June 4, 2022

This week in TV Guide: June 7, 1969

As you have undoubtedly noticed over these many years, I don't always feature the cover story first, and sometimes I don't even write about it at all. It depends on my fickle nature, the barometric pressure, and other mysteries of life. Sometimes, however, the cover gets in your face, so to speak, and forces itself on you whether you like it or not. This is one of those instances. You'd be asking about it anyway, so here it is.

Dancing is a big deal on television of the 1960s. Most variety shows have their own dance troupes, prominently featured in the opening credits (The June Taylor Dancers!)*, singers employ them to enliven a static stage, and shows like Hulabaloo thrive on them. And one of the busiest dancers out there is Debbie Macomber—so busy, apparently, she can't even stand still for the cover. She was a regular on The Jerry Lewis Show, good enough that she was actually put under contract, a rarety in the business. She would have been on Turn-On, had ABC not turned it off. She played a dancing version of Holly Golightly in a musical version of Breakfast at Tiffanys that was so bad it closed before it opened. She almost got into the movie Cabaret, but "they gave the part to some buxom, sexy dame." 

*Or the Juul Haalmeyer Dancers, if you prefer.

You know you wanted this picture
Dancing is a way for her to reach out and touch people, to "make everyone feel they are dancing." It also fills an emptiness in her life; her father is dead, her mother is all the family she has, and she "has no boyfriends—only male friends who are dancers." (They probably wouldn't be any help in the boyfriend market, anyway.) Dancing is her life. She loves "the show-business atmosphere, the drive, the competition"; Jerry Lewis is "the greatest man I ever worked for," and is into astrology, meditation and the metaphysical, numerology, and the psychic world. And even though dancers, she says, "work the hardest and are paid the least," she stays with it because it is her future. 

What is the future for Debbie Macomber? Her IMDb bio is virtually non-existent; her last listed credit is the aforementioned Turn-On. There is, as it turns out, a fairly prominent Debbie Macomber, but unless I'm very mistaken, the well-known and best-selling romance novelist is not the same as the not-quite famous dancer. After all, the author Debbie Macomber has a net worth of about $10 million, and as we know, dancers aren't paid that much.

l  l  l

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. 

The Hollywood Squares, Cleveland Amory writes, is really "several games in one." That is, I think, overcomplicating the matter. In fact, I'm not even sure it's a game at all, not in the competitive way we think of it. Sure, there are winners and losers, and anyone who wins five consecutive times also wins a new car; even if you don't get the car, there's money to be won—not enough to retire on, perhaps, but you could at least relax with a nice dinner.

Amory finds that part of the show a little complicated, though, and wisely skips over it in favor of what The Hollywood Squares is really all about: Peter Marshall feeding questions to celebrities, who respond with a variety of jokes, one-liners and double-entendres. The same thing could probably be accomplished sitting on the couch with Johnny on The Tonight Show. But would it be as much fun?

Cleve doesn't dwell on that question, and it's really a pointless one, just as it was trying to figure out whether or not You Bet Your Life was anything other than a vehicle for Groucho. And as far as I know, he's not on the Squares, but Vincent Price is, and he is Amory's favorite among those panelists who are "primarily good jokesters rather than good guessers." Close behind Price is Paul Lynde, whose answers are part of television lore. "Paul," Peter Marshall asks, "what should you call half a pair of pants?" "Indecent," Lynde replies. Marshall calls The Hollywood Squares "the wildest show in the world." "It isn't all that," Amory says, "but it's a lot more for your money than most game shows, and these days that's something"

l  l  l

Outwardly, there's nothing in Arnold Hano's profile of David Hartman that suggests someday he'll be the extremely popular, outrageously successful host of ABC's morning news program Good Morning America. Oh, the article covers the usual terrain; how he majored in economics at Duke University, did a tour in the Air Force, paid his dues as a struggling actor for several years, and finally made it as a regular on The Virginian before he was plucked from the West to become a doctor as part of NBC's upcoming series The Bold Ones

When you look at it that way, there's nothing to distinguish David Hartman from any other up-and-coming television star of the era. But, as is so often the case when one looks at things retrospectively, the signs not only are there, they're obvious. I mean, read the following paragraph: "Such is the buoyant view of life of David Hartman. Call it the power of positive delusion. He kids himself into thinking that not only does every cloud have a silver lining, but the cloud itself is beautiful." Doesn't that perfectly describe a morning show host? Frank Price of Universal says of him, "He's so nice, it's scary." Hano describes him as "the nicest young man since Jimmy Stewart wrestled evil on the floor of Congress one score and nine years ago" Older woman want to mother him, younger women want to date him. He blushes when a girlfriend asks him to kiss her over the phone. 

Hartman grew up in a caring home; "This open-handed, warm, loving treatment has left its mark. 'I'm not a closed person,' says David Hartman. 'I like to express myself. American men are too often afraid to feel, to emote It's a pity. The foreign male is not afraid. He's not even afraid to kiss another man. If I like something, I'm effusive." I'm left wondering why it took another six-and-a-half years for a network to put him on in the morning. I mean, this guy has it all.

And in case you're wondering, I'm not doing a hit piece on him. I liked him on Good Morning America; I liked him when he'd appear with Jerry Lewis on the Labor Day telethons. I liked him in The Bold Ones. (Lucas Tanner, not so much.) But the next time a network wants to write a job desciption for a morning show host, all they need to do is read this article.

l  l  l

Whenever we enter the summer season, I'm always left with one thought: among the reruns that dominate the airwaves, will I find anything interesting? Now, your idea of what's interesting may be different from mine, but as I've pointed out before, I'm the one sitting behind the keyboard, so I get to choose. And what have I chosen this week?

Well, arguably the biggest show of the week is the 21st annual Emmy Awards (Sunday, 9:00 p.m. CT, CBS), hosted by Bill Cosby at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, and Merv Griffin at Carnegie Hall in New York. You can see by the close up that the folks who owned this TV Guide were keeping score at home, which is a detail I really appreciate; it feels like I'm holding a piece of history you can date all the way back to the broadcast. (The winners are circled.)

A couple of interesting tidbits; first, according to the always-reliable Wikipedia, NET Playhouse's win as Outstanding Drama Series was the first ever win in a major category by a show from outside the big three networks. Second, in an effort to prevent the same performers and programs from winning each year, all shows that had aired more than two seasons were ineligible. Intriguing idea, s'il vous plaît? (Another interesting item: the show is scheduled for a 90-minute running time. Right.)

Arguably, the biggest sports event of the week is on ABC's Wide World of Sports: highlights of the Indianapolis 500 (Saturday, 4:00 p.m.), held Friday, May 30. It's a historic race, as the great Mario Andretti wins his one and only Indy 500. This was always one of the highlights of the Wide World year, given that same-day taped coverage won't begin for another two years, and live coverage doesn't start until 1986. If you want to see it as it happens, you've got two choices: pay to go see the closed-circuit broadcast in a local theater, or listen to the live broadcast on the radio. (To this day, true fans like yours truly watch the race with the sound muted and listen on the radio.) 

That's not the only sports headliner, though; at the same time on CBS, Majestic Prince goes for the Triple Crown at the Belmont Stakes, trying to be the first to claim the Crown since Citation in 1948. Alas, it's not to be, as the Prince finishes second to Arts and Letters, the second-place finisher in the Derby and Preakness.

And speaking of sports, this note from The Doan Report, that old favorites such as Laugh-In and Lucy have a new kind of competition on the way: ABC has agreed to telecast 13 consecutive weeks of prime-time football next season from the newly merged National and American Football Leagues. "Each game will run close to midnight or after in the East." It's a prime-time breakthrough for pro sports; the deal is "for a 'minimum' of three years." Fifty-three years later, it's still going.

l  l  l

Earlier in this issue, you read Cleveland Amory's review of The Hollywood Squares, and a few weeks ago, I wrote about a profile of Peter Marshall. Well, there's no reason not to keep; a good thing going, so we'll start with Saturday morning's Storybook Squares (11:00 a.m., NBC), in which our favorite celebrities play nursery rhyme and other children's characters. Remember that? Cliff Arquette played himself, or rather Charley Weaver, just as he did on the regular version, but otherwise you have Abby Dalton playing Little Miss Muffet, Nanette Fabray as The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe, Stu Gilliam as Merlin the Wizard, Carolyn Jones as Morticia Addams (natch), and others. In case you're curious how that worked, you can see an episode here from February 22, 1969, and since this week's show is a rerun, it might very well be this one.

Also on Saturday: it was a couple of weeks ago that I wrote about the "wedding of the year" on Mister Peepers, and mentioned other big TV weddings, but here's one I neglected: Max and Agent 99 on Get Smart (7:00 p.m., NBC). I really did think that killed the show, but then what do I know? Best to opt for the debut of The Johnny Cash Show, the summer replacement for The Hollywood Palace (8:30 p.m., ABC). On this premiere show, Johnny's guests are Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Doug Kershaw, and Fannie Flagg. His regulars are June Carter and the Carter Family, Carl Perkins, the Statler Brothers, and the Tennessee Three. Not bad, not bad.

Leaving aside the Emmys, the most interesting thing about Sunday might be that tonight's Smothers Brothers Show (8:00 p.m.) is the last show of the series, CBS's patience having finally run out. Beginning next week, Hee Haw, a country variety show, debuts in this time spot. Including its 23 seasons in first-run syndication, the Kornfield Kounty rubes stick around until 1993. Of personal interest, The Frank McGee Report (4:30 p.m., NBC) covers the Minneapolis mayoralty race, between conservative independent Charles Stenvig, running on a law-and-order platform, and liberal Republican Joe Angotti. I remember this election well; we had a Stenvig sign on our lawn, and he would win the first of his three terms as mayor, before being defeated by Democrat Al Hofstede. To date, Stenvig is the last non-Democrat mayor of Minneapolis, and that may explain a lot.

On Monday, Steed and Mrs. Peel go up against "The Fear Merchants." No, it's not those people from the National Institutes of Health; it's the latest plot by a megalomaniac businessman to conquer the world, in The Avengers (6:30 p.m., ABC). After that, it's the local debut of The Allen Ludden Show (9:30 p.m., KDTV); the password is "variety," with his guests Ken Berry, Harvey Korman, and Gerri Granger.

Talk about a man who can do it all: Yves Montand hosts a one-man variety hour on this rerun of NET Festival (Tuesday, 8:00, NET), which features him singing in French, dancing with the Dirk Sanders Ballet, and performing classic Nichols and May skits with the recorded voice of his wife, actress Simone Signoret.

, and another one of those Charlie Brown specials that didn't really catch on, not like Christmas and the Pumpkin: You're in Love, Charlie Brown (7:30 p.m., CBS). This is, according to the always-reliable Wikipedia, notable in that it is the first television appearance of Peppermint Patty, who would eventually come to take over a good part of the storytelling in the strip. This Peanuts cartoon aired six times on the network. That's followed by a repeat doubleheader from Hooterville: at 8:00 p.m. on CBS, The Beverly Hillbillies head there to celebrate Thanksgiving with those folks from Petticoat Junction and Green Acres; next, Petticoat Junction's Uncle Joe crosses over to Green Acres as part of Hooterville's centennial celebration. If only they could have done a Petticoat Junction episode with someone from one of the other two shows—but no, it's time for Hawaii Five-O next, and there's no crossover from anything there.

A couple of great variety show lineups stand out on Thursday; This is Tom Jones (8:00 p.m., ABC) features Mama Cass Elliot, the Dave Clark Five, George Carlin, and Spanish singer Massiel; The Dean Martin Show (9:00 p.m., NBC) welcomes Lena Horne, Sid Caesar, Victor Borge, and the comic Times Square Two.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned one of my new favorites, Judd, for the Defense; on Friday, it's a case that even Perry Mason never had to deal with: "Judd probes the family crisis of a widow whose daughter murdered her husband, killed herself, but spared their child. Appointed guardian, Judd must decide what's best for the infant: the unstable home of close relatives or an institution." The top-flight guest cast includes Margaret Leighton, Brian Bedford, Penny Fuller, Carrie Snodgress, and Dabbs Greer.

l  l  l

Finally, a little something for when company drops by:

As always, if anyone tries this, let us know how it is. TV  


  1. In re the Emmys:
    Take another look at the winners in Series Acting, and see if you can notice what got attention at the time.
    Best Actor in a Comedy Series: Don Adams, right after NBC canceled Get Smart.
    Best Actress in a Comedy Series: Hope Lange, right after NBC canceled The Ghost And Mrs. Muir.
    Best Actor in a Drama Series: Carl Betz, right after ABC canceled Judd For The Defense.
    Best Actress in a Drama Series: Barbara Bain, right after she quit Mission: Impossible (embarrassing CBS more than somewhat).
    Talk about Timing.
    In the acceptance speeches, Don Adams and Hope Lange thanked CBS and ABC (in that order) for picking up their respective shows; Carl Betz wasn't so fortunate (it happens); and Barbara Bain just had a Cheshire Cat grin as she accepted.
    The daily TV crickets tried to read something into it all (they were wrong, as usual).

    Early Saturday morning; I'll have to go back and read further to find other things.
    Back, if and when ...

  2. Did Sullivan have a good show this week? I know his show may have been an original, as he was running new shows through most of the summer of 1969.
    That Chocolate Banana cake looks good. I'm tempted to try it for myself.

  3. Perhaps the only welcome phenomenon over the last couple of decades in network television has been the return of dancing shows to prime time. Of course the networks eventually screwed those up as well, but it was lovely while it lasted.

  4. Replies
    1. Ah, I mentioned it on Monday's listing, but I should have here as well. I think it's called North Texas, but for all practical purposes it's Dallas-Fort Worth.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!