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.
August 21st, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 34, Issue #647
New York State Edition
On the Cover: Fess Parker and Patricia Blair (photograph by Gene Trindl).
This week’s cover article about Patricia Blair is the typical TV Guide profile that delves into her early career, her personality, what she thinks about her work, and what others think about her. She finds it hilarious that she plays a pioneer wife because she’s “one of the least domestic girls in the country” and after work goes home to her maid, who makes her dinner.
She started her career as an aspiring model but soon gave up on that and decided to become an actress. According to the article, she “is considered a good, though not sensational, actress by her colleagues.” Personally, Patricia loves acting. “It’s the most magical thing in the world. There’s nothing more thrilling. You come away alive and tingling!” And yet she finds the work constraining because she’s a free spirit who longs to be able to leave when the mood strikes.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
There are those in Hollywood who aren’t fond of her. One anonymous person says “She’s a warm-hearted, broad-shouldered featherhead. A sweet girl, but you can’t take her seriously as an actress. She’s made her way because of TV’s insatiable need for pretty hacks.”
“You Gotta Have Heart!” is the first of a two-part report by Neil Hickey and Joseph Finnigan about how TV shows are sold. It is both interesting and useful. Hickey and Joseph reveal details about Our Man Higgins, I Love Lucy, 12 O’clock High, O.K. Crackerby!, and several unnamed pilots and shows.
One of the more intriguing stories involves Our Man Higgins. When John H. Mitchell of Screen Gems was trying to sell the series to ABC [in 1962], he got nowhere with then-network president Oliver Treyz. After learning that Treyz was taking a train to Washington, D.C. Mitchell figured out which train Treyz was on and bought a ticket. He eventually found Treyz, who was with two other ABC executives, crept up behind them, snapped to attention with a salute, and said “Higgins reporting, sir!” The executives laughed and Treyz told Mitchell “Anybody who goes to such incredible lengths deserves to be listened to.” Mitchell sold the show on the train then hopped off at the next station.
Another ABC story involves 12 O’clock High. The network was showing the pilot to executives from the Doyle, Dane, Bernbach advertising agency and along with representatives from one of their more important clients, Volkswagen. About halfway through the pilot, a German city is bombed. “A heavily accented German voice in the screening room was heard to say: ‘There goes our factory.'” Not surprisingly, Volkswagen passed on 12 O’clock High.
Other stories range from an advertising agency vice-president who thought the I Love Lucy pilot was terrible and ludicrous to a network vice president who hated a Western pilot until he learned it had a sponsor at which point he promptly changed his tune and called it the best Western he’d seen in ages.
“The ‘Music Man’ Hits a Patriotic Note” is a three-page profile of actor Robert Preston. He’s hosting the upcoming ABC six-part documentary series This Proud Land and is enthusiastic about the project. He is much less in love with television in general. He hates the current state of TV drama, in fact. The six weeks he spent in 1951 filling in for Ralph Bellamy on Man Against Crime was more than long enough to turn him off TV. Why? Because people started calling him by his character’s name. It bothered Preston:
And this is no tribute to the authenticity of the acting, either. It’s some strange thing about TV itself which ties you to the character you play. No matter how brilliant a performance you give on Broadway, no matter how long the run, nobody ever calls you by the name of the character as you walk out of the stage door.
Preston has strong views on a wide range of topics. He thinks young people these days are so tied to their radios they’re incapable of making normal conversation; he reads too many scripts for plays that make him cry despite being comedies because they’re just rehashes of earlier plays; he hates phonies and is continually cutting the phoniest of his friends out of his life.
He loves the theater and feels that after working in movies for ten years he has proven that he is better than movies. After being complimented on his performance one night, he told the playwright “I’ve given a marvelous performance every night–I’ve given the best performance possible of your material.”
The fourth and final article, “Love Those Poison-Pen Letters!” by Edith Efron, is a profile of Eileen Fulton. After spending five years playing Lisa Hughes on As The World Turns she broke into prime time with its spin-off Our Private World. Her character is hated by viewers who send her vile, nasty letters. She collects them.
From an early age she had a vivid imagination and as a child fell in love with romantic stories. She enjoyed pretending she was an explorer or a detective and was disappointed when she grew up and discovered she couldn’t be one. So she became an actress so she could keep pretending. Her drive to become an actress only intensified as she grew up:
Most of the girls I knew were feminine-mystique types. Their only goal was to get behind that kitchen sink as fast as they could. I’ve always thought that was ridiculous. Betty Friedan was right. Women need careers as much as men do. They’re psychologically frustrated without them.
That frustration plays into the character she plays. Lisa Hughes, according to Fulton, hoped to find adventure by getting married and having children but instead found only responsibility. Fulton was married once but isn’t anymore. She is an ardent follower of Ayn Rand. “I like her philosophy of reason and objectivity. One of the things I learned from her is not to be a moral coward, to stand up for what I believe. I think her philosophy is right, and I support her publicly.”
Unfortunately, her career isn’t where she’d like it to be. Our Private World is ending in September and network officials insist it was always meant only as a summer replacement. She has been invited to return to As The World Turns but isn’t sure she wants to. She has movie and TV offers to consider. [She did return to As The World Turns in 1966 and, with two exceptions in 1983 and 2004, stayed with the soap opera until it ended in September 2010.]
The “As We See It” editorial this week discusses the community antenna television (CATV) experiment currently underway in Miles City, MT. For $6 a month and $19 for installation, residents can receive two stations from Billings and two from Salt Lake City, plus the local radio station and a special channel presenting 24-hour news via an Associated Press radio news ticker. “This sort of pay television, which constantly is improving as new services are added, makes sense.”
Cleveland Amory reviews ABC’s children’s series Discovery this week and is generally positive in his remarks. After finally getting around to watching it [the series premiered in 1962], Amory wrote “we wish to recommend it heartily–albeit we would limit the territory somewhat, say, to children.” He then discusses three different episodes, two he felt were good and one, about Mark Twain, he didn’t. “But even an average show, on this show, is still, among children’s shows, tops.”
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- Pat Buttram has joined the cast of Green Acres as a regular. He’ll provide a “rural contrast to Eva Gabor.”
- ABC has decided to air both The Lawrence Welk Show and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in color starting this fall.
- ABC will air “Sammy Davis and the Wonderful World of Children” on Thanksgiving Day while CBS has “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” on December 9th.
- Roberta Shore will return to The Virginian to film a farewell scene in which her character gets married, reflecting her real-life reason for leaving the series.
- NBC’s Camp Runamuck will feature some big names behind rather than in front of the camera: Dave Ketchum, Arch Johnson, and Leonard Stone star while Howard Duff and Hal March are the directors.
- The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson will originate from Hollywood for two weeks starting September 27th.
- Hallmark Hall of Fame will air its version of “Inherit the Wind” on November 18th, with Melvyn Douglas as Clarence Darrow.
Rounding out the national section are two picture features. The first highlights a cowardly bear named Boley, who is afraid of heights and donkeys. The second showcases Diane Cilento modeling various outfits she’ll wear in the forthcoming “Once Upon a Tractor” United Nations/Xerox special. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There are four news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- The 1965-1966 season will be a big one for animals. More than 1,000 horses were used in June alone to film Westerns. Honey West will feature an ocelot, Lost in Space a chimpanzee, and Tammy has goats. O.K. Crackerby! has a barkless dog (a Basenji). There are also more dogs, more chimps, a goose, and of course, Mister Ed, Flipper, and Lassie.
- NBC estimates that there are 3.6 million color TV sets in use as of July 1st, a 77% increase over last year. By the end of 1965, NBC believes there will be 5 million color sets. By comparison, last year there were a total of 51 million sets (black and white as well as color) in use.
- NBC producer Reuven Frank is working on an updated documentary on electronic eavesdropping, to air October 31st. He earlier produced a documentary called “The Big Ear” in 1959 and argues the advances in eavesdropping since then have been “just staggering.”
- Phyllis Diller was featured in a fashion layout in The New York Times last week. She argues that while people think she dresses funny, she doesn’t. What she wears makes sense to her and she wears a lot of fur. She has six mink coats, a sable, a Somali leopard, a full-length chinchilla, and a white ermine shirtdress.
The letters page includes just four letters this week, including this response to the August 7th article about Burke’s Law becoming Amos Burke, Secret Agent:
Re “Everything New But the Car,” in which producer Tom McDermott said his Amos Burke, Secret Agent, would be quite different from The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and would not have any “Mickey Mouse” situations:
So! Tom McDermott shunts the mouse that Disney made so famous.
He’d rather have a more suave guy i.e.: a Burke named Amos.
But–Amos Burke “ran out of gas…” said ABC–berating!
While Disney (yes, and U.N.C.L.E. too), keep Mickey Mouse creating!
(And–get the rating; That’s what they’re hating!)
By Dick Johnson
Fort Dodge, Iowa.
There was also a letter from a reader wondering why so many American TV shows are aired on British TV but so few British TV shows on American TV (“Surely they would be better than all those reruns.”). An editorial note explained “It’s a long story, but mostly it’s less costly to use reruns.”
Another letter came from a reader who admitted to hating trumpet playing until Al Hirt came along and now she not only loves the instrument but has learned how to play it herself and encouraged her sons to learn, too.
The final letter is a long one responding to the August 7th “As We See It” editorial in which TV Guide compared criticism of network TV shows to criticism of Broadway plays. The reader argued that Broadway is aimed at tourists while serious theater-goers turn to off-Broadway and wants to know where television’s off-Broadway is. According to an editorial note, “Many hope that educational television will serve that purpose.”
The TV Listings
[This was the sixth issue I had to purchase to fill a hole in my collection. The copy I acquired is the New York State Edition with listings for 14 stations in eight markets, one of which was in Canada. As is always the case with issues I’ve had to buy, I’ve done my best to highlight some of the local programming but please note that I’m not familiar with these stations.]
Due to the delay in launching the Gemini V space flight, some of the listings in this are not very accurate. The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday, August 19th but was pushed until Saturday, August 21st. Thus, rather than provide limited continuing coverage of the mission on Saturday, the networks pre-empted much of their planned program for hours of launch coverage.
Likewise, the planned coverage of the end of the mission, and the recovery of the capsule, on Friday, August 27th was delayed until Sunday, August 29th.
With that in mind, many of the sporting events planned for Saturday, August 21st probably weren’t broadcast. ABC’s regular Saturday afternoon baseball game at 2PM, for example, likely wasn’t aired (it was between the Milwaukee Braves and the Pittsburgh Pirates). Both NBC and CBS had pro football games scheduled for 2PM: NBC’s game featured the Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets while the CBS game pitted the Chicago Bears against the Green Bay Packers.
At 5PM, CBS planned to air live coverage of the third round of the Carling World Open golf championship. NBC aired the final repeat of The Famous Adventures of Mr. Magoo at 8:30PM.
For the rest of the week the networks likely kept to their regular Gemini V coverage plans. For ABC that meant a series of one-minute reports. CBS used visual streamers during regular programs with 5-minute reports at 10AM, 12:55PM, and 6:30PM. NBC at minimum would air 10 one-minute reports.
On Sunday, August 22nd at 1PM, CBS aired a pro football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. At 4PM, CBS aired live coverage of the final round of the Carling World Open. NBC aired another pro football game at 4:30PM, this one an exhibition game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oakland Raiders. At 8:30PM, CBS brought back repeats of Branded starting with the series premiere. [The network filled the 8:30-9PM time slot with repeats of another Western, Buckskin, for much of the summer.] NBC aired a 15-minute update on Gemini V at 11:30PM.
Summer Playhouse on CBS presented a repeat of “Mimi” at 8:30PM on Monday, August 23rd. [The unsold sitcom pilot first aired in August 1964.] It starred husband-and-wife comedy team Phil Ford and Mimi Hines as staff members at a spa. Mimi, a dietitian, has her hands full with two guests: a jockey watching his weight and an overweight ballet master. From 9-10PM, NBC repeated “Jonathan and the Movies,” a Jonathan Winters special featuring Agnes Moorehead, Julie Newmar, Robert Middleton, and Buster Keaton. [It originally aired on March 29th, 1965.]
From 10-11PM, CBS broadcast “Vietnam: Winning the Peace,” the third in the four-part CBS News documentary series Vietnam Perspectives.
ABC pre-empted Shindig from 8:30-9:30PM on Wednesday, August 25th to air its own Vietnam documentary called “The Agony of Vietnam.” Edward P. Morgan narrated the special, which was produced by Stephen Fleischman.
On Friday, August 27th at 9:30PM, Vacation Playhouse on CBS aired an unsold pilot called “Three on an Island.” It starred Pamela Tiffin, Julie Newmar and Monica Moran as three friends living in Manhattan who find themselves owning half of a prizefighter’s boxing contract. Jody McCrea played the fighter. Hal Kanter wrote the script.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- Special: Pro Football – Packers/Bears (CBS, Saturday at 2:00PM)
- Special: Golf Championship (CBS, Sunday at 4:00PM and 4:30PM)
- The Rogues – “Mr. White’s Christmas” (NBC, Sunday at 10PM, Repeat)
- Special: The Agony of Vietnam (ABC, Wednesday at 8:30PM)
- The Lucy–Desi Comedy Hour – “Lucy Meets the Moustache” (CBS, Wednesday at 10PM, Repeat)
The listings section includes listings for the following stations:
WRGB (Channel 6) – NBC
WTEN (Channel 10) – CBS
WAST (Channel 13) – ABC
WCDC (Channel 19) – CBS [satellite of WTEN]
WSYR-TV (Channel 3) – NBC
WHEN-TV (Channel 5) – CBS
WNYS-TV (Channel 9) – ABC
WKTV (Channel 2) – ABC
WWNY-TV (Channel 7) – ABC/CBS/NBC
WROC-TV (Channel 8) – NBC
WHEC-TV (Channel 10) – CBS
WOKR (Channel 13) – ABC
WNBF-TV (Channel 12) – CBS
Kingston, Ontario (Canada)
CKWS-TV (Channel 11) – Independent, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Locally, many stations were likely impacted on Saturday by the delayed launch of Gemini V. Local programming may have been replaced with network coverage of the launch. For example, WRGB (Channel 6) had a half-hour local children’s program called Ginny’s Game Room scheduled from 8:30-9AM. The station probably opted to air NBC’s Gemini V coverage instead. Several stations planned to air sporting events Saturday afternoon. Whether they did or not is unknown. WRGB had a baseball game scheduled for 2:10PM, featuring the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Mets. Two different horse races were scheduled at 4:30PM: the Travers race on WTEN (Channel 10) and its satellite WCDC (Channel 19) and the Prince of Wales Stakes on Canadians station CKWS-TV (Channel 11). At 5PM, WSYR-TV (Channel 3) was scheduled to pick up the Travers race in progress.
CKWS-TV had several programs scheduled for Saturday evening that may have been local: an agriculture series called Countrytime from 6-6:30PM, variety show World of Music from 6-6:45PM, and a news analysis program called Chronicle from 6:45-7PM. At 8PM, another baseball game was scheduled on WTEN and WCDC. This one pitted the New York Yankees against the Baltimore Orioles. It pre-empted CBS network programming for the evening.
On Sunday, local programming was probably more or less back to normal. There were numerous religious programs during the morning, some of which may have been local. WHEN-TV (Channel 5) aired a farm report from 8:30-9AM while WHEC-TV (Channel 10/Rochester) aired an agriculture show called RFD 10. WRGB aired its own agriculture program, Farm Spotlight, from 9-9:30AM. At 9:15AM, WSYR-TV aired a 15-minute senate news conference. WKTV aired another senate news conference from 10:15-10:30AM, followed by another on WWNY-TV at 10:45AM. A Congressional report aired from 11:45AM-12PM on WROC-TV (Channel 8). WWNY-TV aired a Cathloic church service from 12:30-1PM.
From 1-2PM WKTV aired variety series Twist-A-Rama. Also at 1PM, WRGB aired another Mets-Cardinals baseball game. At 2PM, another Yankees-Orioles game aired on WKTV, WWNY-TV, WNYS-TV, WTEN, WNBF-TV (Channel 12), and WCDC. WNYS-TV aired roller derby coverage from 5:30-6:30PM. At 6:30PM, WRGB aired Parade of Fashion. Also at 6:30PM, WNBF-TV aired Community Salute, a half-hour series that this week looked at Towanda, PA.
Weekday programming that may have been local included Party Line on WHEN-TV from 7:30-7:40AM; Today’s Calendar on WHEN-TV from 7:40-45AM; These Things We Share on WHEN-TV from 7:45-8AM; Charlie’s Place on WNYS-TV from 7:30-8AM; Ed Allen Time on WOKR (Channel 13) from 8-8:30AM; Eight Thirty on WORK from 8:30-9AM; Magic Toy Shop on WHEN-TV from 99:30AM; Gloria on WNBF-TV from 9-9:30AM; Marlene Sanders on WKTV from 9:30-10AM; Consult Dr. Brothers on WNBF-TV from 1:25-1:30PM; Summer Set on CKWS-TV from 3:30-4PM; Vacation Time on CKWS-TV from 4-5PM; Skipper Sam on WROC-TV (Channel 8) from 4:25-5PM; Bud Ballou on WNYS-TV from 5-6PM; and How’s Business on WROC-TV from 6-6:30PM.
At 7PM on Monday, WSYR-TV aired a half-hour special called “Youth’s Finest Hour” with Bill O’Donnell reporting on the annual meeting of the Federation of Christian Atheletes. From 9:30-10:30PM, CKWS-TV aired “An Entirely Private Goal,” a special about long-distance runners (it pre-empted a series called Gideon’s Way). Both WNBF-TV and WHEN-TV pre-empted CBS network programming starting at 9:30PM for movies; the stations aired “Vietnam: Winning the Peace” the following day, pre-empting portions of CBS network programming in the process.
On Wednesday, WOKR pre-empted ABC’s “The Agony of Vietnam” documentary in favor of an episode of Surfside 6. [This may have been a regular pre-emption to replace Shindig rather than a one-off pre-emption due to the Vietnam special.] WWNY-TV, which aired programming from all three networks, did air an episode of Shindig on Wednesday but not until 10PM. [It was the previous week’s episode.]
WTEN and WCDC pre-empted CBS network programming starting at 8PM on Thursday to show a movie. On Friday, WRGB aired another baseball game starting at 8:30PM, this one between the San Francisco Giants and the New York Mets. Earlier at 8PM, the station aired a variety series called The Barn.
Here’s an advertisement for 11th Hour News with Ted Baughn on WTEN (Channel 10):
11th Hour News with Ted Baughn on WTEN (Channel 10) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Here’s an advertisement for early weather with Bob Gordon on WTEN:
Advertisement for early weather with Bob Gordon on WTEN – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Here’s an advertisement for the WHEC (Channel 10) news team of Hosmer and Brown:
Advertisement for the WHEC (Channel 10) News Team of Hosmer and Brown – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.