August 17, 2019

This week in TV Guide: August 19, 1967

David Janssen knows exactly how The Fugitive will end. “It goes like this," he tells an observer. "Kimble, cleared of the murder, retires to a desert island to recuperate from his ordeal. At sunset he takes a swim. Just before plunging into the surf, he pauses, unscrews his wooden arm, and tosses it on the sand. Fade-out.”

Janssen was joking, of course. He liked to do than when it came to his most famous character portrayal. In an interview on Joey Bishop's show following the airing of the final episode on August 29, 1967, he admits, "I killed her, Joey. She talked too much." But there was nothing funny about the impact The Fugitive had on the culture, as Dwight Whitney relates on the eve of the show’s two-part series finale. French intellectuals, of course, wanted to look at the show’s existential connotations. The Germans, foreshadowing reality shows like The Great Race, wanted Janssen to travel through Berlin in disguise, with people competing to track him down. In Spain, viewers haven’t quite caught on to the fact it’s a recurring series, and great each episode with great anticipation, wondering whether or not this will be the week his luck runs out.

Janssen could have gotten a half-million for agreeing to a fifth season of The Fugitive, but he thinks in retrospect that “I would have fallen apart” if he’d signed on. The rigors of doing four years of a series in which he appears in almost every scene, with no regular supporting cast to help ease the burden, have taken a physical and mental toll. His smoking is up to three packs a day, and his drinking is up as well, which often leaves him depressed. His ulcer has returned, his trick knee often forces writers to incorporate the resulting limp into the script, and when he is exhausted—as he frequently is—his performance begins to develop tics and other mannerisms. His character is forever reactive, always running, and there are only so many ways in which an actor can portray a man who is not weak but cannot afford to appear too strong.

The show’s fans, and after four seasons there are still many of them, are glad Kimble’s situation will be resolved, but sad to see the series come to an end. “Of course, I knew he had to be exonerated some day,” says one viewer, but “I just wasn’t expecting it to happen—well, quite so soon, you might say.” Those fans will turn out in force to view the final two-part episode of The Fugitive, entitled “The Judgment,” and that last episode is the most-watched television show in history to that time, racking up a record 72% share of households with television sets. The other networks must have known what they’d be up against; opposite part one of “The Judgment,” CBS aired a Harry Reasoner documentary on “The Hippie Temptation,” while NBC showed a rerun of the movie The War of the Worlds.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating that unlike other series finales, the conclusion to The Fugitive was aired in August, after the rerun season. As it was known that the fourth season of The Fugitive was to be the last, this allowed the suspense to build up throughout the summer; had that final episode aired in May or June, the reruns might have seemed ridiculous, but this way they were still relevant, still part of the chase, since Kimble was theoretically still running. Therefore, when the series ended, it really ended. It’s a brilliant idea, and I still wonder why more series don’t do it that way.

t  t  t

While The Hollywood Palace is on summer break, ABC fills 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: In this rerun, Ed's guests are Jimmy Durante; singers Connie Francis and the Four Seasons; musical-comedy star Gwen Verdon, who does a song-and-dance routine from “Sweet Charity”; and the Festa Italiana dance group.

Piccadilly: The accent is on music as singer Millicent Martin hosts this session at the Palace. Joining her for an evening of swingin' sounds are singers Matt Monro and Bruce Forsyth.

Millicent Martin, who was a regular on Piccadilly and hosted the last few episodes instead of Ferrante and Teicher—I mean, Morecambe and Wise— was best-known as the singer on That Was the Week That Was, and hosted her own show for several seasons; our younger readers might recognize her as Gertrude Moon in Frasier. Matt Monro was a smooth-voiced singer, whom you’d probably recognize from two of his biggest hits, Born Free and From Russia With Love. Sir Bruce Forsyth (who died two years ago tomorrow) started his TV career on the BBC in 1939, and was a TV regular since the 1950s; up until 2015 hosted the successful show Strictly Come Dancing, which we here in the States might recognize by its American name: Dancing with the Stars. To this day, he holds the world's record for longest career of a TV entertainer: 76 years.

But is this going to be enough? Jimmy Durante was one of the great characters of movies and television, a man who could steal any scene, and even though by 1967 he’s already had a long and successful career, he’s still two years away from one of his most recognizable roles, that of the animated storyteller in the Rankin-Bass cartoon Frosty the Snowman. Connie Francis was lovely to look at, and not a bad singer; and Gwen Verdon was—well, just a terrific singer and dancer. Damn Yankees, Sweet Charity, and Chicago were just some of her stage credits, and if you ever saw her with that flaming red hair and those legs, you wouldn’t forget. Hands down, this week goes to Sullivan.

t  t  t

These summer issues of TV Guide, as I've noted before, are always something of a mixed bag; with most of the networks in rerun mode, there isn’t always a lot to choose from, and summer replacements are often the best bet. I’ve previously mentioned Jackie Gleason’s fill-in, Away We Go (Saturday, 6:30 p.m. CT, CBS), hosted by the unlikely combination of George Carlin and Buddy Greco,* and the Smothers Brothers’ replacement, Our Place (Sunday, 8:00 p.m., CBS), hosted by Burns and Schreiber, as well as Vic Damone, Dean Martin’s summer host (Thursday, 9:00 p.m., NBC), and the appropriately named Spotlight (Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., CBS), Red Skelton’s replacement—this week featuring British comedian Benny Hill.

*Fun fact: Buddy Greco’s second wife (of five) was Dani Crayne, who later divorced him and married—David Janssen!

Tony Bennett’s terrific NBC special on Monday night (7:00 p.m.) is a rerun, notable because it’s another in the occasional series of “Singer Presents” specials, sponsored by the sewing machine company. Herb Alpert and Burt Bacharach are other performers featured in Singer showcases, but the most famous of the specials will be in December of 1968, when Singer Presents—Elvis Presley. That ’68 comeback special, as it came to be known, remains one of television’s iconic programs.

t  t  t

There’s sports to be had, though, and one event is notable not only for what it is, but what it isn't. What it is, is an excursion into prime-time by the NFL, with the Baltimore Colts and St. Louis Cardinals* set to kickoff at 8:30 p.m. (late start!) on Monday night. Yes, it's the germination of Monday Night Football, something that commissioner Pete Rozelle was big on; he'd started toying with the idea as early as 1964, when a non-televised game between the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions drew a sellout crowd in Detroit; and this week's Monday night's game will be accompanied by a regular-season game in October between the Packers and Cardinals. By 1969, the last season before the NFL-AFL merger, both CBS and NBC will have broadcast regular-season games on Mondays.

*Or as we’d know them today, the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals.

Coming soon to a network near you!
However, when push comes to shove and Rozelle begins negotiating with the networks for the new, post-merger television contract, both CBS and NBC show reluctance to disturb their regular Monday night lineups. (Lucille Ball was a fixture on CBS, while NBC had its popular Monday Night at the Movies.) ABC isn't crazy about it the idea either, to be perfectly honest; earlier in the 1960s, they'd snatched the Saturday college football package away from NBC after the Peacock Network had signed to broadcast the AFL, and getting back into the pro game could jeopardize their ability to hang on to college ball.* Only after Rozelle threatens to syndicate the games through the Hughes (as in Howard) Sports Network, a move which would likely cause ABC affiliates to desert the network's Monday night schedule in favor of football, does ABC come around. The rest, of course, is history. (And you thought discussing politics was complicated.)

*The paranoid NCAA still thought pro football diluted, or perhaps contaminated, the purity of the college game, and let it be known that they wanted to be top dog on any network broadcasting their games. With the value of Monday night football uncertain, signing with the NFL and possibly riling the NCAA was a real gamble for ABC.

What our Monday night game isn't is baseball, which in 1967 can still make a claim to being the national pastime, and this week the drama of the red-hot American League pennant race continues to play out on our television sets—remember, the divisional setup hasn't come to baseball yet, so whoever finishes first in the 10-team league goes straight to the World Series. The Minnesota Twins, beginning the week with a slim 1½ game lead over the Chicago White Sox, are featured on local broadcasts against the New York Yankees (Saturday and Sunday); the Detroit Tigers, who trail the Twins by only 2½ games (Tuesday and Wednesday); and the Cleveland Indians (Friday; all on WTCN). Meanwhile, on NBC's Saturday Game of the Week (1:00 p.m.), the Boston Red Sox, a mere three games behind Minnesota, face off against the California Angels, only five games back. By the end of this week’s TV Guide, the Red Sox and White Sox will have closed to within a half-game of the Twins, with the Tigers only 1½ games back. No wonder they called it The Great Race.

t  t  t

Israel watches Egypt—on television. That’s the news from Robert Musel, who reports that Egyptian television—widely considered not only the best in the Middle East, but the equal of many networks in Europe—attracts a significant number of Israeli viewers every day, since Israel doesn’t yet have its own television network. It’s a message the Israelis themselves could benefit from, according to a number of experts who say the nation has been slow to realize the propaganda value of TV. Its first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, had felt that television had little to offer his people (they’d be “better off reading books”), until he saw a nature documentary while making a state visit to France. Ben-Gurion was fascinated by the show, which included film shot from inside a beehive, and said that “Israel had to have television like this.” He feared that, due to the country’s high taxes, only the rich would be able to afford sets, but as many a nation has discovered, the truth is that low-income groups love their television as much as anyone.

But though Israel may have discovered that television isn’t all bad, it still has yet to use it to their advantage. Israel won’t begin its own broadcasts until 1968—far too late, according to Musel, who says they should have been exploiting it for years, giving its neighbors a look at what the country and its people are really like. Foreign correspondent Shelby Scates of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer tells Musel that most Arabs “had no idea what the average Israeli was like” other than the “highly-colored” accounts from Arab newspapers. The Israelis are missing the boat, says Scates—“If the Arabs could see this land of milk and honey and the people in it, they wouldn’t be so afraid.” An Israeli journalist agrees, saying that “It’s time the Arabs stopped thinking we’ve got two tails.” Television as a bringer of world peace? I think it’s naïve, but maybe, back in 1967, not so much.

t  t  t

Finally, a look at this week's Letters section, which features a missive from Caro S., in Rowayton, Connecticut, and this should be read in conjunction with that Hippie documentary that CBS is running opposite The Fugitive. In that show, Harry Reasoner travels to San Francisco to find out why so many teens are dropping out of the "straight" world, and what they are turning on to, namely the "bizarre life" of  Haight-Ashbury, "hippie hill" in Golden Gate Park, "universal love, 'flower power'—and drugs." The drug most often under discussion is LSD, and doctors discuss the dangers that can come from it, while hippies talk about their experiences with overdoses.

OK, now that we've established the context, let's get back to Caro's letter. I have no idea whether Caro is male or female, but I'm going to assume Caro is a she, because it seems to be written from a feminine perspective. Caro is a teen, with perhaps a different perspective from those on the Reasoner show. And her target, oddly enough, is none other than Steve Allen. "No teen-ager among my friends has ever escended to the level of taste shown by The Steve Allen Show," she writes. (And remember, as I've pointed out before, back in these days you had to feel strongly enough about something to actually write a letter and mail it, rather than just sitting at a keyboard and pressing "send".)

"A few weeks ago," she continues, "there was a parody of 'The Taming of the Shrew' in which Jayne Meadows [Mrs. Allen, for those of you keeping score at home] licked custard pie off her husband's face, with many leering gestures. This week the show had Mr. Allen blowing into his wife's ear as she shivered merrily and leered some more. (This was in a sketch about their idea of hippies, most of whom are much more polite and less vulgar than the so-called comedians.) How about recognizing the fact that we teen-agers have standards, too, and the thing that rubs us the wrong way most of all is the adult way of smirking in reference to sex."

It's hard to know whether Caro is criticizing Allen for being lewd, or being hypocritical about sex (hypocrisy being one of the main complaints young people had toward their elders in the Generation Gap era). Whatever the case, whether she's a little prudish or simply more sophisticated, it sounds like there's at least one teen out there who has standards. And in an era which is bringing us very little in the way of good news, that fact alone is almost enough to make one want to stand up and cheer. TV  


  1. Just looking through my Chicago edition (which is a not-too-smart thing to do at 9:30 of a Saturday morning); what follows are some Bits & Pieces:

    - In the listings, I happened to hit Friday night before anything else.

    I have no idea which day you've staked out for Monday, but Friday, 25 August 1967, is a bumper night for my DVD Wall:

    - Wild Wild West goes to Russia (sort of), with John Astin as a crazed Count who's holding an American diplomat hostage (sort of) - it's that kind of episode.

    - Then, The Man From UNCLE has its Musical Show, "The Off-Broadway Affair" with Shari Lewis singing, dancing, and spying (sort of) against Thrush baddie Leon Askin - who is competing with himself tonight on Hogan's Heroes (the Joy of Reruns).
    *Note to our British friend John at Cult TV: Yes, this is one of the ones you wrote up at your site a couple of years back (small world, isn't it?).

    - On the subject of being all over the place, John Astin, op cit., turns up on Phyllis Diller's show in his recurring role as Diller's deadbeat bro-in-law.

    - Capping the evening, The Avengers has "Who's Who?", in which Steed and Mrs. Peel find themselves switching bodies with a couple of Russkie baddies.
    One of the Russkies is character legend Freddie Jones, who passed on earlier this year (and hi once again to John from Cult TV, who wrote this one up at his place as well - even smaller world …).

    I'll have to take some more time to look more closely at the stuff here, but there is one thing I noticed unbidden on the first pass:
    On Wednesday morning, Channel 7's Morning Show is welcoming Twiggy, who was on her first US tour that year.
    I bring it up here with the notation that this year - 2019 - Twiggy was named a Dame Commander of the British Empire.
    Her official designation is Dame Lesley Lawson DBE, but somehow I'm pretty sure that the Tabs on Fleet Street have their own version of that …

    More later, maybe …

  2. Thanks for bringing back a truly memorable Guide, Mitchell. The August 29th finale of The Fugitive was my 14th birthday present (the next day) and the 1967 AL pennant race was nirvana for a long-suffering Red Sox family living in upstate NY.

  3. I love the lines in the "Fugitive" Close-Up: "Gerard flies to Los Angeles / Filmed on location." Quinn Martin Productions - We Spare No Expense!

  4. Taking another pass through the week's listings:

    - Kup's Show on ch7 is repeating a show from earlier in the year, that made it into the national news:
    Bob Hope and Robert Morley got into a major set-to over the Vietnam conflict (everybody was avoiding the word war); Hope was very hawkish, while Morley (scarcely a radical) was opposed to the US stance.
    Both men were far from young; everyone else on the show was taken aback with the fierceness of Morley particularly on the dove side. Hope, for his part, took the administration side (LBJ's administration then) with a seriousness you rarely saw from him.
    One of Kup's other guests this night is Fred Friendly, who was plugging a book; it's significant that nobody recalls anything he had to say on this show.

    - Earlier that evening, WGN-ch9 is running Humphrey Bogart Theater; ch9 had the Warner Bros inventory in stock, and made frequent use of it, as with tonight's movie, "Angels With Dirty Faces".

    - Also, tonight CBS has the Mission: Impossible show with Eartha Kitt doing some things that Barbara Bain couldn't do …

    - The FBI has the agents chasing an escaped killer who's chasing his terrified wife.
    Bit of a switch here; James Franciscus is the Bad Guy, and Anne Helm (normally vixenish) is the Damsel-In-Distress.


    - On PDQ, a syndie gameshow from Heatter-Quigley, host Demie James Sposa welcomes celebrities Monte Halparin, Jim Narz, and Pierre LaCock.
    (Look it up.)

    - Later on, Anne Helm, having survived last night's FBI, turns up on Run For Your Life for Ben Gazzara'a inevitable amnesia episode
    Large cast here (see for yourself in the listing), which IIRC means this may be a clip show (correction welcomed if necessary).


    - Combat! gets a Close-Up for an episode that showcases Dick Peabody as the very tall Pvt. Littlejohn.
    The episode is titled "Gulliver", and involves a gaggle of cute French kids - you can pretty much fill in the rest.

    - Over at ch32, Bill Veeck has had to dial down his talk show, mainly for health reasons; he's down to one half-hour on Tuesday evenings.
    This week, Bill's guest is Lawrence Ritter, who's touring with his then-new book The Glory Of Their Times, with its recorded interviews of very-early baseball stars; I wonder if ch32 (or anybody, comes to that) saved this particular show …

    - This week, ABC repeats the classic Batman "Hizzoner The Penguin", which I'm going to dig out of the DVD Wall after I finish writing this.
    Necessity outweighs convenience, and like that there …


    - I did that one above, didn't I?
    Anyhoo, I believe I'll also hit the DVD Wall for "Shack Out On 101", a Cold War Klassik that has to be seen to be believed (and maybe not even then).
    Lee Marvin IS 'Slob'!

    Think about that for a while …

    1. One of the Stage Managers on Super Password in the 1980's was none other than Jimmy Narz, son of Jim(Tom Kennedy)

  5. Nice feature.
    Wish i know what up against part two! That was-and, still is-a TV Classic!!!

  6. I can add to the clue about the PDQ participants by stating that they were all hosting NBC game shows at the time.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!