June 29, 2019

This week in TV Guide: June 24, 1967

When a show comes advertised as "A new chapter in television history," you tend to sit up and take notice. Such is Our World, a special airing on NET Sunday afternoon (2:00 p.m. CT). (And when was the last time we led off with a show on public television?)

Our World is billed as "the first live, around-the-world telecast" with participants from five continents taking part. The program is being aired to 30 countries worldwide, thanks to three American and one Soviet satellites. What is it about? Our world's "problems, achievements and prospects for the future." Segments include "This Moment's World," a brief look at the world at the hour of broadcast, "The Hungry World," "The Crowded World," "Aspiration to Excellence," and "The World Beyond." Paul Niven, NET's lead Washington correspondent, is the narrator; less than three years later, he'll die from head injuries after jumping out of a window to escape from a fire that sweeps through his Georgetown townhouse.

The program's best segment is probably "Aspiration to Excellence," which includes a performance by The Beatles, who perform "All You Need is Love" for the first time (with a chorus of "friends," including members of the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Marianne Faithfull, Keith Moon and Graham Nash), as well as Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso, Van Cliburn and Leonard Bernstein, and others.

There's an interesting Wikipedia article about this program. The Soviet Union pulled out of production at the last moment, probably in protest over the West's support of Israel in the recent Six-Day War; the missing Soviet satellite was replaced by one from NASA. Despite the Eastern bloc nations pulling out, the show's still transmitted to 24 countries, with an estimated audience of between 400 and 700 million people. The program actually runs a half-hour over it's scheduled running time of two hours.

Below are highlights from the broadcast, which don't include the performance from The Beatles; you'll have to check the video below for that.

*The Beatles performance, as was the rest of the broadcast, was originally in black-and-white; for its use in the 1995 TV special The Beatles Anthology, the Beatles' performance was colorized, We eschew colorized clips, though; we're like TCM that way.

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While The Hollywood Palace is on summer break, ABC filled the Saturday night time slog with Piccadilly Palace, a London-based variety show starring the iconic British comedy duo of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, We'll stop in from time to time during the summer months to see who has the best lineup..

Sullivan: Scheduled guests are singers Connie Francis, Ronnie Dove and the Swingle Singers; comedians Henny Youngman, Flip Wilson, and the comedy team of Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara; Joaquin Robles' flamenco dancers, who are accompanied by Los Rebeldes, a mariachi band; and Augsberg's Jungle Wonders, a chimpanzee act.

Piccadilly: Guests are singers Bobby Vinton and Georgie Fame. Hosts Morecambe and Wise do a zany impression of an Arabian sheik newly arrived in England, and join the show's writers for a slapstick parody of a pop singing group. Regular: Millicent Martin.

I have to admit neither of this week's lineups do much for me, but you don't come here to see me equivocate, do you? Very well: Piccadilly Palace is not really Hollywood Palace with a British accent; it's more like The Morecambe & Wise Show, so more of the program is built around them. That doesn't give us much to go on. While not all of Ed's guests are to my taste, it's a more substantial lineup, and so I'm giving Sullivan the decision on points.

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Piccadilly Palace isn't the only summer replacement on the air this week. There seem to be three basic categories into which summer series fall: they're either trying out for a spot in the fall lineup, keeping the seat warm until the star returns from vacation (usually a variety show), or allowing the network to gather an assortment of failed concepts into an anthology series like Summer Playhouse, thus giving failure a veneer of respectability. (The indispensable FredFlix has a nice video retrospective on these here.)

Is this an idea or what?
The possibilities for fun with this concept are endless. For example: suppose the producers of Gunsmoke, in an attempt to placate star James Arness during the latest round of contract negotiations, decide to give him an extra few weeks off next season? We could be treated to Festus and Doc, where two of Dodge City's most beloved characters get to take over while Marshal Dillon is in the capital or on vacation or sleeping late.

Or take Ed Sullivan. Ed doesn't usually mingle with his guests unless they're someone special. So if you want to give a young comic a trial to see how well they'd do with their own show, why not take performances from various shows during the season and splice in a new host? He or she gets to do their own shtick, maybe a monologue and a skit or something, and then let them introduce the Supremes, or George Carlin, or Bobby Darin. You're guaranteed good performances (because you, as producer and editor, picked them yourself), plus a brand-new host that actually shows some life. I know, probably union rules prohibit it.

I could go on, but you get the point. In the real world, Away We Go (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CBS) is the replacement for, as you might have guessed, Jackie Gleason. George Carlin is the host, Buddy Greco and buddy Rich are regulars, and Richard Pryor, Taro Delphi, and the Teddy Neeley Five vocal group are the guests. On Thursday, CBS has reruns of the Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (6:30 p.m.), Vic Damone substitutes for Dean Martin (9:00 p.m., NBC), with Cliff Arquette, Donna Jean Young, and Victor Julian and his dogs as guests, and Carol Lawrence and Gail Martin on the cast. ABC uses the same timeslot to introduce a series called Summer Focus, taking over for Stage '67, with a rerun of "1776," a look at the early years of the Revolution, narrated by Fredric March. The episode was originally seen on Saga of Western Man in 1963.

Although it's preempted this week by CBS's series on the Warren Report (see below), the series Coronet Blue has already debuted to moderate success; next week, the network premieres the variety show Spotlight as a fill-in for Red Skelton, and introduces the proverbial series of failed comedy pilots. There will be more to come, but while some summer series succeed, and others fail, will any of them be as interesting as Festus & Doc?

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It's a mixed sports bag this week; NBC's Game of the Week (Saturday, 1:00 p.m.) the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins, two teams who will spend the season battling for first place in the American League, along with the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox. Because the Twins are involved, the NBC affiliate, KSTP, gets the backup game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets, neither of whom will be battling for the National League pennant. On Wednesday night, the aforementioned Twins and Red Sox square off at Metropolitan Stadium in a rare televised home game (WTCN, 8:00 p.m.) The Cleveland Open is the golf tournament of the week, airing Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. on ABC.

Sunday afternoon, the Chicago Spurs take on the Philadelphia Spartans in a match of the National Professional Soccer League. (1:30 p.m., CBS) Never heard of the NPSL? Back in 1967 there were, if you can believe it, not one but two pro soccer leagues in this country, the other being the United Soccer League. After this season they would merge to form the North American Soccer League (NASL), which will stick around until 1984. Without the Spurs and Spartans, though.

Two other programs of note; Sunday, NBC's Smithsonian (5:30 p.m.) presents "The Flight of the Spirit of St. Louis and the Friendship 7," a look at two men who took solo flights into the future. Glenn appears with NBC newsman Bill Ryan; while Lindbergh is still alive, he does not appear, but his words are voiced by Fredric March. We didn't get this program in the Twin Cities, at least not on this particular date, although it could have been shown at another time. Instead, we're shown a rerun of an episode from NBC's acclaimed Project 20 series, "The Law and the Prophets."

On Thursday night, My Three Sons (7:30 p.m., CBS) presents a witty, lighthearted look at TV's influence on the family, with "Charley imposing a one-week ban on viewing, Steve getting hooked on the late-late show, and Robbie and a cynical coed producing at TV drama dissecting family life." As long as you don't tell me that the drama was called An American Family, we should be just fine.

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We haven't looked at one of Hollywood's starlets lately, and so this week Leslie Raddatz turns his gaze upon Sara Lane, currently playing Elizabeth Grainger on NBC's The Virginian. She's not like the average starlet though, Raddatz assures us. For one thing, her shirts actually cover her knees! (Sometimes, at least.) She lives at home with her parents instead of in some swinging apartment, she doesn't have a name like most starlets, "Melody" or "Karen" or "Jill." And she doesn't date other Hollywood stars. Heck, she doesn't even know how to drive.

So how does a girl like this get into showbiz? Thank her father, Rusty Lane, the veteran character actor, and her mother, actress Sara Anderson. She would travel with her parents as they appeared in road company productions of plays like The Desperate Hours. Movie producer William Castle noticed her in a Miss Teen-Age pageant, and gave her a role in I Saw What You Did with Joan Crawford. And, well, the next thing you knew, she was on The Virginian.

I didn't watch The Virginian growing up, so the fact that I hadn't heard of Sara Lane before didn't particularly mean anything to me. She remained on the show until 1970, appearing in over 100 episodes. She did several episodes of The Hollywood Squares in 1969. and a pair of Billy Jack movies in the 1970s, before retiring to run a vineyard with her husband (who, true to form, was not a Hollywood actor). Today, she works with troubled children, and that makes her a star in my book.

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Finally, the major news story this week is CBS's four-part series on the Warren Report, which runs Sunday through Wednesday night. By 1967, there was considerable doubt about the validity of the Warren Commission, which had concluded that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin of President Kennedy; several books, most prominently attorney Mark Lane's Rush to Judgment, had been written challenging the findings, while in late 1966, New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison had begun the investigation that would result in the indictment of businessman Clay Shaw for conspiracy in the assassination. (Shaw was acquitted, obviously, which was the right verdict.) On top of that, Life Magazine had published color photographs of the famed Zapruder film, with the headline “Did Oswald Act Alone? A Matter of Reasonable Doubt.” The editors questioned the Commission’s conclusions and called for a new investigation.

With this as backdrop, CBS presents its four-hour inquiry into the Report. (Apparently the program was originally scheduled to run for three nights; according to The Doan Report, CBS has uncovered so much "significant" material that they're adding an extra night.) Part one, on Sunday, presents a recreation of the assassination (remember, the actual Zapruder film won't be shown on TV for another few years), to test how quickly and how accurately Mannlicher-Carcano rifles can be fired, and addresses other questions about the investigation. (Did Oswald actually own the murder weapon? What did witnesses to the assassination see?). Parts two and three discuss various conspiracy theories, and the conclusion examines why people doubt the findings. It's a comprehensive look at the Warren Report, which answers a lot of questions (provided, of course, that you're open to being convinced). Alas, I don't know how much it did for those who'd already fallen into the clutch of conspiracy buffs.

I don't know why I was attracted to all this; perhaps I had a vague memory of the assassination, or maybe I was just interested in true crime. My mother had bought several of the Kennedy books as they came out, knowing that I would be interested in them when I was older, and she'd saved the newspapers from that weekend, as well as the TV Guide from the following January that looked at how TV had covered it. Little would I know, as I read through those pages in the years to come, that some day I'd be able to see almost all of it on YouTube. Clearly, for me it was the shape of things to come. TV  

June 28, 2019

Around the dial

As you know, I try to stay away from politics here at the blog (with varying degrees of success), but one plank I'm proud to endorse is The Comfort TV Healthcare Plan, courtesy of David at Comfort TV. I think you'll be for it, too.

The Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland links to an article at Undark on how Sesame Street was designed "as a radical therapeutic tool for helping minority preschoolers." Submitted without comment.

At The Twilight Zone Vortex, Jordan looks at "No Time Like the Past," a middling TZ time-travel drama hat's enlivened by standout performances from Dana Andrews and Patricia Breslin. Time travel is always hard to get right, especially when it comes to historical events, don't you think?

Classic Film and TV Café returns with another "Seven things to know..." installment, this time on Andy Griffith. The very first item, Griffith's record "What It Was, Was Football," heard when I was in grade school when a teacher played it for us, is the first memory I have of him—even before TV.

It's update time at Garroway at Large, and Jodie provides the latest in the Garroway bio (I'll tell you, I'm really looking forward to that book), along with other things she's been up to. I say this not at all because she's a good friend, but she has to be one of the most engaging writers I've encountered.

And speaking of friends and engaging writers, the news at Bob Crane: Life & Legacy is that Carol and her partners, Linda Groundwater, and Dee Young, return with a new podcast, Flipside: the True Story of Bob Crane. I'm looking forward to this as well.

Naked City is one of my favorite series (I have to revise my Top 10 one of these days), and it's the latest show to be reviewed at Television's New Frontier: the 1960s. I've read the Gilbert Seldes review that Beestguy mentions, and agree with him that it's a rare misfire from Seldes, who really didn't get what the show was really all about. Route 66 may have been more successful, but I don't think it worked as well as Naked City.

Finally, Television Obscurities continues "A Year in TV Guide" with the June 24, 1989 issue. I sometimes look at these issues from the 1980s and think to myself, "I can't find a thing interesting in this issue." So what does Robert have to say about this? "I had a tough time finding anything of interest in this week’s issue." I hear you, brother. TV  

June 26, 2019

Television opera: from the end of "NBC Opera Theatre" to "The MET in HD"


One of the promised marvels of educational television, according to the futurists of the day, was that it would be able to serve audiences for niche programming without being subjected to the ratings pressures that had propelled such shows to the Sunday afternoon ghetto, or off the air entirely. And indeed, for the first few years after the death of NBC Opera Theatre, NET and its successor, PBS, did continue to broadcast opera, albeit irregularly.

One of the network’s most notable telecasts was Jack Beeson’s Lizzie Borden, which had premiered at the New York City Opera in 1965 and was transferred, using the NYCO’s cast and sets, to NET Opera Theater in 1967. The network, under the leadership of former NBC Opera Theatre producer Peter Herman Adler, even commissioned several operas for television, including Beeson’s My Heart's in the Highlands in 1970, Thomas Pasatieri’s The Trial of Mary Lincoln in 1972, and John Eaton’s Myshkin in 1973.* Kirk Browning, who had done such a fine job directing many of NBC’s productions, served a similar role for NET/PBS.

*CBS, in fact, commissioned a trio of operas of their own in the late 1960s: Menotti’s Martin’s Lie in 1965 (after Menotti had broken with NBC over the new production of Amahl), Ezra Laderman’s The Trials of Galileo in 1967, and Benjamin Lees’s Medea in Corinth in 1974. Laderman also composed an "ópera-cantata," And David Wept, for the network in 1971.

Increasingly, PBS’s opera broadcasting moved away from studio-bound productions in favor of broadcasts of performances being staged live (or on tape) in opera houses. The Metropolitan Opera quickly became a staple of such performances, on PBS’s Great Performances series, although productions from other companies, such as the New York City Opera and the Minnesota Opera, appeared on occasion. What all these broadcasts had in common was that the network, rather than staging the opera as they would a television show, simply moved their cameras into the opera house, as if they were televising a football game.

By “simply,” I don’t mean to minimize the effort required to broadcast these operas, nor do I suggest that doing so was a simple proposition—it wasn’t. Nevertheless, the result differs in many ways from that seen in the early televised operas. For one thing, the director no longer had the latitude to move cameras and sets around to give viewers perspectives not available to the live audience in the theater. In watching the broadcast of Lizzie Borden, for example, one notices the way in which the camera is able to move through the sets and treat the opera more like a television drama. Crane shots, moving through rooms and around walls; it’s all a strikingly different, even intimate, experience. If the camera is indeed the eyes of the viewer, then the viewer has unprecedented access to the opera. I’m not using this as an argument for returning to live television, by the way; if anything, the quick cuts, changes in perspective, and the dramatic tension that results is made far easier by the use of videotape. (If you need more evidence, check out the BBC’s production of Billy Budd in 1966, where the production crew constructed a scaled-down replica of the ship—something that would have been impossible in an opera house.) But even a casual glance at the live broadcast of Amahl in 1951 shows effects and camera angles that could not have been witnessed by the live audience. Not for nothing is television known as the most intimate of media.

There was also the use of the close-up. Initially, directors in studio-based productions had been reluctant to use close-ups of the singers, feeling it to be a liability rather than an asset; Jennifer Barnes reminds us that, “The last thing you need as ‘Celeste Aida’ approaches its final high B-flat is the sight of the tenor’s trembling jowls, crossed eyes, and other alarming but typical symptoms of the strain towards achieving the note.” Menotti alone seemed to master the art of the close-up, mainly by using them primarily with young performers; Lois Hunt in CBS’s The Medium, and Chet Allen in Amahl. In so doing, and by blocking the scenes so that the singers would turn toward the person to whom they were singing, rather than looking directly looking into the camera, he emphasized not the “singer,” but the “character,” drawing the viewer into a more sympathetic response than if the singer had been an adult. However, advances in television technique, as well as technology*, especially with the coming of the HD era, made their use increasingly prevalent.

*The concept of the close-up had also changed from the early days of television, when picture quality and size often spurred directors to use shots in which the actor’s face filled the entire screen. 

Finally, there was also the factor of deciding what to show the home viewer; whereas the action in early television opera was staged with the dimensions of the television screen specifically in mind, the staging of a production in the opera house had a far greater scale, with numerous bits of action happening simultaneously in different parts of the stage. Focusing on the singer(s) necessarily meant cutting off a portion of that action from the television viewer, while focusing on incidental subtleties meant excluding the singers from the shot. It was a small thing for most viewers, but it meant that the television director was acting in effect as the eyes of the viewers at home, choosing what they would or would not see.* In the hands of an experienced director such as Browning, such a challenge was easily overcome; nevertheless, the peripheral movement behind the singer can easily become distracting, especially when competing with the subtitles that had become the norm with televised opera.

*I do think, however, that such productions benefit greatly by being shot on videotape rather than film. While the studio experience allows for greater latitude than the theater stage, it’s important to keep in mind that we’re still watching the musical equivalent of a play, not a movie. The sense of immediacy obtained through videotape lends to the viewer’s ability to conceive of the opera as a live event. I’ve seen operas shot on film; invariably, they lack that same immediacy.

All this might not have been an issue had the early promise of cable television been fulfilled. Almost without exception, visions of cable TV included at least one channel devoted to cultural programming, where live theater and concerts could thrive. And, as was the case with educational television, there were cable channels that followed this example: CBS ARTS, A&E, Bravo, Ovation. Had even one of these channels continued with their commitment to cultural programming, we might have seen the continuation, if not the growth, of operas made for television. As it is—well, you get the story.

A major change in the televised opera came in the early 2000s, when the Met introduced its “Live in HD” series, consisting of 10 or so operas that would be broadcast live in movie theaters (for paying audiences), and then rebroadcast on PBS at a later date. As the Met got into the swing of the big screen broadcasts, a number of things became apparent, most notably the tendency of directors and set designers to stage their productions with movie viewers, rather than the live audience at the Met, in mind. For example, a production of Britten’s Peter Grimes that came across as intimate and powerful on the screen was seen as lost and overwhelmed on the Met’s enormous stage. Singers often came across as employing gestures and movements that were suitable for theater viewers but failed to make an equivalent impact to those in the house. (The Times has a good article here on how the HD broadcasts have changed opera.)

Even the look of the performer became an issue, as casting directors were accused of choosing singers based on their physical attributes more than their vocal talents. A singer with a stout physique might look fine to someone in the ninth row of the second balcony in the Lyric Opera House in Chicago, but not to home viewers accustomed to more, shall we say, telegenic performers. And while someone like Anna Netrebko has justly earned her reputation as a great singer, her good looks certainly don’t hurt.

It’s all about compromise, of course. In a way, it’s no different from how viewers of NBC Opera Theatre had to resign themselves to abridged versions of their favorites, accompanied by commercial interludes. It’s the price one has to pay to have opera on television at all. You’d like to think that there would be one channel out there that could take something like opera as a loss leader; Jennifer Barnes points out in Television Opera that from the end of NBC Opera Theatre to 2002, the BBC, and Channel 4 commissioned 19 television operas, while American networks commissioned 10, and none after 1974. It’s possible that the Brits are simply more cultured than we are; it’s also the case that it’s a lot easier to program cultural television when you’re being subsidized by the government.

We frequently hear, however, about how American schools have abdicated music appreciation classes, often driven by economic reasons. One of the positives of the “Live in HD” series is that the Met has sought to engage schools in these broadcasts, bringing a form of music education to children. Television could do a lot more of that, and foundations could do more to make it economically feasible. Millennials, however, who seem so dedicated to direct involvement with social issues, never consider the redemptive power of music. We’re told that television is just another market-driven medium, that if opera was more popular, it would show up more often. The flip side to that, of course, is that it might be more popular if it showed up more often.

When I think of the Golden Age of Television, I’m usually drawn to the idea of live drama (which, as I’ve pointed out before, is a genre of its own, separate from filmed or taped drama), and that includes higher cultural fare such as opera. While today’s age of prestige television might be technically superior, might have stronger dramatic power, might be more able to address topical issues, it doesn’t mean that these shows provide us with all that we need to become more well-rounded individuals. It was a given, in the early days of television, that this was one of the medium’s societal responsibilities; it was a fear, in the eyes of many, that such a responsibility would eventually be abdicated. To the extent that it has, television will always be a flawed medium, one that never reached its potential—one that, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, gave us 57 channels and nothing on. That number has now doubled, or even tripled, but has anything really changed?  TV  

June 24, 2019

What's on TV? Thursday, June 25, 1964

It's always nice to be back in New York. This is a little earlier edition than we've looked at in the past, so we have fewer channels in the lineup. It's an entertaining day—but then, I've been known to find strange things entertaining. Let's see what we can find.

June 22, 2019

This week in TV Guide: June 20, 1964

There's enough in Richard Gehman's article on "The Negro in Television" that we could probably spend an entire week writing about it. The relationship between black entertainers and television is a complex one; on the one hand, shows like Ed Sullivan's have always provided a stage for black entertainers to display their talent; likewise, many consider this season to be the first in which black actors are appearing in dramatic shows as "human beings, working in the same jobs and coping with the same human situations that face whites—by presenting them not as mummers but as people." And it's projected that more and more will be on the screen in such acting roles in the season to come. As Herbert Hill, the national labor secretary for the NAACP, says, "Progress is being made."

Speaking with network representatives, Gehman repeats their assertions that there is no discrimination in television; they provide lists of programs that have had regular representation by Negro actors; they stress that they are working in studios in accounting, machine, and transportation departments, or as musicians and composers, actors and extras. And yet, it's difficult to demonstrate the progress. The networks all claim they don't keep records, the studios say their files "don't indicate which employees are Negro." One activist responds that, "They know damned well there are less than 10 percent. . . the Negroes constitute 10 percent of our population, but get a much lower percentage of the jobs."

One thing that strikes me in this article—something that's not just a remnant of the '60s, but is very real today, is a sense of fear when it comes to talking about race. "The roots of fear are very, very deep in the prejudiced," says Gehman, "but they are just as deep in those who are the victims." Blacks fear being labeled as troublemakers if they speak out, making their job searches even more difficult; "nearly every white actor" is hesitant to say anything because of their eagerness to please those in power. Many activists, both black and white, wish that those who have been successful, people like Nat King Cole and Sidney Poitier, would be more outspoken. Cole's NBC variety program was unable to stay on the air, despite support from stars who worked for scale, because of a lack of sponsors; says the network did it's best, but as for the ad agencies, he adds that "most of the agency men are afraid of the dark."

George Norford, perhaps the highest-ranking black man working at any network, is an editor in NBC's broadcast standards department, and worked with New York State's Commission for Human Rights on exploring more opportunities for blacks on television. Norford urges broadcasters to utilize blacks in television. "We try to convince them that at stake are not only jobs for Negroes, but the reflection of our society as it is. The exclusion of this group in a representation of American life amounts to a distortion in the eyes of the world, for more and more American television shows are being sold abroad." He doesn't see malice as much as a lack of thought. When producers asked for 40 or 50 extras for a crowd scene, the Extras Guild would send over white actors unless specifically asked otherwise. "They just hadn't thought much about Negroes." When producers of Westerns say that it would be "unrealistic" to put black actors in their dramas, Norford points out that many Negroes moved from the South to the West after the Emancipation Proclamation; enough that "it wouldn't be incompatible with reality to show them working as blacksmiths, wheelwrights, carpenters and so on."

This image of Harry Belafonte and Dinah Shore
performing together could have gotten a show
taken off the air in the South.
Overall, Gehman's article points out the need for reform, acknowledging that it's a scandal that there is no series starring a black, while maintaining a cautious optimism about the future. There may be a fair amount of naivety about it all; since this is only part one of a two-part article, Gehman doesn't get into the potential resistance of Southern viewers to an increased presence by blacks on television. As I was researching my TV Guide presentation for the Mid Atlantic Nostalgia Convention last year, I ran across some Letters to the Editor responding to Gehman's article that point out in a most illuminating way the obstacles to increasing the presence of blacks on television. An anonymous letter, appearing in the July 4, 1964 issue, said that “When a Negro entertainer appears on our screen we immediately switch stations. We are not against Negroes who can act, but are against putting them on as models and singers.” In the same issue, an unnamed individual from St. Augustine, Florida wrote, “The people in the South do not like Negroes on TV. If Negroes start getting on all those TV shows, there are going to be a lot of shows dropped. The Defenders, for example, is a show not many people watch in the South.”

There were letters applauding the networks for expanding the black presence on TV as well, but these letters demonstrate—if you needed any proof—that the route to equality for blacks on television is a long one indeed, as is always the case any time one is dealing with ignorance.

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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: An extended portion of tonight's show is devoted to judging the 50 contestants competing for the title of National College Queen, and the crowning of the winner. Also scheduled: Sally Ann Howes; comics Allen and Rossi; rock 'n' roller Bobby Vinton; and Harve Presnel, co-star of The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

Palace: Host Donald O'Connor performs with the Louis DaPron dancers and the singing Wellingtons. Also: soprano Mary Costa; comic Don Knotts; singer-pianist Buddy Greco; comedians Jakc Colvin and Yvonne Wilder; juggler Francis Brunn; and the Pompoff Thedy musical clowns.

Alice Ruby, a sophomore at Bennington College in Vermont, wins the National College Queen pageant; I'm sure she was a worthy winner, but I'm always a little hopeful that events like this have a winner who winds up being a household name, a big star of some kind. Oh well. According to TV.com, Trini Lopez and John Byner are also guests with Ed, as well as the new U.S. Open golf champion—but more about that below. Still, Palace has a great entertainer in Donald O'Connor. . . I don't know. I guess I'll have to call it a Push. Your thoughts, of course, may differ.

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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 last time we looked at Cleveland Amory's column, it was his season-ending piece where he reviews letters from his readers. Such is the case again here this week, and in an extra-long column that runs onto the next page, we find that his readers have a lot to say.

Amory reports that the two columns which generated the most mail were his negative reviews of What's My Line? and Queen for a Day. and in both cases the mail ran strongly in his favor. Readers also liked his positive reviews of programs like Mr. Novak, The Fugitive, The Farmer's Daughter, and Combat! They most definitely did not like his attack on Petticoat Junction; one letter warned Cleve to "stay outa the hills if you 'spect to live long," while another said that his hit piece "was a pitiful example of what is becoming common today—the bad review."

And then there are the letters voicing outrage at shows cancelled by the networks: The Richard Boone Show, East Side/West Side, and generating the most of all, Breaking Point. Amory takes a moment here to quote a letter from Jeannette Dumais of St. Anne, Illinois, who speaks for a lot of readers, and Cleve as well: "Why, in heaven's name, I demand to know, are persons who are a little particular in their taste discriminated against by the TV networks?. . . I rebel against the average and below-average majority forcing out TV programs which might make them think a little. . . Don't the networks and/or the sponsors have any pride in their work?" Mrs. Dumais, Amory adds, is 27—hardly what you'd call an old crank. And while there are more good shows out there than she gives the networks credit for, it's also true that "if the networks and the sponsors don't have enough pride in their work, perhaps others will." He was right then and he'd be right now; there are both good and bad shows on TV, although more bad ones and not as many good ones as we'd like. In many cases, we're still waiting for someone to show that pride in programming that Amory foresaw.

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This week's sports highlight is the 64th United States Open Golf Championship (Saturday, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC). For the final time, the final 36 holes are played on Saturday—18 holes in the morning, another 18 in the afternoon—and the United States Golf Association couldn't have chosen a more fateful location than the blast furnace of Congressional Country Club, in Bethesda, Maryland. At 7,053 yards, it's the longest course ever to host the Open, and on "Open Saturday" the grueling challenge is compounded by high humidity and temperatures that are over 100° by the start of the final round. (It was measured at 112° by the cup on one green.)

Ken Venturi, once one of golf's biggest names before his game cratered to the point where he had to beg invitations to tournaments, is surprisingly in contention as the third round starts, and although he struggles in the heat, he shoots a brilliant 66 to move within two shots of the lead. However, Venturi had literally staggered in, his whole body shaking from what might have been heat stroke. With ashen face and glazed eyes, he went to lie down on a bed in a private room while a member of the club who was also a doctor gave him salt tablets and water. His fellow pros watched him closely, worrying about his health.

After the 50 minute break, it was time for the final round. The doctor warns him that going out in that inferno again could kill him, but when a man is at rock bottom, what does it matter? The crowd cheering him on, Venturi makes his agonizing way around the course, remaining steady as the other contenders begin to fade. By the turn, he's taken the lead, and slowly begins to pull away. The doctor is with him, feeding him salt tablets and glasses of iced tea, and as he walks the fairways he wraps his neck in towels dipped in ice water. His 10-foot par putt on 18 gives him a four-shot victory, and, remarkably, the second-lowest score in Open history; as the crowd cheers, he drops his putter and raises his arms wearily in triumph, the picture that makes the cover of Sports Illustrated the next week. "My God," he says, "I've won the Open."

Ken Venturi goes on to a long and successful career as an announcer with CBS. It's true that his fine career never reaches the heights he seemed destined for as a young golfer, but his memorable Open victory—although he remembers virtually nothing about that final round—remains one of the most famous and most dramatic Opens in the tournament's long history, and his victory one of the most popular.

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Let's take a quick spin around the rest of the programming, where some quality programs await.

Saturday's Late Show movie on WCBS (11:20 p.m.) is I Married a Woman, and back in 1964 there would have been nothing ironic about that title. George Gobel is the idea man at an add agency, and Diana Dors, who at the time of this airing was Mrs. Richard Dawson, most certainly must be the woman.

The Sunday matinee movie on WNHC in Hartford is 12 Angry Men (5:00 p.m.), a very good movie with an exceptional cast; I've always thought that Henry Fonda, as the pivotal juror during the tense jury deliberations, is the movie's weak link. Not that Fonda isn't good in it—he is, just as he is in almost everything. It's just that he's a little too good, a little too noble, even down to his light-colored suit. For my money, the better choice is Bob Cummings' hesitant, beseeching performance in the original Studio One production from 1954.

On Monday, Breaking Point, the program so liked by Cleveland Amory's letter-writers, presents "And If Thy Hand Offends Thee," a very good episode with James Daly as a man whose cramped hand may have a psychosomatic link to his World War II experiences—what we today would probably consider PTSD. (10:00 p.m., ABC) I've really enjoyed the episodes of Breaking Point that I've been fortunate enough to see; I just wish there had been more of them. It deserved a second season.

That very same Henry Fonda is the host of Henry Fonda and the Family, a comedy revue from 1962 that's being rerun on CBS Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m. It's billed as a spoof of "all those statistics compiled about the American family," with Dick Van Dyke, Cara Williams, Dan Blocker, Carol Lynley, Michael J. Pollard, Paul Lynde, Verna Felton, and Flip Mark. Three more guest stars and it could have been a remake of 12 Angry Men. (12 Dissatisfied People?)

Every Wednesday this summer, WPIX airs "The Special of the Week," encore presentations of specials that you might have missed the first time around. First up is "Wild is Love," a variety hour hosted by Nat King Cole, including songs from Cole's new album. (8:30 p.m.) Sounds like a pleasant way to spend the evening, doesn't it?

WPIX follows this up on Thursday with a Naked City repeat of "The King of Venus Will Take Care of You" (9:00 p.m., ABC), a typically excellent episode that stars Jack Warden in an exceptionally nuanced performance as a criminal on the run, with Mike McGreevey as the young boy (the titular "King of Venus") who forms a complicated relationship with the fugitive.

On Friday, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre presents an adaptation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's landmark novel One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (8:30 p.m., CBS) starring Jason Robards, Jr. as the prisoner in a Soviet gulag. Later, The Jack Paar Program (10:00 p.m., NBC) has what must have been a very lively program, with Shelley Berman, Oscar Levant, and singer Linda Bennett. Oscar "discusses the Levant neuroses and comments on celebrities," and I would love to have seen that. TV  

June 21, 2019

Around the dial

Some self-promotion to start the week: I'm back on the Eventually Supertrain podcast this week, talking with Dan Budnik about one of our favorite shows, Bourbon Street Beat. But even if you think you've heard too much from me just by reading this blog, listen for Amy The Conqueror talking about Eerie, Indiana, and Amanda Reyes discussing Masquerade. If you have as much fun listening as I get from doing my segment, you'll have a great time!

At Vox, Todd VanDerWerff has a thoughtful piece on “storytelling bloat,” the consequence of the boom in TV drama due to the demand for programming on streaming services and cable networks. According to VanDerWerff, what we’re seeing is a confluence of TV storytelling and movie storytelling, where three-hour stories are being stretched out to as many as 10 hours.

Today, the kinds of mid-budget movies that used to lure adults into the theater are increasingly consigned to streaming services and cable networks. And because the success of those services often depends on how much time they can get you to spend watching them, they stretch out too many of these stories like taffy if they can.

The cure for storytelling bloat: perhaps a simple return to how television used to operate, letting the characters and their lives evolve over time, done within the framework of episodes featuring self-contained stories. It’s an interesting meditation on what television is, and what it should be; I highly recommend you read it.

Elsewhere, at bare-bones e-zine, Jack has opened a new chapter in his Hitchcock Project with “Three Wives Too Many” (what a great title!), the inaugural Hitchcock script from Arthur A. Ross. We’ll be on the lookout for more Ross stories in the coming weeks.

At The Horn Section, Hal has turned his attention back to Crazy Like a Fox, with the result being a look at the 1985 episode “Is There a Fox in the House?” driven, as usual, by the always-entertaining father-son relationship between the great Jack Warden and John Rubenstein.

I know Dave Garroway was ubiquitous in the early days of television, but hosting a preview of the upcoming college football season called Kickoff 1953? I would like to have seen Matt Lauer do that! Seriously, this is a fun clip from Jodie at Garroway at Large that shows just how versatile the Master Communicator was.

At A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence tells of how Guy Williams almost joined the cast of Bonanza, and what that would have meant not only for the show, but for television history as well. Ah, what might have been.

Joanna is at it again, preparing for this year’s “Christmas in July” party at Christmas TV History. You’re welcome to join in the fun, either my sharing your own answers to this year’s questionnaire (as your faithful scribe will be doing), or just reading what everyone else has to say. It’s all good fun, though.

Donna Mills graces the cover of the June 17, 1989 issue of TV Guide, the latest in Robert’s “A Year in TV Guide” series at Television Obscurities. There’s also a piece on Father Knows Best timed to coincide with CBN’s Father’s Day marathon, plus the week’s programming.

Oh, and that picture at the top? The two men standing are Don Hewitt on the left, and Dr. Frank Stanton, head of CBS, on the right, and they're checking out a monitor prior to the beginning of the first Kennedy- Nixon debate. A dramatic moment, to be sure. TV  

June 19, 2019

The epic story of "Amahl and the Night Visitors"


Back in 2004, the late television network Trio aired a program called The Christmas Special Christmas Special. I didn't know then the kind of effect this would have on my future writing, only that I'd watched a lot of Christmas specials on TV growing up and thought it would be fun to watch. Bring back a few of the old memories, you know; 'tis the season, after all.

It was a typical Trio type of show, full of hipness and snark—not to be confused with, you know, knowledge. I rode with this for awhile, and then we got to Amahl and the Night Visitors. Now, I'll admit that in 2004 my knowledge of this opera was limited. I did know it was an opera, and I knew that it had been on television in the 1950s and '60s, but although it had been aired several times during my lifetime, I'd never watched it; in fact, the brief clip they showed on The Christmas Special Christmas Special was the first time I'd ever seen it.

It might all have ended there, but for the way in which the clip was presented. It was smug, yes, but it was also ignorant. The narrator referred to Amahl as "the first—and very likely the last—opera written for television." Well, we know this isn't true; our look at Jennifer Barnes's Television Opera shows us that American television networks have, through the years, commissioned 24 operas for performance on the tube.* Granted, the last such one was in 1974, but as we alluded to last week, there are a lot of cultural factors at work there.

*At the time that Barnes' book was written in 2003the year before the Trio special was airedanother 27 had been commissioned by British and Canadian television networks. I guess, when you're looking to score points, factual accuracy isn't that big a deal, nor is international television.

As if that wasn't bad enough, one of the experts went on to pontificate on the supposed "failure" of Amahl to gain a television foothold. "Three little words describing why this never became a Christmas classic: it's—an—opera!"*

*My gratitude to the commentator at IMDb who was able to provide the exact quote; I remembered it being something like this, but when my point is to be accurate with your history, I probably ought to do the same.

I don't know how I knew this wasn't true, but I knew it to be the case. In fact, the research involved was ridiculously easy, thanks to the Internet. As it turned out, Amahl had appeared on NBC every year between 1951 and 1966; the premiere broadcast (live, on Christmas Eve 1951) had pulled in five million viewers, and was reviewed the next day on the front page of The New York Times. When it did go off the air after the 1966 broadcast, it wasn't because of low ratings, but due to a dispute between the composer, Gian Carlo Menotti, and the network.

All this was in the future, though. For the present, I knew three things: 1) the show was factually inaccurate (and if it could get Amahl wrong, what else might it have screwed up?); 2) I didn't like the attitude of the talking heads on the program; and 3) I already knew more than many of these so-called experts. Imagine what I could do if I worked at it?

From then on, I made it something of a personal mission to tell  an accurate history of Amahl and the Night Visitors, a mission that became even more personal after I managed to get a copy of the kinescope of the original, live broadcast. Amahl was charming and stirring, with a lovely and moving narrative; it had everything that a "real" opera had, including an overture, a ballet, duets, arias and recitative; and, as the first "studio opera" I'd seen (that is, one taped in a television studio rather than in a live stage performance), I was struck by how the director could, by choosing the camera angle, provide home viewers a look at the opera that those in the opera hall would never have. In the picture at the top of this essay, just to the left of the camera in the center, you can see another camera pointing toward Amahl and his mother. That camera is used for shots of the Three Kings, the dancers, and other stagings that would have been denied live spectators. It was incredibly intimate, compared with the operas from the Met that I'd seen on TV previously.

But now the real question: how to be heard? For that, there was really only one answer: Billy Ingram’s TV Party! website, one of the very best television websites anywhere. I emailed him and asked if he’d be interested, and he was only too happy to oblige, with plenty of encouragement. When the article “Three Kings in 50 Minutes” appeared, complete with additional pictures that Billy sourced, I was delighted.

Researching and writing my Amahl article was a wonderful experience; I was able to track down a wealth of information in the archives of Time magazine and The New York Times; I found some terrific pictures online, and was fortunate to talk with some very nice people who provided me with additional pictures; and I lucked into finding a copy of Television Opera. Just when I thought I was finished, VAI released a copy of the 1955 broadcast of Amahl, which included a terrific little booklet, and a bonus interview with Rosemary Kuhlmann, who played the mother in every NBC broadcast between 1951 and 1966.

The rest, of course, is history: blogs, podcasts, interviews, a book, even a couple of citations on Wikipedia. I’m now considered a television historian, and, as we all know, if it says that on the Internet it has to be true.

It’s not that Amahl needed my help—the fact that the information was all readily there for me to discover shows that it was never really forgotten, but I like to think that some of the favorable mentions of Amahl that I’ve seen over the years, even when there’s no attribution, were in some way influenced by what I wrote. Reading over it again, I think I’d probably write parts of it a little differently today; there’s no question in my mind that I’m a better writer today, thanks to the repetition of regular writing. But I’m still pretty pleased with it; even a little proud, if vanity doesn’t get in the way too much.

I was already a lover of opera when I started writing about Amahl, but the whole concept of studio opera has come to fascinate me; and, in so doing, I think I’ve gained a greater appreciation for all forms of studio broadcasting, from Hallmark Hall of Fame to Studio One and Playhouse 90, to musical comedy and variety shows, to straight drama. There is, within the technical confines of television broadcasting, a real art to staging and directing a studio broadcast (witness the steps Kirk Browning had to take with Amahl, not only integrating a live orchestra in another building, but having to communicate with his cameramen through an intermediary because of union rules).

Had none of this happened, I’d still be a fan of classic TV, of course. I don’t think I’d be as knowledgeable, though, nor do I think I’d have become interested in so many different aspects of it. And I’d probably be more intimidated by “experts” than I am now—after all, if I can be one, just about anyone can. All it takes is curiosity, and the willingness to work a little in order to satisfy it. Come to think of it, that’s pretty much the key to doing a good television show as well.

I’ve linked to Amahl on this website a few times, as I will here, following the excerpt below. It stands as proof that television opera, though it perhaps didn’t attract enough of an audience to survive on commercial television, was never a failure, and that, indeed, it created one of the medium’s greatest Christmas traditions. Perhaps some time, somewhere, an American network will go into the studio and give it another try.

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From "Three Kings in 50 Minutes":

The history between NBC and Gian Carlo Menotti went a long way back. The Old Maid and the Thief had been a commission from NBC radio, premiering on April 22, 1939 as the first opera ever written for radio. (Menotti procrastinated with the composition, finishing it less than a month before the broadcast – a foreshadowing of difficulties to come.) The opera was a landmark success, and from there Menotti had gone on to even greater fame. The Medium (1949) was a smash; The Consul (1950) won the Pulitzer Prize. His picture was on the cover of Time. Menotti was the man.

And so it was not surprising that in 1950 he received another commission from NBC, this time to write a Christmas opera for television. The opera would be brief, short enough to fit in a one-hour timeslot, and would be written – as were nearly all of Menotti’s operas – in English. However, much to the consternation of the network, Menotti’s penchant for procrastination once again appeared. (A November 8, 1951 article in The New York Times, headlined “Menotti Writing an Opera for TV,” said that NBC hoped to have the world premiere “around Christmas.” The article neglected to mention that Menotti had already been working on the commission for over a year.)

As the deadline drew nearer, Menotti continued to struggle, at one point even offering to give back to NBC the money it had paid him. He was, he said later, without “one idea in my head.” Finally, in November of 1951, as he walked through the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, he saw Hieronymus Bosch’s famous painting “The Adoration of the Kings.” “[S]uddenly I heard again…the weird song of the Three Kings.”

It was then, he said, that the idea came to him, as he was flooded with memories of his childhood in Italy where it was the Three Kings, and not Santa Claus, who brought presents to children at Christmastime. There was another detail of his childhood that he did not mention at the time – that as a young boy he had been a cripple, suffering from a lame leg until he was taken to a statue of a Madonna at a nearby church, whereupon his leg was healed.

With this, the story—now titled Amahl and the Night Visitors—began to take shape.

Read the entire story here.

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Here is the famed world premiere of Amahl and the Night Visitors, as originally broadcast by NBC on December 24, 1951:

The 1963 production that caused so much trouble between Menotti and the network:

And a real rarity: Amahl e Gli Ospiti NotturniAmahl on Italian television! This illustrates the worldwide impact the telecast had, since most of its notoriety at the time came from its television broadcasts.

NEXT WEEK: The series concludes with a look at how televised opera has evolved, from the end of NBC Opera Theatre to the Metropolitan Opera in HD. TV  

June 17, 2019

What's on TV? Thursday, June 21, 1962

I think I've written about this before, but for a network that was perennially in third place until the late '70s, ABC was home to some iconic shows. Look at tonight's schedule, for example: Ozzie and Harriet, Donna Reed, The Real McCoys, My Three Sons and The Untouchables. Only The Law and Mr. Jones is missing from a hall of fame lineup of classic television. Not that they were all great shows; I've never been able to get into any of them save The Untouchables, in fact, but they're familiar names to anyone familiar with classic television. And then NBC follows up with Dr. Kildare, Hazel and Sing Along With Mitch. No, if you can't find something to watch here, you aren't really looking very hard. The listings, as you might expect, are from the Twin Cities.

June 15, 2019

This week in TV Guide: June 16, 1962

A few years ago the concept of "six degrees of separation"* was coined, the idea being that everyone in the world could be connected to everyone else by no more than six degrees. The same could be said, I suppose, for articles in TV Guide. To test this theory, we took a look at this week's issue to see if we could bring it all the way from 1962 to today in six steps or less.

*Or "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," if you prefer.

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1.  Right doctor, wrong role: Westinghouse Presents was an occasional series of dramas sponsored by the electronics giant, previous sponsor of Studio One. On Wednesday evening (9:00 p.m. CT, CBS) Westinghouse Presents features Margaret Leighton in "The First Day," the story of a woman returning to her former life after having been hospitalized for a nervous breakdown. Leighton's husband in the play is played by Ralph Bellamy, who the next year would star as Dr. Richard Starke in NBC's psychiatric drama  The Eleventh Hour. I would presume that everything turns out all right for Leighton but, if not, perhaps she could make an appointment with Dr. Starke.

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2. Speaking of which: The Eleventh Hour was a spin-off from NBC's enormously successful doctor show Dr. Kildare,* starring Richard Chamberlain as the young intern James Kildare, with Raymond Massey as his mentor, the veteran Dr. Leonard Gillespie. The two men share the cover of this week's issue, with the feature article focusing on Massey, whose signature role prior to Kildare was Abraham Lincoln, whom he portrayed several times on stage, screen and television.  (There's a wonderful story from Wikipedia of how a fellow actor joked that Massey wouldn't be satisfied with his Lincoln impersonation until someone assassinated him.)

*The Eleventh Hour ran for only two seasons, but was still more successful than ABC's similar drama Breaking Point, which itself was a spin-off from the Kildare clone Ben Casey.

Massey won plaudits for his portrayal of Gillespie, a much more nuanced and less caricaturish performance than those rendered in the movies by Lionel Barrymore. He was a distinguished actor, with two stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame—one for movies, one for television, and Dwight Whitney's article highlights some colorful aspects of his life: an uncle was a bishop, his older brother was Governor General of Canada, and the Massey family owned the Massey-Harris Harvester Company, which we would recognize today as the manufacturing giant Massey Ferguson. His first Broadway role came courtesy of Noel Coward and Norman Bel Geddes (mid-century design icon and father of Dallas' Barbara Bel Geddes), and his movie career started with an offer from Sir Gerald du Maurier, father of the famed novelist Daphne.*

*Who, as far as I could tell, never wrote a work adapted into a movie in which Massey appeared.

Massey was a dignified actor—sadly, not too many of those around anymore.

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3. Since you mentioned it: In addition to his several portrayals of Lincoln, Raymond Massey also played the abolitionist John Brown in a pair of movies—Santa Fe Trail and Seven Angry Men—and onstage in a dramatic reading of Stephen Vincent Benét's Pulitizer Prize-winning poem John Brown's Body. And it's that very story—John Brown's Body that CBS has on Thursday night at 7:30 p.m, preempting the police drama Brenner. This one doesn't have Massey, but it does feature Richard Boone as the Narrator, with Douglas Campbell as John Brown. In a couple of seasons, Boone will star on NBC in The Richard Boone Show, an anthology series with a rotating repertory cast. Despite critical praise, it will only run one season before being canceled, replaced by The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Boone finds out about it not from the network, but from the trade papers.

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4. Her stock is rising: Actress Diana Millay, as it happens, appeared in both The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Eleventh Hour. But that is in the future—today, in addition to being one of the hardest-working actresses in New York (nearly 100 live shows to her credit), the 23-year-old is also making her mark as a day trader in the stock market. While most actresses are concerned with their reviews, Millay can be seen pouring over Forbes and The Wall Street Journal between takes. Later she'll find more success in commercial real estate and fine art.

This article is typical of so many that have run in TV Guide over the years, and you might wonder if anything ever happened with Millay or if she faded to obscurity like many a starlet from previous profiles. But in this case, Diana Millay did all right for herself, assuring lasting fame as Laura Collins in Dark Shadows. No word on how much of a killing she made in the market.

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Paul Anka and Friend
5. Did someone say "young star"? Any discussion of talented young performers has to include Paul Anka. At the time of this writing Anka is still 20—three years younger than Diana Millay, but in that time he's accomplished—well, let the statistics speak for themselves. At 15 he signed a contract with Don Costa at ABC/Paramount, and had his first hit: "Diana," which sold 8,500,000 copies. He followed that up with "Lonely Boy" and "Puppy Love," each of which were million-sellers. He's appeared as an actor in movies, most recently in the war drama The Longest Day, for which he also wrote the themeAccording to the famed musical writing team of Comden and Green, "it is not too early to mention Paul Anka in the same breath with musical immortals." He's accessible, appearing constantly on variety shows: Sullivan, Como, Shore. He's a mean Password player. He makes well over a million dollars a year.

And he isn't even old enough to vote or drink. Go ahead and grit your teeth if you want.

The unbylined article portrays Anka as a driven businessman. He has little time for personal relationships, other than those that are part of the business. He has little time for girls, even though the broken romance is a staple of his songs. He's insecure—"I care about being liked. I want everybody to like me," he tells his interviewer. He's angered by those who resent his early success, and those who ridicule rock music in general.

What's particularly interesting about this article is that although Anka is already established as a major star in records, television and movies, his biggest hits are still ahead of him: "My Way," the Sinatra hit for which he wrote the English lyrics; "She's a Lady," the Tom Jones hit, and "Johnny's Theme," the Johnny in question being Johnny Carson.  And the guy's still only 77—not bad, huh?

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6. What's old is new again: Paul Anka was payed a royalty every time the theme for The Tonight Show was played—over 1,400,000 times by one estimate. Every night Johnny's monologue began with that theme, and ended with Johnny's golf swing. And that brings us to the present day, and the highlight of the sporting week.

The U.S. Open golf championship, or the National Open as it was frequently called back in the day, is—then as now—this weekend's Big Event. (3:30 p.m. Saturday, NBC) This year's tournament is at Pebble Beach, the famed California course, but back in 1962 it's across the country, at Oakmont, outside of Pittsburgh. There's another difference in 1962: the tournament is scheduled for three days, concluding on "Open Saturday" with a 36-hole marathon.

Golf's reigning superstar, Arnold Palmer, is the hometown hero (from nearby Latrobe), and having shared the lead after the second and third rounds, everything seems to point to his second Open championship. However, at the end of 72 holes Palmer finds himself tied with a rising star: the 22-year-old Jack Nicklaus, who had been the low amateur at the last two Opens. The two meet in a playoff on Sunday, in front of a raucously pro-Palmer crowd. Jack leads Arnold by four shots after six holes and goes on to a three-shot victory. It's the start of the Nicklaus dynasty: his first professional win, and the first of his 18 major professional championships. Palmer, who had won the Masters earlier in the year and will add the British Open in July, takes his third Masters in 1964, but after that never wins another major title.

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And there you have it: from Margaret Leighton in "The First Day" to the U.S. Open in the present day, all in six steps. Not bad, hmm?

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Notes from the Teletype and more:  In the works for the coming season: The Patty Duke Show, Lee Marvin's Lawbreakers, and Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. All of them made it to the small screen, and all of them are available on DVD. . . Future Oscar winner Marvin stars this week in The Richest Man in Bogota, based on the sci-fi story by H.G. Wells . . . NBC announces that 68% of its prime-time programs for 62-63 will be in color, compared with 57% this season and 41% a year ago.  NBC remains the dominant player in the color television market . . .I wrote about the TV Guide Awards here; the 1962 version will air next week, headlined by Judy Holliday, Art Carney and Dave Garroway. . .Pat Weaver, former head of NBC television, was a prominent figure in my article about television opera last Wednesday; this week, he has an article on how television can "make the common man the uncommon man," which is why he believed in the potential of cultural programming. . .Premiering this week on CBS daytime: To Tell The Truth, which adds the daytime component to its long-running nighttime run, now in its sixth season. The prime-time version will run until 1967, daytime ends a year later. Longtime soap The Secret Storm expands from 15 minutes to a half-hour, leaving only The Guiding Light and Search For Tomorrow in the old radio-era length. Both will finally go to 30 minutes in 1968, bumping—To Tell The Truth.

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By the way, if you really do want to play this game with Kevin Bacon, then step 6 is as follows: Paul Anka was in Mad Dog Time with Diane Lane, who was in My Dog Skip with Kevin Bacon. See how easy? TV