As part of my third annual Lost TV Day here at Television Obscurities, I’ve put together another “lost” TV case study. The amount of programming broadcast by the Big Three television networks is staggering. That’s why this case study covers one day of programming from one network. The goal is not to definitively prove whether a certain episode survives but to illustrate how difficult researching lost television is. Last year, I explored the status of CBS programming from Tuesday, October 20th, 1964. Today, I’m examining ABC’s programming from Thursday, January 12th, 1961.
Thursday, January 12, 1961 on ABC
Throughout the 1960s, Broadcasting magazine published quarterly “TV Showsheets” that broke down network programming by day and time and sponsors. Included were daytime and evening programs. Other sources include television listings published in The New York Times, and The Hartford Courant.
Take a look at what ABC aired on Thursday, January 12th, 1961:
11:00AM Morning Court
11:30AM Love That Bob (repeat)
12:30PM Beat the Clock
1:00PM About Faces
1:30-2PM No Network Service
2:00PM Day in Court
2:30PM Road To Reality
3:00PM Queen For a Day
3:30PM Who Do You Trust?
4:00PM American Bandstand
5:30PM Rocky & His Friends
6:00PM ABC Evening Report
6:15-7:30PM No Network Service
7:30PM Guestward, Ho!
8:00PM The Donna Reed Show
8:30PM The Real McCoys
9:00PM My Three Sons
9:30PM The Untouchables
10:30PM Take a Good Look
11:00PM-1AM No Network Service
NOTE #1: The “TV Network Showsheet” published in the January 9th, 1961 issue of Broadcasting magazine has game show Number, Please airing from 12:30-1PM on ABC. Other sources indicate Number, Please debuted on Tuesday, January 31st, 1961.
NOTE #2: ABC filled the 5:30-6PM time slot with three different programs: repeats of The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin on Mondays and Fridays; Rocky & His Friends on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and repeats of The Lone Ranger on Wednesdays.
NOTE #3: During the 1960-1961, ABC only programmed the 7-7:30PM ET time slot on Tuesdays when it aired the travel documentary series Expedition!
Do These Programs Survive Today?
Assuming the above schedule is accurate, ABC offered 10.25 hours of network programming on Thursday, January 12th, 1961. How many of those 10.25 hours still survive more than six decade later? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Proving something doesn’t exist is difficult, if not impossible in most cases. For this study, I searched the online databases of the largest TV museums and archives (The Library of Congress, The Paley Center for Media, The Museum of Broadcast Communications, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive) plus the Peabody Awards Collection and Archival Television Audio, Inc.
Daytime: Mostly Lost?
It is often extra challenging to pin down the status of daytime programming. That’s the case with nearly all the daytime programming ABC aired on Thursday, January 12th, 1961. Morning Court ran daily on weekdays from October 1960 to May 1961. I found no extant episodes and no surviving audio. A search of the United States Copyright Office found no results from 1978 to present, suggesting no one ever renewed the copyright for the episodes. I couldn’t find the production company or companies responsible for Morning Court.
Love That Bob was the title The Bob Cummings Show ran under in daytime syndication on ABC from October 1959 to December 1961. Although not available on DVD in its entirety, there is no reason to believe any episodes of The Bob Cummings Show are lost. Copyright on most or all episodes was most recently renewed in 2004 by Vivendi Universal Entertainment, which merged with General Electric that same year to form NBC Universal.
Wikipedia claims three episodes of game shows Camouflage exist, including two held by the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The January 8th, 1962 episode was uploaded to YouTube in 2010 while the April 27th, 1962 episode is held by UCLA. The third surviving episode, also at UCLA, is an unidentified episode from either 1961 or 1962. Maybe it’s the January 12th, 1961 episode! Archival Television Audio has the audio from the May 25th, 1962 episode in its collection.
The ABC daytime version of Beat the Clock aired from October 1958 to January 1961. Although both The Paley Center for Media and the UCLA Film & Television Archive have episodes of the earlier CBS prime time version, there appear to be no extant episodes of ABC’s daytime version at any of the big TV museums and archives. The September 23rd, 1960 episode is available on YouTube, however.
At least two episodes of game show About Faces exist: a pilot episode from May 1959 (held by both the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Paley Center for Media) and the January 4th, 1960 episode (held by the UCLA Film & Television Archive).
The UCLA Film & Television Archive has 18 episodes of dramatized court show Day in Court in its collection, including an unidentified episode. The series ran from October 1958 to February 1965 so the odds the unidentified episode is the January 12th, 1961 episode are low but anything is possible. The Peabody Awards Collection holds the December 17th, 1959 episode.
Information about daytime serial Road To Reality is practically nonexistent, much like the show itself. The half-hour drama, apparently ABC’s first scripted daytime series, premiered in October 1960. John Beal starred as a therapist and each episode saw six actors playing patients attending group therapy. The series remained on the air through March 1961. The UCLA Film & Television Archive has two episodes in its collection, the November 7th, 1960 episode and an unidentified episode that could be the episode that aired on January 12th, 1961.
The ABC daytime version of Queen for a Day ran from September 1960 to October 1964. The UCLA Film & Television Archive has nine episodes in its collection but not the episode that aired on January 12th, 1961. The Paley Center for Media holds several unidentified episodes.
Game show Who Do You Trust? ran from September 1957 to December 1963. It was called Do You Trust Your Wife? until July 1958. Johnny Carson served as host until September 1962 when he left to host The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (bringing Ed McMahon with him). A number of episodes survive at the UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Paley Center for Media but many of them are unidentified. One of them could have aired on January 12th, 1961.
That brings us to American Bandstand. The long-running music program debuted locally in 1952 on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia. It moved to ABC daytime in 1957 where it remained until 1987 when it moved to first-run syndication for the 1987-1988 season. One final partial season aired on USA Network during 1989. Overall, American Bandstand produced more than 3,000 episodes.
It’s unlikely anyone outside of Dick Clark Productions knows how many of those episodes survive. In 2010, the Dick Clark Media Archives launched a searchable licensing website that is no longer online. Penske Media Eldridge bought Dick Clark Productions in January 2023 and presumably now owns whatever film and videotape assets of American Bandstand still exist. I was unable to find a copy of the January 12th, 1961 episode anywhere.
Rocky and His Friends debuted on ABC in November 1959. It moved to NBC in September 1961 and was renamed The Bullwinkle Show. It remained on NBC until June 1964. According to Wikipedia, during its five seasons on network television, the show aired 163 episodes and 815 segments. Although every episode has been released on DVD, including the January 12th, 1961 episode, the DVD do not contain the complete, original network versions of the episodes. I don’t know enough about Rocky and His Friends to say whether particular portions of the episodes, including the one that aired on January 12th, 1961, are missing.
From 6-6:15PM ET, ABC aired its nightly newscast, ABC Evening Report with anchor Bill Shadel. There is little reason to believe this installment, or any from the 1960s, survive today.
Prime Time: Most (Or All) Survives
ABC’s prime time programming on Thursday, January 12th, 1961 fares better than its daytime programming. The Donna Reed Show, The Real McCoys, My Three Sons, and The Untouchables all survive in their entirety. There have been DVD releases for all of these shows, although not every season of every show is available.
Guestward, Ho! has never been officially released on any format but there’s no reason to believe any of the episodes are lost. Copyright registration on all 38 episodes was renewed by Paramount Pictures Corporation and CBS Studios, Inc. in 2006, which strongly suggests one of these companies has the original film elements.
The one question mark from prime time is game show Take a Good Look, created and hosted by Ernie Kovacs. Shout! Factory released 49 surviving episodes of Take a Good Look on DVD back in October 2017. I’ve been unable to find a list of which episodes are included. Can anyone who owns the DVD set confirm whether or not it contains the January 12th, 1961 episode?
I spent a few hours putting together this case study. I did simple research for each show, not exhaustive searches. Attempting to track down a single episode of any of the daytime programs broadcast by ABC on Thursday, January 12th, 1961 would require significantly more time and effort.
There is a very good chance nearly all of the daytime programs aired by ABC on January 12th, 1961 are lost. Although unidentified episodes of some of these shows are in the collections of the UCLA Film & Television Archive or The Paley Center for Media, without reliable records it may not be possible to identify them.