September 5, 2015

This week in TV Guide: September 10, 1960

Well, well, it's America's oldest teenager on the cover this week, trying very hard to look like America's most mature young mogul.  And they say beauty isn't enough...

Dick Clark is on the defensive.  Earlier in the year, he had appeared before a House Subcommittee to defend himself from charges of payola - using his influence unfairly to make record hits.  That influence, of course, comes from his position as host of the weekday teen hit American Bandstand.  And it is that show, as much as the accusations against him, that he seeks constantly to defend.

Today a Congressional investigation into the record industry might seem a little like investigating steroid use in baseball, or deflated footballs - important to a point, perhaps, but hard to envision it being something the Founders had in mind when they wrote the Constitution.  But in the immediate aftermath of the Quiz Show Scandals, when the public trust is very much on the mind of Congressmen (particularly those on the Subcommittee on Legislative Oversight), it's very much part of the discussion on the relationship between the media and the American people.

The biggest casualty of the Payola Scandal was Alan Freed, the legendary rock and roll disc jockey, who was sacked from his radio and television gigs in 1959, and eventually pleaded guilty to charges of commercial bribery.  The same fate could have befallen Clark, but it did not.  For one thing, he sold his interests in publishing and recording companies, thus eliminating a conflict of interest.  Additionally, he made a very favorable impression before the committee.  After vowing that "I never sat in on a session where anyone negotiated payola, I have not done anything . . . illegal or immoral," he was praised by committee Chairman Rep. Oren Harris, who told Clark that "You are a well-mannered young man," and another committee member added, "You certainly are an astute businessman."

Now, five months removed from the hearings, Dick Clark still nurses the wounds from the experience.  "I think of it as a bad dream that's all over," he tells the unnamed TV Guide interviewer.  "I've been talking about it for months, and I'm all talked out.  I was treated decently by Mr. Harris and I was exonerated.  I like to leave it at that."  He does, however, have words of gratitude for his many fans, who stood by him all the way.  "It was heartening.  They were great.  If I told you the number of letters we got on this thing - and the way the backed me up - you wouldn't believe me.  So I won't give you any figures."

It's no wonder that his youthful followers have been so loyal, because Clark has been unswerving loyal in return, defending "their behavior, their dress, their point of view, their taste in music."  He calls rock "a vigorous, accepted form of American music that has been around now for about 10 years and hasn't really harmed anyone yet."  He mentions the turn by many young singers toward R&B, ballads, and other non-rock styles.  Of the young people who appear on his show, he says their dress is more conservative, that they're calming down.  "Look," he says, "these kids are all right*.  They wash behind their ears.  They don't cut their classes.  They wear neckties."  For his "older" fans, he says the music provides a "rejuvenation of their youth."

*Sounds like a great name for a movie, doesn't it?

As for those young fans, what do they see in Bandstand?  "They have fun.  They have an affinity for this program.  It's something like, a drugstore.  When I was a boy we used to hang around a drugstore back home.  It was very wholesome.  You never got into trouble in a drugstore. . . that's the way it is on Bandstand.  We have a wholesome atmosphere."  With the exception of the unintentional premonition about drugs and the coming decade, Dick Clark has it about right.  He'll host Bandstand until 1989, passing through a myriad of fads, trends, and forms of dress and music, with a second round of fame as host of The $10,000 Pyramid (and its various big-money incarnations) and Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve, on which he continued to appear until his death in 2012 - the oldest living teenager no longer, but a legend certainly.

***

SOURCE FOR ALL: HADLEY TV GUIDE COLLECTION
And now for Miss America.  The annual pageant makes its appearance on CBS Saturday night live from Atlantic City at 9:00pm CT*, with Bert Parks as the MC, and former Miss America Marilyn Van Derbur joined by CBS evening news host Douglas Edwards (!) for the TV honors.

*Following CBS' nightly coverage of the Rome Summer Olympics, about which more later.

The subheading of this week's cover pronounces promises us it will take more than beauty to win the crown this year.  And just why is that?  Well, in Robert B. MacPherson's article that teaches you how to be just like the judges in Atlantic City, beauty loses out "Because the emphasis in judging is placed on talent and other qualifications, and this year talent will count twice as much as it did previously."  Whereas the winners in the evening gown and swimsuit categories will each get five points, the talent winner now gets ten, which might well have shaken up some of the rankings of past pageants.  Besides which, there's more to winning the swimsuit and evening gown categories than a knockout face and figure; judges are reminded to "bear in mind that grace, poise and charm are essential for beauty too."

It's also good to remember that Miss America isn't always the big winner of the night; back in 1952 Zoe Ann Warburg, Miss Idaho, used her talent presentation to talk about the privilege of voting.  "Although she didn't win, thousands of requests for her talk poured into headquarters.  Pageant executives were impressed and Zoe Ann got two special scholarships for college and law school.  She's now a practicing lawyer in Twin Falls, Idaho, and is the Republican nominee for the local judgeship - chiefly because her talent was talking."

As for this year's contest, the winner will be Miss Michigan, Nancy Fleming.  She went on to a successful TV career, and for 36 years was married to Jim Lange, the beloved host of The Dating Game.  No word on how she did in the talent competition, though.

By the way, that TV Guide Close-Up has a picture of Miss Texas on it, and this is the North Texas edition.  I wonder if they did special Close-Ups for every state with their own candidates pictured?

***

It's a big sports week here at TV Guide.  As I mentioned earlier, the Summer Olympics are underway in Rome, and CBS brings us tape-delay coverage of the final weekend, including the Closing Ceremonies on Monday evening.  It's modest coverage compared to today's marathon broadcasts; an hour and 45 minutes on Saturday morning and evening, 90 minutes on Sunday afternoon, and a half-hour on Monday evening.*  But it is the first time the Summer Olympics have been seen on American television, and it's also the first Olympics appearance for a man who would come to epitomize the Olympics on TV, Jim McKay.

*Total coverage amounted to about 20 hours.

Sunday afternoon brings an historic first: the inaugural network broadcast of the brand-new American Football League.  For the next five seasons, ABC cameras will give fans a Sunday afternoon game and a bonus extra on Thanksgiving Day; this week, the Houston Oilers, led by NFL veteran George Blanda, take on the Oakland Raiders from Kezar Stadium in San Francisco.*  It's a momentous occasion for the new league, founded by multimillionaire Lamar Hunt and a group of men who came to be called "The Foolish Club" for pouring millions of dollars into a seemingly lost cause.  But as they say, he who laughs last, laughs best, and the Foolish Club certainly had a laugh over how things turned out: the league won two of the four Super Bowls played prior to the 1970 merger.

*Then as now, the Raiders were plagued by stadium problems; lacking a home of their own in Oakland, they were forced to play their first two years in San Francisco, followed by a term in a 22,000 seat temporary stadium, before moving to the Oakland Coliseum - the stadium they seek to flee today.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Open Tennis Championships are in full swing as I write this, and so also is the case in 1960, with the men's and women's finals being televised Sunday on NBC (and in color!).  Only it wasn't called the U.S. Open in 1960, and for a very good reason: it wasn't open to everyone.  The "Open Era" of tennis dates back only to 1968, when for the first time professional players were allowed to compete with amateurs in the four Grand Slam events.  Prior to that time, the majors were for amateurs only; hence, the event held at Forest Hills, New York was referred to as the U.S. National Tennis Championships.  Much as was the case with the Olympics, there was plenty of corruption and under-the-table money passing hands in the amateur game, but at least there was a professional tennis tour for those players willing to forego the majors, and the very best players could make some decent money by being a pro.  As a matter of fact, it was the great Rod Laver - loser in this year's final to defending champion Neale Fraser - who was as responsible as anyone for the Open Era; by 1968, Laver was so clearly the world's best that it became difficult to accept the validity of the Grand Slam tournaments.  Once they were opened up, Laver - who had won the Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962 - promptly won it as a professional in 1969, the last man to win it, and the only player - man or woman - to do it twice.

***

The new fall season officially starts next week, but already there are some sneak previews of new series.  For example, The Tall Man, starring Barry Sullivan and Clu Gulager, makes its debut Saturday at 7:30pm CT on NBC.  Sullivan and Gulager play, respectively, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, so there's no need to tell you who this story eventually ends.  They're friends in the series, though, which runs for two seasons.

On Tuesday, NBC also premieres Thriller, starring Boris Karloff as host and occasional star.  The series also had a two-season run, and though it continues to have a devoted cult following, it was never the equal of the show it was most often compared to, Alfred Hitchcock.  Meanwhile, on Wednesday, CBS unveils The Aquanauts, a one-season show starring Keith Larsen, Jeremy Slate and Ron Ely*.  It wasn't quite as successful as that other series about professional divers, Sea Hunt, although it did share the same producer, Ivan Tors.

*Who later on played Tarzan and, more to our point today, once hosted the Miss America Pageant.

It's also farewell for a few series making their last appearance on their networks: the aforementioned Dick Clark's Saturday prime-time show will be leaving in favor of Campaign Roundup, NBC's Music on Ice takes its last Sunday spin before being replaced by National Velvet, CBS' The Texan makes way on Mondays for Pete and Glayds, and The Wrangler leaves NBC's Friday night lineup, with Ernie Ford's variety show reclaiming the time slot.

***

Finally, we'll take a look at one of my favorite aspects of TV Guide, the local news ad, this week from my new home town of Dalllas.  The first one is for WBAP, the NBC affiliate:


Channel 5 is now known as KXAS, but it's still an NBC affiliate.  If you've seen the JFK assassination archival footage, you'll know that WBAP did some pretty good reporting during the early hours of the drama.  I like how this is an all-purpose ad, including not only the news, weather and sports, but Jack Paar afterwards.


Back in 1960, KTVT (and try saying that five times fast) was an independent station; now, it's the CBS affiliate.  I love this logo; for some reason they remind me of of the figures from To Tell the Truth?

1 comment:

  1. 1) Dick Clark: if I am right, at one point ABC had, on Saturday nights, Dick Clark and his Beech Nut Show, Ozark Jubilee and then Lawrence Welk. Amazing.
    I loved the Back/End/C/G/T designations for the football.

    And yes, that was so to Tell the Truth on those KTVT letters.

    ReplyDelete

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