankees baseball game at 8PM on Monday. WHDH-TV pre-empted the CBS national line-up starting at 8PM. Because the other CBS affiliate in the region, Connecticut’s WTIC-TV (Channel 3), regularly aired a movie on Mondays from 7-9PM, viewers in the area were unable to watch CBS programming from 8-9PM, including Vacation Playhouse from 8:30-9PM. [The unsold pilot this week, “Acres and Pains,” starred Walter Matthua as a writer who moves to the country and runs into trouble evicting the tenant on his new farm.]

On Wednesday, July 21st from 8:30-9:30PM, WNHC-TV pre-empted ABC’s Shindig to air a David L. Wolper documentary about the Nuremberg trials. Richard Basehart narrated. WEDH (Channel 24) aired an hour-long Hartford Symphony concert from 8-9PM on Friday. A repeat, the concert originally aired on January 10th. Arthur Winograd conducted. Featured were soprano Linda Newman and violinist Elmar Oliveira.

Here’s an advertisement for repeats of The Saint on WHYN-TV (Channel 40):

Advertisement for The Saint on WHYN-TV
Advertisement for The Saint on WHYN-TV – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

And here’s an advertisement for Girl with Green Eyes on WHCT-TV (Channel 18) on Wednesday, July 21st:

Advertisement for Girl with Green Eyes on WHCT-TV
Advertisement for Girl with Green Eyes on WHCT-TV – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

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, July 19th, 1965
Capt. Bob sketches whaling boats of New England.

Tuesday, July 20th, 1965
“American Music” is presented.

Wednesday, July 21st, 1965
Wildlife in the Fort Devens area is seen.

Thursday, July 22nd, 1965
“Learn to Swim,” Part 2.

Friday, July 23rd, 1965
Cab Calloway and his daughter are guests.

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

A Year in TV Guide: July 10th, 1965

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 #43
July 10th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 28, Issue #641
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: Yvonne DeCarlo and Fred Gwynne (photograph by Gene Trindl).

The Magazine

This week’s cover article by Richard Warren Lewis is titled “Putting a New Face on His Career” and profiles Fred Gwynne, star of The Munsters on CBS. It’s another typical TV Guide profile with the added bonus of a lengthy look at how Gwynne is turned into Herman Munster. It takes two hours to transform Fred into Herman. There’s both makeup (foam latex mask, rubber bolts and washers, mascara, eyeliner, wig, nail polish) and a costume (pants with foam rubber padding, 5-inch leather boots, and a shrunken jacket with additional padding).

It took him three weeks to get used to carrying around all the extra weight and he lost 10 pounds. He took salt tablets for a while. Now he drinks lemonade without sugar and has access to a compressed-air tank that shoots cold air into the costume during breaks. Plus, at the advice of Al Lewis, he started going to a masseur. So far, Gwynne has only appeared as Herman Munster twice in public. Once was at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade last year (it was his fourth Macy’s parade in a row). He got very drunk on whiskey and decided not to go back this year.

Front Cover
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

The rest of the article delves into Gwynne’s early career and how he is still in awe of the big stars (Jimmy Stewart, Danny Kaye, Groucho Marx) he meets. After attending Harvard, he moved to New York City to become an actor. He worked at the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency for five years. The company was very flexible with his schedule. By 1960 he decided to quit and become a painter. Instead, he found himself performing in Irma la Douce on Broadway. Then came a starring role in Car 54, Where Are You? followed by The Munsters.

“How Do You Spell Success in Three Letters?” by Neil Hickey examines Sports Network Incorporated (SNI), founded in 1956 by Richard E. Bailey. He realized there had to be a better and cheaper way to get regional sports to viewers across the country. He was able to convince the 16 major league baseball teams to sign over rights to their games by explaining how he would link stations near their home cities and transmit games to stations nationwide, charging advertisers locally to spread out the costs and sending money back to the teams. During its first year in operation SNI didn’t own single camera and made $900,000. This year, it owns $4 million worth of equipment and will likely bring in $10 million.

Baseball isn’t the only sport SNI covers. Bailey estimates the network has relayed 5,000 sporting events since 1956, including basketball, swimming, track, horse racing, tennis, bowling, skiing, and football. For $750,000 the network purchased the rights to televise 13 tournaments of the PGA National Tour this year and they are airing in an average of 150 markets. Hickey muddies the waters a bit by also discussing two other companies: Sports Television, operating since 1957, and The Fourth Network, which started in 1964. Neither are anywhere near as successful as SNI. But networks aren’t worried. NBC, for example, feels it is both competitive and compatible with SNI depending on the sport. Critics are happy with SNI and Bailey feels UHF will only increase the demand for sports on television. Perhaps there will eventually be sports-only stations.

John Gregory Dunne’s “The Day the Nazis Landed (in Portuguese Bend, Cal.)” is easy to sum up but hard to summarize. Dunne rented out his house and beach to Universal Pictures for use filming an episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre called “Escape into Jeopardy” starring James Franciscus and Jocelyn Lane. The two-and-a-half page article explains how Dunne’s wife and neighbors reacted and how much more work it was than he expected. Dunne had to wake up at 4:15AM to open the front gate by 4:30AM to let in more than 10 trucks and almost 100 men. He didn’t get to hobnob with stars the way he hoped. His neighbors weren’t as impressed as he thought. How much did Universal pay him for his trouble? $300.

The fourth and final article, “The King Family and How It Grew” by Robert de Roos, includes a big picture of the King Family splashed across the top two-thirds of two pages. Roos first gives a brief history of the family, which started with William King Driggs and now numbers more than 40. About 35 of them appear on ABC’s The King Family Show each week (William passed away in April while Mother Pearl is ill and several others aren’t involved in the TV show). Then there are a few paragraphs about The King Sisters, who started performing in the late 1930s, retired after World War II, came out of retirement, and finally broke up for good in 1964, or so they thought. The TV show came along after a few church performances featuring the whole family proved successful.

The “As We See It” editorial this week is a response to a recent 5-4 Supreme Court ruling that has “severely limited the televising of criminal trials.” TV Guide agrees with Justice Stewart, who argued in his dissent “the suggestion that there are limits upon the public’s right to know what goes on in the courts causes me deep concern.” He also refused to accept the idea that nonparticipants in a trial may get the wrong impression due to “unfettered reporting and commentary,” especially when that is used as an excuse for censorship. TV Guide laments that the decision will likely be used to support the continued refusal by both chambers of Congress to allow television cameras full access. Hopefully the Supreme Court will soon take up the question again and this time consider the public’s right to stay informed. [The full ruling can be found here.]

Cleveland Amory reviews Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color this week. At first, it seems Amory is critical of how Disney makes everything so commercial but it turns out he’s a fan. “It would all be too much–were it not for the simple fact that Mr. Disney’s programs are almost always good and, more often than not, great. And therefore he can be forgiven a great deal, even an occasional program which does not come up to snuff.” His only real criticism is the way Disney sometimes extends programs to three or four parts when they could easily be one part less if not for the “introductions, teasers, trailers, etc.”

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • Hope Lange and Jason Robards, Jr. will star in an episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre next season. The two will be stranded on a desert island. [“Shipwrecked” aired on June 8th, 1966.]
  • Fred Gwynne, Al Lewis, and Ted Cassidy are all working on albums this summer.
  • Norman Baer and Phil D’Antoni are finishing the first of six This Proud Land specials for ABC. Titled “The Wild, Wild East,” it will feature Aaron Copland, Al Capp, Paul Anka, Peter Falk, President Eisenhower, and others. [It aired on November 9th, 1965.]
  • ABC’s Issues and Answers will tackle the pop music-and-dance craze in late July.
  • Perry Como’s first color special will air on October 18th with guests Sammy Davis, Anthony Newly, and Nancy Ames.
  • The Beatles cartoon on ABC will feature the band’s music but not their voices, which will be provided by British actors.
  • Mel Brooks will develop a sitcom called Rosie the Rolls-Royce for NBC’s 1966-1967 schedule. [I don’t believe this ever made it to the pilot stage.]
  • Roy Thinnes will play Ben Quick in ABC’s upcoming The Long, Hot Summer.

Rounding out the national section is a two-page picture feature about Tuesday night art classes at the McKenzie Art Gallery in Hollywood (with Julie Newmar modeling and Nita Talbot, Eddie Foy, Bill Travilla, Richard Deacon, and others painting her), four pages of actress Jessica Walter modeling outfits designed by Ruthanne Tuttle, and the regular TV crossword puzzle.

There are three news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:

  • A number of politicians did not approve of the CBS special “It’s What’s Happening, Baby!” that aired June 28th and was aimed at high school dropouts. Republican senators criticized Sargent Shriver because his Office of Economic Opportunity was responsible for the special. They called it “shameful,” “depraved,” and “immoral.” According to Senator Gordon Allott of Colorado, the special not only insulted the intelligence of the viewing public, it made him “want to regurgitate.”
  • Nominations for the 17th Emmy Awards have been released. After ABC and CBS boycotted the awards show last year, the TV Academy has streamlined the Emmys, which will reward outstanding achievement in multiple categories, chosen by blue-ribbon panelists. Nominees in the Entertainment Programs category include The Andy Williams Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Mr. Novak, “My Name is Barbra,” Profiles in Courage, and Xerox’s United Nations specials. Nominees in the Entertainment Performers category include Julie Andrews, Robert Coote, Richard Crenna, Alfred Lunt, and Barbra Streisand. Nominees in the News Programs category include “My Childhood,” “The Louvre,” and “The Decision to Drop the Bomb.” Fred Friendly refused to submit any CBS News programs. The Emmy Awards will be telecast on September 12th. [A full list of nominees and winners can be found here.]
  • Former president Dwight D. Eisenhower doesn’t want to see TV cameras on the floor at political conventions: “We don’t want them running around interviewing people when matters are being discussed on the platform.”

The letters page this week includes just three letters. The first and longest is from FCC Commissioner Lee Loevinger, responding to Edith Efron’s July 3rd article about him titled “He Has Seen Pig Pens Better Run.” Loevinger insists he has no recollection of comparing the FCC Broadcast Bureau to a pig pen and, if he did, it was clearly a joke. He feels the headline is unfair to her, to him, and to the Broadcast Bureau. Here’s how he concludes the letter:

The headline on the article is irrelevant to the issue and grossly misleading as to the nature of the article. It seems to me that this effort to sensationalize has done a disservice to the view which I hold and which Miss Efron was seeking to present to your readers. At this time all I can do is to record this unhappy protest and ask you to convey it to readers of the article.

There is also a response to Stan Freberg’s June 26th article about educational TV:

Stan Freberg’s concern for the mass TV audience that does not watch educational TV is admirable. I agree that apathy is probably the biggest problem most people have. Did commercial TV do this to them or is it simply feeding apathy the fuel it wants?
Carl Middione
San Francisco

The third and final letter praises Cleveland Amory’s review of Our Private World, also from the June 26th issue:

In regards to your June 26 review of “Our Private World,” you are 100 percent correct, Mr. Amory. I have been telling my wife the show is terrible and all she would say is that I don’t know what I am talking about. Now she has heard the same words from someone who knows.
Fred Russell
Edison, N.J.

The TV Listings

It wasn’t a completely quiet week for the networks but you wouldn’t really know it from the listings section of TV Guide. Not only are most of the close-ups for repeats but there are a significant number of TV Guide advertisements filling the pages this week. It seems the networks didn’t care to promote any of their special programming this week. There are three different ads for articles to be found in next week’s issue of TV Guide plus five advertisements urging or reminding readers to purchase/subscribe/sell TV Guide. To be fair, most issues have a handful of similar advertisements but this week there seemed to be many more than usual.

ABC’s regular 2PM baseball game on Saturday, July 10th pitted the New York Yankees against the Minnesota Twins this week. At 5PM on Sunday, July 11th NBC premiered Encore, an hour-long color series repeating NBC News specials. The debut installment was “Our Man in Andorra, San Marino, Monaco, Liechtenstein–and S.M.O.M.” featuring David Brinkley touring five of the smallest countries in Europe. [The special originally aired on January 28th, 1963 as an installment of David Brinkley’s Journal.] At 6:30PM, CBS aired a half-hour CBS News Special titled “Mission to Mars: The Search for Life” in which Charles Kuralt examined the Mariner IV mission and the possibility of life on Mars with a panel of scientists, including Carl Sagan. And at 8:30PM, NBC began airing repeats of its 1958-1959 half-hour Western series Buckskin as a summer replacement for Branded.

On Monday, July 12th at 8:30PM, CBS aired another unsold pilot as part of its Summer Playhouse series. “Mr. Belvedere” starred Victor Borge as a man helping a young girl elude a private detective. From 10-11PM, CBS Reports tackled “The Rating Game” with the help of Thomas Moore (president of ABC), John Schneider (president of CBS), and Sylvester Weaver (former president of NBC) who discuss the influence of ratings on programming. A.C. Nielsen, Sr. explains how 1,130 families are able to represent 52 million households. And George W. Dick of the American Research Bureau explains how Arbitron ratings work.

At 1:45PM on Tuesday, July 13th NBC broadcast the 36th Annual All-Star Baseball Game between the National and American leagues. Joe Garagiola and Jack Buck called the game. At press time, the National League’s starting lineup had not been revealed while the American League’s starting lineup would, for the first time, not include a New York Yankee. A 15-minute pre-game special featuring films of the players, narrated by Lindsey Nelson and Bob Richards, aired from 1:30-1:45PM.

On Wednesday, July 14th from 10:30-11PM, ABC Scope examined the Mariner IV mission with “Mars Closeup: Are We Alone?” The network’s science editor, Jules Bergman, interviewed the director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as astronomer Frank Drake.

The unsold pilot aired on Vacation Playhouse on CBS on Friday, July 16th was “Patrick Stone” starring Jeff Davis as a private detective hired to watch a beautiful woman to provide an alibi should her ex-husband be murdered.

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

  • World of Sports (ABC, Saturday at 5:00PM)
  • Look Up and Live – “The Desegregated Heart” (CBS, Sunday at 10:30AM)
  • The Rogues – “Hugger-Mugger By the Sea” (NBC, Sunday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • Ben Casey – “Pas de Deux” (ABC, Monday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • All-Star Game (NBC, Tuesday at 1:45PM)
  • ABC Scope – “Mars Closeup: Are We Alone?” (ABC, Wednesday at 10:30PM)
  • The Defenders – “The Thief” (CBS, Thursday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • FDR – “Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt” (ABC, Friday at 8:00PM)

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: A High Wind in Jamaica (Saturday at 9:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Young Cassidy (Sunday at 8:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Premature Burial (Monday at 9:00PM, $1.00)
  • Movie: Joy in the Morning (Tuesday at 9:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Up from the Beach (Wednesday at 7:00PM, $1.25)

Locally there were a few baseball games this week and that’s about it. At 1:45PM on Saturday, WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired a half-hour documentary about the 1962-1963 Nassau Speed Week. At 2:10PM, WHCT (Channel 18) aired a baseball game between the Houston Astros and the New York Mets. At 2:15PM, WHDH-TV (Channel 5), WWLP (Channel 22), WHNB-TV (Channels 30 and 79), and WRLP (Channel 32) aired a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Senators. Also at 2:15PM, WNHC-TV joined ABC’s national Yankees-Twins baseball game in progress.

At 11:30AM on Sunday, WNHC-TV’s Comments and People saw host George Thompson interviewing Godfrey Cambridge, currently part of the cast of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the Oakdale Musical Theatre in Wallingford, CT. At 1PM, WHCT aired another Astros-Mets game while at 1:30PM WHDH-TV, WWLP, WHNB-TV, and WRLP aired another Red Sox-Senators game. WNHC-TV aired another Yankees-Twins game at 2:30PM. WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired its local Massachusetts talent program at 4:30PM but there were no details in the listing.

Once again WNHC-TV pre-empted much of ABC’s lineup on Friday. The station aired The Flintstones from 7:30-8PM and FDR from 8-8:30PM but pre-empted The Addams Family at 8:30PM for syndicated documentary series Battle Line followed by a baseball game (New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals) at 8:55PM, pre-empting Valentine’s Day, Peyton Place, and 12 O’Clock High.

Here’s an advertisement for WTIC-TV’s broadcast of Tomahawk on Monday, July 13th:

Advertisement for Tomahawk on WTIC-TV
Advertisement for Tomahawk on WTIC-TV – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

And here’s an advertisement for WTIC-TV’s broadcast of The Way to the Gold on Wednesday, July 14th:

Advertisement for The Way to the Gold on WTIC-TV
Advertisement for The Way to the Gold on WTIC-TV – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

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, July 12th, 1965
Capt. Bob instructs the viewer in a sketch of a sailboat riding the crest of the waves.

Tuesday, July 13th, 1965
Music from the North and South from the Civil War period is featured.

Wednesday, July 14th, 1965
Jack Woolner tells the story of the Massachusetts Beach and Buggy Association.

Thursday, July 15th, 1965
The first in a three-part series of programs featuring official Red Cross swimming instruction.

Friday, July 16th, 1965
The arts and customs of ancient Peru are studied by children.

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

Review: Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend

Bookshelf is a monthly column examining printed matter relating to television. While I love watching TV, I also love reading about it, from tie-in novels to TV Guides, from vintage television magazines to old newspaper articles. Bookshelf is published on the second Thursday of each month.

Rin Rin Rin: The Life and Legend
By Susan Orlean
First Published in 2011
Published by Simon & Schuster
324 Pages

This is another atypical Bookshelf column. It was published in 2011, so it is very new. It’s not a TV tie-in novel or a reference book. And there aren’t many people who would consider Rin Tin Tin to be obscure or forgotten. That might depend on which Rin Tin Tin they’re thinking about. The Rin Tin Tin from ABC’s The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (who wasn’t actually a Rin Tin Tin at all)? The Rin Tin Tin who starred in a variety of movies during the 1920s and early 130s and almost received an Academy Award? The Rin Tin Tin who starred in additional movies during the 1930s?

Personally, prior to reading Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend I’m pretty sure I thought Rin Tin Tin was a fictional dog like Lassie. I knew the name Rin Tin Tin and was aware there had been a Rin Tin Tin television show in the 1950s but had never watched it (I have seen a few episodes of Lassie, however). I don’t think I knew there were dozens of Rin Tin Tin movies.

A family member suggested I read this book and went as far as to mark the sections about the TV show in case I didn’t want to read the whole thing. I did read it all and found some of it interesting, some of it depressing, and some of it bizarre.

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend is a strange mix of biography and personal essay. But it is not really a biography of the original Rin Tin Tin. Much of it reads like a biography of Lee Duncan, the man who rescued a number of German Shepherd puppies while stationed in France during World War I. He named one Rin Tin Tin and after the war the two eventually made their way into the movies.

The latter part of the book turns into a biography of Herbert B. Leonard, the producer of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, who championed the Rin Tin Tin legacy after Duncan’s death in 1960. Leonard also produced Circus Boy, Naked City, Route 66, and several other TV shows (several of them short-lived). These are the depressing parts. Both Duncan and Leonard had family and financial difficulties and could be very obsessive and perhaps overly dedicated at times. Duncan especially is a tragic character, closer to his dogs — and the memory of the original Rin Tin Tin — than his wife and daughter.

Since finishing the book I have learned that it has some factual errors. See this October 2011 Leonard Maltin post and this July 2012 post by Stephen Bowie for details. The personal essay portions are bizarre, however.

Time and time again, Orlean cuts away from the past to discuss her thoughts and feelings about Rin Tin Tin, tied to her travels while researching the book. These seem both out of place and unnecessary. Rin Tin Tin (all of the Rin Tin Tins, in fact), Duncan, and Leonard are more than interesting enough to keep readers turning the pages. The sections devoted to Orlean, on the other hand, may make some readers want to put down the book. Near the end, the book actually gets a little confusing as Orlean jumps around between various players in the Rin Tin Tin universe and herself.

Anyway, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin is by no means an obscure or forgotten TV series. It was very popular during its original prime time run on ABC from 1954 to 1959 and remained popular for many years after that, with ABC airing afternoon repeats from 1959 to 1961 and CBS airing repeats on Saturday mornings from 1962 to 1964. It then resurfaced in syndication in the mid-1970s with new color wraparounds and, oddly enough, tinted sepia. If you’re a fan of the TV series, there is a lot of information about its production in this book.

What I found most intriguing were the little details. For example, Orlean reveals that when Leonard went to film the color wraparounds in 1975, he was only able to afford to complete 22 of them. All 164 episodes of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin were tinted sepia, however. In the late 1970s, Leonard somehow managed to convince someone to foot the bill to fully colorize 65 episodes in an attempt to refresh them for syndication. These episodes never aired. No one was interested in syndicating them. He later edited five together to create a feature film that he likewise was unable to find someone to distribute it.

Orlean also writes about a variety of TV show concepts that Leonard came up with, many of which involved Rin Tin Tin. Some were apparently little more than titles. Others were partly or fully scripted but never produced.

The single most interesting thing to come out of reading Rin Tin Tin: The Life and Legend, however? A single line from the section of the book about the original Rin Tin Tin:

In 1926, Rin Tin Tin appeared on an experimental television station in New York City called W2XCR.

That’s it. There were no additional details or even a time frame for Rin Tin Tin’s appearance. Whatever and whenever his appearance was, it is long lost to time.

A Year in TV Guide: July 3rd, 1965

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 #42
July 3rd, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 27, Issue #640
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: Jimmy Dean (Copyright Philippe Halsman).

The Magazine

There are only three articles in this issue. Richard Gehman’s cover article about Jimmy Dean is oddly vague. It’s not the typical TV Guide profile with lots of details about Dean’s life and career. Instead, Gehman spends a long paragraph recounting how he used to be in a rhythm band and, as an adult, decided to add lyrics about Jimmy Dean to one of the songs he used to play. The bulk of the rest of the article discusses Dean’s exaggerated way of talking, the outfits he wears, how much he likes Mexican food, his unpredictability, and the camaraderie that exists between Dean and his crew.

Front Cover
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Gehman does reveal how Dean saved his show from cancellation during the 1963-1964 season. He quotes ABC-TV president Thomas Moore:

We were going to cancel him, the ratings were so bad. We’d made a mistake. We’d put Madison Avenue suits on him, and the writers were giving him sophisticated lines. The notice for the closing went up. We did not think he could survive, and we were looking for a replacement.

Dean asked if he could do the show his way and ABC agreed, still planning on cancelling him. Instead, “the plainsy, backwoodsy manner suddenly began to fuse into an audience-puller.” Although The Jimmy Dean Show isn’t a huge hit, it draws a sizable audience that is “fervently devoted to the singer and his program.” Dean may be somewhat frustrated with the popularity of his puppet sidekick Rowlf, created by Jim Henson. “Next thing you know, they’ll be calling the dog the star of this here ol’ show.” Gehman concludes the article by predicting that Dean “will be back next season and, I am positive, for many seasons to come.” [The Jimmy Dean Show did return for the 1965-1966 season, its third, but was cancelled after that.]

“The Day Shelley Winters Returned to Her Old Studio — and TV — in a Rented Car” by Leslie Raddatz is a bizarre, two-page article that doesn’t paint Winters in a very good light. She has returned to Universal City Studios, where she filmed A Double Life in 1947, for another installment of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre. She won an Emmy for an episode during the 1963-1964 season. During rehearsals she wears a “sloppy blue housecoat” and if a scene only requires her to wear a full costume from the waist up, that’s what she does.

According to Raddatz, she demands attention, the type stars get, even if she doesn’t look like one. He quotes someone who was on the set: “She’s like a child. She doesn’t care whether people like what she does–just so she gets attention.” The article also includes three lengthy sections, in parentheses and italics, that discuss how Winters got her start, her childhood, and her various marriages. [The episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Winters was working on was “Back to Back,” which aired on October 27th, 1965. It earned her an Emmy nomination.]

The third and final article, “He Has Seen Pig Pens Better Run” by Edith Efron, spotlights FCC commissioner Lee Loevinger, appointed by President Kennedy to replace Newton Minow. Loevinger is the complete opposite of Minow: “The Minow view, that it is the FCC’s duty to elevate the level and quality of broadcasting, is legally and morally wrong.” He detests Minow’s famous Vast Wasteland space:

Read it. It’s ill-considered. It’s illogical. Silliness! Nonsense! Contradictions! Look here. Here’s the essential error. First he says that the broadcaster must serve the public demand. Then he says that the broadcaster can’t just serve the public demand, that there are minority interests. What that means is that the broadcaster must offer the kind of “balance” prescribed by the FCC, regardless of the public demand.

He firmly believes that the FCC should not be involved in programming at all due to the First Amendment. It shouldn’t require religious programming, it shouldn’t send programming questionnaires to licensees, it shouldn’t insist on live, local productions, and it shouldn’t insist on fairness. He argues that the FCC sees the First Amendment as a limitation of its power and thus pushes back to try to extend its power. Not surprisingly, he is not very popular within the FCC itself. Most of his fellow commissioners don’t agree with him at all. One does agree on his objectives but not the details. Only Commissioner Rosel Hyde completely supports Loevinger: “He is taking positions which I have taken for many years. I don’t think the Commission ought to be regulating in the program area at all.”

Loevinger feels the only way to change the FCC is through the courts. “A rapid change could only occur if some broadcaster took a case to court. If the issue of program control were presented in a proper legal setting, I think the Supreme Court would hold the First Amendment forbid much the FCC has been doing.” [Loevinger remained with the FCC until 1968. The FCC got rid of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, although it wasn’t officially repealed from the Federal Register until 2011.]

The “As We See It” editorial this week discusses a recent editorial in the Parent-Teachers Association magazine in which editor Eva H. Grant criticized Peyton Place and lamented the loss of Profiles in Courage, Mr. Novak, and The Defenders. TV Guide argues that if the 12 million PTA members had watched those three shows and not Peyton Place, they would still be on the air while Peyton Place wouldn’t have been renewed. In other words, writing letters to sponsors, networks and stations may help support your favorite shows, but “the way to get the kind of programs you want is to put your eyes where your mouth is.”

There is no Cleveland Amory review this week.

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • Four NBC News crews are traveling the globe gathering interviews for the network’s three-and-a-half-hour exploration of U.S. foreign policy, to air September 7th. [“American White Paper: United States Foreign Policy” ran from 7:30-11PM on Tuesday, September 7th, 1965.]
  • David Susskind’s Talent Associates is producing a daytime game show called Supermarket Sweepstakes for ABC next season. [The series premiered in December 1965 and ran through July 1967.]
  • Sean Connery will host/narrate David Wolper’s special “The Incredible World of James Bond” for NBC in November. [Connery reportedly refused to participate after reading the script for the special. Alexander Scourby eventually served as narrator. The special aired on November 26th, 1965.]
  • CBS plans to have microphones on the quarterbacks and coaches during its first NFL preseason game on August 7th.
  • Gary Smith, producer of Hullabaloo, is working on a musical-variety series for NBC that will mix satire with comedy, similar to That Was the Week That Was. It is planned for the 1966-1967 season. [I don’t believe this ever made it to the air.]
  • NBC has a new daytime game show called P.D.Q. in the works with Dennis James hosting. [The series aired in syndication from September 1965 to September 1969.]
  • Robert Culp has written four episodes of I Spy and will direct one.
  • Vic Morrow will write an episode of Combat!
  • Jay Ward and Sid Caesar are planning a half-hour comedy series called Prince Fred in which Sid will play a dentist from the Midwest who inherits a European kingdom. [I don’t believe this even made it to the pilot stage.]
  • Peyton Place now has 26 regulars in its cast with the addition of Lee Grant.
  • Carolyn Jones will portray her character’s older sister on The Addams Family next season.
  • Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam will co-star in a film tentatively titled Don’t Worry, We’ll Think of a Title.

Rounding out the national section is a six-page picture feature explaining how ABC televised the Tournament of Champions from Las Vegas. It includes a map with icons for various broadcast equipment (microwave-relay, parabolic microphone, tower camera, wheel camera, etc.) and a lengthy breakdown of the logistics of the event. There is also a page of TV Jibe comics, a recipe for gelato di melone (melon sherbet), and the regular TV crossword puzzle which is filled out again this week.

There are three news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:

  • Sports columnist Red Smith has criticized the United States Golf Association for ruling that any sudden-death play-offs will no longer start at the first hole but instead start at the 15th hole where, conveniently, television cameras are situated. Smith and others are concerned that sports of all types are being changed due to the impact of television.
  • CBS News “resident muckraker” Jay McMullen last week exposed mail-order medical laboratories on the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Senator Jacob J. Javits has asked Congress to pass legislation requiring licensing and inspection of such labs.
  • Isme Bennie, 25, has fled South African due to fear of government reprisals for her role in helping National Educational Television writers and producers conduct interviews for two documentaries. The films had to be smuggled out of the country. The first documentary, “Fruit of Fear,” aired on NET stations last week.

The letters page this week includes seven letters on five topics. There’s a letter from someone who enjoyed the June 12th article on Molly Bee (“It’s nice to hear of a performer who is secure, even if she’s not on top.”), another complimenting Marian Dern for her June 19th article about Richard Basehart, and a third in support of Pamela Mason, who was also profiled in the June 19th issue. Then there are two letters responding to the June 12th article about Milburn Stone:

You use the expression–“Miss Kitty’s questionable character.” During all the years of watching Gunsmoke, I never once saw or heard anything which made me question Miss Kitty’s character. In what way can you justify the statement?
James Gilgour
Wynnewood, Pa.

I agree with Doc. Gunsmoke‘s appeal to me as a history student is the show’s apparent authenticity–the feeling it might have happened just that way 100 years or so ago. Performers like Betty Hutton on Gunsmoke are anachronisms, as out of time and place as the Vietnamese issue [would have been] in the Lincoln-Douglas debates. CBS, please leave Gunsmoke to Doc, Kitty, Festus, and Matt.
Mrs. Frances Horn
Spokane, Wash.

An editorial note responded to the letter about Miss Kitty: “Histories of the West bear out, we think, that dance-hall girls of the era were, more often than not, of ‘questionable character’.”

Finally, there were two letters from viewers who watched “The Berkeley Rebels,” a CBS News special that aired on June 14th:

After just viewing CBS’s “The Berkeley Rebels,” I think it is only fair that the normal, well-adjusted college students have equal time to show that they do enjoy school, their classes, sports, respect their faculty, etc.
Mrs. Jack Hall
Yakima, Wash.

I think it is quite revealing that the students at the University of California did not reach their adolescent thinking until their early 20’s.
Mrs. Darlene Peterson
Carlsbad, N.M.

The TV Listings

It was a quiet week for the networks with no special programming to celebrate the Fourth of July. The teams playing in ABC’s regular afternoon baseball game for Saturday, July 3rd weren’t finalized at press time so TV Guide‘s listing stated the game would feature either the San Francisco Giants vs. the Chicago Cubs or the Cleveland Indians vs. the Baltimore Orioles. [It ended up being Giants-Cubs.]

On Monday, July 5th at 8:30PM, Summer Playhouse on CBS presented “Sally and Sam,” an unsold pilot from Hal Kanter starring Gary Lockwood and Cynthia Pepper. From 10-10:30PM, CBS aired an unidentified CBS News special. [It was a repeat of “Everett Dirksen, a Self-Portrait.”]

CBS aired another unsold pilot [“The Barbara Rush Show”] on Friday, July 9th from 9:30-10PM as part of its Vacation Playhouse series. The pilot starred Rush as a woman juggling her job as a public stenographer with raising three children while her husband goes to medical school.

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

  • Wide World of Sports (ABC, Saturday at 5:00PM)
  • Hollywood Palace (ABC, Saturday at 9:30PM, Repeat)
  • Look Up and Live – “My People Is the Enemy” (CBS, Sunday at 10:30AM)
  • Western Open (WBZ-TV/WNHC-TV, Sunday at 5:00PM)
  • The Andy Williams Show (NBC, Monday at 9:00PM, Repeat)
  • Mr. Novak – “From the Brow of Zeus” (NBC, Tuesday at 7:30PM, Repeat)
  • Kraft Suspense Theatre – “Operation Grief” (NBC, Thursday at 10:00PM, Repeat)

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 Double Feature: Dr. No and From Russia with Love (Saturday at 7:30PM, $1.50)
  • Movie: Young Cassidy (Sunday at 9:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: A High Wind in Jamaica (Monday at 7:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Walt Disney’s Cinderella (Wednesday at 7:30PM, $1.00)
  • Movie: Brainstorm (Friday at 9:00PM, $1.00)

It was a much busier week locally, with seven different baseball games and a variety of specials. At 12PM on Saturday, WHNB-TV (Channels 30 and 79) brought back its half-hour local Connecticut talent show hosted by Colonel Clown. Featured were children from the Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury areas. At 2:15PM, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired NBC’s Sportsman’s Holiday, airing it locally outside of its regular 5:45-6PM network time slot. The 15-minute color series premiered the previous week but WBZ-TV airs syndicated Hollywood a Go Go from 5-6PM on Saturdays so it had to find a different time slot for Sportsman’s Holiday.

[None of the NBC affiliates in Western New England aired Sportsman’s Holiday when it premiered on Saturday, June 26th. As mentioned above, WBZ-TV aired Hollywood a Go Go from 5-6PM on Saturdays so it debuted the series the following week at a different time. WWLP (Channel 22), WHNB-TV, and WRLP (Channel 32) were all scheduled to air the series premiere on June 26th but the July 3rd listing has the same episode description and a “Postponed from last week” notice. All of those stations aired a baseball game starting at 2:15PM on June 26th. Perhaps it ran long. Or perhaps NBC decided to push back the premiere of Sportsman’s Holiday from June 26th to July 3rd. That’s the problem with TV Guide listings. They’re not always accurate and sometimes confusing.]

Also at 2:15PM, WHDH-TV (Channel 5), WNHC-TV (Channel 8), WWLP, WHNB-TV, and WRLP aired a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. At 5PM, WBZ-TV and WNHC-TV aired live coverage of the third round of the Western Open golf tournament. At 7PM, WTIC-TV (Channel 3) aired the premiere of Summer Playhouse, the CBS series that debuted on the network on Monday, June 28th at 8:30PM. The station airs movies from 7-9PM on Mondays, pre-empting CBS network programming. At 11PM, WHDH-TV broadcast a 90-minute CBS special called “It’s What’s Happening, Baby!” that aired nationally from 9:30-11PM on Monday, June 28th. WHDH-TV was showing a baseball game at the time and pre-empted the specially locally.

On Sunday at 1PM, WNHC-TV aired a half-hour special called “Chance to Learn” about the nation’s education problems and how the Elementary and Secondary Eduction Act of 1965 can help solve them. At 1:30PM, WHDH-TV, WNHC-TV, WWLP, WHNB-TV, and WRLP aired another Yankees-Red Sox baseball game. WBZ-TV’s half-hour local Massachusetts talent audition program at 4:30PM featured participants from Quincy, Boston, South Lancaster, East Weymouth, Island Park (Rhode Island), and Henniker (New Hampshire). At 5PM, WBZ-TV and WNHC-TV aired live coverage of the final round of the Western Open golf tournament.

Two baseball games aired on Monday. At 12PM, WHDH-TV, WNHC-TV, WWLP, WHNB-TV, and WRLP aired a game between the Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. At 2PM, WNAC-TV (Channel 7), WATR-TV (Channel 20), and WHYN-TV (Channel 40) aired a game between the Yankees and the Detroit Tigers. WNHC-TV was scheduled to pick up the Yankees-Tigers game in progress at 2:30PM after the Red Sox-Twins game ended. From 10:30-11PM, WTIC-TV aired a half-hour special called “Connecticut: What’s Ahead.”

On Thursday at 10:30PM, WNHC-TV repeated “Chance to Learn.” WNHC-TV pre-empted ABC’s entire prime-time lineup on Friday, airing syndicated Battle Line at 7:30PM in place of The Flinstones followed by a baseball game at 7:55PM featuring the Houston Astros and the New York Mets.

Here’s an advertisement for WHCT-TV’s broadcast of Cinderella as part of the Phonevision pay television experiment:

Advertisement for Cinderella on WHCT-TV
Advertisement for Cinderella on WHCT-TV – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for Susie [the syndicated title for Private Secretary] weekdays on WHYN-TV:

Advertisement for Susie on WHYN-TV
Advertisement for Susie on WHYN-TV – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

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, July 5th, 1965
Capt. Bob makes a color drawing of a Revolutionary drum and musket.

Tuesday, July 6th, 1965
The songs of the American Negro are presented.

Wednesday, July 7th, 1965
Jack Woolner takes a look at Great Meadows marsh and the Concord River area as a site to enjoy a family outing.

Thursday, July 8th, 1965
Anna Maria Alberghetti makes a guest appearance.

Friday, July 9th, 1965
Skills of the arts and crafts society are presented.

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

June 2015: The Month in Home Media

The Month in Home Media is a monthly column highlighting short-lived or rare television series, specials, miniseries or made-for-TV movies released on DVD or Blu-ray during the previous month, as well as recent additions to streaming services like Warner Archive Instant. The releases discussed in this column are encoded for Region 1 use in the United States and Canada. The Month in Home Media is published on the first Thursday of each month.

June 2015 was a bit slower than May, with only a handful of complete series releases: The Bold Ones: The Senator (NBC, 1970-1971); Jericho (CBS, 1966-1967), and Young Hercules (Fox Kids, 1998-1999). There were no new streaming additions this month.

DVD/Blu-ray Releases

The Bold Ones: The Senator – The Complete Series (TV Series, Timeless/Shout! Factory, DVD)
This 3-disc set includes the March 1970 pilot telefilm to The Senator as well as all eight episodes that aired during the 1970-1971 season as part of NBC’s The Bold Ones. There is also a new interview with star Hal Holbrook, an interview segment with Holbrook from a 1971 episode of The Dick Cavett Show, plus an anti-drug PSA featuring Holbrook. A review of the set can be found at DVD Verdict while an in-depth examination of the series can be found at the A.V. Club. According to posts at the Home Theater Forum, all but one of the episodes appear to be edited syndicated versions.

Jericho: The Complete Series (TV Series, Warner Archive, DVD)
No, this is not the post-apocalyptic drama that ran for two seasons on CBS from 2006 to 2008 (that series is already on DVD). This is the World War II spy drama that ran for 16 episodes on CBS during the 1966-1967 season. It starred Don Francks, Marino Mase, and John Leyton. The series is also available for streaming via Warner Archive Instant. Manufacture-on-demand.

That Show with Joan Rivers (TV Episodes, Synergy Entertainment/Topics Entertainment, DVD)
You get 29 episodes of That Show with Joan Rivers in this 4-disc set. The weekday talk show aired in first-run syndication during the 1968-1969 season. A 3-disc was released in February 2012 containing 18 episodes; Hulu currently has 65 episodes available for streaming. I’m not sure whether this new collection contains episodes not available in the earlier set or on Hulu.

Young Hercules: The Complete Series (TV Series, Shout! Factory, DVD)
I usually don’t cover Saturday-morning children’s programming but I remember watching the occasional episode of Young Hercules and it did only air for one season from 1998 to 1999 on Fox Kids. A spin-off of the popular syndicated action-adventure series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Young Hercules starred Ryan Gosling as the title character. This 6-disc set includes all 50 episodes (but not the pilot telefilm that starred a different actor) as well as a featurette about writing for the series.

DVD/Blu-ray News

NBC only aired 15 episodes of The Michael J. Fox Show during the 2013-2014 season, leaving 7 unaired. On July 7th, Sony will release the entire series on DVD through its manufacture-on-demand program so fans will finally have a chance to see the unaired episodes (TVShowsOnDVD.com).

Streaming/Downloads

There were no new additions to Warner Archive Instant or Hulu. Warner Archive Instant has removed The Lieutenant and the four Man from Atlantis made-for-TV movies.

Hit the comments with any news about upcoming DVD/Blu-ray releases or additions to streaming services.