May 18, 2016

Potpourri for $500

Remember the Jeopardy category "Potpourri"? It always fascinated me when I was a kid, because I didn't really recognize the word or know how to pronounce it - whenever Art Fleming said it, it would remind me of how he'd said it before, but it didn't stick - and I found it interesting that none of the questions seemed to relate to each other. Of course, later on I discovered that's that potpourri meant.*

*Speaking of Art Fleming's Jeopardy, did you know that the winner of the 1968 Tournament of Champions was Hutton Gibson, father of Mel?

Anyway, a little bit of this and that this week: announcements, questions, triv
  • You might have noticed a few new additions to the sidebar this week, and if you haven't I'm going to call your attention to them now: British TV Detectives, from the creator of Classic Film and TV Cafe, among other blogs (and who also happens to be the organizer of the Classic TV Blog Association), takes a look at, well, the British TV detective. The Twilight Zone Vortex is another newby to the sidebar; as the title might suggest, this is a detailed look, episode by episode, of the great series. Both of these are terrific sites, deserving of inclusion in your regular blog reading.
  • Another addition worthy of your attention is Movin' On, a site dedicated to the '70s classic of the same name, starring Claude Akins and Frank Converse. If you haven't thought about that show for awhile, this is a good time to brush up on it because next week I'll have an interview with Barry Weitz, one of the show's original producers. My thanks to Mark Rathaus for facilitating the interview, as well as answering some questions on his remastering of the series, now airing on Hulu and
  • Here's a question from reader Sue Ann, who asks: "My father was a guest hobbyist on Charley Weaver’s Hobby Lobby in 1959, but there’s no reference anywhere to that episode. I got to skip school and go with him to NYC. They didn’t know what to do with me during the show, so they put me backstage with celebrity guest Gloria DeHaven who flipped out that she was made my babysitter. ( I was a very mature 12-year-old and didn’t need a babysitter.) Is there any way to find it?" I've done some basic research, so far to no avail. Any suggestions out there?
  • A while back, reader Sheila Terrando asked about the mid-60s Saturday program on the Smithsonian. At her request, I'm trying to work on a story about it; does anyone have information they can share on that?
  • Finally, David Von Pein, the excellent collector of "As It Happened" video concerning the television coverage of JFK's assassination, recently posted something I'd not seen before: the CBS Evening News for November 25, 1963. As Walter Cronkite comments at the outset of this expanded one-hour broadcast, there really was only one story that day, that of the President's funeral. Nonetheless, about 50 minutes into the program Cronkite does digress to some of the other stories of that day, and it's a fascinating look at the shadows hanging over the date. By that, I mean that if one were able to somehow photograph that moment in time, one might be able to see dim, blurry images in that picture that can't quite be made out, ghosts from the future casting their looming shadows on the present:

    At 50:00 into the broadcast, Cronkite spends a minute reporting on "the bloodiest fighting in almost a year" in Vietnam, including "massive Communist attacks" on strategic areas near Saigon. Vietnam was, of course, a big story even then, with U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge skipping the funeral to return to Vietnam after consulting with the new President, Lyndon Johnson. Nonetheless, it certainly wasn't foremost in the minds of most Americans, not like it would be in a few years. Included is Cambodia's announcement of an air agreement with Red China, a foreshadowing of the misery to come in that country. There's also a note about Communist rebels in Venezuela, and while it took them a little longer to assume control, that too would come to pass.

    At 51:15, Cronkite notes the discovery of a dead young woman (later identified as Joann Graff) in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the tenth victim in 17 months of "Boston's mystery strangler." Yes, the Boston Strangler. It had only been earlier that year that two Boston newspaper reporters, Jean Cole and Loretta McLaughlin, had first used that phrase to describe the killer. In 1964 Albert DeSalvo is charged and pleads guilty to the crimes. In 1968, Tony Curtis stars in the movie of the same name; as I recall, in the scene portraying Miss Graff's murder, the television set in the background is showing coverage of the Kennedy assassination. It's been a long time since I saw that movie, though - feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

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