January 30, 2021

This week in TV Guide: January 29, 1966

I'm generally not one to make hay of other people's misfortunes—at least not most of the time—but there's a line in Robert De Roos' cover story profile of Pat Crowley that shouts out for contextualization.

The actress, currently starring with Mark Miller in NBC's Please Don't Eat the Daisies, is talking about her marriage to attorney Ed Hookstratten. De Roos asks her if the marriage, now eight years long, will last now that she's working on a weekly series. "It sure is," she tells him. "We are Catholics and there is a little solidity there."

That sounded like such a refreshing attitude to me that I immediately went to Google, only to find that the Hookstrattens had divorced sometime in the 70s or 80sCrowley remarried in 1986, to producer Andy Friendly.*

*Fun fact: Andy Friendly's father is legendary TV newsman Fred Friendly; his brother, David Friendly, was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 as producer of Little Miss Sunshine.

I hasten to say here that I have no knowledge of why Crowley and Hookstratten divorced*, and I don't want to play either a pop psychologist, a pop marriage counselor, or a pop theologian. After all, I haven't stayed at a Holiday Inn Express lately. But one of the many tragedies of the Catholic Church in the latter half of the 20th Century—particularly the post-Vatican II turmoil, which reached a peak in 1968 with Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae—is the breakdown of basic Catholic beliefs. By the late '60s, Catholic doctrine had become a smorgasbord; if you didn't like what one priest had to say on birth control, for example, you could shop around and find a priest who would readily sanction it. Similar situations existed for everything from premarital sex to divorce and remarriage to a whole host of previous elements of Catholic teaching that had rarely been questioned. Inevitably, this kind of confusion among the faithful led many to doubt the Church's sincerity, authority, what have you. Bottom line: no solidity.

*Hookstratten, Elvis Presley's personal attorney, represented The King in his divorce from Priscilla, which certainly suggests mixed feelings regarding divorce.
Again, I have no reason to think that this might have had any role to play in Pat Crowley's divorce from Ed Hookstratten. But I do think it's part of this blog's narrative to fit these kinds of things into the larger cultural environment. The 1960s were already a period of flux by now, and they were headed toward even more cataclysmic change. (Of course, considering the utter chaos of the Church today, the '60s look like a model of stability by comparison.) Understanding the climate of the times (even though the insufficient space here hardly scratches the surface) puts little moments like this into some sense of context. It even adds, I think, a note of poignancy. 

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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: Scheduled guests: Dinah Shore; puppet Topo Gigio; comic Jackie Vernon; the rock'n' rolling Four Tops; Les Feux Follets, Canadian folk dancers; guitarist José Feliciano; comic Dick Capri; Markworth and Mayana, trick bow-and-arrow act; and Army sergeant Barry Sadler, who sings "The Ballad of the Green Berets."  In a special film segment, Sir Laurence Olivier is seen in excerpts from his film of Shakespeare's Othello.
Palace: Host Arthur Godfrey presents comedian Sid Caesar; singer Abbe Lane; The Mamas and the Papas, rock 'n' roll group; comic Corbett Monica; the Berosinis, Czechoslovakian acrobats; and Les Apollos, balancing act.

Now, it's true that nothing could be finer than Dinah, and you can't beat Olivier doing Shakespeare (nor the beat of "The Ballad of the Green Berets"), but it's offset by The Old Readhead and and Sid Caesar, with a little help from Abbe Lane. I almost went with the Palace, but this time the only fair decision is to call it a Push.

Now, as sometimes occurs, it just so happens that we have access to another Palace episode in this week's issue; if you lived in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and were so inclined to tune to WKBT, Channel 8 (the NBC affiliate, but Western Wisconsin lacked an ABC affiliate at the time), you would have been able to catch last week's episode of Palace at 10:30 p.m. CT on Tuesday night. Fred Astaire hosts this night at the Palace making a rare TV appearance with dancer Barrie Chase. Guests include Mickey Rooney and his nightclub partner Bobby Van; British singer Petula Clark; the Nitwits, musical cutups; the Lenz Chimps; and comedian Ray Hastings.

Yes. It definitely does make for a better show. See?

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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 shows of the era. 

Mister Roberts started out life as a book, became an enormously successful Broadway play and movie, and has now made it to the small screen in a weekly series of its own on NBC. And Cleveland Amory has a suggestion for you: if you liked the book, play or movie, do not under any circumstances watch the series. "In fact you're probably better off not even reading this—it will just make you mad."

Mister Roberts—book, play, movie and series—tells the story of the men onboard the USS Reluctant, a naval cargo ship, during World War II. True, the ship performs a vital function, but it is far from the battle, and the executive officer, Doug Roberts, itches to see action—however, to his dismay, his transfer requests are never approved. All well and good, and one would think this, combined with the popularity of the various versions, would make for a decent series. One vital ingredient missing is, of course, the star; and in both the play and the movie, that star was Henry Fonda, and while the absense of Henry does not make the heart grow fonda*, even with 77 Sunset Strip's Roger Smith in the title role, Cleve acknowledges that the likeable Smith does grow on you. And Steve Harmon, who plays Ensign Pulver, has pretty big shoes to fill, (David Wayne on Broadway, Oscar winner Jack Lemmon in the movie) as does Richard X. Slattery, who takes over from James Cagney as Captain. But Harmon does well, and Slattery is at least equally funny. 

*I'll bet you thought Amory came up with that one, but no—I take the credit or the blame for it myself.

No, the cast isn't the problem here; there's more to it than that, something elemental about the story itself, as Amory shrewdly understands. The strength of the original story lies in the fact that these men are in war but not at war; they're apparently condemned, for the duration, to suffocating boredom, "all of the frustration and none of the action; all of the tensions and none of the release." Men with nothing else to do create their own dramas, and the ensuing interactions within that shipboard family—the incident of the captain's palm tree being the most famous—mean nothing without the attendant boredom as the backdrop. "And it was there—in the book, in the two-and-a-half hour play, in the two-hour movie. In the TV show it is not there. An hour's show might have had a chance. This half-hour job has none."

Recent episodes have given Amory hope that the producers might have figured out, if not the solution to their problems, at least a way to make them more bearable. It isn't the real Mister Roberts, Cleve notes, "but then, these days what is?"

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In the early days of this blog, I did a piece on the short-lived Sammy Davis, Jr. Show, which featured the oddity of its star having to sit out nearly a month's worth of shows immediately following the premiere, due to a no-compete clause. Seems that Sammy had done a special for ABC, and the terms of that contract prohibited him from appearing on any other network for the three weeks immediately preceding the show. The Sammy Davis, Jr. show was on NBC. You can, of course, see the problems coming a mile away.

Well, this is the week that Sammy and His Friends, the ABC special in question, airs, and he hangs out with a pretty cool bunch of people: Frank Sinatra, Count Basie, Edie Adams and Joey Heatherton. It's on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m., up against Red Skelton on CBS (with guests George Gobel and The Hollies) and Dr. Kildare on NBC.* As for Sammy's own show, it airs its fourth episode on Friday night, the third to feature a guest host—this week it's Sammy's old friend Jerry Lewis, who welcomes Peggy Lee, the comic Weire Brothers, singer Danny Costello, and The Skylarks. Debuting your own show and then having to follow it up with three weeks' worth of guest hosts doesn't seem to me to be a successful formula, but to each its own. I said it before and I'll say it again here: what a strange, strange situation.

*I wonder how NBC felt about all this? On the one hand, a ratings win for Sammy could bode well for the ratings of his NBC series; on the other, the network  probably wanted to see Kildare beat Red Skelton. Should such an absurd thing happen nowadays, I wonder if the network would consider airing a Kildare rerun in order to preserve its Davis investment?

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Sammy's show probably didn't stand much of a chance anyway; it's opposition was Hogan's Heroes and Gomer Pyle on CBS, The Addams Family and Honey West on ABC. But later on that Friday night, we'll see another oddity: Garry Moore on a network other than CBS.

Moore had been a fixture on the network since his radio show debuted in 1949; from 1950 on he'd had both morning and evening variety programs, as well as his long-running emcee duties on I've Got a Secret. But Moore's prime-time show had been cancelled by the network in 1964, after which he'd left Secret and the network. Now, a year and a half later, Moore's ready to come back. There's only one problem: CBS, to whom he's still under contract, doesn't want him. Or, to be precise, they don't want what he has to offer.

Moore acknowledges that the variety format he'd been so successful with has seen better days, and he's ready for something new and different. He thought he'd found the answer when CBS news chief Fred Friendly approached him about working on some public affairs programs, but the network's policy forbade entertainers from working in news or public affairs. In later years, Moore will talk with TV Guide about his desire to move into news and "people" programming, even becoming a news reporter, and his immense frustration at CBS's reluctance to see him in that light. You can see the seeds of that disappointment here, as Moore chafes at being paid "to sit around and do nothing." His exclusive contract with CBS, which prevents him from doing a series for any other network and requires him to give CBS first refusal on any one-shot special, still has nine years to run. He's asked the network to release him from the contract, but they refuse to do so. His only recourse is to sue, an option he says he'd consider.

In the meantime, an agency came up with an idea right up Moore's alley—Garry Moore's People Poll, a special in which he gets to travel around the country interviewing ordinary people and asking them basic questions: Do you kiss your wife when you get up in the morning? Are you stricter than your own parents? Are you satisfied with your life—and what changes would you make if you could start over? Things like that. Per the provisions of the contract, the show is first offered to CBS, which turns it down. So he turned elsewhere. "We were delighted," Moore says, "to find a more flexible policy at ABC." It airs Friday at 9:00 p.m.

Earlier in the article, Moore mentions a project he and Jay Ward are working on for CBS, a comedy-variety program. It debuts in the fall, and is quickly wiped out by Bonanza. Moore will eventually come back to regular television as host of the syndicated To Tell the Truth (with CBS's approval) in 1969, and will host it until 1977, after which, suffering from throat cancer, he'll retire for good, dying in 1993. It is, really, kind of a sad story for a man who was once one of the biggest stars on television.

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There are still a few days we haven't looked at yet, so let's get to it. Sir John Gielgud stars in part two of Ages of Man (CBS, Sunday, 3:30 p.m.), in which he gives dramatic readings from Shakespeare's works. CBS split the original two-hour version of Gielgud's one-man Broadway show into two parts and broadcast them on Sunday afternoons, presumably because they worried viewers wouldn't be able to sit still long enough to listen to a longer show, and wouldn't tune in if it were on prime-time. At least they showed it at all; I doubt they would today. 

Andy Williams and Friend.
Monday night it's the Golden Globe Awards, presented on The Andy Williams Show (NBC, 8:00 p.m.) and hosted by Andy himself. The Golden Globes have always had something of a checkered past, with a longstanding reputation for awarding performances based on suspicious criteria. (See: Pia Zadora.) At this point very few nominees appeared for the show, and those who did were invariably the winners, which led more than one person to suspect that the only way to induce stars to show up was to promise they would win; in 1968, the FCC ruled that this practice constituted "mis[leading] the public as to how the winners were determined," which in turn led NBC to drop coverage of the show until 1975.

Wednesday, Eddie Albert does double duty; on his own Green Acres (CBS. 8:00 p.m.), he falls through the roof while attempting to put up a TV antenna; I hate to see anyone injured while trying to promote television. Then, after a half-hour break for The Dick Van Dyke Show, Albert returns as a guest on The Danny Kaye Show (9:00 p.m., CBS), where he's joined by singer Morgana King. If that doesn't do it for you, switch to Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater (NBC, 8:00 p.m.), as Jane Wyman makes a rare network TV appearance in "When Hell Froze," a drama that co-stars Leslie Nielsen and Martin Milner. 
And on Thursday night, NBC's Hallmark Hall of Fame presents a rerun of "The Magnificent Yankee" (7:30 p.m.), a biography of the Washington years of Supreme Count justice Oliver Wendell Holmes starring the husband-and-wife team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, two of the greats of the theater. "The Magnificent Yankee" won five Emmy awards when it was originally broadcast in 1965, including Best Actor (Lunt), Best Actress (Fontanne) and Best Drama. (As you can see, this is back when Hallmark cared enough to show the very best.) It also features Eduard Franz, Robert Emhardt and James Daly. 

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John Schneider, president of CBS, had this to say at the recent convention of the Association of National Advertisers:

By 1975 virtually every television home in the United States will be capable of receiving programming from six times as many sources as today!. . .

By 1975 it looks as if three out of four homes will own at least two sets. . . No longer will every member of the family be forced to look at the same program.  Viewing will become fractionalized and selective. . . 

The teen-ager, the intellectual, the tired businessman, the housewife - each will be able to tune in the particular kind of entertainment, information, music or discussion that suits his or her respective desires.

Now, I don't know how things were by 1975, but his predictions become very interesting when viewed in light of today's cultural norms. For example, every home today has at least six times as many programming sources, but Schneider couldn't have anticipated how they would shake out. Anyone can stream video on devices from laptops and tablets to iPhones; they can subscribe to services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Disney+ and HBO Max that allow them to catch original programming as well as classics; they can binge-watch an entire season of a series over a weekend if they want, or watch their favorites whenever they choose; they can even utilize old school medial like DVDs. Cord-cutting has become commonplace, and cable subscriptions continue to plummet. 

But even more, technology has forever changed the impact of television viewing. Because people can watch whatever they want whenever they want, the shared experience of watching television has virtually disappeared, except for the Super Bowl. Schneider did indeed foresee this kind of individual viewing, with the concurrent result that programs no longer had to appeal to a broad audience, but could he have predicted the kind of Balkanization that resulted?

In "As We See It," TV Guide wonders about this vision of the future. The author (probably Merrill Panitt) looks at the current state of television in Los Angeles, where numerous multi-TV homes and ten stations have merely produced programming "given over to hundreds of old movies and old TV series." And isn't that what we have today? I've made this complaint before so I won't belabor the point, but who can tell TNT from TBS from USA from FX from Bravo from Sundance from Hallmark? What's the difference between A&E and History and TLC and Discovery?

Reality programming of one kind or another dominates networks as diverse as E! and HGTV MTV is all about lifestyle, and news networks spend their time on opinionated shoutfests geared toward satisfying their particular ideological niche. Cultural programming, which used to be seen at least occasionally on some of these networks, is all but gone. And overnight hours (on both cable and OTA stations) is dominated by informercials and replays of previously broadcast shows. Is this really what the future was supposed to give us?

Panitt compares Schneider's view of TV's future to the state of radio in 1966, "which long since has become fractionalized (several sets per home) and selective (there's a choice of many stations everywhere). In most areas these days, once you've heard the news, radio offers records, talking disc jockeys and very little else." Is TV today any more diverse than that?

TV Guide's conclusion is this: "Improvement and variety in programming will not just happen in television any more than they happened in radio. There must be planning. There must be direction. So far we have neither." I'll end by asking the question: is there any evidence that television executives are doing any planning today? Or are they simply waiting for things to happen? TV  

January 29, 2021

Around the dial

This picture is an anachronism, but why? Is it because we see a family watching television together, or is it because people are watching baseball on television? Only AC Nielsen knows for sure. One thing I am sure about, though, is that there's plenty here worth reading.

We'll start with bare-bones e-zine and part three of Jack's look at the Hitchcock scripts of William Fay. This week, it's the fourth season comedy "Safety for the Witness," adapted from a story by John De Meyer, and starring Art Carney. Does the adaptation work? Read and find out.

Some class acts passed away this week. The great Cloris Leachman, who stared in movies and television and excelled in both, died at 94; The Last Drive-In has a pictoral look back at some of her best-known roles. 

Meanwhile, at A Shroud of Thoughts, Terence has a couple of typically thoughtful retrospectives: first, on Bruce Kirby (father of Bruno), age 95, who was a familiar face on television for decades, and who's probably best-remembered as Sergeant Kramer, a recurring character on Columbo. And then, for people of my generation, there's Mr. Allakazam himself, the magician Mark Wilson, who died at 91. I still can't figure out how to produce a quarter from behind a small child's ear, by the way.

At The Hits Just Keep On Comin', JB takes a moment to look back at other icons of the 1950s who've passed on this month, Jimmie Rodgers and Phil Spector, and what they meant to the times. I don't think we're on a death kick here, by the way; I look at it as a chance to fondly appreciate the careers of great artists.

On the radio side, Once Upon a Screen looks at the radio career of Alan Ladd, an actor whose movies I've always enjoyed. I'm a relative newcomer to his radio apparances, but it can't surprise you that he was talented here, too.

And over at Classic Film & TV Cafe, it's time for the "film" part of the title, as Rick looks at the five best inspirational sports movies, inspirational being the key word here. With that as the criteria, I have no arguments with his list, which brings out everything we love about sports. That's a list that ought to be able to take you to tomorrow's TV Guide. TV  

January 27, 2021

Harry Reasoner and the meaning of living

Harry Reasoner was one of the finest television journalists and commentators from the 1960s through the 1980s. He was a mainstay at CBS, where he backed up Walter Cronkite for years, was one of the founding hosts of 60 Minutes, helmed news specials written in conjunction with Andy Rooney, and was known for his droll observations on life, the universe, and everything. (To coin a phrase.) In the 1970s he moved to ABC, where he anchored the evening news with Howard K. Smith and, later, Barbara Walters, before he returned to CBS to end his career. (He also grew up in Minneapolis and started his journalism career here, which doesn't hurt.) 

I always admired Reasoner's use of language and his astute insight into human nature. He had the ability to communicate a story to viewers with eloquence, warmth and humanity; kind of a combination of the gravitas of Chet Huntley and the wit of David Brinkley. Of his many quotes, one that's always stayed with me is a comment from essay he did on—well, not exactly the meaning of life, but the meaning of living. Reasoner himself had engaged in a long battle with both cigarettes and booze, refusing to give either of them up despite the effects on both his health and his career, and while the essay wasn't about him, it did reflect his outlook on things, the feeling that living just for the purpose of checking days off of the calendar wasn't really living at all. Here, he expresses a philosophy that ought to give one pause, especially in these days.

I think those are words to live by—and I do mean live—don't you? I wonder what Harry would think of our outlook on things today? TV  

January 25, 2021

What's on TV? Thursday, January 27, 1955

We've looked at TV Guides from New York City before, but I don't think we've ever gone this far back in time, and it's a pleasure to look at all the familiar names on local broadcasts: news from Robert Trout and Ron Cochran, sports from Chris Schenkel and Jim McKay, Steve Allen with his local program prior to the start of the national Tonight Show broadcast, Dancetime with Allen Ludden. It's also nice to see DuMont as a living network; this marks the last season in which the network would broadcast seven nights a week, although many of its programs would be cancelled in the spring as the network crumbled. Good thing most of their affiliates have agreements with other networks!

January 23, 2021

This week in TV Guide: January 22, 1955

We might as well get it out of the way right now, because you're not going to be able to concentrate on anything until you know the answer to the question: what makes Ed Sullivan laugh?

It's a fair question: after all, for six years, Ed's hosted the biggest names in show business, including a good number of comedians. And yet, as this week's unbylined article puts it, "despite his success, Sullivan continued for many years to act as if freshly stunned." "I think I'm getting better," Ed says when asked about his on-stage persona. "At least I haven't been getting any more letters teling me to get off my own program." He acknowledges that the knocks he got from the critics hurt, and in response he determined that he'd put himself in the background, allowing the guests to be the focus of the show.

He also launched an effort to "humanize" himself with viewers; for instance, he stopped looking straight at the camera, advice he'd received before the show began. He followed that by turning himself into the target of barbs from his guests; he hired Pat Flick to heckle him from the audience, calling calling Ed "Mr. Soloman"; encouraged insults from the likes of Joe E. Lewis' ("Ed is the one man in the world who can beautify a room by leaving it.") and Jack Howard (Ed was once "a greeter at Forest Lawn cemetery."); and invited Frank Fontaine and Will Jordan to do their exaggerated impersonations of him. 

Off-camera, Sullivan is easygoing and relaxed, and while he feels he's made progress in his humanization project, he seems philosophical about the whole thing. "By this time," he says, "people would think there was something wrong if I suddenly began standing and moving like somebody else." 

So in answer to the question of what makes Ed Sullivan laugh, I guess the answer is: jokes about Ed Sullivan. And that's the mark of a secure man.

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Among the week's highlights is NBC Opera Theater's two-hour, English-language production of Tosca (Sunday, 2:00 p.m.), with Leontyne Price in the title role. The cast list and synopsis takes up an entire column, a long description even during a time in which TV Guide provided fairly extensive program narratives.

It is a landmark moment for Price, who, with this performance, becomes the first black singer in a leading role on Opera Theater. As critic Diane Brooks writes, NBC had, for several years been successfully practicing what they called "integration without identification"—that is, utilizing racially diverse casts without calling attention to it. Once Price had been cast in the role, however, the network "decided to make her ethnicity a central feature in order to project an international vision of America as a land of opportunity and inclusivity." It was not only a victory for Price and the nacent civil rights movement, it also served as a response to international Cold War criticism of America's racial policies.

The broadcast won great critical acclaim; Olin Downes, the music critic for The New York Times, called it "the most dramatic and convincing performance by this organization that this writer has seen." Not surprisingly, it also created controversy, as several Southern affiliates refused to carry the Tosca broadcast due to Price's apperance, while "white viewers’ letters of outrage and protest began to stream into NBC headquarters." The network responded with an official statement that ability—period—was "the only measure by which roles would be cast."

Price would go on to appear in three additional productions of NBC Opera Theater, and those performances helped transform her into a household name; she debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 1960, and by her retirement in 1985, she was acclaimed as one of the greatest opera singers of all time—not because she was black, any more than Maria Callas was acclaimed because she was white. No, it was because Leontyne Price was, quite simply, one of the greatest opera singers of all time.

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And now for a little industry gossip.

Sheilah Graham reports that Mary Martin has been offered a cool $400,000 (2021 equivalent: $3.88 million) to do her Broadway hit Peter Pan live and in color on NBC around Easter time. Bob Stahl adds that if the deal comes together, the show will probably be broadcast from the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway, where the play is currently running, because "no TV studio is rigged to permit Peter's flying scenes." NBC must have come up with the money; the show airs on March 7, 1955 on Producers' Showcase, attracting a then-record audience of 65 million viewers. I'd say that was a pretty good investment.

Staying with the Peacock, Dan Jenkins notes that NBC has paid the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and Sciences $1.3 million in order to televise the next six Academy Awards ceremonies. This could pose a problem, Sheilah Graham says, because Bing Crosby's "astronomical salary" for two broadcasts on CBS next year includes a rider that prevents him from guest shots on other networks. What happens, Graham puckishly asks, if Der Bingle wins an Oscar on NBC this year for The Country Girl? In the end, Crosby loses out in an upset to Marlon Brando for On the Waterfront, so I guess he gets to keep all the loot.

Jenkins also notes that Humphrey Bogart won't be appearing in The Petrified Forest on CBS after all. It's not that Bogart quit the production; after all, it was the role, first on Broadway and then in the movies, that made him a star. No, it's the production itself that quit—turns out that the television rights to the production are owned by NBC, so Bogie will have to do something else for CBS to earn his $25,000. Not to worry, though; since NBC already owns the rights, they decide they might as well have Bogart too; it airs on the ubiquitous Producers' Showcase later in 1955; Bogart's co-stjars are Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall. 

Wait a minute—I just thought of something. NBC thinks Mary Martin is worth $400,000 while CBS only pays Humphrey Bogart a measly 25 grand? Isn't there supposed to be a glass ceiling for that kind of thing?

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If you know me, first of all, you have my sympathy. Second, you probably know that, for a variety of reasons, Sunday night is my least favorite night of the week. However, this week, it's also one of the most interesting nights in the issue. Who couldn't relax with Mystery Night on WPIX? It starts at 7:30 p.m. with Dateline Europe, an espionage drama that ran for four seasons under the original title of Foreign Intrigue, and is notable for being the first American-made filmed series to be broadcast on Canadian television. There were three leads in the four seasons, and just as many alternate titles; Dateline Europe features Jerome Thor, while the third season, later known as Overseas Adventures, stars James Daly, and the final season (Cross Current) has Gerald Mohr. 

That's followed at 8:00 p.m. by Inspector Mark Saber, with Tom Conway as a British detective working in an American homicide unit—or, as it's also known, the reverse-McCloud gambit. The Mark Saber character offers some complications of its own, though perhaps not as convoluted as Dateline Europe. The orignial Saber series, with Conway, ran from 1951 to 1954. Then, in 1955, the producers of a mystery series called The Vise decided to reboot it, with Saber, now played as a one-armed private detective*, played by Donald Gray. (In case you're wondering, Gray was an amputee.) The series ran for two seasons on ABC before moving to NBC, where it was retitled Saber of London, and stayed there until 1960. In syndication, it was also known as Detective's Diary and Uncovered, and we have Brooks and Marsh to thank for keeping this all straight. 

*Wouldn't it have been funny if Richard Kimble had hired him to find his wife's killer? After all, who better to find a one-armed man than a one-armed detective?

The rest of the night is more straightforward. At 8:30 p.m. movie tough-guy stars as a police lieutenant in I'm the Law, followed by Follow that Man (aka Man Against Crime) with Ralph Bellamy at 9:00, and for the finale it's Rod Cameron in City Detective—and, as we saw last week, it's not the series that's complicated in this case, but the star's personal life.

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The local stations in New York City often had a lot of talent in the news department, and the neat thing about these NYC TV Guides is that you get a chance to see some of them before they hit the big time with the networks. On the left, for example, is Ron Cochran, and before he became the anchor of the ABC Evening Report, he was on News of the Night on WCBS. In between those two gigs, he spent a year as host of CBS's Armstrong Circle Theatre

Some assorted odds and ends for your consideration, starting Monday night, as Studio One takes a foray into science fiction with "It Might Happen Tomorrow," starring Barry Sullivan, Tony Franciosa, Bert Freed and Dana Wynter, and penned by Carey Wilber, the author of the sci-fi serial Captain Video (10:00 p.m., CBS). On Tuesday, it's "New York's top-rated TV program, WOR's Million Dollar Movie. Tonight's premiere is Let's Live a Little, with Hedy Lamarr and Bob Cummings; you can see it tonight and every night this week at 7:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. 

The week continues with Wednesday night's Disneyland (7:30 p.m., ABC), with starring Fess Parker in "Davy Crockett Goes to Congress," part two of the three-part look at the legendary frontiersman. Hopefully, Davy finds a better class of people in Washington than the crowd hanging out there now.  Thursday night is college basketball on WPIX (9:00 p.m.), but I don't think even ESPN+ could be talked into showing a game between the U.S Merchant Marine Academy and King's College, from King's Point, Pennsylvania.* Friday ends the week with the WATV late-night movie, Repeat Performance (11:00 p.m.); "A glamorous stage star murders her husband on New Year's Eve, then wishes she could relive the year just ended." It's a great idea for a movie about 2020, said nobody ever. 

*Honorable mention for Thursday night goes to Dragnet (9:00 p.m., NBC) and whoever wrote this droll description: "Sgt. Joe Friday and his well-fed partner, Frank Smith, are sent out to obtain evidence against the television repair racket."

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Who among us couldn't use some help deciding where to put our TV? Considering the size of today's screens, you might not have much choice: whichever wall it fits on. But what if you're thinking of upsizing your 10-inch set to 21, or even 27 inches? Talk about a tough decision! Thank the stars for interior decorator Mary Dorr, host of the At Home show on WFIL in Philadelphia, who's here to set us straight.

It's true, Mary writes, that "[i]n many homes, even now, housewives have not given sufficient thought to fitting the TV set into the decor of their rooms." That's why her first suggestion is also the most important one: no matter in which room you put your set, it "can and should be decorated around the set. Furniture should be arranged so that the room is completely in accord with its main purpose, 'living.'" At the same time, your furniture should be positioned to make conversation easy when the TV isn't on. And you shouldn't have to wind up having to turn down the lights or turning up the sound in order to enjoy your programs.

We all know that size matters, but how do you determine what size screen is right for you? A good rule of thumb, according to Dorr, is that "the distance between your chair and your TV set should be eight times the height of the TV screen. In other words, you'll need to sit about nine feet away from a 21-inch set, where the screen is about 13½ inches high; a 27-inch set requires about 12 feet. Now, our own television has a modest 40-inch screen, which means that as we speak, I should be sitting about 13 feet from the TV; but in reality, I'm really only about nine feet away, or as far away as I would have been sitting from a 21-inch set. And since the picture is in HD, I should probably be able to sit even farther away. Instead, I think about getting an even larger TV. Go figure.

Finally, Dorr cautions, your family and friends "cannot look up or down at a TV screen indefinitely in comfort." This is absolutely true; I can't tell you how unfomfortable it is sitting in front of the TV while simultaneously holding my head in my hands. TV  

January 22, 2021

Around the dial

h, but that picture brings back memories, in the days when you could go to a store that specialized in selling televisions, rather than buying from a big box electronics store. They called them "showrooms" back then, and for someone like me it was the next best thing to being in Santaland at Christmastime. It's a short but sweet list of links this week, all of them with something worth pondering, but you won't get the chance unless you read them. Therefore, I'll just get out of the way.

A while back, I mentioned an episode of Love That Bob in which Bob Cummings has a crossover appearance with George Burns; well, that episode, "Bob Meets the Mortons," is Hal's latest at The Horn Section. See what he thinks, because Hal knows Bob.

One of the shows I run across frequently in TV Guides of the mid-60s is Please Don't Eat the Daisies, with Pat Crowley and Mark Miller. Despite an impressive pedigree, though, the show never really worked, and David looks at some of the reasons why at Comfort TV.

At Garroway at Large, Jodie recalls Garroway and his Today crew as they braved the snow and cold in Washington D.C. to cover the 1961 Inauguration of John F. Kennedy. Even though I wasn't even one year old when it happened, I still have trouble believing that was 60 years ago. Or perhaps it's the fact that I'm that old that I have trouble believing.

Peter Mark Richman, who died last week at the ripe old age of 93, was a familiar face on classic television; he also starred in his own series, the single-season Cain's Hundred. Terence has a comprehensive review of his career at A Shroud of Thoughts.

Tomorrow's TV Guide review will be much longer, I promise. Of course, that may or may not be a good thing; your mileage may vary. TV  

January 20, 2021

The Descent Into Hell: 1984 (1953, 1954)

Eddie Albert comes face to face with Big Brother in 1984 (1953).

In  Christian theology, the "descent into Hell," as enumerated in the Apostle's Creed, refers to the time between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, when Christ descends to the realm of the dead, bringing salvation to the righteous who had died since the begining of the world. The Church believes this to be a triumphant occasion, the victory over death and liberation of those souls destined to reside in Heaven.

There are many kinds of Hell, other than the theological kind. There's Hell on earth, a Hell often of our own making, and when you descend into this kind of Hell, it's not so easy to see it as triumphant. There's one thing that all these versions of Hell have in common, though, and that's the loss of freedom, the enslavement of the soul, the stench of death. We are, I think, engaged in such a descent now; I say "engaged," because I don't think we've hit bottom yet, not even close—if, in fact, there even is a bottom. It is the Hell of totalitarianism, a Hell that has, over the years, played itself out many times on television. The relationship between television and totalitarian dystopia is, I think, an interesting and ironic one; it could be said that television both sheds light on and perpetuates totalitarianism, at least in its modern incarnation. 

And so it seems particularly appropriate today that we begin an extended look at this particular descent into Hell by returning to Apocalypse Theater for one of literature's most famous stories, one that spawned two television adaptations within five years of its publication: 1984.

George Orwell wrote 1984 (or Nineteen Eighty-Four, if you prefer) in 1948, and for those of you into numerology, it might be interesting to ponder that it was 36 years between 1948 and 1984, and 36 years between 1984 and 2020. Then again, it might not be; I suppose it depends on your outlook.

Orwell's world is one that's become familiar in both literary and political history, a world built on  censorship, government surveillance, mutual suspicion, and the suppression of any forms of dissent, populated by agencies with names like the Ministry of Truth, which controls the distribution of information and makes appropriate "adjustments" to the historical record so that they conform to the latest pronouncements of the government; and the Ministry of Love, home of the infamous Thought Police, charged with the arrest and "rehabilitation" of those who practice dissent against the government. Orwell's concepts entered the lexicon almost from the very beginning, concepts such as Big Brother, the Two Minute Hate, Thought-Crimes, Doublethink, and—perhaps the most famous and most sinister of them all—Newspeak. You know the highlights; War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength, 2+2=5. To paraphrase that great philosopher Chico Marx, "Who ya gonna believe: Big Brother or your own eyes?" 

The first visual adaptation* of 1984 came just four years after its 1949 publication, and perhaps tellingly, it was made not for the movie theater, but for television. It aired on September 21, 1953 (the height of the McCarthy era), as part of CBS's Studio One, in a production written by WilliamTempleton, directed by series mainstay Paul Nickell and with a cast that included Eddie Albert (above) as the protagonist, civil servant Winston Smith; Norma Crane as Julia, his colleage and forbidden lover; and Lorne Greene as O'Brien, the underground member who turns out to be an agent of the Thought Police. The Studio One production dramatically condensed Orwell's story to about 50 minutes, typical of most hour-long shows of the day. Although today's reviewers are mostly critical of the show (especially in comparison to subsequent productions), contemporary reviews were more favorable. The New York Times praised Albert's performance and called the overall production "a masterly adaptation that depicted with power, poignancy and terrifying beauty the end result of thought control—the disintegration of the human mind and soul." 

*The very first adaptation was on radio in 1949 (they didn't waste any time, did they?), broadcast on NBC University Theater, starring David Niven as Smith.

It took only one year for another television version of 1984 to appear, this time on the BBC, and this adaptation won far more critical praise, both then and now. It was written by Nigel Kneale, who the year before had created the much-loved sci-fi classic, The Quatermass Experiment and was produced and directed by Rudolph Cartier, one of the BBC's best. Winston Smith was played in this version by a very young Peter Cushing, with Yvonne Mitchell as Julia, André Morell as O'Brien, and Donald Pleasance as Syme, the creator of Newspeak, who eventually becomes an Unperson.

At nearly two hours, or twice the length of the American version, this 1984 was a much more detailed adaptation of Orwell's work. It also created no little stir, with many viewers calling to complain about the show's "subversive nature and horrific content," and a number of protests in Parliament. Other MPs, however, rushed to the show's defense, pointing out that "many of the inhuman practices depicted in the play" were "already in common use under totalitarian régimes." The Queen and Prince Philip weighed in, letting it be known that they had watched the broadcast, and had "enjoyed" it. Thus emboldened, the BBC staged a second live broadcast four days later, and it is this rebroadcast that has been preserved on video.

The fact is, any adaptation of 1984 should feel subversive and horrific, because it is. As brutal as the world of 1984 is, though, there's an even darker thought behind it, for as essayist Scott Bradfield has pointed out, "For Orwell, the horror of totalitarianism was not that someone would impose it on you, but rather that you might be all-too-prepared to submit." Or, as Benjamin Franklin put it, those who would trade privacy for a bit of security deserve neither privacy nor security. We can quibble about what Franklin really meant (the quote actually comes from a debate over taxation), but one of the great attributes about being a genius is the ability to synthesize a thought, even if it isn't the thought you were thinking of at the time. 

I find it interesting that there hasn't been an adaptation of 1984 since 1965 ("The World of George Orwell: 1984", a second production of the 1954 BBC adaptation, which aired as part of a season of Orwell adaptations on the BBC program Theatre 625), when the Cold War was hot and the West was about to explode in an unrest that, in significant ways, continues to this day. Radio, yes; a big screen version (in 1984, of course), and movies that could be said to be in the spirit of Orwell. In fact, the last time television broached the subject was in the famous Super Bowl commercial by Apple, which might have been prescient in linking modern technology and a future 1984 society (though perhaps not in the way Apple intended). But then, as I said, the relationship between television and totalitarianism is a complex one. I don't know; maybe television has a reason for not revisiting it.

Orwell's attack on totalitarianism wasn't aimed solely at communism; 1984 takes many of its ideas from post-World War II Great Britain. Undoubtedly, one of the reasons for the book's eternal popularity is that both left and right can point to its contents as representing an existential threat to freedom and liberty. But since we're on the subject of chilling statements, try this one on for size. It comes from Orwell, in correspondence with, of all people, Sidney Sheldon, who had purchased the stage rights to 1984 from Orwell. In one letter, Orwell wrote that the book "was based chiefly on communism, because that is the dominant form of totalitarianism, but I was trying chiefly to imagine what communism would be like if it were firmly rooted in the English speaking countries, and was no longer a mere extension of the Russian Foreign Office."

That, my friends, is what we face today. It takes no great stretch to make the connections between Orwell's creation and our world today; if you glance at the headlines on any day of the week—Communist crackdown in China is "Beyond George Orwell’s Imaginings"—the parallels become clearer. And if you think that it can't happen here, in the land of the free and the home of the brave, you haven't been paying attention. 

So the next time someone—perhaps in the government or the media—tells you that Freedom is Slavery and Ignorance is Strength, remember the words of the prophet: "Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil: that put darkness for light, and light for darkness: that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." (Isaiah 5:20) And then ask yourself: when someone asks what two plus two equals, what will you answer? TV  

January 18, 2021

What's on TV? Friday, January 22, 1960

It's been a while since we looked at my old stomping grounds of Dallas, Texas, and while I haven't particularly missed being there, it is nice to revisit some of the old shows. I hadn't quite been born yet when this issue hit the newsstands, and yet some of the programs and personalities are as familiar to me as if I'd grown up with them. The Twilight Zone episode on KRLD is one of the series' most popular, "The Hitchhiker," with Inger Stevens in virtually a one-woman show. Charles Murphy, the newsman on WBAP, plays a role in the local coverage of the JFK assassination, and becomes a regular on ABC news coverage. Wes Wise, WFAA's sportscaster, was a local legend in the Metroplex. And don't forget Teen-Age Downbeat, the local answer to American Bandstand. It's not true that everything looks better in the sepia tones of the past, but it's nice to visit the ones that do.

January 16, 2021

This week in TV Guide: January 16, 1960

Cliff Arquette is one of those personalities whose name means different things to different people, depending on how old you are.

To a certain generation he'll be known, if at all, as the grandfather of actresses Rosanna (who wasn't really the inspiration for the song by Toto) and Patricia (who was nominated a few years ago for an Oscar for Boyhood). To my generation, he's "Charley Weaver," the beloved lower left square in The Hollywood Squares. And to the generation reading this week's TV Guide, he's the jolly host of The Charley Weaver Show on ABC.

The Weaver shtick started in the late '40s, and has been smoothly refined by now. In addition to his show, Arquette is the author of Charley Weaver's Letters From Mama, many of which he reads during one of his regular appearaces on Jack Paar's Tonight. His homespun humor is based on the goings-on in the fictional town of Mount Idy, and most of his jokes deserve some kind of rim shot.  ("Elsie Krack was just married so we all pitched in and gave her a shower. It took six of us to drag her into the bathroom.")

What's interesting about Charley Weaver, or Cliff Arquette, is how his career spans so many different times.  Like many television stars, he and his character came of age on radio. By the time of this issue of TV Guide, in the pre-JFK days of 1960, he was already well-established on television, yet his greatest fame probably came on Squares, on which he appeared until his death in 1974. He spanned the years from the static of network radio to the musty black-and-white days of this issue to the vivid color and double entendres of the '70s. Three different ages, three different worlds. And he was there for them all.

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Now, I know what you're thinking here: what in the name of Sherwood Schwartz is Mrs. Brady, aka Florence Henderson, doing as one of the hosts of NBC's Today, ostensibly a morning news program? Well, the answer to this question, as well as many others, lies in the phrase "Today Girl."

With Jack Lescoulie and Dave Garroway
As we've mentioned before, from the show's beginning until the mid '60s, the "Today Girl" (or "Woman's Editor," as they were originally called) had a specific role: to report on woman's issues (fashion, lifestyle), to give the weather, and to spar with the male host of the show (variously Dave Garroway, John Chancellor and Hugh Downs). None of the "Today Girls" were news reporters or, in fact, had much of a news background at all; they were either singers (Henderson, Helen O'Connell) or actresses (Estelle Parsons, Maureen O'Sullivan, Lee Meriwether and Betsy Palmer). Not to put to fine an edge on the point, but they were eye candy just as much as anything.

Barbara Walters was the final "Today Girl," joining the program in 1964 and being promoted to full-fledged co-host in 1966. According to Walters, the show's producers (and many in the television industry, to be honest) were concerned that "nobody would take a woman seriously reporting 'hard news.'" We can see that begin to change in the pages of TV Guide; anyone who's read the program listings from the early '60s has probably noticed ABC's Lisa Howard and Marlene Sanders as two pioneers in the news business, hosting five-minute afternoon updates. (By the way, the story of Lisa Howard, ABC's first female newscaster, is a fascinating one. You can read about it here.)

As for Florence's selection, it wasn't really all that hard a decision, says Dave Garroway. Following Betsy Palmer's departure, the show had been rotating different girls to sit on the panel for a week or so, but "It took me only about 20 minutes to know that Florence was just what we were seeking. She's more alive, more sensitive, with an indefinable quality of awareness. She has good taste and intelligence too." Since joining the team, her assignments have included reporting on fashion shows and interviews with authors, actors and other people in the news, duties that didn't some easily for her at first. (Why should a singer know how to interview Gore Vidal?) But, says Garroway, "we gave her hints on where she went wrong, and she straightened herself out." Her husband, Ira Bernstein, works as company manager for Paddy Chayefsky's new Broadway play, and with a two-year-old daughter at home, she doubts she would have taken the job if Today was still being broadcast live, but since it's taped in the afternoon for showing the next morning, she's been able to juggle everything nicely.

When Florence Henderson died in 2016, her time on Today was more a footnote than anything else. But even with her success in musical theater and on variety shows, and a lovely singing voice that never left her, it was as the lovely lady of The Brady Bunch that she won enduring, and endearing, fame. And considering the success that her other "Today Girl" colleagues had over the years, it seems fair to say that The Today Show has been a breeding ground for more than just successful journalists.

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Yes, we all know that Saturday night is the television graveyard today, and that this wasn't always the case. I've referred frequently to the "Murderer's Row" that CBS used to have—All in the Family, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, M*A*S*H and Carol Burnett—but even before then, Saturday was a big TV night; the famed Sid Caesar-Imogene Coca Your Show of Shows aired on Saturday, as did Gunsmoke, Lawrence Welk, Perry Mason and many other hits. Now, of course, people go out to bars, restaurants, or other special events on Saturdays (or at least they used to, when people were allowed to socialize), but back when they went out, it was often to someone else's home for a night of television. TV was the special event.

We get another example of the power of Saturday night broadcasting this week, with back-to-back color specials on NBC. First, at 7:30 p.m. CT, it's Jerry Lewis, hosting his second comedy special of the season, with opera star Helen Traubel, jazz great Lionel Hampton, football quarterback Johnny Unitas, and Jerry's sons Gary and Ronnie. It's a big lineup for one of the biggest comedians in the business. And guess what? You can see it here, in this remarkably clear color broadcast.

Following that, at 8:30, it's another comedian, Art Carney, starring in a much different role. It's the one-man drama "Call Me Back," in which Carney plays a man whose life is on the verge of destruction. His marriage has ended and taken his daughter away, he's been fired from his job, and his friends have deserted him. Sitting alone in his home with only a diminishing bottle of booze and the telephone, he tries to maintain a tenuous connection with the world. As I said, a different show altogether.

Live TV isn't dead yet, and we have three reminders of that on Sunday night alone.  First is Ed Sullivan (7:00 p.m., CBS), with singers Rosemary Clooney, Billy Daniels, Nelson Eddy and Gale Sherwood, musical-comedy star Carol Lawrence, and an assortment of dancers, acrobats, ventriloquists and other novelty acts. The Chevy Show, on NBC at 8:00 p.m., has Jane Powell hosting an hour of variety featuring Peter Gunn's Craig Stevens, Tales of Wells Fargo's Dale Robertson, Miyoshi Umeki, Taina Elg and Carl Ballentine.* Opposite that, at 8:30, The DuPont Show of the Month on CBS presents a live 90-minute adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' Pulitzer-winning novel Arrowsmith, starring Farley Granger and Diane Baker.

*Peter Gunn and Tales of Wells Fargo are both NBC programs. Imagine that.

Monday's guest on The Mike Wallace Interviews (10:00 a.m., KFJZ) is Dorothy Day, one of the most influential American Catholics of the second half of the 20th Century. Day, who is currently being considered for canonization by the Catholic Church, founded the Catholic Worker Movement, dedicated to peace and social justice. She's and has continued to grow in statue since her death in 1980. This interview with her, capturing her work in the moment, is a cultural touchstone, much like Wallace's interview with, for example, Ayn Rand. I wish there was a video copy of it, but various organizations have audio copies.

Rod Cameron was an interesting guyafter divorcing his wife, he married his former mother-in-law; a co-worker called him the bravest man he'd ever seenand a shrewd businessman. Hal Erickson, in his book, Syndicated Television: The First Forty Years, 1947–1987, points out that Cameron recognized a syndicated series would provide him with a greater share of the residuals than one backed by a network, and thus vowed to work only in syndication. His third and final such series, the detective show Coronado 9, premieres Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. on WBAP. As evidence of Cameron's smarts, those three shows (City Detective and State Trooper were the other two) provided him with over $200,000 a year in residuals.

sees the last show of the series for The Lineup (6:30 p.m., CBS), often thought of as the San Francisco version of Dragnet. Like Dragnet, the show started on radio (in 1951, one year after Dragnet) before making the move to television (in 1954, three years after you-know-what), where it was a staple of the CBS schedule for six seasons. Its syndicated title is San Francisco Beat, and it continues to air on local stations throughout the black-and-white era. Later, it's yet another live variety show, as Perry Como welcomes Lena Horne, Corbett Monica and Robert Horton to his colorcast. (8:00 p.m., NBC) 

On Thursday, it's the final regular broadcast of one of the Golden Age's most prestigeous dramas, Playhouse 90 (8:30 p.m., CBS), with Richard Basehart starring in the political drama "A Dream of Treason," in which he plays a State Department press secretary accused of leaking confidential documents to a reporter. Playhouse 90's audience has dropped to half of what it was last year, and from now on it will appear only as an occasional special. Don't remember the series for this play, though; think instead of Requiem for a Heavyweight, The Miracle Worker, Judgement at Nuremburg, and so many more outstanding dramas.

Friday finishes things off with the only prime-time sports that anyone's likely to find: boxing. And tonight's bout on the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports is Sugar Ray Robinson vs. Paul Pender for Robinson's world middleweight championship.* In an epic battle, Pender wins a controversial split decision to take the crown. He'll retain it in a rematch with Robinson later in the year, and will retire as champion in 1963.

*That is, if you define "world" as Massachusetts, New York, and The Ring magazine. Robinson had previously been stripped of his title by the National Boxing Association for having failed to defend it for 22 months. In case you're wondering why Massachusetts recognized Robinson, could it be because that would make this bout, being held in Paul Pender's hometown of Boston, a title fight?

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Mort Sahl was, in a sense, the Dennis Miller of his day, a comedian thought too intellectual for audiences to be able to appreciate. As one television executive put it, "Mort's just wonderful. Isn't it too bad the average guy can't understand him?" Targets in his standup routines include Bernard Baruch an the Berlin crisis; "he never tells a sentimental joke, and seldom an untopical one." 

That's all changed now, though, as Sahl has become a hot ticket on TV. "The powers that be weren't too enthusiastic about me a couple of years ago," he says. "I had to keep telling myself, you can do it, you can sell it, you can. Luckily I have a stopgap, the nightclubs." His stint last April as one of the six emcees at the Academy Awards* was, Sahl phrases it, "a turning point. People even began to put me in their movies to get 'my audience.'" He'll be hosting Pontiac Star Parade on NBC this coming Friday at 7:30 p.m., costarring with Eddie Cantor in a show called "The Future Lies Ahead," a showcase for young entertainers. Not surprisingly, Sahl has some strong opinions about television. "Now my idea is, we've gotta get all the people from radio and movies out of TV. Give it a chance to ruin itself," he says, and he's probably only half-kidding. 

*The other four: Jerry Lewis, Tony Randall, Bob Hope, David Niven and Sir Laurence Olivier. Niven remains the only Oscarcast host to win during the same ceremony, taking Best Actor for Separate Tables.

Last year Sahl became the first comedian to win a Grammy, and later this year he'll become the first comedian to land on the cover of Time. He counts John F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey among the fans of his political satire, and there are rumors that all three networks are considering him for five-minute newscasts from both political conventions this year. In the Time profile, he'll accuse TV news of 'spoon-feeding' the public, of being responsible for the "corruption and ignorance that may sink this country." "I'm against those guys who read the news with a gas pump in front of them," he says. (Huntley-Brinkley?) A little humor never hurt the validity of any idea, he says; too bad we never got a chance to find out.

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A glance at the movies on TV this week show that, unlike today, big stars frequently starred in B movies, sometimes several per year, and even with channels like TCM we might not recognize some of those movies today.  For example, WBAP has Cloak and Dagger, the story of an atomic scientist spying on the Nazis' atomic development from within German-occupied Italy, starring Gary Cooper and Lilli Palmer. There's They Met in Bombay on KFJZ, a jewel-heist story with Clark Gable and Rosalind Russell, which also has another Gable flick, Love on the Run, a spy story co-starring Joan Crawford, and The Secret Heart, about a rich widow and her stepchildren, with Claudette Colbert and Walter Pidgeon. Of course, there are plenty of familiar titles to choose from as well: Meet Me in St. Louis, Summertime, My Favorite Wife, Scarlet Street. Back when TV stations loved movies; those were the days, weren't they?

Finally, what's old is new again. Even in 1960, polio is something to be feared, though the Salk and Sabin vaccines have dramatically reduced the risk in the United States. Still, we're not that far removed from the time when even the whisper of the word polio was enough to send everyone into a panic (kind of like the word COVID, don't you think?), and we're reminded of that by KRLD's Monday night report on the Mother's March on Polio (10:30 p.m.), with reports given "by the team captains of each section of metropolitan Dallas." Good thing we could never have a scare like that again today. TV