July 16, 2016

This week in TV Guide: July 17, 1965

It's that time of the year again, when we begin our irregular series of encore presentations - in other words, reruns of past TV Guide reviews. This usually happens when I don't have an issue for a particular week, but fear not, for at It's About TV, we do reruns with a twist: while the issues are duplicates, the content you read here is all new, filled with material that didn't appear the first time we looked the issue over.

In addition, these issues have all been selected from the years prior to the start of the Monday "What's on TV" feature, which means we've never taken a look at any of the daily listings. So if you think you've read this because you recognize the cover, think again - I promise everything you read here will be brand new content.

By the way, as you've seen in the last few weeks, I'm always happy to accept loans of your own issues if you have one you'd like me to write up. I can tell you that right now I have upcoming openings for July 30 and August 27. In the meantime, let's see what this week's all about. And if you'd like to see what I did with this issue last time, you can read it here.

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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: Ed welcomes musical-comedy star Sammy Davis Jr.; comedian Jackie Vernon; rock 'n' rollers Peter and Gordon; Alice and Ellen Kessler, singing and dancing twins; singer-comedienne Kaye Stevens; British comedian Charlie Drake; Trio Hoganas, high-wire artists; and Brizio and his clown act.

Palace: Host Maurice Chevalier introduces Jane Powell; Rowan and Martin; Tim Conway of McHale's Navy: the singing Collins Kids; the Andre Tahon Puppets; Dutch comedian Dave Parker, who does an imitation of Charles Chaplin; and the Stanecks' teeterboard act.

Yes, believe it or not, when we first looked at this issue, the "Sullivan vs. The Palace" feature was nowhere to be seen.* I have to think it started not long after this, though.

*As a matter of fact, although that initial post was good, there really wasn't much of anything to see - no pictures except for the cover, stories that flowed one into another instead of standing on their own, and a fairly short length. We ought to do better than that this time.

At any rate, each show this week is a repeat, and the guest list for each starts off strongly, with Sammy Davis Jr., Jackie "Frosty the Snowman" Vernon, Peter and Gordon, and Kaye Stevens on Ed, and Maurice Chevalier, Jane Powell, Rowan and Martin, and Tim Conway on Palace. Now it's true that Conway isn't nearly as funny when he doesn't have Harvey Korman around, and I'm not sure how Rowan and Martin sound when they aren't able to bet their sweet bippies, but despite the fact Sammy Davis Jr. is one of my favorite entertainers, I don't see him being able to tip the balance. I give a very slight edge to Palace, but your mileage (and judgment) may vary.

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By the way, last week I kind of mimicked this format when I compared Hullabaloo to Shindig! and that seemed to go over well, so we'll take a quick look at them again this week. 

Michael Landon is the host of Hullabaloo on NBC Tuesday night (in color!), and his guests are Ian and Sylvia, Linda Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Peter and Gordon, the Vibrations, Cannibal and the HEadhunters, the D Men and Deedee Warwick, while from London Brian Epstein introduces Joe Brown and his Bruvvers. Meanwhile, the following night on ABC, Shindig! (in glorious black-and-white) features host Jimmy O'Neill with Gary Lewis and the Playboys; the Sir Douglas Quintet; Gene Pitney; Sonny and Cher; the Righteous Brothers; Jody Miller; the Chiffons; Billy Preston; and Bruce Scott.

If that isn't enough, there's Where the Action Is, ABC's Monday-Friday afternoon music show (sample lineup from Tuesday: The Newbeats, Steve Alaimo, Paul Revere and the Raiders), and of course Saturdays wouldn't be the same without American Bandstand, which this week presents Duane Eddy and the vocal team of April Stevens and Nino Tempo.*

*Anyone named "Tempo" ought to be able to carry a beat, right?

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Last week we looked at the issue that was, in fact, from last week: July 10, 1965, so it's funny to see some of those same shows on elsewhere this week. For example, WDSM, Channel 6 in Duluth, Minnesota, is normally an NBC affiliate, but because the area lacks an ABC affiliate we occasionally see that network's programs pop up a week or so later. One instance is Tuesday night, when the same 12 O'Clock High episode that aired in the rest of the country last week makes its way to Channel 6. It features Earl Holliman as a flyer who doesn't care whether he lives or dies, and therefore he finds himself in quite a pickle when he falls in love after he's volunteered for a dangerous experiment. We also get last week's episode of Wide World of Sports, the one that featured the conclusion of the British Open and the Firecracker 400 NASCAR race. I thought those looked familiar. 

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We all know that documentaries are a hard sell on television; always have been, which is why the frustration over the education content of TV has existed almost from the beginning. As long as TV remains a medium that runs on ad revenue, which in turn is generated by ratings, thus shall be the case. 

However, in the early '60s ABC tried to make a go of it, and during the 1964-65 season, ABC coupled the aforementioned 12 O'Clock High with the documentary series F.D.R. to create a 90 minute block of Friday night programming that was guaranteed to appeal to military veterans and others for whom both the war and its wartime leader were fresh memories. If ever a documentary series was going to succeed, it would probably be here.*

*As you can tell from the Close-Up at left, the Minneapolis ABC affiliate KMSP didn't carry the series, opting instead for Death Valley Days.

This Friday, F.D.R. closes out its 27 episodes with "Going Home," which appropriately covers the events surrounding Franklin Roosevelt's death and funeral, including the train carrying the dead president's body from Warm Springs, Georgia to Washington, D.C. and then to Hyde Park, New York for burial at the family home. It's a thoughtful, well-done series (to the surprise of those who think the format begins and ends with Ken Burns), with tonight's script written by radio legend Norman Corwin, narrated by actor Arthur Kennedy, and featuring the voice of Charlton Heston as FDR.*

*The producers of F.D.R. were also responsible for the previous year's ABC documentary Winston Churchill: The Valiant Years, narrated by Gary Merrill, music by Richard Rodgers, and Richard Burton as the voice of Churchill.

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Interesting quote of the week, coming from the jazz singer Nancy Wilson, who's coming off of performances on the Academy Awards show, The Hollywood Palace, Burke's Law, and a Bob Hope show where the host says of her, "She has broken more records than Jack Nicklaus, but I like the way she swings better." She's had success in Hollywood, in the record business (winning last year's Grammy for best R&B female vocal performance), and she's taken place in the march for civil rights in Birmingham. She says, "I'm not a professional Negro. I'm a human being first - an American second - and a Negro third, and I'm not the least bit unhappy about it." I wonder if that's a sentiment prevalent in the industry today?

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Agnes Moorhead is best known as the brittle Endora in Bewitched, but as Dwight Whitney's profile shows, there's a lot more to this Hollywood veteran than that. She started out as a child ballerina for the St. Louis Municipal Opera, became a member of Orson Welles' Mercury Theatre, acted in Citizen Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons and was blacklisted for a time by Hollywood for fear of retribution from William Randolph Hearst, received four Academy Award nominations during a long film career, and had great success on the stage, most recently with Sorry, Wrong Number. So how does she do it?

According to Dwight Whitney's story, the secret is to have "the strength of an Amazon, the guile of a general, and the hide of a crocodile." She is a woman of strong feelings: of the current Broadway hit Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, she says "It doesn't teach anything. It is neurotic, sordid." Tennessee Williams is a great talent, but "He nourishes it, then pours fertilizer over it." Today's actors are only interested in quick success; they don't want to learn anything or improve themselves, and "just don't love what they're doing anymore."

Abour her co-star Elizabeth Montgomery, her praise is qualified: "'She has a quality,' Agnes says unemotionally. 'Charm, warmth, intelligence. Of course, you know she plays herself. When I was an ingénue, we were always characterizing.'" Her relationship with Montgomery is "respectful," even if her opinion of TV isn't quite there. For instance, it wasn't her decision to go into television; "I did the pilot sort of while I wasn't looking," she says, and adds that "I was convinced it wouldn't sell."

Yet here she is, a popular character on a popular program, one that will run until 1972. "This is not," she says, "an era of convictions." Not like a feature movie, no time to relax, all talk about ratings and time slots and advertiser appeal. "What it is is TV."

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Now here's something I would pay cash money, as we say in Texas, to hear. According to "For the Record," the great Stan Freberg is composing singing radio commercials for , , , the United Presbyterian Church. A sample lyric:

Doesn't it get a little lonely sometimes,
out on that limb, without Him?

Why try it alone?
The blessings you lose may be your own.

The piece notes that Freberg is son of a Baptist minister, and is donating his services. "You have to tread very carefully in this area," Freberg says, "But the Presbyterians are willing to experiment. They're enthusiastic."

However, as it turns out, I don't have to pay a dime for them, aside from my monthly internet bill. Thanks to YouTube, we can hear them right now!

Freberg talks about bringing them to television, but I wasn't able to find out any record (no pun intended) of that happening. Nonetheless, one wonders whether or not something like this might be worth a try today? It certainly couldn't hurt the Presbyterians, whose numbers in the United States have dropped precipitously - from 4.25 million in 1965 to 1.67 million in 2014. Coincidentally, the last year in which in increase in membership was recorded was 1965 - the same year these commercials were made.

Or is it a coincidence? TV  


  1. United Presbyterian Church was later merged into the Presbyterian Church (USA), which is one of the heretic Protestant Liberalism associated denominations.

    The "Northern Presbyterians" are the ones in deep decline. Churches are fast defecting from PCUSA to PCA, ARP, EPC, or ECO because of their heresy.

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