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 what 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.

74th Anniversary of TV’s First Commercial

Today marks the 74th anniversary of the start of commercial television in the United States. The FCC designated Tuesday, July 1st, 1941 as the day TV stations could begin airing commercials. A handful of earlier advertising messages were either experimental or illegal. There weren’t a lot of television sets in use at the time and very few stations on the air. Only one, WNBT in New York City, was prepared to begin broadcasting commercials.

A total of four advertisers were on board: Bulova Watch Co., Sun Oil Co., Lever Bros. Co., and Proctor & Gamble. As with so much of early TV history, WNBT’s schedule for that historic day isn’t entirely clear. I’ve written about this in the past. Here’s my best guess:

WNBT Schedule for Tuesday, July 1st, 1941
  1:30PM – Test Pattern
  2:30PM – Baseball: Dodgers vs. Phillies, at Ebbets Field
  6:45PM – Lowell Thomas (Sun Oil Co.)
  8:00PM – Test Pattern
  9:00PM – USO Program
  9:30PM – Uncle Jim’s Question Bee (Lever Bros.)
10:00PM – Bottlenecks of 1941
10:30PM – Truth or Consequences (Proctor & Gamble)

There is some evidence to suggest that the USO program and Bottlenecks of 1941 (a revue) were either aired back to back or actually part of the same program. Records of audio recordings held by the Library of Congress indicate Uncle Jim’s Question Bee aired in between them, however.

The distinction of airing the very first official TV commercial goes to Bulova Watch Co. There’s an awful lot of confusion about exactly what that first commercial looked like. Some sources indicate it was just 10 or 20 seconds long and consisted of a map of the United States with a ticking watch on top and a voiceover stating “America runs on Bulova time.” There are even so-called “reconstructions” of the commercial on YouTube.

According to contemporary sources, Bulova aired two “time signals” on July 1st, 1941. Each ran a full minute and there was no map, just a test pattern with a watch face overlaid and a ticking second hand. Here’s a description from the July 6th, 1941 edition of The New York Times:

The first attempt to attract prospective customers was made under the sponsorship of a watch manufacturing concern, which paid $4 for the privilege of having a test pattern resembling a clock face flashed on the screen. The pattern remained on the air for a minute while the second hand traced its way around the dial. [1]

More details were published in the July 7th, 1941 issue of Broadcasting:

Bulova Watch Co., New York, opened and closed the day’s transmissions on this station with a visual adaptation of its familiar radio time signal. A standard test pattern, fitted with hands like a clock and bearing the name of the sponsor, ticked off a full minute at 2:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. for the edification of the viewers-in. This two-program contract also provides television’s first success story, for following the opening day’s test the sponsor immediately signed up for daily time-signals for the standard 13-week period. [2]

As further proof, Broadcasting published a photograph of the test pattern itself in its July 14th issue:

Front Cover
Bulova’s Test Pattern Time Signal – Copyright 1941 Broadcasting Publications, Inc. [1]

A similar image also showing the bulky camera can be found at the Early Television Museum website.

Will we ever know exactly what the commercial looked like? Perhaps not. There are no known visual recordings of the July 1st, 1941 programming. Additional photographs, perhaps even some taken of an actual television set, may yet come to light. The Library of Congress has a recording of Truth or Consequences, which reportedly closed out the night’s schedule, airing from 10:30-11PM. Hopefully it includes the second of Bulova’s time signals said to have aired at 11PM. At the very least, that would allow for confirmation of the length and what the time signal sounded like.

Works Cited:

1 Stewart, R.W. “Imagery for Profit.” New York Times. 6 Jul. 1941: X10.
2 “Novel Commercials in Video Debut.” Broadcasting. 7 Jul. 1941: 10.

Image Credits:

1 “Television Time.” Broadcasting. 14 Jul. 1941: 43.

A Year in TV Guide: June 26th, 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 #41
June 26th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 26, Issue #636
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: Donna McKechnie, Lada Edmound Jr., Barbara Monte (photograph by Douglas Kirkland, Meridian).

The Magazine

This week’s cover article (“‘Hullabaloo’ – It’s Real GONE” by David Newman and Robert Benton”) is underwhelming. There’s a long introductory paragraph about Lada Edmund Jr. dancing and screaming (“I’m sort of known for my screams. I’m supposed to count but I worked it out so I can scream and count at the same time.”) and at several points people involved with the show stress that it is nothing like ABC’s Shindig. For starters, Hullabaloo pays much better, up to $7,500 and on par with what Ed Sullivan or Danny Kaye pay talent to appear on their shows.

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

Producer Gary Smith explains that the studio audience is strictly controlled to “keep the screamers out.” During dress rehearsals plenty of teenagers are allowed in but during actual tapings only 25% of the audience are teens. “We estimate our viewing audience is 30 percent kids, 45 percent young adults and 25 percent adults, wives of performers, agents, and managers.” Critics and viewers didn’t initially embrace the show. Critics may still not like it but it has grown in the ratings. And it is attracting top talent. According to Lester Gottlieb, who developed the concept for Hullabaloo, “at the beginning of this show, acts were avoiding us like the plague. Bobby Rydell gave us a plea of illness. Nancy Wilson was afraid it wasn’t good for her image. Then one week we had Sammy Davis as the host. He dug the show, as they say, and he had a new record he wanted to push. Since then we’ve had no trouble getting acts at all.”

“The Sound-and-Fury Boys” about actors Harry Hickox (Sergeant King on No Time for Sergeants) and Frank Sutton (Sergeant Carter on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.) is actually two separate articles, one about each man. They start off almost exactly the same because both Hickox and Sutton were sergeants during World War II, both are from the south, both are color blind, and both started acting in their early teens. Hickox started acting during high school. He married in the late 1930s. After World War II he auditioned for the national tour of The Music Man and played Charlie Cowell for three years. When he auditioned for the role of Sergeant King on No Time for Sergeants, without his toupee, there were those who didn’t think he looked the park. Production supervisor George Burns disagreed. “He’s an actor, and a good actor can look like a sergeant when the time comes.” Hickox got the part.

As for Sutton, he started acting in high school as well and spent a long time getting rid of his Southern accent. After World War II he went to college, got married, and left school for a year to tour with a production of The Barretts of Wimpole Street. He got his start in live TV thanks to producer Fred Coe, who directed Sutton during his first community theater production in high school. Delbert Mann, who acted alongside Sutton in that same play, cast him in a small role in the film Marty, which was his big break. Despite the success of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Sutton refuses to buy a house in Hollywood and lives with his wife and children in an apartment. “I’m very nervous about anchoring anywhere,” he explains. “Actors are like gypsies.”

“Sheldon Hits Some High Notes” is an interesting article about trumpeter and actor Jack Sheldon, co-star of The Cara Williams Show. He doesn’t really consider himself an actor. “I’ve just got those two expressions–straight ahead and straight to the side,” he says. “I just play me.” He once arrived an hour late for a recording session conducted by Henry Mancini. Jack made a joke about being fogged in and cracked everyone up. Said Mancini: “Jack Sheldon, who has more humor in his trumpet than any man I know is one of the few musicians in town worth waiting for. I just hope success doesn’t straighten him out.”

Guitar player and composer Jack Marshall also has good things to say about Jack Sheldon. “Jack lives in a wonderful world of his own. The hip people have loved him for years and now the public is latching on. Jack worked hard to become a good musician. Now he’s got big eyes for acting, and he’s working hard at that–so who knows how big a future he has?” His future won’t involve The Cara Williams Show, however, because it has been cancelled. [Sheldon would later star in the short-lived Run, Buddy, Run on CBS during the 1966-1967 season and was a regular on The Girl with Something Extra on NBC during the 1973-1974 season.]

“This Is Janine Gray” is a one-page profile of British actress Janine Gray, who at one point drove a cab in London to pay the bills. She “projects a ladylike sex appeal” and has drawn praise for some of her guest roles. According to scriptwriter David Friedkin, who penned an episode The Alfred Hitchcock Hour that Gray guested on, she “fulfills the words. She departs from the page with a distinctive quality, a fresh approach. She has this offbeat attack that sticks with you.” Quinn Martin also had good things to say about her: “She has an interesting talent to go with those lovely looks. We gave her a difficult part and she did it to a ‘T’.” [Gray’s career didn’t last that long. Internet Movie Database profile lists 24 credits between 1960s and 1969.]

The fifth and final article is called “Drag Educational TV Out of Its Ivory Tower!” and features excerpts from a talk given by Stan Freberg to affiliates of National Educational Television that led to him being appointed consultant to the NET president. At three pages, it’s a lengthy discourse on why educational TV (ETV) is failing. Freberg argues there are four parts to the problem:

  1. ETV is fighting “a national apathy” that keeps people “from going out of their way to find out what educational television means.”
  2. Overall, ETV stations in most cities are not doing a great job combating this apathy by explaining what they are and what they do.
  3. Many viewers can’t tune in ETV stations because they do not have UHF converters and don’t want to spend $50 to buy one. It helps that all new sets come with UHF converters but that might not be enough.
  4. Can ETV “come out of its academic ivory tower long enough to examine whether or not it is educating by doing the most interesting, spellbinding, fascinating and–that terrible word–‘entertaining’ programming possible?”

Freberg states that while some ETV programming is “among the finest television being done” there are also many programs that are too special-interest and attract too few viewers. ETV is “so worried about your special-interest audiences–and so concerned lest you stoop down to the mass, and so ‘Educational’ with a capital E, that you’re getting hung up on your own image. You have a challenge her such as education has never known.” He worries that while ETV in big cities like Boston and San Francisco is successful, there are millions of people who don’t know about ETV and will likely give up on television entirely before ETV can reach them. “Do not expect that these people will seek you out. You must try to communicate with them, to let them know what television can truly be, if they will but tune you in.”

The “As We See It” editorial this week is all about numbers. ABC, CBS, and NBC earned a record $1,145,889,700 during the 1964-1965 season and that figure will likely be surpassed during the upcoming season. The networks are paying $100,000,000 for rights to football. Proctor & Gamble spent $148,783,200 on television in 1964 alone ($70,439,700 on local spots and $78,343,500 on network spots). The second largest advertiser was General Foods which spent $70,874,800 in 1964. Overall, 24 national advertisers spent more than $20,000,000 last year, 14 that spent more than $30,000,000 and seven that spent more than $40,000,000. Finally, television advertising of all types is expected to earn $2,250,000,000 during the 1965-1966 season. That’s why there is so much imitation in television and so little gambling.

Cleveland Amory’s review of Our Private World is not kind. He notes that the twice-weekly prime time CBS serial has even less depth than As the World Turns, the daytime serial it was spun-off from. “In fact, if it weren’t for repeating everything twice, we don’t think they’d be on twice a week.” He explains the basic plot of the series and its main characters before ending with the following:

Altogether it is the first show we’ve seen in a long time where literally nothing is good–the idea, the producing, the writing or the directing. As for the acting, it has to be seen to be believed–and, believe us, it shouldn’t be. The girls are bad and the boys are worse. One thing this show dose, though. It makes Peyton Place look great. In fact, the only thing we cannot fault is the title, Our Private World. The mistake was in making it public.

Ouch.

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • John Wayne will appear in an episode of Dean Martin’s NBC show in September.
  • Debbie Watson, formerly of NBC’s Karen, will star in ABC’s Tammy next season.
  • Lynn Loring will play Efrem Zimbalist’s daughter on The FBI. Lee Meriwether will also have a regular role.
  • Fred MacMurray will romance a welfare worker played by Vera Miles over the course of three episodes of My Three Sons next season.
  • Fred Astaire will host four episodes of The Hollywood Palace.
  • Don Knotts and Jim Nabors will reunite with Andy Griffith for a CBS variety special during the 1965-1966 season. [“The Andy Griffith-Don Knotts-Jim Nabors Show” aired on October 7th, 1965.]
  • June Blair is returning to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet after a year’s absence.
  • ABC will broadcast an unsold pilot called “Hercules” on September 13th. [The hour-long pilot actually aired on Sunday, September 13th.]
  • NBC’s Project 20 is working on a special called “End of the Trail” about the Plains Indians during the 1800s. [It aired on March 16th, 1967.]
  • Elizabeth Montgomery will voice a character on a “bewitching” episode of The Flintstones next season. [Both Montgomery and Dick York voiced their Bewitched characters in “Samantha,” which aired on October 22nd, 1965.]

Rounding out the national section is a two-page picture feature spotlighting 26 dogs “acting” in dog food commercials, all trained by Frank Inn. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle which once again is filled out.

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

  • Comsat will start charging hourly fees of over $11,000 for use of its Early Bird satellite. Broadcasters in the United States have cut back on using Early Bird due to the high costs and they are petitioning the FCC to freeze the fees and hold hearings to establish more reasonable charges.
  • A 1,700-foot transmitter under construction in Moscow will be the tallest reinforced-concrete structure in the world when it is complete. Work was halted for a while due to concerns about the foundation but the transmitter is now 230 feet tall and once complete will triple the range of the six channels it will transmit. [The Ostankino Tower was completed in 1967 and was the tallest free-standing structure in the world for nine years before being surpassed in 1976 by Toronto’s CN Tower.]
  • California’s attorney general plans to appeal a Superior Court decision that opened the door for pay-TV in the state. The decision ruled a ballot initiative banning pay-TV was unconstitutional. It could be years before the fate of pay-TV in California is decided if the case makes it to the United States Supreme Court. [The Supreme Court refused to review the ruling in October 1966, making pay-TV legal in the Sunshine State.]

The letters page includes just three letters this week, all lengthy and all from people connected to the television industry. The first is from the former producer of The Doctors and the Nurses, responding to Art Buchwald’s June 5th article about The Fugitive:

Truth is stranger than fiction and Art Buchwald has pinched the nerve of truth. When, as producer of The Doctors and the Nurses, I first learned that we would be opposite The Fugitive, two things happened: (a) I panicked. (b) I conceived of the idea that Buchwald mentions, namely that a one-armed man comes into the hospital, confesses to Zina that he killed David Janssen’s wife, and dies. The police broadcast the news, but Janssen suspects a trap and doesn’t believe it. Thereafter, Zina sets out in search of David, but at every town she gets off the back of the bus just as David gets on the front. The only trouble with this story is that I couldn’t sell it to the writers. Thus The Fugitive continues his adventures into oblivion, while we fade into it.
Arthur Joel Katz, Ex-producer
The Doctors and the Nurses
New York, N.Y.

An editorial note explains that The Doctors and The Nurses will be moving to daytime next season. The second letter is from the editor of Australia’s TV Week who is following up on a March 6th article:

It seems that The Beverly Hillbillies is popular everywhere. I have just read the Malcolm Muggeridge piece, “Why Those Hillbillies Are Rampant in Britain,” in which he relates that the series is popular in England. The Hillbillies are just as popular in Africa. I have just returned to Australia after a vacation in Kenya and Tanzania. Television, on a small scale, beams out of Nairobi. A few miles along the road thousands of the Kikuyu tribe–many of whom were former Mau Mau terrorists–crowd into huts once a week to clap and cheer The Hillbillies through their antics. The next-highest-rated program with the tribe is The Three Stooges.
Tom Ramsey, National Editor
TV Week
Melbourne, Australia

The third and final letter is in response to a June 12th article. It is from the sports director at WFAA-TV who claims the “isolated camera” was introduced nationally during an ABC football game:

I enjoyed your article “Heaven Help the Men in Blue.” However, I would like to disagree with your statement that “…practical application generally goes to … Tony Verna, a sports director for CBS, who first experimented with it at the Army-Navy game of 1963.” On Nov. 17, 1963 (some 13 days prior to the Army-Navy game of that year) during the ABC telecast of the American Football League Kansas City-Boston game, the isolated camera was used “live” for what is believed to be the first time. We isolated the split end and flanker of Kansas City, “live,” with excellent results. Video-tape was added later, but I believe this to be the first national use of what might be termed an isolated camera.
Charlie Jones, Sports Director
WFAA-TV
Dallas

[Perhaps someone with more technical knowledge of television production and/or televised sports can clarify whether “isolated camera” and “instant replay” are the same thing. My brief search suggests the terms are often used interchangeably but may in fact be separate techniques, i.e. the isolated camera is used to record on videotape action that is later shown via instant replay.]

The TV Listings

It was a relatively quiet week overall with the weekend a little busy for the networks. At 9:45AM on Saturday, June 26th ABC aired live coverage (via Early Bird) of the Irish Sweeps Derby from the Curragh race course in Ireland. The network’s Jim McKay and Irish sportscaster Michael O’Hehir covered the race. At 2PM, ABC’s Saturday baseball game saw the Baltimore Orioles face the Chicago White Sox. NBC debuted a new series called Sportsman’s Holiday at 5:45PM. The 15-minute color series was hosted by Curt Gowdy and featured fishing and hunting. And at 9:30PM, ABC aired the fifth annual All American Football Coaches Association all-star game, live from Buffalo.

On Sunday, June 27th ABC aired the last new installment of its half-hour Directions ’65 for the season from 1-1:30PM. It was about contemporary art.

ABC added two new half-hour shows to its weekday schedule on Monday, June 28th. At 2PM, Where the Action Is made its debut. The pop music variety series went on location to tape performances. Regulars included Linda Scott, Steve Alaimo, Paul Revere and the Raiders, and the Action dancers. Guests for the premiere episode included Jan and Dean and Dee Dee Sharp. At 2:30PM, a new soap opera called A Time for Us premiered. It was a replacement and follow-up to Flame on the Wind and featured the same cast.

At 9:30PM on Monday, CBS pre-empted The Danny Thomas Show and CBS Reports for a 90-minute documentary special called called “It’s What’s Happening, Baby!” Hosted by New York City disc jockey Murray the K, the “musical extravaganza” was an attempt to introduce teenagers to the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunities. Appearing on the program (all without pay) were Bill Cosby, Johnny Mathis, Ray Charles, The Dave Clark Five, The Supremes, Herman’s Hermits, Tom Jones, and others. It was produced and directed by Barry Shear.

CBS brought back repeats of The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour at 10PM starting Wednesday, June 30th at 10PM. A total of 11 episodes, originally broadcast between 1957 and 1960, were repeated as a summer replacement for The Danny Kaye Show.

NBC aired the last new installment of Kraft Suspense Theatre for the season from 10-11PM on Thursday, July 1st. Gary Lockwood and Francine Pyne starred. It was directed by William Wood. The episode also served as the final episode of the series, which did not return for the 1965-1966 season.

On Friday, July 2nd from 9:30-10PM, Vacation Playhouse on CBS presented “The Dean Jones Show,” an unsold pilot in which Jones played a scientist who tries to curtail his playboy ways to make a good impression on his visiting teenage sister.

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

  • Special: Irish Sweeps Derby (ABC, Saturday at 9:45AM)
  • Special: All-America Game (ABC, Saturday at 9:30PM)
  • The Twentieth Century – “The Songs of Harold Arlen” (CBS, Sunday at 6:00PM, Repeat)
  • Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color – “The Tenderfoot” (NBC, Sunday at 7:30PM, Repeat)
  • Teen-Age Special – It’s What’s Happening, Baby! (CBS, Monday at 9:30PM)
  • Kraft Suspense Theatre – “Connery’s Hands” (NBC, Thursday at 10:00PM)
  • FDR – “Brothers in Arms” (ABC, Friday at 8:00PM)
  • 12 O’clock High – “The Clash” (ABC, Friday 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: Battle of the Villa Fiorita (Saturday at 7:30PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Masquerade (Sunday at 7:30PM, $1.25)
  • Movie Double Feature: Dr. No and From Russia with Love (Monday at 7:00PM, $1.50)
  • Special: Carol Channing in Show Girl (Tuesday at 9:00PM, $1.50)
  • Cartoon: Aladdin’s Lamp (Thursday at 7:30PM, $1.00)

Locally, there were a lot of baseball games and specials this week. On Saturday at 10:15AM, WNAC-TV (Channel 7) debuted a new kid’s show called Jamboree with host Jack Richards and a five-piece musical group called The Galaxies. The premiere episode ran for 45 minutes while later episodes were an hour long and aired from 10-11AM. [I’m not sure if this was a local show or a syndicated variety series but I believe it was local.] At 12PM, WNHB-TV (Channels 20 and 79) aired a half-hour special hosted by Tex Pavel showcasing winners of the second annual Lake Compounce hootenanny. [Lake Compounce is an amusement park in Connecticut.] At 1PM, WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired a 25-minute review of the Connecticut government and a preview of the upcoming Constitutional Convention opening July 1st. Donald Nelson narrated. This was followed at 1:25PM by 30 minutes of color highlights of the U.S. National Parachuting Championships.

WBZ-TV premiered Contact! at 4PM on Saturday, a 45-minute local interview series hosted by Bob Kennedy in which viewers could ask questions live via telephone. At 1:55PM, WNHC-TV aired a baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the New York Yankees. At 2:15PM, WHDH-TV (Channel 5), WWLP (Channel 22), WRLP (Channel 32), and WNHB-TV aired a baseball game between the Washington Senators and the Boston Red Sox.

On Sunday at 12:55PM, WNHC-TV aired another Angels-Yankees baseball game while WHDH-TV, WWLP, WRLP, and WHNB-TV aired another Senators-Red Sox game at 1:30PM. And at 3:25PM, WHCT (Channel 18) aired a baseball game between the New York Mets and the Houston Astros. WBZ-TV aired another live talent audition from 4:30-5PM. Participants came from all over Massachusetts: North Quincy, Quincy, South Weymouth, Worcester, and West Roxbury. There was also a dance duo from Norwich, CT. Also at 4:30PM, WHNC-TV aired a half-hour color special highlighting the 1964 NFL Championship, narrated by Chris Schenkel.

There were two more baseball games on Monday. WHDH-TV, WWLP, WRLP, and WHNB-TV aired a game between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox at 7:30PM while WHNC-TV aired a game between the Milwaukee Graves and the New York Mets at 8:30PM. WHNC-TV aired yet another baseball game aired on Wednesday at 7:5PM, this one between the Cincinnati Reds and the Mets.

On Thursday at 10AM, WTIC-TV (Channel 3) aired two hours of live coverage of the opening of the Connecticut Constitutional Convention from the House Chamber of the Old State House in Hartford. Secretary of State Ella Grasso presided over the convention. The same station aired a half-hour “Living History” special from 9-9:30PM that featured highlights of the opening.

On Friday, WHDH-TV pre-empted the entire CBS prime time schedule. It aired Vacation Playhouse at 7:30PM (rather than during its regular 9:30-10PM time slot) followed by a Yankees-Mets baseball game at 8PM.

Here’s an advertisement for WHYN-TV’s award winning news team:

Advertisement for WHYN-TV's Award Winning News Team
Advertisement for WHYN-TV’s Award Winning News Team – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for The Desert Rats, WTIC-TV’s after dinner movie on Tuesday, June 29th:

Advertisement for The Desert Rats on WTIC-TV
Advertisement for The Desert Rats 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, June 28th, 1965
Capt. Bob draws from outline form to finished sketch.

Tuesday, June 29th, 1965
Western music is featured and discussed by Roland Nadeau.

Wednesday, June 30th, 1965
Members of Boston’s Arts and Crafts Society illustrate examples of techniques applied to pottery, weaving and woodwork.

Thursday, July 1st, 1965
The first of a three-part program concerned with learning to swim presented by the Red Cross at a local pool.

Friday, July 2nd, 1965
Jack Woolner selects a place of interest to visit this weekend.

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

My Favorite Obscurities: The 1940s

Earlier this 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 you can read a two-part history of the website written in 2013 to commemorate its 10th anniversary here and here.

In recognition of one dozen years online, I’ve 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.

So here, in chronological order, are my favorite 12 obscurities from the 1940s:

Thrills and Chills (WNBT/W2XWV/WABD)
August 27th, 1941 – June 4th, 1946

The oldest of my favorite obscurities, Thrills and Chills will turn 74 later this year. Doug Allan hosted the series, which featured films of expeditions and adventures plus interviews with the explorers and adventurers who shot them. It was one of the longest-running early TV shows, on the air from August 1941 through June 1946. It started on WNBT in New York City, which was the first commercial station in the country, and later moved to DuMont’s experimental station W2XWV (which became commercial station WABD in 1944). There is no evidence to suggest it was sponsored at any point on either station.

According to Allan it was a very popular show. I’m sure by today’s standards it would seem boring but apparently in the 1940s viewers in New York City were thrilled to be able to watch films from exotic locales and get to hear from the brave men and women who traveled the world seeking adventure.

My spotlight on Thrills and Chills can be found here.

The Face of the War (WNBT/W2XWV/WABD)
September 1941 – 1945 (?)

I’m not sure exactly when The Face of the War premiered. I believe it debuted in September 1941, a few months before the United States entered World War II. It originally aired on WNBT in New York City but likely wasn’t sponsored.

Details on the program are scarce. Host Sam Cuff stood in front of a map with a pointer and discussed the latest news on the war, showing viewers where battles and offenses were taking place. Cuff was also part of the station’s coverage of the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. The Face of the War remained on WNBT through May 1942.

At some point, likely around this time, Cuff left WNBT to became general manager of DuMont’s W2XWV and The Face of the War went with him. It was initially seen on Sundays but in November 1943 began airing on Wednesdays and gained a sponsor. Pat Murray introduced the program and hawked Lever products like Spry, Rinso, and Lifebuoy Soap.

The Face of the War ended sometime in 1945, likely after V-E Day in May or V-J Day in September.

Hour Glass (NBC)
May 9th, 1946 – March 6th, 1947

Although no footage is known to exist, the Library of Congress has audio recordings of more than 30 episodes of Hour Glass and Life published a set of seven photographs of a TV screen showing the first episode. So quite a bit of material survives for this early network offering. It is considered the first regularly scheduled network variety series.

Standard Brands sponsored the hour-long show, which was hosted by Eddie Mayehoff and Helen Parrish. It aired on NBC’s early Eastern network consisting of WNBT, WRGB (Schenectady, NY), and WPTZ (Philadelphia, PA).

Faraway Hill (DuMont)
October 2nd, 1946 – December 18th, 1946

Widely regarded as the first network soap opera, Faraway Hill ran for just 12 weeks on DuMont’s limited “network” between flagship New York City station WABD and experimental station W3XWT (later licensed commercially as WTTG) in Washington, D.C.

Earlier soap operas on television were limited to individual stations. In 1944, when WABD was known as W2XWV and was still experimental, the station aired a soap opera called Theatre House. In 1938 (!) Don Lee’s experimental station W6XAO in Los Angeles aired a soap opera called Vine Street.

While I’m not a soap opera fan by any means, I’d be very interested to see just how soap-y Faraway Hill was. According to The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, it featured recaps, voice-over narration, and the occasional film sequence.

Campus Hoopla (NBC)
December 27th, 1946 – December 19th, 1947

Footage from this bizarre mix of music, dancing, sports, and quiz show survives at the Library of Congress as part of the Hubert Chain Collection of early television excerpts. One day I hope to be able to see it. U.S. Rubber sponsored Campus Hoopla, which was set at a college campus soda shop filled with cheerleaders and other students.

Episodes of the series reportedly featured the latest football, basketball, and baseball scores as well as game films. Bob Stanton, an NBC sports announcer, was on hand to narrate the films and participate in sports quizzes. There was also time for the students to jitterbug and sing.

Eva Marie Saint was one of the cheerleaders, appearing in commercials for Keds sneakers.

Bristol-Myers Tele-Varieties (NBC)
January 5th, 1947 – April 13th, 1947

This 15-minute Sunday night variety show was part of a Bristol-Myers experiment with television and television commercials. It wasn’t the first TV show to be sponsored by the company (Geographically Speaking, a travelogue with Mrs. Carveth Wells aired on WNBT, holds that distinction). On alternating weeks, the program featured commercials for Ipana and Mini-Rubt.

Tele-Varieties debuted as a local series on WNBT on December 8th, 1946 and became an NBC network program a month later, relayed to WPTZ and WRGB. Initially, each episode featured three acts. The January 26th episode, for example, involved an Ed Gardner comedy routine, ballet dancer Joan Barry, and songs from the Four Vagabonds.

Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenberg were also featured on the series, adapting their radio talk show for television. Bristol-Myers liked what they saw and replaced Tele-Varieties with At Home with Tex and Jinx in May. What intrigues me the most is just how experimental it may have been, particularly the commercials, which apparently were both filmed and live.

Mary Kay and Johnny (DuMont/CBS/NBC)
November 18th, 1947 – March 11th, 1950

Network television’s first sitcom, Mary Kay and Johnny ran on three different networks as both a weekly and weekday series, sometimes 15 minutes long and other times twenty minutes or a half-hour. Only one episode from June 1949 is known to exist and it just happens to be the first 15-minute weekday episode.

I watched it at The Paley Center for Media six years ago. According to my notes it featured animated opening and closing credits and began with the following narration:

This is another in a series of episodes based on the actual married life of television’s favorite young, married couple.

Mary Kay and Johnny is famous for showing the title couple in bed together rather than in separate beds but unfortunately this episode doesn’t depict them in bed. I’ve long held out hope that somewhere in a dusty closet or attic there are boxes filled with kinescopes just waiting to be discovered.

Teen-age Book Club (NBC)
August 27th, 1948 – October 29th, 1948

I’m sure if I ever get the chance to see an episode of this short-lived discussion series I’ll be disappointed. I find the concept interesting and the idea that ABC was willing to air a half-hour panel discussion featuring teenagers reviewing and critiquing books intriguing. Mary C. Scoggin served as host/moderator. Teen-age Book Club was on the air for just 12 weeks. Guests, mostly authors, included Betty Betz, Harry Haenigsen, Garety Garreau, Ed Wallace, Louis Untermeyer, John Campbell, and Carl Glick.

Girl About Town (NBC)
September 8th, 1948 – June 26th, 1949

Kyle MacDonnell hosted this musical-variety show. It was her second network show and the first to be sponsored (by Bates Fabrics). I’ve been researching Kyle on-and-off for the better part of a decade all because of the title of this show. I seem to recall coming across a reference to it somewhere in book or magazine and decided to learn more about it. There wasn’t much to learn.

I would love to see an episode of Girl About Town. The concept of the show was that Kyle was literally running around New York City meeting people and performing songs. Johnny Downs portrayed her “press agent” responsible for finding her gigs. The show also featured the Norman Paris Trio.

My article about Kyle MacDonnell, with more information on Girl About Town, can be found here.

Super Circus (ABC)
January 16th, 1949 – June 3rd, 1956

Six episodes of this long-running ABC series were released on DVD in October 2008 by Alpha Video but there’s no way of knowing whether any of them are from 1949. I can’t say I’ve actually watched all six. By any standard Super Circus seems incredibly corny, with tame acts and incessant integrated commercials, but you certainly can’t find much fault with the show’s production values, which were impressive for the time, or Mary Hartline’s incredible enthusiasm.

The Black Robe (NBC)
May 18th, 1949 – March 30th, 1950

What interests me about this series is that it wasn’t scripted. It featured reenactments of court cases of the New York City’s Police Night Court, apparently with actual defendants and witnesses recreating their testimony. Only the judge and clerk were played by actors. Supposedly some of these actual people were disguised using makeup to hide their identities. A Billboard review criticized the number of cases featured per episode and argued it “suffers from a phony pomposity and the unshakeable feel that the ‘testimony’ is all phony.”

Ruthie on the Telephone (CBS)
August 7th, 1949 – November 5th, 1949

Here’s an unusual show: it aired six nights a week initially with each episode lasting for just five minutes. The episodes depicted a phone conversation between Ruthie and a man she was hoping would fall in love with her, occasionally utilizing a split screen so both could be shown on screen. Seeing just one episode would probably be enough to get a feel for the show. It was sponsored, so those five minutes also had to fit in a pair of commercials and probably opening and closing credits. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for content. Later episodes also featured guest stars.

My spotlight about Ruthie on the Telephone can be found here.

Hit the comments with your thoughts on these shows and any favorite TV obscurities you may have from the 1940s. Check back next month for my 12 favorite obscurities from the 1950s.

A Year in TV Guide: June 19th, 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 #40
June 19th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 25, Issue #638
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: Richard Basehart and David Hedison (photograph by Ivan Nagy).

The Magazine

I didn’t have high hopes for this week’s cover article about Richard Basehart, star of ABC’s Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. I worried it would be another typical TV Guide profile with the added bonus of Basehart complaining about being stuck on television. I was very wrong. Marian Dern did briefly discuss his early work and the trajectory of his acting career but the bulk of the three-page article was focused on the here and now. As for Basehart, he’s fine with working in TV for the moment but does hope to eventually play King Lear and other more substantial theatrical roles. He came right out and said “nothing irritates me more than actors who take all the money and then complain about how terribly limited TV is. That kind of talk only reflects on them.”

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

According to Irwin Allen, producer of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Basehart was chosen for the role of Admiral Nelson “because he’s a consummate actor” who “could make all the derring-do believable.” It’s not unusual for Basehart to put in 14-hour days, carrying the bulk of the show’s scripts on his shoulders alongside his younger co-star David Hedison. The scripts may not be Shakespeare but Basehart makes the best of them:

With Shakespeare, there’s more character than an actor can ever plumb. But there’s no greater challenge than making something out of nothing. I mean, you take an undeveloped character and you have to make him alive. You take what’s there, and you round him out. You see, the lack of time sharpens an actor’s tools to razor-sharp edges. There’s no time to study. You’re on, and it’s up to you to create the man, the mood, instantly.

Basehart worries about his hectic schedule, which also includes narrating television specials on weekends, but hopes to only have to put up with it for a few more years before he can move on. He might also be worried about his health in light of the death of his good friend John Larkin (co-star of 12 O’clock High) in January. “I had an intensely personal reaction to his death,” Basehart explains. “I resented his death. He was just beginning to garner the fruits of his efforts … and boom.”

“The Travels of Chester Huntley” by Edith Efron is a two-and-a-half page profile of the famous NBC newsman, half of The Huntley-Brinkley Report. He was raised on a massive farm in Montana where he dreamed of seeing the world. He did and still is, thanks to the “gift for writing and extemporaneous speaking” he developed during college. Huntley and Brinkley are two of the most famous men in the country, described as “glum” and “twinkley” in a song by by Frank Sinatra and Milton Berle. Huntley isn’t glum, however. He takes his job seriously. Says Brinkley: “He cares. He feels a sense of involvement in the news. Sometimes you can see he’s personally affronted by the news.”

In person, according to Efron, Huntley is not glum at all. He loves his profession. “It takes you everywhere sooner or later. It gives you an opportunity to use, as your basic tool, the incredible English language. And it comes nearer to satisfying an insatiable curiosity than anything I know.” He considers himself a personal journalist, worries about the future of the nation’s two-party system, has strong feelings about the state of conservatism, doesn’t want to be a celebrity or sign autographs, has a lyrical side that rarely comes out, owns a farm in New Jersey that got him into hot water with NBC because he had his name on beef, and would like to run for Congress eventually to help “play some role in rationalizing the whole dilemma of U.S. agriculture.” [He didn’t.]

Neil Hickey’s examination of the state of pay-TV (also known as “feevee,” “tollvision,” and “pay-see” by champions and detractors) is of particular interest because the only remaining pay-TV system in operation is the RKO General/Zenith Radio Corporation Phonevision experiment in Hartford, CT over WHCT-TV (Channel 18). Two other pay-TV systems have folded in the past year: Subscription Television, Inc. (Los Angeles and San Francisco) and Telemeter (Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto). An anonymous network hired a market research company called Oxtoby-Smith to compile an exhaustive report on pay-TV. It concluded “that the whole idea of tollvision was a bad one in the first place, that pay-TV as a going business was wishful thinking at best and destined for doom by its very nature.”

The study was conducted in the fall of 1963. It included 10,000 phone interviews in Hartford, in-depth interviews with 400 subscribers, 200 non-subscribers, and 120 former subscribers. Overall, after examining all three systems then in existence, the study determined that to be successful a pay-TV system would have to see subscribing households spending between $125 and $175 a year. None came close. Furthermore, the theory that pay-TV would bring culture to the public that network television couldn’t or wouldn’t provide turned out to be false. Subscribers only wanted to watch movies and sporting events.

In response to the study, RKO General’s John Pinto, in charge of the Phonevision experiment in Hartford, stated “I have no argument at all with the facts, which seem very accurate. I take violent exception, however, to some of the interpretations.” He argued that Phonevision could be successful if 10 percent of households in Hartford subscribed and spent $65 a year. It currently has 5,000 subscribers but would need to reach 15,000 to 20,000 to break even. He admits that it is disappointing that subscribers aren’t interested in the “wide range of culture” it has offered. Zenith president Joseph S. Wright is very bullish on Phonevision and pay-TV, and the company is petitioning the FCC to authorize nationwide subscription TV “so that the American public in the free-enterprise marketplace, can decide for itself whether it wants this new TV service.”

Pamela Mason is the “Queen of the Loose-Lips” according to Dwight Whitney, who sat down with the former wife of actor James Mason for what must have been a bizarre chat. She hosts a syndicated weekday talk show (The Pamela Mason Show) on which she discusses a wide-range of topics she freely admits she knows nothing about. She is in a feud with Hedda Hopper, hates Richard Blackwell, is opposed to mail-order guns, is irritated with divorce laws, is scared she’ll get married again, doesn’t understand art, and isn’t at all political. She is, however, very opinionated. “I’m always in trouble,” she explains. “I don’t believe in pussyfooting around. It’s better to have everything exposed than to be afraid it will come up later and hit you.”

The final article in this issue is the second half of Allan Sherman’s look back at his time working on I’ve Got a Secret. Like the first part, published last week, Sherman adapted the article from his upcoming autobiography to be published later in the summer. Working for Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, the heads of Goodson-Todman Productions, was difficult for Sherman because he “was a Disorganization Man, playing a lonesome off-key melody in the Goodson-Todman Symphony of Organization.” He describes the personalities of Goodson and Todman and how he reacted to them. Goodson liked to ask questions in ways that made them impossible to answer, something Sherman tried once with his wife (it made her cry).

Goodson also knew how to play the Madison Avenue Game, which involved getting rid of anyone in your way as you try to grow more and more powerful. Rather than fire them, however, you get them to quit. Goodson tried that once with Frank Satenstein, director of I’ve Got a Secret and The Jackie Gleason Show. Sherman points out that Goodson had nothing against Satenstein personally, he just wanted to replace him with a cheaper staff director. Sherman called Satenstein prior to a lunch meeting and told him what Goodson was planning. By agreeing enthusiastically to all of Goodson’s insane demands, Satenstein was able to keep his job.

Sherman finally left I’ve Got a Secret in 1958 after he was offered a 13-week contract (rather than his usual one-year contract) only if he agreed not to work on other shows. Worried that he was unwittingly playing the Madison Avenue Game, Sherman refused and left. He spent the next four years sneaking around television “too embarrassed and ashamed” to talk to anyone from Goodson-Todman. Years later, after skyrocketing to fame with his first comedy album (My Son, the Folk Singer), he finally ran into Goodson while performing at Carnegie Hall. Goodson called him a genius, shook his hand, and referred to him “disorganized as hell.”

The “As We See It” editorial this week argues that airplane movies are the absolute worst because you can’t escape them plus, in TV Guide‘s experience, they are always John Wayne films. And John Wayne belongs on the big screen. “Television prime time really isn’t for movies either, except that the networks make a lot of money selling participation spots to advertisers, and use up a lot of time they’d have to think up programs for and gable that they’d attract an audience.”

Cleveland Amory reviews Bonanza this week, which is reportedly shown in 58 countries. Some of these foreign versions were shown on an episode of The Jack Paar Show and according Amory they were terrific and he suggests having all Westerns shipped to other countries and then sent back to the United States in other languages as Easterns. He’s concerned about Bonanza‘s recent shift towards “symbolic, psychological drama,” preferring the show when it was “more Western and less Freudian.” He is also critical of its weak minor characters and weak female characters. On the other hand, Lorne Greene “is fine” and Dan Blocker “always good.”

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • ABC will air three David Wolper specials next season: “The Teen-Age Revolution,” “Mayhem on a Sunday Afternoon,” and “In Search of Man.”
  • The CBS News and Special Broadcasts Division will present at least 10 specials next season, including “The Volga” and “State of the Union.”
  • Filmways is working on a potential comedy-adventure series called The Master Spy for ABC’s 1966-1967 schedule.
  • CBS begins broadcasting pre-season NFL football games on August 7th. NBC’s AFL football coverage starts August 8th.
  • CBS has a camera crew following Frank Sinatra for a planned documentary about the famous singer.
  • McHale’s Navy will be set in an Italian town next season.
  • Alejandro Rey has been cast as Dick Crenna’s assistant on Slattery’s People next season. Also joining the cast: Kathie Browne and Francine York.
  • Marlyn Mason will appear in two additional episodes of Ben Casey after the first five episodes of the season.
  • Elaine Stritch will play Peter Falk’s secretary in The Trials of O’Brien.
  • Jeannine Riley has announced she is leaving Petticoat Junction.
  • NBC has The Ghostbreaker with Kerwin Mathews, Diana Van Der Vlis, and Norman Fell waiting in the wings as a mid-season replacement. [The series never materialized but NBC aired the unsold pilot in September 1967.]

Rounding out the national section is a picture feature showcasing Steve Allen’s use of “slant boards” he feels help him relax and clear his head. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle which someone actually filled out.

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

  • Although television coverage of the Gemini IV space flight may have initially been underwhelming due to the fact that Jim McDivitt and Ed White were too far out for TV cameras, it ended gloriously. Film footage of Ed White floating in space was thrilling and lucky viewers who saw it in color were “doubly thrilled.” White and McDivitt enjoyed watching the footage themselves, with White even jumping out of his chair aboard the USS Wasp aircraft carrier at one point.
  • The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that televising criminal cases violates “the time-honored principles of a fair trial.” Judges will likely cut back on the use of TV cameras in cases that have “the slightest tinge of sensationalism.” It is unlikely, however, that the matter has been settled for good.
  • International Telemeter Corp. is supporting RKO General and Zenith in their petition to the FCC to authorize pay-TV nationwide.

The letters page included eight letters this week. Two praised NBC’s June 1st special on the Grand Canyon:

My thanks to NBC for the Grand Canyon “Journey with Joseph Wood Krutch.” The eloquence of Krutch’s words and the visual persuasiveness of the land itself underscored an important point–the wilderness now, as never before, must be preserved.
Mike Jelf
Lomita, Cal.

It was a most delightful hour. We need more programs of this nature, not only to give us a glimpse of the great beauty in our country, but also as a reminder that we must work to preserve it.
Mrs. Robert Sherman
DuBois, Pa.

There were also two letters from viewers who watched “The National Drivers Test” on CBS on May 24th:

A-plus to CBS on its “National Drivers Test.” The questions were not tricky or overly technical. Anyone scoring poorly should take a long hard look at his driving before getting behind the wheel again.
Constance Murray
Franklin, Pa.

I took part in the test, scored 49, and it gave me something to think about. I’ll certainly be more careful in the future.
Donald Webb Jr.
Wormleysburg, Pa.

Other letters: outrage that the Navy and Marines support “such mockery” as McHale’s Navy and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.; a reader depressed by TV Guide‘s “Ten Years Ago This Week” feature because it reminds her of the days of live plays on TV and soap operas only in daytime; praise for Art Buchwald’s June 5th article about The Fugitive; and appreciation for the way CBS used flashing announcements at the bottom of the screen while covering the Gemini IV space flight rather than interrupting programs.

The TV Listings

[We’re back to the Western New England edition (Connecticut and Massachusetts) of TV Guide this week rather than the Eastern New England edition (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut).]

The weekend was busy for the networks. On Saturday, June 19th at 10:30AM, ABC aired an hour of live coverage of the Le Mans Grand Prix race via Early Bird. The network’s regular 2PM afternoon baseball game saw the Chicago Cubs face off against the Cincinnati Reds. At 4:30PM, NBC aired live coverage of the third round of the U.S. Open Golf Tournament from Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis. Commentary was provided by Jim Simpson, Bud Palmer, Bill Mazer, and Paul Christman. More coverage of the Le Mans Grand Prix was scheduled during ABC’s World of Sports from 5-6:30PM but only if Early Bird was available.

Al Hirt’s Fanfare made its debut on CBS at 7:30PM. The hour-long variety show was a summer replacement for Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine. Guests for the first episode included Eydie Gorme, Shari Lewis, Carole Reinhardt, Leonard Rose, and Eddie Rambeau. The Don McKayle dancers and Mort Lindsay’s orchestra were the regulars.

ABC aired another hour of live coverage of the Le Mans Grand Prix race via Early Bird on Sunday, June 20th at 10:30AM. Included was the conclusion of the race. At 4:30PM, NBC aired live coverage of the final four holes of the U.S. Open. CBS aired Part 2 of “The Hollow Crown” from 9-10PM, following the English monarchy from King Charles II to Queen Victoria. Dramatized readings by members of the Royal Shakespeare Company were based on historical letters, memoirs, and speeches. Part 1 aired on February 16th.

On Monday, June 21st at 8:30PM, CBS aired the last episode of The Andy Griffith Show for the season. Next week Summer Playhouse will take over the time slot. At 9:30PM, repeats of The Farmer’s Daughter moved from Fridays at 8PM to replace cancelled The Bing Crosby Show, part of ABC’s reshuffling of its schedule for the summer. CBS premiered Hollywood Talent Scouts at 8:30PM on Tuesday, June 22nd as a summer replacement for The Red Skelton Show. Hosted by Art Linkletter, the hour-long talent show featured Eartha Kitt, Liberace, and Jonathan Winters as scouts, with Debbie Reynolds as a guest. The final repeat of The Danny Kaye Show for the season aired from 10-11PM on Wednesday, June 23rd on CBS. Next week repeats of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour will move into the time slot for the summer.

At 2PM on Friday, June 25th ABC aired the final episode of its soap opera A Flame on the Wind, to be replaced on Monday, June 28th by Where the Action Is. At 2:30PM, the final episode of Day in Court aired. It will be replaced on Monday by A Time for Us, a new soap opera. [Actually a revamped version of A Flame on the Wind.] In prime time on Friday the ABC summer reshuffle continued with FDR moving from 9:30PM to 8:00PM to replace The Farmer’s Daughter. At 9:30PM, the third weekly installment of Peyton Place debuted. On CBS, Vacation Playhouse returned at 9:30PM as a summer replacement for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. The series consisted of unsold pilots. This week’s installment was “Sybil,” staring Suzy Parker as a vain nymph banished to do good deeds on Earth.

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

  • Special: Harvard-Yale Regatta (WTIC-TV/WBZ-TV, Saturday at 7:00PM)
  • Special: Le Mans Grand Prix (ABC, Sunday at 10:30AM)
  • Special: U.S. Open (NBC, Sunday at 4:30PM)
  • Special: The Hollow Crown, Part 2 (CBS, Sunday at 9:00PM)
  • Movie: Judgement at Nuremberg (ABC, Sunday at 9:00PM, Repeat)
  • Hollywood Talent Scouts (CBS, Tuesday at 8:30PM, Debut)
  • 12 O’clock High – “To Heinie, With Love” (ABC, Friday 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: The Truth About Spring (Saturday at 8:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: The Rounders (Sunday at 9:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Signpost to Murder (Monday at 9:00PM, $1.00)
  • Movie: That Man from Rio (Tuesday at 9:00PM, $1.25)
  • Special: The Trojan Women (Friday at 9:30PM, $1.50)

Locally it was a busy weekend as well. On Saturday at 1:25PM, WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired a half-hour color special about the 1962-1963 Nassau Speed Week narrated by Les Keiter. At 1:55PM, the station aired a baseball game between the Minnesota Twins and the New York Yankees, pre-empting ABC’s Saturday game. At 2:15PM, another baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Chciago White Sox was seen on WHDH-TV (Channel 5), WWLP (Channel 22), WHNB-TV (Channels 30 and 79), and WRLP (Channel 32). A fourth baseball game started at 3:55PM on WHCT-TV (Channel 18), this one between the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants. At 5PM, WTIC-TV (Channel 3) aired coverage of the Bowling Green Handicap Horse Race. WHDH-TV carried the same coverage at 5:30PM.

At 7PM, both WTIC-TV in Connecticut and WBZ-TV (Channel 4) in Massachusetts aired the 100th Harvard-Yale Regatta, held on the Thames River in New London, CT. Seven cameras covered the four-mile race. WTIC-TV pre-empted the first half of Fanfare on CBS, picking up the variety show in progress at 8:30PM. Here’s a WTIC-TV advertisement for the race:

Advertisement for the 100th Harvard-Yale Regatta on WTIC-TV (Channel 3)
Advertisement for the 100th Harvard-Yale Regatta on WTIC-TV (Channel 3) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

At 8:30PM, WBZ-TV pre-empted NBC’s Mr. Magoo for a half-hour syndicated color special titled “Paintings in the White House” hosted by Lady Bird Johnson.

On Sunday at 12:55PM, WNHC-TV carried a second baseball game between the Twins and the Yankees. At 1PM, WATR-TV (Channel 20) kicked off a four-and-a-half hour live broadcast of the Waterbury, CT soap box derby. Some 180 youngsters from the area competed. Commentators included Jim Sullivan, Paul Chamberlain, and Jerry Fischer. Also making appearances were local civic and political leaders plus TV celebrities. WHCT-TV aired another Mets-Dodgers baseball game at 3:55PM. At 4PM, WBZ-TV aired another live installment of its local Massachusetts talent program with participants from Hull, Littleton, Weymouth, Taunton, Lynn, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. WHDH-TV aired a half-hour of highlights of the dedication ceremonies (held from April 18th-20th) for Boston’s Prudential Center at 11:30PM.

The rest of the week was relatively quiet. Both WEDH-TV (Channel 24) and WBZ-TV aired an installment of Intertel called “This Question of Color” about the influx of immigrants to Britain from Asia and the West Indies. WEDH-TV aired the hour-long documentary from 8-8:30PM on Wednesday, June 23rd while WBZ-TV aired it from 10-11PM on Thursday, June 24th (pre-empting NBC’s Kraft Suspense Theatre).

Here’s an advertisement for That Man from Rio on WHCT-TV (Channel 18), part of the Phonevision subscription TV experiment:

Advertisement for That Man from Rio on WHCT-TV (Channel 18)
Advertisement for That Man from Rio on WHCT-TV (Channel 18) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

And just because, here’s a TV Guide subscription advertisement:

Advertisement for TV Guide subscriptions
Advertisement for TV Guide subscriptions – 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, June 21st, 1965
Capt. Bob draws with black and colored crayons today.

Tuesday, June 22nd, 1965
Songs of the sea and the sea chantey are illustrated.

Wednesday, June 23rd, 1965
“Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Game.”

Thursday, June 24th, 1965
A contest of skill in chemistry between science students from Dedham High school and Maynard High School, Walpole.

Friday, June 25th, 1965
Students of St. Lawrence University present a concert of spirituals and popular music.

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

A Year in TV Guide: June 12th, 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 #39
June 12th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 24, Issue #637
Eastern New England Edition

On the Cover: Milburn Stone and Amanda Blake (photograph by Russ Halford).

The Magazine

This week’s cover article by Dee Phillips and Bev Copeland — “Riding High on the Waves of Indignation” — does not paint Gunsmoke co-star Milburn Stone in a great light but he probably doesn’t mind. Described as “contentious, cranky, querulous,” Stone is upset about what has happened to Gunsmoke and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. Co-creator Norman MacDonnell was let go last fall, replaced by Philip Leacock, and the scripts are “now being written by people who don’t understand the show at all.” To make matters worse, Gunsmoke now features guest stars.

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

Although Leacock knows there is some resentment over the use of guest stars, he “feels competition is good for the regulars.” Stone disagrees, arguing that while fans of guest stars like Betty Hutton and James Whitmore may tune in once, they won’t necessarily tune in again. Despite the conflict, Peacock views Stone with “tolerant affection,” calling him “a bit irascible sometimes” but also “great, great, fun.” It seems everyone gets along with Stone despite his gruffness and sarcasm.

Stone spent three years hating Jim Arness for his attitude, for showing up late, and for clowning around. Eventually, Stone exploded at Arness one day during rehearsal and somehow that made everything okay. He then turned his sights on Amanda Blake and Dennis Weaver, upset that neither of them took the show seriously. He now gets along with Blake and was not too upset when Weaver left the series. He has also erupted over scripts, including one recent entry that he felt was an “obvious attempt to inject social significance” with a speech that, after five rewrites, was deemed necessary because the episode was running two minutes short.

With one season left in his contract, Stone isn’t sure if he’ll return after that if Gunsmoke continues. He has an idea for a TV show set around the turn of the century in which he would play a doctor. [Stone ultimately stayed with Gunsmoke for its entire 20 season run which ended in 1975.]

Allan Sherman’s three-page article “The Disorganization Man” is not as funny as you might expect. It is the first of two articles about his days creating and working on I’ve Got a Secret, excerpted from his upcoming autobiography A Gift of Laughter, to be published in the summer. He developed the show in August 1951 with Howard Merrill when both were unemployed TV writers. The two took the idea to Bill Todman and Mark Goodson, producers of What’s My Line?, and were offered a contract paying them $1 for the rights to the idea as well as a royalty of $62.50 a week. One of them would also be made a producer and be paid $125 a week.

It took eight months to sell the concept to a sponsor and another three months to turn it into a full-fledged TV series. Sherman was made a producer because Merrill was otherwise employed. The first show aired on June 19th, 1952 and, according to Sherman, was a disaster. The original panel of Orson Bean, Louise Allbritton, Laua Z. Hobson, and Melville Cooper lasted just two weeks. The original format of the show lasted about as long. Prom Home Permanent, one of the initial two sponsors, dropped I’ve Got a Secret after the first episode aired because the company’s president didn’t like it. Sherman often missed his train home and slept on a couch in the reception room.

Sherman had only two other people working with him on the show: a boy who opened the mail and a female production assistant named Adraia. He once asked her to get Sir Edmund Hillary on the phone while he was atop Mount Everest. She managed to reach someone at the bottom of the mountain who said Hillary would be available in a month. Sherman insisted they needed to speak with him right away and made Adraia cry.

Ratings began to rise, however, and the show turned into a success. Sherman tried and failed to get a raise. He then fought back against the number of memos being passed around. He also begged for a secretary. After three years of waiting he was given one. “What would she be like? Blonde? Redhead? Slinky? Curvaceous? Sexy, throaty voice? Prim? Wild? Blue eyes? Exotic perfumes?” Much to Sherman’s surprise, his secretary was named Roger Peterson.

Carol Rinzler’s two-page “When She Coughs, Dozens of People Clutch Their Pay Checks,” is another typical TV Guide profile of a TV personality, in this case singer and actress Molly Bee. She worked with Tennessee Ernie Ford for years, first on Hometown Jamboree in Los Angeles and later on Ford’s show. In an attempt to show she was growing up, Bee spent months cultivating a secret smoking habit only for Ford to barely notice. She is currently working with Jimmy Dean on his ABC series. Her acting career floundered. “Those movies,” she says, “are shown only in prison. To the lifers.” She prefers television to night clubs but isn’t entirely fulfilled with her career. She doesn’t know if she wants to get married again, however, and isn’t sure who she’d marry if she did.

Edith Efron’s two-page article about Gig Young starts with the end of The Rogues, the cancelled NBC series starring Young, Charles Boyer, and David Niven. Young wasn’t too upset about the cancellation. A serious actor, he has built a career out of playing foils for the likes of Rock Hudson, Errol Flynn, and Cary Grant. In real life, however, Young “is a strangely bad job of external miscasting. He simply does not fit his callow act.”

He is invested in acting but also has a lot to say about marriage, having just gotten married for the fourth time. “Girls will use any device to get married,” says Young. “They’re sick. They go out with you. They want to do anything you love to do. Then you marry them. Suddenly they don’t like to go fishing. They don’t like to go walking in the woods. They become themselves. I think you should be able to take a girl lie that to court and sue her for fraud.” [Perhaps not surprisingly, Young’s fourth marriage didn’t last long. Nor did his fifth, sadly.]

Efron refers to Young as “a slightly jazzy paperback–with serious essays inside,” something everyone who knows him agrees with. She concludes the profile by suggesting that should Young “manage somehow to wear himself inside-out, it might revolutionize both his image and his career.”

The fifth and final article, “Heaven Help the Men in Blue” by Melvin Durslag, examines the impact of the isolated camera on televised sporting events. The goal of isolated cameras is “to give the viewer a close-up look at what actually happens on the field.” All the networks use them, sometimes setting up three different isolated cameras. ABC’s Saturday baseball game has one for the batter and at least one for the base runners. Football and basketball also use isolated cameras. The NFL has concerns that while officials hem and haw about calls, viewers will know exactly what is going on thanks to the instant camera. But the isolated camera can help, too, vindicating calls that fans in the stands boo. Baseball umpires are worried as well while the NCAA and the American Football League don’t seem to have any qualms.

The “As We See It” editorial this week discusses the familiar issue of President Johnson’s relationship with television as well as newspapers. Those in TV wish he would give them more notice before addressing the nation and also let them know in advance what he planned to discuss. That way, they can decide whether or not to air him live or on tape. Those in newspapers don’t like being bypassed by the President in favor of TV. But going right to the people is more powerful. “For him to make an important announcement only to newspapermen would be as out of character as Cary Grant writing a love letter to the girl next door instead of showing up himself.” TV Guide hopes that the President will continue to appear on TV at his convenience while also holding televised press conferences during which reporters can ask questions.

Cleveland Amory has more second thoughts in this week’s column. He argues that much of the criticism Peyton Place (which he reviewed favorably in the October 10th, 1964 issue) has received from other critics is unjustified. The show “has held up extraordinarily–it is well produced, well cast and, generally speaking, well directed.” Amory does take issue with its pacing and with Mia Farrow’s acting, however. As for other actors and actresses, in sitcoms he praises Jim Nabors, Frank Sutton, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Dick York, while in dramas he applauds Richard Crenna, David Janssen, Vic Morrow, and Robert Lansing. Also, Amory notes that during the past season only ABC’s Peter Jennings stood out in news, ABC’s Nightlife was discouraging, the possibility of a fourth commercial network “began to loom,” educational TV grew slowly, and CBS got a new president.

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • NBC will be airing repeats of its 1958-1959 Western Buckspin from July 11th through August 29th, replacing Branded.
  • Otto Preminger refused to approve the editing of his film Advise and Consent by CBS and will not allow the network to air it in the fall. The network wanted to get rid of “key passages involving homosexuality.”
  • British actor and singer David Watson will join the regular cast of Rawhide in the fall.
  • The third Xerox/United Nations special is being filmed in Rome. Titled “The Tractor: A Lovey Story,” the special was penned by Arthur A. Ross and is produced by Paul Heller. It stars Alan Bates and Diane Cilento. [The retitled “Once Upon a Tractor” aired on September 9th, 1965.]
  • NET has a film crew in Finland for two months working on a special commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of composer Jean Sibelius, to be aired in December.
  • NBC will air “The International Beauty Spectacular” live from Long Beach, CA on August 13th while CBS will broadcast “The Miss Universe Pageant” on July 24th.
  • NBC is reworking an unsold sitcom pilot called “The Good Old Days,” about cavemen, with a new cast and will present it to potential sponsors next year. [The pilot, which starred Daryl Hickman, failed to sell again. It aired on July 11th, 1966 as part of Vacation Playhouse on CBS.]
  • Eight episodes of Profiles in Courage will be made available for classroom use.

Rounding out the national section is a picture feature highlighting antique car gadgets that will be seen in a CBS News special called “The Great Love Affair” to be broadcast in the fall. There is also a four-page special feature showcasing Janet Margolin modeling Marimekkos (dresses made in Finland) plus the regular TV crossword puzzle.

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

  • Television coverage of the Gemini IV space flight has been “illuminating, inspiring, suspenseful–and, at the same time, frustrating” because there has been no video of the astronauts in space, only audio. Even though the coverage has included several firsts, including the first live audio pickup during a spacewalk, the first color coverage of a launch (on NBC), and the first transmissions to Europe via Early Bird, the spaceflight has been “more waiting than watching.”
  • The FBI has granted clearances to the cast of ABC’s new series The FBI and may look into the backgrounds of any other actors “before they are permitted to work in the series.” One unnamed member of the Screen Actors Guild has compared the “clearance procedure” to blacklisting. An FBI spokesmen declared “We will not permit anyone with a Communist, subversive or substantially derogatory background to portray any part in the series.”
  • The House of Commons in Great Britain, like the United States Senate, refuses to allow television cameras in its chambers. However, the House of Commons was willing to allow a debate on May 28th that lasted for five hours and decided not to do anything. A committee will study the idea and bring it back up later in the year.

The letters page included seven letters on seven different topics. Regarding Walter Cronkite’s political convention idea, discussed in the May 15th issue:

I noted your poll on Walter Cronkite’s statement that TV coverage of national political conventions should be barred from the floor, and that most commentators disagreed with him. Tkaing a poll among network commentators is like polling the Ku Klux Klan to see what they think about wearing sheets. I think Cronkite is right, and much of the press so expressed itself at convention time.
O. B. Campbell, Editor and Publisher
Vinita Daily Journal
Vinita, Okla.

In response to the May 22nd article about Max Baer:

Regarding the article “Max Baer–Hostile Hillbilly,” are there any young actors around who like their work? It would be a relief to read about them for a change.
Francelia Thurber
Colorado Springs, Colo.

About NBC’s recent special on Japan:

NBC’s special, “Japan: A New Dawn over Asia,” was a serious disservice to the Japanese people, American-Japanese relations and to history in its one-sided, instant knowledge and no-showing-of-why approach to documentary television.
E.D. Thompson
Evansville, Ind.

Other letters: support for TV Guide‘s endorsement of a plan to create a clearinghouse for TV specials; a complaint about Arthur Fielder’s praise for “musical illiterates” during NBC’s “The Best on Record” special; a correction about Sonny Tuft’s role in the 1946 film The Virginian; and appreciation of Dick York.

The TV Listings

On Saturday, June 12th at 2PM, ABC aired its regular baseball game of the week, this one between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets. CBS aired the last episode of The Jackie Gleason Show for the season at 7:30PM; The Al Hirt Show will premiere as a summer replacement next week. At 5:30PM on Sunday, June 13th, G.E. College Bowl wrapped up its season on NBC. ABC pre-empted Wagon Train at 7:30PM for an hour-long documentary special called “Assault on Le Mans” chronicling Phil Hill’s preparations for the 1964 Le Mans Grand Prix. It was the third installment in the network’s The Daring Americans series. Bob Young narrated the special.

ABC aired the final repeat of The Bing Crosby Show from 9:30-10PM on Monday, June 14th. Repeats of The Farmer’s Daughter will move into the time slot next week. From 10-11PM, CBS pre-empted CBS Reports for an hour-long CBS News special titled “The Berkeley Rebels” about student protests at the University of California. Harry Reasoner interviewed students, professors, and parents.

NBC shuffled its Tuesday line-up starting on June 15th, moving Moment of Fear to 8:30PM and debuting repeats of Hullabaloo at 10PM. Also at 8:30PM, The Red Skelton Show aired its last repeat of the season. Art Linkletter’s Hollywood Talent Scouts will premiere next week as a summer replacement.

On Thursday, June 17th at 7:30PM, ABC pre-empted Jonny Quest for a half-hour health care special called “Health Care at the Crossroads,” featuring a current and former president of the American Medical Association. “Everybody’s Got a System,” an ABC special about gambling hosted by Terry-Thomas, pre-empted The Addams Family and Valentine’s Day from 8:30-9:30PM on Friday, June 18th. Another healthcare special aired from 9:30-10PM, this one featuring the president of the National Council of Senior Citizens discussing Medicare and proposed healthcare plans for the elderly. CBS aired the final repeat of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. at 9:30PM. Next week Vacation Playhouse takes over the time slot.

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

  • Wide World of Sports (ABC, Saturday at 5:00PM)
  • Special: Cleveland Open (Various, Sunday at 4:30PM and 6:00PM)
  • Special: Daring American – “Phil Hill: Assault on Le Mans” (ABC, Sunday at 7:30PM)
  • Ben Casey – “A Disease of the Heart Called Love” (ABC, Monday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • Dr. Kildare – “Love is a Sad Song”(ABC, Thursday at 8:30PM, Repeat)
  • The Defenders – “Blacklist” (CBS, Thursday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • Special: Everybody’s Got a System (ABC, Friday at 8:30PM)

Locally, there were fewer baseball games this week than previous weeks, plus a number of specials. From 1-2PM on Saturday, June 12th WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired “People and Other Animals,” a special featuring Jane Fonda, Robert Morse, and Ivan Sanderson talking about the similarities between animals and humans. At 2:15PM, WHDH-TV (Channel 5) aired a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. On Sunday, June 13th at 11:30PM, WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired an installment of Comments and People featuring the Amity Junior High Concert Choir directed by John Zito. WHDH-TV aired a half-hour public affairs report from 12-12:30PM titled “The Boston Jaywalker: A Study in Irresponsibility.”

At 1:30PM on Sunday, WNHC-TV aired a 90-minute documentary special about the Synanon House in Westport, CT. It followed residents of the house, all drug addicts, attempting to cure themselves. At 2:15PM, both WHDH-TV and WPRO-TV (Channel 12) aired a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox. WTIC-TV (Channel 3) and WPRO-TV aired coverage of the final round of the Cleveld Open at 4:30PM. WBZ-TV joined the telecast in progress at 6PM. WNHC-TV aired color highlights of the 1964 Rebel 300 auto race from 4-4:30PM, followed by a baseball game at 4:30PM between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Angels.

WNAC-TV (Channel 7) premiered a new weekday game show called Dialing for Dollars on Monday, June 14th at 11AM. The half-hour local quiz show was hosted by Dick Partridge and assistant Michele Metrinko. From 8:30-9:30PM, WNHC-TV pre-empted ABC’s No Time for Sergeants and Wendy & Me for an hour-long documentary about the Korean War narrated by Richard Basehart. WGBH-TV (Channel 2) aired an hour-long special from 9-10PM highlighting the February 20th debate at Cambridge University between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley, Jr. WJZB-TV (Channel 14) aired a half-hour special about urban renewal from 7:30-8PM on Wednesday, June 16th presented by the Worcester (MA) Chamber of Commerce. The Standwells, a puppet show, returned to WGBH-TV from 8-8:30PM.

WGBH-TV aired a college baseball game between Yale and Harvard at 7:30PM on Thursday, June 17th. On Friday, June 18th at 6PM, WGBH-TV premiered Glory Days, a new documentary series examining differences in the Old West (in both fact and fable) and the West today. The debut episode was titled “The Other Side of the Mountain?” At 9PM, WHD-TV aired another baseball game, this one between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago White Sox.

Here’s an advertisement for Hollywood A Go Go on WBZ-TV:

Advertisement for Hollywood A Go Go on WBZ-TV (Channel 4)
Advertisement for Hollywood A Go Go on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for Romper Room on WPRO-TV:

Advertisement for Romper Room on WPRO-TV (Channel 12)
Advertisement for Romper Room on WPRO-TV (Channel 12) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for The Bad Seed on WNAC-TV:

Advertisement for Baseball Close-up on WHDH-TV (Channel 5)
Advertisement for The Bad Seed on WNAC-TV (Channel 7) – 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, June 14th, 1965
Capt. Bob illustrates line and perspective.

Tuesday, June 15th, 1965
“American Music.” The Revolutionary War and its music is discussed.

Wednesday, June 16th, 1965
“Art U.S.A.” will present a broad spectrum of the styles and schools of paintings current in the United States.

Thursday, June 17th, 1965
“The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Game” with Jack Woolner.

Friday, June 18th, 1965
A preview of the annual Brush Hill Horse show.

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

Review: Earth 2 (Novelization)

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.

Earth 2
By Melissa Crandall
Based on the teleplay written by Michael Duggan, Carol Flint, Mark Levin
First December 1994
Published by Ace Books
264 pages

There are two things that make this an atypical Bookshelf column. First, Melissa Crandall’s Earth 2 was published in December 1994 so it’s by far the most recent TV tie-in novel I’ve reviewed. Second, it’s a novelization of the two-hour Earth 2 pilot telefilm (titled “First Contact”) originally broadcast on NBC on Sunday, November 6th, 1994. With few exceptions I’ve shied away from novelizations because I don’t feel qualified to review a novelization if I haven’t seen the episode(s) being novelized.

However, I have seen the Earth 2 pilot. In fact, I’ve seen it at least three times. First when it originally aired and most recently last November to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the series. So I’m able to compare and contrast the novelization to the episode as broadcast. For those not familiar with the show, Earth 2 was set in 2192 and starred Debrah Farentino as Devon Adair, the leader of a group attempting to colonize a planet 22 light years from Earth called G889. Most of humanity lived in space stations, the Earth’s surface having become nearly inhospitable.

Devon’s son, like many children, was sick with a mysterious illness called the Syndrome that was caused by living in space. She was convinced that life on G889 would cure him. The government thought otherwise and tried to sabotage the Eden Project, forcing it to launch ahead of schedule. Upon reaching G889, Devon and a small advance group of colonists crash land on the planet, far from the proposed site of New Pacifica. The show chronicled their adventures as they attempted to reach the colony site.

Front Cover to Earth 2
Front Cover to Earth 2 – Copyright MCA Publishing Rights, a Division of MCA, Inc.

By and large the novelization is very accurate to what was seen on television. Much of the dialogue was copied verbatim from the script, although there are significant differences at times. It’s possible Melissa Crandall added extra dialogue to flesh out scenes. There may have been lines that were cut for time. Or perhaps she was working with an early version of the script that included dialogue that was never filmed. Each episode of the TV series included voiceover narration from a different character (Devon provided the narration in the pilot). Some of it has been retained in the novelization, in at least one case being used as dialogue for a different character.

The novelization features a prologue that takes place eight years prior to the rest of story that isn’t featured in the TV episode at all. Again, it’s possible that this scene was scripted but never filmed or it may have been edited out of the episode prior to broadcast. The complete series DVD set released in 2005 contains deleted and extended scenes from five episodes but not from the pilot. The prologue helps explain Devon’s motivation for wanting to travel to G889.

As with all novelizations, the translation from script to prose required a lot of added description to replace the visuals of television. It was also necessary to include interior monologues to allow characters to think and react on the page rather than the screen. In both regards, Crandall did a fine job. The characters match pretty well with their television versions. There is one character that is noticeable different in the novelization: the bipedal robot Zero, whose dialogue and attitude is very different. Perhaps either the character was originally intended to have more humor and personality but was toned down for television.

Back Cover to Earth 2
Back Cover to Earth 2 – Copyright MCA Publishing Rights, a Division of MCA, Inc.

The end of the novelization is somewhat different than the TV episode but not drastically so. It includes a scene similar to one present in the second episode.

Two additional Earth 2 novels were published in February and May 1995. Both featured original stories. I’m sure I’ll be reviewing them here eventually.

See Also:

Back in September 2009, I reviewed Planet of the Apes #1: Man the Fugitive, George Alec Effinger’s novelization of two episodes of the 1974 Planet of the Apes TV series.

In October 2009, I reviewed Richard Woodley’s novelization of the first Man from Atlantis telefilm from 1977.

In May 2010, I reviewed William Johnston’s novelization of Senior Year, the pilot telefilm for the 1974 CBS drama series Sons and Daughters.

In January 2014, I reviewed The Questor Tapes, D.C. Fontana’s novelization of Gene Roddenberry’s unsold NBC pilot from 1974.

In February 2015, I reviewed Henry Clement’s novelization of the first episode of the 1975 CBS series Beacon Hill.

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