A Year in TV Guide: July 31st, 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 #46
July 31st, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 31, Issue #644
Eastern New England Edition

On the Cover: Fred MacMurray, Stanley and Barry Livingston (photograph by Ron Thal).

The Magazine

This week’s cover article by Dwight Whitney is a four-page examination of the success of My Three Sons, which will be moving from ABC to CBS for the 1965-1966 season (its 6th) with a 7th season contracted as well and five additional seasons optioned. CBS paid between six and eight million for the series at the direction of James T. Aubrey, the recently departed head of the network. When asked if it was nice having networks fight over him and his show, star Fred MacMurray said “No. Not really.” The move will bring with it changes, including the departures of Tim Considine and Meredith MacRae.

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

Whitney interviewed a variety of people for the article, ranging from the cast and crew to June Haver (MacMurray’s wife) and Walt Disney, who warned MacMurray about TV, concerned he might overexpose himself. “Well, he did,” explained Disney. “But with Fred it doesn’t matter. He is able to cull pathos out of ordinary things.” Don Fedderson, executive producer of My There Sons, explained the success of the series as a mixture of the best production men and Fred MacMurray. “This guy can do more with the raise of an eyebrow than a dozen actors. The real father says this is the way I should have handled the situation. Yeah, that’s right, he’s the world’s most likable square.”

“Watching the Cars Go By–FAST” by David E. Davis, Jr. is a four-page article about the popularity of auto racing on television. Although some may insist that viewers tune in hoping to see horrible crashes and the very real possibility that drivers may be killed, those in the business disagree. Davis quotes an unnamed Midwest race promoter who argues that racing fans “like the idea that these guys could get hurt, and they love ’em because they’ll take the risk.” However, “the last thing they want is for their heroes to get killed.” There are many different types of auto racing, including stock-car, Indianapolis-style, Grand Prix, and drag racing (although there is disagreement about whether drag racing is actually racing).

Television started covering auto racing in the early 1950s when local stations began airing local races. About four years ago the networks discovered it and today the coverage is so widespread that a viewer new to racing can become an expert in a single year. ABC’s Wide World of Sports plans to air 20 races this year while NBC will air eight and CBS four. Davis concludes with the suggestion that “it’s safe to hazard a guess that television is at once an important reason for racing’s fantastic rebirth, and the medium most likely to benefit from it.

“Good Morning, Ladies, Hahaha” is a bizarre two-page essay about game show hosts. Bizarre because whoever wrote it (no author is credited) interspersed “hahahaha” throughout the text, perhaps in an attempt to emulate the laughter of either those hosting game shows or those watching at home. There are 14 network game shows airing Monday through Friday, which comes out to some 35 hours. NBC alone airs nine game shows while CBS has three and ABC just two. Robert Aaron, NBC director of daytime programming, suggests that women feel guilty if they watch more than two or three hours of TV a day but feel slightly less guilty about watching game shows because they “may pick up a little general information.” Leonard Reeg of the Leon Burnett advertising agency insists that the hosts make the shows, not the games. Regardless, the popularity of game shows explains why the networks devote so many resources to them.

There is a three-page profile of Leo G. Carroll titled “U.N.C.L.E.’s Uncle” and covers the usual ground, primary his early life and career before The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. He was wounded during World War I and spent two years recovering. He moved to New York City in 1920 and has since appeared in 300 plays, hundreds of movies, and numerous TV shows. Norman Felton, executive producer of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., explains he cast Carroll as the head of U.N.C.L.E. “because I knew he would give the part the right touch of bureaucratic authority. But most important, he would give the series a touch of class in a charming way.” His co-stars Robert Vaughn and David McCallum sing his praises. “Leo doesn’t seem to be acting at all and yet,” says McCallum. “When you look at the scene afterward, he has given it reality.”

Richard Gehman’s “Women’s Home Companion” is a four-page profile of Mike Douglas that attempts to identify why he and The Mike Douglas Show are so popular that 40,000 people requested tickets when the show was taped in Boston for a week. Why do women consider him their idol? It may, Gehman suggests, “go down as one of the mysteries of Sixties television. Douglas’s unquestionable magnetism is inexplicable.” His show doesn’t feature big name talent but they are paid well and that may explain why the show’s staff insist that “everyone always asks to come back.” The success of The Mike Douglas Show, which airs in syndication, has led the networks to try to lure away its executive producer, Woody Fraser. Because it is not a network program it “can be freer and less inhibited by policies and taboos.”

Finally, there is a two-page article by Leslie Raddatz profiling actress-turned-press-agent Lenore Roberts. She started acting when she was ten and began doing publicity four years ago when the acting jobs dried up. “I still get my residuals,” she says, “but that’s the only acting I’m doing right now.” She says she gets more recognition as “a public-relations girl” than she did as an actress. She also doesn’t like watching any of her acting work but enjoys the “personal recognition” she gets as a press agent. Still, “I won’t deny I’d prefer to be a working actress.” [According to her Internet Movie Database profile, Roberts never returned to acting.]

The “As We See It” editorial this week discusses the NFL’s recent decision to offer a second package of Sunday football games when its contract with CBS ends after the 1965 season. The editorial sarcastically notes that the NFL did this to avoid the “undignified procedure” of bidding. The two packages can be awarded via negotiations and may cost about $20 million. Each would cost less than the $14.1 million CBS paid for the current single package, so they’re a bargain, right?

Cleveland Amory reviews The Andy Griffith Show this week. It is “the slowest show of the season” but that doesn’t mean it is the worst. “In fact, taking television series all in all–and it is a brave viewer who can take them that way–it is one of the best.” The jokes are worth waiting for and the build-ups themselves can be worthy of a chuckle as well. He goes on to give several examples of slow build-ups to jokes before concluding “This is the No. 1 small-town show we’ve seen, and we like it immensely.”

News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:

  • McHale’s Navy is trying to sign former Queen [of Iran] Soraya for several guest appearances.
  • NBC News is working on a documentary called “The Big Ear” about personal privacy and how it can be infringed by wiretapping and other methods.
  • The Trials of O’Brien films in New York City and will feature a slew of actors based in the city, including Buddy Hackett, Al Kelly, Robert Loggia, Cloris Leachman, and Kurt Kasznar.
  • Frank McGee will be the host of NBC’s new Sunday evening news program next season.
  • Tommy Norden has settled his dispute with Ivan Tors, producer of Flipper, and has already returned to work.
  • John Daly will introduce the cast of Green Acres on CBS, sitting by a TV Set as each character appears on its screen.
  • Wolper Productions will present a documentary about the political family of Senator Russell Long and the late Huey Long, titled “The Longs of Louisiana.”

Rounding out the national section are two picture features. The first describes and shows the moment actress Julienne Marie finally saw herself on television. The second examines how a car was rigged to appear to be moving without a driver for an episode of I Dream of Jeannie. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle.

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

  • For the first time, the networks will pool their coverage of a manned space shot. The Gordon Cooper-Charles Conrad spaceflight in late August will see ABC manage the pool, with management rotating among the networks for later flights.
  • Viewers may have the opportunity to watch live coverage of the recovery of the Gordon-Conrad space capsule if ITT World Communications is able to use the Early Bird satellite.
  • CBS Vice President Richard S. Salant suggested last week that the networks should rethink their coverage of political conventions and CBS News president Fred Friendly agreed.
  • ABC cameraman Larry Johnson and sound man Wally Oakes were wounded while filming Vietnam battleground scenes with Peter Jennings. Jennings was not injured. The two are not listed in serious condition.
  • UPI’s Alvin Spivak revealed last week that the wire service and other news bureaus all keep reporters in front of TV sets and rewrite the news to sent out over the wire.

The letters page includes six letters, all involving different topics. One reader wrote about Agnes Moorehead, who was profiled in the July 17th issue, arguing that her talents are being wasted on ABC’s Bewitched. Another reader suggested that Walt Disney, who was also profiled in the July 17th issue, is not a pleasure-seeker but a happiness-seeker because “his work is lasting, excites the mind, [and] makes you feel good all over.”

Here’s a letter responding to the July 10th editorial:

Your July 10 “As We See It” ends with the persuasive logic that, “Television is a news medium. It must be permitted access to the news.” No doubt it will not be kept out of the courtrooms long. It is easy to imagine hearing in the near future a hushed, reverential voice announcing the entrance of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and then shifting for a quick word from the sponsor of “this true-to-life” courtroom drama.
Lloyd N. Dendinger
Baton Rouge, La.

A letter correcting Melvin Durslag’s grasp on Wyoming geography prompted an editorial note explaining that Durslag lives in Los Angeles. One reader lamented that Fred Gwynne’s “wonderfully flexible face and versatile talents” are hidden away under his Herman Munster makeup. Finally, a reader noted that Samantha on Bewitched “has finally appeared in that disgusting battledress of the real, red-blooded American housewife–hair curlers.”

The TV Listings

[We return to the Eastern New England edition (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Connecticut) this week.]

The big event on the networks this week was ABC’s live coverage (courtesy of Early Bird) of the seventh annual U.S.-USSR track meet, held at Kiev’s Dynamo Stadium. Jim McKay and Jim Beatty served as commentators for the two-day event. The first day’s coverage was scheduled for 12PM on Saturday, July 31st but a notice in the listings section explained that the broadcast might start anytime between 11AM and 2PM. If coverage began before 12PM, a taped repeat would air at 1PM. The teams for ABC’s regular 2PM baseball game were listed as “To Be Announced.” At 5PM, ABC’s World of Sports covered the Japanese All-Star baseball game, taped on July 20th.

On Sunday, August 1st at 11AM, ABC was scheduled to resume coverage of the U.S.-USSR track meet. Again, there was a notice explaining that it could start anytime between 11AM and 2PM. From 5-6PM, NBC’s Encore repeated “Voice of the Desert,” a tour of Arizona’s Sonora Desert featuring Professor Joseph Wood Krutch. [It originally aired on August 22nd, 1963.] ABC aired live coverage of the Thunderbird Classic golf tournament starting at 5PM, with Chris Schenkel, Charlie Brockman, Byron Nelson, and Jimmy Demaret covering the last three holes.

From 8:30-9PM on Monday, August 2nd, Summer Playhouse on CBS aired an unsold pilot called “Kibbee Hates Fitch” starring Don Rickles and Lou Jacobi as a pair of firefighters whose friendship is tested when one of them becomes captain of their company. Neil Simon wrote the script. At 10PM, CBS repeated an hour-long CBS News special called “An Essay on Doors” with Harry Reasoner. [It originally aired on March 8th, 1964.]

At 10:30PM on Wednesday, August 4th, ABC aired a half-hour installment of ABC Scope about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Titled “Hiroshima–and Then There Were None,” the special was hosted by Lou Cioffi. On Friday, August 6th at 9PM, CBS aired the first half of an unsold pilot called “Luke and the Tenderfoot” on Vacation Playhouse. Edgar Buchanan starred as an Old West peddler who strikes up a friendship with a youngster from the East. At 10PM, ABC aired the College All-Stars football game featuring the Cleveland Browns and the year’s top college football players. Commentators included Chris Schenkel, Ken Coleman, Kyle Rote, and Bill Flemming. A kickoff special aired from 9:30-10PM with highlights of past games and films of players.

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

  • Special: U.S.-USSR Track Meet (ABC, Saturday at 12:00PM)
  • Hollywood Palace (ABC, Saturday at 9:30PM, Repeat)
  • Encore – “Voice of the Desert” (NBC, Sunday at 5:00PM)
  • Special: Thunderbird Classic (ABC, Sunday at 5:00PM
  • The Andy Williams Show (NBC, Monday at 9:00PM, Repeat)
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – “Death Scene” (NBC, Monday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • Bewitched (ABC, Thursday at 9:00PM, Repeat)
  • Slattery’s People – “What’s a Swan Song for a Sparrow?” (CBS, Friday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
  • Special: College All-Star Football Game (ABC, Friday at 10:00PM)

Locally there were a number of sporting events throughout the week and little else. On Saturday, WHDH-TV (Channel 5) aired championship bowling from 12:30-1PM followed by junior candlepin bowling from 1-1:30PM. WPRO-TV (Channel 12) aired championship wrestling from 1-1:30PM. At 1:55PM, WHNC-TV (Channel 8) aired a baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the New York Yankees. WPRO-TV aired top star bowling from 2-3PM. At 4:30PM, WPRO-TV aired the Tidal Handicap horse race live from New York’s Aqueduct Race Course. WTIC-TV (Channel 3) joined the coverage in progress at 5PM while WHDH-TV joined in progress at 5:30PM.

On Sunday from 10-10:30AM, WNAC-TV (Channel) aired championship bowling. WNHC-TV’s Comment and People from 12-12:30PM covered the new Long Wharf Theater in New Haven, CT as well as the new Job Corps. WJAR-TV aired championship bridge from 12-12:30PM followed by championship bowling from 12:30-1PM. At 12:55PM, WNHC-TV aired another Indians-Yankees baseball game. At 3PM, Massachusetts educational station WGBH-TV (Channel 2) aired NBC’s Encore (“Voice of the Desert”). From 4:30-5PM WBZ-TV (Channel 4) aired its live Massachusetts talent show with participants from Newton, Worcester, Reading, Boston, Dedham, and Mendon.

WTIC-TV aired an installment of Connecticut: What’s Ahead from 10:30-11PM on Monday. On Tuesday at 7:55PM, WNHC-TV aired a baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Mets. WGBH-TV aired the final match of the U.S. Professional Grasscourt Tennis Championships from 7:30-9:30PM on Thursday. It pitted Red Laver against Ken Rosewall.

Here’s an advertisement for capsule weather (in color) on WTEV (Channel 6):

Advertisement for capsule weather (in color) on WTEV (Channel 6)
Advertisement for capsule weather (in color) on WTEV (Channel 6) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for The Mike Douglas Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) that mentions this week’s article about him:

Advertisement for The Mike Douglas Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4)
Advertisement for The Mike Douglas Show on WBZ-TV (Channel 4) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.

Here’s an advertisement for 11th Hour News with Mort Blender on WPRO-TV (Channel 12):

Advertisement for 11th Hour News with Mort Blender on WPRO-TV (Channel 12)
Advertisement for 11th Hour News with Mort Blender on WPRO-TV (Channel 12) – 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, August 2nd, 1965
Capt. Bob takes the viewer, via sketches and drawings, to the resort community of Block Island.

Tuesday, August 3rd, 1965
Highlights in a phase of the development of American music.

Wednesday, August 4th, 1965
“Where to Go This Weekend.”

Thursday, August 5th, 1965
Highlights of an exhibit of dye transfer photography.

Friday, August 6th, 1965
The current water shortage, causes and future outlook is discussed.

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

13 Replies to “A Year in TV Guide: July 31st, 1965”

  1. “My Three Sons, which will be moving from ABC to CBS for the 1965-1966 season (its 6th) with a 7th season contracted as well and five additional seasons optioned. CBS paid between six and eight million for the series at the direction of James T. Aubrey, the recently departed head of the network. When asked if it was nice having networks fight over him and his show, star Fred MacMurray said “No. Not really.”

    Usually when a program jumps to another network it’s cancelled or on it’s way to being cancelled. I can’t remember another time when a situation comedy was this fought over by two networks.

    Robert – Did this earn ‘MTS’ a place in TV history?

    1. CBS took “The Tony Randall Show” and “Wonder Woman” from ABC in 1977, but ABC had shot to #1 in the ratings by then and probably didn’t offer the shows enough inducement to stay. I know in the case of Tony Randall’s show, ABC only offered a 13-episode pickup for 1977-78, but CBS offered a full season of 22 episodes.
      CBS also claimed to have taken “Family Matters” from ABC (as well as “Step by Step”) in 1997, but both shows were pretty well worn-out by then, so ABC probably didn’t fight much to keep them. CBS took them to anchor its new “Block Party” on Friday nights to compete with ABC’s “TGiF”, but the party never got started for CBS, by then the #3 network, and the shows didn’t make it past 1 season on CBS.

    2. Quite a few TV shows have moved networks, as others have noted, but examples of “poaching” between networks are pretty rare. As you say, usually when one network picks up another network’s show it is because the first network cancelled it.

      I’m not familiar with the history of Bachelor Father but it moved from from CBS to NBC to ABC during its five seasons (1957-1962) and there may have been some drama behind the scenes.

      More recently, I believe NBC and ABC fought over the fate of Scrubs following the 2007-2008 season (its 7th on NBC). It eventually moved to ABC for two more seasons.

      Moving away from sitcoms, Wagon Train was the highest-rated show on the air during the 1961-1962 season and yet somehow ABC managed to get it from NBC for the 1962-1963 season and it stayed on that network for three seasons. I can’t imagine NBC wanted to give it up, so either the network had absolutely no say in the matter or ABC paid a lot of money. Likewise, The Real McCoys ranked 14th for the 1961-1962 season on ABC but it moved to CBS for the 1962-1963 season (which was its last).

      1. ‘Wagon Train’ was won over by ABC based on a multi-year renewal deal (I seem to remember two years), elongated episodes (from 60 to 90 minutes) and use of color (NBC had been B&W), but the big sweetener in the deal was ABC picking up multiple daytime stripping runs of the NBC B&W episodes for use in ABC daytime. As I remember, when ABC finally slotted the oater into their daytime sked, the ratings were truly dreadful (in that era, women liked soaps, gamers and sitcom repeats, but not westerns), and the net had to abandon the strip and write off the cost of the encore deal.

      2. It wasn’t the first time CBS bought Don Fedderson out. “THE MILLIONAIRE” was so successful during its first four seasons (1955-’58), the network made an offer to buy the show from him and MCA, which they happily agreed to {retaining his position as producer, while MCA continued to distribute the series outside of the United States}. The show’s copyright shifted from “Silverstone Films” to “Columbia Broadcasting System, Inc.” in the fall of 1958. Production also shifted from MCA’s “Revue Studios” to Desilu for its final two seasons. Domestic repeat rights, of course, went to “CBS Films”, which placed the series in syndication after four years of daytime repeats on the network (1959–’63).

  2. I can think of several other instances with sitcoms:

    “The Bob Cummings Show” moved from NBC to CBS in 1955, then back to NBC in 1957. It was still popular (though not a top 20 show) at the time of each move. It ran until 1959.

    “Get Smart” moved from NBC to CBS in 1969, but was near the end and only had that one season left.

    “Taxi” moved from ABC to NBC in a much publicized transfer in 1982 but also only had a year left in it.

    More recently, “The Naked Truth” was cancelled despite high ratings after its first season (1995-96) on ABC and moved to NBC, where it ran two more years.

  3. Surprised no one has brought up, which arguably may be the most successful network switch from all time. After just one season on NBC, the drama “JAG” was canceled in 1996 and picked up by CBS for a midseason replacement in 1997. The show climbed up the ratings and became a very successful show for CBS and lasted for nine more seasons. If that’s all it did, that would be enough.
    In it’s 8th season it birthed a spin-off, “NCIS” which has become a ratings king for CBS and is continuing on into it’s 13th season. And if that wasn’t enough, “NCIS” has produced two more spin-offs.
    That’s one hell of an amazing run for a once canceled show.

  4. Let’s not forget “The Danny Thomas Show/Make Room For Daddy”, which had fair to middling ratings during its first four years (1953-57) on ABC, then the ratings soared when CBS and General Foods picked it up and kept it running for seven more years, spinning off “The Andy Griffith Show” in the process, as well as the Joey Bishop and Bill Dana shows on NBC after test-piloting on the Thomas show.

    1. Incidentally, the series still had good ratings by the time it ended in 1964, but Thomas and his partner, producer-director Sheldon Leonard, wanted to focus on their growing TV empire, which in addition to the above mentioned shows also included “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Gomer Pyle USMC”.

  5. When “My Three Sons” moved to CBS, the show started to be filmed and broadcast in color.

    However, had the show remained on ABC, it’s quite possible that the show would have been in color anyway.

    1. I read someplace that ABC wasn’t interesting in financing My There Sons‘ transition to color, and so they handed it off to CBS.

  6. Don’t forget “Leave It To Beaver” (CBS 1957-58, ABC 1958-63)…I understand there was some friction between MCA/Revue. CBS, and Remington-Rand, the sponsor of the first year. ABC was able to give the gentle, quirky show time to build a solid audience, leading to five solid seasons until the boys Theodore and Wallace aged out.

  7. The episode featuring an “invisible Jeannie” driving her “Master’s chariot” was “Djinn and Water” [November 20, 1965], one of the last episodes Barbara filmed before she was deemed “too large” to be photographed while pregnant (the photo of her comfortably seated in the back seat of “Captain Nelson’s” Pontiac GTO covered her condition quite nicely), and the series took a break that summer while Barbara waited to bring Matthew Michael Ansara into the world…..which she did that August. Production resumed that October.

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