The actress, currently starring with Mark Miller in NBC's Please Don't Eat the Daisies, is talking about her marriage to attorney Ed Hookstratten. De Roos asks her if the marriage, now eight years long, will last now that she's working on a weekly series. "It sure is," she tells him. "We are Catholics and there is a little solidity there."
That sounded like such a refreshing attitude to me that I immediately went to Google, to find that the Hookstrattens had divorced sometime in the 70s or 80s - Crowley remarried in 1986, to producer Andy Friendly.*
*Fun fact: Andy Friendly's father is legendary TV newsman Fred Friendly; his brother, David Friendly, was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 as producer of Little Miss Sunshine.
I hasten to say here that I have no knowledge of why Crowley and Hookstratten divorced, and I don't want to play either a pop psychologist, a pop marriage counselor, or a pop theologian. But one of the many tragedies of the Catholic Church in the latter half of the 20th Century - particularly the post-Vatican II turmoil, which reached a peak in 1968 with Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae - is the breakdown of basic Catholic beliefs. By the late 60s, Catholic doctrine had become a smorgasbord; if you didn't like what one priest had to say on birth control, for example, you could shop around and find a priest who would readily sanction it. Similar situations existed for everything from premarital sex to divorce and remarriage to a whole host of previous elements of Catholic teaching that had rarely been questioned. Inevitably, this kind of confusion among the faithful led many to doubt the Church's sincerity, authority, - what have you. Bottom line: no solidity.
Again, I have no reason to think that this might have had any role to play in Pat Crowley's divorce from Ed Hookstratten. But I do think it's part of this blog's narrative to fit these kinds of things into the larger cultural environment. The 60s were already a period of flux by now, and they were headed toward even more cataclysmic change. Understanding the climate of the times (even though the insufficient space here hardly scratches the surface) puts little moments like this into some sense of context. It even adds, I think, a note of poignancy.
*Hookstratten, Elvis Presley's personal attorney, represented The King in his divorce from Priscilla, which certainly suggests mixed feelings regarding divorce.
During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television. Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup..
Sullivan: Scheduled guests: Dinah Shore; puppet Topo Gigio; comic Jackie Vernon; the rock'n' rolling Four Tops; Les Feux Follets, Canadian folk dancers; guitarist José Feliciano; comic Dick Capri; Markworth and Mayana, trick bow-and-arrow act; and Army sergeant Barry Sadler, who sings "The Ballad of the Green Berets." In a special film segment, Sir Laurence Olivier is seen in excerpts from his film of Shakespeare's "Othello."
Palace: Host Arthur Godfrey presents comedian Sid Caesar; singer Abbe Lane; The Mamas and the Papas, rock 'n' roll group; comic Corbett Monica; the Berosinis, Czechoslovakian acrobats; and Les Apollos, balancing act.
I like Dinah, and you can't beat Olivier doing Shakespeare (nor the beat of "The Ballad of the Green Berets"), but I think Abbe Lane and Sid Caesar, with a little help from The Old Redhead, are enough to push Palace over the finish line first this week.
Now, if you lived in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and were so inclined to tune to WKBT, Channel 8 (the NBC affiliate), you would have been able to catch last week's episode of Palace at 10:30pm on Tuesday night*. Let's see if that might have made for a better show:
*Since Western Wisconsin lacked an ABC affiliate at the time.
Palace (from last week): Fred Astaire hosts this night at the Palace making a rare TV appearance with dancer Barrie Chase. Guests include Mickey Rooney and his nightclub partner Bobby Van; British singer Petula Clark; the Nitwits, musical cutups; the Lenz Chimps; and comedian Ray Hastings.
Yes. It definitely did make for a better show. See?
In the early days of this blog, I did a piece on the short-lived Sammy Davis, Jr. Show, which featured the oddity of its star having to sit out nearly a month's worth of shows immediately following the premiere due to a no-compete clause. Seems that Sammy had done a special for ABC, and the terms of that contract prohibited him from appearing on any other network for the three weeks immediately preceding the show. The Sammy Davis, Jr. show was on NBC. You can, of course, see the problems coming a mile away.
|SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
*I wonder how NBC felt about all this? On the one hand, a ratings win for Sammy might well have boded well for the ratings on his NBC series; on the other, the network would probably have wanted to see Kildare beat Red. Should such an absurd thing happen nowadays, I wonder if the network would consider airing a Kildare rerun?
Sammy's show probably didn't stand much of a chance anyway - it's opposition was Hogan's Heroes and Gomer Pyle on CBS, The Addams Family and Honey West on ABC. But later on that Friday night, we'll see another oddity: Garry Moore on a network other than CBS.
Moore had been a fixture on the network since his radio show debuted in 1949; from 1950 on he'd had both morning and evening variety programs, as well as his long-running emcee duties on I've Got a Secret. But Moore's prime-time show had been cancelled by the network in 1964, after which he'd left Secret and the network. Now, a year and a half later, Moore's ready to come back. There's only one problem - CBS, to whom he's still under contract, doesn't want him. Or, to be precise, they don't want what he has to offer.
Moore acknowledges that the variety format he'd been so successful with has seen better days, and he's ready for something new and different. He thought he'd found the answer when CBS news chief Fred Friendly approached him about working on some public affairs programs, but the network's policy forbade entertainers from working in news or public affairs. In later years, Moore will talk with TV Guide about his desire to move into news and "people" programming, even becoming a news reporter, and his immense frustration at CBS' reluctance to see him in that light. You can see the seeds of that disappointment here, as Moore chafes at being paid "to sit around and do nothing." His exclusive contract with CBS, which prevents him from doing a series for any other network and requires him to give CBS first refusal on any one-shot special, still has nine years to run. He's asked the network to release him from the contract, but they refuse to do so. His only recourse is to sue, an option he says he'd consider.
In the meantime, an agency came up with an idea right up Moore's alley. Garry Moore's People Poll, a special in which he gets to travel around the country interviewing ordinary people and asking them basic questions: Do you kiss your wife when you get up in the morning? Are you stricter than your own parents? Are you satisfied with your life - and what changes would you make if you could start over? Things like that. Per the provisions of the contract, the show is first offered to CBS, which turns it down. So he turned elsewhere. "We were delighted," Moore says, "to find a more flexible policy at ABC."
Earlier in the article, Moore mentions a project he and Jay Ward are working on for CBS, a comedy-variety program. It debuts in the fall, and is quickly wiped out by Bonanza. Moore will eventually come back to regular television as host of the syndicated To Tell the Truth (with CBS' approval) in 1969, and will host it until 1977, after which, suffering from throat cancer, he'll retire for good, dying in 1993.
Here's footage from Moore's final appearance on To Tell the Truth in 1977.
If you liked that, you can get the whole program (both hours) here.
And on Thursday night, NBC reminds us of what Hallmark Hall of Fame used to be before it became home to tear-jerking sentimental chick flicks, when they present a rerun of "The Magnificent Yankee," a biography of the Washington years of Supreme Count justice Oliver Wendell Holmes starring the husband-and-wife team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, two of the greats of the theater. "The Magnificent Yankee" won five Emmy awards when it was originally broadcast, including Best Actor (Lunt), Best Actress (Fontanne) and Best Drama.
|SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
By 1975 virtually every television home in the United States will be capable of receiving programming from six times as many sources as today!. . .
By 1975 it looks as if three out of four homes will own at least two sets. . . No longer will every member of the family be forced to look at the same program. Viewing will become fractionalized and selective. . .
The teen-ager, the intellectual, the tired businessman, the housewife - each will be able to tune in the particular kind of entertainment, information, music or discussion that suits his or her respective desires.
Now, I don't know how things were by 1975, but his predictions become very interesting when viewed in light of today's cultural norms. For example, every home today has at least six times as many programming sources, but Schneider couldn't have anticipated how they would shake out. Streaming video on laptops, tablets, iPhones, Roku; original programming on services like Netflix that mean you don't even have to have access to conventional television broadcasting; DVDs and DVRs that enable viewers to watch an entire season of a series over a weekend,even if that series is 50 years old - it has, indeed, resulted in fractionalized viewing.
But even more, technology has forever changed the impact of television viewing. Because people can watch whatever they want whenever they want, the shared experience of watching television has virtually disappeared, except for the Super Bowl. Schneider did indeed foresee this kind of individual viewing, with the concurrent result that programs no longer had to appeal to a broad audience, but could he have predicted the kind of Balkanization that resulted?
TV Guide's editors wonder about this vision of the future. They look at the current state of television in Los Angeles, where numerous multi-TV homes and ten stations have merely produced programming "given over to hundreds of old movies and old TV series." And isn't that what we have today? I've made this complaint before (as have others) so I won't belabor the point, but who can tell TNT from TBS from USA from Cloo from Bravo from Hallmark? What's the difference between A&E and History and TLC and Discovery?
Reality programming of one kind or another dominates networks as diverse as HGTV and TruTV. MTV is all about lifestyle, and ESPN spends half their broadcasting day with editions of SportsCenter. Cultural programming, which used to be seen at least occasionally on some of these networks, is all but gone. And overnight hours (on both cable and OTA stations) is dominated by informercials and replays of previously broadcast shows. Is this really what the future was supposed to give us?
The editors compare Schneider's view of TV's future to the state of radio in 1966, "which long since has become fractionalized (several sets per home) and selective (there's a choice of many stations everywhere). In most areas these days, once you've heard the news, radio offers records, talking disc jockeys and very little else." Is TV today any more diverse than that?
TV Guide's conclusion was this: "Improvement and variety in programming will not just happen in television any more than they happened in radio. There must be planning. There must be direction. So far we have neither." I'll end by asking the question: is there any evidence that television executives are doing any planning today? Or are they simply waiting for things to happen?