March 7, 2020

This week in TV Guide: March 6, 1971

The late 1950s and early 1960s were the glory years for the literate political thriller, beginning with 1959’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Advise and Consent, a look at the seamy underbelly of American politics set against the backdrop of a confirmation battle over a nominee for Secretary of State. Advise and Consent was followed in quick succession by The Manchurian Candidate (1959) and Seven Days in May and Fail-Safe (both 1962). The books had several things in common: they were all successful, they all involved communism in one way or another, they all dealt with controversial topics (homosexuality in Advise and Consent, brainwashing in The Manchurian Candidate, a military coup in Seven Days in May, and an accidental nuclear attack in Fail-Safe), and they were all made into big-time movies with big-name stars (Henry Fonda in both Advise and Consent and Fail-Safe, Frank Sinatra  and Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate, and Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster in Seven Days in May).

In 1968, Fletcher Knebel, who co-authored Seven Days in May with Charles W. Bailey (the pair also wrote another political thriller, Convention), published the novel Vanished, about a presidential confidante who, as the title puts it, vanishes without a trace. Did he escape to avoid prosecution for a crime? Is he involved in a sordid affair? Or, most disturbingly, did he take his insider information and defect to an enemy nation? Unlike the books above, Vanished did not graduate to the big screen, but was instead transferred to television, as the first-ever two-part made-for-TV movie. Vanished makes its debut this week on NBC, airing Monday and Tuesday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET, with an impressive cast, including Richard Widmark (in his TV acting debut), James Farentino, William Shatner, Larry Hagman, Arthur Hill, E.G. Marshall, Eleanor Parker, Betty White, Russell Johnson, and Robert Young. For a touch of authenticity, the movie also includes three newsmen essentially playing themselves: Chet Huntley, Herb Kaplow, and Martin Agronsky.

I read Vanished, many years ago; it’s not up to the standards of the other books I mentioned (all of which I own), but it’s still an entertaining, if somewhat predictable, potboiler. The movie receives mixed reviews; Judith Crist calls it a "hey there" movie ("Hey there, it's Marcus Welby! Hey there, it's Dr. Craig!), and wonders if this will set a two-part pattern for future television movies. One of the most common criticisms is its length, which suggests that longer, meatier books might make for better multi-part stories. Today it gets lumped into the general category of “miniseries,” but in the days before the miniseries, at a time when only the biggest (and longest) big-screen movies got the two-part treatment, NBC’s billing of Vanished as a two-part movie is clearly meant to suggest prestige. We report; you can decide for yourself here.

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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. 

If you liked Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Cleveland Amory says—"well, so did the producers" of ABC's new western, Alias Smith and Jones. But, as he reminds us, plagiarism is copying one book; research is copying two. And ABC "has researched this one real good. They've even got overtones of two previous shows, The Fugitive and Run for Your Life."

OK, we know that Cleve puts a premium on originality, but just because an idea isn't original doesn't mean the show isn't any good, right? Then again, "One thing you'll have to grant this show: It doesn't promise very much, and it certainly doesn't deliver a whole lot." He does like the premise, though, of two outlaws turned good guys, who are set to receive a pardon from the governor if they can stay out of trouble. Television being what it is, of course, trouble comes to look for them. (Otherwise, there's not much of a series here.) He also likes Smith and Jones's two stars, Pete Duel (Hannibal Heyes, alias Joshua Smith) and Ben Murphy (Kid Curry, alias Thaddeus Jones), "fine actors who deserve not only better treatment but also better finished scripts." And there are no complaints about the guest stars, who've included Burl Ives, Cesar Romero, Pernell Roberts and Slim Pickens. But—and you knew this was coming—"The basic trouble seems to be that the only suspense you have is whether or not you're going to believe anything—and, if so, for how long. We realize you're not meant to believe it, still, we want to believe, honest we do."

Amory's favorite episode so far involved a train robbery, with Smith and Jones posing as private agents "Grant" and "Gaines," hired to thwart the robbery. We also have guest star Beth Brickell, a supposed Southern belle who isn't what she appears to be, either. (Apparently, in this episode, nobody is.) In the climatic scene, Grant, as Heyes alias Smith alias Duel, and Gaines, as Curry alias Jones alias Murphy, succeed in convincing guest star William Windom that they are none of the above, but are secret agents who are in fact so secret that they're even a secret to the head of secret agents (guest star J.D. Cannon). "Alas and alack, it was one too many aliases for us. But just the same, we did try not to believe that we had to believe."

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It doesn't seem all that long ago that she was in our living rooms each week, Dinah Shore urging us to see the U.S.A. in our Chevrolets, and throwing us a big kiss at the end of her variety show. But it's been almost eight years since The Dinah Shore Show went off the air in 1963 (Chevy dropped its sponsorship in 1961), and with the exception of four ABC specials in 1964-65, her appearances since then have been limited to guesting on other people's shows. But that has changed.

She's now the host of Dinah's Place, a daily talk show airing mornings at 10:00 a.m. on NBC. And, as Arnold Hano points out, this isn't the Dinah Shore that we're all used to, the one who was "as easy to get along with as an old girdle": she sips wine with Frank Sinatra and Vincent Price, talks about "creative separation" with ex-priest James Kavanaugh, and discusses current topics such as drugs, politics, women's lib, and grape boycotts in support of Cesar Chavez and his farm workers. What's changed?

It starts with executive producer Henry Jaffe, a long-time Dinah friend, who urged her, "Aren't you tired of Vegas audiences? Don't you want to say something? You're more interesting now than you were 10 years ago. Speak out." And so she has. "Yes, I live in a glamorous way, she says. "I earned it. I worked for it. But my problems aren't different from other women's: children, work, ecology." And it's not just the subject matter: her personal playlist now includes Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Blood, Sweat & Tears, and Caned Heat; her backup combo has long hair and a mod sound, and she has quickly adapted to it. So much, in fact, that she'll win an Emmy for it in 1974.

And therein lies a story, one you've probably heard before, of NBC sending her a telegram congratulating her on the Emmy win and, oh, by the way, your show has been cancelled to make room for a game show. Unfazed, Dinah and the show move to syndication, and under the title Dinah! continues to run until 1980. Nothing could be finer.

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Dinah Shore may have stopped urging us to drive from coast to coast, and The Hollywood Palace left the airwaves last year, but there are still a surprising number of variety shows around, and plenty of stars to appear on them.

Saturday's a great night for variety, and we'll start with dueling shows: Andy Williams on NBC and Lawrence Welk on ABC (both at 7:30 p.m.). As always, Larry depends on his regulars in his salute to musical history makers (including Hoagy Carmichael, Fanny Brice, George Gershwin, and Mario Lanza), while Andy spotlights the former Welk regulars the Lennon Sisters, plus Desi Arnaz, Jo Anne Worley, and the Bee Gees. At 8:30, Pearl Bailey follows Welk on ABC with Tony Bennett, Jimmy Durante and the Supremes. (As opposed to, say, Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters.) And that's followed at 9:30 by Johnny Cash, who brings the circus to the Grand Ole Opry with his guests Emmett Kelly Jr., trapeze artist Senor Antonio, juggler Miss Nova, sword balancer Marco Popo, Bobby and his trained chimps, the high-wire Rodrequez Brothers, and Bob Williams and his dog Louie. Oh, and there's also the regulars: June Carter, Car Perkins, the Carter Family, the Statler Brothers, and the Tennessee Three. On a syndicated note, Barbara McNair's show (10:00 p.m., WTAF) features Lou Rawls, Tobi Lark, Peter Appleyard, and Hart and Lorne.

Sunday belongs to CBS; at 8:00 p.m., it's our old friend, Ed Sullivan (in his program's final months), with Roy Clark, Louis Nye, Jeannie C. Riley, and Teresa Graves; the highlight of the program is the appearance of armed forces performers who were selected last year when the cast toured military bases. I wonder if any of them wound up in Vietnam, and if they made it back. Ed is followed at 9:00 p.m. by Glen Campbell, who's goodtiming it with Vikki Carr, David Steinberg, Shecky Greene, Seals and Crofts, and Mel Tillis. At 10:00 p.m., CBS has been rerunning full-hour Honeymoon shows from Jackie Gleason's show; tonight, the mob finds out that Ralph  is a dead ringer for their underworld boss. Guest stars include Bruce Gordon (who, I'll bet, plays a mobster) and Barbara Nichols. And late night (11:30 p.m.) on WPHL, it's Hugh Hefner's show, with Tom Smothers, Johnny Mathis, the Modern Jazz Quartet, John Stewart, and mentalist Kenny Kingston. It had better be good, though, because opposite it on WFIL is—Fail-Safe.

Monday night features the final month of Red Skelton's sad NBC series (7:30 p.m.), with guest Tony Randall. Laugh-In is on at 8:00 p.m.; no guest stars, just the regulars tonight. For stars, we'll hang around for Carol Burnett (10:00 p.m.), with Mike Douglas and Bernadette Peters.*

*Bernadette Peters seems to have been on television forever (and I mean that in a good way); she's only 72 today, which means she was 23 when this show was aired. Ah, the fountain of eternal youth.

Tuesday (are we going to go through the whole week? Yes, we are!), Don Knotts and his short-lived variety show lead the way (8:00 p.m., NBC), with Michael Landon, John Davidson, Charles Nelson Reilly and Gloria Loring.* At 8:30 p.m., it's Hee Haw, still on CBS, with Ray Charles and Lynn Anderson joining the show's all-star lineup of regulars.

*Another performer with an endless list of credits; she's one year older than Bernadette Peters, although today her son Robin Thicke might be better-known.

Kraft Music Hall is the regular feature on Wednesday, but this week it's preempted for a Jack Benny special, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Jack Benny--But Were Afraid to Ask, with guests Lucille Ball, George Burns, Phil Harris, John Wayne, Dionne Warwick, and author Dr. David Reuben.

On Thursday, we've got a full evening starting with Flip Wilson (7:30 p.m., NBC) and guests Lena Horne, Ray Stevens, and George Carline. At 8:00 p.m., CBS counters with Jim Nabors, who's pried Johnny Cash and June Carter away from ABC for an hour. Dean Marin rounds out the evening (10:00 p.m., NBC) with his old friend Orson Welles, old lover Petula Clark, old uncle Leonard Barr, and Norm Crosby, who's not old but is a frequent guest.

There aren't any variety shows on Friday night; I don't know why, because there have been ones in the past (remember ABC's Operation: Entertainment?), but I hate to break up a good thing, so we'll settle for Mike Douglas, whose Friday guests (12:30 p.m., KYW) are Al Capp (co-host), Jerry Lewis and singer Janis Ian.

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There's more this week, of the non-variety kind. On Saturday, one of the performers on American Bandstand (12:30 p.m., ABC) is Henry Mancini. Makes for a bit of a change, doesn't it? Sunday and Monday nights at 9:00 p.m., ABC presents a two-part showing of the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty, with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard. Judith Crist calls the remake spectacular, with Howard "simply suburb" as Captain Bligh, while Brando's Fletcher Christian is "interesting if uneven." As she points out, though, you'll have to miss the first half of Vanished to see it.

PBS profiles movie director David Lean (Tuesday, 9:00 p.m.), and it's a wonder that the filmmakers can cram it all into 60 minutes, what with Lean's output, including Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, Bridge on the River Kwai, Brief Encounter, Ryan's Daughter, and Great Expectations, to name a few.

The Cat in the Hat makes his television debut Wednesday night (7:30 p.m., CBS), with Allan Sherman as the voice of the Cat. It's the third Dr. Seuss cartoon to make it to the network, after How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Horton Hears a Who.

The wheel show Four in One (Wednesday, 10:00 p.m., NBC) presents The Psychiatrist, with Roy Thinnes as Dr. James Whitman, and Luther Adler as his older mentor, Dr. Bernard Altman (because the rules of television specify that a young doctor/lawyer/detective has to be paired with an older mentor); this week, Steven Spielberg directs "A Study of Death," with Clu Gulager as a champion golfer who has it all: money, a wife and child, and incurable duodenal cancer.

One of David Frost's guests on Thursday (4:30 p.m., KYW) is the ageless baseball immortal, Satchel Paige, 64 years old and less than five years removed from his last pitching appearance, with the minor league Peninsula Grays. He's also the author of one of the great quotes of all time, "Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."

And then there's The Interns (Friday, 7:30 p.m., CBS), which tonight deals with the use and effects of drugs in professional sports. The Interns, based on the 1962 film The Interns and the 1964 sequel The New Interns is, as the title would suggest, about young doctors being mentored by an older, wiser doctor (imagine that!), none other than this week's cover star, Broderick Crawford. Crawford has led a colorful life, to say the least. Let Dwight Whitney set the scene: "We're sitting around shooting the early-morning breeze in Broderick Crawford's place. . .As usual, he is feeling no pain, and it is not even 9 o'clock in the morning." Whitney describes the interior of Crawford's home. "Several empty beer cans line the coffee table. Another half-full one is poised for take-off in a hamlike hand. In the kitchen, next to the empties and the vitamin-B complex, stands a tumbler smelling suspiciously like vodka." Did I mention it's 9 o'clock in the morning? "My mother [actress Helen Broderick] always said be ready, so I start the night before." Whitney finds him a "magnificently battered, enormously likable, lonely, beautiful bull of a man."

Crawford got his start on the stage, thanks to people like George S. Kaufman and Ethel Barrymore. He made the transition to movies, finding his role of a lifetime in the magnificent Gothic political drama All the King's Men, which won him an Academy Award for Best Actor. When the movies began to slack off, he moved to TV and Highway Patrol, which ran for four seasons and made Crawford a boatload of money. It also made life more interesting for the hard-drinking Crawford, who constantly found himself confronted in bars by loudmouths proclaiming, "So, you're Brod Crawford, the big movie tough guy!" Says Whitney, "Brod usually accommodated them, and as a result, tangled with some of the best cops and touched base at some of the best pokies in town." Legend has it that some of Highway Patrol's scenes were filmed in the desert so Crawford could get behind the wheel of his police car even though his driver's license had been suspended; other stories tell of doing his scenes in the morning, while he was still able to stand.

For all that, as Whitney says, the money and the fame and the friends and his two sons, to whom he is devoted (he's also been divorced twice), Broderick Crawford is still a lonely man. "Let me put it this way," he says in conclusion. "I fear the mystery. You are born to die. The end is the beginning. The days may be awful lonesome, but the years are getting short. I've made my peace with myself. When I go I intend to go like a gentleman." Not too sentimental, though: "Meanwhile, I'll be up at 5 A.M. waiting for any bleep of a bleep that wants to ring me."

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Finally, a series of ads by WFIL, Channel 6 in Philadelphia, suggesting it might have been done in-house rather than by a high-paid advertising agency.

Now, as far as truth in advertising is concerned, I have no doubt that these are real people living in Philadelphia and watching the Channel 6 news. But c'mon, have you ever seen anything that screamed "Action News" less than these ads? Still, there's something charming, in a way, about these, especially compared to the slickness of today's ads. Maybe they're just you and me, people who actually need Action News in their lives, and WFIL figures we'll see them and think, "Hey, this is the news for me, too!" Then again, maybe not. TV  


  1. Don't have this particular issue, but I do have a few Chicagos from that general time frame …
    … which show Johnny Cash's show in its usual time slot on ABC - Wednesday at 9 (8 Central).
    Followin the disappearance of The Most Deadly Game, ABC turned the 9:30 hour on Saturday back to the affiliates; most of them went with a movie, although Channel 7 here in Chicago put in Nashville Now!, a syndie half-hour from Canada (no kiddin'), followed by an hour version of the station's long-running travel show Passage To Adventure.
    This begs the question: what Channel 6 in Philly put in Johnny's Wednesday hour?
    And how did this affect ABC's 10 pm Wednesday show, The Young Lawyers?
    Might be interesting to find out …

    - Looking over the other variety shows, I'm noting that Barbara McNair's syndicated show, another Canadian production, has quite a bit of that country's talent on board - such as the comedy team of Hart and Lorne, who later moved to the Lower 48 and became writer-producers (Hart Pomerantz produced many sitcoms, and Lorne Lupowitz changed his professional name to Lorne Michaels - but that's another story …).

    - As long as I'm here, last night I happened upon Eventually Supertrain's Episode 83.
    Here's a quickie answer to your latest "W. Hermanos" query:
    David Goodis was a crime writer for the pulp magazines, going back to the early '40s - a "penny-a-worder" who churned stories out by the reams to make a living.
    When the movie studios, big and small, were pumping out B-movies for their neighborhood chains, they bought stories from the pulp mags in carload lots for source material; many writers like David Goodis moved to Hollywood to try and take advantage of this fact.
    Some of them got by - barely (you've seen many of their names on Bourbon Street Beat episodes, credited with stories they'd written for the pulps years before - and if they were really lucky (and still alive) maybe getting a few bucks for them).
    Goodis was a very prolific pulp man, moving for a time into the newish field of paperback novels; Warner Bros bought heavily in this market too, which led to Goodis getting into actual scriptwriting - but that's another story …
    What happened during the strike - whoever was running the WBTV writers room (Casa Hermanos) most likely pulled something from the pulp inventory and tossed it into the room, and whoever was next in line got to turn it into a TV show (we're not talking about painstaking artistics here).
    As to which David Goodis story was the honoree here - you'd need someone with an encyclopedic knowledge of his output, which I haven't got; Sorry!
    (There are books about Goodis, including a full-out biography, if you're really interested.)

    - Finishing in a literary mood:
    I found it just a bit curious that your summary of Fletcher Knebel's career didn't mention one novel of his that was recently reissued in trade paperback, with quite a bit of fanfare.
    Or maybe you didn't notice …

  2. Mike,
    Per The Philadelphia Inquirer (via both "The Johnny Cash Show" and the 10pm show, "The Young Lawyers" were preempted by a movie on WFIL-TV 6. The movie in question was the 1964 film "Rio Conchos" with Richard Boone and Stuart Whitman. "The Young Lawyers" did air in pattern in Philadelphia on channel 29 at its usual Wednesday 10pm network time slot.

    Also of note, channel 6 would preempt "The King Family" the same day at 8:30pm with a Spring Fashion show. WFIL-TV was undergoing a forced sale at this time from Triangle Broadcasting, due to complaints from then Pennsylvania Governor Milton Shapp over smear campaign. Starting in May, the sale was finalized to new owners Capital Cities Broadcasting. This necessitated new call letters of WPVI, which it still has today. WPVI would be an ABC owned and operated station in 1985 when CapCities bought ABC and was allowed to keep WPVI but had to sell ABC owned station WXYZ-TV and CapCities owned WTNH. Then in 1996, as we all know, ABC was sold to Disney, which at that point the WPVI carried everything in pattern. Beforehand, even when ABC programmed part of the morning hours and noon, some of those show would be preempted by "AM Philadelphia" and the Noon hour by ACTION NEWS, which still airs today.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!