August 4, 2012

This week in TV Guide: August 10, 1963

I've Got a Secret was on the cover of a lot of TV Guides. The game show was on the air for fifteen seasons, from 1952 to 1967, and with five strongly identifiable personalities on the show, there was plenty of material to fill the six issues that featured the show.

In this issue, the focus is on Henry Morgan, who ws with the show for virtually its entire run.  Not many people remember him anymore, but from the 40s through the 60s, Henry Morgan was the L'enfant terrible of radio and TV. He was a witty and intelligent satirist, a stylish presence on television, the host of several several programs of his own and guest on many more.  He was also a cantankerous presence, a misogynist ("Women should be very attractive and never taught to read.  The trouble with the average woman is that she's a little below average."), an egomaniac, a man with a cruel streak who found it impossible not to wind up in clashes with sponsors, costars, and anyone else who crossed his path.  There were those who praised him while others lined up to bury him.  Someday maybe we'll spend more time talking about him, but suffice it to say that in 1963 he was big enough to merit a cover story in TV Guide.

In the "Things Aren't What They Used to Be" category, Shirl Conway, one of the stars of the CBS series The Nurses, must have said something in her profile a couple of weeks past, judging by the letter to the editor from Myrt Ober of Caldwell, NJ: "As a 'psychologically miserable' housewife, Miss Conway may I say I create more in one day of being a wife, mother and homemaker than you probably create in a whole month of acting. If loving and caring for one man and his children, decorating and running a home, not minding grime and dirt of hard work, yet keeping as attractive as possible, is losing her identity, there are many nameless women in this wonderful country of ours."  After a season, The Nurses became The Doctors and the Nurses, and storylines began to be carried by the male castmembers.  The Nurses wound up as a daytime soap opera, with the same characters but played by different actresses.

Over at The A.V. Club, Todd VanDerWerff has a very good article on CBS' 60s lawyer show The Defenders (H/T Stephen Bowie), starring E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed as father-son lawyers.  I intend to write about this at a later date, but VanDerWerff mentions an episode entitled "Madman" as an example of the series' defiance of the "wrap-it-up-neatly-in-50-minutes" method of so many programs, then and now, calling it "the kind of episode that would have a hard time making it through network notes sessions in the present, but the combination of CBS head William Paley’s largesse, [producer Herbert] Brodkin’s clout, and [writer Reginald] Rose’s creative genius resulted in the heart-rending episode making it on the air in 1962, right in the middle of the period when television grew most ashamed of itself." It had already won two Emmys when it was repeated in two parts, starting on Saturday, August 10.  (Note the drawing of Don Gordon in the Close Up, rather than a picture.  TV Guide did arty things like this from time to time.)

Bing Crosby appeared in one of his non-holiday specials on Wednesday night on NBC, with guests Bob Hope, Edie Adams, the Smothers Brothers, Pete Fountain, and Bing's son Gary.  "Leisure Time" is the theme, and I can't think of anyone who'd epitomize it better than Bing.  For the best in female forms, there's the "International Beauty Spectacular" from Long Beach, CA, hosted by Lorne Greene.  (I was going to check and see what network was showing it, but there's no way the star of NBC's Bonanza was about to appear on any other network.)  I'd never heard of this pageant which "departs from the usual pose-and-interview contest by showcasing the contestants from 46 countries in the trappings of a theatrical production," including two brand-new songs by Meredith Wilson, composer of The Music Man.  Couldn't find out much about this pageant, or if it's still around in some form, but this was the 12th spectacular, and I found a listing for it as late as 1966, so make of that what you will.

Edith Efron, who was a serious journalist and wrote many articles for TV Guide, asked "Why the Timid Giant [television, in this case] Treads Softly," and speculates that television shies away from controversial subject matter and investigative reporting because of "anxiety and fear of the Government's latent power over the industry [inhibiting[ broadcasters from digging more deelpy into public-affairs subjects."  The FCC, the industry's federal investigative agency, is accused of "throwing its weight around inexcusably," and broadcasters are said to fear having their licenses yanked if they stir up too much trouble.  Since then, networks seem to have gotten a lot more comfortable tackling controversy and pointing investigative fingers - at least against one side of the political aisle.

Finally, I got a kick out of this ad for an appearance by "The Stars of TV's Rawhide!" Clint Eastwood and Paul Brinegar, at a rodeo at St. Paul's Midway Stadium.

As the character "Wishbone," Brinegar was with Rawhide for the show's entire seven-season run, as part of a long and successful Hollywood career as a character actor.  I'm not sure what happened to the other guy, though. TV

1 comment:

  1. Morgan was accused of being a Communist sympathizer in the early days of SECRET, and CBS was being pressured to have him removed from the show. Host Garry Moore told the network "If Henry goes, I go"--quitting SECRET and his popular daytime variety show (his prime time one would supplant it in 1958)


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