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.
March 27th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 13, Issue #626
Eastern New England Edition
On the Cover: Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke (photograph by Mario Casilli).
I had high hopes for one of the articles in this issue after reading the cover (“This season’s most jinxed show”) but was disappointed. It wasn’t a very detailed examination. The show in question is The Entertainers, the new Saturday night CBS musical-variety hour, and the two-page article by Neil Hickey focuses almost exclusively on Carol Burnett’s role in the show and its downfall. The series was not well received by viewers or critics when it premiered in September 1964, but producers hoped things would turn around.
Unfortunately, just as they did Carol Burnett aggravated an old injury and spent three weeks in the hospital in October, followed by another seven weeks recuperating. Caterina Valente was in Europe for most of November and December, Bob Newhart announced he was quitting once Burnett returned, and choreographer Ernie Flatt left the series.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
In January 1965, just as Burnett was preparing to return to The Entertainers, charges were filed against her by the producers of musical Fade Out – Fade In. She had left that production to appear in The Entertainers. By the end of the month everything had been settled and Burnett returned to the stage, balancing eight performances a week with The Entertainers. “It was the last straw for The Entertainers,” according to Hickey. “Miss Burnett’s value to the show was now diluted even further by this added drain on her professional, physical, and emotional resources.” CBS canned the series with the last broadcast scheduled for March 27th.
“This Actor Is No Oriental Uncle Tom” is a three-page profile of actor Jack Soo, with all the usual biographical details. What I found most interesting was the account of how he joined the cast of ABC’s new sitcom Valentine’s Day. Creator Hal Kanter sat down with Soo in Las Vegas. Soo told him “I’m not going to play an Oriental Uncle Tom.” Kanter insisted he read the script. “He took it,” Kanter explained, “as though it were a cobra he hoped wouldn’t bite him.” Soo read about 1/3 of the script, smiled, and agreed to take the role. What made him so happy? Seeing that his character was on equal footing with the lead, mixing drinks to be shared rather than preparing drinks for others.
I’ve never seen Meet the Press and to be honest hadn’t heard of moderator Lawrence E. Spivak before reading “Stalking the Hunter” by Edith Efron. The three-page article chronicles how Spivak evolved from a newspaper manager and publisher who railed against Communists and the FCC to a staunchly impartial (and somewhat dull) television host. “There’s really only one trouble with Lawrence Spivak’s magnificently bipartisan personality,” writes Efron. “He may win awards, his show may live forever, and he may get fan letters from both the right and left… but in a very real sense he seems to have canceled himself out. Since he became a respectable television journalist, he has ceased to exist as a vigorous individual. Yikes.
Leslie Raddatz’s cover article, “They’ve Got No Kick Coming,” isn’t really an article but snippets of conversations with the cast and creator of The Dick Van Dyke Show. Dick Van Dyke reveals that he doesn’t like the title of the show: “Its been great for me, but the name doesn’t mean much.” And he explained why the sitcom is ending: “There are just so any ideas, and we’ve used most of them already.” Mary Tyler Moore will be sad when it ends. “There has been a real camaraderie here,” she stated. “Carl Reiner is like a father, Dick a brother, and Rosie and Morey cousins.” Out of everyone, Morey Amsterdam was perhaps the most eloquent:
In fact, this show has spoiled me. There’s a rapport with other performers you don’t get as a stand-up comedian. We spend more time together than with our own families. Top actors are amazed at the way we work, we’ve worked together so long. It’s a mutual respect society–a combo–a syndicate–Laughs, Incorporated. No matter how big Dick Van Dyke gets, he’ll never even know he’s a star.
“Covering Baseball in Houston” by Melvin Durslag is a lengthy look at the new Harris County Domed Stadium in Houston, Texas. It has absolutely nothing to do with television other than the revelation that at the cost of $75,000-$90,000 for a five-year lease, deluxe boxholders have the option of watching the game on television. This is followed by two pages spotlighting actors who used to be athletes: Chuck Connors, Dennis Weaver, Jack Ging, and John Beradino.
In its January 30th, 1965 issue, TV Guide published an article written by Newton N. Minow with Lawrence Laurent, in which the former FCC Chairman recommended repealing Section 315 of the Communications Act (the equal time provision) and the networks giving four hours of prime time to the two major parties during campaigns with minor parties getting less time. In this issue, TV Guide published responses to Minow from Frank Stanton (CBS President), Robert W. Sarnoff (NBC Chairman of the Board), Senator Warren G. Magnuson, Senator John O. Pastore, Representative J. Arthur Younger, Mike Shapiro (General Manager of WFAA in Dallas), Vincent T. Wasilewski (President of the National Association of Broadcasters), C. Wrede Petersmeyer (President of the Corinthian Broadcasting Corporation), and Nathan Karp (National Campaign Manager for the Socialist Labor Party). Nearly all were in favor of repealing Section 315, with the exception of Representative Younger and Nathan Karp, while opposing Minow’s suggestion that the networks provide free air time.
Finally, there is a one-page profile of actress Pat Priest, who plays Marilyn on The Munsters. No mention is made of the fact that Priest was the second Marilyn, replacing Beverly Owen who left the role after the first 13 episodes. In fact, executive producer Bob Mosher makes it sound like Priest was the only Marilyn: “Ten girls tested for the part of Marilyn. We chose Pat because she had a matter-of-fact, utterly composed manner that we needed for Marilyn, who, after all, has to remain unmoved by her weird surroundings.” Perhaps he is referring to actresses who tested to replace Owen.
The “As We See It” editorial this week discusses the impact of color television. According to a survey by the American Research Bureau, in color homes TV shows in color are always more popular than shows in black and white. For example, The Bell Telephone Hour is more popular than The Fugitive in color homes. Hazel is more popular than Peyton Place. Overall, in color homes, 13 of the top 15 shows were on NBC in color, compared to just four in the top 15 in black and white homes. NBC believes that soon color sets will be popular enough that shows in color will receive higher ratings. Eventually, however, color TV will be so widespread that it will no longer make a difference.
Cleveland Amory reviewed two shows this week: Flipper and The American Sportsman. He called NBC’s Flipper “the best new children’s show on the air, and one which is curiously engrossing, week after week, for adults.” It is all due to the presence of Flipper (real name: Suzy). Amory’s opinion of ABC’s four-part series The American Sportsman, on the other hand, is very negative: “Here the narration is inept, the fishing is boring, the bird shooting pathetic, and the ‘he-man’ exchanges embarrassing.”
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- ABC wants to avoid regional blackouts during its Saturday afternoon Championship Baseball series when it starts April 17th so the network plans to cover three regional games simultaneously.
- CBS will air the Miss America Pageant from Atlantic City on September 11th.
- Comedian Terry-Thomas will likely narrate ABC’s “Everybody’s Got a System” special about gambling, scheduled to air June 18th.
- Bill Cosby and Robert Culp are off to Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao, and Japan to film footage for NBC’s new I Spy series.
- Pernell Roberts will not be written out of Bonanza in the usual fashion due to the “remote possibility” of his return to the series. According to producer David Dortort, scripts for the upcoming season will include “more than occasional” references to Adam Cartwright attending a university in Europe.
- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour will retell “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs. The long-running anthology series will end after this season. Its 10-year run makes it the longest-lived network anthology series.
- Bill Dana and Jack Kinney have formed a production company called Danakin Productions and hope to have a cartoon series called The Adventures of Uncle Jose on the air. [The series was never made.]
There are no picture features in this issue, just the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There were three news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- The FCC is moving closer to limiting how many prime time programs the networks can air. The proposed rule would allow the networks to have a finical inters in 50% of its non-news programs aired during prime time. Commissioners Robert E. Lee and Rosel Hyde are dissenting. There may be oral hearings after written evidence and comments from those opposed and in favor of the rule have been weighed.
- Robert Lansing doesn’t seem too upset about being replaced as the star of ABC’s 12 O’clock High next season. Paul Burke will take over. The network believes viewers will identify with a colonel (Burke’s character) rather than a general (Lansing’s character). “I’m as happy about this as I ever have been about anything,” explained Lansing. “It’s the ideal career-maker to make a show for a year and be a success in it.” ABC supposedly has a series in mind for the actor, which could explain his attitude.
- ABC has released its 1965-1966 schedule. New shows include The FBI Story [later retitled The FBI], A Man Called Shenandoah, F Troop,Gidget, The Big Valley, Okay, Crackerby!, The Long, Hot Summer, Tammy, and Honey West. There will be two weekly episodes of Shindig and three of Peyton Place.
The letters page this week includes six responses to Edith Efron’s lengthy essay examining soap operas publishing in the March 13th issue. Most were negative. One reader expressed shock that anyone would write or publish an article “dealing with the loathsome smut and degradation of the soap operas.” Another thanked Efron because she confirmed everything he had been trying to tell his wife. According to an editorial note, letters to TV Guide have been evenly split on the article.
There were also two other letters. One praised “The Abbe Lane Story” from the March 13th issue, calling it “bright, brief and to the point” and urging TV Guide to publish more like it. The other was from the manager of the Livingston Chamber of Commerce, responding to an item in the February 27th New York Teletype column about all roads to Yellowstone National Park being closed during winter. He explained that the road to the north entrance is open year-round.
The TV Listings
It was a pretty normal week. The weekend was filled with the usual sports programs (NBC Sports in Action, Big Three Golf, Shell’s Wonderful World of Golf, and ABC World of Sports), plus live NBA Play-offs (Philadelphia 76ers vs. The Cincinnati Royals) on ABC on Sunday, March 28th at 2PM. Both Big Three Golf and Shell’s World of Golf went off the air following their broadcasts this weekend.
CBS aired the final episode of The Entertainers on Saturday, March 27th from 9-10PM. On Sunday, March 28th, CBS aired the first half of “Cavalcade of Amateurs,” a two-part look at the history of The Original Amateur Hour, from 5:30-6PM.
Three new game shows premiered on Monday, March 29th: Call My Bluff on NBC at 12PM with Bill Leyden; I’ll Bet on NBC at 12:30PM with Jack Narz; and Rebus on ABC at 1PM with Jack Linkletter.
CBS rebroadcast “Casals at 88” (originally aired in December 1964) on Monday, March 29th from 10-11PM while NBC rebroadcast an episode of The Bell Telephone Hour (originally aired in November 1964) that paid tribute to the late Oscar Hammerstein II. The final episode of The Bailey’s of Balboa aired on Thursday, April 1st from 9:30-10PM on CBS. And on Friday, April 2nd NBC broadcast the first half of “Memorandum for a Spy” starring Robert Stack as an installment of of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- Big Three Golf (NBC, Saturday at 5:00PM)
- Special: Cavalcade of Amateurs (CBS, Sunday at 5:30PM)
- The Twentieth Century – “Farmer: Feast or Famine” (CBS, Sunday at 6:00PM)
- Movie: Paris Blues (ABC, Sunday at 9:00PM)
- Special: Jonathan Winters (NBC, Monday at 9:00PM)
- Special: Casals at 88 (CBS, Monday at 10:00PM)
- The Bell Telephone Hour – “Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II” (NBC, Tuesday at 10:00PM)
- Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre – “Memorandum for a Spy, Part 1” (NBC, Friday at 8:30PM)
I forgot to mention that last week’s issue included a lengthy movie guide in the listings section, something absent in all of the issues from the Western New England Edition. Perhaps it was only published in certain editions or happened to be added that week.
Locally, it was another packed weekend. WTIC-TV (Channel 3) in Connecticut aired another installment of This Is UConn from 1-1:30PM on Saturday, March 27th. WHDH-TV (Channel 5), WNHC-TV (Channel 8), and WPRO-TV (Channel 12) all aired the East-West College All-Star Basketball Game live from Lexington, KY. Both WHDH-TV and WPRO-TV were CBS affiliates while WNHC-TV was an ABC affiliate, so I’m not sure whether this was a national CBS broadcast that WHNC-TV aired locally. Connecticut’s CBS affiliate aired a movie instead, so it’s possible that WNHC-TV picked up the game.
Also on Saturday, WHDH-TV aired “Birthday of an Idea,” a half-hour special hosted by Steve Lawrence saluting the 70th anniversary of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. Guests included Theodore Bikel, Julie Harris, and Allan Sherman. WNHC-TV aired the New England All Star Duck Pin Bowling Tournament live from 6:30-7:30PM. And WGBH-TV, the educational station in Massachusetts, aired a half-hour regional report evaluating President Johnson’s poverty program from 10-10:30PM.
WPRO-TV (Channel 12) in Rhode Island aired the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships from 4-5PM on Sunday, March 28th. From 4:30-5PM WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired live talent auditions hosted by Gene Jones. Featured were The Shamrock Trio, the Pauline Rego Dancers, drummer Thomas Ruckey, the baton twirling Nolet sisters, and more.
On Monday, March 29th WJAR-TV (Channel 10) in Rhode Island aired a 55-minute Cancer Facts Forum hosted by Jay Kroll. Later that evening, WGBH-TV aired a film about GOP politician John Grenier from 9-9:30PM. And on Friday, April 2nd, stations WBZ-TV, WHDH-TV, WTEV (Channel 6), and WNAC-TV (Channel7) all aired live coverage of the Annual Student Government Day during which Massachusetts students were sworn in to take over the state government.
There were again some really nice local advertisements in this issue:
Advertisement for WBZ-TV Eyewitness News – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Advertisement for WNAC-TV’s Weekday Morning Line-up – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Advertisement for “Two Women” on WTEV (Channel 6) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
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, March 29th, 1965
Captain Bob gives step-by-step instructions for a finished drawing.
Tuesday, March 30th, 1965
Host Don Gillis reviews the developments in the publishing field.
Wednesday, March 31st, 1965
[No Description Provided.]
Thursday, April 1st, 1965
“Your State Income Tax–1965” reviews helpful hints for filing this year’s State Income Tax.
Friday, April 2nd, 1965
“State Government Day.” Students represent local communities in a model legislature.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.