“Lost” TV Case Study: Saturday, April 16th, 1966 (NBC)

I’ve written another “lost” TV case study as part of the fourth annual Lost TV Day at Television Obscurities. Because the amount of programming broadcast by the Big Three television networks is staggering, these case studies only cover 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.

Check out my previous “lost” TV case studies:

“Lost” TV Case Study: Tuesday, October 20, 1964 (CBS)
“Lost” TV Case Study: Thursday, January 12, 1961 (ABC)

Today, I’m taking a look at NBC’s programming from Saturday, April 16th, 1966.

Saturday, April 16th, 1966 on NBC

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, The Evening Independent [St. Petersburg, FL], and The Hartford Courant.

Take a look at what NBC aired on Saturday, April 16th, 1966:

 8:00AM-9AM No Network Service
 9:00AM The Jetsons (repeat)
 9:30AM Atom Ant
10:00AM Secret Squirrel
10:30AM Underdog
11:00AM Topcat (repeat)
11:30AM Fury (repeat)
12:00PM The First Look
12:30PM Exploring
 1:00PM-2PM No Network Service
 2:00PM Major League Baseball [to conclusion]
 5:00PM No Network Service
 5:30PM Golf with Sam Snead
 6:00PM-6:30PM No Network Service
 6:30PM The Scherer-MacNeil Report
 7:00PM-7:30PM No Network Service
 7:30PM Flipper
 8:00PM I Dream of Jeannie
 8:30PM Get Smart
 9:00PM-11:00PM Saturday Night at the Movies
11:00PM-11:15PM No Network Service
11:15PM-1:00AM The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (repeat)

NOTE: The “TV Network Showsheet” published in the April 11th, 1966 issue of Broadcasting magazine does not give programming or “No Network Service” for NBC from 6-6:30PM or 7-7:30PM. For the purposes of this study, I’m assuming there was no network service during those times.

What Survives Today?

NBC offered 16 network programs running approximately 13.25 hours on Saturday, April 16th, 1966. I say approximate because I don’t know how long afternoon baseball game ran or whether the network filled time before it started and/or after it ended, if it ran short. As I’ve explained in my earlier case studies, it’s not easy to prove something doesn’t exist. That means it’s hard to say how much of NBC’s programming from Saturday, April 16th, 1966 survives today or what programs are lost.

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.

Saturday Morning Cartoons

NBC aired 2.5 hours of cartoons on Saturday morning from 8-11:30AM, all of which are relatively well-known: The Jetsons, Atom Ant, Secret Squirrel, Underdog, and Top Cat. Both The Jetsons and Top Cat were repeats of prime time programs that originally aired on ABC. All of these shows have been released on DVD and some are currently airing on digital specialty networks MeTV or MeTV Toons.

From things I’ve read over the years, an issue with some Saturday morning cartoons is how they were edited for syndication. The original broadcast versions may have featured different opening credits or entirely different segments than versions later aired in local syndication or on cable. I can’t say whether the episodes of these shows available on DVD or airing on MeTV or MeTV Toons match the episodes as aired on NBC on Saturday, April 16th, 1966.

I’m including Fury here, even though it was live-action and not a cartoon. The series ran on NBC from 1955 to 1960 on Saturday mornings before production ended. The network then ran repeats until September 1966. Although only the first season has been released on DVD in the United States, the complete series has been released on DVD in Germany. So, the episodes survive and are available.

Early Afternoon Educational Programs: Lost?

The First Look and Exploring, two half-hour educational programs aimed at children, aired from 12-1PM. Exploring premiered in October 1962 with Dr. Albert R. Hibbs, a physicist who worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Originally running an hour, it was cut back to thirty minutes in October 1965. The First Look debuted in October 1965 with Oscar Brand, Jackie Washington, Neil Jones, and Sally Sheffield as hosts. Both shows were discontinued at the end of the 1965-1966 season.

Neither of these shows are entirely lost but I’ve only found evidence that a handful of episodes from each show survive. The Paley Center for Media has three episodes of Exploring in its collection, two of which are undated. The third is dated 1962. The University of Maryland Libraries Special Collections and University Archives holds in its collection the papers of Craig B. Fisher, producer of Exploring. Included are seven episodes of Exploring on 16 mm film, only three of which have specific dates.

Major League Baseball and Golf With Sam Snead: Lost?

When I picked the date for this case study, I didn’t know it included the debut of NBC’s Major League Baseball coverage on Saturday afternoons. The games were broadcast live and in color. On Saturday, April 16th most of the country watched the New York Yankees take on the Baltimore Orioles. Viewers in New York City and Baltimore, where local blackout rules were in force, watched the St. Louis Cardinals face the Pittsburgh Pirates instead.

I am not an expert on televised sports so I don’t know if any of the baseball games NBC broadcast in 1966 survive. I doubt they do, however, because NBC or Major League Baseball likely saw no value in keeping videotape or kinescope recordings of the games. According to Wikipedia (without attribution), the earliest complete “Game of the Week” telecast is the July 12th, 1969 game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs.

Golf With Sam Snead debuted on Saturday, March 26th, 1966. An instructional golf program, each of the 13 episodes saw Snead helping another golfer with their technique by offering tips and tricks. I don’t believe additional episodes were produced after the initial batch. I’ve found little information about the show nor evidence that any episodes survive.

A similiar show, titled The Sam Snead Golf Show, aired from April to August 1967 on ABC, also on Saturdays.

The Scherer-MacNeil Report: Lost?

The Scherer-MacNeil Report debuted on Saturday, October 23rd, 1965 on NBC, airing from 6:30-7PM ET. It was the first half-hour Saturday news program on television. The anchors were Ray Scherer, reporting from Washington, D.C., and Robert MacNeil, reporting from New York City. It remained on the air until The Frank McGee Saturday Report replaced it on Saturday, May 20th, 1967.

As is the case with most TV news programs from the 1960s, there’s a good chance very little survives from The Scherer-MacNeil Report. It pre-dates the establishment of the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, which began recording nightly network newscasts in August 1968. The Getty Images NBC News Archive appears to have a handful of segments from The Scherer-MacNeil Report.

Prime Time: All Survives

NBC’s prime time schedule on Saturday, April 16th, 1966 consisted of sitcoms Flipper, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart followed by The NBC Saturday Night at the Movies. On this particular Saturday, NBC aired the 1957 movie Spanish Affair starring Richard Kiley. While the movie doesn’t appear to have received an official release on home video, unless informed otherwise I assume the original film negatives exist. What may be lost are the opening credits, bumpers, or other material created by NBC specifically for this broadcast.

Late Night: Lost?

In January 1965, NBC began airing repeats of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson on Saturday nights under the name The Saturday Night Tonight Show. Unfortunately, I don’t know which episode NBC aired on Saturday, April 16th, 1966. However, I can say it most likely no longer survives. Reportedly only around 30 complete episodes of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson broadcast before May 1972 survive today.

Conclusion

Of the 16 network programs NBC broadcast on Saturday, April 16th, 1966, there’s reason to believe six are missing and possibly lost. However, I conducted only a brief online search for these programs, not an exhaustive search.

Although I discovered that several episodes of both The First Look and Exploring survive, I was unable to confirm that the episodes aired on this date survive.

The two baseball games NBC broadcast are likely lost. Golf With Sam Snead may survive somewhere but it’s also possible the original film elements were discarded and all 16 mm prints destroyed. Some segments of The Scherer-MacNeil Report survive but not necessarily from this date. Like most newscasts from the 1960s, NBC likely didn’t see any reason to save it.

Finally, there’s the repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson that NBC aired on Saturday, April 16th, 1966. With so few surviving episodes from before May 1972, the odds of whichever episode NBC rebroadcast surviving are slim.


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4 Replies to ““Lost” TV Case Study: Saturday, April 16th, 1966 (NBC)”

  1. In the section Prime Time: All Survive you categorize Flipper as being a sitcom. However, the original 1960s version is an adventure series, aimed mainly towards children. Not all half-hour shows are sitcoms.

  2. A friend of mine into sports and a Cubs fan has told me the oldest complete baseball game is the one you mention. It was one that a film copy had been sent to Viet Nam for the troops to watch, no idea how it survived and no others did.

  3. oh… so there are plenty of choices fors earching for lost tv news broadcasts.. ESPECIALLY IN THE MID 1960s– thnigs wre changing SO fast;// also wnet 13 nyc has unbounded choices for sources of broadcasts by date,,, especially with education. childrens broadcasts– so go look.. pk… besides its most rewarding being your own private detective,,,,,

  4. “No Network Service” would have been time for local programming. The 6pm and 11pm slots would have most likely been local news as they tend to be today, although the 11pm tends to be a full half-hour now. 7pm could have been a syndicated game show.

    The interesting thing about the Late Night episode is that it’s a repeat, meaning that a recorded would have had to exist at some time.

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