October 6, 2012

This week in TV Guide: October 9, 1965

Before we go any further, let us pause for a moment in silent appreciation of that fine figure of a woman, Anne Francis.  Or, as she's referred to on this week's cover, "Slinky Sleuth."


Truth in advertising. More on her later.


And now for something completely different: local news ads.  Of course there's no local content in TV Guide anymore, but even when there was, the last few years, these kinds of ads were a dying breed. Local newscasters all seem to come from the same blow-dry school, with the same accents (or lack thereof), the same earnest expression, the same ability to carry on a chucklefest with the rest of the on-camera news crew.  It's one reason why I enjoy looking at these old ads.

 Take this ad for KCMT, Channel 7, operating out of Alexandria, Minnesota. 

Back in the 70s, when I was a misbegotten youth in high school in the most God-forsaken place on earth, Channel 7 was the only TV station we received (except for Channel 10, which was the PBS affiliate).  Channel 7 was, at the time, an NBC affiliate that would shoehorn several ABC series into some of their off-network timeslots.  This meant that you might see Marcus Welby, M.D., for example, a week after everyone else, and you could only see it at 10:30 on Saturday night.

My point here is that Channel 7 was a fully local station.*  It had a local variety show in the afternoon, and it had local news, weather and sports.  They were terribly amateur; I don't doubt that you could see a more professional news program come from the A/V department of your local school.  Nevertheless, it was local.

*So local, in fact, that on election eve of 1976, KCMT pre-empted all NBC programming to air old movies, simply so they could use 100% of the commerical time for candidates for local races rather than sharing commercial time with the network.

In 1988 KCMT was purchased by WCCO, the CBS O&O in Minneapolis, and renamed KCCO.  By 1990 the local news content had been reduced to a five-minute segment during WCCO's newscast; everything else was direct from WCCO.  (You can read more about KCMT here and here.  Sadly, I remember most of the people these articles mention.)  Eventually, in 2004, the station went away altogether; since WCCO was available in the area via cable systems, why bother to have a local station that's just broadcasting the same stuff?

I wonder how often this happens to the small stations whose listings we see in old TV Guides?  KMMT, the ABC affiliate in Austin, Minnesota, is now called KAAL and is owned by Hubbard Broadcasting, the owners of ABC's KSTP in Minneapolis (and all ABC affiliates in Minnesota, for that matter).  KAAL retains its local news and identity, though.

Alexandra did wind up with another station, KSAX, also owned by Hubbard.  For 25 years it maintained a local presence, until June of this year, when the local newscast was discontinued, ending the only local news station in Greater Minnesota.  All its programming, including the news, now comes from KSTP.


Speaking of local channels, it's interesting to see what stations broadcast after the late local news.  NBC had The Tonight Show, of course* and ABC had Nightlife, although many affiliates chose either not to clear it at all or to delay it until the wee hours.  Everyone else was pretty much on their own.  WCCO, Channel 4, put on movies.  KMSP, Channel 9 (ABC) had old syndicated shows (Maverick, The Gallent Men) and WTCN, Channel 11, the independent station in the Twin Cities, had - Amos 'n' Andy.  As I've often said, times have changed.

*Interestingly enough, the aforementioned KCMT, although an NBC affiliate, chose not to show Tonight, instead broadcasting a mixture of ABC series (The Fugitive, Amos Burke) and local movies. KCMT didn't pick up Carson until later in the 60s.


This is a sidenote that I wouldn't have paid much attention to six months ago, but it's worth something now: on Saturday NBC has the fourth game of the World Series, pitting the Minnesota Twins and the Dodgers from Los Angeles (won by the Dodgers, 4-0).  Preceeding the Series, at the ungodly hour of 10:30 am (CT) is NBC's college football game of the week featuring Pittsburgh vs. Duke from Durham, NC.  (Duke, 21-13.)  I lived in Minneapolis when that World Series was played, and now I'm living in North Carolina, working at Duke.  Who could have imagined?


During the 60s, the Ed Sullivan Show and The Hollywood Palace were the premiere variety shows on television.  Whenever they appear in TV Guide together, we'll match them up and see who has the best lineup.
Ed Sullivan: In Hollywood*, Ed's scheduled guests are Kate Smith; satirist Woody Allen; the rock 'n' rolling Supremes; singers Petula Clark and Wayne Newton; puppet Topo Gigio; comics Davis and Reese; and the Four Little Step Brothers, a rock 'n' roll group.

*Ed's show was normally broadcast from New York.

Hollywood Palace:  Hostess Joan Crawford, making a rare television appearance,* reads "A Prayer for Little Children."  Guests: singers Jack Jones and Joanie Summers; comedians Godfrey Cambridge, and Allen and Rossi; Japanese bicyclist Lily Yokoi; Stebbings' Boxers, an English comic dog act; and the Rodos, West German acrobats.

*The phrase "rare television appearance" is commonplace on dramatic and variety shows even in the mid-60s.  John Wayne makes one elsewhere in ths issue.

Best of the Rest:  Dean Martin's guest is Pearl Bailey, while Johnny Cash appears on Steve Lawrence's series.  I'll vote for NBC's Bell Telephone Hour - if you like this kind of music, you'll appreciate a guest lineup that includes hosts Gordon MacRae and Florence Henderson, with Richard Tucker, Robert Merrill, Grant Johannesen, Pete Fountain, and special guest Lena Horne.  Not bad.

But this is between Ed and the Palace, so on the basis of Joan Crawford's appearance, I'm going to give them the nod.  Advantage:  Holllywood Palace.


Oh yes, Anne Francis.  Well, Honey West is often considered the first action show on American television to have a female lead.  The Honey West character itself was featured in a dozen or so detective novels from 1957 to 1971.   Anne Francis introduced Honey in a 1965 episode of Burke's Law, and starred in the series in the 1965-66 season.  It was obviously modeled in part on the British show The Avengers, and in fact producer Aaron Spelling was said to have originally offered the role of Honey to Avengers star Honor Blackman. 

Honey West has something of a cult following nowadays, through DVD and MeTV.  It's nothing special; fun enough to watch, but in truth it's easy to see why it only ran the one season.  (ABC apparently decided it would just be cheaper to import The Avengers; as I've always said, why go with a cheap imitation when you can have the original?)  The pleasure of watching Honey West is really derived from the pleasure of watching Anne Francis, who cuts quite the figure (see left) in her black cat-suit (which actually reminds me more of Diana Rigg, who replaced Blackman on The Avengers), being both very tough and very sexy, able to handle a gun but still occasionally needing to be saved by a man (her sidekick Sam Bolt, played by John Ericson).  In other words, it's the perfect symbol for the schizo 60s. 

Meanwhile, Anne Francis is the perfect symbol for - well, for watching television.


Finally, here's something you don't see often: an episode of Bonanza presented without commercial interruption.  But, as you can tell, there's a catch: a 5½ minute commercial for Chevrolet, "uninterrupted by Bonanza.  At least they had their priorities right.



  1. An update - this very interesting discussion on the radiodiscussions.com message board provides more information on "satellite stations" that simply retransmit programming from another station.


  2. The reason Ed Sullivan did his October 9th, 1965 show from Television City in Hollywood (and several weeks' worth of shows from there in the Fall of 1965) was that the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York was being converted from black-and-white to color cameras, so it was unavailable for several weeks from late August into October.

    A couple of Sullivan shows to air in early September were taped in advance in New York before the theatre was closed to convert to color. For several weeks, the show originated from a studio at Television City already converted to color.

    1. One of those episodes taped in NYC, the season premiere, was the last in-person appearance on The Beatles on Sullivan's show. Sullivan returned to NYC on Oct. 31, and his guests on this episode included Liza Minnelli, Allan Sherman, and The Budapest Children's Choir (I guess Ceausescu let a few people out of his country on occasion.).

  3. That's what Chevrolet did the previous season...run BONANZA uninterrupted, then show an extended spot for the 1965 models--which also featured Elizabeth Montgomery and Agnes Moorhead, along with Robert Vaughn (Chevrolet was the main sponsor of THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. its first season)

  4. The red "Honey West" cover (only 12 cents!) features a plot description that does not ring a bell from any of the TV episodes. I could be wrong, but it looks like one of Skip and Gloria Fickling's "Honey West" novels was re-published with Anne Francis and John Ericson on the cover. I am uncertain of this because I can't see the Fickling name on the cover. The plot described sounds vaguely reminiscent of the first Honey West novel, "This Girl for Hire," but not quite(?). Gwen Bagni and Paul Dubov, the showrunners of the TV series do not get enough credit/blame for the show, which featured many innovations that Skip Fickling said he hated, such as the pet ocelot, Bruce--who was actually a female ocelot named (wait for) Honey.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!