November 28, 2020

This week in TV Guide: November 29, 1958

There's a little something for everyone in this issue, including specials, sports, and even a Christmas show, so let's get right to it before we forget!  

Saturday night Victor Borge stars in his fourth CBS special (8:00 p.m.), and the Great Dane takes the opportunity to talk with TV Guide's Frank DeBlois about some of the challenges involved in doing television. "On TV there is always the problem of the studio audience," he says. "I dislike to complain, but sometimes I have found that the professional TV studio patron, with a jaw full of rock candy and a carpetbag slung over the shoulder, is not there to watch me play the piano, but rather is there to forage for salami. If I had a show every week I would pass out smorgasbord." He adds, however, that he cannot perform without an audience; it is like "looking into a mirror without a mirror." And, he assures DeBlois, there is no such thing as a bad audience. "A bad audience is merely one the performer cannot handle." 

Sunday strikes a musical note or three, starting with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic in the first in a monthly series of programs doing what Berttstein would do so well in his young people's concerts: explaing classical music. (4:00 p.m., CBS) This month, the maestro takes an in-depth look at Beethoven's Ninth; among the soloists assisting Bernstein is the future legend Leontyne Price. The hour-long program ends just in time for NBC's Peter and the Wolf (5:00 p.m.), starring Art Carney and the Baird Puppets, with music based on Prokofiev's themes and composed by Paul Weston, and lyrics by Ogden Nash and Sheldon Harnick. The highlight, however, is probably the musical comedy Wonderful Town, with the wonderful Rosalind Russell reprising her Tony-winning Broadway role (8:00 p.m., CBS), and featuring songs by none other than—Leonard Bernstein. And guess what: you can see it right here!

Monday morning starts the week with a little Yule cheer, the Santa Claus Party (WCCO, 7:45 a.m.), which airs every Monday, Thursday and Friday through the Christmas season. "Shows will be taped ahead with the new Video Tape Recorder, so the youngsters who appear on the show will be able to see themselves on TV." That evening, the Salvation Army's "Tree of Lights" pageant is presented by WTCN (7:00 p.m.), live from the balcony of the Calhoun Beach Hotel, which just happens to be home of WTCN's studios. At 9:00 p.m. on CBS, Danny Thomas and his TV family, fresh off of their own weekly appearance at 8:00 p.m., are the guests on a special Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour that features Danny Williams and his gang renting the Ricardos' Connecticut home for a vacation, while Lucy and Desi are in Hollywood making a picture. This being Lucy, you know things aren't going to be that easy: the project is cancelled, and the Ricardos want their home back. Hilarity ensues.

I don't think I've ever mentioned the espionage series The Man Called X. It ran on the radio from 1944 to 1952, with Herbert Marshall as Intelligence Agent Ken Thurston, but Barry Sullivan takes on the role in the syndicated television version (produced by Ziv), which ran for two seasons, from 1956-57. Tuesday's episode (7:00 p.m., KMSP), "Ballerina Story," was actually the second to air during the show's original run; "Thurston is dispatched from Washington to help a ballerina escape from a dictatorship." Are you sure that's not a typo, that Thurston's dispatched to Washington to help the ballerina escape the dictatorship? No, maybe not. If you're looking for some laughs, George Burns is a popular man tonight: he first appears in his own show (8:00 p.m., NBC) with singer Tony Martin as his special guest; then, at 8:30, George himself is the special guest on The Bob Cummings Show, as he tries to help Bob's nephew Chuck with his singing career. I'll bet Hal could tell us more about this episode at The Horn Section!

On Wednesday's U.S. Steel Hour (9:00 p.m., CBS), we're reminded that panel show regular Betsy Palmer is also an actress, as she stars with Ed Begley in "The Enemies," a predictable Romeo-and-Juliet story set in the world of small-town politics. A better bet would have been the Wednesday Night Fights, airing opposite on ABC, with future heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, currently the #9 ranked contender, taking on Howard King in Chicago. However, Liston pulled out (probably due to injury); his replacement, #2 light-heavyweight Harold Johnson, who took the fight with only six days of preparation, outpointed King to take "an easy, but unimpressive victory in the televised Chicago Stadium bout." The recorded live attendance was 625.

I often mention how prominent movies used to be in the everyday TV schedule, especially when it comes to local stations and their programming; later on, you'll read about WTCN and its nightly Movie Spectacular; Thursday night, however, KMSP has to take the honors with its 9:00 p.m. showing of High Noon, the 1952 Western that won an Oscar for Gary Cooper and also starred Thomas Mitchell and Grace Kelly. Seems to me they could have made a bigger deal about having this; maybe they'd already shown it once before? One of the co-stars of High Noon was Lloyd Bridges; his hit Sea Hunt appears opposite the movie, at 9:00 on WTCN and 9:30 on WDSM. Also at 9:30 but on KROC, it's Decoy, the Beverly Garland show that foretold Police Woman.

Friday's Walt Disney Presents (7:00 p.m., ABC) continues the story of fictional Revolutionary War hero Johnny Tremain with "The Short That Was Heard Round the World" at Concord, Massachusetts. Hal Stalmaster stars as Johnny, with Walter Sande as Paul Revere. I have to admit I've lost track of things lately, so you have to remind me: are these guys still heroes or not? At 8:00 p.m. on CBS, Bilko cons the McGuire Sisters into appear on his variety show by hiring two people named "Frank Sinatra" and "Kim Novak." Of course, they aren't the Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. . . And Edward R. Murrow's guests on Person to Person (9:30 p.m., CBS) are TV star Ann Sothern and Pakistani U.N. ambassador Aly Kahn, playboy and former husband of Rita Hayworth. Who could imagine the diplomatic life could be so exciting? 

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At one time it was one of the biggest football games of the year, annually attracting over 100,000 fans to Philadelphia Stadium, including, frequently, the president of the United States. Even today, regardless of the records of the two teams, it's guaranteed a national television audience, at a time when no other games are scheduled. It is, of course, the Army-Navy game, and on Saturday (12:15 p.m., NBC) they meet for the 59th time, with Army holding 29-24-4 advantage. Nowadays their fortunes rise and fall, with aspirations to appear in some of the more minor bowl games, but in 1958 the service academies, particularly the Army, still reflect the glory, and success, of the wartime teams. Army enters this year's contest with a record of 7-0-1, ranked #5 in the nation; Navy, ranked as high as #6 at one point in the season, is 6-2. (The Air Force, in case you're wondering, finishes #8 at 9-0-2, and plays on New Year's Day in the Cotton Bowl.) On this day, the Cadets come out on top, defeating the Middies 22-6 to cap off their undefeated season, and finish #3 in the nation. It is, to this date, the last undefeated Army team.

In other sports news, CBS has some "ice hockey" on Saturday at 1:00 p.m., with the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers meeting at Madison Square Garden. In Sunday's NFL action, the Los Angeles Rams taken on the Chicago Cardinals (1:00 p.m., CBS), and in the NBA Game of the Week, it's the New York Knickerbockers and Philadelphia Warriors (1:30 p.m., NBC),* 

*Yes, the Cardinals were in Chicago before they moved to St. Louis, which was before they moved to Phoenix, which was before they were renamed Arizona. (Hey, they're birds; they migrate a lot.) And the Warriors moved cross-country from Philly to San Francisco, then across the Bay to Oakland, and then back to San Francisco. It keeps moving companies—and stadium builders—in business.

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Speaking of movies on local television, as we were a couple of stories ago, this week's focus is on WTCN, and while it may be the ABC affiliate in the Twin Cities, that doesn't stop it from airing the Movie Spectacular every night at 9:45 p.m, no matter what the network might have in mind. (The station aired 15 minutes of news at 9:30, leading up to the movie.) And while local stations, including WTCN, have been known to exaggerate from time to time, I have to admit they're on to something here.

Well, all right, perhaps Saturday's feature isn't that spectacular: Tugboat Annie Sails Again, even though it has Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan, but check out the rest of the week. On Sunday it's the reformist classic I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, with Paul Muni; Monday is the bullet-riddled This Gun For Hire, starring Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake; Tuesday, William Holden and Joan Caulfield star in Dear Ruth; Wednesday, it's Olivia DeHavilland's Oscar-winning performance in The Heiress, with Montgomery Clift; Thursday is Cecil B. DeMille's Reap the Wild Wind with John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Ray Milland; and Friday winds things up with Bing, Bob and Dorothy Lamour in Road to Singapore. But it doesn't stop there! We've also got ads for next weekend: Saturday is For Whom the Bell Tolls with Ingrid Bergman and Gary Cooper, while Sunday's feature is the war drama Wake Island, starring Brian Donlevy, Robert Preston and William Bendix.

It's a great lineup, but it's almost as important to note that each of the weeknight features are making their television premiere. Movies you haven't seen on TV before are a real attraction for viewers wondering what to watch. Every time I see something like this, I'm reminded again what a marvel television must have seemed like for people back then, bringing things like these blockbuster movies into one's living room (or bedroom). It's so easy to take it for granted when we can watch whatever we want, whenever we want (on our telephones!) but programming like this, with the World Series and a few boxing matches thrown in, might have even gotten some people to go out and buy a TV. 

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It's always nice when someone writes a positive review of a favorite show, and that's what we have this week with Peter Gunn. Our reviewer, R.S., praises the show's innovations: Henry Mancini's driving jazz theme, dialog that cracks, courtesy of creator-producer-director Blake Edwards, and top-level performances from its stars. As Gunn, Craig Stevens is "tall, hamdsome and rugged," a private eye with the touch of the Ivy League, and succeeds by underplaying the role. His girlfriend Edie, played by Lola Albright, is lighthearted and compelling, and their relationship is adult and sophisticated. Hershel Bernardi is good as Gunn's policeman sidekick, Lieutenant Jacoby, a role "without whom such shows could not exist." The show itself has its share of violence—it "borders slightly on Mickey Spillane—but never gratuitous; and the locales, from rough waterfront docks to beatnick hangouts (complete with "jive talk) helps to lend atmosphere. It is, in short, an unpretentious half-hour of well-placed, interesting entertainment, "all that could be asked for." 

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Wondering what to do with those Thanksgiving leftovers? Well, you've come to the right place! "A television-viewing meal," our culinary expert says, "prepared in an electric skillet handy to the set, can be both easy and satisfying," and who am I to disagree with this? There are several recipes to choose from, but let's go with a couple of favorites: turkey scramble and onion rings parmesan.

As always, if anyone tries 'em, let us know how it turned out.

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A few weeks ago we looked at something called the "T-Venus Contest." Actually, you couldn't help but look at it, since 1) it was on the cover, and 2) both the cover and the story inside involved beautiful women. One of the fun things about stories like this is finding out whether or not any of the young women involved became big stars, or even medium-sized ones, and it's actually surprising how many times you run across someone who really did hit the jackpot.

Well, we're getting another chance this week, as TV Guide covers the Sixth Annual Deb Star Ball of the Make-up Artists and Hair Stylists Union of Hollywood. That may be a mouthful, but it's not as long as the line of entrants; the winners were selected from 229 entries sponsored by studios, networks, film companies and talent agencies. For the lucky 13 "young beauties" selected, it isn't a guaranteed ticket to stardom (although past winners include Kim Novak and Anita Ekberg), but they do get to keep those ball gowns they're wearing (designed and paid for by their sponsors), and in addition to the publicity that comes from being one of the winners, they all appeared on last week's Bob Hope Show on NBC. It's like when Bob used to have the College All-America Football team on, only more fun.

Anyway, we shouldn't be surprised to find that although all of the winners achieved some level of fame, there are a few who wound up being more familiar than the others. It may be kind of hard to make out the names at the bottom, so I've added numbers to identify those whom you might recognize (although I'm sure many of you will be able to pick out a role or two played by any of the others). Number one, for instance, is Judi Meredith, who was mentioned in this issue from earlier in 1958. Number two, Kathy Nolan, is Luke's wife in The Real McCoys, and goes on to become president of the Screen Actors Guild. Myrna Fahey, number three, appeared in many movies and TV series over the years, including Zorro and The Fall of the House of Usher. I mention Arlene Howell, number four, because she was in Bourbon Street Beat, which I spent the better part of a year discussing on Eventually Supertrain. And the other two don't really need a build-up, because I think you'll recognize them anyway: number five is Jill St. John, and Tuesday Weld is number six.

I guess 13 isn't such an unlucky number after all, is it? TV  


  1. Thanks for the shoutout Mitchell! I do have this episode of THE BOB CUMMINGS SHOW in fact, so it'll be reviewed eventually. Burns turns up twice on the Cummings Show this season (the second time also features Harry Von Zell and Elena Verdugo; I have that episode up on my YouTube channel).

    Quite an impressive lineup of Deb Stars; Fahey, Martin and Howell all guest starred multiple times on MAVERICK and the latter two were under contract to Warners. Myrna Fahey died way too young (only 40) and Andra Martin's career was way too short. IMO.

    1. Given that THE REAL McCOYS was a top 10 show by this time...hadn't Kathy Nolan already debuted?


  2. Johnny Tremain had more twists and turns in its destination to TV than Battle Road to Lexington and Concord. First intended as an episode of the Disney series, it was released theatrically instead in June 1957, and then aired in two parts on TV a mere seventeen months later. At least this was before Disney's move to Sunday nights, so Johnny didn't have to break the Sabbath again.

  3. Life's Little Ironies Dept.:

    Did you happen to notice the competition for ABC's Disney on NBC that Friday night?
    Yes, it was The New Adventures Of Ellery Queen, live and in Living Color from New York!
    Starring George Nader as Ellery, with Les Tremayne as Inspector Queen!
    And on pages 12-13 of this issue of TV Guide, there's an honest-to-my-grandma feature about this very show - and how it came to be on NBC's prime time schedule!

    ... Of course, this is the Lost EQ Series - the one that's vanished without trace in the sixty-plus years since it came along.
    Among EQ aficionados young, old, and in-between, it's a kind of Holy Grail: the first half-season was done Live, adapting a handful of actual Queen novels, as well as books from other noted mystery writers (including the legendary Edgar Box [look him up]) - but apparently nobody bothered to save (or steal) any kinescopes of the episodes.
    The second half-season, when NBC switched to videotape, put in a new Ellery (Lee Philips), went from adapting other people's books to original scripts - well, NBC didn't save (or steal) those, either ...

    I humbly suggest that you read the article here, which contains clues as to what went wrong with this particular EQ incarnation.
    I'd particularly cite the third paragraph, in which the normally-reputable Albert McCleery, who produced this version, gives at least some of the game away ...

    I happen to have the Chicago edition of this issue to hand; I'm starting work on a more detailed analysis for later on.
    But I did want to get on record with the EQ stuff - you know, just in case you were interested ...

    1. I was addressing Mitchell directly:
      The article appears in this issue of TV Guide: November 29-December 5, 1958, pages 12 and 13 (full color pic of George Nader on 12, uncredited text on 13).
      Mitchell: as I suggested, you ought to read this - and if possible, comment on it; Wednesday (tomorrow) would be just dandy ...

    2. Well, my thought was that when McCleery mentioned he'd never read any of the Queen stories, that was a problem right there; I read that section to my wife, who couldn't understand how you could do right by Queen without having read any of them. I was also a little suspect regarding his comment that only four of the novels could be used. Since when has television been put off by the fact that something's already been done?

      I wonder how Nader did in the role? That picture doesn't exactly look like something out of an Ellery Queen story, but I could be wrong...

    3. Since you asked ...

      Quoting Albert McCleery: "That I had never read any of the Queen stories was unimportant. Of all the Queen material, we can only use four of the stories.*
      Most of Ellery has been done before.** The rest isn't suitable.*** "

      *In fact, McCleery used six of Queen's novels, all in the first (Nader) half of the season; the rest were cribbed from other mystery novelists of the time.
      ** "Most of Ellery" was mainly done in B-movies (with Ralph Bellamy and William Gargan) and on a long-running radio show, which had the gimmick of having a celebrity guest come on at the finish and try to solve the case.
      Also there was the earlier live TV version, followed by a film version, both of which dispensed with the guest gimmick.
      *** "The rest isn't suitable ..." was McCleery's way of setting his EQ as being a "serious" show; I'd make the guess that he wouldn't have approved of Jim Hutton's breach of the fourth wall (but I guess we'll never know, will we?)

      -What kind of Ellery did George Nader make?
      Since the shows were lost long ago, we'll never know.
      Mike Nevins, who knows more about Ellery Queen than anybody else alive, saw this show when he was a kid; he didn't care for Nader, considering him too much of a pretty boy.
      Mike liked Lee Philips a little better, more mature in his playing, but felt let down by the scripting.
      Point of interest: the final episode, "This Murder Comes To You Live", was an original script by Ben Hecht - I believe it's the only teleplay that storied gentleman ever wrote.
      ... and the only time that Ben Hecht ever acted on TV (he cast himself as the murder victim); this is one that many of us would give a great deal to see today, but the taped shows are all lost along with the live ones, so there too ...

      - Side Note:
      The other night, I took a look at Don't Look Behind You, the Peter Lawford pilot from 1971.
      William Link and Richard Levinson wrote this one, which they sold to Universal TV; they then took a vacation with their wives - and returned to find that the studio producer had made a number of changes, such as casting the British Lawford as Ellery, which in its turn necessitated making Inspector Queen (Harry Morgan) into a hostile American uncle.
      The screenplay was based on Cat Of Many Tails generally considered to be one of the best (and most complex) EQ novels.
      When the Universal producer rewrote the script to take out the complexity, Link and Levinson took their names off the project; "Ted Leighton" was their registered pseudonym, derived from their respective middle names.
      Fast-forward to 1975: Link & Levinson, with some Columbo credit stocked up, were allowed to produce their own EQ pilot: this was the Hutton-Wayne show, and the rest you know.

      More Than You Wanted To Know will return!


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!