A Year in TV Guide: May 29th, 1965

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 #37
May 29th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 22, Issue #635
Western New England Edition

On the Cover: Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York (photograph by Ivan Nagy).

The Magazine

Although both Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York are on the cover this week, the cover story focuses only on Dick York. Perhaps in an attempt to highlight York’s contributions to Bewitched, Edith Efron refrains from naming either Montgomery or Agnes Moorehead, referring to them only as “the witch” and “the witch mother” in her three-page profile. She notes that York is rarely ever mentioned in reviews of the series, suggesting that he “may in fact be the first actor in television history to play a leading role in a No. 1 hit show–and remain practically invisible in the full glare of success.” His friends are indignant and lay much of the blame on the press.

Front Cover
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Moorehead declares that “Dick plays a very important part. Nobody can hold up a series by himself or herself without support, unless it’s a one-man or one-woman show. Ignoring Dick isn’t constructive criticism. It’s absurd.” Montgomery refuses to “think anyone underestimates Dick as an actor, because I believe anyone who watches him work appreciates his talent.”

As for Dick York himself, he has this to say:

The two witches are by far more spectacular than I am. I’m just a human being. And I’m identified by the critics as being just like themselves. I, too, am watching the witch from the sidelines. Besides I guess it’s a lot more exciting to identify with someone superhuman than with someone normal… Maybe it’s me. I don’t think so, but the only way to tell if it’s me or not is to kill me off in one show, give the witch another husband and see if I’m missed.

[For obvious reasons, York’s thoughts seem somewhat prophetic.]

York doesn’t see acting as a profession but as a job that pays the bills. He is more far interested in his family than in acting. He reads a lot about experimental psychology, writes short stories, paints, sculpts, and is religious. All of this leads to people thinking he is either very shallow or very deep. “They say that I’m not articulate enough. I have difficulty expressing myself on a vocal level. Things that seem very clear to me semantically leave a great deal to be desired.” Asked to sum himself up, York says he is “a man who’s looking for something. He’s still looking for a self.”

Robert Musel’s “The Program That Committed Suicide in Full View of Millions” is a fascinating three-page examination of a BBC series called Not So Much a Program, More a Way of Life (known in Britain as Not So Much a Programme, More a Way of Life) that was a follow-up to an earlier BBC series called That Was the Week That Was. The series ran from November 1964 to April 1965. It had an odd time slot, running 45 minutes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. It received protests from the day it premiered. There were those angry that the Chancellor of the Exchequer was said to look just like Jesus Christ. The High Commissioner of Kenya demanded an apology for a skit and, in response, the series ran a similar sketch, further infuriating Kenya. Sir Hugh Carleton Greene, director general of the BBC, was forced to step in.

Members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords denounced the series. There was support, too, but the show proved too controversial. The March 28th episode featured “a sort of comic-strip operetta” recounting the romance of the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson. It probably wouldn’t have been too bad, even though the Duke was still recovering from a February operation, if his sister the Princess Royal (the Queen’s aunt) hadn’t died suddenly earlier that day. Although the sketch was pre-taped, its inclusion in the episode was the last straw. Within 48 hours, the BBC announced it would not be returning.

“Satire has given us a great deal of trouble,” Sir Hugh explained. “The difficulty is to combine freedom of expression with responsibility. The format used is not entirely successful.” Producer Ned Sherrin disagreed, arguing that the only mistake was the Windsor sketch. “It was meant good-naturedly, but, unfortunately, people tend to believe that if it’s on Not So… it’s meant as a slam.”

“The Elderly Cherub That Is Hitchcock” is a four-page article that, condensed to a paragraph, laments Alfred Hitchcock’s departure from television after 10 years while arguing that his brilliance never translated to television properly, perhaps because he was hardly involved in the production of either Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. He served as host/presenter and kept “his eagle eye on the scripts” but that’s it. Much of the article is a typical TV Guide profile, recounting his childhood, his early career,and his attitude towards life and people. The final paragraph sums things up, responding to Hitchcock’s assertion that people are in awe of him but shouldn’t be:

He is wrong. They should be in awe of him. It is an amazing human being who sits in the center of that scary universe, like a morbid, elderly cherub still wrapped in the spiritual swaddling clothes of his childhood. He is a strange, unique man who has tried to be true to the dreams of babyhood, and who has never recovered from its terror. Whatever his flaws, when he is great, he is very, very great. It is TV’s good fortune to have had him, if only as a script editor, for 10 years. It is TV’s bad fortune never to have had him at his best.

Melvin Durslag, in his two-page article “CBS Faces Another Rating Problem,” examines the CBS purchase of the New York Yankees. News of the purchase was leaked in August 1964 and CBS was immediately criticized. Durslag interviewed Michael Burke, CBS vice president in charge of development, and William MacPhail, vice president in charge of sports. Burke felt there was nothing unusual about CBS owning a sports team, noting that CBS owns a guitar company, a record company, and is otherwise well diversified. ABC has a two-year contract with all major league teams except the Yankees and the Phillies, and MacPhail won’t confirm or deny whether the Yankees will join the ABC package later if it succeeds.

CBS had nothing to do with announcer Mel Allen being fired, according to MacPhail, and the decision to let Yoga Berra go was made by club officials rather than CBS executives. As for the slump the Yankees are in and how best to combat the popularity of the Mets, Burke notes that CBS is “still new in the baseball racket. We want to get acquainted with the business and study the competitive climate. It’s safe to assume that we will be stimulating some fresh thinking, but for the moment, we are leaving the Mets to the Yankee management.” MacPhail insists that the network’s sports commentators are not restricted at all when it comes to the Yankees and “are free to treat them editorially as they would any other team.” Durslag isn’t convinced.

The final article, “Official, Bona Fide and Genuine” by Leslie Raddatz, explores the celebrity-filled world of The Celebrity Game on CBS. Anyone appearing on the game show is, by definition, a celebrity, and the show attempts to find celebrities who will appeal to all segments of the viewing audience. The June 3rd episode will feature Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Janis Paige, Robert Mitchum, Anne Baxter, June Allyson, Jack Jones, Donna Loren, Jan Murray, and Allan Sherman. Prior to taping the episode, all of the celebrities were “briefed” by Stan Dreben, who is said to be just a production staffer but is in fact a comedy writer, and rumor has it he helps panelists come up with witty retorts.

Producers Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley developed what later became The Celebrity Game as a daytime game show called People Will Talk, which featured no celebritie. It faced Password on CBS and was soon cancelled. The Celebrity Game nearly suffered the same fate when it was scheduled opposite Bonanza on NBC but it did well enough to warrant a new time slot opposite ABC’s Peyton Place. Both Heatter and Quigley consider The Celebrity Game more of a comedy program rather than a game show but differ on exactly how much of a game it really is. Heatter feels it is “a very thin game” while Quigley calls it “a strong game.”

After a rehearsal with prospective contests standing in for the celebrities, host Carl Reiner puts on his toupee and the episode is taped. “Being moderator of The Celebrity Game gets rid of my neurotic desires to be loved and applauded,” says Reiner. The episode was so well-received it ran 12 minutes long but it will fit the half-hour time slot when all the dull parts are edited out.

The “As We See It” editorial this week revisits the issue of networks scheduling “outstanding special programs” at the same time. The most recent example was ABC’s “Melina Mercouri’s Greece” airing opposite NBC’s “The American West” on Monday, May 3rd. The April 17th editorial supported an idea put forth by Hugh Downs that the television industry set up a clearinghouse of specials that would help avoid such conflicts. Tom Moore, ABC-TV president, suggested that the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences act as that clearinghouse and the Academy’s president, Rod Serling, agreed to seek comment from CBS and NBC. CBS said it was “worth considering” while NBC’s reaction was “No comment.”

Some broadcasters thought Moore’s idea was silly because it’s currently easy enough for any of the networks to find out when the others are scheduling specials. TV Guide disagrees. “We still like the idea. Why don’t the networks go all out for minority viewers in this case and give them a chance to see all the specials offered during the season? It’s well worth considering, CBS, and deserving of comment, NBC.

Cleveland Amory reviews The Hollywood Palace in this issue and spends more time discussing various hosts and guests and jokes than offering any real criticism. Nevertheless, it’s clear he likes the show. He considers it “more alive” than The Ed Sullivan Show despite being taped rather than broadcast live and lavishes praise on occasional host Bing Crosby. “To say that Bing is the best somehow seems not enough. At singing, acting, or just being himself, name your best–and Bing is better.”

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • NBC will broadcast the Emmy Awards on Sunday, September 12th which coincidentally is the start of the first week of the new season.
  • Elsa Lanchester will be a series regular on The John Forsythe Show.
  • Leon Ames and Florence MacMichael won’t return to Mr. Ed in the fall. Also, a Mr. Ed movie is in the works this summer. [The film never materialized.]
  • CBS gave Lucille Ball permission to appear in an episode of NBC’s daytime game show I’ll Bet alongside California governor Edmund G. Brown.
  • Gary Conway is testing for the Paul Newman role in the small screen version of The Long, Hot Summer. [He didn’t get it. Roy Thinnes did.]
  • Illness has forced Frank DeVol to quit Camp Runamuck as a member of the cast but he will continue to do the music for the NBC sitcom.
  • ABC will broadcast a special about gambling called “Everybody’s Got a System” on June 18th
  • Allan Sherman, Bill Dana, and Patty Duke will be among those joining Al Hirt on his summer series on CBS.
  • The wedding reception on The Farmer’s Daughter may feature real life congressmen as uncredited guests.
  • NBC is reworking its sci-fi series Star Trek, possibly for mid-season 1966 or the 1966-1967 season. William Shatner will replace Jeffrey Hunter as lead.

Rounding out the national section is a picture feature in which Dick Van Dyke demonstrates how to fall off a ladder, a four-page feature showcasing Liza Minnelli in various outfits, and the regular TV crossword puzzle.

There are four news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:

  • Walter Cronkite sent NBC News general manager Robert “Shad” Northshield a letter expressing his admiration for NBC’s coverage of the Dominican Republic crisis. NBC proudly sent copies to its news crew in Santo Domingo and put up copies in its New York City newsroom, angering Cronkite. “That’s hitting below the belt,” he said. “If that’s the game they’re going to play, I coudl dig out a whole file of notes they’ve sent us congratulating us on things we’ve done in the past. I haven’t been so mad in 50 years.” TV Guide noted that Cronkite gave his age as 48 in Who’s Who.
  • The California Supreme Court ruled last week that the state’s ban on pay-TV is unconstitutional, a victory for Sylvestor L. Weaver’s defunct Subscription Television, Inc. In November 1964 voters approved a ballot proposition outlawing pay-TV but Judge Irving H. Perluss ruled “the ban violated the basic rights of freedom of speech.” The state plans to appeal.
  • Bob Keeshan has announced that Captain Kangaroo will return in September rather than be replaced by Mister Mayor, his new Saturday-morning series. A dispute with a co-owner of Captain Kangaroo has been resolved and come September the beloved series will air six days a week and Mister Mayor will go off the air.
  • Three different research projects, one funded by ABC and the others by CBS, have concluded that televising election returns and polls before polls closed during the November 1964 president election had “no significant effect on the behavior of late voters.”

The letter’s page this week includes five letters regarding Robert Lansing’s departure from 12 O’clock High:

What utter nonsense–moving to the 7:30 time-slot and firing Robert Lansing to appeal to the juvenile audience. If the networks didn’t think so juvenile, and act so juvenile, they wouldn’t be so worried about appealing to the juvenile audience.
Helen Pappas
New Haven, Conn.

When the General dies at dusk he won’t go alone. He’ll be taking the ratings with him.
(Name withheld)
Tuscaloosa, Ala.

12 O’clock High will become 6 O’clock Low.
J.W. Garland
Charlottesville, Va.

Around here, Robert Lansing is as popular with the teen-agers as he is with the older folks.
(Name withheld)
Orange, Conn.

Why not make it an animated cartoon and show it no Saturday mornings alongside Bugs Bunny?
M. Kleber

There were also three letters responding to TV Guide‘s May 8th article about news bulletins (two opposed to bulletins, one supportive). Other letters: praise for the May 12th ABC Scope investigation of the Ku Klux Klan; awe at the beauty and magnetism of Melina Mercouri; and confusion about the plot of Peyton Place.

The TV Listings

[This issue is from the Western New England edition (Connecticut and Massachusetts) of TV Guide, as are the vast majority of the issues from September 1964 and March 1965, rather than the Eastern New England edition (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut). According to the relative who collected these TV Guide issues from 1964-1965, multiple family members in different states subscribed to or regularly purchased TV Guide, and the best copy was kept in the collection. Although in this case the best copy still has an ugly stain on poor Elizabeth Montgomery’s face.]

Last week may have somewhat slow for the networks but this week was anything but. The big event on television was the Gemini IV space flight that launched on Thursday, June 3rd. There were also several specials.

ABC aired its regular afternoon baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox at 2PM on Saturday, May 29th. NBC aired taped coverage of the Bayard Tuckerman Jr. Handicap horse race at 5:30PM. At 8PM, NBC was scheduled to air “Freedoms Foundation Awards” with Bob Hope as master of ceremonies. The hour-long color special was taped on Armed Forces Day (May 15th) in Beverly Hills. TV Guide noted that the special was “tentatively scheduled” and if it was not aired Kentucky Jones and Mr. Magoo would air in their regular time slots. [Does anyone know if this did, in fact, air?]

At 5PM on Monday, May 31st NBC aired a live hour-long “National Golf Day” color special, with U.S. Open champ Ken Venturi teeing off against PGA titlist Bobby Nichols at the Laurel Valley Country Club in Ligonier, PA. The winner will receive $10,000 and set the “target score” for amateur golfers across the country. In the event Venturi can’t play due to a hand injury, Tony Lema will take his place. Reporting the action on the last four holes will be Jim Simpson, Chick Hearn, and Tony Lema (assuming he isn’t playing). Taped highlights of earlier holes will also be shown. Here’s an advertisement:

Advertisement for National Golf Day on NBC
Advertisement for National Golf Day on NBC – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

From 10-11PM, CBS pre-empted CBS Reports for a CBS News Special titled “What Went Wrong in Santo Domingo?” anchored by Charles Kuralt.

Tuesday, June 1st saw the start of Gemini IV coverage. NBC pre-empted its summer series Cloak of Mystery from 9-10PM for an hour-long color preview of the flight anchored by Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, with additional reporting by Roy Neal and Frank McGee. At 10PM, NBC aired another hour-long color special, “Grand Canyon: A Journey with Joseph Wood Krutch” in which the naturalist and author toured the Grand Canyon. The special was produced by Gerald Green with cameramen Scott Berner and Carl Yost.

CBS pre-empted a repeat of My Living Doll from 8-8:30PM on Wednesday, June 2nd for a half-hour live preview of the Gemini IV space flight, anchored by Walter Cronkite. Mike Wallace explained why NASA’s Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston was chosen as Master Control for the flight. At 10:30PM, a special installment of ABC Scope with Jules Bergman previewed the space flight. And at 10:45PM, following the conclusion of NBC’s Wednesday Night at the Movies (Bad Day at Black Rock), the network aired a 15-minute preview of the space flight.

The Gemini IV space flight, the second manned Gemini mission, was scheduled to lift off around 9AM on Thursday, June 3rd. Astronauts James McDivitt and Edward White planned to orbit the Earth 66 times over the course of four days. All three networks started their coverage at 7AM. On CBS, Walter Cronkite and Mike Wallace were the primary anchors, with support from Charles von Fremd, Dallas Townsen, Robert Pierpoint, Harry Reasoner, Nelson Benton, and Marya McLaughlin. On NBC, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley were the anchors, with additional reporting from Frank McGee, Merrill Mueller, Roy Neal, Ray Scherer, Aline Saarinen, and Ray Miller. ABC’s coverage was anchored by Jules Bergman, with help from Jim Burnes, Bob Young, Tom Jarriel, Murphy Martin, Keith McBee, Bernard Eismann, and William H. Lawrence.

Here’s an advertisement for NBC’s coverage:

Advertisement for NBC's Gemini IV Coverage
Advertisement for NBC’s Gemini IV Coverage – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

TV Guide published a notice explaining that the networks will pre-empt regular morning programs in the event the launch is delayed. [It was. Gemini IV lifted off around 10:15AM.] A “TV Guide Close-Up” explained how the networks would continue covering the space flight throughout the day. CBS planned five-minute reports at 2:25PM and 9:25PM and a live 15-minute update at 11:15PM. ABC scheduled 60-second bulletins every hour through 2AM with a 15-minute live update at 11:15PM. And NBC planned 60-second bulletins before every network program with a live 15-minute update at 11:30PM.

Gemini IV coverage continued on Friday, June 4th. CBS aired additional five-minute reports at 7AM, 8AM, 9AM, 2:25PM, and 8:55PM. At 8:30PM, the last half-hour of NBC’s Today was devoted to the space flight and the network continued its 60-second bulletins before all network shows. ABC continued its 60-second bulletins every hour and also aired a half-hour live update from 11-11:30AM. From 10-11:30PM, CBS aired “The Miss U.S.A. Beauty Pageant,” the first time it was telecast. John Daly and Sally Ann Howes hosted, with Jack Linkletter the emcee and special guest Pat Boone. At 11:15PM, ABC aired a 15-minute live update on Gemini IV. CBS and NBC aired 15-minute live updates at 11:30PM.

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

  • Directions ’65 – “The Quiet Desperation” (ABC, Sunday at 1:00PM)
  • Special: National Golf Day (NBC, Monday at 5:00PM)
  • The Andy Williams Show (NBC, Monday at 9:00PM)
  • Ben Casey – “A Woods Full of Question Marks” (Repeat/ABC, Monday at 10:00PM)
  • Mr. Novak – “Visions of Sugar Plums” (Repeat/NBC, Tuesday at 7:30PM)
  • Special: Grand Canyon, A Journey with Joseph Wood Krutch (NBC, Tuesday at 10:00PM)
  • Gemini Space Flight (ABC/CBS/NBC, Tuesday-Friday at Various Times)
  • Kraft Suspense Theatre – “Twixt the Cup and the Lip” (NBC, Thursday at 10:00PM
  • Special: Miss U.S.A. Beauty Pageant (CBS, Friday at 10:00PM)

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: Cheyenne Autumn (Saturday at 7:00PM, $1.50)
  • Movie: Goldfinger (Saturday at 9:30PM, $1.50)
  • Movie: Beach Blanket Bingo (Sunday at 7:00PM, $1.00)
  • Movie: Girl Happy (Monday at 9:00PM, $1.25)
  • Movie: Mutiny on the Bounty (Wednesday at 7:30PM, $1.50)

Locally, there was a lot of baseball this week as well as some other sports. On Saturday, May 29th WHCT (Channel 18), an independent Connecticut station, aired a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets at 2:10PM. For some reason, WNHC-TV (Channel 8) pre-empted the first 15 minutes of ABC’s 2PM baseball game for a film short, picking up the live telecast at 2:15PM. WHDH-TV (Channel 5), WWLP (Channel 22), WHNB-TV (Channels 30 and 79), and WRLP (Channel 32) all carried a game between the Kansas City Athletics and the Boston Red Sox at 2:15PM. At 5PM, WTIC-TV (Channel 3) aired coverage of the Mother Goose horse race from New York City’s Aqueduct Race Course. WHDH-TV aired the same coverage at 5:30PM. WHNB-TV aired something called “Connecticut ETV” at 7PM. At 10:30PM, WNAC-TV (Channel 7) aired a Lena Horne special.

At 1PM on Sunday, May 30th WHCT aired another baseball game between the Pirates and the Mets. WNHC-TV aired a half-hour color special at 2PM called “World is One” featuring highlights of the 1964 Olympic Games. At 2:15PM, WHDH-TV, WWLP, WHNB-TV, and WRLP aired another baseball game between the Kansas City Athletics and the Boston Red Sox. At 2:30PM, WNHC-TV aired a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox. WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired a half-hour of talent auditions from 4:30-5PM featuring the Pussy Cat dance troupe, pianist Paul Langley, magicians Hollie Montie and Vickie Roettger, accordionist Lonnie Gasperini, tap dancer Paula Balckmer, The Rhythmette dancers, and acrobatic artists Christine Hath and Steven House.

Here’s an advertisement for Red Sox baseball on WHNB-TV:

Advertisement for Red Sox Baseball on WHNB-TV (Channel 30)
Advertisement for Red Sox Baseball on WHNB-TV (Channel 30) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

On Monday, May 31st at 12:55PM, WNHC-TV aired yet another baseball game, this one between the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees. At 1:30PM, WHDH-TV, WWLP, WHNB-TV, and WRLP all aired a baseball game between the Los Angeles Angels and the Boston Red Sox. At 5:30PM, WTIC-TV and WHDH-TV aired taped coverage of the Jersey Derby horse race.

WNAC-TV aired an hour-long Gemini IV preview from 9:30-10:30PM on Wednesday, June 2nd, pre-empting ABC’s repeat of Burke’s Law. All of the local stations no doubt covered the space flight during their newscasts in the leading up to the launch and contained to do so after it successful blasted off.

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, May 31st, 1965
Capt. Bob draws still-life as her gives examples of drawing techniques.

Tuesday, June 1st, 1965
Roland Nadeau and Kenneth Wilson launch a new summer series to tell the story of American music.

Wednesday, June 2nd, 1965
[No description given.]

Thursday, June 3rd, 1965
Don Gillis talks with authors Bel Kaufman and Robert C. Garretson.

Friday, June 4th, 1965
“Partnership Teaching,” a plan in which two teachers will be selected to assume one full-time teaching position and share the responsibilities and time.

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

6 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: May 29th, 1965”

  1. Thanks for another nice summary.

    The “As We See It” editorial this week revisits the issue of networks scheduling “outstanding special programs” at the same time. The most recent example was ABC’s “Melina Mercouri’s Greece” airing opposite NBC’s “The American West” on Monday, May 23rd.

    May 23rd, 1965 fell on a Sunday. Was this Sunday, May 23rd or Monday, May 24th, or is that what the issue text is?

  2. CBS’ ownership of the Yankees (1964-73) was the worst period of the ballclub’s history, with no playoff appearances between 1964 and 1976. Burke’s mention of “the guitar company” to justify owning the Yankees is ironic, because Fender guitars of that era are rated as dismal by guitar collectors.
    Weaver may have won the legal battle over the legal status of pay TV, but he’d spent so much in legal fees that Subscription TV never went on the air.

  3. Dick York might have brought Darrin Stephens to life, but I always preferred Dick Sargent. York looked like he was going to explode at any moment-while Sargent was often irritated, but it was “So I married a witch-this is what I signed up for”

  4. Dick York was exploding because he was working with a very bad back. At the end of his last scene as Darrin Stephens he was literally carried of the sound stage.

    Dick Sargent’s Darrin was too-cool-for-the-room and a little serial killerish.

  5. man I remember watching that Gemini-Titan IV launch in COLOR! I rode my bike some 3 or 4 miles to my granddads house (he had a color TV) I was umh 10 years old.

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