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.
May 8th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 19, Issue #632
Eastern New England Edition
On the Cover: Bob Denver and Tina Louise (photograph by Ivan Nagy).
The cover article by Richard Warren Lewis this week is the first of a two-part story about Gilligan’s Island. The series drew huge ratings when it premiered on CBS in the fall but was savaged by critics, which understandably upset most of the cast and crew. But not Tina Louise. She agreed with the critics:
I was ashamed when I saw the first show. I had studied at the Actors Studio and I’d started to get some interesting roles and some good reviews. I mean like my scene was singled out in Burke’s Law, and there were seven other stars. I only worked on what I wanted to work on in class, things like “Desire Under the Elms.” Finally I realized that I had to start to go back to commercial work. I’d heard about what series are like, but I really didn’t know how it would be. I found that I couldn’t use my work at all in this show. It was quite a shock. In this medium, you perform, everyone performs. There’s no such thing as a real moment, an honest reaction, because the show is like a cartoon. You’re not acting, not the way I studied it. I wouldn’t watch it if I wasn’t on it.
Although it’s well-documented that Tina Louise was unhappy with her role on the show, I’m continually amazed to discover just how vocal she was about it at the time. I imagine the set must have been tense at times.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
To be fair, other members of the cast have concerns as well about the incredible popularity of Gilligan’s Island and its impact on their careers. Natalie Schafer recounts being in New York City in December 1965 and being recognized by the wrong kind of people. “It’s supposed to be very good for your ego to have people recognize you in the street,” she says. “But I look around at the people and I think: ‘Oh, dear, if they were just a little more attractive, I’d like it better.'” Bob Denver doesn’t feel he’s reached his full potential as an actor. Dawn Wells would rather be doing Shakespeare.
In response to Louise saying she’s unfilled with the series, creator Sherwood Schwartz had this to say:
I dare say Miss Louise will always feel unfulfilled in what she feels are the extents of her talent on the show. I would thing she would be delighted. She’s an integral part of a major hit. What else does an actress want? I don’t know what would make her happy. It seems to me that she’s not a very happy person. I don’t thoroughly understand her.
Schwartz is more upset that critics haven’t “reviewed the show from its sociological aspects” and compares it to The Beverly Hillbillies.
Neil Hickey’s “‘We interrupt this program…'” is the sort of TV Guide article I like because it really digs into network policies surrounding a particular aspect of television as it existed in the 1960s. President Johnson’s illness in January 1965 and the escalation of the Vietnam War in February 1965 led to huge numbers of news bulletins. The networks circulated memos and reaffirmed policies that bulletins be used only when appropriate but Hickey argues there are no real rules when it comes to interrupting network programming for news bulletins.
Sometimes bulletins are plain wrong, as was the case in 1964 when CBS broke in to announce that Nikita Khrushchev was reported dead. It isn’t just the networks. Local stations often break in with reports of plane crashes, for example, without any details which worries everyone who has a relative or friend traveling by air. The heads of all three network news divisions argue that they attempt to do the best they can balancing the public interest of a news bulletin with the public’s interest in watching TV uninterrupted. They also insist that commercials are interrupted by news bulletins, not just programming.
Hickey suggests that the networks have finally realized they need to reign in news bulletins due to the “volatile potential in a number of international situations” ranging from the Vietnam War to nuclear proliferation. And there may be help on the way. One of the networks is working on an expensive piece of equipment that will allow news bulletins to be displayed along a strip of letters at the bottom of the TV screen (Hickey notes that while such displays currently exist, they are too slow for bulletins). Another network is considering placing bulletins over the closing credits of a show unless absolutely necessary to avoid interrupting regular programming.
Edith Efron’s profile of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is depressing, focusing as it does on how far Fairbanks has fallen. He “is not a major figure in the contemporary entertainment world,” she writes. “He is not even a minor figure after years of separation from this medium, in which he was once active.” His recent turn as host of Alcoa Previews was cut short, ending after only two of the planned four installments were produced. Yet his legend endures. Later, she discusses his current appearance, writing “were it not for the fact that he is famous, one would not give him more than a casual glance in a public place, unless one were unusually fascinated by men’s clothing.” She concludes, after two and a half pages, that he is a “complicated and contradictory man” who “can no longer quite live up to his own biography.”
Finally, there’s a one page article about actress Sharyn Hillyer, another name I wasn’t familiar with. There’s also a color picture and here, at least, she looks an awful lot like a young Grace Kelly. At 22, she’s best known for playing “everybody’s favorite teen-age girl friend” and has appeared in 11 episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett plus a slew of other TV shows. Her husband is 12 years older than her; their baby is about 21 years younger.
The “As We See It” editorial this week addresses reaction to March 20th editorial suggesting that sports need to change to become more suitable for television. Sportswriters took issue with that idea. Some, like Dean Eagle of The Louisville Times, were calm about it. Others weren’t. TV Guide reiterated its support for these changes, pointing to the recent CBS telecast of the Masters Golf Tournament as proof and arguing that “television people would be the last ones to seek changes in sport events that would lessen their entertainment value.” If sportswriters have constructive suggestions, they should offer them.
There’s no review by Cleveland Amory in this issue.
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- CBS Reports is working on a documentary about the Ku Klux Klan that will include footage of Klan meetings in the South as well as interviews with top Klan officials. [“Ku Klux Klan: The Invisible Empire” aired on September 21st, 1965.]
- Craig Stevens, General Joe Ross, and the Maharajah of Bundi will hunt tigers in India for ABC’s American Sportsman next season.
- Ben Casey will open the new season with a five-part storyline starring Marlyn Mason.
- The National Geographic Society and Wolper Productions will produce four hour-long color specials next season.
- Rights to long-running radio soap opera One Man’s Family, which already aired on television in two versions, have been purchased by Universal TV.
- Edward Everett Horton will be a regular on F Troop next season.
- Bonanza‘s Dan Blocker has become the first actor to win the Silver Spurs Award twice.
- Irene Ryan of The Beverly Hillbillies commuted between Hollywood and Las Vegas daily while performing in a nightclub, leaving every day 5:15PM and flying back the next morning.
Rounding out the national section is a picture feature spotlighting actors on bicycles, a brief essay about The Fifteenth Street School in New York City (founded by actor Orson Bean), and the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There are three news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- The George Foster Peabody Awards were handed out last week, recognizing “bright spots” in television’s “dreary sameness and steady conformity.” There were no categories this year; all the awards were for “distinguished and meritorious service” to the television industry. CBS Reports, Intertel (NET), Profiles in Courage (NBC), and The French Chef (NET) were among the winners. [A complete list of 1964 Peabody Awards can be found here.]
- War correspondent and broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow died last week [on April 27th]. President Johnson called him “a gallant fighter, a man who dedicated his life as a newsman and as a public official to an unrelenting search for truth.”
- CBS plans to repeats its Barbra Streisand special. It was unusual for such a young performer to receive their own special [Streisand was 23 at the time].
The letters page this week includes a number of responses to the April 24th “As We See It” editorial concerning the growth of “teen-age wriggle ‘n’ writhe” shows like Hullabaloo, Hollywood a Go Go, and Shiveree:
Re “As We See It’ in your April 24 issue, I shout AMEN! in many decibels, so as to drown out the noise that passes for music on those teen-age wriggle-and-writhe shows like Hullabaloo and Shindig.
Mrs. Donald Discon
…it all merely reminds me that we are not as far removed from the jungle and cave as we think we are.
John M. Hanjack
Viewers may still exercise their Freedom of Choice by switching channels. Why find fault with these program that are only a part of growing up?
Frank J. Latella
Whoever wrote the article must be 90 years old.
An editorial response to the last letter said simply “Not quite.”
Other letters addressed 12 O’clock High being moved to an earlier time in an attempt to draw a younger audience (“What ever happened to adults? Don’t they count any more?”); called Bonanza “just too, too childish for evening entertainment”; corrected Walter Cronkite’s April 19th retelling of the 1939 Marian Anderson/Daughters of the American incident by pointing out that Anderson was only turned away by the DAR because of a Washington, D.C. city ordinance; and wondered if censors will ever allow anything “sexier or more controversial than a support hose commercial” to reach TV.
The TV Listings
The week was filled with specials, a pair of new show debuts and three shows signing off (two permanently). CBS aired an hour-long special live at 12PM on Saturday, May 8th called “Victory in Europe, 20 Years After” (originally titled “Europe, 20 Years After”) in which General Dwight D. Eisenhower and British Field Marshall Montgomery discussed the Allied victory in Europe during World War II. It was relayed via the Early Bird satellite. At 2PM, ABC aired its weekly baseball game, this time pitting the New York Yankees against the Washington Senators. CBS repeated “Victory in Europe, 20 Years After” at 9PM for viewers in prime time to enjoy.
ABC aired the final round of the Colonial National Golf Tournament from 4:30-6PM on Sunday, May 9th. At 5PM, NBC aired “Loyal Opposition,” a half-hour documentary special examining the future of the Republican Party. The final episode of Profiles in Courage (about Senator Thomas Corwin) aired at 6:30PM on NBC. The final episode of For The People aired at 10PM on CBS.
ABC pre-empted Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea at 7:30PM on Monday, May 10th to telecast “The Pilgrim Adventure,” the last installment of Saga of Western Man for the season. “The Winging World of Jonathan Winters” aired at 9PM on NBC, pre-empting The Andy Williams Show. It was the last Winters special of the season and guest-starred Steve Allen, Jerry Stiller, Anne Meara, Leo Durocher, Alexander Scourby, and Jack Paar. At 10PM, CBS pre-empted CBS Reports to air “Finlandia,” a tribute to the late Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, taped from an Early Bird relay earlier in the day.
(Also on Monday, The Merv Griffin Show premiered nationally in syndication.)
Frankie Avalon hosted the season finale of Hullabaloo at 8:30PM on NBC. The same network premiered Cloak of Mystery at 9:30PM on Tuesday, May 11th. The anthology series consisted entirely of repeats of earlier filmed anthology series. The debut episode was “Don’t You Remember” with Simone Signoret and Lee Marvin, originally broadcast on G.E. Theater. Hoagy Carmichael hosted The Bell Telephone Hour from 10-11PM on NBC, with guests Carol Lawrence, Leslie Uggams, Peter Nero, Bill Hayes, and others.
On Friday, May 14th NBC pre-empted The Bob Hope Show at 10PM for “The Man Who Walked in Space,” an NBC News Special about cosmonauts Alexei Leonov and Pavel Belyayev. A second NBC News Special about the dedication of the British memorial to President John F. Kennedy aired at 11:15PM. Jackie Kennedy and Senators Robert F. and Edward M. Kennedy were on hand, as was Caroline Kennedy. Footage of the dedication was taped earlier in the day and flown to the States.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- CBS News Special: ‘Europe, 20 Years After’ (CBS, Saturday at 9:00PM)
- Special: Loyal Opposition (NBC, Sunday at 5:00PM)
- Walt Disney’s World – ‘One Day at Teton Marsh'” (NBC, Sunday at 7:30PM)
- The Sunday Night Movie – The Miracle Worker (ABC, Sunday at 9:00PM)
- Special: Men of Our Times (WGBH-TV, Monday at 9:00PM)
- Special: The Winging World of Jonathan Winters (NBC, Monday at 9:00PM)
- The Bell Telephone Hour – Tin Pan Alley (NBC, Tuesday at 10:00PM)
- NBC News Special: The Man Who Walked in Space (NBC, Friday at 8:30PM)
Locally, there were plenty of sports and specials this week. At 2PM on Saturday, May 8th WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired “Science Countdown 1965,” hosted by Norman Macdonald with participants from Massachusetts high schools in Pittsfield, Lee, and Dalton. At 2:15PM, WHDH-TV (Channel 5) aired a baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. ABC affiliate WTEV (Channel 6) aired “Victory in Europe, 20 Years After” at 6:30PM despite it being a CBS News special, likely because Boston’s WHDH-TV declined to air it at 12PM. WHDH-TV did air the prime time repeat at 9PM, however.
Both WTEV in New Bedford, MA and WNAC-TV in Boston took out advertisements for ABC’s baseball game of the week. Here’s the WTEV ad:
Advertisement for ABC’s Saturday Baseball Game of the Week on WTEV (Channel 6) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
And here’s the WNAC-TV ad:
Advertisement for ABC’s Saturday Baseball Game of the Week on WNAC-TV (Channel 7) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
At 1:30PM on Sunday, May 9th both Boston’s WHDH-TV and Providence’s WPRO-TV (Channel 12) aired a baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Red Sox. New Haven’s WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired its own baseball game (New York Yankees vs. Washington Senators) at the same time.
WNAC-TV (Channel 7) aired another episode of Esso Repertory Theatre (“The Trojan Women”) at 4PM, followed by FDR at 5PM (which it pre-empted on Friday, May 7th for a movie), so it didn’t carry ABC’s coverage of the Colonial National Invitation golf championship. Boston independent station WIHS-TV (Channel 38) aired the golf tournament instead. At 6:30PM, WPRO-TV aired another installment of syndicated Men in Crisis (“Lindberg vs. The Atlantic: Ordeal by Air”). Edmond O’Brien narrated.
Boston educational station WGBH-TV (Channel 2) aired the first episode of a British documentary series called Men of Our Times at 8PM on Monday, May 10th. The series examined men who have shaped 20th century history. The premiere focused on Adolf Hitler. Future episodes would cover Lenin, Gandhi, King George V, Mussolini, and former British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin. WHDH-TV pre-empted the CBS special “Finlandia” for a David L. Wolper documentary called “Prelude to War” about the British policy of appeasement prior to World War II. Richard Basehart narrated.
At 11:30PM, WBZ-TV premiered the new syndicated talk show The Merv Griffin Show. Here’s an advertisement:
Advertisement for The Merv Griffin Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
On Tuesday, May 11th, WGBH-TV aired a live two-hour Boston Pops concert from 8:30-10:30PM. Arthur Fielder conducted. WNHC-TV pre-empted ABC’s prime time line-up for a baseball game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees. It started at 7:55PM.
WGBH-TV telecast another college lacrosse game on Thursday, May 13th at 8PM between MIT and Wesleyan. WNHC-TV pre-empted ABC’s Jonny Quest and The Donna Reed Show from 7:30-8:30PM for an hour-log color special about the 12-hour Sebring Sportscar Endurance Race. Chris Economaki and Les Keiter narrated.
At 11:15PM on Friday, May 14th only Providence’s WJAR-TV was scheduled to carry the NBC News special about the dedication of Britain’s memorial to the late John F. Kennedy. A notice indicated that “at press time there was a possibility that Ch. 4 will carry this program this evening.”
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 10th, 1965
Special guest Vivian Vance salutes Mental Health Month.
Tuesday, May 11th, 1965
The high cost of scholarships is discussed by author Claire Cox.
Wednesday, May 12th, 1965
Singers and dancers from England, Thailand, Italy, Japan and Greece perform.
Thursday, May 13th, 1965
The third part in a story telling what goes on in the State House of 24 Beacon Street.
Friday, May 14th, 1965
Armed Forces Day is observed with a special program from the Army Research Center at Natick.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.