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 28th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 35, Issue #648
North Texas Edition
On the Cover: Lucille Ball and Splash the Dolphin (photograph by Sheedy-Long).
This week’s cover article isn’t an article at all but a four-page picture feature describing how Lucille Ball shot a scene at Marineland of the Pacific for the season premiere of The Lucy Show (to air September 13th). In the scene, Lucy loses her son’s ball in the water and encounters three dolphins and a sea lion during her attempt to retrieve it. Ball wore a wetsuit beneath her clothing and told TV Guide she was scared during filming due to the size of the animals. She was assured that the dolphins were harmless but was warned the sea lion had bitten attendants twice.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
“The Day Ben Casey Struck Out” by Neil Hickey and Joseph Finnigan is the second part of a two-part report about how TV shows are sold. The first part was published in the August 21st issue. It includes five stories. One is about a potential client for Ben Casey who opted not to buy into the series after his son fainted while watching the pilot, which included a scene in which a needle is inserted into a girl’s back. Ben Casey went on to be a huge success and the client blamed his son for causing him to reject the show.
Another story involves an unnamed low-level executive at one of the networks who came up with an idea for a TV series and schemed to get it on the air. While the network’s vice president for programming was on vacation, the executive was able to generate enough outside interest through the help of friends in the media and advertising agencies that a pilot was filmed, a sponsor found, and the idea went on the air. Surfside 6, Hickey and Finnigan reveal, was devised during an hour-long phone conversation between Dick Pinkham (of the Ted Bates advertising agency) and William T. Orr (of Warner Brothers TV).
Melvin Durslag’s “Football Is Best Of All” is a two-page profile of Arthur Modell, owner of the Cleveland Browns. He insists that football is the only good sport on television. Baseball is too slow while basketball is too repetitive. Hockey would be fine but the puck is too small and boxing could rule all sports but lacks any big names to draw viewers. The bulk of the article discusses how Modell started his own TV production company and earned enough to buy the Browns in 1961. He worries that TV revenue may disappear at any time so this year he raised the price of tickets by a dollar. Durslag points out that “Such gestures, of course, help make pro football even more ideal to those watching at home for nothing.”
“A Sentimental Farewell” by Benny Rubin is a three-page personal essay about the end of The Jack Benny Program and, decades earlier, the start of Rubin and Benny’s friendship. Rubin was too distraught after taping the last TV episode to stick around for a party afterwards. He couldn’t understand why Jack Benny had to go and get into a fight with former CBS-TV president Jim Aubrey over time slots and then decide to switch networks. [The Jack Benny Program moved from CBS to NBC for the 1964-1965 season.] CBS then went and aired repeats of the series, effectively flooding the market. He didn’t say any of this to Benny, of course, but did leave before the party started.
Rubin first met Benny some 45 years earlier when Jack Benny still went by Ben K. Benny. The two became fast friends and worked together often. When Benny started his radio show he realized he didn’t have enough material and came to Rubin. They cobbled together enough jokes for two weeks. Then they turned to Harry Conn for jokes. When Conn wanted more money, Benny and Rubin and a few others “held a council of war” and chose Ed Beloin and Bill Morrow to start writing scripts. According to Rubin the real Jack Benny is truly generous, sensitive to criticism (but needs it from his writers), has a temper, and is kind.
The fourth and final article is a one-page profile of actress Sallie Brophy. She co-starred in NBC’s Western Buckskin from 1958 to 1959. The network started airing repeats of the series this past summer. Brophy feels she’s living the part now, married with two children. After the series ended she moved to Paris for a few months, then moved back to New York City to find a husband. She married George J.W. Goodman in 1961. She feels marriage and maternity have made her a better actress, although she doesn’t act much these days. “There was such a difference in working,” she explains. “I wasn’t seeking applause or love. I just relaxed and enjoyed myself. I’m a better actress because I’m not so tense. [Brophy’s final acting role was a January 1965 episode of Slattery’s People.]
The “As We See It” editorial this week addresses the TvQ organization and its Program Idea Quotient (PIQ). TvQ conducted a survey of 2,000 potential viewers and determined that four age groups are excited about the new TV shows premiering in the fall: boys 6-11, boys 12-17, girls 6-11, and girls 12-17. Younger viewers gave more new show ideas higher PIQs than adults. That doesn’t mean all those new shows will succeed. “Besides the basic idea of a show, its execution, the time slot, competition and other factors contribute to its success or failure. So the kiddies aren’t entirely in charge. Yet.”
Cleveland Amory reviews The Virginian this week. The four-year-old Western debuted to promises of “full character development and expanded story-telling opportunity” due to its 90-minute running time. That’s all well and good, says Amory, but it means “the character gets to be so fully developed that he can survive physically only if he has a chance to rest every other week and appear in only about half the shows.” In other words, if viewers don’t mind watching episodes focusing on other characters, they’ll probably enjoy The Virginian. The cast might have problems keeping track of all the different characters and plot lines, however.
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- Leland Hayward, Rhoda Roberts, and Kenneth Jacobson, all formerly involved with That Was The Week That Was, are working on a Broadway musical called Hot September.
- Perle Mesta, Washington’s “Hostess with the Mostest,” will host a real life reception in the capital for actress Inger Stevens on November 1st, the same day the wedding episode of The Farmer’s Daughter airs.
- The 13th Annual Deb Star Ball will air on ABC on January 7th, 1966. It will feature ten starlets selected by Hollywood hairdressers and makeup artists.
- The ABC evening news with Peter Jennings is currently seen on 119 ABC stations, the most ever to air an ABC News show.
- Robert Horton will sing the theme song to his ABC Western A Man Called Shenandoah, having written new lyrics to the song “Oh Shenandoah.”
- Ernest Borgnine will play McHale’s Italian cousin on McHale’s Navy this season, after the series shifts to Italy.
- Tim Considine of My Three Sons is engaged to actress Charlotte Stewart.
- Fred Astaire will play a pool shark in four consecutive episodes of Dr. Kildare this season.
Rounding out the national section are two picture features, including the aforementioned Lucille Ball picture feature. The other is an overview of the cast and plot of Peyton Place. There is also the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There are just two news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- It was too dangerous for TV crews to cover the riots in Los Angeles [the Watts riots] in mid-August. But a helicopter from independent station KTLA was able to provide aerial footage to the networks. Police officers and the National Guard watched the coverage and used it to keep track of new outbreaks of violence. The helicopter’s crew, announcer-pilot Larry Scheer and engineer-cameraman Harold Morby, were fired on but nevertheless continued to provide coverage while remaining as low as 500 feet.
- The annual stockholders meeting of Desilu Productions on August 17th was lively due to a confrontation between Lucille Ball and John Gilbert. John and his brother Lewis are “veteran hecklers of management at stockholders meetings.” He wanted to know why Ball is paid $500,000 a year. He was nearly thrown out by police but Ball intervened. He then was able to force a vote on two issues and lost 850,000 shares to 60.
The letters page includes just four letters. One is a lengthy letter from a reader who believes he was involved with a television experiment in 1920:
I am not 80 years old, and I often wonder if my face and voice may not have been the first ever seen or heard over a television hookup. On Feb. 2, 1920, I resigned as minister of the Unitarian church in Brooklyn to become an assistant New York Telephone Co. commercial engineer at 15 Dey St., New York City. On my first day of employment, Mr. H. R. Gabay, general commercial engineer, sent me to the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. building at 195 Broadway to assist in a new-fangled experiment. Telephone engineers had hooked up a line between the 15 Dey St. and the 24 Walker St. telephone buildings to see if a picture and a talking voice could be successfully transmitted simultaneously over the same wire connection. They specified that they wanted someone who wouldn’t panic if asked to talk in the presence of flood lights, recording instruments and a dozen hovering engineers. Mr. Gabay–because of my ministerial experience, I presume–thought I should qualify. My face and voice were visible and audible to me and people at both ends of the hookup. The experiment was pronounced a success, though I was a bit horrified at the pimply-saffron reproduction of myself on a glass-faced box beside me. Nonetheless, this experiment may have been the infant cry of a tremendous new industry–television.
Joseph Addison Kyle
An editorial note followed: “This experiment apparently was separate from those of C. F. Jenkins and V. K. Zworykin, which were being run at approximately the same time. Mr. Kyle could not recall who conducted the A.T.&T. experiments.”
There was also a letter lamenting the lack of baseball games on television while “top teams are battling for the League lead” in favor of football games. Another reader wrote in to criticize Cleveland Amory’s August 14th review of Perry Mason (“Mr. Amory wouldn’t know a good show if it walked up and bit him”). The fourth and final letter was a response to the August 14th “As We See It” editorial in which TV Guide stated commercial breaks during late movies aired 10-12 minutes apart (“You’re lucky. I timed the ones I watch at two minutes of commercials every six minutes”).
The TV Listings
[This was the seventh issue I had to purchase to fill a hole in my collection. It is the second North Texas Edition issue I’ve acquired, with listings for nine stations in five markets. 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 very familiar with these stations. All of the stations were in the Central Time Zone, so prime time in 1965 started at 6:30PM rather than 7:30PM.]
The networks continued their coverage of the Gemini V space flight on Saturday, August 28th. A note in the listings section explained how the launch was delayed until last Saturday (August 21st). ABC planned to air one-minute reports on the hour as well as a half-hour update at 10AM. CBS scheduled visual streamers during regular programs with a five-minute update at 5:30PM. NBC would air at least 10 one-minute reports and a half-hour report at 10:30PM. At 12PM, ABC aired a baseball game between the Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins. At 1:30PM, CBS aired an exhibition football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Chicago Bears. ABC’s Wide World of Sports at 4PM featured the Little League World Series, taped earlier in the day.
Gemini V was scheduled to splashdown at 7:50AM on Sunday, August 29th. The networks went on the air at different times that morning. NBC planned to start its coverage at 5AM, ABC at 6AM, and CBS at 6:30AM. The amount of network programming pre-empted that morning and afternoon depends on how long the coverage lasted. CBS planned to air another exhibition football game at 12PM, this one between the Browns and the Detroit Lions. At 2:30PM, ABC was scheduled to air the final round of the American Golf Classic live from Akron, OH. [President Johnson held a news conference at 12:30PM ET that was carried by ABC and NBC. CBS stayed with its scheduled football game with a streamer on screen providing highlights of the President’s remarks.] At 10:15PM, ABC aired a half-hour wrap-up report on Gemini V.
The rest of the week was relatively quiet. The final five episodes of the original incarnation of The Price Is Right aired Monday through Friday from 10:30-11AM on ABC. The following week, ABC’s new hour-long talk show The Young Set premiered from 10-11AM.
On Monday, August 30th at 6:30PM, NBC aired the final repeat of its cancelled sitcom Karen, formerly part of the ill-fated 90 Bristol Court. At 7:30PM, Summer Playhouse on CBS presented “Take Him, He’s All Yours” starring Eve Arden. [The unsold pilot originally aired on Vacation Playhouse on July 20th, 1964.] From 9-10PM CBS repeated its “National Drivers Test” special. [It originally aired on May 24th, 1965.]
NBC aired the last repeat of Mr. Novak from 6:30-7PM on Tuesday, August 31st. On Friday, September 3rd at 8:30PM, Vacation Playhouse on CBS featured “Cap’n Ahab,” an unsold pilot in which a dead sea caption leaves his parrot to his two nieces.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- Special: Pro Football – Rams/Bears (CBS, Saturday at 1:30PM)
- Special: Pro Football – Browns/Lions (CBS, Sunday at 12:00PM)
- Special: American Golf Classic (ABC, Sunday at 2:30PM)
- Special: National Drivers Test (CBS, Monday at 9:00PM, Repeat)
- Dr. Kildare – “Tyger, Tyger…” (NBC, Thursday at 7:30PM, Repeat)
[See the July 24th, 1965 issue for details on stations listed in the North Texas Edition of TV Guide.]
It was a quiet week locally as well. Stations were impacted for the last time by network Gemini V coverage during the weekend. Saturday evening was filled with local music programs like Singin’ Tim in Dixie on KAUZ-TV (Channel 6) at 5AM, Porter Wagoner on KFDX-TV (Channel 3) at 6PM, and Cowtown Jamoree on KTVT from 6:30-7:30PM. KTVT also aired Grand Ole Opry from 8-9PM.
Many of the religious programs scheduled for Sunday morning were likely pre-empted for Gemini V coverage, although it is possible stations decided to air their regular church services instead. From 12-5PM, independent station KTVT aired a baseball double header: Astros vs. Pittsburgh and Spurs vs. Amarillo. At 3:30PM, KAUZ-TV aired an hour-long special called “Shari-Go-Round” in which Shari Lewis celebrated her 10th anniversary on television. The variety show was taped at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. [This was likely a syndicated special.]
On Monday, WBAP-TV (Channel 5) pre-empted NBC’s Karen and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. from 6:30-8PM in favor of a live local panel discussion called “Four Services.” The color special was moderated by Bill Smith and featured officers from all branches of the Armed Services taking questions from parents and discussing what they have to offer recruits.
KAUZ-TV pre-empted “The National Drivers Test” special from 9-10PM to air a repeat of My Living Doll and an installment of its local America! series. The station instead aired “The National Drivers Test” on Tuesday from 10:30-11:30PM.
Here’s an advertisement for ABC’s new Wednesday line-up premiering September 15th on WFAA-TV (Channel 8):
Advertisement for ABC’s New Wednesday Lineup on WFAA-TV (Channel 8) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Here’s an advertisement for Donna’s Notebook weekdays on KAUZ-TV (Channel 6):
Advertisement for Donna’s Notebook on KAUZ-TV (Channel 6) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Here’s an advertisement for network and local color programming on WBAP-TV (Channel 5):
Advertisement for network and local color programming on WBAP-TV (Channel 5) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.