May 28, 2016

This week in TV Guide: May 31, 1958

This week's TV Guide comes to us courtesy of my friend and co-worker Rick Stokes, who found this issue from Iowa when clearing out his mother's home, and graciously loaned it to me, correctly thinking I'd be interested. It's a reminder that if you have an old issue you'd like me to write about, I'd be happy to do so - just send me an email, and I'll take good care of your issue, don't worry!

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From television's first days, there have been those expressing concerns about the medium's effect on children. And from those first days, TV Guide has stuck up for television, contending that television has tremendous potential while allowing (in often sharply-worded articles by Edith Efron) that it hasn't always lived up to it.

This week, we learn about that upside for television, from Sam Levenson. He's probably not well-remembered, but in the '50s and '60s he made a name for himself as a former schoolteacher turned comedian/author, and his gentle humor was a regular feature on talk shows and game shows.

He begins with a recitation of all the bad things he's heard about television: that it's producing bad study habits, that youngsters no longer read books, they don't take music lessons seriously, and they're becoming "a generation of passive recipients of network-tailored entertainment which is best appreciated in the dark." Actually, except for the reference to "network-tailored," it sounds a lot like what you're apt to hear people say about television today. Ah, plus ├ža change, as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr would say.

In fact, Levenson doesn't see that much wrong with television, except perhaps that schools don't know how to use it.* He doesn't blame kids for watching "the most colorful and exciting medium of entertainment that the world has produced," and challenges those who criticize television inherently by looking back on his own, TV-less childhood. "How many ballet companies did I see when I was a kid? How many good dramatic performances? How many good acrobats, singers, magicians?"

*Now there's a revelation.

Sam Levenson
The key is for the teacher to understand that since he can't talk louder than the television, he must learn to work with it. For example, use science-fiction shows as a springboard to teaching astronomy. Use the immense popularity of TV Westerns to lure kids in to the true life of cowboys settling the frontier, to Indian culture, to how the railroads were built, and more. Play quiz shows in the classroom! Make puppets and put on a show, just like they do with Kukla and Ollie! And for high school-level children, discuss television's "dramatic, literary, historic, musical and other cultural values." In short, we must learn to adapt to and use television in the same way we have other inventions throughout the centuries.

These are noble words, of course, but if you look at what your 200+ channels bring you today, the sad answer is not much. No ballet, staged drama, acrobats or magicians. This is what many feared would happen, and Levenson worries about it as well, as his closing words indicate:

Ed Sullivan offered the public a series of Metropolitan Opera performances on his show. What happened? Mostly indifference, plus complaints.

If parents and teachers want culture for themselves and for their children, let them vote for it by tuning in on it. Both the sponsors and the performers will be grateful.

And, the suggestion goes, so will the children - if not now, then when they're older.

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Speaking of Ed Sullivan, let's take a quick look at what he and Steve Allen have to offer in their dueling 7:00 pm (CT) Sunday timespots.

Sullivan: Canadian comics Johnny Wayne and Frank Shuster are hosts tonight while Ed is at the Brussels World's Fair. Guests include French ballet stars Jeanmarie and Rolan Petit: singer-comedienne Edie Adams; the Amin Brothers, Egyptian novelty act; and singers Jimmie Rodgers, Doretta Morrow, Sallie Blair, Johnny Ray and Mario Del Monaco. Ed returns next week.

Allen: Steve's guests are actor Henry Fonda, comedienne Martha Raye, singer Mel Torme, New York City TV-personality Shari Lewis, clarinetist Gus Bivona and vibraharpist Terry Gibbs. Also included are Steve's regulars Martha Raye, Tom Posten, Louis Nye and Don Knotts.

For some reason, Ed loved the Canadian comedy team of Wayne and Shuster, and had them on all the time. Many other people didn't find them that funny. I don't know how I feel about them myself, but they do have an interesting lineup, with Edie Adams (aka Mrs. Ernie Kovacs), Johnnie Ray (at least I think that's who they're referring to), Mario Del Monaco from the Metropolitan Opera, and Jimmie Rodgers and his yodeling. But to tell you the truth, I think Steverino has a much stronger show this week - Henry Fonda! Mel Torme! Shari Lewis (and Lambchop?), before she replaced Howdy Doody on Saturday mornings! Martha Raye! Sorry, Ed - this week Allen has it all over you, and even you aren't on your show.

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Here's a program that probably has some relevancy today. It's a Sunday afternoon public-affairs program on NBC, moderated by Meet the Press host Lawrence Spivak, called The Big Issue, and this week it examines the topic "Religion and the Presidency." The question posed by Spivak: "Do religious factors still influence the choice of a President?" Among the guests are Dr. John Mackay, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, Rep. Eugene McCarthy (D-MN), Rev. Francis Sayre Jr., dean of Washington Cathedral, and Glenn Archer, director of the National Commission on Church and State. After the four discuss the topic, they're questioned by a panel of newspapermen.

I'd be interested to see how this show played out. In 1958 the question isn't really whether or not religion had a place in the public square; the overwhelming consensus is that it does. There's still prayer in public schools, most Americans go to church on Sundays, profanity is frowned upon in polite company, and content of movies and television programs is closely examined to ensure it maintains certain standards.

SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION
No, I suspect the real question concerns the impending candidacy of John F. Kennedy for the presidency, and whether or not America is ready to elect a Roman Catholic president. This will be a major point of the 1960 campaign, with the question "Will Kennedy take orders from Rome?" remaining a concern for many Protestants even after Kennedy adroitly addressed it in front of a group of Houston ministers*. There is still a broad swath of anti-Catholicism in America in the '50s and early '60s, particularly in the South, and the presence on the panel of Gene McCarthy, a Catholic politician, is probably an indication that this is going to come up. It's also likely there was discussion as to whether or not particular religious groups will continue to vote as a block (i.e. Catholics and Jews voting Democratic), or perhaps even a question about whether or not Americans would vote for a divorced candidate (as would be the case when Nelson Rockefeller ran in 1964).

*Kennedy really skirted the issue, laying the groundwork for the type of Catholic candidate that downplays his own Catholicism, but that's a discussion for another day.

I wonder what this discussion would be like today? You've got one candidate with multiple marriages and a spotty religious record taking on another candidate whose husband was reportedly a serial adulterer, both of them vying to replace a president whose religion (or lack thereof) has been a perpetual point of discussion. All this while the very topic of religious freedom remains up in the air. Yes, I can see where this would be a very interesting show.

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John Forsythe, star of Bachelor Father, worries that he's overlooked on the show, or as the author of this unbylined article puts it, he "gets about as much attention as the father of the bride at a wedding." He's surrounded by scene steelers: children, dogs, a dialect comedian (Sammee Tang), and a femme fatale (Judy Bamber). With that crew, what chance does Forsythe have? Fortunately, he owns one-third of the show, so he's not going to suffer from it.

John Forsythe had a long and illustrious career, and if he really was worried about being upstaged by his co-stars, I'm sure he made up his mind that this would never, ever happen to him again. Not in Charlie's Angels, where even though he didn't appear in person, there was no chance that people would be more interested in three very attractive, extremely shapely young women bouncing around as they fought crime, right? Or that successful run in Dynasty; remember how, whenever he appeared on camera, nobody even looked at Linda Evans and Joan Collins? No, I didn't think so. John Forsythe was successful (and rich) because he was nobody's fool.

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In sports, we've another look at remnants of the Red Scare, even though Joe McCarthy died last year, when the Philadelphia Phillies take on the Cincinnati Redlegs in the season's first Saturday afternoon Game of the Week. If you know anything about baseball, you know that the team in question is the once and future Cincinnati Reds. But what's the history of the "Redlegs" name?

It started in 1953, as a reaction to the stigma of the term "Reds," and eventually the famous wishbone C with the word "Reds" (right) was replaced by "Mr. Redlegs," with a simple "C" on his jersey. The franchise name was never officially changed to Redlegs, and 1958 will be the last year for the name substitution, with the familiar Reds moniker returning in 1959. It will be 1960 before the Reds logo returns to the uniforms though, and even in 1961 you can still find items with the Redlegs brand on them.

According to this website, the term "Redlegs" originally referred to "a specific group of poor white people living on various islands in the Caribbean (generally originally from Ireland and Scotland). They were also commonly known as 'white slaves'." One can only imagine the kind of outcry that would occur today were it known  that a team's nickname had such an origin. If you think the dispute over the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians is bad...

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A quick spin through the rest of this issue:

The venerable Saturday night institution Your Hit Parade (NBC) will have left the airwaves by this time next year, but it's still on this week, with the #1 hit song "All I Have to Do Is Dream" by the Everly Brothers. You won't see them performing the song on the show, though - it will be one of the show's famous stable of singers, which perhaps plays a part in why the show eventually goes off the air. Rock songs of the era, when they're not done by the original performers, can often fall flat. Have you ever heard Snooky Lanson sing "Hound Dog"? Hey, it may not be true, but it makes the point, doesn't it?

On Sunday's Jack Benny Program (CBS), "Jack tells Rochester that he wants to get a good night's sleep and is not to be disturbed. But Jack's sleep is interrupted when a burglar gets into the house." Is this one of the episodes where the crook says, "Your money or your life" and Jack replies, "I'm thinking, I'm thinking!" I've seen it, but I can't remember. Let's find out.


(Click for Parts One and Two)

Monday night's episode of Richard Diamond, Private Detective (KTVO, delayed from last week) has Diamond promising a dying gangster he'll look after his moll, but "He doesn't realize that the promise will endanger his own life." Why not? He ought to know his life's in danger every week - doesn't he watch his own show? Seriously, David Janssen's Diamond TV series is, I think, quite different from Dick Powell's more breezy radio version. Janssen isn't a singing private eye (for which we can all be grateful, I'm sure), and the show has a harder, more noir-like quality about it. I like them both.

The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (Tuesday, ABC) features that trope about someone trying to frame Wyatt by filling his saddlebags with money, leading the townspeople to believe he's been taking bribes. Come on, people. It's the third season of this show - don't you know your lawman by now? This kind of plot line is a staple of just about any series that runs long enough - perhaps it's a sign that the writers have run out of ideas. I can't believe people turn that quickly, but then maybe it's a commentary on how fickle the public really is. Look at High Noon if you need further evidence.

On The Millionaire (CBS, Wednesday), "A policewoman sets out to prove the innocence of her policeman fiance, who is accused of robbery and murder." (Sounds a bit like Wyatt Earp's predicament, doesn't it?) The million dollars "enables her to post bail for her fiance and to buy information from a notorious criminal." Let me get this straight - bail and a lead from a snitch costs one million dollars? I'd hate to think what that would be with inflation.

The regular run of Richard Diamond is on Thursday (except for KTVO), and this week "A young woman asks Diamond to help clear her fiance of a hit-and-run charge. In his attempt to prove the young man's innocence, Diamond finds himself up against a powerful crime syndicate." Wait a minute - did the writers for all of the week's shows get together and coordinate their scripts? There are more frame jobs here than a Michaels store.

Friday night ends with Hawkeye and the Last of the Mohicans (syndicated, KRNT), and Hawkeye is out to prove that Chief Black Wolf and his tribe are being framed by a military scout who accuses them of attacking white settlers. I really thought I'd have to look hard to keep this joke going, but it was right there in front of me. But if you're interested in something else, Jimmy Powers announces the fight for the vacant world welterweight championship live from the St. Louis Arena, as top-rated Virgil Akins takes on the number two contender, Vince Martinez. Akins, the hometown hero, knocks Martinez down four times in the first round en route to a fourth-round victory, and the welterweight championship.

May 27, 2016

Around the dial

bare-bones e-zine continues "The Hitchcock Project," which is particularly enjoyable for me insofar as it is currently reviewing a series of episodes I've seen in the last few months. This week, it's the droll 1958 story "Fatal Figures," with the wonderful John McGiver in the lead role. Once you've read about it, you'll want to see it.

Speaking of Hitch, Christmas TV History takes us back to the 1955 Christmas episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, "Santa Claus and the 10th Avenue Kid," with a terrific performance from the great Barry Fitzgerald, although it is sad to think that he embarked on a life of crime after apparently giving up the priesthood. (As the man says, "That's a joke, son.")

The Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland has a pictorial tribute to actor Ben Alexander on the occasion of his 105th birthday. He's best known as Officer Frank Smith, the quirky partner to Jack Webb's Joe Friday on the original Dragnet, but he had other acting gigs as well, and even hosted a game show. As good as it may have been, I'll always resent Felony Squad because, by appearing in it as a regular, it prevented Alexander from reuniting with Webb on the late '60s rebirth of Dragnet.

Carol Ford has an excerpt from Bob Crane's 1960 appearance on Del Moore's radio show at Vote For Bob Crane. One of the many good aspects of Carol's biography of Crane is that it reminds us of the impact he had in radio prior to starring in Hogan's Heroes, and this serves to give us an example of that radio talent at work, even as a guest.

Envisioning a parody of a parody is kind of like getting lost in an Escher drawing, but Cult TV Blog is able to pull it off with this look at these very funny (and very dirty) parodies of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I wonder why nobody's thought to make a Man From S.T.U.D. movie series yet? It sounds as if it would have been right up Showtime's alley, back in the day. Now watch as someone tells me it's already been done...

British TV Detectives introduces us to another of the iconic characters that have populated shows like Masterpiece Mystery over the years, with this review of A Touch of Frost. I confess that this is one I've never checked out, though I'm certainly familiar with it. Perhaps I should give it a chance - that is, whenever I get the time.

I tend to like television episodes penned by the late Stephen J. Cannell, although I'll always remember him best for his over-the-top performances as Jackson Burley in Diagnosis: Murder.* Lincoln X-ray Ida takes us to one of those episodes, the lightly humorous Season 3 episode  "Post Time."

*I seldom ever watched that series, but always made time for it when Cannell was on.

At The Horn Section, Hal takes a look at the ultimate hip-cop series Get Christie Love! (and you have to love the exclamation point, don't you?) with the baddest lady cop of them all, Teresa Graves, in the episode "Highway to Murder."  Friends, if you find yourself on that road, take my advice and get off of it as soon as possible. Does guest star Clu Gulager play a psychotic? What do you think?

Finally, a reminder that if you liked the Movin' On interviews yesterday, head on over to their Facebook page as well as the link to their website, which you can find on the sidebar.

May 25, 2016

Interview: Movin' On with Executive Producer Barry Weitz and series remasterer Mark Rathaus

FRANK CONVERSE (LEFT) AND CLAUDE AKINS RIDE THEIR BIG RIG ACROSS THE COUNTRY IN MOVIN' ON
Although it was only on for two seasons, the NBC drama Movin' On was one of the iconic series of the 1970s, capturing perfectly the popularity of CB radios and presenting a vivid look at life of the long-distance trucker. With two very appealing leads in Claude Akins as veteran trucker Sonny Pruitt and Frank Converse as young, college-educated Will Chandler, and a memorable theme song sung by the great Merle Haggard, the show built up a loyal following, and remained part of the cultural lexicon for years thereafter.

The series is now getting a second life through Hulu.com and ProClassicTV.com, thanks to the efforts of Mark Rathaus, who has diligently remastered the series to make it look even better than it did during its original run. Recently, it was my pleasure to fire some questions at Barry J. Weitz, one of the original co-producers of Movin' On, as well as having a chance to ask Mark more about the process of preparing the series for streaming. The interview begins below the jump.

May 23, 2016

What's on TV: Friday, June 1, 1956

Friday is my favorite evening of the work week, and I'm sure I'm not alone in that opinion. It's also my favorite night for TV, even more than Saturday night. (Although that's kind of like asking whether you prefer chocolate or popcorn - you can't lose.) That's why I always enjoy looking at the Friday listings; sometimes you'll find the stations broadcast later, there are more late night movies, there's something more exciting about it all.

Today's listings - which, by the way, are from Dallas-Fort Worth - are not extremely interesting, at least not to our eyes today. They're fun, as these always are, but nothing jumps off the page. Imagine yourself back in 1956 though, home after a long week of work. Now you can relax, the two of you, loosen your tie and put your feet up on the ottoman and let the tube take your mind off your worries. Of course, that Wednesday had been Memorial Day - they still celebrated it on May 30 back then - and so you might have been lucky enough to get the rest of the week off. Still, there's nothing like Friday!

Maybe it's Steve Allen and his revolutionary new talk show Tonight on Channel 5. Or it could be the suspense movie on Channel 11's Starlight Theater,  Models, Inc. with Howard Duff and Coleen Gray as a gangster and his moll. If you're in the mood for a little spy fun, it could be I Was an American Spy, the Late Date Theater on Channel 6.

Whatever you're looking for, chances are one of these six stations will have it for you, as you wind down for the weekend.

May 21, 2016

This week in TV Guide: May 26, 1956

Last week we mentioned in passing Norma Zimmer, for 23 years the Champagne Lady on The Lawrence Welk Show. Zimmer was the longest-running of the Ladies, and the one I remember from my grandparents having had the Welk show on every Saturday, but in 1956 the one and only Champagne Lady was Alice Lon, this week's cover girl.

Lon was Champagne Lady from 1954 to 1959. As her status on the cover would indicate, she was quite the celebrity of the time: a member of the Kilgore Rangerettes as a young girl living in Texas, married to former football player Bob Waterman, and a featured singer on Don McNeill's Breakfast Club radio program before joining the Welk orchestra, where she's become famous for the petticoats she wears.

For classic television fans, Alice Lon's primary fame comes not from her performances with Welk, but for the circumstances surrounding her departure in 1959. She left the program over "music and money issues," but the legend has it that she was dismissed for "showing too much leg." The always-reliable Wikipedia pronounces this an urban legend, and Lon herself said the dispute was over money, but UPI quotes the conservative Welk as having said, "Her knee showed too much. Cheesecake doesn't fit on our show," adding that "Our show goes into homes and I have always opposed anything the least bit immoral."

Is the "too much leg" story true or not? Later, Welk would say that "I don't think she was let go for that*. . . What you folks hear out there sometimes is from people who know nothing about it. The writers who create a story like that, they get a little more print. I've never been a person to lower the boom on people. If I was, they wouldn't stay with me."

*Which begs the question: if Welk says "I don't think," does that mean he doesn't know why she was let go? If not, who does? Isn't he the boss? I suspect this was a rhetorical phrase, saying that wasn't the reason she left while refusing to disclose what the actual reason was.

I'm sure this is a point I don't need to belabor, but consider the difference in attitudes and mores - arguing as to whether or not Lon's knee showed "too much" - between then and now. No, wait, better yet - let's fast-forward four years, to 1960, and Jack Paar's walkout on The Tonight Show over his infamous W.C. joke. By that time we're out of the '50s, at least chronologically. During the follow-up program - the one in which Paar dramatically walks off the show - he talks for a moment about his television philosophy, how he doesn't want "girls with low cut dresses" on the show. It's "nicer to dress like the people who watch," he says. He also doesn't look for people who come on the show to advertise their problems, though he says this not to knock whatever problems they might have. His goal is to bring on people the audience will find "fun," and he specifically mentions Christine Jorgensen - ironic, don't you think? "I don't want people like that on the show," he says. By contrast, this very day I read a review of Amy Schumer's latest program which, though there are parts that may be very funny, appears to be "intentionally testing basic cable’s allowance for repetitions of the word pussy." Discuss.

Whether or not Alice Lon got the sack because of the way she dressed, or how she crossed her legs when sitting on a desk, we'll probably never know. The point is this: the audience found that explanation entirely plausible to the era and to Welk's sensibilities. They might not have liked it, they might have found it draconian, but even if such an attitude was antiquated back then, it would have been at least understandable. Today, if you made that kind of suggestion, you'd probably be locked up in Bellevue.

At any rate, whatever the reason, there was in fact something of a public outcry over Lon's departure, not unlike the larger kerfuffle when Arthur Godfrey dismissed the recently-deceased Julius LaRosa*, and eventually Welk was forced to ask her to return. She refused, and although they eventually reconciled, they never performed together again.

*RIP.
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On Friday night, the dramatic anthology series Schlitz Playhouse of Stars (CBS, 7:30pm CT) presents "The Unlighted Road," starring the late James Dean. Dean had only appeared in a few television plays, this being one of them, before being killed in an automobile accident a little less than a year ago, on September 30, 1955.

In one of those little footnotes that I love to run across, the kind that tells you more not for what it says but what it doesn't say, the TV Guide listing mentions his achievements in East of Eden (for which he received a posthumous Oscar nomination for Best Actor) and the immortal Rebel Without a Cause, but not Giant - it hasn't even been released yet. Next year, that movie will earn him another posthumous Best Actor nomination

In "The Unlighted Road," Dean plays a former GI who takes a job at a diner and winds up being implicated in a robbery and murder. What kind of an actor was he at this point, on the verge of superstardom? Take a look for yourself.


***

Here's what appears to be an interesting hour on Monday night's Robert Montgomery Presents (7:30pm, NBC). It's the play "Who," written by Robert Wallace.

Its thesis is that a man is many men, and to illustrate this, seven actors will play the seven personalities of one man, a certain Mr. Who.* These personalities run the gamut from godlike to wretched. Our Mr. Who, containing all these personalities, is seen during a typical day in his life, from the time he appears for breakfast. Mr. Who is a bank official, a husband and an Elk. As an Elk, he is up for office. As a bank official, he is up for promotion - as assistant to the vice president. As a husband, he is up for his morning coffee, and this is where our tale begins.

*That's Doctor Who to you, pal. After all, how many actors have played The Doctor? And they're all part of the same personality, right?

I have no idea whether or not this was any good, but it's a fascinating idea, and truly creative. Moreso than much of what's on TV, then or now.

***

TV Guide has always been suspicious of government interference in television, frequently using its editorials to chastise television executives for not policing themselves lest the government be forced to step in and do the policing themselves. This week, the editorial cites British television viewers, who have sent the resounding message that "commercial television is more popular with viewers than the noncommercial variety."

Since the advent of British television, the BBC has had a monopoly on programming. In fact, it's the only channel televisions can receive. But last September, not long before the death of James Dean, and after years of debate, the first commercial television station debuted in London. Despite the fact that TV owners have to pay as much as $50 for a converter that allows them to receive the new station, it has been a roaring success. "The 10 most popular programs in the London area today are all on the commercial channel. I Love Lucy, Dragnet, Roy Rogers and Robin Hood, along with some quiz shows based on American ones, and some fine dramatic offerings, are included in the Top 10."

The commercial provider in question, I believe, is ITV, and there's no question it changes the face of British television. Unlike government-subsidized programming, the ads purchased to air on ITV "are supposed to be absolutely independent of the programs offered." As the editorial concludes, "The moral is obvious: In commercial TV, viewers see what they want to see. In the other kind, viewers see what someone else wants them to see." As last year's debacle over Top Gear demonstrates, it is a moral that the BBC still seems incapable of understanding.

***

Some random notes:

Remember the days when networks used to take all the failed pilots from the past year or two and group them together into an anthology series that would run in the summer? We're seeing it now, as "ABC [will be] presenting a collection of test films as summer replacement for the Danny Thomas show. The new summertime sponsor will hold that Tuesday night period next fall, which means Make Room for Daddy must move to a new time period." Test films, which I've also seen referred to as "audition films." Huh - I guess it sounds better than "failed pilot."

On Thursday's matinee movie Theater 11 (on Channel 11, natch), it's The Judge, starring Milburn Stone. Better known as Doc Adams in Gunsmoke. Movie ought to have been called The Doctor, no? But then people might have thought it was about Doctor Who. I know, you're thinking that's impossible, since Doctor Who doesn't debut until 1963. But he's a time traveler, right? OK, I've probably pushed the Doctor Who jokes enough for one week.

Martin and Lewis are said to be looking to get out of their four-show commitment for 8:00pm Tuesday night slot on NBC in favor of four weekend "spectaculars" (as specials are still called), which they think will get them more attention. Guess what, boys? Breaking into two separate acts will get you twice as much attention.

And Perry Como explains to columnist Earl Wilson that he's not as calm as he appears on his variety show. "Sure, I fell so nervous I want to lie down," Perry says. "But there's no place to lie down, so I have to stand up there and sing." Of course, by this time, he didn't even have to worry about that:


***

And finally, some exciting news from TV Guide!

NEXT WEEK!

More articles, more features, more color!

All this and a lot more await you in next week's issue of TV GUIDE and in every issue to follow.

The reason: we are publishing more pages in our colorful feature section. We realize that we must grow as television grows. Hence, we are expanding our publication to keep faith with readers in more than 4,000,000 American homes.

The additional pages mean that nowhere else can you find such complete television coverage as well as such complete program service.

Don't miss your exciting new TV GUIDE starting next week!

Do I have that issue? No, but I've got the one from the following week. We'll have to see if there's any difference. One thing that I can tell you is that the famed crossword puzzle hasn't yet appeared, at least not in this issue. Will it be part of the change? That, of course, would be telling.

May 20, 2016

Around the dial

The wonderful character actor William Schallert died last week, and David at Comfort TV has a very nice tribute to him, reminding us of some of his best moments. If you're anywhere near my age, you couldn't turn on the television without running into him at one time or another - a true reminder of the classic age. A man to be missed, but he leaves us with many, many memories.

One of the things that made the best episodes of The Twilight Zone truly startling and unsettling was the makeup used to create some of its weird, memorable images. The Twilight Zone Vortex takes a look at three of the masters who made that magic happen.

There's nothing specific at Faded Signals, but if you haven't visited there recently take some time to peruse a fun collection of pictures and postcards of various radio and television studios and advertisements. If you're not careful you might find yourself still at it an hour or so later.

It's Friday, which means time for another round of reader questions that Ken Levine is set to answer, and there are some good ones, such as how the pictures used in opening title sequences are selected. And he's absolutely right - there aren't enough series that use them anymore. How many classic television shows can you think of where the tenor of show was set from the very beginning with the title music and graphics? Mannix, Mission: Imnpossible, Perry Mason, Star Trek - I could go on for some time, and I imagine you could as well.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to see Martin Grams at the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention this fall, but in the meantime his blog is always good reading, and this week he has a very interesting piece (with some great photos!) of the untold market of antique radios. There are some television sets thrown in as well, guaranteed to bring back memories for some of us.

Television Obscurities has a piece this week on Mark Rathaus, the man who saved Movin' On, and you'll want to read it in preparation for my interview next week with Movin' On producer Barry Weitz. Mark reached out to me to see if there was any interest in Movin' On and interviewing Barry, and I'm very appreciate of his efforts in making it happen. A very nice, and dedicated, man.

It's time for another installment of Television's New Frontier: The 1960s, which this week takes a look at the 1961 season of The Donna Reed Show, one of those series to which I occasionally refer as straddling the two decades - a '50s show that nonetheless carries its identity and culture to the '60s. Always an interesting period in time.