May 11, 2019

This week in TV Guide: May 14, 1966

What better way to kick the week off than with a look at the undisputed heavyweight Chairman of the Board?

Leslie Radditz' article, which accompanies an encore presentation of  Sinatra's acclaimed NBC special A Man and His Music on Sunday (9:00 p.m. CT), looks at Sinatra at 50. In many ways, Radditz notes, Sinatra "seems to be reaching new peaks." He complains about not getting enough sleep, about his current Vegas gig being about two weeks too long, about lousy service in the hotel dining room. But then, when he gets onstage—well, as Radditz says, "the old excitement is there." Comments from women in the audience bear this out: "It's the eyeball-to-eyeball contact that gets me," one says. "I'll bet there isn't a place in that room where you wouldn't feel he was looking at you." Adds another, "His animal attraction is amazing."

Sunday's Sinatra special, which had originally aired the previous November, bears it out. It's just an hour of Frank singing—no skits, no forced banter, just Sinatra, with two of his best collaborators, Gordon Jenkins and Nelson Riddle, providing the orchestral backing. The show's available on DVD, and if you're a Sinatra fan you need to have it. Looking through some of the songs is like reading the notes on a Greatest Hits album: "I've Got You Under My Skin," "I Get a Kick Out of You," "It Was a Very Good Year," "Young at Heart," "Come Fly with Me," "Lady is a Tramp," "You Make Me Feel So Young," "One For My Baby." He closes the show with his longtime theme, "Put Your Dreams Away."  "My Way" and "New York, New York"? He hasn't even recorded those yet. Yes, Frank Sinatra still has some very good years ahead of him.

Here's a sample from A Man and His Music:

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No Hollywood Palace this week, preempted by a "Holiday on Ice" show hosted by Milton Berle. However, that doesn't mean we don't have some variety for you. Sullivan himself has a pretty good lineup (7:00 p.m., CBS), headlined by Alan King, Kate Smith, and dancer Peter Gennero. Frank's Rat Pack pal Dean Martin, on NBC Thursday night (9:00 p.m.), has singers Gisele MacKenzie, Tommy Sands and the McGuire Sisters, comedian Jack Carter, and Sherri Lewis and Lamb Chop. Red Skelton's Tuesday show (7:30 p.m., CBS) features Petula Clark, who was so big back in the early '60s that she's on twice this week—she's also a co-headliner on NBC's Best on Record program (Monday, 8:00 p.m., NBC), featuring performances by winners from March's Grammy Awards.

While we're at it, let's take a closer look at that Grammys show. The listing for it reads "The annual Grammy awards are presented," and mentions that Dinah Shore will be giving the Golden Achievement award to Duke Ellington. But we know it isn't the awards show itself—that was on March 15, in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Nashville. So what gives?  Well, believe it or not, the Grammy award ceremony wasn't broadcast live on TV until 1971—prior to that, a series of annual specials, called Best on Record, showcased the winners in the major categories, performing their winning tunes. It wasn't about the competition; who knows whether or not they named the losing nominees on the show? It was all about the music. And in that sense, it's no different than the Grammys today. Nobody really turns on the show to see the lame jokes from the presenters, the envelope opened, the four losers on screen while the winner tearfully accepts the award. No—people want the performances, and that's what this show gives them. Maybe they should consider this format every year?

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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. 

The Avengers, Cleveland Amory writes, "is so British you don't have to be British to understand it—but it helps." Understand? I'm not sure I do, but we'll leave it at that for the time being.

As I recounted a few years ago, it apparently took the British public a while to figure out that The Avengers was a satire, but with the passage of a couple of years, Cleve has no such problem—"Each of the episodes we've seen has involved not only individual satires of the old days, but also general satires of modern life." He at least acknowledges the presence of Patrick Macnee as John Steed (well, after all, he's only the glue that holds the whole series together), but he more than notices Diana Rigg in the unforgettable role of Mrs. Emma Peel, "the swinging girl of today and the forward-looking woman of tomorrow." "Pretty good, what?" says Amory, and adds, "make no mistake, she's both pretty and good."

He goes on to joke about a few more British-type jokes; cucumber sandwiches, "brollys," and "By Jove," but doesn't really say much more about the show. And I suppose that's a good thing—if you've read these capsule summaries over the years, one thing you know is that the more Cleve has to say about your show, the more you'll regret it. Understand?

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Keeping on the theme of British television, there's Robert Musel's (yes, this one's for you, Mike Doran!) profile of "the incorruptible" Patrick McGoohan, star of the decidedly more serious Danger Man or, as it's known in these parts, Secret Agent. McGoohan hasn't yet ventured into what will become his most famous role, that of Number Six in The Prisoner, but it's not hard to see the genesis of that show as he riffs on his television philosophy. "Every real hero since Jesus Christ has been moral," he says, a statement that will come as absolutely no surprise to those who've noticed the occasional Messianic parallel in Number Six's actions. He adds that he will not let John Drake, his character in Danger Man (and perhaps alter ego of Number Six?), do anything he would not do himself.

McGoohan's a man who knows what he believes in and isn't afraid to say so.  "When I first started the series," he tells Musel, "they wanted me to carry a gun and have an affair with a different girl in each episode.  I wasn't going to do that. I simply will not appear in anything offensive.  I won't accept bad language or eroticism."  That doesn't mean he's against romance on screen; "Romance is the finest for of entertainment...It's something you create in the mind of the viewer."  Rather, it's his philosophy toward television itself, and its responsibility to the viewer.  "What I object to is promiscuous sex which is anti-romance.  Television is watched by so many people, children and grandmothers among them, that it has a moral obligation to its audience."

McGoohan's a demanding man to work with, but "generally liked by his crew because they recognize him as a professional who could, if he had to, light a set or edit a film or even design a production."  I suspect it also doesn't hurt that he has a clear idea of what he wants in a series.  All in all, we get a picture of a man with an ego, a man with vision and the determination to bring it to fruition, a man with a pure artistic integrity.  It's hard not to respect a man like that.

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What else is there to talk about this week?

Well, if you're a sports fan, there's not much to look forward to this week. The Dodgers and Pirates meet in NBC's Saturday Game of the Week (1:00 p.m.), and the Twins take on the Yankees in a local broadcast Friday night at 7:00 p.m. on Channel 11. Otherwise you've got swimming, wrestling, bowling, ice-dancing and hydroplane races to look forward to. Oh, and Sam Snead offers tips on how to avoid sand traps.

Many of the weekly series have started the rerun season, so there's not a lot new there either.  Even the week's biggest show (except for Frank, that is) comes up a cropper. That's the scheduled launch of Gemini IX, which was slated to take off on Tuesday morning as the second-half of a space doubleheader. The day was to begin with the launch of an Atlas-Agena target vehicle at 10:00 a.m., followed at 11:40 a.m. by the Gemini launch. The Gemini, manned by Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan, would then catch up with, rendezvous and dock with the Agena, a crucial component that had to be understood and mastered prior to the forthcoming Apollo flights.

However, as you can see here, the launch of the Agena didn't exactly come off as planned; Mission Control lost contact with the vehicle after the Atlas booster failed, and the Agena plunged into the Atlantic. The Gemini flight was postponed until the following month, when a replacement vehicle was launched. Gemini IX finally took off on June 3, and while it didn't quite come off without a hitch, it was still a success.

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Another of the fashion spreads that TV Guide features from time to time, and this week our model is Joan Hackett.  Hackett, a woman of unconventional beauty, has had a pretty good career, winning awards for her work on stage and showing up regularly on a variety of movies and television shows and series.  This article has nothing to do with that, of course; for TV Guide, Hackett makes a perfect model for the English-styled fashions popularized by the ultra-chic New York shop Paraphernalia.

The store, which opened multiple locations and remained around in one form or another until the late 70s, is quite a story itself.  As for Hackett, her career continues on the upswing, with critical plaudits for the TV adaptation of Mourning Becomes Electra followed by Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for her work in her last movie, Only When I Laugh; in 1983 she will die of ovarian cancer.

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That seems like kind of a down note to end on, so let's take a look at a movie that sounds so awful, you have to smile at it.  It's 1958's Attack of the Puppet People, starring two actors who really ought to have known better, John Hoyt (many television shows) and John Agar (Shirley Temple's first husband; how far we've fallen since then, hmm?), and I swear to you that this is the real description of the movie, which airs on Channel 5 at 12:45 a.m. on Saturday night/Sunday morning:  "A toymaker carries his occupation to an extreme.  He shrinks people and locks them in a dollhouse."

Shockingly, the always-reliable Wikipedia says that the movie, which was shot under the working title The Fantastic Puppet People,  "has had a generally poor reception amongst critics."  It was rushed into production to capitalize on the recent popularity of The Incredible Shrinking Man, but something tells me that no amount of time would have helped this flick out.

Perhaps it makes more sense with the Spanish subtitles. But I keep waiting for three silhouettes to appear on the bottom of the screen.

Finally, there's this from Hugh Downs. According to the Doan Report, Hugh was speaking before The Advertising Club of New York last week, and and his comments were, shall we say, less than flattering.

Talking about so-called "high-irritation" commercials—and isn't that all of them nowadays?—Downs says, "Viewers, particularly the younger ones, are insulted by the patronage implicit in this sea of video silliness, and there's mounting evidence that they are rejecting this kind of advertising." One-joke commercials are "repeated to a point of great unfunniness." And to those who counter that, after all, it works, Downs says, "This isn't my point. It may work for a while longer, but while it's working it may be doing heavy harm to the credibility of advertising." Hugh Downs turned 98 earlier this year, and although he said these words over 50 years ago, he could say the same thing todayTV  


  1. I don't remember knowing who John Hoyt was until he played Grandpa Kanisky on GIMME A BREAK, and his character there seemed somewhat silly & senile from what I remember. Now I watch Me-TV regularly, and I think he appears somewhere there at least once a week, on lots of shows like TWILIGHT ZONE, HOGAN'S HEROES, and even THE MONKEES, where on a rerun from last Sunday he played another "mad scientist" who transferred the Monkees' musical talent into a monster played by Bond's future "Jaws", Richard (here credited as Dick) Kiel. Even if MS3K isn't around anymore, I think "Attack of the Puppet People" would be an ideal movie for Me-TV's Svengoolie to skewer.

    1. For Jon:

      Back in Ancient Times (pre-MeTV), Son of Svengoolie (as he was known in his still-local days) had access to some of the lowest-grade monsterflix on the market.
      Among them were Bert I. Gordon's 1958 AIP trilogy: The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth Vs. The Spider, Attack Of The Puppet People, in that order of release.
      Be assured that Rich Koz handled all of these film klassix with his customary dispatch - and given the chance he'd no doubt do the same today.
      Frankly, I wish the MeTV management should allow him that chance with some of the lesser flix that he used in the Good (?) Old Daze …
      … but hey, maybe that's just me …

      True Story:
      Years ago, Koz and his team found themselves with two movies on hand, The Giant Gila Monster and Ghost Of Dragstrip Hollow, ultra-low-budgeters from the same time frame - and inspiration (of a sort) struck.
      The team edited the two pictures together, producing a single "epic" called Hot Rods To Gila, with a "story" that you could follow and everything.
      Sadly, the distributors of the two originals took exception to what Koz & Co. had done; Hot Rods To Gila only aired the one time, and was disassembled thereafter.
      Still, those of us in Chicago who are old enough to remember retain fond memories of one of the last gasps of creativity(??) in local TV - So There Too.

  2. I'm surprised you didn't reference Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold", a 1966 Esquire magazine article that detailed the taping of A Man And His Music! It is one of the greatest examples of The New Journalism of the 1960s. Interesting TV subplot in the Talese article: Sinatra has a run-in with sci-fi TV writer Harlan Ellison over game warden boots! To Ellison's credit, he stood up to Sinatra's bullying. The Talese article can be read online here:

  3. Filming of what would have been a third season of the hour-long version of "Secret Agent"/"Danger Man" (there had been one season of a half-hour version of the show filmed in 1960-61, aired on Britain's ITV in the 1960-6 season and also broadcast on CBS in the U.S. as a summer replacement in 1961) began in mid-1966. This new season was to have been seen on both ITV and CBS (and in color on the latter) starting in January, 1967.

    But after two episodes were filmed ("Koroshi" and "Shinda Shinda"), production of "Secret Agent"/"Danger Man" abruptly ended.

    Star Patrick McGoohan instead began work on "The Prisoner", which was seen in the fall of 1967 on ITV and in the summer of 1968 on CBS (interestingly enough, "Prisoner" was the 1968 summer replacement for Jackie Gleason!). "The Prisoner" was popular enough in the U.S. to have been rerun on CBS in the summer of 1969.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!