Final bidding for the 1972 Summer Games was held in Rome in 1966, after years of preparation by the cities competing to host. The finalists were Madrid, Montreal, Munich and, if you can believe it, Detroit.
The selection of Munich was a significant decision for several reasons; it was the first major international sporting event held in Germany since the end of World War II just 21 years before, and gave the West Germans an opportunity to present the "New Germany" to the world. It was a chance for Munich to overcome its reputation as one of the centers of Nazi Germany, and to instead focus on the beauty of the Bavarian countryside. It was also, at least in the eyes of the East Germans, an act of supreme provocation. The two Germanys didn't require prodding from the United States and the Soviet Union; there was real antagonism between them, and one of the concessions made by the West Germans in order to ensure participation by the Eastern bloc was to allow the East Germans to march in the Opening Ceremonies under their own name, national flag and national anthem, rather than a generic Olympic flag.
The shadow of the 1936 Berlin Olympics hung heavily over preparations for the Games, and organizers took pains to avoid any hint of the nationalism that had dominated Berlin. As Bill Marsano's preview article puts it,
The atmosphere surrounding the Games should be thick with Bavarian Gemutlichkeit. A German Olympic official has promised, "We know only too well that crimes have been committed in the German name, and how many people have suffered . . . These Olympics will be what they are supposed to be: the great meeting of the youth of the world; of the new, hopefully enlightened generation; and thus a small contribution to world peace." Amen!
To that end, the color scheme for the Games was dominated by pastels, and the logo for what were billed as "The Happy Games" was an abstract with no hint of German culture. The centerpiece of the Olympic Village was a stunning stadium built partially into a hill, covered by a futuristic glass, tent-like canopy that extended into the Village itself. Most significantly, it was decided that security for the Village should be as unobtrusive as possible, and the officers, dressed in leisure suit-like uniforms, would not be armed. (For more on the history of the Munich Olympics, dating back before the city's choice as host, David Clay Large's Munich 1972 is an excellent place to start.)
I imagine in the chaos that followed - the hostage taking and standoff in the Village, the shootout at the airport that resulted in the massacre of the Israeli athletes, Jim McKay's memorable marathon coverage of the tragedy - not very many people recalled that paragraph from TV Guide, and thus its impact is greater to us today, knowing as we do what will be happening in the days to come. Its words, as an original cultural document, have a timelessness, a sense of context, that is often missing in the dry words of a history book written long after the fact.
ABC's coverage of the Olympics begins with the opening ceremonies, telecast live at 9:00 a.m. Central time on Saturday morning (imagine TV doing that nowadays). The network is promising an unprecedented 61.5 hours of coverage, including three prime-time hours each night.
That doesn't leave us a whole lot of room for other sports - the NFL regular season is still a couple of weeks away, so there's a scattering of practice games - but for those of you interested in obscure sports that aren't shown on TV every four years, there's the weekly series covering the Bobby Fischer-Boris Spassky world chess championship (on PBS, of course). Hard to remember now just what a sensation this was at the time - the Cold War transported to a chess board. It offers us a glimpse of the eccentric Fischer, perhaps the Howard Hughes of the sports world, a brilliant champion whose life since seeded to have devolved into one erratic, oddball encounter after another until his death in 2008 - a most unlikely American surrogate for the Cold War.
|SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
Speaking of old favorites (as we were, in a sense), a note on Friday morning's listings that the 9am Lucy Show reruns will be going off, replaced by a new game show called The Joker's Wild with Jack Barry. That would stay on the air in network and syndicated runs until 1991 - not too bad at that.
Following Lucy, CBS has been running reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies - this had been a morning combo since the mid '60s - but the Hillbillies, too, will be leaving the daytime schedule, their place to be taken by a game show that's had an even longer run than The Joker's Wild. It starts out with the designation "new" in order to differentiate it from the late '50s-early 60s' version hosted by Bill Cullen, but soon drops that designation and will be known simply as The Price is Right, which continues to this day, hosted by only two men: Bob Barker and Drew Carey.*
*Not counting Dennis James, who did the nighttime syndicated version.
The third new game show to debut on Monday, taking the place of Family Affair reruns (as Family Affair moves to the afternoon) is Gambit, hosted by Wink Martindale. Gambit runs for four seasons, defeating - among others - NBC's Wizard of Odds, hosted by Alex Trebek, and has an additional run as Las Vegas Gambit for a season on NBC.
Sticking with morning television for a bit, The Hollywood Squares remains a stalwart of NBC's lineup, with its colorful cast of characters turning the morning schedule upside down. Filling one of the squares this week is Sandra Dee, the ex-wife of singer Bobby Darin, profiled by Leslie Raddatz, whose Bobby Darin Amusement Company subbed for Dean Martin during the summer. I don't know how many of you saw Beyond the Sea a few years back, the Darin biopic starring Kevin Spacey. It was a pretty good movie as these things go, but if you'd seen it, you would have been under the impression that Darin and Dee had stayed together until Darin's death in December 1973, whereas they'd actually divorced in 1967, and Darin had married his longtime girlfriend Andrea Yaeger earlier in 1973.
Raddatz gets this part of it right, and does a pretty good job of describing the arc of Darin's career, from the fame of his early years to his personal collapse following the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, his unsuccessful turn as a protest folk singer, his return to his singing roots, and the success of his current replacement show ("Jack Benny always let the people around him get the laughs.") There's talk as well of Darin's heart condition; he was born with rheumatic fever, and always assumed a short life, which lead to his reputation as a young man in a hurry. Indeed, for Bobby Darin the clock is about to run out; his series will return as The Bobby Darin Show in January of 1973, running for 13 weeks, but those heart problems will finally catch up with him and cause his death in December of that year, at the age of only 37.
In other highlights of the week, Saturday features one other sporting event, the final game of the Little League World Series on ABC's Wide World of Sports, with Mickey Mantle joining Bud Palmer for the broadcast. And while the sitcom Maude won't start for a couple of weeks yet, we see the roots of the series tonight as Bea Arthur's character appears in a rerun of CBS' All in the Family.
On Sunday it's a blast from the past, as Dave Garroway returns to television to host the National Automotive Trouble Quiz, an afternoon broadcast on Channel 5 that might have been syndicated. Garroway is joined by professional racer Peter Revson, along with Peggy Cass and Louis Nye, which suggests it might be played for laughs more than seriousness.
One of my favorite composers, Gian Carlo Menotti, is back on PBS Monday night, with his 1939 opera The Old Maid and the Thief, the first opera ever written for radio - in this case, NBC, which also commissioned the first opera ever written for television, Menotti's Amahl and the Night Visitors in 1951.
On Tuesday, Ted Knight does his Ted Baxter routine from the Mary Tyler Moore show, spoofing a Lowell Thomas travelogue on the final episode of the CBS summer replacement series The John Byner Comedy Hour. Also going off on Tuesday is Ponderosa, a summer replacement for Bonanza, consisting of old reruns of - Bonanza.
Wednesday's episode of Night Gallery on NBC features Laurence Harvey starring "in a gruesome assassination plot aimed at his rival in love"; you'll recall a movie in which Harvey was also involved in an assassination plot - The Manchurian Candidate. Not a great type of role to get typecast in, huh?
|SOURCE: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION|
Finally, on Friday, a number of interconnected shows, including Channel 11's late night movie Tammy and the Bachelor, with Debbie Reynolds playing the role originated by none other than - Sandra Dee. It's on against NBC's Tonight Show, with Joey Bishop guest hosting for Johnny Carson. Bishop is up against himself, appearing as well on Channel 9's late night move, Ocean's 11, starring Frank Sinatra and set in Las Vegas, home of Bobby Darin's most successful years as an entertainer. And then there's CBS' Friday Night Movie, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, which isn't up against anything similar and doesn't star anyone appearing on anything else that night. It's just proof that sometimes, the TV spinoff is actually better than the movie.