November 22, 2014

This week in TV Guide: November 20, 1971

It was called the "Game of the Century," the showdown on Thanksgiving Day 1971 between undefeated, #1 ranked Nebraska and undefeated, #2 ranked Oklahoma.  There had been similar amounts of hype for other games in days past, most recently the 1969 end-of-the-season clash between #1 Texas and #2 Arkansas that President Nixon himself flew down to attend, and the 1966 Notre Dame-Michigan State game that changed college football forever.  But as sporting spectacles go, few college football games have ever lived up to their billing the way this game does, served up to an ultimately exhausted national television audience somewhere between the mashed potatoes and gravy and the pumpkin pie.

Nebraska and Oklahoma were not only undefeated coming into the game, but totally undefeated.  The Sooners led the nation in scoring, averaging 45 points a game, while the Cornhuskers had won their ten games by an average of 27 points, allowing only 50 points in the process.  With the nation's leading offense facing the nation's leading defense, something had to give.  ABC's cameras were there to cover it as part of their Thanksgiving doubleheader with their number one announce crew of Chris Schenkel and Bud Wilkinson, and there's no question, even before the kickoff, that the game overshadows anything the NFL has to offer that day.

And what a game it is, everything it was expected to be and more, see-sawing back and forth and leaving everyone involved emotionally drained.  Nebraska, behind a spectacular punt return from future Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers, leads 28-17 going into the fourth quarter before the magnificent wishbone quarterback Jack Mildren rallies Oklahoma to take a 31-28 lead with barely seven minutes to play.  Alas for Oklahoma fans (including me), it won't be enough, as Nebraska grinds out a late drive and scores with 98 seconds to play, outlasting the Sooners 35-31.  Nebraska will go on to demolish the new #2 team, Alabama, 38-6 in the Orange Bowl, winning their second consecutive national championship.  Oklahoma, defeating Auburn in the Sugar Bowl 40-22, finishes second.  Colorado, losers only to Nebraska and Oklahoma, finishes third - the only time three teams from the same conference (the Big 8) finish 1-2-3 in the final polls.

To this day, Nebraska-Oklahoma 1971 is considered one of the greatest games ever, and maintains a special place in the memories of fans.  Certainly the high quality and nonstop thrills of the game itself has something to do with, but perhaps in addition it's the Thanksgiving day scheduling, with many families watching the game together.  Whatever the case, it's drama that's seldom been equaled, and rarely surpassed.

I have this game on DVD, and sometimes watch it on 
Thanksgiving if the live games are too boring.

***

One of the swell things about Thanksgiving, from my TV Guide-reviewing perspective, is that because it falls at different times of the month I can write about it more than once a year.  And this is a great Thanksgiving to write about.  It starts, as always, with parades.  CBS, as is its wont back in the day, presents a kaleidoscope of festivities from Detroit, Philadelphia, Toronto and New York, with Bill Baird and his marionettes hosting the overall broadcast, and CBS stars (Bob Crane, Greg Morris, Beverly Garland, June Lockhart and Herschel Bernardi among them) covering the parades themselves.  Meanwhile, NBC has its traditional broadcast of the Macy's parade, with Joe Garagiola and Jack Paar's daughter Randy hosting the pre-parade show, and Lorne Greene and Betty White assuming their traditional roles identifying the balloons, floats and bands.

There's more football as well.  In addition to the Game of the Century, ABC has a prime-time nightcap between Georgia and Georgia Tech at 7 p.m. CT.  Meanwhile, the NFL's covered by NBC, presenting Kansas City and Detroit at 11 a.m., and CBS following with Los Angeles and Dallas at 2:30.

And what would the day be without cartoons?  At 11 a.m., CBS has A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, sponsored by General Mills*, with Orson Bean as the voice of the Yankee in Mark Twain's beloved classic.  Following the football, NBC's back with a double-header of its own: The Cricket on the Hearth, an adaptation of the Dickens story, starts it off at 2 p.m., with an all-star voice lineup including Danny and Marlo Thomas, Roddy McDowell, Hans Conried, Ed Ames and Paul Frees.  That's followed at 3 p.m. by The Mouse on the Mayflower, presented by McDonalds, with Tennessee Ernie Ford, Eddie Albert, Joanie Sommers and John Gary as the celebrity voices.

*It would be nice to report that General Mills owns King Arthur Flour, as it would make such a perfect tie-in.  Alas, such is not the case.

Aside from ABC's football, there's nothing extraordinary about Thursday night, sadly.  CBS has a double feature of news programs, beginning with 60 Minutes and followed by a special on the American Dream.  NBC has Ironside, now occupying a new date and time, followed by Dean Martin, with guest stars Carol Channing and Dan Blocker.  Interestingly enough, none of these programs are reruns; the networks must have figured there'd be an audience out there for their regular programs.

One more note about holiday programming - it doesn't quite end on Thursday.  ABC has a great Friday planned for those kids out there on break, presenting their regular Saturday morning lineup in a cartoon festival from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.  (Included: The Reluctant Dragon and Mr. Toad, Jerry Lewis, The Road Runner, The Funky Phantom, Lidsville, The Jackson 5ive and Bullwinkle.)  That's followed by a special presentation of ABC's NBA game of the week, with the Baltimore Bullets playing Pete Maravich and the Atlanta Hawks.

***

I was hoping that the cover blurb, "TV Newsmen's Favorite Patsies Fight Back," named some names, but the "favorite patsies" are businessmen undergoing training and coaching from public relations agencies used to preparing people to meet the media.  Oh well.

In other news, NBC is worried about its ratings.  The Doan Report covers how the Peacock Network has just cancelled Sarge, The D.A., The Funny Side, The Partners and The Good Life.  I have a vague recollection of some of these; if you don't remember them any better than I do, that's a good explanation for why they're no longer on the air.  Doan notes that the most unusual aspect to the announcement is that it's made so early; the shows won't be going off the air until the end of the year.  As for replacements, there's a Jack Webb number that's slated to premiere in January; it doesn't even have a cast yet, but it does have a title - Emergency!  And then there's the British import that NBC is hoping will be its answer to All in the Family.  It's an adaptation of Steptoe and Son called Sanford and Son.  I'd say those two turned out pretty well.

***

As far as movies this week, there are only two that Judith Crist has any time for - South Pacific on Born Free, Sunday on CBS, with a lot of lions.
ABC Wednesday night, with Mitzi Gaynor and Rossano Brazzi, making its network TV debut, and

And seeing how dominant football is over Thanksgiving week, it's perhaps only appropriate that George Plimpton's series of ABC specials debuts on Friday night.  Plimpton, who's best known for his seminal book Paper Lion, in which he details his adventures as a journalist going through training camp with the Detroit Lions, is at it again, this time with the Baltimore Colts.  It's a fun special on its own, but at the same time kind of proof that you can't go back home again.  When it comes to football and Plimpton, Paper Lion will be what everyone remembers.

***

I've had many things to say about living in the World's Worst Town™, but it does provide one with a different perspective when it comes to television, particularly shows that weren't available in our market, and we'll see an example of that this week.

All in the Family is on the cover, supporting a feature piece on star Carroll O'Connor.  It debuted in January of 1971, and already it has become a national sensation, dealing with sensitive topics in a most unsensitive way, using frank language, and giving America a portrait of the family that is decidedly not that of Donna Reed and Father Knows Best.  I was not yet 11 when the show premiered, but I remember liking it for the 18 or so months that it was on before we moved out of the Twin Cities in August of 1972 - as was the case with many viewers at that point in time, I failed to see that Archie Bunker was a character being satirized, and actually agreed with most of what he said.  Because there was no CBS affiliate in that God-forsaken town, I would not see an actual episode again until returning to the Cities in 1978.

During that time, the Norman Lear-helmed sitcom solidifies its place as the nation's top-rated, and most talked-about, television show.  But even though the show wasn't available to us, I was able to keep track of what was going on (thanks to TV Guide and the newspapers), so I had a very good idea of what was what.  I learned more about the world, about politics, about how television shows had their own agenda.  By the time we returned to civilization, I wouldn't have had anything to do with the show, and haven't to this day.  I think it's a show that doesn't age well - it's not only dated, but polemic in a most unsubtle way, and it did the family unit no favors with its crassness.  But, you see, I picked up most of that by reading about the show, rather than watching it.  My opinion of the show, and my fervent hopes that another series would knock it off its #1 perch, were formed from a distance, yet it's as vivid to me as if I'd had the opportunity to watch every episode.

Those six years I spent in exile shaped my outlook on many shows of that era.  Sometimes I mention it specifically in these articles, and other times it simply informs my writing.  My image of ABC in the mid-70s, the years the network truly came to prominence, have been affected by not being able to watch them, sometimes creating a mystique about a certain series, other times causing me to somewhat underestimate a show's cultural impact.  I missed many of the years in which CBS had its Saturday-night Murderers Row of sitcoms (including All in the Family, but also Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and M*A*S*H, followed by Carol Burnett, but reading about them in the TV Guide each week lent Saturday nights an air of urbane, adult sophistication.  Who wouldn't have wanted to live in the Newharts' apartment in Chicago, or next door to Mary's home near the lakes?  Some of the shows had already premiered by the time we moved to the boondocks, but they reached their pinnacle while I was gone, and except for the times when we might be back in Minneapolis on vacation, they were lost memories.

I bring this up because I think the same thing can happen reading through the TV Guides from my youth, before I could appreciate what was actually on.  I particularly like that word mystique, because it's easy to feel that way about shows one never saw.  I've been able to track down a fair number of them through the years, the ones that particularly attracted my attention when I read about them, or that I had had a vague memory of having seen, and while many of them are quite good, a good number of them are less than that.  Which proves that the Golden Age wasn't all golden, that the memory can play tricks on you, and that older isn't necessarily better.  But you know what?  I don't think I would have had it any other way.

November 20, 2014

Maverick, Serling, and Doctor Who in Legos! Must be Around the Dial!

Aquiet week on the classic TV blog front; perhaps everyone's busy getting ready for Thanksgiving.  I know that's what I'm doing, which is why I'm actually typing this a couple of days in advance.  Who knows; maybe if I'd waited until Thursday, there would have been even more out there.  At any rate, we've always been about quality here, so let's get started.

Maverick is one of those shows that I knew I would like, based on the description, years before I ever got to actually see an episode.  The Horn Section continues Maverick Mondays with this review of the third season episode "The People's Friend," in which Bart (Jack Kelly) runs for public office.  I'm not sure he still wouldn't be a better choice!

At Grantland, James Hughes has a fascinating story on Rod Serling's fascination with boxing, among other things, and how Serling used the sport not only in episodes of The Twilight Zone, but as the basis of his classic Playhouse 90 episode "Requiem for a Heavyweight."  It neatly segues into other areas which Serling continued to explore; as David (The Sopranos) Chase says of TZ, “It wasn’t a comforting show.  It upset your usual mode of thinking. It was the only show at the time that was literate, the only show that had any relation to literature or poetry.”

Being a sucker for Doctor Who (both classic and reboot), I naturally have to link to The A/V Club's link to Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith's regeneration - in Legos.  A remarkable toy, the Lego - as Homer Simpson says of television, "Is there anything it can't do?"

I really do need to do the program listings more often; not only do people seem to like it, but I find them interesting myself - not only the ones I do, which I think give me a much better feel for the time even than just reviewing a TV Guide, but ones from other cities.  The TV Guide Historian proves the point this week with a look at WGN's schedule for Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1954.  Just think; that was only 13 years after Pearl Harbor itself.  That's as recent as 9/11 is to us.

Television Obscurities looked at TV Guide for the week of November 14, 1964, and among the programming highlights for that week was the event that never was: the heavyweight championship rematch between new champ Cassius Clay and former champ Sonny Liston.  It was scheduled for November 16th in Boston, but due to an injury to Clay in training camp, it wound up being held in Lewiston, Maine the next year.  I lived in Maine for four years; I've been to Lewiston, driven past the arena in which the fight was held, in fact, and I can tell you that there may never have been a stranger location for a heavyweight title fight than that.

I'm going to call it a wrap for today; come on back on Saturday and we'll celebrate Thanksgiving all over again, this time in 1971!

November 18, 2014

Be my guest (host)

SAMMY DAVIS JR. GUEST HOSTS THE TONIGHT SHOW (WITH GUEST RICHARD DAWSON, 1979)
One of the many downsides to the modern late-night talk show is that we've seen the virtual disappearance of the guest host. Younger viewers may not believe this, but there was a time when, while the host was on vacation, a guest host came in and took over the show. The substitute might only be on for a night or two while the regular host was enjoying a long weekend, or it could be an entire week - or even two, in some cases.

Johnny Carson was famous for having guest hosts, particularly since he took so much time off, Joey Bishop parlayed his guesting gig into a show of his own (after its cancellation, he returned to the Carson stable; his 177 guest host appearances is the all-time high); Joan Rivers, who became Carson's permanent guest host, bolted to Fox for her own star turn (unlike Bishop, she and Carson never reconciled), with the result that the role was taken over by Jay Leno, who succeeded to the top spot when Carson retired.  Carson would have guest hosts for a week or two at a time; some, like Jerry Lewis, John Davidson and Don Rickles were regulars, but he also had more unlikely stars such as Woody Allen sit in for him for a week, and Beverly Sills became the first female to command the host's seat.  Johnny ran his share of reruns, but he knew it was important to keep the show fresh, and he wasn't threatened by having someone else sit in the big chair.

Johnny didn't create the guest host, though; after all, when Steve Allen hosted Tonight he had Ernie Kovacs as the permanent Monday-Tuesday guest host, primarily to help out Allen's work load while he got his Sunday night prime-time variety show going; Ernie even had his own cast and format.  Jack Paar, when he went on vacation, would have guest hosts take over - including several appearances by none other than Johnny Carson himself.  Of course, there were quite a few guest hosts to hold down the fort when Paar walked off the show in 1960 during his "water closet" feud with NBC.  For that matter, the Today show was famous for guest hosts, particularly during the days of Dave Garroway and Hugh Downs*; Garroway in particular used to take weeks off, during which he'd be replaced by hosts ranging from John Daly to Charles Van Doren.

*Who was previously Paar's sidekick.

So why don't we have guest hosts on the late-night shows today?  Is it because today's hosts feel threatened by the presence of a substitute who might wind up being funnier than they are? (Remember how "Larry Sanders" was constantly looking over his shoulder at Jon Stewart?)  Or perhaps it's just a matter of pure economics, being easier and cheaper to show reruns than it is to hire a guest host, even though the show loses some of its topical humor. For whatever reason, the guest host - once a staple of talk shows - has almost completely vanished. In recent years only Letterman has had them, and then it's mostly been due to illnesses that made showing an extended series of reruns impractical.

I think we've lost something by not having guest hosts anymore; there was a variety and a different perspective that viewers got by having someone else in the host's chair. Some were better than others, but all of them were different, and that kept things interesting. Take, for example, Tonight's schedule for the week of February 5-9, 1968. The singer/actor/activist Harry Belafonte was the guest host for that week, and just take a look at this lineup:

Monday: Senator and Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy, Bill Cosby, Lena Horne, and actress Melina Mercouri and her husband, movie producer Jules Dasin.

Tuesday: Zero Mostel, Diahann Carool, Petula Clark, folk singers Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and ski expert Ken White.

Wednesday: Sidney Poitier, Dionne Warwick, George London and Marianne Moore.

Thursday: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Paul Newman, and Nipsey Russell.

Friday: Robert Goulet, Aretha Franklin, and Thomas Hoving (director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

You might not recognize all of those names, but trust me - these were very big names of the time, and to have even a few of them on during the course of one week would be something. Having all of them on the week's lineup would have been fantastic. And to think that this was for a guest host! I'm sure Belafonte must have had something to do with choosing the lineup - there was at least one big-name African-American guest each night, he probably knew or had worked with many of them personally, and guests such as King and Kennedy certainly would have reflected his own political philosophy. There's no doubt, though, that Tonight's booking crew really gave Harry a tremendous week's worth.

It's a reminder that talk shows weren't always about mindless entertainment - many of these guests had no songs to sing, nor jokes to tell. They were there to converse and to share their ideas, and I can imagine they did it with more dignity than today's newsmakers do when they appear with Letterman or Fallon or O'Brien, or Leno before that.

I'm not trying to suggest that shows were better then, or that guests were more interesting, or that television was simply better. (Well, in fact, that is what I'm suggesting - but that's another story, as I like to say, for another day.) My point here is just that times change, and we get used to it - but what a time that week must have been!

November 15, 2014

This week in TV Guide: November 18, 1961

It’s Thanksgiving week in this issue, and though I might have covered some of this terrain in past posts, it’s worth looking again at some of the week’s themed programming.

It all starts on ABC Saturday night with Lawrence Welk’s holiday extravaganza, and continues on the same network Tuesday night when Westinghouse Presents “An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving” with Gene Barry and Eddie Foy Jr. as Currier and Ives, and various guest stars (Richard Kiley, Olympic figure-skating champion Dick Button and singer Betty Johnson) popping out of reproductions of the duo’s famed prints.

CBS’ Red Skelton offers up his Thanksgiving show that night, with Red and guest Ed Wynn portraying Freddie the Freeloader and his pal Muggsy, planning to carve the turkey at a skid-row mission only to find that the turkey’s already gone by the time they get there. He’s followed by Garry Moore’s variety show, featuring the entire cast decked out as Pilgrims, singing “Happy Thanksgiving Day.” The following night on NBC, Perry Como’s Kraft Music Hall celebrates the holiday with Gwen Verdon, Dorothy Collins, Paul Lynde and the Kane Triplets singing group.

The real fun is on Thursday, when both CBS and NBC head around the country to cover the parades. NBC’s annual broadcast of the Macy’s parade is hosted by sportscaster Lindsey Nelson, Ed Herlihy and Buster Crabbe. The first half-hour of the broadcast is a circus held in front of the grandstands in Herald Square. The parade follows, with celebrities, balloons, floats, bands, the Rockettes and more!

CBS’ parade triple-header is unique for the use of CBS newsmen to provide coverage. Robert Trout anchors the Macy’s parade, while evening news anchor Douglas Edwards and Gene Crane report on the Gimbel’s parade in Philadelphia, and Harry Reasoner and Bob Murphy do the honors in Detroit. Captain Kangaroo is back in the studio in New York overseeing the whole thing.

And if there are parades, can football be far behind? ABC’s cameras are at the Polo Grounds in New York for morning (10am CT!) coverage of the AFL battle between the Buffalo Bills and the New York Titans, followed by the college showdown between bitter rivals Texas and Texas A&M. Meanwhile, CBS follows its parade coverage with the traditional Turkey Day game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions.

The day’s special coverage comes to an end in late afternoon; KSTP has a live local presentation of a holiday concert by the Minneapolis Choralaires at 4:00, followed at 4:30 by NBC’s Home for the Holidays, starring singers Patrice Munsel and Gordon MacRae, trumpeter Al Hirt, dancer Carol Haney, and the Brothers Four. It sounds like a very pleasant way to spend the time between courses.

***

Aumont and Thulin in a scene from
the broadcast - in color!
Sunday night’s Theatre 62 on NBC is “Intermezzo,” a live adaptation of the 1939 movie starring Ingrid Bergman and Leslie Howard. The small screen version features Ingrid Thulin and Jean Pierre Aumont, and as AP writer Cynthia Lowry will note, its “thin plot” shows on TV. “Without the stars of the original movie, the bare bones of this thin little plot were painfully visible.” TV remakes of well-known theatrical movies, usually done as live teleplays or given the “live” look by using video tape, were a staple of 50s and 60s television. They were inexpensive, particularly if they had fallen into the public domain, they didn’t require a completely new script, and they came with built-in name recognition. In fact, ABC was to try an entire series of these remakes in the late 60s. Some were better than others, but few seldom made much of an impression. (See Lee Radziwell in Laura, for example.)

There was another angle to these adaptations, however, one illustrated in a terrific story told by Stephen Battaglio in David Susskind: A Televised Life. Seems Susskind and his partner, Al Levy, took out an ad in the trade journal Variety announcing, with a straight face, that they were about to produce a live television version of Ben-Hur. Well, anyone who’s seen the movie can attest to how ridiculous an idea this was – try to imagine chariot races, sea battles, earthquakes, and the Crucifixion – all done live, in a small television studio, in two hours (minus commercials). But nobody’d seen the movie yet – MGM had just announced plans to go into pre-production, and knew well that any talk about a TV version of Ben-Hur could do serious damage to the studio and its plans. It was, of course, a ploy by Susskind and Levy – in return for “abandoning” the TV idea, their company received the rights to TV remakes of a dozen well-known MGM properties – Mrs. Miniver, The Philadelphia Story, Ninotchka, and others. I still smile at the absurdity of staging Ben-Hur on television – but then, who would have thought they could recreate the sinking of the Titanic?

***

Up until the last few years, the Jerry Lewis Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy was a Labor Day weekend staple, but it wasn’t always such. On Saturday afternoon, Channel 11 presents “High Hopes,” a one-hour variety show hosted by Lewis, on behalf of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Jerry’s guests include singers Jaye P. Morgan*, Gogi Grant, Connie Stevens and Vivienne Della Chiesa, singer-dancer Donald O’Connor, and actors Richard Boone, Robert Fuller and Barry Sullivan, while Art Linkletter interviews the MDA poster girl.

*Probably better known now as the foul-mouthed panelist who once flashed her breasts on The Gong Show.

That’s the centerpiece of a very quiet Saturday afternoon. The college football game of the week is a Big Ten matchup between Wisconsin and Illinois on ABC. Channel 4 has bowling from the short-lived National Bowling League (Twin Cities Skippers vs. San Antonio Cavaliers), Frank Stranahan takes on Peter Thomson in All-Star Golf, and NBC’s NBA Game of the Week features the Chicago Packers and Detroit Pistons.

The Packers played in the International Amphitheater,
better known as the site of the 1968 Democratic
National Convention 
You might not recognize the Packers other than as a football team in Green Bay, and there’s a good reason for it. They’d entered the NBA in just a month before, as the first modern-day expansion team. They only lasted a year as the Packers before changing their name to the Chicago Zephyrs for the 1962-63 season. They then changed again, but this time it was more than just their nickname – picking up and moving lock, stock and barrel to Baltimore to begin anew as the Baltimore Bullets. In 1973 they would change again, moving from Baltimore to suburban Washington, D.C. and taking on the moniker “Capital Bullets,” which lasted for a single season before they morphed into the Washington Bullets. They’re now known as the Washington Wizards, and through all that time they’ve won a grand total of one NBA championship.

As for the city of Chicago, they weren’t without NBA basketball for too long. In 1966 there would be another expansion team, this one named the Bulls. In the 80s they would draft Michael Jordan. They would win six NBA titles (third most of any team) in a span of eight years. They have once again emerged as a title contender. All this without changing their nickname, their city, or even their logo.

***

SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDES
Dot Smith has dozens of TV credits to her name, but she’s still about a year from true stardom. Who is Dot Smith, you may ask? Well, she’s a willowy blonde from Baton Rouge, LA. She’s tall (5’6”, which is still above the average height, although I’m not sure she’d be considered that tall today), and since her move to Hollywood in 1959, she’s been in everything from Checkmate to Route 66 to Dr. Kildare. She’s compared in appearance to Loretta Young, Marilyn Monroe and Rosemary Clooney. She’s called “a beauty with her own ideas,” with the provocative statement that “Men put women up there, on a pedestal. But women insist on coming down here, to a man’s level. They defeat themselves.”

That’s who Dot Smith is. Her married name is Doris Bourgeois. That doesn’t help much, though, does it? Let’s just go with her stage name. You’d know her as one of the stars of The Beverly Hillbillies – Donna Douglas.

***

Fashion tips from Michi Weglyn, costume designer on Perry Como's show:
  • Solid, unpatterned colors for short women. Avoid contrasts between tops and bottoms. 
  • Beige or tan-colored shoes give the illusion of longer leg lines. 
  • The long-necked look flatters all women, particularly shorter girls. “No frills and fancy collars. A simple scoop neckline and an up-sweep or close-cropped hairdo give an illusion of neck length. All these rules also apply to women who have trouble keeping slim.” 
  • V-necks and three-quarter sleeves make women look matronly. Better to go with the sleeveless look. If you have trouble keeping slim, avoid chiffon and jersey – they have no body. Satin fabrics reflect light and emphasize heaviness.
  • Despite the style of Jacqueline Kennedy, avoid long opera gloves unless you have thin arms. Otherwise, they call attention to fleshy areas. 
  • Avoid the sack or blousy dress. “It’s an unflattering style, distorting rather than enhancing.” 
  • Don’t follow Paris fashions – they’re for the few. 
  • Men should avoid long coats, which make them look shorter and older. Shorter coats make legs appear longer. [I disagree with this, by the way. Unless the coat comes over the buttocks, you wind up looking like a waiter.] 
  • Stick to pleatless trousers with neat, tapered lines – it makes men look “chunky.” [I don’t particularly agree with this either, but I have both pleated and flat fronts in my wardrobe.] 
  • On the other hand, stay away from the too-tight trousers of teen idols. 
  • Tone down the jewelry. Some singers wear “enough jewelry to anchor the Queen Mary.” 

What difference does a good wardrobe make to the TV star? Her boss, Perry Como, looks “at least 15 pounds lighter and 15 years younger on TV – and without any makeup.” Who else can make that claim?

***

Cindy Adams, the famed New York Post gossip columnist, was a regular contributor to TV Guide in the 50s and 60s. This week, she gives us an update on TV stars of the 50s. Nowadays people draw a blank at most of these names, but even in 1961 these stars, who were such big names, are threatening to fade into the background.

Red Buttons once had one of the most successful variety shows on television. It – and he – left TV because, he said, “I was lousy!” In the meantime he went to movies, won an Oscar for Sayonara, and is currently making Hatari with John Wayne.

Jerry Lester, along with his co-star Dagmar, was the star of TV’s first late-night success, Broadway Open House. When the two reunited for a club gig earlier in 1961, the magic of their past success was gone. “Only fire it’d catch is if the [club owners] put a match to the club.” He’s out of show business right now, but don’t feel too sorry for him – he’s part owner of a Florida land company and an Oklahoma oil company. “I make money just sitting here.” Dagmar keeps herself busy with night clubs and personal appearances.

Pinky Lee
Pinky Lee had the highest rated show on television in the 50s, but left the air (according to Pinky) when the show became too expensive to continue. He’s trying for a comeback, with a pilot for a show called Ararat where he plays “a leprechaun who disappears magically through keyholes.” Says Pinky, “I’ll be the talk of the country. Hotter than ever.” History says otherwise – Lee never again reached the heights of his fame in the 50s, and he wound up in regional theater.

George Burns has been keeping himself busy since the retirement of his wife and partner, Gracie Allen.  He's been doing some writing, supervising series, directing.  But who could have imagined that his greatest fame was yet to come?  By the 70s and 80s he'd introduced himself to an entirely new generation of viewers, as a solo act, and won an Academy Award for The Sunshine Boys.

Robert Q. Lewis was a staple on variety and game shows, hosting The Name’s the Same and several variety shows, as well as appearing on radio. He says that his easygoing style went out of vogue, “but by 1962 there’ll be a renaissance and I just happen to have an idea in my pocket.” I don’t know what the idea was, because Lewis never did make it big in another series. He was, however, quite well known for his 40 appearances as a panelist on What’s My Line?

Adams concludes her article with an interesting observation – she wondered if, by 1968, anyone could possibly wonder whatever happened to “Jack Paar? Danny Thomas? Or that fella Brinkley and what was his partner’s name, Chick Huntley? Or James Arness? Or that real old-time favorite – Bob Newhart?” And I’m afraid that, though it might have been unthinkable back then for most people, those names do draw a blank today. Except Bob Newhart, of course – he’ll last forever.

November 13, 2014

Hitchcock, Hutton, Mrs. Peel and more on Around the Dial!

This week the blog theme seems to be episode-by-episode recapping, as no fewer than four of our regulars have new entries in their respective continuing series.  We won't drag it out any longer.

Wenever I watch Alfred Hitchcock, my mind goes back to late summer nights when school was out and I could stay up late to watch the reruns Channel 11 would show, pairing them with Perry Mason.  Hitchcock is that kind of show; it works well around midnight or so.  This week bare bones e-zine continues its "Hitchcock Project" with a look at a classic '60s episode, "What Really Happened."

Cult TV Blog has moved on to another of my favorite shows, The Avengers, with the episode "The Thirteenth Hole."  He notes that in this story, Diana Rigg, as Mrs. Peel, is the only woman in the cast, to which I would add, who else would you need?

At Embarrassing Treasures, it's "Family Affair Friday" once again, with the 1969 episode "A Matter of Privacy," dealing with - what else? - privacy.  I watched that show when I was of a suitable age, and while I don't count it one of my favorites, I always did like Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot.

Finally, Made for TV Mayhem's continuing series on USA network's World Premiere movies gives us 1996's "Death Benefit," with Peter Horton and Carrie Snodgress.  I remember Snodgress' Oscar-nominated turn in Diary of a Mad Housewife, and while I'm no housewife, I've felt as if I were going mad from time to time.

I'll tell you, I really envy the collection of material at Television Obscurities, and this week is no exception with a look at a 1948 issue of Television and Radio Mirror.  And don't forget to come back on Friday for the latest installment of his TV Guide review!

I've never been a fan of Betty Hutton, but I tend to be critical of a lot of people, so I wondered if it was just me.  Apparently not, for Television's New Frontier: the 1960s gives us a candid analysis of The Betty Hutton Show, the last-gasp (and unsuccessful) attempt by Hutton to revive her career.

Does that give you enough to go on?  See you back here on Saturday as we return to the '60s for TV Guide!

November 11, 2014

What's on TV! Tuesday, November 14, 1967

I've been doing these daily listings from the past Saturday's TV Guide on an irregular basis since the blog started (usually when I can't come up with anything else on short notice), but I think I'm going to make an effort to do it more often in the future.  People seem to like it, and I enjoy looking at the types of programming that aren't around any more.  If the Saturday features give you a macro look at the times, these listings are more of a micro examination, with a side of commentary thrown it.  This week's listing is from Tuesday, November 14, and covers the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area.

KTCA, Channel 2 (Educ.)
Morning
08:55a
Classroom
Afternoon
12:00p
In Service
12:30p
Classroom
02:35p
Film Short
03:00p
Aspects of Supervision
03:30p
Teaching English
04:00p
Profile
04:30p
Big Easel
05:00p
Kindergarten
05:30p
Observing Eye
Evening
06:00p
Business
06:30p
Efficient Reading (color)
07:00p
Antiques
07:30p
Seminar for Students
08:00p
Your Right to Say It (color)
08:30p
Macalester International
09:00p
Emeritus
09:30p
Confrontation
10:00p
News in Perspective

As you can see, Channel 2 still primarily provides classroom programming throughout the day - at various times in TV Guide's history, the shows are either detailed (e.g. Spanish (4th Grade) or, as here, listed simply as "Classroom."  Although virtually all of Channel 2's local programming is in black and white, note the first traces of color broadcasting - probably from NET's national feed.

WCCO, Channel 4 (CBS)
Morning
06:00a
Sunrise Semester
06:30a
Siegfried and His Flying Saucer 
07:00a
Clancy and Carmen (color)
07:30a
Clancy and Willie (color) 
08:00a
Captain Kangaroo (color)
09:00a
Dr. Reuben K. Youngdahl (color)
09:05a
Merv Griffin (guests: Jose Ferrer, Lillian Briggs, Sandler and Young) (color)
10:00a
Andy Griffith
10:30a
Dick Van Dyke
11:00a
Love of Life (color)
11:25a
CBS News (Joseph Benti) (color)
11:30a
Search for Tomorrow (color)
11:45a
The Guiding Light (color)
Afternoon
12:00p
News (local) (color) 
12:20p
Something Special (color)
12:30p
As the World Turns (color)
01:00p
Love is a Many Splendored Thing (color)
01:30p
House Party (guest: former bank robber Teddy Green)
02:00p
To Tell the Truth (color)
02:25p
CBS News (Douglas Edwards)
02:30p
The Edge of Night (color)
03:00p
The Secret Storm (color)
03:30p
The Beverly Hillbillies
04:00p
Mike Douglas (guests: Rossano Brazzi, Carolyn Jones, Jimmie Rodgers, the Rhodes Brothers, Albert Gerber) (color)
05:30p
CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite (color)
Evening
06:00p
News (local) (color) 
06:15p
Weather (local) (color)
06:20p
Sports (local) (color)
06:30p
Daktari (color)
07:30p
Red Skelton (guests: Vincent Price, Dionne Warwick) (color)
08:30p
Good Morning World (color)
09:00p
CBS News Special – “Eric Hoffer: The Passionate State of Mind” (special) (color)
10:00p
News (local) (color)
10:15p
Weather (local) (color)
10:20p
Sports (local) (color)
10:30p
Bud Grant: Vikings Football (color)
10:40p
Marshal Dillon
11:10p
Movie – “Kansas Raiders” (color)

Eric Hoffer, the subject of CBS' 9:00 report, was a remarkable man.  A longshoreman by profession, he wrote an incisive series of books on philosophy, beginning with his 1951 classic The True Believer, a book that analyzed the nature of mass movements and how they can evolve into something quite ugly - it's got a prize place on my bookshelf.

Marshal Dillon is, of course, the half-hour syndicated version of Gunsmoke.  It ran on local stations for quite a few years in tandem with the hour-long first-run color version.

KSTP, Channel 5 (NBC)
Morning
06:15a
David Stone (color)
06:30a
City and Country (color) 
06:55a
Doctor’s House Call (color)
07:00a
Today (guests Pat Cooper, Dr. Leon J. Saul) (color)
09:00a
Snap Judgment (panelists Roddy McDowall, Vivian Vance) (color) 
09:25a
NBC News (Nancy Dickerson) (color)
09:30a
Concentration (color)
10:00a
Personality (panelists Van Johnson, Totie Fields, Betsy Palmer, Rose Marie) (color)
10:30a
Hollywood Squares (panelists Marty Allen and Steve Rossi, Monty Hall, Eartha Kitt, Carol Lynley, Jan Murray, Wally Cox, Abby Dalton, Charley Weaver) (color)
11:00a
Jeopardy! (color)
11:30a
Eye Guess (color) 
11:55a
NBC News (Edwin Newman (color)
Afternoon
12:00p
News (local) (color) 
12:10p
Weather (local) (color)
12:15p
Dialing for Dollars (color)
12:30p
Let’s Make a Deal (color)
01:00p
Days of Our Lives (color)
01:30p
The Doctors (color)
02:00p
Another World (color)
02:30p
You Don’t Say! (panelists John Forsythe, Vera Miles) (color)
03:00p
The Match Game (panelists: George Kirby, Joan Rivers) (color) 
03:25p
NBC News (Floyd Kalber) (color)
03:30p
Dialing for Dollars (color)
04:30p
Of Lands and Seas (color)
05:25p
News (local) (color)
05:30p
Huntley-Brinkley Report (color)
Evening
06:00p
News (local) (color) 
06:15p
Weather (local) (color)
06:20p
Sports (local) (color)
06:30p
I Dream of Jeannie (color)
07:00p
Jerry Lewis (guests Audrey Meadows, the Buckinghams) (color)
08:00p
Movie – “Tammy and the Doctor” (color)
10:00p
News (local) (color) 
10:15p
Weather (local) (color)
10:20p
Sports (local) (color)
10:30p
The Tonight Show (guest host Bob Newhart) (color)
12:00a
I Led Three Lives (color)

I've mentioned David Stone before; you've seen his name in many listings, but probably have no idea who he is.  Well, he had a remarkably long career with Channel 5.  He originally started out with the Grand Ole Opry as co-producer and announcer, before moving to KSTP, starting his first music show, The Sunset Valley Barn Dance, in 1948.  He early morning music show is a fixture in these listings, and he remained with Channel 5 as Farm Director until his retirement in 1986.  One of the true pioneers of Twin Cities television.

Was Dialing for Dollars as big a deal everywhere?  Probably.  Jim Hutton (not the movie star) was the host locally, and when he returned after having left Channel 5 for awhile, it was a big deal.  Local game shows are a charming relic from television's past, and a lot of big names in the business started out that way.  But whenever I hear Dialing for Dollars, I always think of this.

KMSP, Channel 9 (ABC)
Morning
07:30a
Dateline: Hollywood (guests Leslie Nielsen, Sherry Jackson)
07:55a
Children’s Doctor
08:00a
Gypsy Rose Lee (guests Pinky Lee, Iris Adrian) (color)
08:30a
Morning Show (color)
09:00a
Romper Room (color)
09:30a
Dobie Gillis
10:00a
Honeymoon Race (color)
10:30a
The Family Game
11:00a
Everybody’s Talking (panelists George Maharis, Pat Carroll, Cheryl Miller)
11:30a
Donna Reed
Afternoon
12:00p
The Fugitive
01:00p
The Newlywed Game (color)
01:30p
Dream Girl (panelists Tippi Hedren, Louis Nye, Peter Palmer, Paul Richards) (color) 
01:55p
ABC News (Marlene Sanders)
02:00p
General Hospital (color)
02:30p
Dark Shadows (color)
03:00p
The Dating Game (color)
03:30p
Movie – “Beware, My Lovely”
05:00p
Peter Jennings with the News (color)
05:30p
Leave It to Beaver
Evening
06:00p
McHale’s Navy
06:30p
Garrison’s Gorillas (color)
07:30p
The Invaders (color)
08:30p
N.Y.P.D. (color)
09:00p
The Hollywood Palace (see Saturday’s entry for details) (color)
10:00p
News (local) (color)
10:25p
Sports (local) (color)
10:30p
Movie – “Broken Lance” (color)
12:20a
Joey Bishop (guests Bobby Vee, Judy Collins, Rob Reiner and Larry Bishop) (color)

Dateline: Hollywood sounds like one of those celebrity series you see today, but it was actually a half-hour interview show hosted by actress Joanna Barnes.  It was followed by the five-minute Children's Doctor, hosted by pediatrician Lendon Smith, whose sound advice and quirky humor made him a a frequent and popular guest on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show.*

*Johnny invariably introduced him as a baby doctor, "a little, teeny baby doctor."

Much of ABC's afternoon schedule has been pretty forgettable through the years, but you can see some of their more successful shows popping up - The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game, General Hospital, Dark Shadows.  Of course, you still have shows like Dream Girl...

WTCN, Channel 11 (Ind.)
Morning
08:55a     
News (local)
09:00a
Cartoon Carnival (color)
09:30a
Ed Allen (color)
10:00a
Mr. Blackwell (guests Joyce Jameson, Bil Howard) (color)
10:30a
Virginia Graham (guests Cindy Adams, Myra Roper, Ariane Sheppard)
11:00a
Brunch Bunch
11:30a
Cooking With Hank
11:45a
News (local)
Afternoon
12:00p
Lunch With Casey
01:00p
Movie – “Fire Monsters Against the Son of Hercules”
02:30p
Woody Woodbury (guests Barbara Eden, Henny Youngman, John Faffney, the Yellow Balloon (color)
04:00p
Popeye and Pete
04:30p
Casey and Roundhouse
05:30p
The Flintstones (color)
Evening
06:00p
Gilligan’s Island (color)
06:30p
Perry Mason
07:30p
12 O’Clock High
08:30p
Alfred Hitchcock Hour
09:30p
News (local)
09:45p
Weather (local)
09:50p
Sports (local)
10:00p
Movie – “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg” (color)


WTCN, the independent station (after having been dumped by ABC in the early '60s), is kind of the stepchild of the local stations - as you can see, their locally produced programs are still in black-and-white, and they have a later start time than anyone else.

Ariane Sheppard, one of Virginia Graham's guests, is the second wife of Dr. Sam Sheppard, he of the infamous 1954 "Trial of the Century," and the landmark 1966 Supreme Court ruling.  Sheppard's second trial, in which he was acquitted of the murder of his first wife, had taken place the previous year.  I believe Sheppard and Ariane were separated at the time of this interview; they would divorce within two years.

Anything else you know or what to know about these programs?  Share it with us!