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.
February 6th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 6, Issue #619
Western New England Edition
On the Cover: Jackie Gleason (photograph by Allan Gould).
This issue includes one of the more interesting articles I’ve come across to date: “They Gotta Be Kidding!” by Robert Musel. It’s about a Western television filled with all the usual trappings of the genre. The big difference? It was a French television series called Les Indiens. A total of 26 15-minute episodes were filmed in the Sologne plateau and the Alpilles area of the Camargue. Writer-director Pierre Viallet explained that the series was an attempt to present a historically accurate representation of the American Indian rather than the cliche-ridden depictions seen in Hollywood cowboy-and-Indian movies and TV shows. Characters spoke three different languages: Crow, French, and English. There was also a lot of narration (in French) aimed at viewers in France who only spoke French.
Here’s how Viallett described the concept:
There have been hundreds of American films about the Indian era, so we looked for a different angle. We take a moment in time and history when the Indian was not sad, as he is usually shown, but when he was mostly gay and filled with joie de vivre. We see the Indians not from the white man’s point of view but from the Indian’s. And here is another new thing. In American films the squaw has a very small part. In our series she is important.”
[The Internet Movie Database has an entry for Les Indiens but there isn’t a lot of information. There doesn’t appear to be any footage on YouTube. I wonder if the series was every broadcast in the United States.]
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Back in the December 5th, 1964 issue, TV Guide published the first in a series of essays in which “prominent and articulate Americans” are asked how they would run a television network. This issue includes the second essay, by critic Marya Mannes. Her plan to improve television focuses mostly on commercials and writing. Her imaginary network will run fewer commercials, exempting entirely news broadcasts, coverage of national and international events, and other programs deemed of public interest. Furthermore, writers of prime time dramas and children’s shows will have final say on where commercials are placed. Her network will also establish a department aimed at screening commercials to ensure their credibility, taste, entertainment value, and veracity.
To improve writing, Mannes explains she will move her network’s production facilities to New York City and Chicago where the best television talent are found, bringing along technical crews from the West Coast. Her network will also set up a “television farm club” by purchasing local stations with which it can experiment with programs. Finally, the network will fund technical schools and programs across the country to improve the pool of talent for television in the future.
Her proposals, Mannes admits, are “highly controversial and entail great risks.” But they are necessary because television is too much of a selling medium rather than a public enrichment. She hopes her plan will keep the “double yoke of Government regulation and public apathy” at bay.
Proving again how popular The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is with viewers, or at least weapon enthusiasts, the third article in this issue examines the guns of U.N.C.L.E. and Thrush. There are five prop guns, four for U.N.C.L.E. and one for Thrush. It cost $5,500 to create them. The Thrush gun has one technical advantage over the U.N.C.L.E. guns: an infrared light that lets Thrush agents shoot in the dark. Producer Sam Rolfe explains that the guns are featured as much as possible in the hopes of getting more fan mail. The show receives about 500 letters a week about the guns. According to executive producer Norman Felton, the show’s philosophy towards guns has evolved: “We don’t kill anybody any more with the U.N.C.L.E. guns. We just put them to sleep. And afterwards they’re better off. They’re nicer to their wives and kids after being hit with one of Mr. Solo’s darts. The Thrush gun, of course, kills.”
The cover story by Edith Efron (“Jackie Gleason on: Sin, Music, Plato, Pity and Other Subjects”) is difficult to summarize. It begins with quotes about The Great One by producer Ronald Wayne, actor Philip Bruns, and director Frank Bunetta. Efron then extensively quotes Gleason himself on topics ranging from modern music (“The lives people lead are so limp today that they crave modern music.”) to delinquency (“What’s wrong with kids today is mental unemployment.”) to educational television (“Who will select the education? Once we have that in television, we have what is almost a dictator.”) Gleason, at least according to Efron, is a man at odds with himself. He’s incredibly intelligent and incredibly confident but also confused and terrified. His characters on television represent the different versions of himself.
He is somewhat bitter about how the public sees him as “a fat, flashy fellow, a figure of loquaciousness and rioting.” But he talks about drinking and eating because he’s too shy to talk about things that are important to him. “Whatever the reason,” Efron concludes, “the fact remains that the Gleason image is a distorted over-simplification of a complex human being. There are millions of men who overeat in this world, millions of men who drink too much. But there is only one Jackie Gleason.”
The final article, about actress Beverly Garland, seems longer than it really is because there are so many advertisements and pictures mixed in with the text. It probably runs less than three pages but is spread across five, with a full-page advertisement for RCA televisions in the middle. After earning an Emmy nomination for her role in the 1954 pilot episode of Medic, she apparently became a good-luck charm for pilots and has appeared in 25 of them (including Dr. Kildare, Stump the Stars, and raft Mystery Theatre. She became a permanent panelist on Stump the Stars. It was a turning point for her. All of her previous television work was dramatic and now it was known she could do comedy, too. That led directly to her co-starring opposite Bing Crosby on The Bing Crosby Show. [The ABC sitcom would be cancelled at the end of the 1964-1965 season.]
The “As We See It” editorial this week touches upon the abundance of bowl games on television. The networks are apparently trying to get even more bowl games created and televised, including the Santa Claus Bowl. TV Guide suggests creating the All-Bowl Bowl in which the best players from all the other bowl games would face off. [I thought perhaps this was another tongue-in-cheek editorial but the Santa Claus Bowl at least was a real thing. It was the brainchild of CBS executive Bill MacPhail and would have been sponsored by Coca-Cola but the NCAA said no.]
There is no review this week. Cleveland Amory is busy judging the International Television Festival in Monaco. According to the January 30th issue, Amory’s reviews will return in March.
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- Sammy Davis provided the story for an episode of The Patty Duke Show called “Will the Real Sammy Davis Please Hang Up” and would co-star in it, with Peter Lawford in a cameo role. [The episode aired on March 3rd.]
- ABC will air a special called “The Bold Men” on March 13th that will include a look at Rod Pack’s jump from 14,000 feet without a parachute.
- MGM has been having trouble with its “Please Don’t Eat the Daisies” pilot. First, negotiations with Eleanor Parker to star in the pilot fell apart. Then Pat Crowley signed and only to get into a disagreement with producers (over hairdressers, apparently) and the studio nearly resorted to legal action. But everything worked out and the pilot finally went into production.
- The title of Shirley Temple’s comedy pilot may change from “Go Fight City Hall” to “The Shirley Temple Show.” She starred as a social worker with Jack Kruschen as her supervisor and Cloris Leachman as a co-worker. [The pilot was eventually produced under the title “The Shirley Temple Show” but failed to sell.]
- Another MGM pilot called “The Legend of Jesse James” is filming with Chris Jones starring. [The half-hour Western series ran for 34 episodes on ABC during the 1965-1966 season.]
- Aaron Spelling has decided to reshoot the “Honey West” pilot as a half-hour. Anne Francis stars in the spin-off of Burke’s Law. [I don’t believe there was a separate Honey West pilot, just the episode of Burke’s Law (broadcast on April 21st, 1965) that introduced the character. But I could be wrong.]
- Irwin Allen’s “Space Family Robinson” pilot is now called “Lost in Space.”
- “Happily Ever After,” a pilot starring Shirley Jones, is now called “Dream Wife.” [It didn’t sell.]
There are no picture features in this issue but there is a three-page recipe for Eggs Benedict (a two-page photograph and one page with the recipe). There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There were four news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- The networks went too far in their coverage of President Johnson’s hospitalization on January 23rd, which was parodied on That Was the Week That Was a few days later on January 26th. The networks should be commended for presenting the facts and thoroughly covering the story but “there was no need for the orgy of newsless bulletins and repetitious news special that followed.”
- Coverage of Sir Winston Churchill’s death and funeral was much more professional and allowed viewers to “pay tribute to a valiant man whom they loved and admired and whose death moved them deeply.”
- Senator Jacob K. Javits has reintroduced a resolution that would allow television coverage of the Senate. The same bill was first introduced in May 1963 but went nowhere. It will likely go nowhere until the public demands TVs in the Senate. [Live national coverage of the Senate would not begin until June 2nd, 1986.]
- The National Association of Broadcasters, after six months of searching, has found its new president in Vincent T. Wasilewski, who has worked for the NAB for the past 15 years.
The letters page included two letters about Peyton Place, two about inauguration coverage, one about Perry Como, and two about The Man from U.N.C.L.E. The Peyton Place letters were both critical but for different reasons. The first was a response to an article in the January 23rd issue of TV Guide while the second was from someone who didn’t like the content:
So they’re turning Peyton Place into a run-of-the-mill soap opera. If the network insists that Constance MacKenzie be suspected of murdering Allison’s father and then drags the trial through the summer months, I predict Peyton Place‘s demise will be rapid.
“Offensive” is the word for Peyton Place. I watched it one night and saw a leering young slob, already responsible for one pregnancy, returning to the scene of the crime with another nubile maiden. And he wound up with egg on his face because she preferred to gaze at the moon and spout poetry. I’ve seen that bit performed better by Nichols and May.
The two letters about inauguration coverage were split in their reaction to commercials for Eastern Air Lines. One was critical (“It seems we have become so grasping that even a great event in our country’s history is not immune to overcommercialization.”) while the other was positive (“Eastern has proved that commercials need not be a bore.”).
Both of the letters about The Man from U.N.C.L.E. were in response to Cleveland Amory’s January 16th review of the series:
Normally, I don’t reply to a fellow critic’s writing, but I think Mr. Amory has missed the entire point of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. This program, sir, is not a “take-off on the whole cycle of tough-guy detective sagas.” It is simply a comedy with spies, counter-spies and counter-counter spies in place of the usual dreary family situation group. It ranks with Peyton Place as one of the best new comedies of the season.
Don W. Martin
I think you are a THRUSH member trying to kill everyone who works on U.N.C.L.E. I also think you are trying to kill me by writing those boring articles in TV Guide.
An editorial note explained that David Rolfe, 9, is the son of Sam Rolfe, producer of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. I wonder if he remembers writing to TV Guide.
The TV Listings
Golf took center stage again this week, with NBC airing live coverage of the Bob Hope Desert Golf Classic on Saturday, February 6th from 5-6PM (pre-empting Big Three Golf) on Sunday, February 7th from 3:30-5PM (pre-empting NBC Sports in Action). The weekend also saw the premiere of The ABC Weekend News with Bob Young. The 15-minute program aired on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-11:15PM. In Western New England, however, not every ABC affiliate aired the news. WHYN-TV (Channel 40) was the only station to air the Saturday installment; WHYN-TV and WATR-TV (Channel 20) aired the Sunday installment. WNAC-TV (Channel 7) out of Boston didn’t air either of them. Here’s an advertisement:
Advertisement for ABC Weekend News – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Also on Sunday, ABC pre-empted Wagon Train for an hour-long “Aqua Varieties” special hosted by Gordon and Sheila MacRae and featuring divers Raul Garcia, Barney Cipriani and Henry LaMothe, plus the seven O’Connnor Sisters, the Mitchell Trio, and more. Here’s an advertisement:
Advertisement for Aqua Varieties on ABC – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
NBC aired another NBC White Paper on Tuesday, February 9th from 10-11PM. This one examined the Lee Harvey Oswald case to explore judicial procedures and how they sometimes go wrong in criminal cases. Chet Huntley narrated. And Jack Jones filled in for Frankie Avalon on Bob Hope’s latest comedy special, broadcast on NBC from 8:30-9:30PM on Friday, February 12th. Avalon fell ill shortly before the special was taped. One of the sketches, “The Woman from A.U.N.T.,” sounds interesting. It featured Carroll Baker in spy spoof with Bob Hope as the leader of a criminal organization called F.I.N.K.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- Special: Bob Hope Golf Classic (NBC, Saturday at 3:30PM)
- Special: Aqua Varieties (ABC, Sunday at 7:30PM)
- Bonanza (NBC, Sunday at 9PM)
- The Lucy Show (CBS, Monday at 9PM)
- The Andy Williams Show (NBC, Monday at 9PM)
- Documentary: Children Without (WEDH, Tuesday at 8PM)
- NBC White Paper – “Oswald and the Law: A Study of Criminal Justice” (NBC, Tuesday at 10PM)
- Bob Hope Special (NBC, Friday at 8:30PM)
- FDR – “Forgotten Men” (ABC, Friday ta 9:30PM)
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: Tammy Tell Me True (Saturday at 1PM, $0.50)
- Movie: Blood on the Arrow (Saturday at 8:30PM, $1.00)
- Pro Hockey: Montreal Canadiens vs. The Detroit Red Wings (Live, Sunday at 7PM, $1.25)
- Documentary: Marilyn (Monday at 8:30PM, $1.00)
- Movie: The Third Secret (Tuesday at 8:30PM, $1.00)
- Movie: The Secret Passion (Wednesday at 9PM, $1.25)
- Movie: Stop Train 349 (Thursday at 7PM, $1.00)
- Movie: A Yank in Viet Nam (Friday at 6:30PM, $1.00)
It was another packed weekend locally. WTIC-TV (Channel 3) debuted a new five-minute series called Your Congressman on Saturday, February 6th. It ran from 1:25-1:30PM and featured the state’s congressmen making reports to the people. The first installment featured John S. Monagan, a Democrat from Waterbury, CT. At 2PM, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) premiered the seventh season of Science Countdown, its competition series in which eighth grade students throughout the state vied for the title of Massachusetts Junior Science Champion. And from 7-8PM, WWLP (Channel 22) and its translator WRLP (Channel 32) aired another installment of Starring the Editors, this one with Richard Garvey of the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram, Robert Lucas of the Hartford Times, and Edward J. O’Dea of the Hampshire Gazette, with Alan Olmstead of the
On Sunday, February 7th WTIC-TV aired another episode of From the College Campus from 11:30AM-12PM. Yale University was featured. The station then aired a 15-minute discussion of cardiac conditions from 12-12:15PM as part of its Accent on Living series. Peggy Pike moderated. WHDH-TV (Channel 5) out of Boston aired another public affairs report from 12-12:30PM, this one about spending and taxation in Massachusetts. WTIC-TV aired a second installment of Your Congressman from 12:55-1PM with Robert N. Giaimo, a Democrat from Putnam, CT. WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired Talent Auditions from 3-3:30PM. The live event featured vocalist Glenna Franklin, harmonica player Francisco Rodriguez Lawrence, accordionist Jame Riggs, and vocalist Andrew Caron. Gene Jones was the host. And from 7-8PM, WTIC-TV aired another concert in its Hartford Symphony series. Arthur Winograd conducted the concert at the Aetna Life Auditorium in Hartford, CT. Theresa D’Aiuto was the soloist. The program featured selections like “Caro Nome,” “America the Beautiful,” “Gopak,” and “Caprice Viemnois.”
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, February 8th, 1965
Captain bob illustrates a scene of Abraham Lincoln chopping wood.
Tuesday, February 9th, 1965
Several actors are interviewed.
Wednesday, February 10th, 1965
Architecture in and around Boston is illustrated.
Thursday, February 11th, 1965
“Do’s and Dont’s of Teen-age Grooming” is the topic of discussion with Mary Lawler of the Boston Herald Traveler as guest.
Friday, February 12th, 1965
Dr. Edwin P. Booth reviews the contributions made by Abraham Lincoln to the American way of life.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.