August 6, 2022

This week in TV Guide: August 8, 1964

Sensation monger or boon to mankind? If that's the question, the answer can only be Mike Wallace, and this is years before 60 Minutes. But' as Edith Efron writes this week, that's what you get with Wallace, who insists that "news is drama." Let him explain how it works: "Have you ever looked at a cauliflower on your dining room table? It looks anything but dramatic! But when you see a crate of cauliflowers being examined under klieg lights at 3 in the morning, at a loading dock, by white-coated men haggling about price . . . When you see the battle between profit and loss that is going on . . . When you see one man pitting his business understanding against that of his competitors—this is dramatic. This is conflict. This is how we shoot a cost-of-living story." 

Adds Wallace, "If you look closely, every interesting news item is built around a value conflict." As the host of the CBS Morning News, which boasts an audience 30 percent larger than the news program it replaced, Wallace runs through 20 or 25 stories in the half-hour program, many of them what Wallace calls "instant documentaries" shot just for the show. 

All this may be a surprise to those who remember Wallace as the host of PM, the late-night variety-and-talk show, or the commercials in which he appeared. But look a little further back, to 1958 and The Mike Wallace Interview, that "hit like a bombshell." This is the Mike Wallace that we'd come to know on 60 Minutes, the fearless interviewer who used "a battering cross-examination technique" to focus on the guest's inconsistencies and contradictions—"a method that was lethal to double-talking phonies." He tackled controversial issues and presented "fascists, communists, racists, gangsters, and a host of little-known intellectuals with unusual and provocative ideas." Thus the question that opened this article. 

But ABC, the network on which his show appeared, tried to tone things down, and after Mike hosted gangster Mickey Cohen, who "cheerfully libeled a handful of West Coast police officials," for which the network was forced to apologize on-air, Wallace found himself on the outs—paid, but with no assignments. He tried a gig with a local station. He hosted PM, a show so unsuited to his temperament that he finally quit, leaving behind a sizeable amount of money. He found work with David Wolper, hosting Biography

Then the tide turned again, in the form of Newton Minow's challenge to cover the kind of stories that had made Wallace's name in the first place. The Museum of Modern Art put on a retrospective of "TV masterpieces," one of which was The Mike Wallace Interview. Biography became one of the highest-rated public affair programs in the country and won a Peabody Award. Wallace was hot again, and CBS came calling. 

It's not quite the same Wallace; one associate says that "Watching Mike on the air today is like watching a lion obediently padding down Madison Avenue, tied by a silken leash." Wallace is just happy to be in a news job again. "His appetite for major battle is well under control," Efron says. But, she adds, "His taste for clash and controversy is unabated." And for those who wonder what happened to the "old" Mike Wallace, you'll find out in four years and five weeks. That's September 24, 1968: the premiere episode of 60 Minutes.

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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: Van Johnson, who sings numbers for his night-club act; rock 'n' roller Bobby Vinton; Topo Gigio, the Italian Mouse; comedians Grecco and Willard; Petticoat Junction girls Jeannine Riley, Pat Woodell, Linda Kaye and Sheila James, who appear as the Ladybugs in a Beatles satire; comedienne Totie Fields; impressionist George Kirby; the brooks Sisters, vocal group; and the South African dancers of the Alan Paton-Krishna Shah play "Sponoro."

Palace: Host Nat King Cole welcomes songstress-dancer Diahann Carroll; ventriloquist Paul Winchell; Ken Murray, who narrates his Hollywood home movies; comedians Allen and Rossi; the Bruno sway-pole act; the acrobatic Amin Brothers; and the singing Merry Young Souls.

This one was really over before it started; once you see Nat King Cole's name, you don't have to go any farther. But it's useful to look at Ed's lineup anyway—how charming that we live in a time when Bobby Vinton is described as a rocker! And I like George Kirby! But Diahann Carroll will put on a show, Allen and Rossi are very popular, and Paul Winchell might invent the artificial heart right there on stage.*

*Fun fact: Winchell, who'd had previous medical education, developed his artificial heart in conjunction with Dr. Henry Heimlich, inventor of the Heimlich maneuver.

And then, of course, there's Nat, singing four songs plus a duet with the Young Souls. For that alone, Palace wins the honors.

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And now for the industry news. Henry Harding's "For the Record" feature reports that, after having been trounced in the ratings by NBC during last month's Republican National Convention, CBS is removing Walter Cronkite from its coverage of the August Democratic National Convention. (NBC garnered 51 percent of the audience, compared to CBS's 36 percent.) He'll be replaced by the team of Robert Trout and Roger Mudd (left, with Eric Sevareid), to compete with NBC's Chet Huntley and David Brinkley and ABC's Howard K. Smith and Edward P. Morgan. The network hastens to add that "Cronkite's days as anchor man are not ended. He'll continue to be the pivotal figure in CBS coverage of such events as the upcoming Gemini space shots, in addition to serving as anchor man of CBS's nightly newscasts. Spoiler: the Trout-Mudd team didn't cut it.

TV Teletype reports that CBS is planning a new production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, which debuted on TV in 1957 with Julie Andrews.* The network is hoping for Shirley Jones and Robert Goulet, but they're going to wind up with Lesley Anne Warren and Stuart Damon instead. If that seems a bit of a letdown, the supporting cast makes up for it, with Celeste Holm, Walter Pidgeon, Ginger Rogers, Jo Van Fleet, Pat Carroll, and Barbara Ruick; with its brilliant color recording, it becomes an annual tradition for several years. 

*The live broadcast, on March 31, drew the largest television audience in history up to that time—107 million Americans, in a country of 172 million.

In other headlines, a blonde-wigged Jane Wyatt is scheduled to appear in an NBC telefilm entitled The Widow-Maker. I don't see anything like that in her TV-filmography; could it be the autumn 1964 movie See How They Run, also known as the first made-for-TV movie? And staying with NBC, David Frost is scheduled to appear in the first three episodes of the upcoming season's That Was the Week That Was

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The great Robert Duvall did a lot of television back in the day, and you can see him twice this week, in two top dramas. 

On Saturday, Duvall stars in "Metamorphosis," an intriguing episode of The Defenders (7:30 p.m., CBS) which finds Preston representing Luke Jackson, a death-row inmate convicted seven years ago of killing a police officer, who's facing his eighth and final clemency hearing. Preston argues that Jackson's a model prisoner who's been fully rehabilitated and should have his death sentence commuted to life; the DA, who's fought Jackson each and every time, doesn't believe a killer can be rehabilitated in only seven years. The Defenders is one of those shows where you're not guaranteed that the Prestons will win, so I wonder how it turns out. We can find out here.

Keeping with the crime-and-punishment theme, a repeat episode of Arrest and Trial (Sunday, 7:30 p.m., ABC) stars Macdonald Carey as a law professor with a contract out on his life, courtesy of two disgruntled students (Chris Robinson and Joe Gallison). And today's teachers think they have it rough. On What's My Line? (9:30 p.m., CBS), director Joseph L. Manckiewicz tests the crew's ability to fit all those letters on a nameplate when he appears as a guest panelist, along with Arlene, Bennett and Dorothy.

Duvall's second appearance of the week comes Monday on The Outer Limits (6:30 p.m., ABC); in "The Chameleon," Duvall plays an intelligence agent sent to infiltrate a party of space aliens who've made a forced landing on Earth. The episode's written by Robert Towne, who'd later win an Oscar for his screenplay for Chinatown, and it costars Howard Caine, more familiar as Major Hochstetter on Hogan's Heroes. Meanwhile, Robert Redford plays the heavy in a Breaking Point episode (9:00 p.m., ABC) in which he finds group-therapy sessions to be "a perfect exercise for his sadistic tendencies."

Tuesday gives us a foursquare option of shows to watch (depending on where you live). Louis Jourdan's suave as a threat to Jack Palance's management of the circus in The Greatest Show on Earth (7:30 p.m., ABC); the next time we see him at the circus, he's trying to have the big top blown up while James Bond tries to stop him in Octopussy. Next, Oscar winner Rita Moreno is the guest on The Jack Benny Program (8:30 p.m., CBS), and that's followed by Florence Henderson hosting The Bell Telephone Hour showcase for new talent (9:00 p.m., NBC) The only name I recognize is Anita Gillette, who first appeared on TV with Ed Sullivan in 1963. At the same time, if you live in Duluth, you can see last week's Hollywood Palace on WDSM, and you'd probably want to, because the host is the one, the only, Groucho.

's a pretty quiet day, so we'll focus on the game show You Don't Say! (2:30 p.m., NBC). Mel Tormé and Ruta Lee are the celebrity guests, and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy appears to accept a gift for the John F. Kennedy Memorial Library. In prime time, 77 Sunset Strip (9:00 p.m., ABC) nears the end of its controversial sixth and final season with a rerun from the fifth season: "Terror in a Small Town," the only episode of the series we skipped. Reason: Kookie's being framed for a crime he didn't commit. Talk about the cliché of putting one of the regulars in false jeopardy; if you're unsure how it ends, you deserve whatever you get.

You don't see novels adapted on episodic television all that often, considering how hard it is to condense a book into a movie-length running time, but Thursday's Kraft Suspense Theatre (9:00 p.m., NBC) pulls it off with "The Deep End," an adaptation of mystery novelist John D. MacDonald's The Drowner. It doesn't feature MacDonald's famous creation Travis McGee, but then, neither did The Executioners, and that didn't hurt the story when it was made into the movie Cape Fear.

On Friday, we'll look at a contrasting pair of attractions: the 13th annual International Beauty Spectacular (7:30 p.m,., NBC), hosted by Hugh O'Brian live from Long Beach, California. I think I've mentioned this pageant before, but I'm too lazy to check it out; the winner, who I did check out, is Gemma Cruz, Miss Phillippines. At 9:00 p.m. on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Pat Buttram, best known as the comic Western sidekick of so many movies and TV shows, makes his first non-Western appearance in "The Jar," adapted from the short story by Ray Bradbury. Collin Wilcox, James Best, Slim Pickens, George Lindsay, Billy Barty and Jocelyn Brando are among the co-stars.
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Finally, it's been a while since we've done a fashion spread, and what better way to say "welcome back" than with the lovely Miss Anna Maria Alberghetti, star of stage, screen and television. She would have been 28 at the time of this photoshoot, two years off from having won a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical for Carnival. Music was her background; she performed at Carnegie Hall when she was 13; two years later she was in a film version of the Gian Carlo Menotti opera The Medium, At 16, she opened for Red Skelton in Las Vegas. On television, she'd perform with Martin & Lewis, and guested on programs from Wagon Train to The Hollywood Palace. She's still with us today at age 86, and was still performing even a few years ago. 

One website described her as "young, beautiful and talented," and I see no reason to disagree with any part of that assessment. In these pictures, she's wearing items from Renee Firestone's summer collection (and check out her remarkable life when you have time), but I don't think this is a case of clothes making the woman, do you? TV  

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