October 29, 2022

This week in TV Guide: October 28, 1967

We've got a Cleveland Amory 2-for-1 this week, and that's a hard offer to pass up, especially when Cleve has the cover story. Your level of interest will vary depending on how you feel about Hollywood society. 

Our story begins with Hollywood itself, which Amory says is "only a dream," and like other mythical dreams, it was discovered more or less by accident, but most certainly by D.W. Griffith, who'd been sent by the Biography company to make the movie In Old California. Griffith had settled in downtown Los Angeles, but soon found everything he needed in Hollywood. He was soon joined by Cecil B. DeMille, who wound up in Hollywood after having tried to film a western in Flagstaff, where he had found "a raging blizzard and not a single Indian, for free, for hire or for reservations." Like Griffith before him, DeMille found Hollywood to his liking, and soon, "month by month, year by year, the dream factory grew." Anyone could give it a try; as Lewis Selznick once said, "The motion-picture business takes less brains than anything else in the world." (A statement that has yet to be disproved?)

Amory goes on to relate the stories of the stars who made Hollywood glamorous, "the boys who would be gods and the girls who would be goddesses." There was Mary Pickford, who at age 16 had been discovered by Griffith for $5 a picture; "Several years later she herself drew up her contract, which called for $10,000 a week, plus half the profits of her pictures." No wonder she was in at the beginning of United Artists. Clark Gable arrived in a train from Portland, "with four handkerchiefs, two clean shirts, and $2 in cash." He married up, and ten years later he was a star. So did Lucille LeSueur, who waited on tables at age 9, did homework for classmates at 14, did some time in the chorus line, and wound up being Joan Crawford. Greta Garbo was, according to Louis B. Mayer, "too fat," but she made it anyway. Gloria Swanson took baths in a solid gold bathtub, Dolores del Rio drank from a golden chalice, Tom Mix had a drawing room with a fountain that sprayed water in all sorts of colors. I guess, if that's your thing.

Mansions were all the rage. Marion Davies had three, including a 14-room bungalow. Harold Lloyd's boasted the world's largest Christmas tree, with 50,000 ornaments. (Now that's my kind of guy.) At Pickfair, home of Pickford and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, practical jokes were in; Fairbanks had the dining chairs wired so visitors (even royalty) could be given the "hot seat." And the excess wasn't limited to architecture, either; in promoting an upcoming picture, Sam Goldwyn's advertising department came up with the tag line that We Live Again combined "The directorial genius of Mamoulian, the beauty of Sten and the producing genius of Goldwyn [naturally]" to make "the world's greatest entertainment." Said Goldwyn, "That is the kind of ad I like. Facts. No exaggeration."

Part two of Cleve's chronicle, to appear in the following week's issue, promises to reveal how the Hollywood giants saw themselves and others. They can't do any better than Fred Allen, who once observed acidly that movie stars even wore sunglasses to church. "They're afraid," he said, "God might recognize them and ask them for their autographs."

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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: actress-singer Polly Bergen; pianist Peter Nero; dancer-choreographer Peter Gennaro; ventriloquist Senor Wences; comedians Myron Cohen and Richard Pryor; the Cowsills; and juggler Jean Claude.

Palace: Host Bing Crosby presents comic pianist Victor Borge, singers Roger Miller and Gail Martin, comedian Paul Lynde, Fred and Mickie Finn's ragtime group, and the United Nations Children's Choir.

Unlike many weeks, the lineups here are light on vaudeville acts; the only listed one belongs to Jean Claude on the Sullivan show. Otherwise, things look pretty evenly matched; I've never been a particular fan of children's choirs, especially the UN choir with the kids all in their "native" costumes (I always enjoy how they put the Arab states next to Israel, no doubt hoping to help create peace for future generations). On the other hand, all that really does is offset the Cowsills. And with Roger Miller, Dean Martin's daughter Gail (who can really sing), and Victor Borge, the Palace has a crowd-pleasing lineup—enough so that it gives Palace the win by a phonetic exclamation point.

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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. 

Cleveland Amory's second appearance this week takes us to the world of the television sitcom, and the new CBS series He & She. It's become fashionable over the years to regard He & She as a sitcom that was ahead of its time, a witty and sophisticated precursor to such adult shows as those starring Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart. It's kind of surprising, therefore, that our man Cleve is not so bullish on He & She, viewing it as one that "at best is mildly amusing high camp—and, at worst, is wildly confusing low bunk." 

For Amory, He & She is farce, played completely and entirely for laughs, but for farce to be successful, "you must give your audience such a steady rolling barrage of laughs that they forget you are robbing them of all that is nearest and dearest to them—which is believability." To accomplish this, the producers have surrounded our winsome starts, Dick and Paula (Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss) with a supporting cast of "supposedly screamingly funny regulars," each of whom, according to Amory, is at best a one- or two-joke caricature doing the same one or two jokes each week. "By the 15th time they have done the same thing, we are ready to scream—but unfortunately not with laughter."

Amory picks out Jack Cassady as the worst offender, "directed so far over [the top] that he is actually fascinatingly infuriating." Cassidy's character, the egotistic actor Oscar North, has of course widely been considered the template for MTM's egotistic anchorman Ted Baxter (Ted Knight), one of television sitcom's iconic characters. As for the leads, he views Benjamin as fine, although "his nasal voice is a pretty harsh irritant," while Prentiss, whose character is one of the first working wives on television, is "a lovely sight, but she is obviously an acquired taste." Apparently, if He & She was ahead of its time for viewers, it was also ahead of its time for Cleveland Amory. But sometimes Cleve reassesses his reviews at the end of the season; I wonder if he did here as well?

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Before reality television, before daytime chatfests, before Barbara Walters asking you what kind of tree you would be, there was a somewhat more demure, now mostly forgotten program called Personality, a game show which ran on NBC from 1967 to 1969 and, according to Edith Efron, caused its celebrity guests to "park their inhibitions." 

Personality, with host Larry Blyden
Created by Bob Stewart, who's brought us such successful shows as To Tell the Truth, Password, The Price Is Right and Eye Guess, Personality "is based on several solid premises: (1) that the public is curious about what celebrities are 'really' like; (2) that celebrities are curious about what other celebrities are 'really' like; and (3) that celebrities are curious about what the rest of the public things they are 'really' like." Each show has three celebrity panelists. First, they try to guess the answers to questions posed to other celebrities, who appear on tape. Second, they try to guess how their fellow panelists answer questions. Third, they try to guess what the public thinks about each of them. Hopefully, that makes sense. 

The questions come from a master questionnaire written by Stewart, consisting of hundreds of questions "of a personal nature," and they come across as something of an existential Dating Game. Many of them are about sex: "What do you think about sex?" "What's the best way to keep monogamy from turning into monotony?" Others are ethical or fanciful: "If you slept during the next 10 years, what's the first thing you'd like to know when you woke up?" "What do you think is man's greatest weakness?" Finally, there are what Efron terms "intensely personal questions": "What causes you to feel weak in the knees?" "If you had to describe your own personal kind of hell, what would it be like?" I knew things would get interesting!

Although I tend to be one who looks at these celebrity confessionals and shouts "TMI!" there's no question that the format seems to deliver on what it promises. The questions "force people to use their imagination, they force them into deep self-expression. They make people express things they have on their minds and hearts which they don't ordinarily express," Stewart says. "They often say after an interview, 'My God, it's like going to a psychiatrist!'" That may sound like hype, but the answers are surprisingly self-revelatory. When asked, if reincarnation was real, how she would like to come back, Zsa Zsa Gabor replied, "Like I started but without all the mistakes I made." Robert Vaughn, asked the quickest way for a woman to reach his heart, said, "adulation toward me and total silence." And, perhaps most revealing is Henry Morgan's answer when asked if anything is a fate worse than death: "Living."

Efron is impressed by the insight shown by some panelists when asked to guess how the celebrity answers. Skitch Henderson, for instance, correctly deduced Sammy Davis Jr.'s definition of love from the three options given him by reflecting on Davis's relationship with wife Mai Britt: "I think the sort of thing he would say about love would be associated with Mai, so he would say: 'Looking across the room at your wife and just smiling.'" He was right. And when it comes to guessing how the public viewed them, the celebs were split; Henry Morgan was delighted to find he'd correctly predicted that the public, when asked if Morgan were president of a bank, would demand heavy collateral on all loans. On the other hand, Bill Cullen was disappointed when he was told that the public, given the choice of casting him as a clever lawyer, a mad scientist, or the fellow who doesn't get the girl, chose the last option. He'd hoped they'd see him as the clever lawyer.

As far as I could tell, there are a couple of Personality episodes on YouTube; you can see one of them here, with Jack Cassidy, Joan Rivers, and Flip Wilson on the panel. (The other episode, which is uploaded in two parts, appears to be from the same week.) Take a look at it and see if you think something like this would work today.

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There's plenty more to watch this week, starting with Saturday's rematch of last season's college football Game of the Century, as Michigan State travels to Notre Dame to play the Fighting Irish. (1:30 p.m. CT, ABC). Unlike last year's showdown of undefeateds, each side has lost twice coming into this year's matchup. The difference in the two teams' fortunes: after Notre Dame wins 24-12, they run the table and finish the year 8-2, ranked #5 in the nation; Michigan State, on the other hand, will win only once more, en route to a disappointing 3-7 record. As integration eliminates the pipeline that brought black players to northern schools, it will be decades before Michigan State is a national contender again.

's highlights include the TV premiere of Hud (8:00 p.m., ABC), which Judith Crist calls "extraordinary," featuring a towering performance in the title role by Paul Newman, "the soulless man who not only remarks that he doesn't give a damn—but doesn't." Patricia Neal (Best Actress), Melvyn Douglas (Best Supporting Actor) and James Wong Howe (Best B&W Cinematography) won Oscars, and the movie has been considered a classic almost since its 1963 debut. If that sounds a little too intense for you, you might prefer the delightful Hayley Mills in Pollyanna, spread over three weeks on The Wonderful World of Color (6:30 p.m., NBC).

Next, it's a Monday Night Football trial run, with the Green Bay Packers and St. Louis Cardinals facing off from St. Louis (8:30 p.m., CBS). It's established TV history that CBS turned down the rights to MNF in 1970, leaving ABC to pick up the pieces; I've often wondered how much CBS regretted that move over the years.

Tuesday's Jerry Lewis Show (7:00 p.m., NBC) features what sounds like a truly atrocious premise: a trio of Jerry, Don Rickles. and Dorothy Provine singing "Bosom Buddies." Maybe it isn't as bad as all that—I'm a fan of Dorothy's going back to The Roaring '20s, and she can do it all—but it's probably best to keep one's expectations low. Better yet, check out tonight's episode of The Invaders (7:30 p.m., ABC) in which David Vincent tries to infiltrate a conference of world leaders that may mask an alien plot. This would explain a lot about our world today, wouldn't it? And at 8:00 p.m., NBC presents its first made-for-TV movie of the season, Stranger on the Run, with Henry Fonda as a murder suspect being hunted for sport by a sheriff and his two deputies. 

Jack Benny is the host on Wednesday's Kraft Music Hall (8:00 p.m., NBC), with an eclectic lineup: Liberace, singer Astrud Gilberto, concert violinist Michael Rabin, rock band the Blues Magoos, and two comedians who can also play musical instruments: the aforementioned Henry Morgan on violin, and Morey Amsterdam on cello. I started to wonder why Don Rickles wasn't included, but have no fear: he's Ben Gaszara's client on tonight's Run for Your Life (9:00 p.m., NBC). Don plays a comedian charged with assault, and we'll leave it at that.

We've seen numerous examples of how Golden Age dramas were fleshed out into theatrical films—Requiem for a Heavyweight, Marty, Patterns, 12 Angry Men—and this week we see another, with the TV premiere of 1962's Days of Wine and Roses (Thursday, 8:00 p.m., CBS), which Judith Crist calls "a grim and graphic depiction" of alcoholism, and boasts top performances from Jack Lemmon and Lee Remick. Speaking of top performers, I don't know how good tonight's episode of Cimarron Strip (6:30 p.m., CBS) is, but you can't beat the heavyweight guest cast, which includes Richard Boone, Andrew Duggan, Robert Duvall, Morgan Woodward, and Ed Flanders. And on F. Lee Bailey's interview show Good Company (9:00 p.m., ABC), Lee visits with Nobel Prize-winner Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On Friday, the Bell Telelphone Hour (9:00 p.m., NBC) travels to England for highlights from the Aldeburgh Festival, hosted by one of the 20th century's most notable composers, Benjamin Britten. Later, on WTCN's 10:00 movie, James Stewart stars in The Spirit of St. Louis, the story of Charles Lindbergh and his famous flight. I mention this only because I'm fairly sure I watched this when it was on back then; I've seen it again since, but when you're a kid, you don't forget the feeling of being able to stay up late watching TV because it's not a school night, and the 10:00 movie was, if I'm not mistaken, sponsored by the auto dealership Downtown Chevytown, which of course used Petula Clark's song as its theme. Ah, the things that stick in your mind.    

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As I've said before, we're all about linkage here, and since Cleveland Amory brought up Paula Prentiss earlier, it would be very, very wrong to ignore the fashion layout she does in this week's issue. Here's, she's displaying four fall outfits designed by Viola Sylbert for Albert Altus. not that you'd notice, but the plastic and Lucite chair was designed by Phil Orenstein for Mass Art. Paula Prentiss and Richard Benjamin were married in 1961, and often performed together. They're both still around, still married, 61 years later.

What was it Cleve said about her being an acquired taste?

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This week's MST3K alert: Kitten with a Whip (Friday, 11:10 p.m., KDAL). "A young girl who has escaped from prison threatens the career of a politically ambitious man." Ann-Margret, John Forsythe, Peter Brown. The only MST3K episode that I wasn't able to finish watching even once, not even to see them give this movie its well-deserved scorn. 

Honorable mention: Attack of the Mushroom People, a 1964 Japanese sci-fi flick, never made it but should have. "A yachting party, cast ashore on an uncharted island, encounters a horrifying fungus." Anybody for a horror reboot of Gilligan's Island? That'll really give the Professor something to do. TV 

1 comment:

  1. The PERSONALITY episodes on YT are from consecutive days, Mon./Tues. July 28 & 29, 1969, in the show's last months on NBC. Your link goes to the July 29 episode, which GSN reran back in the 1990s, when it was good about showing classic game shows. I loved the banter among the celebs, who all knew each other to a degree. Larry & Jack mention that Larry was wearing the jacket that Jack wore the previous day, and if you look at the other YT episode, Jack is indeed wearing that same jacket. Jack proudly mentions that his son, David, was soon to appear on IRONSIDE, as David's career was just getting started. On the 7/29 episode, the guest celebrity near the end (on film) was Jack's then-wife, Shirley Jones. I guess there were no issues w/ Standards & Practices about this. Jack was perceived to be egotistical to some degree, but I thought here anyway he was very humble & witty.
    I thought the game's presentation was great, w/ a nice theme song by Bob Cobert (reused a few years later for Bob Stewart's THREE ON A MATCH), but I thought the gameplay itself was somewhat dull. I thought the idea of peering into celebs' personal lives was better done a few years later on the CBS game show TATTLETALES, which I loved watching as a youngster & can still enjoy today.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!