Top 10 Specials of the 1964-1965 Season

Here are the Top Top entertainment specials broadcast during the 1964-1965 season. The list was published in the May 24th, 1965 issue of Broadcasting [1]. The most-watched special was the February 22nd, 1965 showing of Cinderella on CBS. It drew a 42.3 Nielsen rating and was seen in more than 22 million households. The color extravaganza starred Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella and Stuart Damon as Prince Charming. The cast also included Ginger Rogers, Celeste Holm and others). It was the second time the Rodgers and Hammerstein take on the fairy tale had been seen on television. Julie Andrews starred in the first, aired in 1957 (also on CBS); a third version, starring Brandy Norwood, was broadcast in 1997 on ABC.

Other specials included the Academy Awards, the Miss America Pageant and a whole bunch of “personality” specials starring Danny Thomas or Bob Hope. You don’t often see specials on television these days, aside from awards shows. For the record, the 2009 Academy Awards drew a 20.6 Nielsen rating [2]. As for the Miss America Pageant, it hasn’t been seen on network television since September 18th, 2004 when ABC’s broadcast drew a paltry 6.8 rating [3]. Sad.

## Program Airdate Net Rating Households
1. Cinderella 02/22/1965 CBS 42.3 22,250,000
2. Miss America Pageant 09/12/1964 CBS 40.3 21,200,000
3. Danny Thomas Special 03/14/1965 NBC 38.9 20,460,000
4. Academy Awards 04/05/1965 ABC 37.4 19,670,000
5. Bob Hope Christmas Show 01/15/1965 NBC 36.0 18,940,000
6. Wizard of Oz 01/17/1965 CBS 34.7 18,250,000
7. Bob Hope Special 02/12/1965 NBC 27.4 14,410,000
8. Danny Thomas Special 02/14/1965 CBS 26.5 13,940,000
9. Bob Hope Special 11/20/1964 NBC 25.5 13,410,000
10. Miss Teen-age Pageant 11/13/1964 CBS 25.3 13,310,000

Works Cited:

1 “Specials rank well when compared with regular programs.” Broadcasting. 24 May 1965: 31.
2 Seidman, Robert. “Academy Awards American Idol and The Mentalist lead broadcast viewing.” 24 Feb. 2009. (Read online).
3 Curran, John. “Pageant ratings drop again, despite gimmicks.” Associated Press. 21 Sep. 2004: BC Cycle.

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8 Replies to “Top 10 Specials of the 1964-1965 Season”

  1. The 1965 version of “Cinderella” was videotaped in color, but originally shown in black and white [as previously mentioned, CBS did not telecast ANY color programming from late 1959 until the fall of 1965, due to CBS chairman Bill Paley’s rivalry with RCA/NBC’s David Sarnoff, and Paley’s belief his scheduling of color programs would primarily sell RCA Victor color sets]; the initial repeat of the special in 1966 was its first color telecast.

    {Incidentally, Whitney Houston was originally supposed to star as “Cinderella” in the ABC/Disney version- but production had been delayed for so long, by the time it was filmed in 1997, Houston was too old to play the lead. She appeared as the “Fairy Godmother” instead.}

    “The Wizard Of Oz”, with Danny Kaye’s pre-recorded segments as host (which were used from 1963 through 1967), was also seen in black and white. Color telecasts of the 1939 movie were shown only after NBC acquired the rights to the film in 1967.

    Bob Hope’s monthly Chrysler specials were always a big draw in the mid-’60s: in the 1964-’65 season, they alternated with his weekly “BOB HOPE PRESENTS THE CHRYSLER THEATER” anthology- and believe it nor not, while his weekly show was in “Living Color”, his specials WEREN’T. Not until December 1965 were his variety specials presented in color for the first time.

    1. Sorry, the special was originally show in color. Check out the last page of the NY Times for that day. CBS advertised Cinderella as being broadcast in BOTH color AND black-and-white!

    2. Barry I. Grauman…go to the Wikipedia article “The Wizard of Oz on television” and scroll down until you get to the section “Shown in color”, and this will tell you about the early telecasts of “Oz” in color.

  2. “Cinderella” premiered on CBS on Monday, Feb. 22, 1965 (not 2/12 or in 1964). I didn’t know that CBS originally telecast it in B&W, but that would follow its policy at the time of not airing anything in color, even shows produced in color by then, like “The Lucy Show”. I have this show on DVD (in color, of course).
    CBS reran “Cinderella” (presumably in color) on Jan. 6, 1971 (among other times, I’m sure), filling the vacated timeslot of “The Governor & J.J.”, which had been cancelled as of Dec. 30, 1970. “To Rome with Love” was moved to its Wednesday night timeslot, leaving its old Tuesday night timeslot open for the premiere of…”All in the Family”.

  3. Good grief! Cinderella was shown in COLOR and black-and-white on 2/22/21965. It was advertised as such in the New York Times on this date, a Monday, on the last page of the paper.

  4. The 1965 “Oz” telecast was the second highest rated ever (the 1964 telecast was number one) and was sponsored by Procter & Gamble, which promoted it by placing the well remembered hand puppets of characters from the movie in many of its products; this was repeated for the March 9,1969 telecast of “Oz” on NBC.

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