July 18, 2015

This week in TV Guide: July 18, 1959

Nothing that stands out this issue, so we'll start in with a look at the shows of the week, and go from there.

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Saturday night at 9:00pm ET CBS has an episode of the police drama Brenner, starring Edward Binns and James Broderick as father-and-son cops.  I picked this series up a few years ago at Half Price Books*, more out of curiosity than anything else.  I'd never heard of it, and wasn't even a particular fan of Binns, who usually plays the heavies in the movies and shows in which I've seen him.  To my surprise, I found this a terrific show - Binns is very, very good as a policeman working in Internal Affairs, while the young Broderick, better known from Family, is interesting to see as a first-year policeman.  The music, which is probably by Frank Lewin, adds a lot to the atmosphere, as does the black-and-white cinematography, and the stories themselves are not all of the standard cops-and-robbers variety.  The box set I purchased has 15 of the 26 episodes that were produced; I wish the others were available.  I'd have liked to see a lot more of this underrated series.

*Truth in advertising department: you can buy more than just books at Half Price Books.  Just yesterday I bought a sonic screwdriver.

There's a big spread for Sunday's Ed Sullivan show, which comes to us from the Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy.  It was founded last year by composer and blog favorite Gian Carlo Menotti (Amahl and the Night Visitors, among other NBC Opera productions), and features performers from around the world and around the entertainment spectrum.  Tonight, Ed's guests include Sir John Gielgud, opera star Eileen Farrell, the Jerome Robbins dance corps, Louis Armstrong's jazz band (without Armstrong, who was ill), and an orchestra conducted by Menotti favorite Thomas Schippers.  That's quite a lineup, and it's only part of the guest list!

On Monday night the Boston Red Sox take on the Milwaukee Braves at Fenway Park in a rare in-season exhibition game to benefit the Jimmy Fund.*  It's a simple explanation; the Braves played in Boston until they moved to Milwaukee after the 1953 season, and had a connection to the Jimmy Fund themselves.  Logical that the two teams would come together at Fenway to benefit the fund.

*For many years, until sports owners decided there was no such thing as too much money, an ad for the Jimmy Fund was the only in-stadium advertising allowed at Fenway Park.

Later that night on Desilu Playhouse  (10pm, CBS), John Drew Barrymore and Earl Holliman star in the Western "Silent Thunder."  At the time, John Drew Barrymore was best-known as the son of the famed John Barrymore; his aunt and uncle were Lionel and Ethel Barrymore.  Today, his claim to fame is as the father of Drew Barrymore.  The man just can't win.

Going through the listings from the first couple of decades of television, you often see the same names popping up - Rod Serling and Paddy Chayefsky, for example.  Another is Don Mankiewicz, part of the famed Mankiewicz family that we've talked about from time to time here.  His name first appears on Monday night as co-writer (with Larry Marcus) of "U.S. vs. Alexander Holmes" on CBS' Joseph Cotten Show, and on Tuesday we see him again, as writer of "The Navagator" on Alcoa Presents, which most of us probably know better as One Step Beyond.  Now there's a show that deserves a proper DVD release.

If you're not watching that, you might be taking in The Andy Williams Show on CBS.  This isn't Andy's regular series yet, but a summer replacement series for Garry Moore's variety show.  It won't be until 1962 that Andy settles in to the NBC schedule on a permanent basis.  One of tonight's guests is "comedian Andy Griffith"; his show won't begin until the fall of 1960, and at this point he's best known for his wonderful stage, screen and TV turn in No Time For Sergeants, and his brilliant dramatic portrayal of the megalomaniac in A Face in the Crowd.  I've written about that one before; it really is a shame Griffith didn't get more dramatic roles.

Wednesday features another summer replacement show we might not have heard of before; it's the game show Keep Talking, on CBS at 8pm.  It sounds to me like a pretty lame idea; from the always-reliable Wikipedia: "Six celebrity panelists, divided into two teams, would try to guess a secret word given to one player on each team. These two players would then proceed to tell a story to their team involving that word, yet not using that word. Narration of the story would jump from team-mate to team-mate, often leaving the new narrator at a loss as to how to continue the story. Little attention was paid to scoring and points—the point was for the panelists to build their ad-lib story seamlessly and entertainingly."  On tonight's show, Vincent Price is the guest host, and Caesar Romero fills in for regular panelist Joey Bishop.

Also, I'd assume that most of you know The Price Is Right did exist before Bob Barker and Drew Carey.  If you're a faithful reader of the Monday TV listings feature, you've probably seen it quite a few times.  The host is the incomparable Bill Cullen, and it actually has quite a different format than the one we're familiar with, including celebrity guests.  Here, take a look at it:


We've been looking at our fair share of obscure shows this week, and two of them appear in Thursday's daytime listings.  The first is the sitcom Beulah, at 11am on Channel 5.  Everyone always thinks of Amos 'n' Andy when discussing leading black characters in early television, but Beulah was in fact the first series to feature a black actor or actress in the lead role.  Like so much of early television, it was a crossover from radio, where it had started in 1945 before migrating to television, running on ABC from 1950 to 1952.  I'm not sure who's playing Beulah at this point, since there were two actresses known for the role.  My guess is that it's Ethel Waters, the great gospel singer who toured for so many years with Billy Graham on his crusades.  It could, though, be Louise Beavers, who was known for "maid" roles in a long career that dated back to the '20s.

In the afternoon, we have a discussion show that sounds as if it belongs on PBS but in fact is an NBC program: The Court of Human Relations.  This too started out on radio before going on to a brief run on television.  Not much more to offer for this one, but this was the first time I'd noticed it in the listings.

Every so often, TCM will run the movie Pete Kelly's Blues, which starred Jack Webb in one of his non-Dragnet roles.  The movie - yes, it was based on a radio series as well - came out in 1955, and featured Webb as a bandleader and musician.  Four years later it's a TV series on NBC Fridays at 7:30pm, with future FBI agent William Reynolds taking over the lead.  I've never seen an episode of the series (nor, for that matter, have I seen the movie, although I think I caught the end of it a few months ago), but it seems as if I catch an ad for the movie in a TV Guide every few months.

TV fans with good memories probably recall NBC's Ellery Queen series from the mid '70s (written up nicely here), a fun show that starred Jim Hutton and David Wayne as Ellery and his inspector father.  However, that's far from being the first time Queen made it to TV; at 8pm with George Nader as Ellery and Lee Phillips as the inspector.  And on Channel 5 it's Markham, a short-lived private detective series starring Oscar winner Ray Milland.

Otherwise, it's familiar faces this Friday, sometimes because of moves for the summer schedule.  ABC has Disneyland, which eventually winds up on NBC Sundays; NBC has M Squad, the great Lee Marvin police show, and CBS is running I Love Lucy and The Phil Silvers Show, with Silvers as the marvelous Sgt. Ernie Bilko.

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Ad of the week:


Really, who can resist that?  Makes you want to get a cat just so you can buy their cat food.

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Starlet of the week:  It's Audrey Gellen, who's actually not an actress at all, but "TV's best-paid writer . . . pound for pound."  She's 25, 112 pounds*, and has scribbled scripts for five DuPont Show of the Month specials: "The Member of the Wedding," "The Browning Version" and "Billy Budd" among them.  She went on to be script editor for Dupont producer David Susskind's East Side/West Side, and adapted the classic Harvey for a 1972 telefilm.  Despite this, I think her greatest success may well have come as a producer; she continue to work with Susskind for many years, winning an Emmy as co-producer of the 1970s TV movie Eleanor and Franklin, and receiving a nomination that same year for Moon for the Misbegotten.  She also was one of the producers of Martin Scorsese's Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, before dying in a car crash in 1975 at the unthinkable age of only 38.

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Fashion show of the week comes from our cover story on Janet Blair.  Blair is a big-band singer turned successful actress, but that isn't the talent that TV Guide's interested in this week.  It's all about what the fashionable housewife wears around the house.  After all, whether you're vacuuming, dusting, making the bed or doing the dishes, it's important for you to look your best.


I often lament how TV Guide changed from these classic years, but this is one area I'm not really sorry to see go.

10 comments:

  1. Wikipedia has Keep Talking's format completely wrong, as expected:

    Here's how it really worked:
    Two celebrity teams, the Chatterboxes and the Gabbers.
    The emcee (Carl Reiner was the one I remember best; Merv Griffin had the longest run in the role) would hand one member from each team a gag phrase sent in by a home viewer (different phrases for each player).
    Then the emcee would begin a story, shaggy-dog type; about thirty seconds in, a buzzer would sound, and the Chatterbox would have to pick up the story without a break; thirty seconds more, the buzzer sounds again and the Gabber picks it up.
    Each player has to work his gag phrase into the story while he's telling it.
    After about three minutes of back and forth like this, the game stops. Now the remaining Chatterboxes have to guess the secret gag phrase the Gabber used; the remaining Gabbers have to do the same for the Chatterbox. The home viewers who sent the gag phrases in would win small cash prizes if their phrases were guessed by the panelists (or not guessed; that part I can't really recall).
    The most frequent panelists were Morey Amsterdam and Danny Dayton (of Guys And Dolls fame), who were usually Chatterboxes, and Paul Winchell and Joey Bishop, who were Gabbers. The female panelists rotated in and out; Pat Carroll was most frequent.
    Keep Talking started out on CBS, then moved to ABC, running about two seasons total. Joey Bishop left the show while it was on ABC, and was replaced by Orson Bean.
    That I remember this much of it all, 56 years on, must say something - about me, at any rate ...

    One other thing, for now:
    My Chicago edition carries a Close-Up for an episode of Rawhide titled "Incident of the Shambling Man" - but the listing in the main page is for a different episode, stating that "Shambling Man" is being postponed until fall.
    Does your edition have this anomaly?
    Check it out and report back, if you please.

    Also:
    The 1958 Ellery Queen series was not EQ's first pass at TV.
    That would have been back in 1950, on the Dumont network.
    Details on request ...

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    1. Following up on Ellery Queen:

      - The first EQ TV series began in 1950 (the year I was born), on the Dumont network.
      This was a live half-hour, with Richard Hart as Ellery and Florenz Ames as the Inspector.
      Midway through the season, in January '51, Richard Hart died suddenly, just 48 hours before a live telecast; he was immediately replaced by Lee Bowman, who stayed with the series when it moved to ABC in December '51; he stayed to this series' end late in '52.

      - The second EQ series was filmed for syndication in 1955.
      Hugh Marlowe, who'd played Ellery on radio back in the '30s, reprised the part in this film series; Florenz Ames was back as Inspector Queen.
      TPA, a syndie mill run by the folks behind the old PRC company, made a year's worth, which ran on local stations for years afterward.
      (Look in the off-hours local listings; if you see a show called Mystery Is My Business in a late-hour timeslot, that's this version of EQ. I found just such a listing in my Chicago edition).

      - The third version of EQ on TV was in the '58-'59 season; that's the one you're referring to here.
      This series started out as a live, New York origination, with George Nader as Ellery and Les Tremayne as Inspector Queen.
      Midseason, the production was switched to Hollywood and videotape, at NBC's orders.
      Lee Philips replaced George Nader as Ellery, and the character of Inspector Queen was dropped.
      The episode listed here is most likely a taped rerun with Philips - the series had already been cancelled by then.

      - In 1971, NBC and Universal made a pilot called Ellery Queen: Don't Look Behind You, starring Peter Lawford as Ellery and Harry Morgan as Inspector Queen.
      The least said about this one the better.

      - Finally, in 1975, came the Jim Hutton-David Wayne version that we all know and love.
      That it only ran one season can be blamed (at least by me) on CBS's shotgun reconciliation of Sonny and Cher (for which I never forgave either one).

      Interestingly, very few episodes of the early EQ series survive in any form.
      One of the live Richard Hart shows, a few of the Lee Bowmans (with live commercials for Kaiser-Frazer automobiles), and a couple of the films with Hugh Marlowe (carrying the Mystery Is My Business title) - and that's pretty much it.
      The '58-'59 show, the one we're talking about here - apparently lost in toto.
      And believe me, people are looking.
      Actually the same is true of the long-running EQ radio show - hundreds of shows, but only a few recordings survive.
      The EQ novels and short-story collections are mostly out of print, although a few specialist publishers are putting some out as Ebooks (something I've been resisting).

      All of the foregoing makes me realize that I was born at just the moment before the publishing business went south in a big way - done in by the junk science known as demographics.
      ... but that, as Mr. Kipling (and Mr. Moto) said, is another story ...

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    2. Great information! Love reading these comments, even though I don't always get the chance to say anything about it. The books are still the best, though, particularly the ones where EQ has been more fully developed, but before some of them were farmed out to ghostwriters.

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  2. I think that this post should be dated July 18, not July 19, 1959, as that was the date on the issue and the Saturday and beginning of that week's listings.
    I remember Edward Binns as one of the Twelve Angry Men of the movie of that title. He also played a general on MASH around the 5th season. If I remember correctly, this general wanted to hire Hawkeye as his personal physician.

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    1. By golly, you're right! Fixed - thanks!

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  3. Loved the video of the original The Price Is Right. Very interesting! Likewise, Australia had its own versions of the show in the late 1950s, no doubt similar to the US format shown here.

    The Price Is Right was similarly re-adopted in Australia in the early 1970s, based on the revamped format that had launched in the US. It was successful enough at the time that it appeared twice each weekday, with a 1-hour afternoon edition and then a half-hour edition in the evening. It's one of those formats that tends to keep re-appearing over the years. The last time it appeared was in 2012 so it's no doubt due for another comeback.

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  4. re: BEULAH. There is a third possibility for the title role, as the legendary Hattie McDaniel was cast in between Waters and Beavers, but only completed six episodes before her breast cancer diagnosis (which would unfortunately take her life in 1952).

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    1. Yes - so frustrating when they don't add the cast, isn't it? Of course, who knows how long the issue would have been then!

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  5. Didn't "Brenner" get revived in 1964 with new episodes, again as a summer replacemnt??

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    1. Brenner wasn't revived in '64; CBS was just burning off some of the '58 episodes that they hadn't gotten around to running at that time.
      One of these "leftovers" was Charlie Paradise, what would nowadays be called a 'backdoor pilot' set in a hip coffee house, which had nothing to do with the regular Brenner series beyond the brief presence of Ed Binns.
      You can find this show on the Brenner box set.
      Charlie Paradise (played by Ron Randell) was the tuxedoed owner-proprietor of the above-mentioned coffee house, assisted by Fred Gwynne (pre -Car 54) as barman/bouncer.
      The clear prototype here was Peter Gunn, which had just hit in '58; CBS apparently had a choice between this and the very similar Mr. Lucky (from the Gunn stable); you can guess the rest.
      Side note: the Paradise supporting cast included Gerald S. O'Loughlin, who passed on just a few weeks ago, aged 93.
      For more, go to Mystery File*blog, where I and some others discussed this show and its "parent" in a detailed post. I have no idea how to link, so just go to the site and type Charlie Paradise in the Search box.

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