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.
January 16th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 3, Issue #616
Western New England Edition
On the Cover: Bob Hope, An American Institution (illustration by Ronald Searle).
The first of six articles in this issue provides a brief overview of how television plans to cover the January 20th presidential inauguration of Lyndon Baines Johnson. It will be the fourth inauguration televised live and an estimated 50 million viewers will tune in. The inauguration ceremony will start at 11:30AM Eastern to allow for the swearing in to take place exactly at noon. Pool cameras will be utilized by the networks inside the Capitol, on the White House grounds, and at the four Inaugural Balls. All other events will be covered individually. The article is also another TV Guide history lesson, informing readers that until 1817 inaugurations were held indoors, that William Henry Harrison died 30 days after his 1841 inauguration, and that George Washington’s 1789 inauguration featured just a simple fireworks display.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
“The Battle of Peyton Place” by Richard Warren Lewis is the first of a two-part look at ABC’s controversial bi-weekly prime time soap opera. It’s an interesting read. Lewis reveals the complicated history of the series. The original hour-long pilot was well received by ABC (vice president Douglas Cramer called it “a brilliant hour of film, one of the best pilots ever made”) but the network hired Irna Phillips to consult on the series. She insisted the pilot be thrown out even though the network and sponsors were thrilled with it. “When I saw it–the sensational story of Selena Cross and her father–I told ABC I thought it ought to be shelved,” she explained. “I did not think that this was the kind of thing to give an American public–a father seducing his stepdaughter.”
Phillips provided a treatment of her own that involved an incestuous relationship between half-siblings. Executive producer Paul Monash was furious:
Any relationship between them [Allison Mackenzie and Richard Bailey] would be incest. I utterly reject this tasteless and profitless story area. It is meretricious, trite and tawdry. Are we seriously expected to film a story in which Allison and this young man play out a full romance? Isn’t this suggestion coming from the very writer who complained about a plethora of sex in the pilot?”
In defense of her outline for the series Phillips suggested that Monash simply didn’t understand “the mechanics of serial drama” and declared it “could be handled delicately and in good taste.” Both the pilot and the Phillips treatment were tossed out. Phillips came up with another idea involving an unwed, pregnant girl named Betty Anderson and Dr. Michael Rossi. ABC loved it but 20th Century Fox and Monash didn’t. He told ABC “Irna Phillips is trying to impose her pattern on Peyton Place. I cannot do the series properly, expressing viewpoints which are not my own.” Negotiations continued between the studio and the network. And that’s where the article left off. Next week’s issue will pick things up with Monash signing a contract and agreeing to a murder.
Neil Hickey’s “Any Language Has a Name for Valente” is a profile of actress, singer, and dancer Caterina Valente (who is also a classical guitarist, a film star, a disc jockey, and speaks six languages and sings in 12). She was born into a performing family in Germany, spent months in a Russian internment camp, and later started singing in a Swiss circus. That lead to recordings, appearances in New York, and a role on the CBS variety show The Entertainers.
Reading Dwight Whitney’s five-page article about Bob Hope you get the impression that the famous comedian doesn’t have a particularly warm home life. He and his wife, Dolores, rarely go anywhere together and live in separate parts of their house. Not that he’s ever home. She’s deeply religious, he’s goes to church once a year due to a promise he made her. Whitney even describes the two as “separate but equal.” His description of their relationship doesn’t seem very happy but it apparently worked for them. Hope is said to travel with a huge group of writers who are always ready to provide him with quips at a moment’s notice. According to Whitney, the worst thing anyone has to say about Hope is that he’s “egotistical.”
“That’s Debbie Watson’s Problem” is a two-page article about the 16-year-old star of NBC’s sitcom Karen, the sole surviving segment of 90 Bristol Court. She doesn’t know why she decided to become an actress but loves acting. A few years ago she was going to school and hanging out with friends. Now she’s juggling filming, a studio school, and promotional duties. Once when she arrived late for a photo session she burst into tears and the photographer took pity on her and agreed to take some pictures. The problem referred to in the title is Watson’s naivete and innocence. She’s too trusting, too nice, too outgoing and she has an awful lot to learn about show business.
Isaac Asimov’s “Why I wouldn’t have done it this way” is a tongue-in-cheek essay about why Rhoda the Robot from My Living Doll wasn’t designed well. Within the context of the show, Asimov explains, the robot was said to have been built to test the stress of space on the human body. That makes some sense but why was the robot made to look like a woman when most astronauts are men? He continues:
Can they point out to me, or to any rational human being, what can possibly be gained by building the kind of imbalanced robot that is made necessary by the lopsidedness of the female frame?
I tell you, as I sat in my living room watching Rhoda the Robot stand there in a sheet, I felt strongly urged to examine her closely tin order that I might estimate just how bad the imbalance was. Any roboticist would have felt he same urge.
Asimov also suggested that Rhoda’s controls, located on her upper back, should instead be on her stomach. It is a much easier place to access, and is always covered by clothing. He was very disappointed that whenever Rhoda talked about dropping her sheet she was stopped before she could do so and reveal any potential stomach controls. And he wondered why Dr. McDonald was so overwhelmed by Rhoda. After all, she was designed to test the effects of space on the human body and would do anything she was asked. What is so upsetting about that, Asimov mused?
The “As We See It” editorial was back to its regular thin, half-page column this week. The topic was network influence on sports. TV Guide did not like NBC writing to college football players telling them to join the AFL rather than the NFL because NBC had rights to AFL games. Who knows what else the networks may try to influence? Tongue-in-cheek, the editorial imagined a world where CBS tried to push Little League players towards the Yankees and NBC convinced high school students to go to college on the West Coast in order to provide contestants for G.E. College Bowl.
Cleveland Amory’s review of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was not kind:
We realize, of course, that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a take-off on the whole cycle of tough-guy detective sagas in general and the James Bond stories in particular. The trouble is, in a nutshell, it’s a take-of which doesn’t come off. For all the production involved–and it is considerable–and for all the fast pace and gimmickry, there just isn’t enough charm; and charm, as all good Bond fans know, is the ingredient needed to walk this perilous line between real menace and fun menace.
He laid the blame on the writing but also the acting, criticizing both Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. He also wondered if perhaps writer/developer/producer Sam Rolfe was secretly working for THRUSH.
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- Shelley Fabares and Celeste Holme have been signed by MGM to co-star in a half-hour ABC pilot called “Meet Me in St. Louis,” based on the Judy Garland film. [It didn’t sell but was aired in September 1966. It was included as a bonus feature on the 2004 special edition of the film.]
- Universal complained the title of MGM’s “Shenandoah” pilot because it has an upcoming film of the same name. The pilot is now nameless. [It was eventually retitled A Man Called Shenandoah.]
- Pat Boone will star in a 20th Century-Fox pilot called “My Island Family” about a young American engineer trying to build a water-supply system on a South Pacific island. [It didn’t sell.]
- NBC is considering a pilot called “The Sheriff” for its 1965-1966 schedule.
- Sharon Ritchie, former Miss America, has joined NBC’s daytime game show Say When as a fur model.
- NBC’s Today and Tonight will originate from Hollywood for a couple of weeks.
There are no picture features in the national section this week but there is the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There were three news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- Bob Cummings has walked away from My Living Doll after 21 episodes. He will not be replaced. Instead, Jack Mullaney’s role will be beefed up and he will take over custody of Julie Newmar’s Rhoda the Robot. According to insiders, Cummings and Newmar didn’t get along. Newmar was tired of Cummings telling her how to act. So Cummings quit, leaving money on the table. Newmar was happy. [Read all about My Living Doll in my article about the sitcom.]
- The national Nielsen report for the two weeks ending December 20th put CBS a the top of the ratings. It was the first time this season that CBS, the longtime leader, was ahead of ABC and NBC.
- The FCC may be very busy in 1965. According to Chairman E. William Henry, the commission has several questions it wants to consider:
- Should the FCC regulate community-antenna television?
- Should the government exercise some control over broadcasting networks?
- Should excessively noisy commercials be curbed?
- Should the FCC urge the repeal of Section 315–that part of the Communications Act which has to do with equal time for political candidates?
The letters page this week featured one response from a reader about a December 19th TV Guide article about positive portrayals of native Americans on television. And there were seven letters about the United Nations special “Carol for Another Christmas” (ABC, December 28th, 1964):
I was greatly moved by the UN special “Carol for Another Christmas,” presented by the Xerox Corporation on ABC.
St. John, Ind.
I would like to thank Xerox, writer Rod Serling, ABC and director Joseph Mankiewicz for the best Christmas presentation of the year. And no commercials either.
I am 64 and I never heard a finer sermon; nor do I ever expect to see or hear one quite as good. To me it put the Christ in Christmas and promoted the 11th Commandment “Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.”
C.Herbert Wolf Sr.
While I do not feel that the first show was all that could be desired, I do feel that the effort put forth to present programs on the work of the United Nations in prime viewing time is worthy of commendation, and I look forward to the coming shows.
New York, N.Y.
My husband spent the last few months in Vietnam. After seeing this program I won’t have to ask why. Thank God we Americans care enough for our fellow man to fight to free him from oppression.
That “wonderful” production did not make me feel friendly toward the UN. It burned me up! Rod Serling laid the blame for all the world’s wars and ills on the American doorstep. The UN talks and talks and the Commies act–in Hungary, Berlin, and the Congo.
Frances K. Samuels
New Canaan, Conn.
My congratulations on “Carol for Another Christmas,” a wonderful presentation of Communist propaganda.
George W. Coughenour
San Bernardino, Cal.
According to an editorial note, letters about “Carol for Another Christmas” continue to arrive and are running 6-to-1 in favor of the specials.
The TV Listings
The big news in network television this week was of course the second inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson which took place on Wednesday, January 20th. All of the networks planned to cover the inauguration but NBC went all out and made a day of it. A special edition of Today kicked things off for NBC at 7AM with a preview of the inauguration, followed by the start of six hours of live coverage at 10AM.
CBS also started its six hours of inauguration coverage at 10AM while ABC waited until 10:30AM and thus only had five and a half hours of coverage. TV Guide noted that the networks may start coverage earlier “if events warrant.” The inaugural parade was scheduled to start at 1:30PM and end at 4PM, which is when the networks were to conclude their coverage.
Here’s the TV Guide close-up of the inauguration coverage:
TV Guide Inauguration Close-Up – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Both ABC and NBC aired prime time coverage as well. NBC pre-empted The Virginian for an hour-long special called “Inauguration ’65” consisting of taped highlights. ABC Scope was likewise dedicated to recapping the inauguration from 10:30-11PM. CBS and NBC also aired live and taped coverage of the various Inaugural Balls, with some stations starting at 11:15PM and others at 11:30PM.
NBC affiliate WWLP (Channel 22) took out a half-page ad for the network’s inauguration coverage:
WWLP Ad for NBC’s Inauguration Coverage – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Otherwise, the week was a relatively normal one, with lots of sports scheduled for the weekend. There were no bowl games this week but ABC did air the NFL All-Star game on Saturday, January 16th at 2PM. On Sunday, January 17th Shell World of Golf returned for its fourth season on ABC and a new series called NBC Sports in Action premiered on NBC (both at 4PM).
CBS broadcast The Wizard of Oz from 7-9PM on Sunday, hosted by Danny Kaye. The movie was followed by an hour-long drama special called “The Man Who Bought Paradise,” with Robert Horton. Richard Alan Simmons wrote the teleplay; Ralph Nelson directed. NBC aired “Allan Sherman’s Funnyland” on Monday, January 18th.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- AFL All-Star Game (ABC, Saturday at 2PM)
- Movie: The Wizard of Oz (CBS, Sunday at 7PM)
- The Rogues – “Bless You, G. Carter Huntington” (NBC, Sunday at 10PM)
- Special: Allan Sherman’s Funnyland (NBC, Monday at 9PM)
- Bell Telephone Hour (NBC, Tuesday at 10PM)
- Special: Inauguration Day (ABC/CBS/NBC, Wednesday at Various Times)
- The Defenders – “The Silent Killer” (CBS, Thursday at 10PM)
- Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre – “Exit from a Plane in Flight” (NBC, Friday at 8:30PM)
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):
- Movie: The Seventh Dawn (Saturday at 8:30PM, $1.25)
- Movie: Send Me No Flowers (Sunday at 9:30PM, $1.50)
- Movie: Rio Conchos (Monday at 9PM, $1.25)
- Movie: Youngblood Hawke (Wednesday at 9:30PM, $1.25)
- Movie: Disorderly Orderly (Thursday at 7PM, $1.25)
- Movie: The Amorous Flea (Friday at 8:30PM, $1.50)
With this issue TV Guide stopped publishing listings for three stations: WJAR-TV (NBC, Channel 10) and WPRO-TV (CBS, Channel 12), both out of Providence, RI, and WTEV (ABC, Channel 6) out of New Bedford, MA. No explanation was given.
Locally, WHDH-TV (Channel 5) aired another episode of its fishing show Gadabout Gaddis on Saturday, January 16th. Gadabout described equipment for beginning fishermen and “lady fisherman” Beverly Wallace caught striped bass. On Sunday, January 17th at 11:25AM WNHC-TV (Channel 8) premiered a five-minute program called Capitol Reports in which Connecticut state representatives gave reports to the public. That same day at 11:30AM, WTIC-TV (Channel 3) aired another installment of From the College Campus featuring Trinity College in West Hartford.
On Friday, January 22nd at 9:30PM WNHC-TV aired an hour-long documentary called “Drive Alive” in which film and tape of truckers in Connecticut illustrated truck safety. Stelio Salmona hosted.
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, January 18th, 1965
Captain Bob gives a drawing lesson illustrating shading and perspective.
Tuesday, January 19th, 1965
Dr. Edwin P. Booth analyzes historical Inaugural addresses.
Wednesday, January 20th, 1965
[No summary provided.]
Thursday, January 21st, 1965
An aerial view of the wealth of Massachusetts waterways is presented.
Friday, January 22nd, 1965
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health exposes the ways it helps safeguard health of members of the local community.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.