Tales of Lost TV is a monthly column in which I examine a particular TV program or TV series either known or believed to be lost forever. The amount of lost TV is truly staggering–aside from a handful of exceptions everything broadcast prior to 1948 no longer exists. That doesn’t mean it all has to be forgotten.
A Forgotten TV Show from a Forgotten Network
I’ve been researching The Las Vegas Show off and on for over a decade. It’s one of my favorite obscurities from the 1960s. When it celebrated its 50th anniversary earlier this month, I may have been the only person who noticed. In my post about the anniversary, I mentioned the fact that no footage from the series exists. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that The Las Vegas Show is the focus of this month’s Tales of Lost TV column.
Few people remember the late-night variety series, which ran on the United Network in May 1967. An attempt to start a “fourth network,” the United Network folded due to financial pressure after just one month. Hosted by Bill Dana, The Las Vegas Show featured a wide variety of guests. Milton Berle, Connie Francis, Frank Gorshin, Hugh Hefner, Rod Serling, and John Wayne were but a few of the celebrities who appeared on the show.
During May 1967, 23 episodes aired on roughly 100 stations across the country. Reportedly, at least two others were taped but never aired. There are no interview segments extant, no promotional spots, no audio recordings. Only a handful of print advertisements and publicity photographs survive.
An Appeal by Network President Treyz
According to an Associated Press article, United Network president Oliver E. Treyz (formerly president of ABC) appeared in a taped “commercial” during the final episode on Wednesday, May 31st. He talked up the show and its low rates to potential sponsors. It would be very interesting to see this commercial. A network president going on the air to basically beg for money? Who wouldn’t want to watch that?
Check Your Attics & Closets
The Las Vegas Show did not air live. Episodes were taped 24 hours prior to being fed nationally to affiliated stations. The fate of the master videotapes is unknown. When the United Network filed for bankruptcy in June 1967, listed among its assets were the tapes. Sadly, I think it’s more than likely the videotapes were destroyed or discarded at some point over the past five decades.
Many stations tape-delayed some or all of the episodes, recording the national feed for later use. Unfortunately, those stations probably reused the same videotapes. I doubt any station kept copies of The Las Vegas Show in its tape library. But maybe one did. Maybe someone mislabeled or misfiled a videotape.
If you or a family member worked at a TV station in May 1967, maybe look in your closet or in your attic. Who knows? You might find a dusty 2-inch quadruplex videotape with “Las Vegas Show” written on the label. Perhaps one of the celebrity guests requested a videotape of their appearance. It’s improbable, but possible.
Even just one surviving episode–or a portion of an episode–will be a welcome surprise. I believe the longest 2-inch quad videotapes hold 90 minutes of material, which means a two-hour episode of The Las Vegas Show required at least two tapes. Half an episode is better than nothing. If a 30-second promotional spot surfaces, I’ll be over the moon.
Do you remember watching The Las Vegas Show? What are the odds a videotape with has survived the past five decades?