May 15, 2017

What's on TV? Sunday, May 17, 1959

This week we get a chance to look at the rich history of Philadelphia's childrens' shows; three of today's shows are hosted by hosted by members of the city's "Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame." Back then, local stations actually were television pioneers; Chicago and Philadelphia were as important to the early history of television as New York and Hollywood. As I recall, Ernie Kovacs started out in Philadelphia (where he once wrestled a jaguar on live television); Dick Clark and American Bandstand started in Philly; and of course who can forget NFL Films' "Voice of God," John Facenda, the longtime news anchorman. I'm leaving out many more, but you're more interested in getting to the listings than listening to me blather.


WRCV, Channel 3 (NBC)
Morning
06:25a
Thought for Today
06:30a
Farm, Home and Garden
07:00a
Cartoon Comics
08:00a
The Catholic Hour
08:30a
It is Written (color)
09:00a
Satellite Police
10:00a
Come Little Children (color)
10:30a
Abbott and Costello
11:00a
Bertie the Bunyip
Afternoon
12:00p
Buckskin Billy Playhouse – “Northwest Trail”
01:00p
Danger is my Business (color)
01:30p
Pinpoint
02:00p
I Search for Adventure
02:30p
Tales of the 77th Bengal Lancers
03:00p
Hollywood Playhouse – “The Kid from Cleveland”
04:30p
Kingdom of the Sea (color)
05:00p
Kaleidoscope
Evening
06:00p
Meet the Press (guest Abba Eban)
06:30p
Chet Huntley Reporting
07:00p
The Honeymooners
07:30p
Steve Allen (guests George Gobel, Diahann Carroll, Vaughn Monroe, the Pensacola Naval Air Training Center Cadet Choir, the Nicholas Dancers) (color)
08:30p
Pete Kelly’s Blues
09:00p
Dinah Shore (guests Van Johnson, Peggy Lee, Cliff Arquette, Sujata and Asoka) (color)
10:00p
Loretta Young
10:30p
Movie 3 – “The Wild Dakotas”
11:00p
News (Paul Taylor)
11:10p
Movie Continues
12:30a
Science Fiction Theater
01:00a
News (local)
01:05a
Thought for Today

Bertie the Bunyip was a popular kids' show in Philly, hosted by Lee Dexter and running from 1954 to 1966, featuring puppet characters. And what, you may ask, is a Bunyip? According to the always-reliable Wikipedia, "The bunyip is a large mythical creature from Australian Aboriginal mythology, said to lurk in swamps, billabongs, creeks, riverbeds, and waterholes. The origin of the word bunyip has been traced to the Wemba-Wemba or Wergaia language of Aboriginal people of South-Eastern Australia." Here's what a bunyip looks like, more or less (the bunyip is on the left, Lee Dexter on the right):

                                              
WFIL, Channel 6 (ABC)
Morning
08:45a
Through the Porthole
09:00a
Adventures in Israel
09:30a
Christian Science
09:45a
The Christopher Program
10:15a
The Way
10:45a
Bozo Cartoon Theater
11:15a
Chief Halftown’s Pow-Wow
11:30a
Halls of Ivy
Afternoon
12:00p
Gateway to the World
12:30p
Your Star Showcase
01:30p
Chief Halftown’s Pow-Wow
01:45p
News (Bill Webber)
01:50p
Baseball Warmup
02:00p
Baseball (Phillies vs. Cardinals)
04:50p
Grandstand Manager
05:00p
Pioneer Playhouse
Evening
06:00p
Tugboat Annie
06:30p
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon
07:00p
You Asked For It
07:30p
Maverick
08:30p
The Lawman
09:00p
Colt .45
09:30p
Talk Back
10:00p
Heart of the City
10:30p
Meet McGraw
11:00p
News (John Roberts)
11:10p
Weather (Francis Davis) 
11:15p
World’s Best Movies – “Conquest”, “Yank on the Burma Road”

Chief Halftown was another legendary childrens' program, running for fifty years (1950-1999). Its star, Traynor Ora Halftown was, interestingly enough, 100% Seneca, and always preferred Indian to Native American. He was also a professional bowler and spokesman for Brunswick.


WGAL, Channel 8 (Lancaster) (CBS, NBC)
Morning
10:30a
The Catholic Hour
11:00a
The Christopher Program
11:30a
This is the Life
Afternoon
12:00p
Search for Health
12:15p
Your City Schools
12:30p
Championship Bowling
01:00p
The Big Picture (Army)
01:30p
Film Feature
02:00p
Baseball (Phillies vs. Cardinals)
04:30p
Film Features
05:00p
Kaleidoscope
Evening
06:00p
Doorway to Life
06:20p
News, Weather (Bill Wright)
06:30p
The Twentieth Century
07:00p
Peter Gunn
07:30p
Jack Benny
08:00p
Ed Sullivan (guests Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Shelly Berman, Jack Carter, Frank Libuse, Al Hibbler, Conrad Buckner, Baron Buika, U.S. Military Academy Cadet Choir)
09:00p
Dinah Shore (guests Van Johnson, Peggy Lee, Cliff Arquette, Sujata and Asoka) (color)
10:00p
Loretta Young
10:30p
What’s My Line? (guest panelist Eamonn Andrews)
11:00p
Sunday News Special (Walter Cronkite)
11:15p
Weather (Bill Wright)
11:20p
Victory at Sea
11:50p
News and Sports

The Christophers, as it was often known, wasn't a kids' show, but it was a long-running religious program that was seen in almost every market in the country at one time or another, including both Lancaster and Philadelphia. The religious order was founded by Fr. James Keller; their motto, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness," always reminds me of a Peanuts strip in which Linus quotes the saying, followed by a frame showing Lucy standing outside at night shouting, "You stupid darkness!"


WCAU, Channel 10 (CBS)
Morning
06:55a
Give Us This Day
07:00a
Sunday Seminar
08:00a
Bill Bennett
08:30a
Cartoon Theater
09:30a
Sunday School
10:00a
Lamp Unto My Feet
10:30a
Look up and Live
11:00a
Research
11:30a
Camera Three
11:55a
News (Bob Collier)
Afternoon
12:00p
Shorty’s Cartoon Theater
12:30p
Paul and Mary Ritts
01:00p
Picture for a Sunday Afternoon – “Hobson’s Choice”, “Down Three Dark Streets”
04:00p
Crisis in Education (special)
05:00p
Face the Nation
05:30p
G-E College Bowl (Wayne State vs. Goucher College)
Evening
06:00p
Behind the News
06:30p
The Twentieth Century
07:00p
Lassie
07:30p
Jack Benny
08:00p
Ed Sullivan (guests Louis Prima and Keely Smith, Shelly Berman, Jack Carter, Frank Libuse, Al Hibbler, Conrad Buckner, Baron Buika, U.S. Military Academy Cadet Choir)
09:00p
G.E. Theater
09:30p
Alfred Hitchcock
10:00p
Richard Diamond
10:30p
What’s My Line? (guest panelist Eamonn Andrews)
11:00p
Sunday News Special (Walter Cronkite)
11:15p
News, Weather (Bob Collier)
11:20p
Frank Brookhouser
11:30p
The Late Show – “Othello”
01:00a
The Late, Late Show – “Tars and Spars”
02:30a
Give Us This Day

Shorty's Cartoon Theater has a page as well, or at least its host does; Bill Hart was a legend in Philadelphia broadcasting circles, and while this show was only a small part of Hart's illustrious career, it shows how multitalented many local television personalities were; Count Floyd isn't the only newsman to do double duty at the station. Hart started out virtually when the station did in the mid 1940s, and remained there until 1986. We should all do that well, hmm?

7 comments:

  1. Love the tables for listing the shows! Nice work! :-)>

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Glad you got a Count Floyd reference in , Mitchell...those scary monkeys from West Mifflin, PA...

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  4. - Channel 3's Sunday afternoon movie, The Kid From Cleveland, starred the 1948 Cleveland Indians as themselves, with Rusty Tamblyn (later Russ) in the title role.
    Bill Veeck appeared as himself, to his lifelong embarrassment (at least that's what he always said afterwards).

    - Noticing here that neither of the CBS stations is carrying The Last Word, which I mentioned last time - unless they're delaying it to another day. Delayed broadcasts and outright pre-emptions were often cited as the reasons why Last Word had such a short run.

    - In Chicago, The Christophers was carried by Channel 7, the ABC station, Saturday mornings at 9:00.
    This particular Saturday, here's what they had:
    "How to Be A Safe Driver". Harry Von Zell and Carolyn Kearney give some helpful hints on how to show consideration for others while driving. (Film)
    Channel 7 followed this immediately with Chuck Bill's Serial Theater, featuring Chapter 5 of Tailspin Tommy, plus a B-western with Don "Red" Barry. After that, Ch7' announcer Wayne Griffin's travel show had slides of a Canadian resort area, about which Steve Allen wrote one of his immortal songs:
    "Let's Go To Lake Louise and Banff".)

    - On Sunday aftenoon, in between movies, Channel 2 (the CBS station) had Insight, a discussion show with Frank Reynolds, who was ch2's #2 news anchor at the time.
    Reynolds's guest (on videotape) was Mark Van Doren, who was likely plugging a book that day; this tape likely wasn't saved either (see yesterday), so I don't know whether Prof. Van Doren happened to mention his son Charles during the show.

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  5. In the listings for channel 3, I noticed a show called "Buckskin Billy Playhouse". Coincidentally, there was a legendary Baton Rouge kid's show host named "Buckskin Bill" Black, whose show aired from 1955-1990 (yes, 35 years).

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  6. I remember when Chief Halftown came to our grade school to promote the local bowling alley. You would have thought a head of state was visiting. He said if you liked Chief Halftown, be quiet when you go back to class. You could have heard a pin drop. His was a long legacy which that station still enjoys the fruits of today.

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  7. Was that WIBG Philly DJ Bill Wright moonlighting on WGAL-TV Lancaster ("a Steinman station, Clair McCollough, President") on Sunday evenings, doing news and weather?

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And now for something completely different.