November 6, 2015

Around the dial - Batman's butler, questions from readers, Buck Henry and more!

I suppose it really should be called "Odds-and-Ends" this week, because it's a collection of classic TV information from all over. But I hear what you're saying: just get with it!

Jim Bigwood has done us all a great favor by bringing Alan Napier's autobiography, Not Just Batman's Butler, to print. The book was completed in 1973, but as Mr. Napier—or Alfred, as we might think of him—said, it was not published at the time because "I haven't committed a major crime and I am not known to have slept with any famous actresses." Just like Alfred, don't you think? Anyway, I'm very grateful to Jim for bringing this to my attention, and seeing to it that the book has been published.

Faithful reader Mollie Stamets Krejci writes to ask for our help on "a television show that my parents did between 1947 and 1955. My Dad was Bob Stanford (Robert Stamets). He and my mother, Agnes were very active in television when it first came out in DFW [Dallas-Ft. Worth - MH]. They had “The Bob Stanford Show”, “The Frito Kid”, “footlight follies”.  I am trying to get information on Family Feud. I have some scripts and photos of the set but wondered if you have found any information on it. It was between Dallas families and Ft. Worth families." From what I've discovered online, the show probably would have gone by the title Stanford's Family Feud—do any DFW historians out there know more about it?

Continuing with emails, reader Sneha forwarded this infographic on some of television's iconic living rooms from various eras. I love the way this brings back the eras for me—the styles, the colors, the whole thing. How many of you remember growing up or living in one of these homes?

And one more: reader Sheila has asked me for information about the late '60s NBC television show The Smithsonian, which aired late Saturday morning (or early Saturday afternoon, depending on your time zone). Once again, this appears to be a case of a informative program that has disappeared from the radar screen; I've not been able to find anything on YouTube or at the Internet Archive, and while I have some episode descriptions in my TV Guides of the era, I'm hoping that some of you have some additional information to pass along. Thanks as always!

And now to the blogs. How many of you remember the Scholastic Reading Club? Comfort TV's David Hofstede does, and he has some great examples of TV-related covers from the club's magazine Dynamite. Wow, are those pictures a time capsule or what? Oddly enough, I have no memory of this myself; judging by the programs, it could have been slightly after my time—or it could be more proof that we were without civilization in The World's Worst Town™.  (And by the way, David, no TV Guide when you were growing up? I feel for you, friend.)

Classic Film and TV Cafe brings news of a new DVD set of classic episodes from The Danny Kaye Show. This is one program that stuck with me over the years, and I have no idea why. I hadn't seen White Christmas (or any of Kaye's other classic movies), and I probably didn't know him from a hole in the ground. Nevertheless, it must have been on TV in our house, because I vividly remember how he'd dance off the set, with a bit of a flying leap at the end, and I wasn't wrong. And Terry Teachout adds to the DVD parade with his review of VAI's release of the historic 1955 and 1956 telecasts of Mary Martin's Peter Pan, originally seen on NBC.

Amanda Reyes of Made for TV Mayhem updates us on some of her latest activities, including the joint YouTube appearance she and I and Daniel Budnik made a couple of weeks ago. And since she mentions my name kindly, I'm sure to bring it to your attention!

Twelfth anniversary for Thrilling Days of Yesteryear? And this blog has been around for, what, almost five years? I'm impressed, by the content as well as the longevity. I feel for Ivan and what he's been dealing with lately, and let's hope he has more time soon. In the meantime, am I probably the last person to know that he does the Radio Spirits blog? Whenever I'm not listening to the Met Opera channel on Sirius, I've got it tuned to Greg Bell.

A very good piece at Cult TV Blog, where the series on apartheid themes in The Prisoner continues. This week the episode is "Hammer Into Anvil," one of my favorites, and in introducing this piece there's a very shrewd observation regarding why people watch classic television. As you might recognize from my piece earlier this week, it's a topic I give a lot of thought to as well. There are indeed many ways to watch television, and in the next couple of weeks I'm following up on that via a look at someone who gives ten reasons why she got rid of her television.

Kliph Nesteroff at Classic Television Showbiz has another interesting interview (I should keep that as a micro, because just about every time I write about him I use that phrase) with Buck Henry. I have to admit being taken aback when I pulled up the interview, because right there I saw an ad for That Was the Week That Was that could have come from one of my Twin Cities TV Guides. I know the ad was in one of my issues—I just know it! Fortunately, I didn't let that distract me, because I would have missed some great stuff. As usual.

And for a large swath of both television and movie history, do not under any circumstances miss Will Harris' magnificent interview at The AV Club with Norman Lloyd (St. Elsewhere), who apparently knows everyone and worked on everything. Imagine sharing scenes with Orson Welles and Cameron Diaz. But then, the man is 101 on Sunday! TV  


  1. Funny the things you remember ...

    - Danny Kaye's closing theme on TV was "Life Could Not Better Be", from The Court Jester, a jazzed-up arrangement by Paul Weston.
    Kaye had a personal drummer (whose name I've momentarily forgotten) who would follow Danny's ad-lib dancing with paradiddles, rimshots, and the like, while Danny bounced around the white-limbo set.
    One time, Danny executed a really great high kick - and his shoe flew off his foot, landing clear over to the other side of the stage.
    Danny took it big - sheepish look, hand over mouth - and without missing a beat to the music, danced over to the loafer, slipped his foot back into it, and danced off, sneaky-style.
    The studio audience cheered, of course ...
    ... and I dare say more than a few of us at home made sure to watch next week, just in case something like that happened again (I don't think it ever did, at least not when I was watching - I could be wrong ...).


    1. You're absolutely right - over the years I've found myself stunned at what I do remember, as well as what I've forgotten! Thanks for the great story - wish I'd seen that!


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