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.
June 5th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 23, Issue #636
Eastern New England Edition
On the Cover: Flipper and Brian Kelly (photograph by Fred Hermansky, NBC).
This week’s cover article (“Making a Splash with ‘Flipper'” by Robert De Roos) is a profile of producer Ivan Tors rather than an article about the TV show Flipper. Tors likes to think of himself as someone who only does things other producers don’t. Case in point: he produced 1963’s Flipper, a movie about a dolphin. Told it would take six months to train dolphins, Tors and his trainers did it in three months. It helped that Mitzi, the dolphin who portrayed Flipper in the film, had previous basic training. The dolphin who plays Flipper in the NBC TV series is named Suzy.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Tors has a lot of experience with both dolphins and television. All six of the pilots he produced were picked up and turned into weekly series: Science Fiction Theater, Sea Hunt, The Aquanauts, Ripcord, Man and the Challenge, and Flipper. He’s a critic of sex and violence on television, and testified in front of the Dodd Senate subcommittee charged with investigating juvenile delinquency. “I have nothing against sex and violence but I am against sex and violence on television at 7:30 in the evening,” he explains. Supposedly, he was blacklisted in the TV industry for his comments but didn’t care.
He is also a proponent of LSD, which helped him relieve the guilt he didn’t even know he had over not speaking out when Nazis threw young Jewish students out of the university he was attending in Hungary. That guilt pushed him to take risks, both personally and professionally.
Art Buchwald’s one-page essay about ABC’s The Fugitive is, not surprisingly, entirely tongue-in-cheek. He believes Richard Kimble is guilty and makes a bet with his wife every week that Kimble will finally be caught, only to lose week after week. He complains about the shoddy police work of Lt. Gerard, arguing that another detective should be put on the case. Specifically, he is furious that Gerard never looks in the kitchen when he is trying to track down Kimble. If Buchwald were in charge, he would find the 100 neediest people in every town Kimble might be in and stake them all out. He would also offer CBS and NBC $50,000 for the capture of Kimble dead or alive. Due to the ratings, it is obvious that the producers and ABC don’t care about bringing Kimble to justice.
“First Eight Years of ‘The Twentieth Century'” by Robert Higgins is a three-page examination of the popular CBS documentary series. It is popular in comparison to other public-affairs programs, regularly drawing 14 million viewers a week and has never had trouble finding a sponsor. Burton Benjamin created the series, which debuted in October 1957. His goal was to “focus on one personality or event, and in that way shed light on the times.” Some critics love it. Others don’t. Critic John Shanley argued that it “has no definite point of view,” which narrator Walter Cronkite disputed because “a point of view is inherent in what you do or do not select to show.”
Other critics feel the series is quickly becoming dated and is old-fashioned because it doesn’t feature innovate new documentary techniques. Benjamin disagrees on both points, insisting that “we never have–nor ever will–seek controversy for the sake of controversy. But that doesn’t mean we play it safe.” As proof of the show’s success he says all you have to do is look at the ratings. “You can’t attract that number of people we do unless you’re stimulating–and consistently so.” [The Twentieth Century was renamed The 21st Century in January 1967. It remained on the air until January 1970.]
Ted Crail’s profile of Phyllis Diller reveals that the comedian keeps volumes of jokes, some she comes up with, others written by professionals, as well as many sent in by housewives (and some by their husbands) from all over the country. She pays $5 per line and once shelled out $60 for “He lost so much blood, his eyes cleared up.” Her career as a comic stared when she was 37. She quit her job after lining up an audition at a night club but success didn’t come overnight. Multiple appearances on Tonight Starring Jack Paar helped. “I’m just about ready to blow up this time period,” she says. “The next period is gonna be more television and then the movies. I also want to sandwich a Broadway play in there somewhere. I don’t know just when. It’s like saying you’re gonna have a baby–you’ve gotta get pregnant first.”
The final article, by John Lippert, is a profile of actor Gardner McKay, best known for his starring role in ABC’s Adventures in Paradise, which ran from 1959 to 1962. Viewers liked the series but critics didn’t. Nor did they like McKay’s acting. After the series went off the air, McKay moved to Saint Martin. “Maybe I’m not the greatest actor in the world,” he mused, “but nobody has given me much chance to improve. Directors are usually more concerned with keeping the front office happy.” He didn’t enjoy his time in Hollywood. “I hate Hollywood. I hate television series, agents, career women, uniformity of any kind, the playing of ‘the game’ that is expected of you, but especially Hollywood.”
And yet, McKay is working on a film called The Hurricane, which he is writing with Aubry [Aubrey?] Goodman. Filming is expected to start on September 1st, should the script be ready. He plans to direct scenes involving hurricanes himself. “I don’t think this has ever been done and if we live through it we’ll have some very amazing film.” Unfortunately, McKay is still under contract to 20th Century-Fox, which involves one film a year, so he may have to interrupt production of The Hurricane to fulfill his Hollywood obligations. [The Hurricane was never produced.]
The “As We See It” editorial this week saw TV Guide supporting comments made by Representative Oren Harris, chairman of the House Commerce Committee, to the Association of National Advertisers that Congress must define “reasonably specific and concrete national television policy goals” as well as “reasonably specific and concrete ways of reaching those goals.” His statement was “somewhat of a surprise” because Harris “does not often make sensational statements.” Harris (and TV Guide) argue that because the FCC’s authority to regulate television rests on its licensing stations to operate in the public interest, perhaps it is time the public interest be defined. “Congress, by defining television’s freedom, by setting television’s goals, would clarify once and for all time what it meant by ‘public interest’.”
Cleveland Amory has some second thoughts in his column this week, revisiting criticism from the past season. He admits to having overpraised both Profiles in Courage and Wendy and Me. “Not that Profiles in Courage wasn’t good–it was, and at times great–but much of the time it was also unnecessarily heavy and pontifical, and we think that was one of the reasons for its demise.” Wendy and Me apparently is so bad it was not even worth a second look. He also reveals that perhaps he overpanned The Munsters, The Rogues, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. Amory is sad to see Jack Paar and Alfred Hitchcock leaving television. Based on mail received, it seems readers are most upset about commercials, canned laughter, specials being scheduled at the same time, overuse of the same celebrities, and a lack of reviews of non-network shows.
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- ABC will cover the Le Mans road race live on June 19th and 20th thanks to the Early Bird satellite. The network hopes to cover the US-Russia track meet from Moscow on July 31st and August 1st, also courtesy of Early Bird.
- Inger Stevens, after singing a Swedish folk song during her February 1965 “Inger Stevens in Sweden” ABC special, has been approached by both Danny Kaye and The Hollywood Palace for singing appearances in the fall.
- ABC plans an “all-star show” on September 13th to introduce its 1965-1966 prime-time lineup.
- CBS has changed the name of its new sitcom Country Cousins to The Eddie Albert Show. [That name didn’t stick either.]
- Leonard Stone has replaced Frank DeVol on NBC’s new Camp Runamuck sitcom.
- Ed Sullivan hopes to originate his first four shows of the new season from Hollywood so they can be in color.
- Screen Gems is working on what will be the first dramatic TV series to star an African-American, a Western called Lazarus about a real-life African-American gunfighter named Lazarus Benjamin. [The series never materialized.]
- Irene Harvey will play the aunt of Anne Francis in ABC’s new Honey West series.
- James Franciscus and his wife a filming a six-week tour of the Caribbean as a travel special.
Rounding out the national section is a recipe for strawberry shortcake plus the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There are four news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- Thanks to Early Bird, the first transatlantic televised art auction was held with 600 people viewing at Sotheby’s of London and another 700 at Sotheby’s New York branch. Bidders in both cities purchased art shown in London. The BBC aired part of the auction. NBC was involved in producing but apparently did not televise the auction, which took in $172,552.80. Satellite time was free and $10,000 was spent on equipment.
- ABC has tentatively lined up coverage of the July 31st-August 1st track meet between the United States and the Soviet Union. If all goes according to plan, Early Bird will make this the first U.S. live TV pickup from the Soviet Union. ABC is also planning to cover the Cassius Clay-Sonny Liston fight on Wide World of Sports.
- RCA Board Chairman David Sarnoff predicts that within 10 years there will be communications satellites relaying programs directly into homes. He also believes that all international communications carriers in the United States will eventually unify into one private company to better bargain with other countries that have government monopolies on communications.
- The First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson, will host a tour of Washington D.C. for ABC on Thanksgiving Day, highlighting how Washington has changed for the better.
There was once again no letters page this week.
The TV Listings
[We’re back to the Eastern New England edition (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut) this week.]
During the early part of this week the networks continued their coverage of the Gemini IV space flight (which launched on Thursday, June 3rd) with updates and bulletins. ABC aired a half-hour report from 10:30-11AM on Saturday, June 5th followed by 60-second bulletins every hour on the hour. CBS aired a 10-minute report at 8AM, five-minute reports at 5:30PM and 9:55PM, and a 15-minute report from 11:15-11:30PM. NBC aired 60-second bulletins prior to every network show, a half-hour progress report from 12-12:30PM, and a 15-minute report at 11:30PM. Also on Saturday, ABC aired its regular 2PM baseball game, this time pitting the Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the Milwaukee Braves. At 5PM, CBS aired live coverage of the 97th running of the Belmont Stakes, the third and final leg of the Triple Crown. Jack Drees and Jack Whitaker called the race, which was held at New York City’s Aqueduct Race Course.
CBS pre-empted Lamp unto My Feet and Look Up and Live on Sunday, June 6th to air an hour-long Whitsunday special from 10-11AM. “Profile of a Denomination” examined the Southern Baptists, with film highlights of the Southern Baptist Convention in Dallas last week and the dedication of the new Southern Baptist Radio-Television Communications Center in Fort Worth. Gemini IV coverage continued throughout the day: ABC aired another half-hour report at 10:30AM and 60-second bulletins every hour. CBS aired a 10-minute report at 10AM and five-minute reports at 12:55PM, 4:55PM, and 9:55PM. NBC aired 60-second bulletins prior to every network program, a half-hour report at 5PM, and a 15-minute wrap-up at 11:30PM. The listing for NBC’s Sunday program at 4PM noted that the episode might be pre-empted for a Gemini IV report.
Gemini IV was scheduled to splash down at approximately 11AM on Monday, June 7th. [Actual arrival was 12:12PM.] The networks began coverage at around 9AM that morning and were scheduled to continue through early afternoon. ABC reporters included Jules Bergman and Bernard Eismann; CBS had Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, and Dallas Townsend; NBC’s reporters were Chet Huntley, David Brinkley, and Frank McGee. TV Guide printed alternate listings for the day in the event Gemini IV launched late but many of these programs were pre-empted. Additional program were pre-empted in prime time for summaries of the space flight: CBS from 10-10:30PM, NBC from 10-11PM, and ABC from 11:15-11:45PM.
On Tuesday, June 8th at 8:30PM, NBC repeated its hour-long color documentary “The Louvre,” originally broadcast in November 1964. Charles Boyer served as narrator for the documentary, which was produced by Lucy Jarvis. From 10-11PM, NBC aired an NBC News Special titled “Who Can Vote?” exploring the restrictions and pressures used to stop minority groups from voting in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and New York City. Chet Hagen produced the special; Edwin Newman was the anchor.
On Thursday, June 10th at 10PM, CBS aired a 60-minute edited version of Jazz on a Summer’s Day, a 1959 documentary film about the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Director Bert Stern supervised the editing of the television version.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- Belmont Stakes (CBS, Saturday at 5:00PM)
- Special: The Louvre (NBC, Tuesday at 8:30PM, Repeat)
- NBC News Special: Who Can Vote? (NBC, Tuesday at 10:00PM)
- Special: Jazz on a Summer’s Day (CBS, Thursday at 10:00PM)
- FDR – “Victory in Sight” (ABC, Friday at 9:30PM)
Locally, the week was filled with sports and coverage of Billy Graham’s Hawaii Crusade, held June 7th-10th. At 1:55PM on Saturday, June 5th WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired a baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the New York Yankees, pre-empting ABC’s national game that started at 2PM. WMUR-TV (Channel 9) in Manchester, NH did air ABC’s game and took out an advertisement promoting it this week:
Advertisement for ABC’s MLB Game of the Week on WMUR-TV (Channel 9) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and WJAR-TV (Channel 10) aired live coverage of the third round of the Buick Open from 5-6PM. WTIC-TV (Channel 3) joined the coverage in progress at 5:30PM. Also at 5:30PM, WJZB (Channel 14) and WIHS-TV (Channel 38) aired the Priscilla Stakes horse race. At 7PM, WNAC-TV (Channel 7) premiered Shivaree, a syndicated music variety show hosted by Gene Weed and featuring the Shivaree dancers. Guests included Johnny Crawford, Dobby Grey, Shirley Ellis, Wendy Hill, and Alvin Cash and the Crawlers. WHDH-TV (Channel 5) pre-empted the entire CBS prime-time lineup, opting instead to air Gilligan’s Island from 7:30-8PM (rather than in its regular 8:30-9PM time slot) followed by a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Athletics.
On Sunday, June 6th at 12:55PM, WNHC-TV aired another White Sox-Yankees baseball game. At 2:30PM, WHDH-TV aired an hour-long special called “Glimpse of Greatness” about 22-year-old Ken Hubbs, Chicago Cubs second baseman killed in a plane crash in June 1964. Sportscaster Tom Harmon narrated. Both WHDH-TV and WPRO-TV (Channel 12) aired a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Kansas City Athletics at 4PM. At 5PM, WTIC-TV and WJAR-TV aired live coverage of the final round of the Buick Open. WBZ-TV aired coverage from 6-7PM.
Billy Graham’s Hawaii Crusade kicked off on Monday, June 7th. All of the coverage was taped. Here’s a national advertisement:
Advertisement for Billy Graham’s Hawaii Crusade – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
WJZB aired coverage of the opening day of the crusade from 8-9PM, WMUR-TV from 8:30-9:30PM, and WIHS-TV from 9-10PM. At 10:30PM, WTIC-TV aired a half-hour program called Connecticut What’s Ahead? about the state’s Constitutional Convention. Also at 10:30PM, WHDH-TV aired a half-hour account of the April rescue of 20 scientists stuck on an ice island by the USS Edisto.
On Tuesday, June 8th from 7-7:30PM, WTEV aired “To the Fair,” a look at the New York World’s Fair through the eyes of a typical fairgoer. Coverage of the second day of the Billy Graham Crusade aired from 7:30-8:30PM on WJZB, from 8:30-9:30PM on WMUR-TV, and 9-10PM on WIHS-TV. At 7:55PM, WNHC-TV aired a baseball game between the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets, pre-empting ABC’s prime time lineup of The Joey Bishop Show, McHale’s Navy, The Tycoon, Peyton Place, and The Fugitive.
Educational station WGBH-TV (Channel 2) premiered “Design Scientist” at 7PM on Wednesday, June 9th, the first installment of a three-part documentary series called Fuller World. The NET series was hosted by architect Richard Buckminster Fuller. More Billy Graham coverage aired from 7-8PM on WMUR-TV, 7:30-8:30PM on WJZB, and 9-10PM on WIHS-TV. At 8PM, WTIC-TV aired “Living History,” the first in a series of specials about Connecticut’s Constitutional Convention.
Billy Graham’s Crusade wrapped up on Thursday, June 10th. WJZB aired coverage of the fourth and final day from 7:30-8:30PM, WMUR-TV from 8-9PM, and WIHS-TV from 9-10PM. WGBH-TV aired exhibition tennis from 7:30-9:30PM. On Friday, June 11th at 7:55PM, WNHC-TV aired yet another baseball game, this one between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets.
Here’s an advertisement for WHDH-TV’s baseball commentary for all Sunday games, featuring Curt Gowdy:
Advertisement for Baseball Close-up on WHDH-TV (Channel 5) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Here’s an advertisement for The Merv Griffin Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4):
Advertisement for The Merv Griffin Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) – 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, June 7th, 1965
Captain Bob draws with crayons.
Tuesday, June 8th, 1965
Patriotic songs of America is the subject discussed by Roland Nadeau and Ken Wilson.
Wednesday, June 9th, 1965
First of a two part program showing the Newton school system.
Thursday, June 10th, 1965
Second of two programs dealing with the Newton school system.
Friday, June 11th, 1965
The story of what goes on in the State House at 24 Beacon Street.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.