A Year in TV Guide: December 5th, 1964

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 #12
December 5th, 2014
Vol. 12, No. 49, Issue #610
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: Sammy Jackson and Laurie Sibbald of ABC’s No Time for Sergeant (photo by Richard R. Hewett).

The Magazine

Another week, another issue of TV Guide, and another article about football. That’s right, TV Guide‘s obsession with pigskin continues with an article that, like last week’s look at the 1964 All-America football team, has little to do with television. Written by Leo V. Lyons, it’s a brief history of the National Football League, which dates back to around 1920.

Front Cover
Front Cover – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

This issue also includes the first in a series of essays asking “prominent and articulate Americans” what they’d do if they were in charge of a TV network. The only requirements were that the network had to be competitive, make money, and work in the best interest of the public. This first essay is by Max Schulman, creator The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis, as well as author of numerous books. Schulman said he’d change nothing and do everything differently.

He wouldn’t change the percentage of the various kinds of programs on the air (Westerns, comedies, etc.) because that seems to be working. He would try to improve the caliber of programming by offering 100% ownership in shows to the most talented people he could find, something he insisted would result in better programs.

How can I make a profit by giving away the store? I’m glad you asked that question. I am not giving away the store. My store is a network. What I sell is time. When I get a good price for my time, I make a good profit for my network. If I corral TV’s best talent, it stands to reason I’ll end up with TV’s best shows. Which means I’ll capture TV’s biggest audience. Which means advertisers will be happy to pay me premium rates.

To solve the problem of low-rated public affairs programs, Shulman explained that he would convince the other networks to all run documentaries at the same time, basically forcing viewers to pick one and learn something. It might face some scrutiny from the Department of Justice, the networks would never agree to it, and independent stations would probably counter-program with movies, but he was certain it would work.

Also in this issue is an article about Sammy Jackson, star of ABC’s new sitcom No Time for Sergeants. He had a bit part in the movie version and became convinced he was perfect for the role of Will Stockdale. So, he wrote to producer Jack L. Warner and offered to hitchhike his way to an audition. Instead, he was sent airfare, auditioned, and got the role.

The final article is about Tina Louise, co-star of Gilligan’s Island on CBS. There’s not much of interest to Gilligan fans other than a brief discussion about changes made to the character of Ginger when Louise got the role and this tidbit about how nervous the network was about the gowns she’d be wearing:

In Gilligan’s Island, Tina isn’t asked to shed her raiment, but she is attired in a flesh-colored, figure-fitting evening gown (the one she was wearing at the time the boat went aground) which caused considerable consternation to the Program Practices Department of CBS.

To make sure there were no transparencies, the Program Practices expert led Tina from the studio to the street so that he could examine her in natural light. “Never,” she says, “have I undergone such a casing. I guess I passed the test, because the gown has remained in the show.”

I can’t imagine anyone at a network doing that these days.

Clevand Amory’s review of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. in this issue is very positive. He calls Jim Nabors “as fine a comedian as your screen has mustered up this season” and also compliments Frank Sutton, whose Sergeant Carter served as the perfect foil to Gomer.

The “As We See It” editorial is pretty weak this issue, with no real focus. It starts off by noting the complaints about how TV and newspapers covered President Kennedy’s assassination and ends with vague support for a group working to increase pool coverage and keep reporters from influencing the stories they’re covering.

Rounding out the national section are two picture features. One is about NBC’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” color special and its expensive Animagic. The other focuses on the National Surfing Championship, which is featured this week on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. There’s a hilarious picture of sportscaster Bill Flemming interviewing a bikini-clad surfer in the water while wearing a suit jacket, tie, and shorts. There’s also the usual crossword puzzle and a recipe for Flaming Christmas Pudding.

The “For the Record” column this week included four news reports:

  • NBC correspondent George Clay was killed in the Congo but details were sketchy on exactly what happened.
  • NBC’s new Hullabaloo will premiere the week of January 11th, 1965 although an exact date isn’t yet known. Gary Smith will produce. [It premiered on Tuesday, January 12th, 1965].
  • The ABC and NBC specials commemorating the anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination were well done but the networks did viewers a disservice by scheduling them opposite one another on Sunday, November 22nd.
  • According to The New York Times, Mel Allen is out as New York Yankees announcer, with the Yankees yet to officially announce its roster of sportscasters.

From the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • Tom Bosley will star in the Screen Gems TV pilot “Marty,” based on the famous TV production and feature film.
  • Actresses Beverly Owen and Roberta Shore are leaving The Munsters and The Virginian, respectively. Owen’s role will be recast immediately. A decision has yet to be made about Shore’s character.
  • Darryl Hickman will star in a Desilu sitcom called “The Good Old Days” set during the Stone Age.
  • Rip Torn will appear in the Dr. Kildare Christmas episode (“An Exchange of Gifts”) rather than John Qualen.
  • ABC will premiere a new soap opera on December 28th about a widow who has written a novel about her small town. [A Flame in the Wind ran until December 1966.]

The were some long letters this week, including one criticizing Cleveland Amory’s November 28th review of The Munsters and The Addams Family and an even longer response to a November 21st article about CBS and the NFL from a reader worried that football will join wrestling and boxing as sports on television that are less about competition and more about making money. There were two letters about NBC’s “The Louvre” special, one pointing out an error in TV Guide‘s picture feature about the special, the other from an appreciate reader who enjoyed watching the special.

Then there was this amazing letter:

Thet theah artuhcul by Les Raddatz on Jim Nabors wuz th’ wurst Ah evuh trahd tuh read. Ah’m frum Gawguh origunally an’ Ah nevuh heeerd sich tawk in awl mah lahf. Fur frum bin’ funny, hit wuz stewpid.
Mrs. G.R. Brunett
Lee, Ill.

Finally, there was another letter about Count Marco and a very short one from a reader who definitely didn’t like Les Crane: “We want LESS Crane.”

The TV Listings

Airing this week for the very first time was “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” an installment of The General Electric Fantasy Hour on NBC. I had no idea the special originally aired outside of prime time from 5:30-6:30PM on Sunday, December 6th. In addition to a TV Guide close-up, the special received a picture feature elsewhere in the issue, and a full-page color advertisement taken out by GE:

Advertisement for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on NBC
Advertisement for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer on NBC – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

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

  • Pro Football (CBS, Saturday at 2PM)
  • Special: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (NBC, Sunday at 5:30PM)
  • The Andy Williams Show (NBC, Monday at 9PM)
  • The Bell Telephone Hour (NBC, Tuesday at 10PM)
  • CBS Reports: Segregation: Northern-Style (CBS, Wednesday at 7:30PM)

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):

  • Puppet Show: Treasure Island (Sunday at 7PM, $1.00)
  • Movie: Fate Is the Hunter (Monday at 7PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Fail Safe (Wednesday at 7PM, $1.50)
  • Pro Hockey: Chicago Black Hawks vs. The Boston Bruins (Live, Thursday at 8PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: The Lively Set (Friday at 6:30PM, $1.00)

WTIC-TV (Channel 3) aired a half-hour panel discussion called From the College Campus on Sunday, December 6th from 11:30-12PM. It was held at Saint Joseph College in West Hartford, CT. WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired a live basketball game in prime time on Saturday, December 5th from 8:30-10PM, pre-empting The Lawrence Welk Show and part of The Hollywood Palace, which was scheduled to be joined in progress at the conclusion of the game. The station also took out a half-page ad for the game, which pitted the University of Connecticut against Yale:

Advertisement for Basketball on WNHC-TV (Channel 8)
Advertisement for Basketball on WHNC-TV (Channel 8) – Copyright 1964 Triangle Publications, Inc.

On Monday, December 7th, two stations aired the same hour-long documentary about Pearl Harbor, but at different times. WJAR-TV (Channel 10) aired “Day of Infamy” from 9-10PM (pre-empting The Andy Williams Show) while WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired it from 10-11PM (pre-empting Ben Casey).

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, December 7th, 1964
Captain Bob brings line, color and perspective into focus in another art lesson.

Tuesday, December 8th, 1964
Frank Avruch discusses current theater productions.

Wednesday, December 9th, 1964
Sonya Hamlin discusses medieval art.

Thursday, December 10th, 1964
Ruth Brana and Eleanor Baylan discuss 16th-century England.

Friday, December 11th, 1964
Robert J. Ferullo discusses the development of good speech habits in children.

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

15 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: December 5th, 1964”

  1. Thanks again for another great look back at a week of television and what was written about it.
    I wonder if the Tom Bosley or Darryl Hickman pilots were ever run during Vacation Playhouse or any other summer tv dumping ground. The Hickman pilot looks like half the idea behind “It’s About Time” 2 seasons later.
    “Flame in the Wind” was renamed “A Time for Us” 6 months after its premiere. A personal note here: “A Time for Us” [ABC], “House Party” [CBS], and “The Doctors” [NBC] were all airing on the Big 3 networks the minute I was born the next July. I’ve read that “The Doctors” eventually forced “House Party” off the air. All 3 programs were in B&W at the time, with “A Time for Us” still in B&W when it was cancelled. According to TV Guide, “The Doctors” was the 2nd-to-last regular NBC program to convert from B&W to color on 10/17/66 (same day that NBC premiered The Hollywood Squares), beating Concentration by just 3 weeks.
    I first saw “Rudolph” when I was pretty young and remember being scared by the Abominable Snowman, so much so that I avoided the show for years after.
    The only way I’d want to pay to see a puppet show on tv is maybe if it were a feature-length movie with the Muppets. Doing “Treasure Island” with the Muppets could actually be a workable idea.

    1. And to think, despite your reservations, that this seeming throwaway segment is still thriving as an institution 50 years later…

    2. According to the “Encyclopedia of Television Pilots, 1937-2012” by Vincent Terrace, “The Good Old Days” aired on CBS on July 11, 1966, Kathleen Freeman and Ned Glass played Dwayne Hickman’s parents. Other cast members included Chris Noel, Beverly Adams, Dodo Denney, Joe Bova, Bruce Yarnell, and Charles Horvath. “Marty” was never aired.

      I had no idea that “Rudolph” was not a prime time special from the beginning. I do not know if I watched that first broadcast. I would have been two years old at the time. My earliest memory of watching it was when I was five or six years old.

      The Muppets did a version of “Treasure Island.” It was a theatrical movie released in 1996. I saw it at the time, and recall that I enjoyed it.

  2. Does anyone remember seeing an episode of “No Time for Sergeants?” If yes, what are your thoughts about it? Also, does anyone have any insight as to why its ratings plummeted during the season? It did very well at the start. In a posting under one of the other “TV Guide” articles, it was noted that ABC started their season a week earlier than the other networks, which may have accounted for them doing so well during the first ratings period of the season. I wonder if the show was not really that good, or if the competition from “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ranked #4 for the season is what killed it. (I have a feeling that was a major factor, but it might not have done well in any time slot. Who knows?)

    There are quite a few ironies about this series. It was based on an Ira Levin novel that became an Andy Griffith teleplay, Broadway play, and movie, and was scheduled opposite Mr. Griffith’s hit series. Sammy Jackson had a bit part in the movie. “Gomer Pyle, USMC” was a spin-off of “The Andy Griffith Show” that debuted the same season as “No Time for Sergeants.” Both of the new shows had similar premises, but “Gomer Pyle, USMC” was the one that became a major success (even beating out its parent show in the ratings, coming in #3 for the season).

    1. Does anyone remember seeing an episode of “No Time for Sergeants?” If yes, what are your thoughts about it?…………………Yes, in fact I have several episodes on DVD. I thought it was a pretty good show, but can’t tell you why the Ratings went down as fast as they did.

      1. One correction to my earlier post. “No Time for Sergeants” was based on a novel by Mac Hyman. Ira Levin wrote the teleplay and the Broadway play.

        Thank you for your response, Jim.

  3. Max Shulman created, wrote and co-produced a 1961 pilot for CBS called “DADDY O”, about an “average guy” [Don DeFore] starring in a family sitcom. The way his life and the sitcom he was in was depicted was a VERY SAVAGE satire of the TV industry, and the “insipid” sitcoms it ground out every season. Naturally, CBS president James T. Aubrey rejected it for the 1961-’62 season because it was TOO satiric for his taste [it committed the cardinal sin of parodying the kind of “bland” sitcoms he was scheduling on the network at the time], and he believed it was too “inside show business” for viewers to embrace [like “THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW”, which flourished despite his efforts to yank it off the air after its first season]. That would explain Shulman’s attitude in his article.

    1. I have seen “Daddy-O,” and rather liked it. It co-starred Jean Byron, who a couple years later would play Patty’s mother Natalie on “The Patty Duke Show.” If “Daddy-O” had been picked-up, Don DeFore would not have played George Baxter on “Hazel.”

      I once read that someone at the network (probably James Aubrey, but I cannot recall exactly who it was) tried to convince Carl Reiner to make Rob Petrie an accountant instead of a TV comedy writer.

      1. I thought DADDY-O was a few years earlier, because I saw the opening of it on YouTube, and a younger Sheila James (Zelda on DOBIE GILLIS) played the daughter of Defore’s show-within-a-show character

  4. How accurate is the story that Beverly Owen quit THE MUNSTERS because the show’s production would keep her from going on her honeymoon?

    1. I have read that her contract was for 13 weeks, and that at that point in her career she wanted to leave show business. She opted to not renew her contract when she got married around the same time.

  5. The cropping of the cover photo is odd. I can’t imagine that Sammy Jackson was thrilled that his chin and lower lip was covered by the address label.

  6. May be able to help with the matter of SERGEANTS. It was part of ABCs strategy that fall to deal with the potent CBS line up of half hour shows. ABC would start the night with “action lead in ” VOYAGE/SEA followed by the three new sitcoms expected to take on the heart of CBSs comedy lineup. Sergeants, Wendy/Me, and Bing Crosby
    Critics weren’t kind to ABC shows but I like all of them. Sergeants is really more fun to watch than Gomer, with a swifter pace and more colorful and zany plotting. Can’t beat Laurie Sibbald either. Crosby Show is pleasant and the girls are cute. In another universe ABCs strategy might have worked, but after sample viewing the middle —Wendy, Bing —began to fade.
    Voyage and Sergeants continued to do well enough, ruling their roost and giving ABC a partial victory on Mondays (with Ben Casey anchoring the 10pm finale.)
    This is also Voyage s dynamic black and white “Tom Clancy” season, likely the show s best. Check You Tube for the Kingston Trio COKE ads that appeared simultaneously on VOYAGE and 90 BRISTOL /KAREN this season.
    Coke ads in large magazines during Fall 64 promote both Voyage and Bristol and I collect these.
    Bloom left the Rose a bit when NBC shifted struggling freshman UNCLE into the hour vacated by much of BRISTOL COURT in January. Though ABCs lead Monday shows finished the season in the “30s” (rank) and UNCLE only finished at 64 or so , ABC beancounters detected trend to growth in UNCLE at their expense. A small article in an April 1965 VARIETY all but says it —Sergeants is Out because it couldn’t. “counter the (pace) of the rapidly rising Man From UNCLE”.
    Despite NBC saying that UNCLE —if renewed–would shift to Fridays, ABC scratched plans to lead off on Monday 1965-66 with Voyage and Sergeants (Voyage sent to Sundays).
    If you can, find the wonderful article from a Feb 1965 SatEvePost, WHO KILLED YOUR FAVORITE TV SHOW?

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