June 14, 2014

This week in TV Guide: June 12, 1965

A while back we took a look at a TV Guide that included direct evidence of the viewing tastes of its owner, in the form of circled program listings.  Whether or not these shows were actually viewed, we have a pretty good idea of what the owner of this issue intended to watch that week.

We're got another example of that this week, and while the viewing choices aren't as widespread as they were in the previous issue, they're still worth looking at.  The mailing label on this issue is missing so we can't tell much about that owner (other than that he or she lived in the Twin Cities), but my suspicion is that they liked sports.

The week kicks off on Saturday, and there, in green ink, a box has been drawn around the pre-game show preceding the Minnesota Twins game against the Tigers in Detroit.  No surprise there; this is a magic year for the Twins, who lead the American League on the way to their first pennant and appearance in the World Series, where they'll lose a heart-breaking seventh game to Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers.*  That's a ways in the distance though, so we'll just enjoy the Twins on their ride to the top.

*Who are on ABC's Saturday Game of the Week, playing the hapless Mets in New York.


There's more Twins baseball on Sunday, the final game of the weekend series against Detroit, but before that we see another selection - this time the syndicated Harbor Command on KSTP, Channel 5.  (That series is out on DVD now, by the way, to mostly positive reviews.  Haven't seen it yet myself, but I may check it out one of these days.)  Then, at 10:30 that evening, there's not only a box but the word "See," referring to the Channel 4 late-night movie A Cry in the Dark, starring Edmond O'Brien, Brian Donlevy, Natalie Wood, Raymond Burr and Richard Anderson.  Burr and Anderson, of course, would later be reunited in Perry Mason.  But for now, Burr - as was his wont, back in the day - plays the heavy, kidnapping Wood and intending to have his way with her, but don't worry - Natalie eventually makes it home safely.  Had she known more about Ray Burr back then, she might not have worried as much.

The Twins are on again Tuesday night (accompanied by the note "7:30 Twins"), this time in Chicago to play the White Sox.  Following that, though, we're plunged into confusion - unless this household has multiple TVs, there might have been a battle over what show to watch.  Channel 11's late movie, following the Twins game, is Only the Valiant at 11:30pm.  The movie runs two hours, but that doesn't prevent our programmer from also circling the 12:15am movie on Channel 5, Apache Woman.  And for good measure, the program following that 11:30 Channel 11 movie, Adventure Theater, is highlighted as well.  My guess is that if Only the Valiant was any good, the Channel 11 schedule probably won out.  Otherwise, it gets the hook and Apache Woman takes the night.

Unfortunately, even though there's another Twins-Chicago game the following night, and the first of a weekend series against the Yankees on Friday, this is where the notes end.  Maybe the owner got sick and didn't get to the rest of the week; perhaps there was a vacation upcoming, with no need to circle shows after Tuesday.  Hard to say.  But I'm sorry they stopped, whoever they were - it's fun looking back at what I might have watched back then, but even more fun to see the viewing habits of others.

***

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..

Palace:  We’re in the rerun zone at the Palace this week, with host Arthur Godfrey welcoming comedian Shelley Berman; songstress Dorothy Collins; singer John Gary; the comedy team of Gaylord and Holiday; Dwight Moore and His Mongrels; juggler Eva Vidos; and the Dalrays, comic acrobats.

Sullivan:  Ed's live this week, with comedian Sid Caesar; comics Allen and Rossi; French pop singer Jean Paul Vignon; British rock 'n' roller Tom Jones; comic London Lee; singer Dee Dee Sharpe; the Seekers, folk singers; and the Wychwoods, an illusionist act which uses 14 trained poodles.

Let's see: dog acts?  Check.  Comedians?  Check.  Comedy teams?  Check.  Singers?  Check.  Each show has ticked the boxes this week, which leaves us to look at the personalities.  Shelley Berman can be very funny, Dorothy Collins is easy on the eyes, and John Gary has a smooth voice.  On the other hand,  Tom Jones is still going strong!  Even so, it's not unusual for me to go with The Palace, and that's where the winner is this week.

***

Jack Paar's in London for this week's rerun, with a stellar cast of his own: the legendary Judy Garland, the very witty Robert Morley, and the distinguished journalist Randolph Churchill, son of the late Winston.  I've seen clips of this on one of the Paar compilation videos, and it's very funny - particularly this bit where a slightly tipsy Judy has some fun at Marlene Dietrich's expense:


Oh, and she can still sing a bit, too.  What a sad, sad life she led.

***

Pretentious alert: on Thursday's repeat episode of The Defenders, Jack Klugman stars as a formerly blacklisted actor whose comeback is being threatened by a "vigilante" group trying to get him fired.  So we have Klugman, one of the most intense, scene-chewing actors around; we have McCarthyite villians in the "vigilantes" trying to prevent a decent man from earning a living; and we have The Defenders itself, one of the more strident, issues-oriented programs on the air.

I don't say that this wasn't a good episode; regardless of the show's political slant, The Defenders was one of the quality programs of the early 60s, a series that wasn't afraid to take on serious issues.  It's their advocacy that often grinds on me.  Likewise, Klugman's a man who's very good at intense but doesn't have any other speed, and I think it's a race to see who tires first: the actor or his audience.  And we don't need to deny that there were misdeeds done during the blacklist to acknowledge that the anti-Communists make a juicy straw man target.  I've never seen The Defenders, I admit; I was too young when it was on originally, it's not out on DVD, and there are very few significant clips online.  But if I'd liked The Defenders back then, I probably would have skipped an episode like this, because I wouldn't have wanted to get mad.

***

Entertaining documentary alert: ABC has a couple this week, which shows that not all docs were dry, dull affairs.  First off, on Sunday night, is "Assault on Le Mans," the third installment in ABC's "Daring Americans" series, portraying American Grand Prix champion Phil Hill, one of the greatest racing drivers of the 1960s.  Hill was the first American, and the only native-born one, to win the World Driving Championship.  Now he's at the fabled Le Mans, a race he's won three times in the past.  His teammate in the 24-hour race is Bruce McLaren*, as they drive for the upstart American Ford team, taking on the legendary European powers, particularly Ferrari.  Hill and McLaren don't win; as a matter of fact, they dropped out after 192 laps.  But two years later, Ford would topple mighty Ferrari, the legendary Ford GT taking first, second and third.

*Yes, the same McLaren who formed the car company that continues to race in Formula 1, and manufactures one of the greatest, and most expensive, supercars around.

Then, on Friday night, ABC turns its attention to gambling, as host Terry-Thomas takes a humorous look at "the urge to gamble" in "Everybody's Got a System."  The show visits horse racing tracks in Europe, talks to bettors and bookies to learn about the sport's attraction, visits a bingo parlor to see how even small-scale gambling can thrill, and visits the casinos, where Thomas explains his own "system" at the roulette wheel.  It seems lightweight, but a fun show, not unlike something you might see on History or A&E today.

***

Fashion alert: it's time for another starlet to display the latest in haute fashion.  This time it's actress Janet Margolin, who will go on to a successful career with appearances in media as varied as Woody Allen movies, a Ghostbusters sequel, and episodes of Columbo and Murder, She Wrote.  But never mind that - her mission this week is to show off the newest craze, the Finnish Marimekko, made famous by Jackie Kennedy.

SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION

Janet Margolin died of cancer in 1993, not quite 30 years after this issue.

***

James Arness is so big (besides being 6'7", that is), he even dominates this week's profile of Milburn Stone, who plays Doc on the long-running Gunsmoke.  Stone remembers the first few years working with Arness, and he wasn't impressed: "He'd be late or wouldn't show up - never apologize.  And once he was there he'd clown around."  When Stone couldn't take it any longer, he lit into Arness at a rehearsal, telling him that he didn't belong in the business, and added that "I've read my contract and there's nothing in it that says I have to put diapers on you or wait for you.  And if you ever show up late again, buddy, you'll have two things to explain - not only where you were, but where I went!"  To Stone's surprise, Arness took the tongue-lashing like a man, telling him that "You're absolutely right."  "From that moment on," Stone says, Arness changed, becoming the consummate profession we've read about in TV Guide.  "I begain to love that guy.  He's a great big wonderful cub bear."

I watched Gunsmoke when I was a kid, primarily because my grandfather did, and although I wouldn't rank it as a favorite it was a memorable show nonetheless.  The byplay between the main characters - Matt, Doc, Festus and Kitty, and the obvious chemistry between the actors playing them - is the glue that held the show together, and watching it in reruns today confirms the quality of the program.

As for Stone, he's now making the circuit with Ken Curtis, the former Ripcord star who plays Festus, playing fairs, rodeos and horse shows.  Of all the characters on Gunsmoke I think Doc and Festus were my two favorites.  Seeing them appear together must have been quite an experience.

***

Finally, on this longer-than-usual entry, a brief mention of Edith Efron's profile of Gig Young.  Young was an acclaimed stage and movie actor, with three Oscar nominations (and one win) to his credit, but in this issue he's talking about his current series, The Rogues, in which he stars along with Charles Boyer and David Niven.  I bring this up because this article, which I read some years ago now, was the first time I'd read about The Rogues, a series about a family of good-natured con artists making a living out of swindling people who deserve it.  According to the reviews, there is a sense that The Rogues is too literate, too clever, for the average viewer who wants his television without having to think about it.

I first saw The Rogues a couple of years ago, when we first got MeTV, and I was absolutely charmed by it. It's a show that desperately deserves a commercial DVD release (although you can get copies if you know where to look), and since I only caught maybe half of the episodes, I'd love to see it back on the MeTV schedule.  It was better than Leverage, more humorous than The A-Team, and not nearly as complicated as Mission: Impossible.  And since it was a series, unlike The Sting, you got to see it every week.  It should have run for more than one season, and if you ever get the chance you should give it a try.  I will be surprised if my readers aren't as charmed by it as was I.

7 comments:

  1. "The Rogues" is a wonderful show. Creators Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts wrote the pilot movie for "Charlie's Angels" in the same style, and that was their vision for the series - sophisticated cons, but this time with female operatives. Spelling-Goldberg opted for something less urbane and more titillating.

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    1. Didn't know that about "Charlie's Angels," David. I would have enjoyed that series much more. Not, mind you, that there weren't enjoyable features to "Charlie's Angels" - I speak, of course, of John Forsythe.... :)

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  2. I spent a few days looking over this issue (Chicago edition, of course), along with the one from the next week (for context).

    - Surprised that you didn't mention the first of two excerpts from Allan Sherman's just-published autobiography, dealing with his days at Goodson-Todman, where he created and produced I've Got A Secret for the first years of its run.
    Very funny inside TV stuff; I still have the book after all these years (mass-market paperback, falling apart).

    - What local stations used to do:
    Channel 7, the ABC station, pre-empted Burke's Law on Wednesday night for a local special called Chicago: Sports Capital of The World. This was pretty nervy in 1965: The Cubs were perennial second-division finishers at this point, the White Sox were still mostly also-rans (even with the Yankee collapse starting up), the Bears were still behind the Packers, the Black Hawks were up-and-down in a pre-expansion NHL, and the Bulls didn't even exist yet.
    (I may be hazy on some of the dates here; corrections welcomed.)
    Ch7 ran the Burke's Law episode as a make-good on Saturday, after prime time.
    In the old three-network days things like this happened quite a bit - less and less as time went on.

    - The Defenders:
    The "Blacklist" episode came close to not getting on - because one of the actors in it was still on the list.
    That's from the writer, Ernest Kinoy; he didn't name the actor, but noted that Jack Klugman was the last-minute replacement.
    (Oh, and did you notice who got the part of Klugman's wife in the episode? Probably just a coincidence ... ;- D)

    - Channel 9, the independent station, had the biggest movie library in town, which it put to varied use all over the schedule.
    On Friday nights in summer, ch9 supplanted Frazier Thomas's Family Classics with The Ray Rayner Theater, which was all classic comedy, mainly Laurel & Hardy - in prime time.
    This particular Friday night (the 18th), the ads touted Stan and Ollie as usual, but the movie was Zenobia - which has Ollie but not Stan ( it was filmed while Stan Laurel was in a contract dispute with Hal Roach, Babe Hardy was put into this one while his contract was still in force).
    I didn't happen to see this showing; I've always wondered how exactly Ray Rayner handled the discrepancy.

    Loads of other stuff here, and I may be at my character limit.
    Any questions?

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    1. Hey Mike,

      I thought long and hard about the Sherman article, finally decided against it, but you're right that he was a wonderful humorist. Even though I was fairly young when he died, I was quite sorry about it.

      I don't always have the latest issue at hand when I'm reading the comments, but I did this morning, and turned to grab it when you mentioned "The Defenders" - I'd forgotten that. Wonderful casting!

      Can't believe that about Channel 7 pre-empting "Burke's Law" particularly considering the state of Chicago sports. But you're right; this kind of thing used to happen all the time.

      Question for you if you're reading this (and I'm sorry I didn't get to these until today) - do you by chance have a Chicagoland TV Guide from November 1965? If so, was any station there showing Mike Douglas? I'm checking for a reader who asked.

      Thanks!

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  3. Last things first:

    - Mike Douglas was always on some station in Chicago, going back to the '50s.
    He was a local boy; his break came in Chicago when he joined Kay Kyser's band just after WWII.
    After some years of touring, he returned to Chicago and hosted many local shows on the various stations, singing and talking with guests.
    When Douglas moved to Cleveland and began his syndicated show for Westinghouse, WGN-ch9 was one of the first buyers; the Douglas show was popular enough that ch9 would move it to mornings in the spring and summer (baseball) months, then back to afternoons in fall and winter.
    There was a stretch in the '70s when channel 5, the NBC station, outbid WGN for Douglas; in the latter part of its run, the show would go back and forth between the two stations. I'm fairly certain that Mike Douglas finished his syndie run at ch9.

    I'm getting busy with the new post; I don't have that issue but I do have the one just before and the one just after, for context.
    I note from your text that ABC was not really represented in your area; that aspect is something I'm going to have to dig around a little for.

    More To Come! .... at that post.

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    1. I knew you'd have an answer! See you later on at the new post!

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  4. Mitchell, I liked your take on "Blacklist." Did you know it won two Emmys? For Ernest Kinoy's script and Jack Klugman's performance. I'd like to see THE DEFENDERS, and this episode in particular.

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Thanks for writing! Drive safely!