December 17, 2018

What's on TV: Sunday, December 17, 1961

Well, it occurs to me that we haven't looked at a Sunday listing lately, and I couldn't find the last time we'd done one from the 1961-62 season, so here we are. This is a genuine Twin Cities issue, without the outstate stations; you also won't see anything from KTCA, the educational channel, since back then Channel 2 didn't broadcast over the weekend. We certainly aren't lacking in programs of interest, though.

December 15, 2018

This week in TV Guide: December 16, 1961

This week's cover story is on Richard Chamberlain, star of NBC's new hit medical drama Dr. Kildare, based on the long-running movie and radio series. The emphasis of the unbylined article is that Chamberlain is not only down-to-earth, he's more interested in becoming a true actor than cashing in on a pretty face. In fact, watching co-star Massey recently, he was heard to comment, "How I wish I had his face!" (As you can tell from Massey's photo on the cover, a face like that—full of integrity and gravitas—will keep an actor in business for a long time, as indeed it does for Massey.)

His co-stars love working with him; Suzanne Pleshette says he's not impressed with himself, that he "listens instead of just worrying about which is his good side." Anne Francis adds that "He has dignity and a sense of integrity, both as an actor and as a person." And producer Herbert Hirschman says that his secret is a simple one: "He has not only the talent but the willingness to learn how to develop it."

Chamberlain doesn't feel like a star; part of it, he thinks, is because he plays a doctor. "I mean, I'm not a rock 'n' roll singer or a private eye or anything like that." He appreciates his success, but doesn't want to be stereotyped by Kildare; two or three years, fine, but "they pick up a new face in this business, use it, wear it out in a hurry and discard it." Besides acting, he's also studying music, and his teacher says he is "completely dedicated to making himself as good as he can be, considering the equipment he has been given." It's those qualities that have kept Richard Chamberlain in the business for a long time as well.

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Christmas is next week, and the festive programming is starting to ramp up. There's nothing on Saturday, but it gets a second chance next week; I suspect they're saving up the special shows for then. However, on Sunday, WTCN presents Great Music, with Morton Gould and the Chicago Symphony performing a special Christmas program that includes some of Gould's own compositions. (6:30 p.m.) Later (10:00 p.m.), on WTCN's Select Theater, it's the Bing Crosby classic Going My Way, which we always watch at Christmastime; on KMSP at 10:30 p.m. it's Come to the Stable, with Loretta Young and Celeste Holm.

KTCA, the educational station, features the Patrick Henry High School string orchestra in a program of orchestral carols on Monday at 7:00 p.m. Meanwhile, at 7:30 p.m. on CBS's Window on Main Street, Robert Young's character Cam Brooks reflects on the last Christmas he shared with his wife before her death, and is cheered up by the Ludwig, the hotel janitor.

On Tuesday, Red Skelton presents his now-famous "Freddie and the Yuletide Doll" (8:00 p.m., CBS), an all-pantomime show in which Freddie the Freeloader dances with a rag doll that turns into comedienne Cara Williams. If I'm not mistaken (and if I am, I know someone will point it out for me), this episode was reshot in color when the Skelton show went that route. Garry Moore (9:00 p.m., CBS) has his Christmas show tonight as well, with Julie Andrews and Gwen Verdon joining Garry, Durward Kirby, and Carol Burnett for the fun. KTCA has more Christmas music at 5:30 p.m., with the Roosevelt High School choir presenting a concert, and both Bachelor Father (7:00 p.m., ABC) and Dobie Gillis (7:30 p.m., CBS) have Yuletide-themed stories.

Wednesday Steve Allen throws a holiday bash at his home along with his wife Jayne Meadows, Steve's four sons, and guests including Louis Nye, the Smothers Brothers, Buck Henry, Tim Conway (going by Tom back then), and more. It's a quirky show, with a very funny scene in which Steve plays Santa Claus for the cast's children, and you can see it all here.*

*Did you know that "We Wish You the Merriest," the Christmas song that runs over the closing credits, was written in 1961 by Les Brown, the show's bandleader? I wonder how many people would have heard it prior to this show? (And since the show only ran one season, I wonder how many heard it on the show?)

At 7:30 p.m. on NBC, it's the much-loved Project 20 special "The Coming of Christ," in which Alexander Scourby reads passages from the Bible (with that wonderful voice of his) while photographs show Christ's coming as depicted by the great painters of the 15th to 17th Centuries. This special was first seen last year, and was run by NBC for several years thereafter. I have never found a video copy of the show (if indeed one still exists), but you can listen to the soundtrack here. And then Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall follows at 8:00 p.m. on NBC, with a Christmas show that features Tom Tichenor and his Puppets, along with "14 teen-age pianists and seven pianos," plus Perry reading the story of the Nativity to the children of the production staff. And we wouldn't want to overlook the Father Knows Best Christmas show (7:00 p.m., CBS).

Thursday's regular programs air their last episodes before Christmas: for example, on Ozzie and Harriet (6:30 p.m., ABC) Rick and his friend Wally both have Christmas jobs on their minds as they contemplate the same beautiful girl, while Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey, our cover stars this week, deal with a Santa who's overindulged (Dan O'Herlihy) on Dr Kildare (7:30 p.m., NBC) and Hazel goes Christmas shopping and runs into a shoplifter (8:30 p.m., NBC). At 9:00 p.m., it's the Christmas episode of Sing Along with Mitch (NBC), as Diana Trask, Leslie Uggams, and the Singalongers give us a Christmas show.

Friday leads off with an intriguing Rawhide (6:30 p.m., CBS), in which Mushy (James Murdock) fears he's suffering from a mirage in the August sun when he sees Santa (Ed Wynn, right) coming toward him with his bag of toys. If you want something more musical, KTCA's Songs of Christmas has the Southwest High School choir. (7:00 p.m.) If you want something with a little bit of an edge, try 77 Sunset Strip (8:00 p.m., ABC), as Jeff (Roger Smith) investigates "Bullets for Santa." At 8:30 p.m. on NBC, it's one of those wonderful live Christmas specials on The Bell Telephone Hour, hosted by Jane Wyatt, with John Raitt, Jane Morgan, the Lennon Sisters, Lisa Della Casa, Violette Verdy, and Edward Villella. Jane, like Perry Como earlier, reads the story of the Nativity (you won't see that on network TV anymore), and also reads the famous "Letter to Virginia" that answers the question of whether there's really a Santa Claus. NBC follows that at 9:30 p.m. with Frank McGee's news program Here and Now, featuring renderings of the first Christmas by Sunday School students at St. George's Episcopal Church in New York City, plus Frank reading from the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew.

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The Christmas season also brings us the college football bowl season. For most of the 2018 college football season, two of the teams in perennial contention for ESPN's "Bottom 10" have been Rice and Kansas. Such was not always the case, however, as we see on Saturday as the two face-off in the Bluebonnet Bowl (12:45 p.m., CBS), conveniently played at Rice Stadium in Houston. It's the second bowl game of the day; the Liberty Bowl, matching Syracuse and Miami, kicks off in Philadelphia at noon (NBC). Over the course of 57 years, things change; the Bluebonnet Bowl no longer exists (although there is a bowl game in Houston, imaginatively called the Texas Bowl); the Liberty Bowl would only be played for one more year in Philly, before moving to Atlantic City for a season and then settling down permanently in Memphis; and of course we have Rice and Kansas. With one week to go in the 2018 regular season, the two schools have combined for a total of four victories and 18 defeats, and Kansas has three of those wins. Ah well, things can't stay the same forever.

It's also the last week of the regular season for pro football, and while ABC carries the American Football League, there's no uniform contract for the NFL; instead, CBS and NBC have contracts with individual teams to broadcast their games. Therefore, on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., CBS has the Baltimore Colts taking on the 49ers in San Francisco, and follows it on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. as the Minnesota Vikings travel to Chicago to play the Bears, while NBC counters that at the same time with the game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis football Cardinals. In the meantime, ABC's AFL game is between the New York Titans and the Dallas Texans—or, as we'd say today, the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs. It's on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

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I mentioned The Bell Telephone Hour in the Christmas section, and that just happens to be the subject of Gilbert Seldes' review this week. This is the second time this year he's written about the program; back in the spring it was a "rave notice," but this week he takes a look specifically at a mid-November episode entitled "The Music of Richard Rodgers," which he says reaches "an absolute peak of excellence." And in referring to the overall history of the show, he echos what I've always felt about Telephone Hour's Christmas show when he writes that "Everything contributes to your pleasure int he music, nothing draws attention to itself. Not only the singers and dancers and musicians, but the sets and the lights and the superb color are dedicated to the same purpose." I think that's what I like most about the Christmas show—that everything fits together and provides a perfect viewing experience. See for yourself with this compilation show.

I also mentioned 77 Sunset Strip earlier, and there's a charming article about the charming Jacqueline Beer, who plays the charming Suzanne, phone operator and occasional operative for the firm of Bailey and Spencer, private detectives. (They're charming too, by the way.) The article calls her the "silent partner"of the show, and there's a good reason why. Zee woman, she ees French, and hair aczent ees, how you sayh, diffecult for zee audience to undahrstand, s'il vous plaรฎt? She's a former Miss France in the Miss Universe pageant, a natural blonde despite her black hair on the show; one of the non-Strip highlights (or lowlights) of her life occurred just as she and her husband, Jean Garcia-Roady, were about to appear on the program Do You Trust Your Wife, when Jean was arrested by the FBI for embezzling $8,200 while a teller at Bank of America. (Two years of the three-year sentence were suspended if he repaid the money.) I guess there was a trust question there. Later, she'll marry adventurer Thor Heyerdahl. She's still alive today at 86, and is Chair of the Thor Heyerdahl Institute. Presumably she has someone else to answer the phone.

There's also an article about Robert Taylor, the movie star turned television star, currently in charge on NBC's series Robert Taylor's Detectives. Moving from the life of "one of the great matinee idols of all time" to a routine, gritty police series, will probably make him a millionaire (he has half ownership of the show), but it wasn't just the money that caused him to turn to the small screen. It had been a while since he'd had a hit movie and, he comments, "nobody wants me." He viewed a move to TV as "the next logical step." It's refreshing, considering the many profiles we see in TV Guide over the years, to run across someone as normal as Taylor; says a friend, "all these years, under all that Hollywood glamor, he's been been nursing a chronic inferiority complex." Gary Cooper and Clark Gable were big stars, but he was just Robert Taylor "He could always see why Mickey Rooney was so popular, but his own popularity was a mystery to him." Concludes his friend, "He's always acted like the only man in the world who never heard of Robert Taylor."

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In news and rumors, For the Record reports that network bosses, not surprisingly, were unimpressed with Newton Minow's recent "Vast Wasteland" speech; Frank Stanton at CBS says it's "sensationalized and oversimplified" and a "gross distortion," while NBC's Robert Sarnoff worries about government control and describes Minow's criticism as "a dangerous, mistaken and illiberal doctrine."

And finally, there are some tidbits in the TV Teletype that I thought were worth looking at. ABC's Target: The Corruptors! looks at one of the biggest corruptors of them all, Communist China. "Jack Klugman stars in a story about how the Red Chinese smuggle narcotics into this country to undermine our society." Notice that us of "our" society again. The nighttime version of Password moves to Tuesday nights, with Garry Moore and Carol Burnett as the first contestants; that means Dick Van Dyke moves to Wednesdays, and Mrs. G. Goes to College to Thursdays, where it takes over for Investigators, along with a new Groucho Marx show. Last but not least, the aforementioned Steve Allen, whose ABC series is in ratings trouble, is being mentioned as a possible replacement for Jack Paar when the latter signs off from Tonight. "Also mentioned for the job are Johnny Carson and Bob Newhart." Hmm, Newhart would have been interesting, don't you think? Would have been a shame to lose Bob and Emily, though. TV  

December 14, 2018

Around the dial

It's the last edition of "Around the Dial" before Christmas, so let's see what kind of shiny things might be under our classic TV Christmas tree!

It's Volume 1, Number 11 of The Twilight Zone Magazine on tap this week at Twilight Zone Vortex, and among the features, Gahan Wilson reviews John Waters' Polyester, Tom Seligson interviews Wes Craven, and it's Part Eleven of Marc Scott Zicree's essential TZ episode guide.

In a related development, David has another installment of "The Unshakeables" at Comfort TV: this one is Rod Serling's seminal 1955 teleplay Patterns, as presented on Kraft Television Theatre. So large was the impact of this live broadcast that it was restaged again a month later—remember, this was the era of live TV.

Speaking of sci-fi: proof that truth can be, if not stranger, at least more fantastic than fiction, is shown at The Federalist, where Howard Chang and Jordan Lorence look back at the Christmas Eve, 1968, broadcast of Apollo 8, and how it was a "Christmas miracle for a weary world."

At Bob Crane: Life & Legacy, Carol recalls the wonderfully surrealistic Hollywood Palace Christmas show of 1965 in which the entire cast of Hogan's Heroes, in character, appear as guests with their "boss," host Bing Crosby, whose production company was responsible for Hogan. Yours truly is quoted in a very nice article.

Martin Grams reviews Side by Side: Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis on TV and Radio, a new book by Michael Hayde, that takes a look at a part of the duo's legacy that isn't often discussed: their work on radio. I have Hayde's very good book on Dragnet; this one should be equally interesting.

At Television Obscurities, Robert answers a reader's question about the 1973-74 program The Burt Reynolds Late Show, which aired in place of the Saturday Tonight Show reruns in the days before Saturday Night Live took over the timeslot. Talk about obscure; I have no memory of this, although seeing as how this was during my exile in The World's Worst Town™, we would have gotten a local movie in that timeslot instead. But I'm in a good mood now, so don't get me started with those memories!

Finally, a blog note: we're now on Twitter, so be sure and follow us here; as I continue to build up the feed, look for exclusives you won't see here, as well as links to more classic TV goodies.  TV  

December 12, 2018

The untold stories of history, as seen on TV

There's a scene in the classic Yuletide movie The Bishop's Wife—the original version, with Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven—in which Grant's character, an angel, explains to a history professor (Monty Wolley) the significance of a seemingly unimportant old coin. It's a coin that Julius Caesar minted to honor Cleopatra, Grant says, and Caesar's jealous wife ordered all copies of the coin destroyed; this particular coin is the only one that survived. Grant point to the professor (and I'm paraphrasing here) is that these untold stories are what make up history, and he's right. The headlines may tell us what happened, but oftentimes it's these little moments that make history real, that bring it to life.

Case in point is this video from the Archive of American Television, a product of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, and let me take a moment here to put in a plug for the Archive's YouTube channel, which is a veritable oral history of television. Click on one of these videos, and I can almost guarantee that two hours later you'll still be pursuing a thread of interviews, each one more interesting than you could possibly have imagined, valuable not only to a humble television historian such as yours truly, but to anyone interested in television of any era.

What we have here is a segment from a longer interview with Max Schindler, veteran news director at NBC. He's talking about his role in the coverage of John F. Kennedy's assassination and funeral, and in just a little over eight minutes he provides several such moments of untold history, none more fascinating than his final anecdote, one dealing with the arrival of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, carrying the late President Kennedy and the very-much alive President Lyndon Johnson. Listen to the story of Johnson's departure from the plane to face the cameras for the first time as president.*

*Here is a link to the scene that Schindler describes. 

It's that untold story, told to Schindler by LBJ, that you won't read in most history books. And yet, as Jim Lehrer says in another of the Academy's interviews, everyone has stories like this; and it is these stories, taken together, that form the mosaic that is history. It lives, it breathes, it jumps off the page and the screen. It becomes the story of us, the story of humanity—and that is how history lives forever. TV  

December 10, 2018

What's on TV? Tuesday, December 16, 1958

We're 10 days out from Christmas, and we do have a couple of seasonal shows on tap tonight; Songs of Christmas on KTCA at 6:00 p.m. (I wonder if high school choirs are even allowed to sing sacred carols anymore?), and The Christmas Gift at 9:00 p.m. on WCCO. Never fear, though; there's plenty more to watch. In case you hadn't guessed, we're in Minnesota this week.

December 8, 2018

This week in TV Guide: December 13, 1958

The greatest newsman of the time, Edward R. Murrow, has an article this week about "How TV Can Help Us Survive." If you've read The Electronic Mirror, you know that I have a section in which various public figures discuss television's role in shaping American culture and strengthening the public good, and Murrow's article, adapted from a speech he gave to the Radio-Television News Directors Association, belongs squarely in that category. Murrow starts out with a  provocative comment regarding radio and television: "I am seized with an abiding fear regarding what these two instruments are doing to our society, our culture and our heritage." His comments strike precisely at what I've been saying and writing all these years, about television's role as a time capsule preserving a historical record.

Our history will be what we make it. And if there are any historians about 50 or 100 years from now, and there should be preserved the kinescopes for one week of all three networks, they will there find recorded in black and white, or color, evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.

Here Murrow, as have many before and after him, is attacking the relentless drone of entertainment at the expense of education and information. "If this state of affairs continues, we may alter an advertising slogan to read: 'Look Now, Pay Later.' For surely we shall pay for using this most powerful instrument of communication to insulate the citizenry from the hard and demanding realities which must be faced if we are to survive." And he means that literally.

Murrow gives the public credit for being "more reasonable, restrained and more mature" than programmers think. Those programmers are fearful men; they fear controversy, they fear pressure, they fear giving offense, they fear the loss of profit. They are not content, Murrow says, to be "half safe." And in doing so, they create their own precedent and tradition, and it is not a positive one.

What should they do? They should editorialize, confident that the public will recognize it as "an effort to illuminate, [not] agitate." They should present the news, in a format and with enough time for important stories to be told in-depth, and for some stories to be told at all. And they should put their duty to the public ahead of financial consideration; here Murrow cites a recent speech by President Eisenhower on the possibility of war between the Soviet Union and Communist China. NBC and CBS both delayed the broadcast for 75 minutes, presumably in order not to preempt profitable programs. "That hour-and-15 minute delay, by the way, is about twice the time required for an ICBM to travel from the Soviet Union to major targets in the United States." Concludes Murrow, "It is difficult to believe that this decision was made by men who love, respect, and understand news."

Murrow goes on to criticize television's desire to find the lowest common denominator—in other words, the largest possible audience. "This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire," but doing that requires effort. He suggests that advertisers, who at this point control most of the television schedule, to give one or two of their programs back to the networks—they'll still put up the money for sponsoring it, but will exercise no editorial control over the contents. He thinks of it as a tithe, a way of giving back, of being responsible.

In conclusion, Murrow emphasizes the threat facing the United States; we are now "in competition with malignant forces of evil who are using every instrument at their command to empty the minds of their subjects, and fill those minds with slogans, determination, and faith in the future." If we continue as we are, we are protecting the public from realizing the threat that we face. "We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information." We must be determined to use television as a weapon in this fight against complacency, against ignorance, against dullness, against the enemy abroad. Quoting Stonewall Jackson (which he certainly wouldn't be allowed to do today, Jackson being a Confederate general), Murrow says, "When war comes, you must draw the sword and throw away the scabbard." The trouble with television, he says, is that "it is rusting in the scabbard—during a battle for survival."

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You'll notice how Murrow, regardless of what his political preference might have been, consistently uses the language of an American, i.e. "we" and "us." There is no sense of neutrality, no attempt to remain somehow above any kind of partiality. We see another example of this on Tuesday at 6:30, when CBS presents Where We Stand, an examination of how the United States measures up to the Soviet Union in terms of armaments, economics, and education. The guests include a glittering array of experts, including retired General Matthew Ridgway, Air Force General Bernard Schriever, Rear Admiral John Hayward, NASA boss T. Keith Glennan, and Harvard economists Sumner Slichter and Abram Bergson. It's an impressive array of CBS correspondents as well, including Walter Cronkite as host, plus familiar names like George Herman, Howard K. Smith, and Richard C. Hottelet.

There's a question asked in the first line of the Close-Up, "How does our strength compare with the U.S.S.R.'s." I'm always struck, in watching the television coverage of JFK's assassination, how often various reporters refer to "our" president, "our" nation, "our" ambassador to Vietnam. How the times have, in fact, changed. Not to say that today's media is neutral, you understand...

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Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., NBC Opera Theatre presents the eighth annual broadcast of "America's Favorite Christmas Opera,"* Amahl and the Night Visitors, with Kirk Jordan now assuming the role of Amahl. Following a break for Meet the Press and Chet Huntley Reporting, NBC's back with more Yuletide cheer in the form of Hallmark Hall of Fame's production of "Christmas Tree," a series of vignettes using song, dance, and skating, with an all-star cast including Ralph Bellamy, Carol Channing, Maurice Evans, Tom Poston, Cyril Ritchard, William Shatner, and Jessica Tandy. Later Sunday night, at 8:30 p.m., WTCN presents a half hour of Christmas music by a nurses' choir. There are similar local music programs scattered throughout the week; WTCN, in fact, has another on Monday.

*Also, at the time, America's only Christmas opera.

Tuesday, WCCO carries "A Christmas Gift" (9:00 p.m.), a local production hosted by Cedric Adams, featuring the songs and melodies of the Christmas season. On Wednesday, Lawrence Welk's Plymouth Show (his Saturday show was sponsored by Dodge) includes seasonal songs like "Christmas in Killarney," "Rudolph, the Red-nosed Reindeer," and "Silver Bells," with Alice Lon, the Lennon Sisters, and others (6:30 p.m., ABC). It's also simulcast on 1280 AM for those who'd like to enjoy the experience in stereo. And at 9:00 p.m., CBS's U.S. Steel Hour presents "One Red Rose for Christmas," starring Helen Hayes and Patty Duke.

The way the issues fell in this year's review (November 27 straight to December 13), if feels as if we're missing a whole week of Yuletide treats. But don't worry—I have a feeling we'll be making up for lost time next week.

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There's plenty of sports on tap this week, including the first and only staging of the Blue Grass Bowl in Louisville (Saturday, 1:00 p.m., ABC), featuring Oklahoma State and Florida State, two college football teams with not nearly the high profile that they have today. (Oklahoma State won 15-6, by the way.) The most notable thing about that game, according to the always-reliable Wikipedia, is that it marks the national debut of Howard Cosell.  Saturday's also the return of college basketball; unlike today's saturation coverage, college hoops didn't tip off on TV until near the end of the year, when conference play took center stage. Among the games on tap Saturday is one that wouldn't cut the mustard today, I suspect—a local matchup between Hamline, my alma mater, and Augsburg, from the Minneapolis Auditorium. (8:00 p.m., KMSP)

On Sunday, an interesting football choice. CBS is scheduled to carry the Lions-Bears game from Chicago at 1:00 p.m., but at the same time there's a note that if the Eastern Conference championship hasn't been decided, the network might instead carry the game between the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants at Yankee Stadium. As it happens, the conference crown hasn't been decided, and the Browns-Giants game (yes, those two teams were good back then) becomes an instant classic, with Giants kicker (and future announcer) Pat Summerall booting the winning field goal that enables the Giants to tie the Browns for the conference title, meaning the two will meet again the following week in a playoff game to determine the winner. The Giants win that game as well, which sets up the Greatest Game Ever Played, the sudden-death championship game against the Baltimore Colts, a story for another day.

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What else? Monday night gives us a couple of shows we wouldn't see today; Voice of Firestone (8:00 p.m., ABC) has "A Salute to Tchaikovsky" with the Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo, while KTCA's Modern Philosophy presents "Existentialism, II." At 8:30 p.m., CBS's Desilu Playhouse has "The Day the Phone Rang," starring Eddie Albert as an Italian immigrant trying to win a plumbing bid but instead finding himself mixed up with the Mafia. And on Small World (10:30 p.m., WCCO), the aforementioned Edward R. Murrow interviews pianist Arthur Rubinstein, poet Archibald MacLeish, and Policy literary official Antoni Sล‚onimski. Come to think of it, you wouldn't see that on TV anymore, either.

Peter Lind Hayes has always been one of my favorites, with his friendly personality and exceedingly dry sense of humor. He, along with his wife, Mary Healy, have a M-F variety show on ABC at 11:30 a.m.; Tuesday, his guests include the trio The Playmates. (By the way, if you're not familiar with the brand of humor that Peter Lind Hayes and Mary Healy bring, here's a commercial for the show.) Remaining in the variety vein, one of the most popular comedians of the time is George Gobel, and his show alternates every other week with Eddie Fisher's; this week, Lonesome George's guests are Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jo Stafford, and Pamela Prather, the Rose Bowl queen, and her court. (7:00 p.m., NBC)

Wednesday is Kraft Music Hall night, and this season's host is Milton Berle, his first major television series since Texaco Star Theater. Mr. Television is already becoming history; next season, Perry Como will take over Music Hall and lead it to its greatest success. Tonight, however, Uncle Miltie welcomes Eydie Gorme and Ken Carpenter. (8:00 p.m., NBC) Later on, it's This Is Your Life (9:00 p.m., NBC), with this week's honoree listed only as "a man who was active in all phases of the movie industry during its early days." That man, according to the episode guide, is Coy Watson Jr., silent movie pioneer, who is honored along with his wife, Goldie.

The spotlight for Thursday is "The Hasty Heart," on the DuPont Show of the Month. (8:30 p.m., CBS), starring Don Murray, Jackie Cooper, and Barbara Bel Geddes. The story takes place at a World War II convalescent ward, and it's a reminder of how "present" the war still was in popular culture; it's not at all uncommon to see stories, particularly in dramatic anthology series, that take place either in World War II or Korea. For viewers (as well as many actors), these weren't period pieces—WWII had ended but thirteen years before.

Finally, Friday brings us Jackie Gleason's half-hour program (7:30 p.,m., CBS), a musical tribute to the Dorsey brothers, referred to here as "the late Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey"—well, Jimmy had died last year, and Tommy only the year before. By the way, this was perhaps the least successful of Gleason's several series, save perhaps You're in the Picture; it's lacking most all of Gleason's most famous creations, including The Honeymooners, and it fails to last the full season. And Edward R. Murrow is back again, this time with his famous Person to Person (9:30 p.m., CBS). Murrow's guests are Gene Kelly and Ivy Baker Priest, the Treasurer of the United States—and mother of Pat Priest of The Munsters. But I bet you all knew that. TV  

December 7, 2018

Around the dial

At bare-bones e-zine, Jack's latest Hitchcock Project looks at the fourth season episode at "And the Desert Shall Blossom," Bernard C. Schoenfeld's delightful adaptation of Loren Good's short story, starring William Demarest, Roscoe Ates, and Ben Johnson.

John raises (and answers) an interesting question over at Cult TV Blog: what are the similarities between Doctor Who's Cybermen and The Avengers' Cybernauts? Regardless of the answer, one thing remains certain: "technology can be dangerous," as we seem to be reminded on an almost daily basis.

In the mood for a little test? Check out the Alternate TV Series Title Game over at Classic Film and TV Cafรฉ. Readers are pretty quick with the answers though, so be sure you make your own guesses before you get to the comments.

Another star of classic television has been lost with the death of Ken Berry last week, but at The Horn Section, Hal proves that such artists are never really lost, with an appreciation of Berry's abundant television career.

If you've been keeping up with Some Polish American Guy and Dan's look at BJ and the Bear, you'll want to read his overall recap of the series. You'll also want to listen to yours truly with Dan on the latest episode of Eventually Supertrain, as we continue our stroll through the very good single-season WB detective series Bourbon Street Beat (along with other great segments).

At Television's New Frontier: the 1960s, it's time to visit one of the seminal (not to mention subversive) programs of the era, none other than Rocky and His Friends, which was renamed The Bullwinkle Show during the year. I've always loved this show, and I really should think about this more: it's perhaps one of the greatest examples of television's ability to act as a time capsule, considering the various topics the show satirized. It really says a great deal about what was topical at the time.

You'll want to check out Kliph Nesteroff's interview with TV veteran Saul Turteltaub at Classic Television Showbiz, where you'll read about The Shari Lewis Show, as well as more details from a fascinating life.

Finally, if you've been reading about the demented fools out there with their attacks on A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and if you're wondering whether or not there's any hope left for civilization, take a moment to read this essay by Herbie J. Pilato on why this kind of thing is B. as in B, and S. as in S. Thanks, Herbie.  TV  

December 5, 2018

TV Guide and the space race

Ever since I was a kid, I've been fascinated by the space program, particularly manned spaceflight. It is, therefore, a pleasure to present to you Tom Rednour, who's in the process of doing some terrific research on how the space race played out in the pages of TV Guide. I think you'll enjoy the fruits of his work, including the excellent illustrations. Take it away, Tom!

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I'm in the process of researching TV Guide and how they covered our space missions. Mitchell asked me if I'd write a short article for "It's About TV." Here, then, is a very brief look at the subject at hand.

TV Guide and the Space Race went hand-in-hand. From Alan Shepard's first 15 minute ride to the final 12½-day mission of Apollo 17, TV Guide kept us up-to-date with scheduled mission close-ups and articles.

Project Mercury was our first effort to put man into space. With all the unknowns, scheduling missions was tentative (at best). Trying to convert military-grade weapons-delivering missiles into man-rated boosters took a lot of time and effort. Weather played a significant role, too. Alan Shepard's first flight (MR-3, Freedom 7) was delayed several times, before finally taking off on May 5, 1961. In fact, all the Mercury missions were delayed or scrubbed from their originally scheduled dates. The first sub-orbital flight was "announced" by TV Guide in the TV Teletype section (3/11/61):

To let viewers know what would be happening during Shepard's suborbital flight, the magazine printed a two-page article in the April 29th issue, "Space Age Spectacular." It described the flight plan and how the three television networks would cover the event. The lead paragraph even noted the uncertainty of the launch date (and astronaut—the three candidates were mentioned at the end): "If all goes according to plan, an astronaut at Cape Canaveral, Fla., will make history one of these days by becoming the first American launched into space. Thanks to TV, millions of Americans will have a front row seat. (emphasis mine)"

The same effort was made for our first orbital flight with John Glenn. Originally scheduled for mid-January, the mission (MA-6, Friendship 7) didn't launch until February 20th. TV Guide printed a similar article about the details of the mission and the planned television coverage ("Television's Greatest Show," 1/13/62). "Barring unforeseen delays, astronaut Lt. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr. will star next Tuesday, Jan. 23, in what may be the most suspenseful and most talked about event in television history."

After Glenn's successful flight, David Lachenbruch authored a 3½-page article ("Live—From The Moon," 4/28/62) on what we can expect from our adventures into outer space—in addition to manned flights (and unmanned lunar probes), he looked forward to improved weather forecasting, orbital satellites sending back pictures of the cosmos, and global television by satellite relay. What a future!

David Wolper produced two independent specials about outer space in the early 60s: Race For Space (4/11/61) and Project Man In Space (5/9/61), both narrated by Mike Wallace. Wolper would also do Race For The Moon in 1965. (Note: IMDB lists different years for the first two shows. These are directly from the magazine, but as non-network shows, they could have aired on different dates in other cities.)

The networks fueled the race whenever they could, via regularly scheduled in-depth news programs (Twentieth Century, Frank McGee Reports, ABC Scope, etc) and national evening news shows. They also produced special program to help explain how things worked and what was planned for the future, such as: "Why Man In Space" (CBS, 4/27/61) and "Astronauts" (NBC, 4/30/61). One program of note during the Mercury years was this ABC News special, "60 Hours To The Moon," with newly-crowned hero, John Glenn as a featured guest (4/29/62, St Louis):

The rest of the Mercury missions yielded little in scheduled TV Guide coverage. Occasional letters from viewers praising network coverage and mentions in For The Record or The Doan Report. For the last Mercury mission in 1963 (MA-9, Faith 7), The Doan Report noted that television would be tried out—it did not work out well and the networks did not use it (5/11/63):


By the time Project Gemini (our two-man spacecraft) started flying in the spring of 1965, launch dates were much more accurate, leading TV Guide to provide a half-page mission Close-up and programming reminder boxes in the listing section and this rare integrated listing (3/23/65, Cleveland):

There were still occasional delays and scrubs during the Gemini years. The first two Gemini missions went off without a hitch. Gemini IV's last-minute plan to include a spacewalk was not included in the Close-up and was covered by the networks in simulation. When NASA released film footage of Ed White's adventure, all three networks aired specials (not listed in TV Guide).

Network live coverage of space missions used to be (mostly) live from liftoff to splashdown. Once the launch vehicle left the pad and the cameras followed it into the clouds, the commentators were left to ad lib and use models to show what was happening during the mission. If there was a launch delay, there wasn't much to do but wait it out (=$$$$). This type of coverage came to a head after Gemini V's scrub on Aug 18. Hours of nothing, as this For The Record pointed out (9/4/65):

Live coverage of splashdowns finally appeared on our TV sets for the Gemini VII/VI-A flights. TV Guide was mighty impressed by the event (For The Record, 12/25/65):

Surprisingly, there were no Close-ups for the last two Gemini missions (XI and XII). For the last Gemini mission, TV Guide printed an article about how the networks coverage at The Cape was handled (11/5/66):


The Apollo Program, with lunar exploration the goal, got off to a terrible start. During a pre-flight test on the launch pad on January 27, 1967, the crew (Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee) were killed when a fire raced through the Command Module. This put the program back about a year and a half, but yielded a much better spacecraft.

Apollo 7, the new first manned mission, got a low-key send-off with TV Guide providing only one programming reminder box for each of the three mission weeks (no Close-up). However, the crew did provide the world with the first live television broadcasts from a spacecraft, as noted in this Doan Report (10/26/68):

1968 was a pretty tumultuous year—assassinations, riots, Vietnam war protests, but was "saved" by NASA's most audacious mission yet—orbiting the moon in December. The mission would be the first manned Saturn V, the first test of the Deep Space tracking/communications network, and the first time humans would leave Earth. TV Guide noted that spectacular television will be happening around Christmas (Doan Report, 12/7/68):

tracking/communications network, and the first time humans would leave Earth. TV Guide printed a rare two-page by-lined program article describing the mission (12/21/68):

Of course, the big event was the actual landing on the moon in July, 1969. Networks planned continuous coverage for the landing and exploration (CBS would be "live" for 31 hours, starting on Sunday, July 20). The TV Guide issue of July 19 featured a cover illustration depicting Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin working at their landing site. Neil Hickey provided the details in the lead article, whilst Walter Cronkite penned an article on the history of space travel, from Jules Verne to today. Full-page Close-ups were provided for both weeks (7/12 and 7/19). CBS and NBC aired previews of this historical flight (both on 7/15/69, NY Metro):

Viewers of the unprecedented coverage were impressed, annoyed, and amused (8/9/69):

TV Guide editions from the area where astronauts grew up often showed a listing for locally produced shows, like this from the South Ohio edition (7/19/69):

For the last three lunar missions (Apollo 15-17), an electric car was added that would allow greater exploration. For Apollo 15, TV Guide featured an article ("Gotcha," 6/19/71) that explained the Lunar Rover and the camera (operated from Mission Control) that would let us back on earth explore the moon with the astronauts. Apollo 16 rated a cover and another long article by David Lachenbruch in which he described that the EVAs would be in prime time—unfortunately a technical issue delayed the lunar landing by almost six hours, thus pushing the EVAs into daytime programming (4/15/72):

The final lunar mission had limited TV Guide coverage—only Close-ups in three consecutive issues (12/2, 12/9, and 12/16/72). The ABC network was the only one airing a special about Apollo 17 ... and a look ahead to Skylab (12/4/72, NY Metro):

It's depressing in hindsight how poorly the last mission to the moon was covered by the networks. Viewer apathy and Christmas programming curtailed live coverage of the three moon walks, all scheduled by NASA to be in prime time. CBS, for example, only aired a mix of live and taped highlights for their nightly 11:30PM update show. They did remain on the air to the end of the third EVA so as to cover Gene Cernan's closing remarks. But, no live coverage of Ron Evans' deep-space EVA or the press conference, both on the return leg.


After the Space Race was over, TV Guide would publish a couple of articles about those years that were tied-in with currently airing programs or events. Jules Bergman's article "The Reluctant Astronaut..." was printed for the splashdown for Skylab 4 (3/2/74) and Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan's article about being a "space hero" in the issue highlighting the CBS mini-series "Space" (4/13/85).

For the 25th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing, Apollo 11 shared a cover with Cindy Crawford and the editors presented us with 8 pages of history and special program information (12 shows about Apollo 11 or space history!). Part of the programming was ABC reliving the landing from the original broadcasts (7/19, 20/94, Denver):

Over the years since 1972, PBS and other networks have presented many space race-related documentary programs, and TV Guide was there to help us find them. Among them: TBS' "Moonshot" (1994), The Discovery Channel's "When We Left Earth" (2008) and this 4-part PBS series, "Spaceflight" (1985), narrated by Martin Sheen (5/8/85, Worcester):

In 1998, the Tom Hanks production of "From The Earth To The Moon" aired on HBO. The six-week, 12-part docu-drama mini-series was well received by the space enthusiast community for its technical achievements as well as telling the history in a (mostly) straight forward manner (and it won three Emmys). TV Guide printed a five-page article previewing the series, a great Rousch Review, and this box (4/4/98):

All-in-all, it was a pretty exciting time, those years between 1961 and 1972 when we first reached for the stars. And TV Guide was there to help us see it all.

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Wonderful article, Tom, and I really enjoyed the TV Guide illustrations. I started watching ABC's Apollo 11 anniversary coverage on YouTube, and hours and hours later I'd made the journey all the way back to how the networks covered Alan Shepard's flight. And I enjoyed every minute of it! TV  

December 3, 2018

What's on TV? Friday, December 3, 1965

One of the things about going back and forth in the 1960s is seeing the evolution of color television. As you can see in today's listing, most of the color programming still belongs to NBC (not surprising given their relationship with RCA), although Hogan's Heroes is and always was broadcast in color, and The Farmer's Daughter has made the transition for its final season. Other nights do offer more colorcasts; Andy Griffith, Lucy, My Favorite Martian, and The Hollywood Palace to name just a few. Yet when you look at last week, everything is in color. Next week, almost everything will be in black-and-white. Keeps me alert, anyway. At least we know this week's listings come from the Minnesota State Edition.

December 1, 2018

This week in TV Guide: November 27, 1965

There was, once upon a time, an era in which the biggest college football game of the year was played on the last weekend in November. It was the game between Army and Navy, played at Philadelphia Stadium, attracting well over 100,000 people each season. The teams were perennially among the best in the nation; Army won the national championship in 1944 and 1945, while Navy finished the 1963 season ranked #2, and in the twenty years between 1945 and 1965 the two schools combined to produce five Heisman Trophy winners.

By 1965, however, things had changed. For one thing the venue in which the game was played, although it was the same stadium, was now called John F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium. For another, the two teams had started their long decline into football irrelevance. The symptoms weren't readily apparent; the 1965 teams were said to have had "disappointing" seasons (4-5 for Army; 4-4-1 for Navy, who'd lost Roger Staubach to graduation the previous year), and a crowd of 102,000 was expected, including President Lyndon B. Johnson. The teams played to a 7-7 tie.

It seems as if we're always talking about how dramatically televised sports has changed over the years, and here's another example. Later that Saturday afternoon, CBS's NFL Countdown features live reports on the "NFL college-player draft," being held at the Summit Hotel in New York. You'll note first of all that the draft is being held in November, rather than April of the following year. It's not only before the end of the college season, it's also before the NFL season ends. 

Today, of course, the draft is a TV spectacle, with two nights of prime-time coverage on three separate networks (ESPN, NFL Network, and Fox). Draft parties are held in cities throughout the country, and TV draft experts are a cottage industry.

But that's not to say that the pro football draft in the 1960s was without drama.* For one thing, the NFL had competition from the AFL. Each league held their own draft, with the result that most of the top players were drafted by a team from each league. The battle to sign the top draft picks was fierce, and stories abounded of scouts from one league hiding players in hotel rooms under fake names, spiriting them away in the trunks of cars, and doing anything they could to keep them away from their rivals in the other league. Many college players made a ceremony of coming to terms with a professional team, often signing the contract under the goal posts after their final college game. (Some others, of course, signed before their final game, but that's another story for another time). With the increased competition came, naturally, increased salaries, which went through the roof. This ended in 1967, when as a precursor to the NFL-AFL merger the two leagues for the first time held a common draft, in which all teams took part, alternating picks. It was an end to the bidding war between the leagues, although the era of big-money contracts was here to stay.

*Not to be confused with the military draft, drama of a different kind altogether.
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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's scheduled guests are Victor Borge, songstress Petula Clark, musical-comedy star Sally Ann Howes, singer Glen Yarbrough, comedian Jackie Vernon, band leader Sammy Kaye, the 1965 Look Magazine All-America football team, juggler Rudi Schweitzer and the Little Angels of Korea, children's choir.

Palace:  Hostess Janet Leigh welcomes song parodist Allan Sherman; F-Troop's Forrest Tucker, Ken Berry and Larry Storch; the comedy team of Rowan and Martin; singer Andy Russell; table-tennis champion Bob Ashley; and magician Michael de la Vega.

This is an interesting week for both shows. Victor Borge was always a delight on any show in which he appeared; Sally Ann Howes was a Broadway star, at the time appearing in What Makes Sammy Run?  Jackie Vernon—well, we all know him from this. And Petula Clark was a very big star at the time. (This clip could very well be from this broadcast.)

On the other hand, Janet Leigh was a big (and very attractive) star in her own right, and Allan Sherman was Weird Al before Weird Al. Here's his own version of "Downtown," from a previous appearance on Palace:

The F-Troop gang is funny (especially Larry Storch), and Rowan and Martin (in their pre-Laugh-In) days were all right, but ultimately I think Ed has the edge.  The verdict: Sullivan, by a nose.

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.Throughout the 60s and early 70s, TV Guide's weekly reviews were written by the witty and acerbic Cleveland Amory. Whenever we get the chance, we'll look at Cleve's latest take on the series of the era. 

There is a birthline, Cleveland Amory says, one that started with The Beverly Hillbillies, from which came Petticoat Junction, and now has grown to include Green Acres. And if it is the place to be, as the theme song says, the question remains as to whether or not it's the place we want to be.

There are people we want to be there, however, chief among them Eddie Albert, who handles the role of Oliver Wendell Douglas with "remarkable aplomb," and Eva Gabor, who suffers various indignities—including the show's scripts—with "rare good grace." There's a good supporting player in Pat Buttram, and everyone else involved with the show has their moments. The problem, according to Cleve, resides with the moments taken up by the show. Take the premise, for example—please. The story of the city man who wants to retreat to the farm is already an old and predictable one. And then there are the crossovers from Petticoat Junction. Says Amory ,who is obviously not a fan of the Paul Henning family tree (even though Green Acres was created by Jay Sommers), these characters "have their place, but their place is in Petticoat Junction, and we certainly are not going to tolerate their wondering around the black fences of all our other shows all week." Lest we mistake what Amory's getting at, he sums up his review by saying that "Green Acres should be put to pasture as rapidly as possible."

It's been a while since I've watched Green Acres from the beginning, and so I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to read Amory's review. In the years since the show went off the air, Acres has developed a reputation for sophisticated, absurdist humor, one of the best sitcoms of the decade, a show that somehow stands apart from those other Henning shows. Is this a case of the show growing into that role, of Amory catching it in its infancy, before the humor has matured and the "predictable" premise has been harvested in unlikely ways? Or is it that Amory simply doesn't like this kind of show, and that he's bound to hate it no matter when he catches it during its six-season run? In fact, Amory was far from alone in his opinion; "the Boston Herald Traveler's Eleanor Roberts described it as 'so bad it's an insult to the intelligence of a nursery school dropout,' while the Houston Chronicle's Ann Hodges deemed it to be 'possibly the worst show I've ever seen.' In a letter to a Nashville paper, one viewer said it was 'the most degrading thing I ever saw' and an Akron viewer called it 'the most vile program on television.'"

Whatever the case, opinion is a subjective thing, while TV ratings are objective, and objectively speaking, Green Acres was a hit throughout its six seasons, falling victim not to a shrinking audience, but the wrong kind of audience. Plus รงa change, plus c'est la mรชme chose.

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There's a distinct military theme to this week's issue; in addition to Army-Navy, there's a feature on how newsmen are covering the growing conflict in Vietnam. And then there's Leslie Raddatz's cover story, on Bob Crane and his new series Hogan's Heroes. You can tell there's still some uncertainty about staging a sitcom in a POW camp, although several cast members make the point (with which I agree) that there's a big difference between a POW camp and a concentration camp, which would have been strictly off-limits. We know, for example, that Bob Crane showed a preview of Hogan to a veteran's group to make sure they weren't offended by it, before he'd go ahead with the series.

Crane's co-stars, Werner Klemperer (Klink) and John Banner (Schultz) are firm in their endorsement of the show; Klemperer, who's played many a villain in the movies (including the notorious Adolf Eichmann), says that comedy is "the sort of acting I prefer. It's a tremendous relief." Banner, an Austrian Jew who fled Europe when the Nazis invaded, is even more adamant in defending Hogan's concept, stressing that one must not confuse POW camps with concentration camps. "It's wonderful to be able to laugh again," he says, echoing Klemperer. "A program like this shows that the mind is stronger than all the weapons in the world—that even in a totalitarian country individualism sneaks through."

In fact, Hogan bears more than a passing resemblance to Phil Silvers' character Bilko; Crane himself describes the show as "halfway between Combat! and McHale's Navy—with a little bit of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. thrown in." He bristles, however, at comparisons between the characters of Hogan and McHale; "I'm not Joe Buffoon," he says to Raddatz, and I've always thought that was one of the secrets to the show's success. Quinton McHale was a good Navy captain, but it's impossible to imagine him going any higher. Robert Hogan, however, is a different sort of character altogether. He's already a colonel, conducting an audacious undercover operation about as far behind enemy lines as one can get, and the decision of the producers to let the humor flow naturally makes Hogan that much more believable. Not only can you believe that this man will do whatever it takes to carry out a mission (including killing, if necessary), it would come as no surprise to see Hogan rise to the rank of general, at the very least. (But then, we've discussed that before.)

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Last week of November, Christmas is on the way, right? We're always complaining about how Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier—and it does. But we have to remember that as far as television goes, the purpose of a Christmas special is to move merchandise. And with Thanksgiving now a full three days in the past, it's now open season, and ABC is on tap with the first special of the year, a wonderfully strange musical called The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood, with the 19-year old, pre-Cabaret Liza Minnelli (focus of an accompanying story by David Newman and Robert Benton) as Red, Cyril Ritchard as Lone T. Wolf, and Vic Damone as the Woodsman (and Red's romantic interest).  But in some of the strangest casting ever seen on a TV special, The Animals (better known for this) appear as the Wolf Pack, a group of Lone's hangers-on. They play it with a kind of insouciant charm that suggests they decided to just have fun with it. (By the way, the show's listed as a "children's" Christmas story, but there are a few adult double-ententes that make me question that.)

Liza's mom, Judy Garland, is still alive at this point, and Liza has a boyfriend,* soon-to-be-husband Peter Allen.  As for Liza herself, she says movies hold no excitement for her, that performing before a live audience is where it's all at.  Interesting, since some of her greatest fame has come from movies: The Sterile Cuckoo, Cabaret, and Arthur.  Oh, well - times change.

*Or should that be "boyfriend"?

It's not a Christmas special per se, but Julie Andrews does have a Christmas album coming out, and there's no better way to promote it than to appear on television, even if you're not going to sing anything from it. (The period between Thanksgiving and Christmas has always been a fertile period for specials, seasonal and non-seasonal alike.) It's billed as "The Program All America Has Been Waiting For," although I don't recall having been in a fevered rush to see it.  Anyway, her NBC special was probably quite good, with her special guest Gene Kelly.  (And, in smaller print, The New Christy Minstrels.)   Now, I could've included a picture of the close-up from TVG, but this album cover is so colorful I decided to use it instead.

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Other interesting odds and ends for the week: the Saturday matinee movie, Hellcats of the Navy, featuring the future President of the United States and his wife, Nancy, in her next-to-last role.  The King Family has their Thanksgiving show, which thanks to the vagueries of local stations that show programs from multiple networks, is shown the week after Thanksgiving.  A Sunday afternoon NBC news special entitled "Who Shall Live" explores the process of determining which patients on the waiting list will get available organ transplants.  Andy Williams' special guest on Monday night is Richard Chamberlain, star of Dr. Kildare, which conveniently airs in the slot immediately before Andy.  Liza Minnelli's back on Wednesday night in another special, CBS's Ice Capades of 1966, hosted by Arthur Godfrey and featuring Roger Miller - I think it's safe to say none of the three do their performing on ice.  There's an ad for the "John F. Kennedy" 1964 coin sets, featuring the brand-new Kennedy half-dollar, a great Christmas gift for a member of your family.  Three months after retiring as manager of the New York Mets, Casey Stengel is Hugh Downs' guest on Today.  And there's a brief obituary of Allen B. DuMont, one of television's unsung pioneers, who'd died two weeks before.

Finally, one of those little things that amuse me, if no one else. NBC's Saturday Night at the Movies features 1954's The Long, Long Trailer. The stars of the movie are Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz,but The Long, Long Trailer is listed as the second movie appearance, although her scenes were deleted, of the the aforementioned Liza Minnelli, eight years old at the time. Of course, it might have helped that the director was Vincente Minnelli—her father. TV