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 7th, 1965
Vol. 13, No. 32, Issue #645
Eastern New England Edition
On the Cover: Gene Barry (photograph by Jim Collison).
This week’s cover article is noteworthy because it isn’t a typical profile of a television personality (in this case Gene Barry) but instead an article discussing why ABC’s Burke’s Law is being revamped for the 1965-1966 season as Amos Burke, Secret Agent. It was the network that suggested changing the tone of the series from a straight cop drama to a spy thriller. Tom McDermott, president of production company Four Star Television, insists that it wasn’t a response to the success of NBC’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and promises that Amos Burke, Secret Agent will “be more realistic and hard-hitting” without the “Mickey Mouse” elements.
Front Cover – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Barry agrees: “We’re an adult show, and next year we’ll be more adult–no gimmickry for the sake of gimmickry–strong stories that will grip you.” According to head writer Marc Brandel, the revamped series will “keep a firm hold on reality” with plots involving Charles De Gaulle and Nikita Khrushchev rather than fictional heads of state. But it will avoid “political plots” and attempts to push messages on viewers.
Producer Aaron Spelling repeated the no “Mickey Mouse” promise:
We want to keep the show on a high plane, and stay away from the Mickey Mouse situation. We won’t have Burke pull out a tooth and throw a bomb. We hope to be more cerebral than that. We’re gonna do stories that are fantastic, bigger-than-life, but plausible. We’ve got one about a guy who plans to rob New York, and another where a fellow blackmails the United States–and gets away with it.
Eddie Applegate, head of Four Star’s prop department, also spoke out against “Mickey Mouse” gimmickry. “I can’t stand scenes where someone walks into a delicatessen and the guy picks up a baloney which opens a secret door to this fantastically modern headquarters.” [Maybe Amos Burke, Secret Agent should have been a little more “Mickey Mouse.” The revamped series was a failure, running for just 17 episodes from September 1965 to January 1966.]
“Looking for a Pearl Peeler?” is an interesting article about researcher Kellam de Forest and the Kellam de Forest Research Service. He started the company in the early 1950s, setting up shop at Desilu Studios. His clients range from independent television production companies to individual TV writers to architects designing a new theme park. De Forest’s office holds more than 5,000 books. His staff consists of three young women who help him research anything from cigarette brands and fine vintages of French burgundy to names of characters and what day of the week a certain date in the future will fall on. The company has done research for more than 40 TV shows including I Love Lucy, The Richard Boone Show, The Twilight Zone, Profiles in Courage, Dr. Kildare, and Kentucky Jones.
Neil Hickey’s three-page article “He Plays It — Commercial” is a profile of trumpeter Al Hirt, currently starring in a 13-week CBS summer replacement for Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine. Much of the article is the typical TV Guide profile chronicling Hirt’s career. Hickey touches upon criticism of Hirt from jazz purists who insist he is “the Liberace of the trumpet,” something Hirt himself will readily agree with. “I don’t consider myself a jazz player at all. I’m not out of the Dixieland tradition. I’m commercial.”
Al Hirt’s Fanfare debuted on June 19th. The variety show has a very limited budget. It is the first independent series to be produced by Sullivan Productions, headed by Ed Sullivan and his son-in-law Bob Precht. The hope is that if the show is a success, Sullivan Productions can push CBS to renew it “as a regular-season prime-time entry with a big budget–perhaps next January, after the weak shows have dropped out. We’ll be waiting around like vultures looking for a spot.” [It must not have been a success; Al Hirt’s Fanfare was not renewed.]
Finally, there is a three-page article about NBC producer Lucy Jarvis titled “Madison Avenue’s Miss Machiavelli.” Jarvis was responsible for convincing the Soviet Union to allow NBC to film in the Kremlin and French officials to let the network film in the Louvre. She was sent to Russia in June 1962 to commence negotiations and spent two months using “sheer manipulative wile” to move up the chain of Soviet bureaucracy, finally meeting face to face with Khrushchev who agreed to arrange everything for her. The same process worked for the Louvre as well. She started with a book publisher, moved to the chief curator of the Louvre and eventually got all the way to the French Minister of Culture.
Of course, both the Soviets and the French had their own motives for cooperating. Still, both “The Kremlin” (aired May 21st, 1963), which Jarvis co-produced, and “The Louvre: Golden Prison” (aired November 17, 1964), which she produced on her own, were well received by critics. Jarvis, however, has her detractors. There are those who feel she’s too aggressive and likes to drop too many famous names. Her next project? A documentary about artificial kidneys.
The “As We See It” editorial this week compares reviews of Broadway’s past season to television, suggesting that theater critics are making the same arguments about the quality of plays that television critics make about TV shows. The only difference? Theater critics blame the audience while television critics blame the networks. “If anything, we suspect that the theater critics are more realistic. The audience, whether it be buying tickets or tuning dials, is responsible for what it sees.”
Cleveland Amory reviews Daniel Boone and is not kind with his criticism. “If you’re a small child,” he writes, “and you love Westerns, and you haven’t got anything else to do, you’ll just about be able to stand it.” He doesn’t like the acting or the writing or the characters. “All in all, the good guys on this show are such bad actors that one way we have found to enjoy it is to root for the bad guys, who are, at least sometimes, good actors. This isn’t a foolproof method, however.”
News from the Hollywood and New York TV Teletype columns:
- The third Xerox/United Nations special, “Once Upon a Tractor,” will air September 9th on ABC. It features Alan Bates, Diane Cilento, Buddy Hackett, Melvyn Douglas, and Albert Dekker.
- Margaret Hamilton of The Wizard of Oz fame will play Granny Frump on The Addams Family.
- Television will get one of its first space villains in the form of a robot on Lost in Space. The “mechanical menace” will be controlled by a bad guy played by Jonathan Harris.
- Dick Van Dyke will host “A Salute to Stan Laurel” on November 23rd on CBS. Among the stars donating talent and time are Lucille Ball, Phil Silvers, Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton, and Audrey Meadows. All proceeds will go to the Motion Picture Relief Fund.
- Nancy Ames will be a regular on The Young Set, ABC’s new daytime talk show.
- CBS Golf Classic will telecast 14 elimination matches from December 25th through March 26th followed by the finals on April 2nd and 3rd. The $166,000 tournament will be played at the La Costa Country Club in Carlsbad, CA.
- Producer Sheldon Leonard will play a bad guy in an episode of I Spy being filmed in Japan.
Rounding out the national section is a recipe for barbecue burgers as well as the regular TV crossword puzzle.
There are four news reports in the “For the Record” column in the listings section this week:
- NBC’s John Chancellor has been appointed head of Voice of America by President Johnson. He will take a pay cut to oversee the global organization that airs 800 hours of news a week in 37 languages.
- NBC has obtained permission to send a production crew, headed by George Vicas, to Irkutsk, Siberia in September to film an hour-long color documentary called “Twenty-four Hours in a Siberian City.” [The special was retitled “Siberia: A Day in Irkutsk” and first aired on July 22nd, 1966.]
- The success of “National Drivers’ Test” on CBS has encouraged NBC to announce it is working on five hour-long mass-testing programs covering aptitudes/interests, political beliefs, prejudice, observation perception, and reading ability. A sixth special will be about testing. CBS, meanwhile, has six more test shows in the works, about aptitudes, current affairs, health, safety, youth, and a new drivers’ test.
- Late last month the Israeli Cabinet approved the establishment of a television system. Previously, the 30,000 set owners could only watch stations in nearby countries, including Egypt.
The letters page includes seven letters, including this lengthy one from a viewer defending her viewing habits:
Before another TV season begins, and the critics begin telling us how stupid the American public is in its choices, I would like to say my little piece. I went to college, my IQ is respectable, and I love good theater, ballet, opera, symphony music and the like. Our home is cluttered to the rafters with good books and we pay outrageous sums for fine records … but heaven deliver me from arty TV. The answer lies in concentration. When we see a legitimate play, a movie, an opera, etc., we go to a hushed and darkened theater, where every motion and every line is clear. But what normal, average household in America is ever that quiet for even one half hour at a time?
Shirley W. Smith
Then there was this letter about The Addams Family:
Why is it that a show about weirdies, The Addams Family, presents the best husband-wife relationship on television? Or have I already answered my own question?
Doris D. Durnan
There were also two letters praising Raymond Burr, who was profiled in the July 24th issue, two letters about the McHale’s Navy cover to the July 17th issue (one positive, one negative), and a letter lamenting poor baseball grammar in response to an article in the July 17th issue.
The TV Listings
[This is the last issue in my 1964-1965 TV Guide collection inherited from a family member. The collection runs from August 1964 to August 1965 rather than from September to September. I’ve purchased copies of several additional issues to continue A Year in TV Guide into September.]
It was another quiet week for the networks. ABC’s regular 2PM baseball game on Saturday, August 7th was once again listed as “To Be Announced.” Summer Playhouse on CBS on Monday, August 9th at 8:30PM presented an unsold sitcom pilot called “Hello Dere!” starring Marty Allen and Steve Rossi as TV reporters trying to land an exclusive interview with a Russian official. Allen pulled double duty and also played the Russian official.
On Wednesday, August 11th from 9-11PM, NBC’s Wednesday Night at the Movies repeated See How They Run, part of the network’s “Project 120” series and generally considered the first made-for-TV movie. It originally aired on October 7th, 1964 (also as part of Wednesday Night at the Movies). From 10:30-11PM that same night, ABC repeated “VD: Epidemic!” on ABC Scope.
The second half of unsold pilot “Luke and the Tenderfoot” aired from 9:30-10PM on CBS on Friday, August 13th as part of Vacation Playhouse. From 10-11PM, NBC pre-empted The Jack Paar Show to carry the 14th annual International Beauty Pageant live from Long Beach, CA. John Forsythe served as host with Byron Palmer narrating. Judges included Virginia Mayo, Alberto Vargas, Jean Louis, Bibi de Sueldo, Gordon Bau, Tom Kelley, and Irvin Mazzei.
Here are the TV Guide close-ups for the week:
- Special: Pro Football, Redskins vs. Eagles (WPRO-TV, Saturday at 2:00PM)
- Lamp Unto My Feet – “Reunification of Mankind” (CBS, Sunday at 10:00AM)
- Special: Philadelphia Classic (Various, Sunday at 4:30PM)
- The Ed Sullivan Show (CBS, Sunday at 8:00PM, Repeat)
- The Alfred Hitchcock Hour – “The Life Work of Juan Diaz” (NBC, Monday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
- The Doctors and the Nurses – “The April Thaw of Dr. Mai” (CBS, Tuesday at 10:00PM, Repeat)
- Special: International Beauty Pageant (NBC, Friday at 10:00PM)
Locally it was a slightly busier week. At 2PM on Saturday, WPRO-TV (Channel 12) aired an exhibition football game between the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles. At 2:30PM, WHDH-TV (Channel 5) aired a baseball game between the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins. At 4:30PM, WPRO-TV aired the Whitney horse race from Saratoga Springs, NY. WTIC-TV (Channel 3) also aired the race, joining coverage in progress at 5PM, while WHDH-TV either joined in progress at 5:30PM or aired the race from tape. At 10:30PM, WNAC-TV (Channel 7) pre-empted the second half of ABC’s The Hollywood Palace to air “The Old Ball Game,” an hour-long documentary about baseball.
On Sunday at 11:30AM, WNHC-TV (Channel 8) aired a salute to Pittsfield, MA on its half-hour Comments and People series. From 12:30-1PM WTIC-TV examined the history and development of the Central Baptist Church in Hartford on We Believe. WPRO-TV aired a Baltimore Colts intersquad football game taped the previous night from 2-4:30PM. Two different baseball games aired at 2PM: another Red Sox-Twins game on WHDH-TV and a game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers on WNHC-TV. At 4:30PM, WBZ-TV (Channel 4) and WPRO-TV aired live coverage of the Philadelphia Golf Classic. WNHC-TV was scheduled to pick up the golf tournament after the Yankees-Tigers baseball game ended.
At 6PM on Sunday, WBZ-TV aired another installment of its half-hour local Massachusetts talent show, with participants from Boston, Springfield, Falmouth Heights, Lawrence, Brockton, Summerville, and Thompson, CT. Also at 6PM, WNHC-TV premiered a new bi-weekly series called Community Salute featuring communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Long Island. The guest on the first program was Mayor Robert Dillon.
On Monday, WGBH-TV (Channel 2) aired a documentary film titled We’re Moving to Boston from 7:30-8PM about two families moving to the South End of Boston. WHDH-TV and WPRO-TV aired a baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox at 8PM on Tuesday. WHDH-TV aired another Orioles-Red Sox game at 7:30PM on Wednesday. WGBH-TV aired a polo match from 7:30-9:30PM on Thursday. WNAC-TV (Channel 7) pre-empted ABC’s Jonny Quest and The Donna Reed Show from 7:30-8:30PM for a special called “Big Night Out” featuring The Beatles, Jackie Trent, and the Lionel Blair dancers.
WBZ-TV pre-empted NBC’s entire lineup on Friday. From 7:30-8PM the station aired a half-hour tribute to former Red Sox player Harry Agganis (who died in 1955) featuring Harold Zimman, Bill Joyce, and Ted Williams. At 8PM, the station aired an exhibition football game between the Boston Patriots and the New York Jets.
Here’s an advertisement for Salty Brine Fun Days presented by WPRO-TV (Channel 12):
Advertisement for Salty Brine Fun Days presented by WPRO-TV (Channel 12) – Copyright 1965 Triangle Publications, Inc.
Here’s an advertisement for The Big News on WNAC-TV (Channel 7):
Advertisement for The Big News on WNAC-TV (Channel 7) – 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 9th, 1965
Capt. Bob sketches another New England scene in colored crayon.
Tuesday, August 10th, 1965
Music of World War II is presented.
Wednesday, August 11th, 1965
Jack Woolner gives suggestions for a family weekend outing.
Thursday, August 12th, 1965
A visit with authors Victor Lasky and Noah Gordon.
Friday, August 13th, 1965
The arts and customs of Spain are illustrated.
That’s it for this week. Hit the comments with your thoughts.