What America Didn’t Watch – Friday, November 22nd, 1963

What We Didn’t Watch is a four-part special feature focusing on network prime-time programming pre-empted in November 1963 by coverage of President Kennedy’s assassination, its aftermath and his funeral. The networks aired news coverage and a few specials but no regular programming and no commercials. Most of the scheduled programs were aired at a later date. All times are Eastern.

Part One: Friday, November 22nd, 1963

When Walter Cronkite broke into As the World Turns on CBS at 1:40PM EST with an audio-only bulletin, neither ABC or NBC were offering network service. Affiliates were airing syndicated or local programs. By 2PM, all three networks were on the air with live coverage. Scheduled network programming for the remainder of the afternoon was tossed out.

For ABC, that meant shows like Day in Court at 2:30PM, Queen for a Day at 3PM and Who Do You Trust? at 3:30PM.

CBS afternoon programming not seen that day included Password at 2PM, to Tell the Truth at 3PM and The Secret Storm at 4PM.

And NBC pre-empted The Doctors at 2:30PM, You Don’t Say at 3:30PM and Match Game at 4PM.

The regularly scheduled evening news were of course unnecessary, as news coverage was all that was on the networks.

Here’s a rundown of the prime time schedules for each network, with rescheduled airdates for:


77 Sunset Strip – “Lover’s Lane”
Postponed until January 3rd, 1964

Burke’s Law – “Who Killed Jason Shaw?”
Postponed until January 3rd, 1964

Farmer’s Daughter – “The Simple Wife”
Postponed until December 18th, 1963

Boxing, Johnny Persol vs. Allen Thomas
Postponed until November 29th, 1963


The Great Adventure – “Wild Bill Hickock”
Postponed until January 3rd, 1964

Route 66 – “Kiss the Monster – Make Him Sleep”
Postponed until January 24th, 1964

The Twilight Zone – “Night Call”
Postponed until February 7th, 1964

The Alfred Hitchcok Hour – “Body in the Barn”
Postponed until November 29th, 1963

[June 1st, 2016 Update: I originally said that “Body and the Barn” was postponed until July 3rd, 1964. However, Steve Z. pointed out in the comments that Stephen Bowie of The Classic TV History Blog has proven that the episode actually aired on November 29th, 1963.]


International Showtime – “Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen Circus”
Postponed until November 29th, 1963

Bob Hope Presents The Chrysler Theatre – “It’s Mental Work”
With Lee J. Cobb, Harry Guardino, Gene Rowlands
Postponed until December 20th, 1963

Harry’s Girls – “Bet It All”
Postponed until January 3rd, 1964

The Jack Paar Program
With Liberace, Milt Kamen, Mary McCarthy and Cassius Clay
Postponed until November 29th, 1963

The interrupted episode of As the World Turns does exist in full, even if viewers on Friday, November 22nd, 1963 never got to see how it ended. The Paley Center for Media has a copy.

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16 Replies to “What America Didn’t Watch – Friday, November 22nd, 1963”

  1. Wikipedia said the Route 66 episode “A Cage in Search of a Bird” was the episode that was bumped by JFK. Wondering if they’re right.

      1. In the last regular CBS network ID before continuous coverage, Route 66 was promoted “follow Todd and Link on a mountain adventure with a pretty girl. Tonight on the CBS television network.”

    1. Which “Route 66” episode was pre-empted 11/22? “Kiss the Monster, Make Him Sleep” or “A Cage in Search of a Bird.” IMDB says both, which is helpful!

      Youtube has a video of Walter Cronkite’s first bulletin. It is followed by a commercial for Nescafe instant coffee, a bumper for “As the World Turns,” then a “Route 66” promo: “Follow Todd and Linc to a mountain adventure with a pretty girl on Route 66, tonight on the CBS television network.”

      “Cage” takes place in Denver and stars Stefanie Powers. “Kiss” is set in Minneapolis with James Coburn and Barbara Mattes as his sister. I’ve seen stills of the actresses from both, and I’d say “pretty girl” refers to Powers, and of course “mountain adventure” means Denver. So it’s “Cage” and TV Guide had it wrong. It happens.

      1. I agree – the promo in real time – prior to suspension of of all scheduled network programing on CBS, etc. – was clearly for “A Cage in Search of a Bird” – and this makes me wonder about the accuracy of TV Guide’s listings for other timeslots for that weekend

  2. Stephen Bowie’s website says that the Body in the Barn episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour actually aired on November 29th 1963. The July 3rd 1964 airing was a rerun of the episode.

      1. The only question is why would CBS show “The Body in the Barn” the following week, bumping an episode which had undoubtedly already been scheduled with information already having been sent out to publications such as TV Guide when the order of episodes was not important? It would have made more sense if CBS did what the sources say: just hold over “The Body in the Barn” to a later, as yet, unscheduled date. Perhaps that is why the misinformation has been repeated so often: it makes more sense.

  3. CBS broke into “As The World Turns” at 1:40 pm, NBC broke in with Don Pardo at 1:45 and ABC broke in around 1:46 pm, interviewing eyewitness accounts of the murder of President Kennedy that awful day. Some have said that Pardo broke in before Cronkite, but check out the three videos on You Tube; Cronkite was first on the air. Go back an hour for all times Central.

    1. Reportedly, Don Pardo first did a bulletin on WNBC-TV Ne York around 1:41 or 1:42, a minute or two after CBS, but local only and three or four minutes before NBC’s first network bulletin.

      Since ABC and NBC weren’t feeding network programs, that fact may have led to the bulletins being a minute or two later than they might have been had they been feeding network programming.

    1. Stephen A. Thoren, eBay sellers are attempting to sell that issue for between $10 and $24. That’s the same price range for other 1963 issues. There’s no way of knowing if anyone is finding buyers. If someone is interested in purchasing your TV Guide, it is a collectible to that person.

  4. Does anybody remember “People Will Talk”? A game show hosted by Dennis James on NBC from July-December 1963, or such daytime rerun fare like The Loretta Young Theater on NBC, and Major Adams, Trailmaster (Wagon Train) on ABC? Nothing exists of PWT, but Loretta Young and Wagon Train still exists today!

  5. James Beer, there is information available on People Will Talk, but you need to do some searching to find it. Wikipedia has an unreferenced article, People Will Talk (game show) on the series. Additional information can be found at Google Books (https://books.google.com). Do a search for “People Will Talk” and a few pages of various reference books can be read to learn about the game show. It is highly unlikely that you can find actual episodes of People Will Talk, since it was probably considered a low-priory series to preserve.

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