March 19, 2016

This week in TV Guide: March 20, 1965

I've written previously about Dorothy Malone (pictured on this week's cover with her two children), and though I liked her before, I'm even more inclined to like her now after reading her interview with Marian Dern. For it seems as if there's a spot of trouble in Paradise, or at least in Peyton Place, the show in which she ostensibly stars each week on ABC. (Click here to read Classic Film and TV Café's review of Peyton Place.)

See, the problem is that - according to the rumor mills - Malone is complaining to producer Paul Monash about the screen time she's getting, or isn't getting, as the case may be. She's "demanding more to do and threatening to quit unless they begin to concentrate on her rather than co-stars Mia Farrow and Barbara Parkins." When asked about it, she's very guarded, pleasantly but cautiously talking about everything but the show, saying that "I have loved everything in my life." She'd "loved" the part of Constance MacKenzie, calling her "a full-blown woman," and talking about how everything in her life, in fact, has been "fun, fun, fun." But then perhaps she tips her hand with the comment that "I can put a lot into" Constance, a hint that she isn't being allowed to do so.

And then she surprises Dern with her answer to how Malone feels about the critics who say Peyton Place is in bad taste. "I think it's done tastefully," she replies, "though I must admit if I had youngsters 11 and 12, I wouldn't let them watch it." With that, Dern asks about the stories of her being unhappy. She denies she's spoken specifically with Monash about it, but allows that "there's a germ of truth to it." It's hard to blame Malone, who won a Supporting Actress Oscar in 1956 for Written on the Wind, for complaining that "the Anderson family has had most of the scripts - everything happens to them," and that "All I seem to do is wear dowdy clothes and sell books in my bookstore. Book of the Month Club, that's me. I'd rather they'd kept me owning a dress shop, as first suggested. At least I'd get to wear exciting clothes."

That isn't all, she says, getting on something of a roll: "You know the thing that makes me sickest? I'm always saying to Allison [Farrow], 'I don't know, dear.' Don't know? Who's to know if a mother doesn't? In this show the kids are all smarter than the grownups. And people write me, wanting to know why I don't know the answers!" The words, writes Dern, come in a "torrent." And then, from somewhere in the house, the words "I'm hungry, Mommy!" With that, it's time to go.

At the door, Malone "had regained her composure," and reverts to cautious words. "Oh, it'll work out," she says, adding that "if I had a bigger part, I'd have to work longer hours, and I wouldn't have time for the children, or any other things, now would I?" In fact, she'll be written out of Peyton Place in 1968 "after complaining that she was given little to do," and goes on to file a breach of contract suit for $1.6 million against 20th Century-Fox, a suit which is eventually settled out-of-court. It's fitting then for a woman who, even after she'd made a name for herself in Hollywood, would take jobs in public relations for an airline and an insurance firm, that she tells Dern if things don't work out, "well, who knows what the future might bring?"

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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..

Sullivan: Singers Tony Bennett and Connie Francis, rock 'n' rollers Gary and the Playboys, singer Melinda Marx, comedienne Jean Carol, unicyclist Claus Beckers, comedian Pat Buttram and the Texas Boy's Choir.

Palace: Host Robert Goulet introduces his wife, songstress Carol Lawrence; comedian Bill Dana; comic Bill Cosby; Les Surfs, singing group from Madagascar; the Three Akeffs' balancing act; juggler Eva Vidos; and Kay and her pets.

I was going to say that it seems a long time since we've done one of these, and as it turns out, I was right - this is the first matchup between Ed Sullivan and The Hollywood Palace since our beginning of the year entry. And, you might be tempted to say, I waited all this time for this?

As I read through the lineup for Sullivan, I kept thinking the Palace had a low bar to jump over. I mean, Tony Bennett is quality, and Connie Stevens is more cute than talented, but that's okay. Gary and the Playboys are of their time, but the rest of the cast earns a meh from me, including Pat Buttram* The rest of the cast can be taken or left.

*On a completely unrelated note, the question came up a couple of weeks ago from my wife as to whether or not Gene Autry had a "comic sidekick" as did the rest of the movie cowboys, and a quick internet search revealed: Pat Buttram. Who was also a raconteur, radio celebrity, voiceover artist, frequent participant in the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremonies, and constant presence at testimonials and other events. He was much loved in the business, and it's probably quite wrong of me to judge him solely on Mr. Haney in Green Acres.

But then we come to Palace. Strong start, with the then-husband-and-wife duo of Robert Goulet and Carol Lawrence, and Bill Dana is, as I've frequently said, always funny. But, regardless of your current thoughts on Cosby, I was never a fan of his, and the Noah's Ark bit he does here has, I think, too much of that Cosby mugging. Yes, I know it's famous, but that doesn't mean everyone has to like it. From there, we go into pure vaudeville.

So in short it's a week that's not terrible, not great, which earns a verdict of Push.

◊ ◊ ◊

Amory (second from left) with Prince Rainier
(far right)
At this point we'd usually segue into a review from Cleveland Amory, but this week he's reporting to us from Monte Carlo, where he's one of the judges in Prince Rainier's International Television Festival. Alas, Princess Grace wasn't there - she was busy giving birth to Princess Stéphanie - but it's a glittering assemblage nonetheless, and "a good time was had by all," what with "lunch at the Palace*, a dinner at Government House, a play at the Opera House, a gala at the Sporting Club," and more - usually followed by gambling at the famed Casino.

It's not all fun and games, though, as there's actually a Festival of television programs to judge. The grand prize winner, the program which "best contributes to international understanding," comes from Yugoslavia - "Skopje, Sixty-Tree," a documentary about a Yugoslavian city destroyed by an earthquake and "rebuilt by international cooperation." There's also the typical assortment of anti-American programming, including a French entry that depicts the reaction of Red China to American bombing of North Vietnam, replete with "mass anti-American rallies, posters showing Americans with not hands but claws, one dripping dollar bills and the other dripping blood, and finally a pageant in a huge stadium in which actors, simulating American bombers, bombed innocent Chinese women and children."

In fact, the only thing missing from this year's Festival was, oddly enough, American television programming. CBS sent no programs, ABC sent theirs to the wrong address, and NBC not only sent theirs late, they made the inexplicable decision to withdraw the acclaimed documentary "The Louvre," a show "which might have won," for the Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of "The Fantasticks," "which was, all the judges agreed, the poorest entry in the entire competition." Only Shelley Winters, who won best actress for an episode of Chrysler Theatre, and Walt Disney's "The Hound That Thought He Was a Raccoon," take home awards.

Amory thinks we missed an opportunity with our lack of participation. The Festival, while little-known here, is a major event with the foreign press corps, and offers networks a great opportunity to sell their programs abroad. Amory also discusses the appalling amount of government control exerted over television programs in most countries, and says America misses the boat in not using the Festival to demonstrate the relative lack of same in our programs, which are not only free to criticize the government, but also the networks themselves - "as long as you don't make the mistake of criticizing the networks you happen to be working for."

There is, however, no way to answer the many questions about the sheer amount of violence on American television, which all the judges were familiar with. Asks a Hungarian judge, "Your shootings, your beatings, your cruelty - is it not le sadisme?" Says Amory, "It was not easy to answer in any language."

◊ ◊ ◊

Man's next odyssey on the voyage to the moon begins Tuesday morning with the launch of Gemini III, the inaugural manned flight of the nation's two-man spacecraft. It's been nearly two years since Gordon Cooper flew the final Mercury mission, and great excitement surrounds the event, with all three networks offering coverage beginning at 7:00am ET and concluding with the mid-afternoon splashdown. The newsmen who will become synonymous with spaceflight throughout the '60s are there: Walter Cronkite* on CBS, Frank McGee on NBC and Jules Bergman on ABC.

*Cronkite's companion for coverage of the moon landings, Wallly Schirra, is actually the backup pilot for this flight.

Considering the early space program's proclivity for weather-related delays, I was mildly surprised, in checking my books, to find that the launch did in fact come off on Tuesday, with Mercury hero Gus Grissom and future shuttle astronaut John Young taking off in the capsule which Grissom had named "Molly Brown," a defiant nod to the sinking of his own "Liberty Bell 7" Mercury capsule.* In any event, the flight is a tremendous success, covering three orbits in just under five hours. Soon, Gemini flights are launching at regular intervals, and even as the program winds down preparations are made for the launch of Apollo 1, scheduled for January 1967, with Grissom again commanding the flight - a flight that never occurs due to the catastrophic fire during final tests that claims the lives of Grissom and his two colleagues, Ed White and Roger Chaffee.

*NASA objected to the flippancy of the name Molly Brown, and acceded to it only when Grissom suggested "Titanic" as an alternative.

◊ ◊ ◊

Last week, in looking at the NCAA basketball tournament, I mentioned how different the tournament was in 1972. Well, it's even more different this year, if Saturday's coverage of the championship game from Portland, Oregon is to be considered.

Saturday night UCLA meets Michigan in the final, which is carried not on a network broadcast, but is shown live on the syndicated Sports Network Incorporated, with Bill Flemming calling the action. Because we're not yet at the point where television dictates the starting time of coverage, the broadcast begins at 10:00pm ET, far more appropriate for Portland than, say, New York City - home of the lesser NIT, comprised of teams that didn't make the NCAA, which has had a contract with CBS for years. In fact, they're showing the NIT championship, between St. John's and Villanova, that very Saturday afternoon.*

*Ironic but perhaps not too odd, considering that with only 23 teams in the NCAA tournament, and only one allowed per conference, the NIT often has very good fields. It also doesn't hurt that the title game is played at Madison Square Garden in New York.

In the end, UCLA defeats Michigan 91-80 to win their second consecutive title, the beginning of a dynasty that results in ten championships over twelve seasons. The tournament finally makes it onto a network, NBC, in 1969.

◊ ◊ ◊

Finally this week, a reminder of how big movies remain for local stations. In an era before 24/7 television, the late movie is a staple of most stations. At first, I thought for sure this must be an ad for a movie show sponsored by Esso but, no, it's just WBZ using a tiger to encourage you to watch their movies. Hey, if I see that coming out of my television set, I'm not going to argue!

In that ad, WBZ boasts of a movie starring John Wayne, but WJAR in Providence has a whole week of them.

On the other hand, WPRO, also in Providence, counters with Don Murray's movie Hoodlum Priest, the true story of Fr. Charles Dismas Clark, who founded Dismas House in St. Louis, a halfway house for ex-convicts.

You classic TV fans out there may remember that, back when TV Land actually showed classic programs, they made quite a deal out of broadcasting the newly-discovered Rat Pack concert starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr. and hosted by Johnny Carson. Well, that concert, which had been broadcast originally on closed circuit television, was held in 1965, and the charity which it benefited was none other than Dismas House. That explains why Carson introduced Sinatra as "our hoodlum singer." TV  


  1. As you mention above (and I verified in the listing for this episode), Connie Francis, not Stevens, was on Ed Sullivan's show this week. Connie Francis is (or at least at the time was) a very good singer. I see where you could view Connie Stevens, formerly of "Hawaiian Eye", as "more cute than talented".
    That tv festival in Monaco to me resembles what the Cannes Film Festival in France for awhile has, the more anti-American the product the better.
    Those late night movies just after the late news on (at the time) NBC affiliate WBZ-TV shows that WBZ was still not showing The Tonight Show. If I remember what you've written before, WNAC-TV carried it. I'm sure WBZ eventually took it though.

    1. I have to plead guilty of bias on this one - my wife never liked Connie Francis; she compares her to Johnnie Ray as far as overemoting goes, so I've probably been overinfluenced on that score. On the other hand, one of the keys to 24 years of happy marriage is to consider your wife's opinion to be of paramount importance!

  2. Looking at my Chicago edition ...

    ... you lock onto the damnedest things:

    - Here are just a few things in this week's magazine that you overlooked:
    - Mitch Miller's tirade against NBC for the cancellation of his show the season before.
    Interesting thing here is that TV GUIDE's writer, Bob Higgins, checked out Miller's charges against NBC - and found out that many of them were exaggerated, to say the least.
    That Higgins "went the extra mile" and got both sides - when does that happen nowadays?

    - A feature about America's Grouch, Charles Lane, and how his recurring role on Petticoat Junction had made him a "star" of sorts, after years of bit parts.

    - In "For The Record", NBC announces its fall schedule for '65-'66, the first network to do so this year - about a month later than has been the custom for years (the announcements would be coming later and later as the years progressed).
    Also, "FTR" notes that all but two of NBC's fall entries will be in color (the exceptions: Convoy and I Dream Of Jeannie).
    Also also, announcements from CBS and ABC that they will be increasing their color programming by almost five hours (each) a week in prime time - revolutionary for that time (a year later, the deluge ...).

    - In the Teletype, news that Merv Griffin's new syndicated talk show for Westinghouse will start up in a month - nearly two full years after NBC dropped his daytime show. This was the show from The Little Theatre Off Times Square, with Arthur Treacher as announcer/sidekick (I remember how Arthur would sometimes snarl "I'm having a damn good time!"), accumulated guests who'd get into it with each other, ad-libbing that would sometimes get out of control, political guests from all over the spectrum (I dare you to watch many of these shows and try to figure Griffin's own politics from how he talked to them) - what ever happened to that kind of show?

    I wonder which day you're going to do come Monday (or Wednesday, or whenever). Probably the wrong one, again.
    (May I suggest Wednesday? You might get a few surprises ...)

    Side note:
    Yesterday I went to C2E2, which is an exposition mainly concerned with Comics and their many manifestations.
    It's a strange experience for me these days: walking around surrounded by people (adults, mostly) in spandex/lycra/vinyl costumes, body makeup in odd colors, flowing wigs (and some of the women look even more strange), simulated (I hope) weaponry ... and they're looking at me strangely because I'm wearing a tie.
    But I go mainly to try and find dealers in "collector-to-collector DVDs" (okay, bootlegs) of thought-to-be-lost TV and movies.
    One of my purchases yesterday was For The People, a very short-lived CBS series (seven episodes aired, total) starring William Shatner as a New York DA, with Howard DaSilva as his boss and Jessica Walter as his wife.
    Herbert Brodkin produced this show, just as his other legal series The Defenders was winding down; I don't suppose he might have had an eventual crossover between the two shows in mind down the line, but CBS put For The People on Sundays against Bonanza, so there too.
    Anyway, I mention it here for the record. I might be taking a look at the scheduled episode from this issue later today ...

    1. I'll admit to an eccentric style, but I'm open to whatever grabs me. The Miller story was interesting, and I would have included it if I had more space, but ultimately I didn't think it was quite as important as a cultural indicator. Had it, for whatever reason, been coupled with the stories about the Quiz Shows a week or two ago, then I probably would have been interested in it as an example of the increasing trend of networks, and not sponsors, making decisions on show cancellations.

      As it was, the bit on color programming is good - but if I'd included it, I would have been horning in on your territory! :) (kidding...)

    2. Following up on For The People:

      As is often the case with C2C DVDs, the seven episodes collected here look like old 16mm prints that were kept in the basement next to the water heater for all those years.

      I watched the episode for this particular week, and the most interesting thing about it is the original commercials from 1965.
      Of special note: two separate spots for three different brands of cigarettes (needless to say, everybody in the episode proper who can smokes up a storm), and an early ad for Personna razor blades - you remember, the ones where they interviewed ordinary folks who had better shaves from the Personnas than from the *cuckoo* or *cuckoo* blades they'd been using.
      And it sounds just as dumb now as it did then.

    3. The interviewer in the Personna "cuckoo" spot was Bill Malone, who later that year became the host of the ABC game show SUPERMARKET SWEEP.

    4. Actually, the Personna interviewer was Bill Shipley, who'd just come off a number of years as spokesman for Prudential Insurance on The Twentieth Century.
      I was quite young then, but it did seem a disconnect of sorts ...

    5. Actually, the Personna interviewer was Bill Shipley, who'd just come off a number of years as spokesman for Prudential Insurance on The Twentieth Century.
      I was quite young then, but it did seem a disconnect of sorts ...


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!