July 12, 2014

This week in TV Guide: July 9, 1966

Longtime readers of the blog may recognize the story stripped across the top of this week's cover: the disaster that was The Sammy Davis Jr. Show, which I wrote about here.  It's a pretty good piece that goes a bit beyond the article, so it's well worth your while checking it out.  Go ahead, I'll wait.

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A humorous note appears in the "On the Record" section that leads off this issue's programming section.  Seems as if the magazine has a writer, Richard Warren Lewis, whose assignment was to go undercover, as it were, as a contestant on ABC's The Dating Game, then come back and write an article about his experiences.  The article's now a week overdue, but Mr. Lewis presumably has a good excuse: Joan Patrick, the young woman whom Lewis selected during his turn in the bachelor's seat.  Miss Patrick, apparently, has quite the recipe for rock cornish game hen stuffed with wild rice and cooked in white wine.  Well, as they say, the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.  Next month the two are set to be married, and presumably the article will have to wait a while longer.

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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 playing a little fast and loose with the listings this week; the Coaches All-America football game, which I discussed a couple of issues ago, preempts Palace this week, which means we're dependent on KCMT's delayed broadcast of last week's show.  In that one, host Ray Bolger presents singer Kay Starr; jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton, accompanied by 7-year-old drummer Jim Bradley; impressionist Rich Little; comedian Norm Crosby; escape artist Michael De La Vega; and the Five Amandis, teeterboard act.

Sullivan:  Ed's guests this week are Ethel Merman; the rockin' Rolling Stones; singer Wayne Newton; actor Hal Holbrook; comics Sandy Baron and Eddie Schaeffer; and the Rumanian Folk Ballet.

James Bradley Jr., Lionel Hampton's accompanist, was already known to television viewers, having appeared on Jack Benny's program when he was five, and he'd later appear in a small role in Paul Newman's Cool Hand Luke, and continues in the business today.  Combined with Hampton, the wonderful song-and-dance man Ray Bolger, and the very funny Norm Crosby, the Palace would normally have this week hands-down.  But then Ed comes back with the Merm, the Stones, and Hal Holbrook.  There can be only one verdict for this high-quality week: push.

Here's a clip from the Stones' appearance on Sullivan, which had originally been broadcast in February 1966:


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Random notes for the week:

A letter to the editor lauding a recent article on NBC newsman Frank McGee and reminding readers of his yeoman in the hours and days following the assassination of John Kennedy is signed "Leslie Nielsen, Universal City, Cal."  I wonder - there can't be that many Leslie Nielsens, can there?

Saturday is the final round of the British Open, live* via satellite from Muirfield, Scotland.  It's the first Saturday finish for the Open; in previous years 36 holes had been played on Friday, with Saturday reserved in case of a playoff.  Jack Nicklaus wins the first of his three Opens, edging Doug Sanders and Dave Thomas by a stroke.  Nicklaus loved Muirfield so much that when he built his own course in Dublin, Ohio, he named in Muirfield Village.

*Interesting that in years to come, the Open would revert to same-day coverage on Wide World of Sports before attaining the massive television coverage it enjoys to this day.

A prescient NBC special on Sunday afternoon, "Who Shall Live?" takes a look at the crisis facing medicine.  As producer Lucy Jarvis puts it, "One hundred thousand people die of [uremic poisoning] every year, and only 150 are being saved.  Why is that - in a country as rich as ours?"  The answer: a rigorous treatment for those suffering from the disease, which costs $10,000 a year and lasts for the rest of their lives.  Applicants for the treatment must go through a battery of tests and then await the judgment of a committee that decides "who shall live."

Monday night Joey Bishop begins the first night of his three-week stint for the vacationing Johnny Carson.  I know Johnny liked his time off, but three weeks?  On the other hand, I've got a TV Guide somewhere talking about then-Today host Dave Garroway beginning the first of a five week vacation.  Must be nice.

Tuesday is Major League Baseball's All Star Game, broadcast at 12:30 pm (CT) on NBC from St. Louis.  It's the last All Star Game to be scheduled in the afternoon; the following year's game in Anaheim has a late-afternoon start in order to capitalize on prime time in the East.  The National League wins an excruciating 2-1 victory in ten innings, played in 105° heat.  Imagine if Busch Stadium had had artificial turf back then.

On Wednesday at 9pm, Channel 11 has a syndicated broadcast of the world middleweight boxing championship, as champion Emile Griffith takes on challenger Joey Archer live from Madison Square Garden.  Griffith wins a hard-fought 15-round decision.

Thursday NET's At Issue presents a discussion on Congressional ethics - stop it, I know you're laughing out there - moderated by Robert Novak, long before he became famous on The McLaughlin Group.  If you're not watching that, you might have on the final episode of ABC's British-import series The Baron, starring Steve Forrest, and featuring an appearance by Lois Maxwell, whom we'd all come to know and love as the original Moneypenny of the James Bond films.  Replacing The Baron next week: The Avengers.

An interesting program on Friday, another of those that it would be hard to imagine today: Pablo Casals conducting his religious oratorio "El Pessebre" (The Manager) taped at the United Nations in 1963, with an all-star cast and Robert Shaw conducting the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus.  I thought there might be a clip of that online somewhere, but no such luck.  However, if you're interested, here's a clip from a more recent performance.


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Has this been a duller issue than normal?  It's true there's not much to choose from during rerun season, and as usual the week's programming is studded with replacement series: Continental Showcase, hosted by Jim Backus, takes Jackie Gleason's place on CBS Saturday night.  Monday sees CBS' Vacation Playhouse, one of those collections of failed plots from over the years, while on NBC John Davidson takes over Kraft Music Hall for the summer.  Tuesday sees Hippodrome fill in on CBS for Red Skelton, and before there was Laugh-In, Rowan and Martin filled in for Dean Martin on NBC Thursday nights.

Even the TV Teletype is pretty ordinary, but there is one thing that caught my eye: a plan to turn literary classics into soap operas.  It says here that NBC plans a soap - excuse me, "daytime series" based on Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights this fall, and that Jane Eyre and Rebecca could follow suit.  I don't know that the Heights idea ever took off; NBC only had a handful of soaps in the coming season, and all of them - Days of Our Lives, The Doctors, Another World - were pretty well established by that time.  A pity, I suppose; so many of these books were built-in soaps, just waiting for their stories to reach a daytime audience.  On the other hand, though, it might have been difficult to figure out how the network could have stretched Heathcliff and Catherine's tortured romance out for thirty years or so.  Even if they'd filmed it in real time they couldn't have made it last that long.

4 comments

  1. One of those awkward weeks: I don't have this one, but I do have the week before and the week after.
    Context isn't really helping me here, as far as your talking points are concerned.

    - Summer replacement shows:
    I remember The Dean Martin Summer Show starring Dan Rowan and Dick Martin (that was the official title) as the first place that I (and most of the rest of the country) saw Dom DeLuise.
    He'd had spots on other shows before, but this was the show that broke him out to a large audience (Martin's popularity was such that his summer replacement scored top ratings). For weeks my father thought DeLuise was "Louie Who?"
    As DMSSsDR&DM was to Dom DeLuise, so The John Davidson Show was to George Carlin, then deep in his "cufflink comic" period. George introduced most of his character voices on this show, like the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman and the Indian Sergeant, and was also credited as the head comedy writer.
    Hippodrome was a Lew Grade show, done in London to save money, with imported Americans serving as guest hosts. You don't mention who the guest host was this particular week; I can tell you that last week's GH was Jack Carter, and next week's GH was Woody Allen (see "cufflink comics" above).

    - The Avengers:
    As it happens, CoziTV has been running this series, starting with the earliest ones - the black-and-white taped shows with Honor Blackman.
    This was the old British video standard - 408 lines, which looked really grainy when translated to our 525-line system (remember the first Telstar transmissions?).
    That was the version that TV Guide wrote up in that other issue - and it kicked up sufficient interest that the Associated British decided to start filming the show, and increase international sales.
    Cozi has run through the Blackman episodes and is starting in on the films with Diana Rigg.
    The visual difference is readily apparent.

    - Some while back I mentioned Swingin' Country, a daily c&w music show on NBC in the summer of '66.
    As I told you, the guest star on the one show I saw was Theodore Bikel.
    What I've learned since, by checking out other issues from this period, is that Theo Bikel made a number of appearances on Svingin' CONtry, at least three that I could find. On one of them, he had a duet with Minnie Pearl (and wouldn't you love to see that?).

    That's all I've got now.
    Any questions ... you know where to find me ...

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    Replies
    1. The Avengers never really popped for me until it went to film; between that and the move to color, I think the series really hit its stride. But for all that, I still love the Honor Blackman episodes - I often wonder how good those might have looked if they'd been filmed instead of taped. Do you know - when The Avengers was on A&E back in the day, did they have the Blackman episodes? I was quite surprised to see them pop up on Cozi.

      Theo Bikel and Minnie Pearl - yes, I would like to see that!

      I do have a question - interested in doing a guest host appearance on Saturdays sometime? If it's good enough for Johnny, it's good enough for me!

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    2. In the early 1990's, A&E indeed broadcast the Honor Blackman episodes, which were being promoted as "First Time Ever On American Television!".

      Incidentally, the beginning of the Blackman era, "The Avengers" was a standard-issue, no-nonsense crime drama. But as time went on, it became "lighter" and more stylish, and by the time Blackman left, it had pretty much become the show we all remember.

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  2. Do you have the following week's issue (July 16th-22nd, 1966), and if so, do you plan to spotlight it next week??

    I am asking because on July 18th, 1966, Gemini 10 was launched from Cape Canaveral, commanded by John Young (who would go on to walk on the moon during Apollo 16 and comm and the first Space Shuttle mission in 1981) with Micheal Collins (who would go on to be "the man left behind" on the historic Apollo 11 mission, staying behind in orbit around the moon while his crewmates landed).

    Supposedly, the Gemini 10 launch attracted more TV viewers than any manned launch sine John Glen's historic orbital flight four years earlier, but it was more an accident of timing. Gemini 10 was launched at 6:20 P.M. EDT (5:20 P.M. CDT), and millions of people in the Eastern half of the country had come home from work and were able to watch the launch.

    The 6:20 P.M. EDT blastoff time also caused havoc with local early-evening newscasts in some East Coast cities. Some local newscasts were pre-empted, others moved to 7 P.M. EDT, others shortened.

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