hanksgiving often seems like an underappreciated holiday, serving as little more than a warmup act for Christmas, and people seem eagar to get it out of the way so they can invade the stores in the dawn hours of Black Friday. (Those stores that aren't actually open on Thanksgiving, that is.) . Back in the day, however, Turkey Day used to get a little more love. And so this seemed to be a good reason (or at least a good excuse) to dip into the TV Guide archives for a look at Thanksgiving through the early 60s, as seen on TV.
The next picture, also from 1962, is for the Pat Boone Thansgiving special. Pretty good cast, although Peter, Paul & Mary seem a bit out of place. Or perhaps Pat wasn't as much of a square as people thought. Notice the start time: 4:30 pm (Central time). Doesn't seem likely any more that a network show would come on at that hour, not with the news saturation that local stations have today.
Perry Como no longer had a weekly series in 1962, but his Kraft Music Hall appeared several times a year. Since the show was always on Wednesday nights, his November special was always on Thanksgiving Eve. (And that's exactly how it was described - putting Thanksgiving Eve on a par with Christmas Eve.)
Of course, you can't have Thanksgiving without football. Look at how CBS advertises its game between the Colts and Lions in 1965:
I actually remember watching that game (I won't say how old I am now, but I was five back then). The Colts and Lions battled to a 24-24 tie that pleased nobody. Nowadays, I imagine the Lions would be pretty happy with that result. And remember those Seagram's ads that used to appear with every major sporting event? There were three games played that day; in addition to the Colts and Lions, the AFL game on NBC featured the Buffalo Bills and the San Diego Chargers, and ABC's college action was the traditional battle between Oklahoma and Nebraska.
It wasn't just television shows that advertised for Thansgiving - take a look at this ad for General Electric. I wonder how many families took advantage of the free heat 'n' serve baby dish for every baby born on November 28, 1963. (Just think - that baby would be 50 today.)
Thanksgiving wasn't only a day, though - traditionally, it was one of the biggest television weeks of the season. Check out the sidebar on the 1965 cover - from football to the Hallmark Hall of Fame, tributes to recently deceased Stan Laurel and Cole Porter, specials starring Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., a White House tour with Mrs. LBJ, and a James Bond documentary. And this was before VCRs.
And this is just scratching the surface - for example, in 1962 the Bell Telephone Hour had special guest Carl Sandburg, the American poet and Lincoln biographer. It seems to me that there truly was a sense that Thanksgiving was a time for the family to get together, and with a little of something for everyone there was no better way for quality family time than to sit in front of the television.