November 30, 2019

This week in TV Guide: December 3, 1960

The holiday season from Thanksgiving to New Year has always been a big time for television, with all kinds of specials and events making the rounds.

This week the big production is the TV revival of Peter Pan, with Mary Martin and Cyril Ritchard reprising their famed roles from the last TV airing five years ago. (It was also done in 1955.) Those previous shows were live, but this one is not only on tape, but in color, and it’s this version that has been broadcast ever since. I recorded it off TV some time in 1989 or 1990, the last time it was on broadcast TV (in a somewhat edited version, to make more room for commercials, don’t you know) and it’s that version you see below.

A companion article discusses how for the last four weeks Mary Martin has been commuting between Broadway, where she does eight performances a week of The Sound of Music, the Helen Hayes Theater, which NBC has rented for Peter Pan rehearsals, and the NBC studios in Brooklyn, where most of the program is taped. The network is hoping to make an annual Christmas presentation of Peter Pan, which Martin enthusiastically endorses. She was reluctant at first to take on yet another televised staging—"Not while playing 'The Sound of Music,' which by itself is a full-time job.” But the public demand has been so great—“So many children have grown up since we did it last"—that Martin was unable to resist. "When NBC came along and said it had a sponsor and a time and everything else all set, I just couldn’t say no. Now I’m glad I didn’t," she says. "I seem to get more energy from it than I had when I was just doing eight 'Sound of Music' performances a week."

All three versions of Mary Martin as Peter Pan are available on DVD; the blu-ray of the 1960 telecast includes the 1955 and 1956 telecasts as extras.

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So that really is special; let's see what else this week has to offer.

Saturday belongs to sports, starting at 1:00 p.m. on NBC with the New York Knickerbockers and the Syracuse Nationals from Syracuse. The Knicks are in the second of a seven-season playoff drought, which isn’t easy when three of the four teams in each conference make the playoffs. The Nats, who make the playoffs despite finishing three games under .500 (but still 17 games ahead of the Knicks), are in their third-from-last season in Syracuse, after which they flee the small-market city for Philadelphia, where they become the 76ers. On ABC, it’s the final regular-season college football game, as Duke travels to Los Angeles to take on UCLA. Saturday night, The Fight of the Week (9:00 p.m,. ABC) has Gene Fullmer defending his world middleweight crown against the ageless Sugar Ray Robinson from Los Angeles. Fullmer, who is fighting Robinson for the third time (out of four), retains the title in a 15-round draw.

Ed Sullivan's guests on Sunday (7:00 p.m., CBS) are comedian Mort Sahl, singer Jane Morgan, the dance team of Rod Alexander and Carmen G. Rickle, the ventriloquist act of Layne and Velvel, and 11-year-old Spanish singer Joselito. Is this the Joselito they're talking about? If so, theI y fudged his age a little, didn't they? I think I'd opt for Dinah Shore's show, broadcast in color (8:00 p.m., NBC), with Charles Boyer, pianist Victor Feldman's jazz trio, and members of the French Opera Comique ballet troup. And if you're not in the mood for variety, go with G.E. Theater (8:00 p.m., CBS), with host Ronald Reagan starring with Coleen Gray in the story of a woman fighting for her husband's affections with the memory of his late first wife. There's also Something Special (9:00 p.m., NBC), a special looking at childhood, which is indeed special, hosted by Robert Young and Arlene Francis, and featuring guests Janet Blair, Nat King Cole, Ernie Ford, Dave Garroway, Sam Levenson, Art Linkletter, Garry Moore, Jane Wyatt, and the Little Angels vocal quartet of small children.

Did they really mean to spell "Santa Claus" that way?
There's nothing really special about Monday night's programming, but the Play of the Week (8:30 p.m., syndicated) has perhaps the strangest story of the week, starring Nancy Walker and Margarlo Gillmore. Let me read it to you: "Two eccentric ladies, staunch Republicans who cling to the glories of the past, have created a series of elaborate devices to shut the present out of their lives. They've retreated to a hotel apartment at the beginning of Franklin D. Roosevelt's administration. Now their armor is due for a dent when one of them gets a yen to have a man around the house." Kind of reminds you of those Japanese soldiers they used to find hiding in caves twenty years after the end of the war, thinking the war was still on. I wonder if this is supposed to take place in modern day, or if it's just some time during the FDR administration? I wonder if it's supposed to be funny?

Tuesday's Alfred Hitchcock Presents (7:30 p.m., NBC) has Barbara Bel Geddes and Alexander Scourby in the dark tale of a man who, after having finally married the "right girl," decides he's too set in his ways to get married after all. I don't know about you, but this doesn't sound good to me at all. I haven't seen this episode yet, so I'm not sure how good it is, but if Alexander Scourby sat down and simply read the script out loud, it would be worth watching. Something else worth watching is tonight's episode of The Tom Ewell Show (8:00 p.m., CBS), featuring special guest star Dick Powell playing himself. The premise of the series has Tom as a real estate agent, and tonight Tom is trying to talk Dick into using city-owned property as locations for his show. Something tells me this isn't going to work out, either. On a special Open End (9:00 p.m., NBC), David Susskind discusses comedy with Joey Bishop, George Burns, Jimmy Durante, Buddy Hackett, and Groucho Marx. The show only runs an hour, though, which kind of makes a hash of the title, doesn't it?

Perry Como's Kraft Music Hall is a nice way to spend Wednesday, with Perry's guests Steve Lawrence, Juliet Prowse, and the Kingston Trio. (8:00 p.m., NBC) Hawaiian Eye (8:00 p.m., ABC) features a guest appearance from John Van Dreelen, whom I'm confident you'd recognize if you saw him—he was always on TV in the 1950s and 60s. Even without reading the description or watching the episode, I can tell you he has to be the bad guy in this episode, because he always is. Hold on, let me look at the description—yep, he is.

Thursday belongs mostly to Peter Pan, but I wouldn't overlook what follows: on The Ford Show (8:30 p.m., NBC), Ernie welcomes singer Jimmie Rodgers, along with the candidates for 1961 Rose Bowl Queen. And at 9:00 p.m. on CBS, Charles Collingwood chats first with Polly Bergen and then Spike Jones on Person to Person.

On Friday, Dr. Frank Baxter is the host for another in the Bell Systems Science Series, "The Thread of Life (8:00 p.m., NBC), answering questions such as "Why do things taste different to different people? Why are there more color-blind men than women? What determines whether a baby will be a boy or a girl?" The answers to most of these questions can be found in the mysterious "Thread of Life": DNA. Details of the show can be found in the mysterious "Memories of Your Life:" YouTube:

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TV Teletype notes that Rod Serling is putting the finishing touches on a new Western called The Loner, starring Bob Cummings. The Loner does in fact make the schedule as a series, but it’s with Lloyd Bridges in the title role. It lasts only one season, and Serling himself had decidedly mixed feelings about it, but the critics are kinder to it today; it's even come out on DVD.

There are also rumors that the Academy Awards are headed for a new home, leaving its longtime venue at Hollywood's Pantages Theater in favor of the larger Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. "[T]he industry's sentimentalists [are] up in arms" about the move, but the Oscars head to Santa Monica anyway. Within a decade, the show is on the move again, to the more glamorous Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. I seem to recall the show's producer, Gower Champion, referring to the Civic Auditorium as a "dreary barn," which helps explain his desire for a move; today, they're held in the Academy's own Dolby Theater, and it's the show that's dreary.

And in New York, ABC announces plans for a January 29 debut of its new Sunday afternoon series, The American Professor, “designed to improve the public’s understanding of the teacher’s role in our society.” The series never did make it to air, at least not under this name; despite series like NBC's Watch Mr. Wizard and ABC's later Science All-Stars, you have to wonder how successful a show like this could be. Given that weekend television is now dominated by sports, the idea of a show like this, even on PBS, is probably nonexistent.

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This week, Cindy Adams takes a look at the life of the television gag writer. It’s centered in the office of Goodman Ace, one of the best of TV’s early humor writers, who’d made his name (and much of his success) in radio. He’s joined by his cohorts, Selma Diamond (the best-known female writer, who many of you might recognize from being in front of the camera on Night Court), Jay Burton, who’s written jokes for many of Hollywood’s best, and a couple of Canadian comics, Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth. Their output will be seen on camera in an upcoming Perry Como show.

The scene, as presented by Adams, doesn’t look all that different from what one sees later on the Dick Van Dyke show: Ace working from behind the desk, Diamond sprawled in a chair, and the other three in various stages of repose on the couch. They’re in the midst of trying to come up with something for Perry and his guest star, Jack Paar. The jokes are, put mildly, terrible. ("Tomorrow Shirley Temple’s doing 'Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs' but because she’s running a little late it’ll only be 'Snow White and the Five Dwarfs.'")

The group plows through scenario after scenario, none of them catching fire. Finally, there’s a gag about Paar interviewing a woman with a Southern accent who’s making her first trip to New York. She’s seen Grant’s Tomb, the Battery, the Statue of Liberty. Paar asks her where she’s from. “Brooklyn,” she says. I get the joke; we're all tourists in our own home cities, but it is kind of a weak one. Nevertheless, it sets them off, and they come up with a series of jokes featuring Brooklyn as the punch line.

It's an interesting enough article, I suppose, but what's more interesting is, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story. John Aylesworth and Frank Peppiatt had many credits, including working with Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra, but it was as producers that they achieved their biggest fame. The show they created? Hee Haw.

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This week's starlet is June Blair, who gets a two-page spread;  TV Guide says she’s 24, although the always-reliable Wikipedia would put her age at 27. She’s got a number of TV credits under her slim-wasted belt so far, including Sea Hunt, Bat Masterson, M Squad, and Lock Up, as well as a credit the article doesn’t mention, Playboy’s Playmate of the Month for January 1957. (I'm sure she must have been quite fetching.) Her career seems to have tailed off after the '60s, with her biggest rolein real-life as well as show businessbeing David Nelson’s on- and off-screen wife in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

Someone who didn't fade away is America's Sweetheart, Shirley Temple, and she's on the cover this week, plugging Sunday's episode of The Shirley Temple Show, "The Indian Captive," with Steve Cochran and Cloris Leachman. She's Shirley Temple Black now, and thought she's retired from the business until coming back for Shirley Temple's Storybook, which ran for one season on NBC and then in reruns on ABC. After the reruns ran their course, the show reverted back to NBC with a new title, a new format, and more starring roles from Shirley.

Even without acting, she's maintaining a very busy life, serving on the boards of various charities and non-profits ("Last year I put in over 300 volunteer hours.") many of them children-oriented. She's also started to dabble in politics; "I've developed a major interest in world affairs," she says. "Conversationally, I'm not afraid of anything."

She certainly makes her mark there; after an unsuccessful run for Congress in 1967, she serves as a delegate to the United Nations, two-time U.S. Ambassador (first to Ghana, and later to Czechoslovakia), and Chief of Protocol of the United States. I don't doubt that she could be the most successful former child actor of all.

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Christmas always seems to bring out the best in food, and My-T-Fine pudding reminds us that it’s never too early to start preparing for those holiday parties with the little touch that makes things extra-special. Sadly, the term “go gay for the holiday” would have a completely different meaning nowadays.

Watches make excellent gifts - would you argue with Tab Hunter?

How about another recipe? With the holidays upon us, it’s never too early to start preparing the menu for those parties with your friends, and what could be better than some Festive Glazed Ham?

Heat a canned, cooked, boneless ham of appropriate size according to directions. When almost completely heated, pour over it one jar of melted cherry preserves – or cherry jelly – blended with ¼ cup of brandy. Baste several times. Serve hot or chilled with smooth curried mustard cream.

Curried Mustard Cream ½ tsp. curry powder 1 tsp. prepared mustard 1 cup whipped cream Salt and pepper.

Mix mustard, curry powder, salt and pepper. Add to whipped cream, stirring until well-blended. Hollowed-out lemons make attractive serving cups.

Don't ever let it be said that this isn't your one-stop Christmas entertainment address. TV  


  1. I may have seen part or all of it when I was younger, but the first time I remember seeing this version of PETER PAN was when NBC reran it for the first time in 16 years on Mar. 24, 1989, Good Friday that year. I taped the show, and I've since dubbed that tape to DVD. Margalo Gillmore, who was also in PLAY OF THE WEEK, as you mentioned above, played Mrs. Darling in this version of PETER PAN.

    John Van Dreelen did play villains a lot on tv back then, who usually come to gruesome ends. I've seen his characters die on THRILLER (guest star MTM died in this one too, off-camera), TWILIGHT ZONE, and GET SMART (which may have had the highest death toll of any sitcom). I did see him on MY THREE SONS once as a non-villain, and his character even made it out of the episode alive.

    I was ordering episodes of SHIRLEY TEMPLE'S STORYBOOK on DVD years ago, and most were fun to watch, including one where Shirley got to play a gypsy. I stopped my subscription when the production company ran out of episodes of her show (at least those in color) and switched to her movies.

  2. Excellent pre-Christmas Guide review, Mitchell. Growing up 35 minutes west of Syracuse, people in area communities like my little hometown could buy "shares" in the Nats. Because one of the promoters was an attorney (one of two) in my little town of Moravia, my dad and grandfather each held a share for $10 each. As a result, Nats star player Dolph Schayes made an appearance at our modest home, much to the delight of my 19 year old sister...trouble was there wasn't much uniform coverage of the NBA in the early 60's which did hurt small markets like Syracuse and Rochester (Royals)who would eventually move to Cincinnati.

  3. Didn't the Flintstones premiere during the 1960 season?

    1. Not only did it premiere in the fall of 1960, but it's first season was sponsored by a cigarette company (Winston)!

    2. Did the typo in the WCCO Channel 4 ad for the "Santa Claus Party"!

  4. All 3 NBC broadcasts of Peter Pan were in color, not just the third one.

  5. THE PLAY OF THE WEEK was THE GIRLS IN 509, which ran for three months on Broadway in the 1958-59 season...Imogene Coca was one of the girls, and the cast included her real-life husband King Donovan, and Mama herself, Peggy Wood.

    And John Van Dreelen also played a good guy on the MOD SQUAD episode where Batgirl was fleeing hitmen who knew she witnessed a mob murder--and the Squad trying to find her because she had infectious meningitis.



  6. The You Tube clip of "Peter Pan" was the 1960 taped version.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!