June 5, 2021

This week in TV Guide: June 3, 1967

I probably mention this every time we look at an issue from this time of the year, but I'll say it again, because I need to keep the word count up: we tend to think of the Emmys as the kickoff to the television season, but truth is that for many years, it was the wrap-up to the year, in much the same way that a sports league hands out its awards at the end of a season. The main reason the Emmys wound up in the fall in the first place is because of a 1977 strike that pushed all kinds of programming out a few months, and at least in the Emmys' case, the show never went back to the old schedule.

Thus, we find ourselves at the beginning of June discussing this year's awards. And where would an awards show be without some controversy to keep us all entertained? As it turns out, according to Richard K. Doan's article, controversy and the Emmys go way back. In 1964, for example, CBS and ABC walked out on the Emmys, with CBS president Fred Friendly calling them "unprofessional, unrealistic and unfair." NBC, which broadcast the show that year, ridiculed the actions of its rivals as "a classic of sham and hypocrisy." Leave it to Johnny Carson, that year's host, to get off the best line: "It's nice to be subpoenaed here tonight. This is the first time I've ever been asked to work a mutiny."

And then there were the years when the categories didn't differentiate between drama, comedy or variety, leaving Dick Van Dyke, he of The Dick Van Dyke Show, competing for best actor against George C. Scott (East Side/West Side), David Janssen (The Fugitive), Dean Jagger (Mr. Novak) and Richard Boone (The Richard Boone Show). Or the time when Hallmark Hall of Fame's "Victoria Regina" won Program of the Year, but Drama of the Year went to the series The Defenders. Or the year they scrapped categories altogether and simply recognized accomplishments as voted on by blue-ribbon panels, a show which then-Academy president Rod Serling acknowledged was "two deadly dull hours."

As for 1967, CBS News is continuing its boycott of the awards, not allowing any of its news programs to be submitted for consideration. The whole idea of the Emmys has been attacked by people as varied as Walter Cronkite and What's My Line? producer Mark Goodson, with Defenders producer Herb Brodkin quitting the Academy althgether, saying "What difference does it make which is best, Beverly Hillbillies or Gilligan's Island?" Goodson gave up after a proposal to create separate categories for half-hour Westerns and hour-long Westerns. Cronkite, a former president of the Academy, "got a kind of hopelessness about it all."

But the show goes on, broadcast Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. on ABC, hosted by Hugh Downs in New York and Joey Bishop in Hollywood. True to their word, no CBS news specials are nominated. And there are the odd anomalies here and there, such as I Spy being nominated for best drama while one of its episodes gets a director nomination in the comedy category, but for the most part people are excited. You can see what you think of the nominees in the digitally colorized close-up; the winners are listed at the very end.

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While The Hollywood Palace is on summer break, ABC fills the Saturday night time spot with Piccadilly Palace, a London-based variety show starring the iconic British comedy duo of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, We'll stop in from time to time during the summer months to see who has the best lineup..

Sullivan:  Ed's scheduled guests on this live broadcast are singer Nancy Ames; trumpeter Harry James; the rock 'n' rolling Young Rascals; comedians George Kaye and Rodney Dangerfield; puppets Topo Gigio, and the Muppets; marimba player Roger Ray; and jugglers Chung and Manna.

Palace:  Morecambe and Wise welcome singers Bobby Rydell and the rock 'n' rolling Small Faces, and regular Millicent Martin joins the Paddy Stone dancers in song.

No surprise that finding something interesting about this matchup should be a challenge. Wait, I know—Nancy Ames, the singing act on Sullivan, used to be the singer on NBC's That Was The Week That Was, which was a spinoff of a hit British show, which is where this week's Piccadilly Palace comes from.

Well, that was kind of weak, wasn't it?

If this was 1969 instead of 1967, Small Faces would have morphed into Faces, and we'd be talking about how Palace was featuring Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, and wouldn't that have been something. Unfortunately, it's still 1967, and so instead we have Steve Marriott, Ronnie Lane, Jimmy Winston and Kenney Jones. Meanwhile, Ed has the great Harry James and his band, the Muppets, and Rodney Dangerfield. I think that deserves some respect, don't you? This week Sullivan has the edge.

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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. 

Keeping with the awards theme, we now turn to Cleveland Amory's year-ending column, in which our favorite critic considers the past season, as well as dispensing the coveted "Amorys." The Amorys are chosen by the highest possible authority, "an all-star committee of all-time TV exters. And, as I said to myself as I made up the list, if I did say so, I did a fine job." Sounds like something I'd say, doesn't it?

Anyway, his choices: for drama, Ben Gazzara (Run for Your LIfe) as best actor and Diana Rigg (The Avengers) as best actress. I Spy's team of Robert Culp and Bill Cosby take home best acting team, and Mission: Impossible wins the prize as best drama series. Best comedy series is Occasional Wife, whose stars Patricia Harty and Michael Callan were honorable mentions in the acting team category. Supporting awards go to Art Carney (The Jackie Gleason Show) and Amanda Blake (Gunsmoke), although Judy the Chimp from Daktari is runner-up. The Dean Martin Show wins best variety series, and The Merv Griffin Show takes the prize for best talk show. 

As for the season past, there's a growing trend that Cleve doesn't like, not at all. It's the tendency of the rerun season to begin "not in the middle of June, which would be reasonable, or even in May, which would be bearable, but in April." April! Some of the reruns of variety shows, he writes, "were so idiotic you wonder why some network genius couldn't have come up with the idea of at least repating the opening spots." Do you know what it's like sitting down to watch Dean Martin onlyto hear him, in April 1967, talking about being just back from his summer vacation in 1966? "We felt it was a bit much, even for him." He also has a harsh word or two for an NBC special called "The Pursuit of Pleasure," which, he complains, managed "not to come up with a single new idea, a single new thought or even a single piece of real reporting." Not only that, it was done "with a taste which was to the leeward of deodorant commercials."

And that's why, for yet another year, the award for best critic goes to: Cleveland Amory. There was no honorable mention, of course.

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Duff (right) and co-star Dennis Cole
This week's cover features Howard Duff, star of ABC's half-hour police drama Felony Squad. Leslie Radditz calls Duff the anti-Walter Mitty: wheras the quiet Mitty dreamt of performing heroic deeds on a big scale, Duff—who's made a career out of tough-guy roles on radio, movies and television, and off-screen dated Ava Gardner before marrying Ida Lupino—is quiet, introspective, and sensitive when he's not in front of the cameras. As Lurene Tuttle, who played his secretary in the Spade series, describes him, "He comes to work, does his job, praises those who work with him and goes home. No fuss, no fuming." It's a sentiment shared by all his colleagues.

If there is anything of the Mitty in Howard Duff, though, it's that he'd like to play in something other than action roles. Richard III, for instance, which he'd like to do "before they cart me away." And during summer breaks, he enjoys performing in summer-stock comedies like Under the Yum Yum Tree and Come Blow Your Horn. Sometimes he thinks maybe he's sold out as an actor, but has he points out, "an actor has to act." And it's not as easy as one thinks to do television: long hours, constant work, location shooting. And he recognizes it's what he's paid to do; "That's really our job, isn't it—to do the best we can with the material and within the time allowed us."

He doesn't talk about that quiet, reflective side, how he reads compulsively and can quote Shakespeare at length, "though he never does," a friend mentions. He's also an accomplished artist; wife Lupino framed one of his works and hung it in the den, but it embarrassed him, and he never calls attention to it.  

Felony Squad, which co-stars Dennis Cole and Ben Alexander, runs for three seasons on ABC. (You can see what Cleveland Amory thinks of it in this issue.) It is one of five half-hour dramas on network schedules in the 1966-67 season. I've always enjoyed the half-hour format; it forces a tighter story, doesn't draw things out with fake jeopardy scenarios, and restricts the opportunity to go off into soap opera-like aspects of its characters' lives. The last half-hour drama I can recall on network TV is Adam-12; it's a nice change-of-pace. 

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As we move into the summer months (TV-speaking, that is), it can be a challenge finding something new. Cleveland Amory is right—the rerun season comes earlier and earlier. There are really only two types of programming you can depend on to deliver new content: news and sports. Between them, though, we can still come up with something on each day of the week.  

We'll start with a look at the Sunday news and public affairs shows. On CBS, Face the Nation (11:30 a.m.) discusses U.S. foreign policy with Roger Hilsman, former assistant secretary of state for Far Eastern affairs, and author of a book about foreign policy during the Kennedy years. Hilsman played a fairly large role in the development of U.S. policy toward Vietnam—reading that profile from the always-reliable Wikipedia, I suspect he had something to do with the Kennedy administration's support for the overthrow of the Diệm regime.

Vietnam carries over to ABC's Issues and Answers (12:30 p.m.), which features a debate between two leading Democrats standing on opposite sides of America's policy: Oregon Senator Wayne Morse, who believes the U.S. should withdraw, and Mississippi Senator John Stennis, a supporter of stronger action in the area. And while NBC's Meet the Press (12;00 p.m.) doesn't deal specifically with Vietnam, you can bet it's a major topic, with economist John Kenneth Galbraith, recently elected chairman of the liberal antiwar group Americans for Democratic Action. Galbraith* was a recent delegate to the "Pacem in Terris II" (Peace on Earth) conference in Geneva, which is the subject of an additional, 90-minute special Meet the Press Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m.

*One of Galbraith's good friends was the conservative writer William F. Buckley, Jr.; I wish friendships like that were more possible today. I'm certainly more than willing.

Religion is the topic on ABC's early-afternoon Directions (12:00 p.m.), as the program examines the problems popping up in the Catholic Church in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council. Foremost among the controversies: birth control and the role of laymen in deciding Church policy. In other words, pretty much the same discussion we have today. That's followed at 1:00 p.m. by ABC Scope, which manages to combine both Vietnam and religion in their discussion of chaplains in Vietnam.

On Tuesday, Charles Kuralt narrates, and Sir Michael Redgrave voices the writings of painter Paul Gauguin, in the CBS News Special "Gauguin in Tahiti" (9:00 p.m., YouTube here) which recounts Gauguin's experiences on the island paradise, where he produced the stunning paintings that became his most famous works. Speaking of exotic locales, on Wednesday Edwin Newman takes a trip up north to Montreal for a "good-natured but slightly irreverent look" at the Expo 67 World's Fair. Thursday, Peter Jennings hosts a Summer Focus look at the nation's drug problem (9:00 p.m., ABC). And on Friday, an ABC News Special (8:00 p.m., ABC) narrated by Eddie Albert looks at the reasons behind, and the severity of, the nursing crisis.

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And sports, you ask? Saturday's main attraction is the third jewel of horse racing's Triple Crown, the 99th running of the Belmont Stakes (4:00 p.m., CBS). Those who say the Belmont isn't what it used to be might have a point here; the race is being held at Aqueduct, as it has been since 1963, while Belmont Park is being renovated with a new main grandstand to be ready in time for the centennial race next year. We're talking about this year, though, and the story is Preakness champion Damascus, defeating Kentucky Derby winner Proud Clarion to claim two-thirds of the Triple Crown.

While we're used to NBC's Saturday afternoon baseball Game of the Week, this week we get bonus coverage, with one of the network's occasional Monday night specials (6:00 p.m.). The defending National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers, having to do without the retired Sandy Koufax for the first time in a decade, take on the Atlanta Braves, spending their second season in the Georgia capital. As I recall, NBC contracted to do three or four of these Monday night specials a year, before going to a season-long Monday night schedule in the early 1970s. 

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And now, as promised, some of the winners of the 1967 Emmy Awards:

Series: The Monkees. Actor: Don Adams, Get Smart. Actress: Lucille Ball, The Lucy Show.

Series: Mission: Impossible. Actor: Bill Cosby, I Spy. Actress:  Barbara Bain, Mission: Impossible.

Drama Special   
Program: Death of a Salesman. Actor: Peter Ustinov, "Barefoot in Athens," Hallmark Hall of Fame. Actress: Geraldine Page, "A Christmas Memory," ABC Stage 67.

Series: The Andy Williams Show. Special: The Sid Caesar, Imogene Coca, Carl Reiner, Howard Morris Special.

Actually not a bad list of winners, not at all. Most of these shows are considered classics nowadays. Will people feel the same about this year's winners in 40 years' time?

Maybe the shows themselves weren't as good, but I'll bet this was more entertaining than this year's "virtual" Emmys, no? TV  

1 comment:

  1. I don't know the reason why, but the 1965 Emmys were also broadcast in Sept. of that year. NBC broadcast the show that year and didn't even bother to do it "In Living Color", leaving it to CBS to be the first to broadcast the next Emmy awards for the first time in color in May 1966.


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