ABC cancelled this kooky sitcom after just four episodes in September 1966 before the first Nielsen ratings of the season were released. Tammy Grimes starred as a wacky heiress prone to wild schemes. Richard Sargent co-starred as her calmer twin brother. Critics hated the show and viewers tuned out.
NOTE: Although ABC broadcast The Tammy Grimes Show in color, copies of the four aired episodes circulating among private collectors are sourced from black and white prints.
One of TV’s Most Famous Flops
In many ways, The Tammy Grimes Show seemed destined for success. It had a lot going for it. The pilot script was written by George Axelrod, who as a playwright penned The Seven Year Itch and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? and as a screenwriter adapted both Breakfast at Tiffany’s and The Manchurian Candidate for the silver screen. William Dozier, the man responsible for Batman, served as executive producer. The star was Tammy Grimes, who won a Tony Award in 1960 for her starring role in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Co-producing would be Alex Gottlieb and Richard Whorf, two men with successful television careers dating back to the 1950s.
Yet despite all the talent and experience behind-the-scenes, The Tammy Grimes Show was a colossal flop when it premiered in September 1966 on ABC, one of the biggest failures television had seen up to that point. It was dead on arrival, universally panned by critics and reportedly lacking network support at the highest levels. ABC yanked the sitcom off the air as soon as possible–so fast, in fact, that the first official Nielsen ratings for the 1966-1967 season were still weeks away from being released. After just four episodes The Tammy Grimes Show was replaced by The Dating Game.
It was one of the fastest cancellations in television history but not quite the fastest. Game show 100 Grand was pulled off the air by ABC after three episodes in September 1963. Jackie Gleason’s game show You’re in the Picture was canned after a single episode in January 1961. NBC sitcom Doc Corkle ran for three episodes in October 1952. Quiz show Who’s Whose was on the air for just one episode in June 1951.
Still, the speed with which ABC cancelled The Tammy Grimes Show was considered highly unusual in 1966. At the time, the networks usually gave even low-rated shows at least 13 weeks before replacing them.
Let’s Give Tammy Grimes A TV Show
By 1965, Tammy Grimes had around a dozen television credits to her name, ranging from appearances on The United States Steel Hour and Kraft Television Theatre in the late 1950s to guest roles on Route 66, The Virginian, and Mr. Broadway in the early-to-mid 1960s. In 1963 she turned down the role of Samantha Stephens on Bewitched, which instead went to Elizabeth Montgomery.
Charles Barry, senior vice president of television and radio at the Young & Rubicam advertising agency was convinced that Grimes could do great things for one of his clients, General Foods, if only she had her own series to star in. Barry was so sure Grimes could be a TV star he bought out her contract with Screen Gems. He then turned to William Dozier to help find a suitable series for her to star in .
Dozier and Grimes were friends and he had urged her to take the starring role in Bewitched. Now he had another chance to get Grimes a TV show. Dozier contacted George Axelrod and asked him to develop potential series concepts . The pilot script that Axelrod eventually wrote was titled “My Twin Sister” and featured four characters: an eccentric heiress, her twin brother, their cheapskate uncle who controls the family fortune, and a wacky housekeeper.
Grimes liked the script, agreed to star, and Dozier reached out to Alex Gottlieb and Richard Whorf to co-produce the pilot for 20th Century-Fox in association with Dozier’s own Greenway Productions. Gottlieb started out as a writer and producer in films in the 1930s before moving to television in the mid-1950s. Whorf was primarily a director, with film credits dating back to the early 1940s and television in the early 1950s.
The name of the pilot was soon changed to “The Tammy Grimes Show” and it was one of four pilot deals 20th Century-Fox had in contention for the 1966-1967 season. Television Magazine reported in September 1965 that the pilot was set up at ABC . In its November 29th issue, however, Broadcasting listed “The Tammy Grimes Show” as an advertiser-backed project with no network affiliation .
Grimes would play kooky Tamantha “Tammy” Ward. Richard Sargent was soon signed to co-star as her twin brother Terence. Joining them were Hiram Sherman as Uncle Simon and Maudie Prickett as Mrs. Ratchett, the housekeeper. The pilot was filmed in December 1965. Guest stars included Howard I. Smith, Jeremy Slate, and Richard Erdman.
Unfortunately, the pilot was not well received. General Foods was so unimpressed that it fled the project. Bristol-Meyers–another Young & Rubicam client–saw potential in the pilot “if more life and fun and believability could be pumped into subsequent segments” and decided to take a chance on a weekly series, convinced that Grimes and the talent of Dozier, Axelrod, and others involved could turn it into a success. The company went to ABC and all but demanded The Tammy Grimes Show be added to the network’s schedule .
Specifically, Bristol-Meyers wanted The Tammy Grimes Show to air Thursdays from 8:30-9PM in between F Troop and Bewitched. Reportedly, ABC had concerns but didn’t feel comfortable refusing such a big sponsor and agreed to pick up the series . When ABC announced its 1966-1967 schedule in March 1966, The Tammy Grimes Show was included .
(Only days before production on the series began on June 16th, Tammy Grimes married Jeremy Slate at William Dozier’s home. Dozier served as best man. The two met while filming the pilot to The Tammy Grimes Show in late 1965 . It was the second marriage for Grimes, who was previously married to Christopher Plummer.)
The Show Must Go On
According to informal polling conducted by Broadcasting, ABC affiliates gave The Tammy Grimes Show “low marks” after seeing presentation films and listening to network officials . But there were always a few new shows affiliates didn’t like and their disapproval didn’t necesarily mean it was doomed to failure. William Dozier certainly wasn’t concerned, calling The Tammy Grimes Show a “showcase for Grimes and “her wonderfully kooky ways” .
Nor did Dozier feel he was spreading himself thin executive producing three shows for ABC during the upcoming season . In addition to The Tammy Grimes Show, Dozier also had another new show, The Green Hornet, and the returning Batman.
The Tammy Grimes Show, co-star Richard Sargent declared, “will be brighter than most TV comedies. It’s an unusual style of high comedy with some things that haven’t been tried before on television. Such as leaving the camera to say something to the audience. Tammy couldn’t have been better cast because she is a kook .
For her part, Grimes seemed pleased with the series but would have liked more rehearsal time. “I love to rehearse,” she explained, “but in television you are a little rushed. I hate that moment after a scene when the director says “Print it.” I’d rather go on rehearsing. Sometimes I wonder about myself. I’d rather rehearse than get on with it.” She also took issue with people who used the term “broad comedy” in relation to the series because “when women do comedy there’s something about them that becomes freakish, clownish. I don’t like that. I want to remain a woman” .
According to co-producer Gottlieb, scenes never quite came out the way they written after Grimes got through rehearsing them. “She has her own way of doing everything — and it’s funny” .
Perhaps because of all that rehearsal, Grimes was of the opinion that her character, Tamantha Ward, became progressively more complex as production continued. “After the first three shows,” she explained, “the character begins to develop better, becomes more subtle. I don’t think of myself as an actress who does high style comedy” . Unfortunately, viewers would never have the chance to see that better developed character.
A Troubled Production
Some “disturbing rumors” circulated during the summer of 1966, rumors suggesting The Tammy Grimes Show was in serious trouble and ABC was already making plans to replace it after just 13 episodes . A report from United Press International that 17 writers were working on scripts perhaps should have raised some red flags that all was not well behind the scenes .
All was definitely not well. Following the pilot episode’s less-than-stellar reception, Dozier, Whorf, and Gottlieb and others involved in producing The Tammy Grimes Show went to work scripting and filming four new episodes they hoped would prove the series had potential. Unfortunately, when the four completed episodes were screened for representatives of ABC, 20th Century-Fox, Bristol-Meyers, and Young & Rubicam, the reaction was very pessimistic .
“It wasn’t like we just had a bad show,” one anonymous participant later told TV Guide. “This was an unfixable show. There was nothing to fix. The whole premise was cockeyed. There was no natural nor well-reasoned flow of events in the stories. The main character wasn’t related properly to the basic premise .
Despite the grim outlook there was little ABC could do. It was too late for the network to make changes to its fall schedule, which it was busy promoting. The Tammy Grimes Show would debut in September as planned and maybe, just maybe, viewers would actually like it.
For the general public, aside from some vague rumblings of discontent, The Tammy Grimes Show was just another new series premiering in the fall. To get a jump on its competition, ABC decided to roll out “Advance Premieres” of most of its new shows beginning Tuesday, September 6th rather than the following week, which CBS and NBC considered premiere week . In response, NBC scheduled “Sneak Previews” of three new shows on Thursday, September 8th (including Star Trek).
To help raise awareness for its fall schedule, ABC designed the ABC Opinion Poll, which took the form of a multiple choice quiz that asked viewers to rate 31 new and returning ABC shows. The choices for The Tammy Grimes Show were “1,000,000,000 Laughs,” “1,000,000 Laughs” or “46 1/2 Laughs.” More than 30 million magazine readers were expected to be exposed to the poll, which was featured in Reader’s Digest, Look, and TV Guide. Some 2,000 prizes were offered. The goal was to involve the public and get them to want to watch ABC .
Critics Hate Show, Love Tammy
The “Advance Premiere” of The Tammy Grimes Show aired on Thursday, September 8th. The plot involved Terence leaving for a two-week training cruise with the Navy Reserve. Tammy somehow got stuck aboard the ship and was forced to impersonate an admiral and later a cook’s assistant, culminating in a comical–and lengthy–chase scene.
Critical reaction was universally negative but most critics refused to disparage Tammy Grimes, instead laying all of the blame for the failure of the series on the producers rather than the star. Grimes was repeatedly praised for her talent which, according to the critics, was completely and utterly wasted on The Tammy Grimes Show.
For example, UPI’s Rick Du Brow called the premiere episode a “banal mess” and denounced the makers of the series for sabotaging and mishandled Grimes. “What is really sad,” he wrote, “is that Miss Grimes has enough charm, talent and comedic ability for any dozen performers. It is incredible how so many important people could have mishandled such talent. Just terrible” .
Jack Gould of The New York Times agreed that Grimes was mishandled, arguing she “enjoys a fragile talent that requires delicate handling and understanding. On her television premiere, unfortunately, she was bundled into the ridiculous situation of a harebrained girl inadvertently carried out to sea on a United States Navy vessel” . The Boston Globe‘s Percy Shain lamented how the network “tried to channel Tammy’s special elfin qualities into the stock mold of TV situation comedy” .
In its November 1966 issue, long after The Tammy Grimes Show went off the air, Television Magazine published its fourth annual survey of television critics. Out of 24 critics involved, 23 of them gave The Tammy Grimes Show a “Bad” rating. Only Jack E. Anderson of The Miami Herald disagreed; he gave it an “Indifferent” rating . No other show got that many “Bad” ratings but It’s About Time on CBS came close with 22 “Bad” ratings and two “Indifferent” ratings.
One memorable but cruel review came from Rex Polier of The Philadelphia Bulletin: “Competition for the worst show on TV is always fierce. I have no hesitation awarding it to the new Tammy Grimes Show” .
Cynthia Lowry’s review of the second episode, aired September 15th, was no better than reviews of the premiere: “Miss Grimes, a fine stage comedienne, has a distinctive style but it does not seem to adapt itself very well to television” .
The Very Sinkable Tammy Grimes
Early ratings for the September 8th “Advance Premiere” of The Tammy Grimes Show were not entirely discouraging. The episode received a Trendex rating of 14.7 which was actually an improvement on its lead-in (F Troop, 13.4 rating) but its 31.1 share of the audience was slightly lower (F Troop averaged a 32.0 share) . It placed second in its time slot according to overnight Trendex ratings, behind the first half of NBC’s sneak preview of Star Trek. However, its competition on CBS was a repeat of My Three Sons.
The following week, on September 15th, The Tammy Grimes Show dropped to a 11.9 Trendex rating and a 22.4 share, making it not only a weak third in its time slot but also one of the lowest rated programs on any network that evening .
On September 23rd, the day after the third episode aired, The New York Times revealed that ABC was considering pulling the plug on The Tammy Grimes Show. At that point a total of 10 episodes had been completed with production on the 11th episode scheduled to begin the following week . Broadcasting reported on September 26th that The Tammy Grimes Show was officially cancelled and would be replaced by a prime time version of The Dating Game beginning October 6th .
The cancellation notice could not have come as a surprise to anyone in the television industry but it did revive rumors that ABC never wanted to air the show in the first place. Several TV critics, writing about the cancellation, pointed out the network supposedly only agreed to air The Tammy Grimes Show because the primary sponsor insisted. But there was no discussion of whether ABC was right to have listened to the sponsor or if the network should have stuck to its guns and refused to air a show it had no faith in. Instead, reports focused on how quickly The Tammy Grimes Show had been pulled off the air.
The timing of the cancellation was no doubt intentional. ABC cancelled the show just days before production was slated to start on the 11th episode. The network originally committed to 17 episodes and therefore had to reach a settlement with co-producers 20th Century Fox-TV and Greenway Producers .
The first official Nielsen report for the 1966-1967 season wasn’t released until mid-October, long after The Tammy Grimes Show went off the air. Because the special “Advance Premiere” was broadcast the week before the start of the season it was not included in the first report, which covered the two weeks period from September 12th through 25th. During that time, the second and third episodes were broadcast. The series averaged a 12.8 rating, tied with Candid Camera on CBS. The two shows ranked 84th out of 88 shows on the air .
The same two episodes averaged a dismal 22% share of the audience compared to a 37% share for My Three Sons and a 32% share for the first half of Star Trek . The Tammy Grimes Show ranked dead last in the second Nielsen report for the season, which included the fourth and final episode to be aired .
What Went Wrong?
Tammy Grimes learned her show was cancelled on September 23rd. Discussing the cancellation a few days later, she refused to place blame and suggested there was a disconnect between the concept and the character she played. “I knew there was a danger point at the beginning. If one is an heiress, it must be made more real. More time must be taken to prove she has as many problems as people who don’t have this much money .
In the four episodes ABC aired, viewers saw Tamantha impersonate a Navy admiral, a Navy cook’s helper, an Arab prince, a duchess, a French police officer, and a fashion model. She was wild, wacky, kooky, and outrageous–and little else. Money was her one and only motivation, although she wasn’t entirely selfish: in one episode she wanted $50,000 for a widows and orphans fund while in another she tried to get $5,000 to pay off Mrs. Ratchett’s debt.
In their reviews, television critics made it clear that they felt Grimes was not to blame for the failure of The Tammy Grimes Show. If only the producers or writers or directors had done a better job spotlighting her distinctive personality and comedic talents, the critics argued, perhaps the show would have succeeded.
The New York Times ran an article in November 1966 discussing the cancellations of The Tammy Grimes Show and The Jean Arthur Show. In it, Grimes revealed she had worried early on about the quality of the scripts. “George Axelrod wrote a wonderful pilot script that was really me,” she explained. “I mean it was a character that had some special parts of my personality. The other scripts after that just weren’t the same. They tried to fit me into some kind of formula. I felt immediately that they weren’t right” .
She regretted letting the pressure of the show keep her from voicing her concerns. Not having a firm understanding of how television worked put her at a disadvantage. She was used to Broadway, where script changes didn’t require a conference or cost thousands of dollars a minute to discuss, but also felt it wasn’t her responsibility as an actress to worry about scripts. “I came assuming that everyone cared as much about their responsibilities in the show as I did. Perhaps they thought they did, but that’s now how it turned out” .
“It’s a subtle process of corruption,” lamented Grimes. “You know that you’re not creating great art, so you let little things slip and pretty soon you’ve got a disaster” .
In the same article, Dozier laid some of the blame on viewers who may not have liked the way Tammy Grimes spoke. “The masses in America just don’t listen. I mean they don’t want to strain to find out what’s happening. Look at Annie Farge’s ‘Angel’ or ‘Richard and the Duchess.’ They had the same problem . He also understood the cancellation was a business decision and admitted “Tammy is a case of the wrong personality in the wrong setting at the wrong time. She got total audience rejection” .
(Richard and the Duchess was a 1957-1958 CBS sitcom starring Patrick O’Neal and Hazel Court. Set in England, nearly all of the characters were English and spoke with accents. Angel was a 1960-1961 CBS sitcom starring French actress Annie Farge, who had a thick accent. Dozier apparently felt both shows failed in part because viewers weren’t willing to put in the effort to understand actors and actresses with accents or, as was the case with Tammy Grimes, a unique manner of speaking.)
TV Guide published a five-page article about the demise of The Tammy Grimes Show in December 1966. In it, the magazine revealed that more than a million dollars was lost on The Tammy Grimes Show–a $50,000 loss on each of the four aired episodes, $660,000 spent on the six episodes filmed but not aired, and $200,000 spent on the unaired pilot–and that was before any contract settlements were paid out .
Dozier told TV Guide he understood the cancellation and would have made the same decision had he been in charge of ABC. “I might have made it earlier. We all kept telling ourselves we had to be wildly bizarre with Tammy. I would say it was an organized disaster” .
What of reports that Grimes was difficult to work with? TV Guide quoted an anonymous source involved in producing the series who said “Tammy showed very early that she was going to be difficult to work with. She had trouble adjusting to the demands of a TV series” .
“There was no rapport between Tammy and the audience,” explained co-producer Alex Gottlieb. “It was the combination of the format and her way of delivery. She has a brittle quaility which just doesn’t work on TV. You’ve got to be warm on that cold tube” . Others were more supportive of Grimes. Richard Sargent called her “the greatest performer I’ve ever worked for” .
Grimes told TV Guide nobody should be blamed for the failure of The Tammy Grimes Show but protested the idea she wasn’t the right fit for television .
In January 1967, William Dozier looked back on The Tammy Grimes Show:
It was organized disaster. It was the wrong idea for her. She has that built in hauteur. I’m from the Midwest and out there we’d call her a ritzy dame. Added to that, she played an heiress about to inherit a bank,and with that peculiar accent, she alienated an awful lot of viewers. 
In summing up the series, he declared it “the wrong idea for the wrong person at the wrong time. Movies were not for Mary Martin; television was not for Tammy Grimes” .
The original pilot episode for The Tammy Grimes Show was never broadcast. ABC ordered 17 episodes and scripts for 15 were completed before the network cancelled the series. Ten of those scripts were filmed, leaving five unproduced. Of the ten episodes that were produced, ABC only aired four of them.
Tammy and Terence both worked at the First Perpetual Savings Bank of New York (“The Bank With a Heart”). Both of their parents were deceased. Their late father founded the bank and their uncle, Simon Grimsley, was the bank president. He was also in charge of their trust fund. Tammy was never seen doing actual work but supposedly was in customer relations. The siblings lived together and Mrs. Ratchett served as their housekeeper.
The network opted to air the fourth episode produced (“Officer’s Mess”) as the “Advance Premiere” on Thursday, September 8th. The first episode produced (“How to Steal a Girl, Even If It’s Only Me”) aired the following week on Thursday, September 15th. Tammy got herself kidnapped by a band of misfit hoodlums hoping to get a huge ransom. After Uncle Simon refused to pay out, Tammy took charge of the kidnapping in an attempt to get even more money for herself and her kidnappers.
The Thursday, September 22nd episode (“Tammy Hits Las Vegas, Or Vice Versa”) saw Tammy fly to a Las Vegas casino in an attempt to raise money for Mrs. Ratchett. She lost a lot of money and Terence set out to rescue her, only to find himself caught up in her scheme to continually borrow more money from the casino.
The fourth and final episode (“Positively Made in Paris”) aired on Thursday, September 29th–one day after ABC announced The Tammy Grimes Show had been cancelled. In it, Uncle Simon sends Tammy to Cobb’s Corner, New Hampshire where he hopes she can’t get into any trouble. She does: Tammy sets up a fashion house, changes the name of the town to Paris, and ultimately flies to the real Paris to confront a corrupt French fashion designer.
ABC began promoting two additional episodes before pulling the plug on the series. The episode scheduled for Thursday, October 6th (“George Washington Didn’t Sleep Here”) saw Tammy impersonating a marchioness to help out a friend who owned a rundown hotel. The episode scheduled for Thursday, October 13th (“Diamonds are a Bird’s Best Friend”) involved Tammy defending herself and her pet parrot Demosthenes in court after the two were charged with stealing a diamond.
For a few years, The Tammy Grimes Show remained one of the quickest cancellations in television history. By the mid-1970s, however, the networks slowly started pulling low-rated new shows off the air after only four or five episodes. Eventually, it was no longer uncommon for a new show to last less than a month. Nevertheless, The Tammy Grimes Show remains one of the most famous examples of a flop television show.
The Tammy Grimes Show was the only starring role in a television series for Grimes, who returned to the stage but didn’t stay away from the small screen entirely. She won a second Tony Award in 1970 for her role in Private Lives. Tammy Grimes passed away in 2016.
In a weird turn of events, Richard Sargent replaced Richard York as Darrin Stephens on Bewitched in September 1969. He passed away in 1994. Hiram Sherman apparently retired from acting in the late 1960s. Like Grimes, he won two Tony Awards during his career. He passed away in 1989.
No memorabilia or collectibles were released during The Tammy Grimes Show‘s brief time on the air. For obvious reasons, it was never repeated or syndicated. The six completed episodes that ABC didn’t air have never aired anywhere.
The UCLA Film & Television Archive has copies of the four episodes that were broadcast, the fifth episode scheduled for October 6th but pulled, and three different versions of the unaired pilot episode. The Paley Center for Media has a copy of the September 8th “Advance Premiere” (“Officer’s Mess”) in its collection.
A collection of 40 scripts for the series, including the original pilot episode and several unproduced episodes, is held by the Special Collections Department of the University of Iowa Libraries.
2 Ibid., 17.
3 “The Studio That Came in From the Cold.” Television Magazine. Sep. 1965: 64.
4 “Bumper crop of network pilots.” Broadcasting. 29 Nov. 1965: 32.
5 “Post-Mortem,” 17.
6 According to Hickey and Finnigan, ABC-TV president Tom Moore was against the network airing The Tammy Grimes Show.
7 Adams, Val. “A.B.C. Picks 16 New Fall TV Shows.” New York Times. 22 Mar. 1966: 82.
8 “Boston’s Tammy Grimes TV’s First June Bride.” Boston Globe. 12 Jun. 1966: A23.
9 Closed Circuit: ABC-TV new season.” Broadcasting. 20 Jun. 1966: 5.
10 Crosby, Joan. “Bill Dozier Will Produce Two Additional Shows.” Kingston Daily Freeman [Kingston, NY]. Newspaper Enterprise Association. 2 Jul. 1966: 20.
12 Johnson, Erskine. “Richard Sargent Cast as Tammy Grimes’ Brother.” Niagara Falls Gazette. Sunday Magazine. 17 Jul. 1966: 9.
13 Johnson, Erskine. “Tammy Grimes Readies Series.” Kingston Daily Freeman. 13 Aug. 1966: 24.
15 Margaret McManus. “Tammy Grimes, Kook.” Palm Beach Post-Times. All Florida Magazine. 25 Sep. 1966: 17.
16 Shain, Percy. “6 Newcomers Start Thursday Nights.” Boston Globe. 5 Aug. 1966: 8.
17 “Army of Writers.” Record Newspapers Magazine. United Press International. 20 Aug. 1966: B-7.
18 “Post-Mortem,” 17.
20 Carson, Walter. “Advertising: A.B.C. and the TV Time Jump.” New York Times. 21 Aug. 1966: 142.
22 Du Brow, Rick. “Marlo Thomas ‘Vivacious, Radiant Light Comedienne’.” Tonawanda News [Tonawanda, NY]. United Press International. 9 Sep. 1966: 6.
23 Gould, Jack. “TV: N.B.C. Tarzan, He Urbane and Sophisticated.” New York Times. 9 Sep. 1966: 91.
24 Shain, Percy. “TV Introduces 6 More Programs–One Shines, Two Fall Flat.” Boston Globe. 9 Sep. 1966: 23.
25 “Consensus.” Television Magazine. Nov. 1966: 54.
26 Ibid., 64.
27 Lowry, Cynthia. “‘Jericho’ a Crazy Quilt of Other Cloak and Dagger Spy Thrillers.” Utica Observer-Dispatch [Utica, NY]. Associated Press. 17 Sep. 1966: 4.
28 “The numbers game, part one.” Broadcasting. 19 Sep. 1966: 59.
29 Ibid., 60.
30 “A.B.C. May Cancel Miss Grimes’s Show.” New York Times. 23 Sep. 1966: 74.
31 “Closed Circuit.” Broadcasting. 26 Sep. 1966: 5.
32 “ABC-TV gives walking papers to ‘Tammy Grimes’.” Broadcasting. 3 Oct. 1966: 58.
33 “The ratings: a photo finish.” Broadcasting. 17 Oct. 1966: 68.
34 Gould, Jack. “How Does Your Favorite Rate? Maybe Higher Than You Think.” New York Times. 16 Oct. 1966: 129.
35 “Laurent, Lawrence. “2nd Nielsen Report Bursts Bubble for 10 TV Programs.” Watertown Daily Times [Watertown, NY]. 25 Oct. 1966: 13.
36 Gysel, Dean. “TV Guillotine Falls on Tammy Grimes.” Knickerboxer News [Albany, NY]. Chicago Daily News Service. 27 Sep. 1966: 10A.
37 Diehl, Digby. “They Gave ‘Em The Axe, The Axe…” New York Times. 20 Nov. 1966: D19.
42 “Post-Mortem,” 16.
43 Ibid., 18.
44 Ibid., 19.
48 Leonard, Vince. “Life’s Rosier for Bill Dozier.” Pittsburg Press. 11 Jan. 1967: 82.
Originally Published November 24th, 2015
Last Updated May 7th, 2018
21 Replies to “The Tammy Grimes Show”
Because of it’s out-of-order airing, the “Sneak Preview” episode of “Star Trek” is the ninth episode produced, called “The Man Trap”, which now proving as the true beginning of the series.
miss grimes passed away on October 30, 2016, at age 82
Thank you for this article. It ranks among your best, right up there with your series about Kyle MacDonnell. I have always been fascinated with this show, mainly because it was cancelled so quickly, which, as you wrote, was virtually unheard of at the time. I always wondered what it was that made it so awful as to merit being yanked after four episodes. Your research is superb. I had read an article or two and some blogs or whatever about this show, but never did the depth of research that you did. I never knew that it was basically forced on ABC by Bristol-Myers. That explains a lot, because if it were not for that, it sounds like it never would have gotten a slot on the schedule. Years ago I watched the “Officer’s Mess” episode at the Paley Center for Media. From what I can remember, it was rather run-of-the-mill slapstick comedy. The other episode synopses all read as extremely contrived, but I suppose no more than a lot of plots of other series of the time, both hits and flops. This article should be required reading for anyone even remotely interested in television of that era, as well as any fans of Tammy Grimes.
I first read about “The Tammy Grimes Show” in Bart Andrews’ “The Worst TV Shows of All Time”, which was published back in 1980, a bit too soon for “Pink Lady & Jeff” to be included. Most of what he wrote about the show was culled from that 12/31/1966 TV Guide article, and a large portion of the rest of his book came from other TV Guide articles (especially what he wrote about ABC’s 1-day flop/Laugh-In ripoff “Turn-On”).
I found Tammy Grimes’ voice pretty annoying in those clips, so maybe I would’ve been one of those people turned off for that reason. I did find the chase in the sub amusing, as I often like a good farce, involving slamming doors & such, amusing. I recognized both of the officers chasing her. (It also helped that the closing credits featured from YouTube were from the same episode.) Henry Jones was a longtime character actor that I remember best from when he played Phyllis’ stepfather-in-law on “Phyllis”, and Philip Ober, married to Vivian Vance back in the 40s & 50s, was another actor with a long career who’d been featured the previous year in the first few episodes of “I Dream of Jeannie” as Tony’s fiancee’s father.
I wonder if “Bewitched” would have been the success it was if Ms. Grimes had starred in it. It certainly would have been a very different show. Elizabeth Montgomery was stunningly beautiful and had a lovely speaking voice. She was as much the ideal of the suburban housewife as Mary Tyler Moore was on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” If Ms. Grimes had portrayed Samantha, she would have been a much quirkier and even exotic presence on Morning Glory Circle. I would think that viewers would not have warmed to her or the show. Of course, this is something we will never know. Maybe it would have been successful, but it seems hard to believe it would have been the hit it was with her in the lead.
Grimes didn’t want to be Samantha…she said “This girl has all these powers and she’s not stopping wars?”
I consider myself very knowledgeable about ’60’s T.V. (both good and bad) and it’s history, but I’d never heard of this.
After watching the chase on the ship, and reading the other plots, it struck me that these could well be Warner Bros/Bugs Bunny cartoons! Maybe that was the issue – they overdid the “kooky”.
“The Tammy Grimes Show” didn’t have much of a chance (if any), given it’s timeslot competition: one of TV’s most popular sitcoms (“My Three Sons”), and one of the most highly-touted series of the season (“Star Trek”), which would be (moderately) successful.
I wonder what would have happened had the show been in a timeslot where the competition on CBS and NBC wasn’t so tough.
I don’t think it would have been a hit, but it might have lasted the season. Remember that with few exceptions, the overall quality of prime-time TV in the 1960’s left a lot to be desired.
Noticed the statement at the end. There were 40 scripts for the Tammy Grimes Show penned? Sounds like the writers were the only ones remotely confident (hopeful?) that it would be a success.
Unless I missed it, you didn’t mention the most interesting thing about ‘The Tammy Grimes Show’: it lets us sees what ‘Bewitched’ might have been like. Grimes was offered the role of Samantha as you point out, and Dick Sargent was the first choice for Darren — but he could not get out of his contract with Universal to shoot the ‘Bewitched’ pilot for Screen Gems. He would later get his chance to play Darren when Dick York left the series in 1969.
So how long would ‘Bewitched’ have lasted with the original casting? Half a season?
I couldn’t stand listening to that voice for two minutes, let alone a weekly half hour show. What were they thinking?
Fantastic, well-researched article about one of TV’s great diasasters.
I will always think of Christmas when I hear Tammy Grimes speak, because she voiced the mouse who didn’t believe in Santa Claus in the 1974(?) Rankin-Bass holiday special “Twas The Night Before Christmas”, which aired annually on CBS well into the early 90’s.
Yes, that cartoon DID air during the Christmas season of 1974.
Happy 50th anniversary to “The Tammy Grimes Show,” which premiered on ABC 50 years ago tonight!
Just found out Tammy Grimes died. So sad. She was much better than this show. RIP
Most of everything in the ’60s was pretty rotten, Tammy Grimes’ show was no exception.
That’s quite a sweeping generalisation, Mr.Quigley. Have you seen every movie and television series made in the ’60’s? Lucky you if you have!
I don’t think Quigley saw every show, I believe he was summing up the quality of ’60’s TV against today. I grew up in that era and remember that there was a lot of junk shows in that era, but I’m sure Quigley would concede there were some good shows such as “DIck Van Dyke” and “Laugh-In”.
Replying to Charles Perry, below. Chalk it up to Sturgeon’s law, but every decade has its share of junk. And there’s a lot of sewage that came from the culture of the 1960s, but there was a lot that was memorable, too. The Sound of Music, for instance. And absurd, surreal sitcoms. And for every flop like Tammy Grimes and My Mother The Car, there is a charm in shows like GIlligan’s Island and I Dream of Jeannie that is missing from today’s “gritty” trend. The ratio of junk to quality in the 1960s is nothing compared to the modern age of television. It’s like the 1960s is a golden age of TV while the 2010s and 2020s are the feces age of TV.
I tuned into the first episode in its original airing. It was probably the most uninvolving TV episode with the least charismatic characters I ever (sort of) saw. I think I made it through 15 minutes. Tammy Grimes was a highly regarded stage actress. TV simply wasn’t her medium.
Sponsor interference was rampant in the 60s, more than today.