October 9, 2021

This week in TV Guide: October 9, 1965

Before we go any further, let us pause for a moment in silent appreciation of that fine figure of a woman, Anne Francis. Or, as she's referred to on this week's cover, the  "Slinky Sleuth."


Oh yes, Anne Francis. Well, Honey West is often considered the first action show on American television to have a female lead. The Honey West character itself was featured in a dozen or so detective novels from 1957 to 1971. Anne Francis introduced Honey in a 1965 episode of Burke's Law, and starred in the series in the 1965-66 season. It was obviously modeled in part on the British show The Avengers, and in fact producer Aaron Spelling was said to have originally offered the role of Honey to Avengers star Honor Blackman. 

Honey West
has always had something of a cult following, which continues today thanks to DVD and MeTV. It's nothing special; fun enough to watch, but in truth it's easy to see why it only ran the one season. (ABC apparently decided it would just be cheaper to import The Avengers; as I've always said, why go with a cheap imitation when you can have the original?)  The pleasure of watching Honey West is really derived from the pleasure of watching Anne Francis, who cuts quite the figure (see left) in her black cat-suit (which actually reminds me more of Diana Rigg, who replaced Blackman on The Avengers), being both very tough and very sexy, able to handle a gun but still occasionally needing to be saved by a man (her sidekick Sam Bolt, played by John Ericson). In other words, it's the perfect symbol for the schizo 60s. 

Meanwhile, Anne Francis is the perfect symbol forwell, for watching television.

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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: From Hollywood this week, Ed's scheduled guests are Kate Smith; satirist Woody Allen; the rock 'n' rolling Supremes; singers Petula Clark and Wayne Newton; puppet Topo Gigio; comics Davis and Reese; and the Four Little Step Brothers, a rock 'n' roll group.

Palace: Hostess Joan Crawford, making a rare television appearance, reads "A Prayer for Little Children." Guests: singers Jack Jones and Joanie Summers; comedians Godfrey Cambridge, and Allen and Rossi; Japanese bicyclist Lily Yokoi; Stebbings' Boxers, an English comic dog act; and the Rodos, West German acrobats.

At the dawn of television, Pat Weaver came up with the idea of "spectaculars," shows meant to attract people who might not ordinarily watch television. The term has since given way to "special," and the goal is not to introduce new viewers but to induce them to watch your special instead of the humdrum fare offered on the other networks. The Hollywood Palace may not be a special, but a hostess like Joan Crawford gives it a special feeling this week. It was once said that Joan Crawford became a star because she decided to become a star; even though Ed's lineup is, I think, a little stronger (Kate Smith! The Supremes! Wayne Newton!), the appearance of the star herself is enough to make this week's matchup a Push

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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. 

This week Cleveland Amory's critical eye focuses on, NBC's adventure series I Spy, "a kind of spin-off, or perhaps we should begin to call them spy-offs, of The Man from U.N.C.L.E." which itself, he points out, was something of a spin-off of the James Bond style of movie. Amory doesn't take long to get to the point, describing I Spy as "the best of the new shows we've reviewed so far."

As might be expected, Amory makes note of Cosby's status as the first "Negro" co-star in a regular dramatic series, but he also mentions that in the series' first show, Ivan Dixon was a guest star, giving "a truly memorable performance" as an athlete who defects to Red China. He likes Cosby, who "plays it all pretty straight but with just enough hint of glint to fill the bill," and favors Culp as well; the actor is "excellent, all the way from karate to kissing, and, like Cosby, can turn on rare humor when the situation warrants." Indeed, Culp and Cosby make a formidable team, not only as spies, but as co-stars, as they "carry on through the series their own offbeat series of remarkable shaggy spy sorties which along are worth the price of admission." Culp even does double-duty on the series, having written the script for that first episode.

All in all, Amory sees I Spy as a winner: strong acting, not only from the regulars but an admirable roster of guest stars; exotic scenery, with episodes shot on location in Hong Kong, Japan and Mexico, and good, solid writing. Provided the series doesn't forgot what makes it successful in the first place, it should be one of the can't-miss shows of the season.

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And now, a spin around the dial.

Game 3 of the World Series between the Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers is the centerpiece of Saturday's broadcasting day, but I was also drawn to the night's episode of Gunsmoke (9:00 p.m. CT, CBS) in which "After killing a young gunman on the road, Matt finds three more gunfighters waiting for him in Dodge." Those three, unless I miss my guess, are played by Nehemiah Persoff, Warren Oates and Bruce Dern. Talk about an all-star lineup of character actors, and two of them pretty well-known in the Western field, too.

On Sunday, there are two episodes of CBS's morning religious programs that tell much about the apparently prosperous America of the early 1960s. The first, on Lamp Unto My Feet (9:00 a.m.), is entitled "The Pit," a play by Jan Hartman. "The pit is a huge garbage dump* where 'people live in the refuse, building their houses out of the city wastes.' A doctor who has left his comfortable practice to minister to the outcast inhabitants learns the true meaning of charity when he is placed in a position where he cannot save the life of a man." Look for performances from future TV figures Clarence Williams III and Billy Dee Williams. That's followed by an episode of Look Up and Live (9:30 a.m.) that could have been aired today: It's called "Reformation: Chicago," the first of a three-part report "on the problems facing Chicago clergymen in their attempt to make Christianity a working force in urban society." Judging by the statistics on murders and shootings this year in Chicago, I'd have to guess the clergy may have failed in their attempt.

*Sounds very much like John Lindsay's New York, doesn't it?

With the warning that Monday's programming may be preempted by the papal visit, the highlights include an episode of Twelve O'clock High (ABC, 6:30 p.m.) in which Jack Lord stops in England on his way to Hawaii to play the brother of new series star Paul Burke. Lord also appears earlier in the week on a syndicated telecast of Stoney Burke (as do the aforementioned Warren Oates and Bruce Dern), which proves there is life before Five-0. Andy Williams hosts what sounds like a pleasant hour of variety (NBC, 8:00 p.m.), with guests Bob Hope, Mary Tyler Moore, and Roger Miller.

On Tuesday, it's the television premiere of 1957's "Funny Face" on NBC Tuesday Night at the Movies, starring Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn, with model Suzy Parker making her television debut. And you'll be seeing Dorothy Malone on Tuesday night's Peyton Place (ABC, 8:30 p.m.). Why is that worth mentioning? Because at press time she's recovering from a fight for her life, one that included 7½ hours of surgery, during which her heart stopped once, and a tracheotomy was performed to assist in her breathing. That was followed by a fever that ran as high as 105, and blood transfusions that drained the hospital's supply, necessitating an emergency blood drive that resulted in donations from co-stars and many Hollywood figures, as well as ordinary folk. During her long recovery, Peter Gunn's Lola Albright will fill in.

Wednesday features something that ties in vaguely to what I'll be mentioning below: the debut of a syndicated color program (WTCN, 7:30 p.m.) called Wanderlust, in which host Bill Burrud "narrates films of foreign lands and their heritage." I'm sure it must have looked quite exotic at the time. At 8:00 p.m. on NBC, it's an episode of one of the more underrated anthology series of the time, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theater, with a petty good cast of familiar facesMickey Rooney, Don Gordon, Jack Weston, Harold J. Stone and Joey Foremanin the gambling drama "Kicks." I also see ABC's Amos Burke, Secret Agent on at 9:00 p.m., which reminds me of what Cleveland Amory was writing about Man from U.N.C.L.E. spin-offs: when Burke's Law became Amos Burke, it was definitely not for the best.

Thursday's best programming is during the daytime; CBS's Captain Kangaroo (8:00 a.m.) celebrates former President Dwight Eisenhower's 75th birthday with a look back at an amazing career that took Ike from West Point to the battlefields of Europe to the White House. I doubt we'll ever again see a president with a resume like that, nor a kids program that wouldn't take the opportunity to become a fawning partisan broadcast. And at 12:30 p.m., NBC presents the seventh and final game of the World Series, as Sandy Koufaxpitching on just two days' rest and without his best stuffbreaks the hearts of all Minnesotans, pitching the Dodgers to a 2-0 victory over the Twins, and their third world championship since moving from Brooklyn.

The end of the week begins with Channel 9's syndicated broadcast of The Eleventh Hour (Friday, 11:00 a.m.), an intriguing story starring Harry Guardino as the author of a book on capital punishment whose own story is rapidly coming to an endin the death house. (Having seen this episode, I don't think the story paid off in the end, but it was a provocative journey getting there.) On Art Linkletter's House Party (1:30 p.m., CBS) Rod Serling, president of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, discusses the Emmy Awards, to be telecast in September (rather than the end of the television season) for the first time. It won't do that again until 1977, when it settles into the slot it maintains to this day.

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Here's something you don't see often: an episode of Bonanza presented without commercial interruption.  But, as you can tell, there's a catch: a 5½ minute commercial for Chevrolet, "uninterrupted by Bonanza.  At least they had their priorities right.

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Finally, as we are wont to do, we'll make our last stop with Letters to the Editor. What makes these so interesting this week is that they represent such a cross-section of television programming, and so many of them tell so much about the climate of the times.

For example, the first two letters have to do with a recent CBS Reports documentary on the Ku Klux Klan, entitled "KKK - The Invisible Empire." The Klan, in 1965, is still a major presence in American culture, and Jim Vickrey of Auburn University writes to praise CBS for the documentary, with the wise words that "Exposure to light is still an effective way to destroy a destructive - albeit 'invisible' virus." Ann Carlson of Devon, Connecticut wants to remind CBS, however, that two wrongs don't make a right, asking the pertinent question "Now how about a report on the Black Muslims?"

Television has, of course, always contained shows that have an element (or two) of implausibility, and Lamont Dixon of Coronado, California, thinks there are just too many to contend with in Juliet Prowse's sitcom Mona McCluskey. "I can't believe a childless couple, living on a sergeant's pay of $500 a month, has to exist on peanut butter and crackers for breakfast and dinner. I can't believe that the sergeant is a buddy of his commanding general. This is more fantastic than a magical Martian, a witch with a twitching nose, an instant genie from a bottle, a car that talks, or a Smothers Brother from heaven."* Meanwhile, Kevin Burford of Iowa City, Iowa, has had it with Hogan's Heroes: "There's nothing funny about prisoner-of-war camps." Considering the widespread approval the show met with from veterans, one wonders if Mr. Burford is, like so many people, confusing a POW camp with a concentration camp? Or perhaps he just doesn't believe humans can continue to be human even in inhuman conditions?

*Bonus points if you're the first in the comments section to identify each of the series to which Mr. Dixon refers.

Advise, solicited or not, is always something generous viewers are free to give the networks, and a trio of letters closes out the section, offering executives ideas that they think will improve their programming dramatically. Diana Werner of Park Ridge, New Jersey, has perhaps the harshest verdict of all. After watching Robert Lansing get written out of the aforementioned Twelve O'clock High by having his plane shot down in the opening moments of the new season, she says that "That finished us (our family) too, as far as this show is concerned." A good point; though Paul Burke is a fine actor (Naked City, for example), this WWII drama was never the same after Lansing's General Savage left the scene. It lasted only another season-and-a-half. In response to NBC changing Dr. Kildare from an hourly drama seen once a week to a half-hour, two-nights-a-week program (a la Peyton Place), Betty Norris of Jacksonville, NC, begs the network to "Please stitch Dr. Kildare together again!" Dave Sepulveda of Santa Rosa, California, advises NBC to "Get smart!, and turn off the laugh machine." 

Hint to letter-writers who want to see their missives in print: humor always helps, as does cleverness. TV  


  1. *
    These were all in production for the full 1965-66 season.

    Suzy Parker had already been on tv for BURKE'S LAW and TWILIGHT ZONE (a Season 5 episode that MeTV reran recently).

  2. Off-topic, but I wanted to get it in:

    This week, I took delivery of a brand-new book: Shooting Columbo, by David Koenig (Bonaventure Press).
    This is yet another behind-the-scenes account of the Columbo series - in all its incarnations - from the '60s through the Millenium.
    Mr. Koenig talked to just about anybody he could find who'd been involved with the productions - and he found out a lot of stuff that wasn't all that well-known back in the day ...
    There's a bit of a disclaimer here: it's possible that your admiration for Peter Falk might take a slight hit when you read some of his decisions on how to handle the character, particularly in the later days of the show.
    That aside, you'll learn a lot about how much effort and detail goes into a TV-film production, whether in the '70s or today; they just don't walk in off the street and do it, you know.
    The heroes here are the writers: Levinson & Link, of course, but also stalwarts like Jackson Gillis, Dean Hargrove, Peter Fischer, and a Host of Others ...
    Anyway, it's all in the book: Shooting Columbo by David Koenig, $25.95 from Bonaventure Press (I got it from Amazon at a discount, but that's another story).


  3. That's easy enough. My Favorite Martian, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, My Mother the Car, and The Smothers Brothers Show.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!