October 8, 2022

This week in TV Guide: October 5, 1968

As you have no doubt noticed over the years, we occasionally dip a toe into the world of high fashion—especially when it involves an attractive Hollywood actress, although that part of it is purely coincidental. 

This week, however, high fashion demands our attention, as a panel of experts looks at the design habits of some of television's biggest female stars in a fascinating roundtable discussion moderated by TV Guide's Dick Hobson. The experts: Cardinali, a high-priced Beverly Hills couturier who designs for That Girl's Marlo Thomas; Mr. Blackwell, chronicler of the infamous 10 Worst Dressed list; Edith Head, longtime studio designer and winner of eight Academy Awards (seven at the time of this writing); George Whittaker, head of wardrobe for CBS in Hollywood; and Bill Theiss, designer for Star Trek. Their observations are occasionally catty but often insightful, and frequently delve into the reasons behind certain fashion looks. Naturally, we can't replicate the entire article, but hopefully these excerpts will give you a glimpse into their thinking.

There's general agreement that Mission: Impossible's Barbara Bain stands at the top of the current fashion pyramid; Cardinali calls her "terribly well-groomed. She's pure woman on that show." Head says her look is "Beautiful, elegant and sexy," and Theiss adds that "She's sure as hell the best-looking thing that comes into most people's homes." Whittaker makes a very accurate comment: "You're always left with the impression that she was dressed correctly." Cardinali says that "[photographer Richard] Avedon would die to have that kind of model, she's so agile!"

About Lucille Ball, the group is divided. Cardinali sees her look as "ageless!" but Theiss counters that "she's anachronistic. Her taste in clothes reflects a past era—and not a fashionable past era. She subconsciously remembers the Forties as her best period and wears the styles she wore then." Blackwell is astute in saying that "People who adore Lucy are relating back. She makes them feel younger. She moves back 25 years of their lives." Theiss suggests that Lucy "apparently thinks that the only way for her to be contemporary is to be funny and campy, like playing a hippie or something, and she doesn't realize she could do it straight and be marvelous."

Carol Burnett gets mixed reviews as well; Head says, "I don't think Carol Burnett is interested in projecting a fashion image, more in projecting her own inimitable brand of humor." Whittaker describes her as "like an overgrown little girl with her two long gawky legs. But I see a Fun Girl who can look glamorous if she really wants to try." Blackwell is bluntly descriptive: "She looks like the farmer girl who came to the big city and overdressed!" 

What can you possibly say about Zsa Zsa Gabor? Head recognizes Zsa Zsa's dressing as her "signature," and Whittaker says that with her strong personality, "there is nothing you can put on this woman that is going to overpower her." Theiss thinks she "tends to overemphasize her sexual appeal because that's the only thing she's confident of." Blackwell says "Mae West plays satire and admits it. Zsa Zsa thinks she's for real—there's the difference." 

Nancy Sinatra gets mostly good reviews; Head calls her appearance "as carefully worked out as you work out a piece of theater—thoroughly professional," and Blackwell praises her boots-and-miniskirts look "because she has marvelously clean legs." On the other hand, Theiss isn't so positive, calling her a "product" who's "playing it younger than she is. I remember when I was a teen-ager being very annoyed at actors playing teen-agers who I knew were 10 or 15 years older." 

Since Cardinali works with Marlo Thomas, you can expect she's bullish on the look: "Marlo is a clothes horse! . . she's really lots of fashion1 Kicky! Wonderful!" But Blackwell ain't buying it: "I don't mind a woman trying to look as youthful as possible in her own age bracket. But Marlo's playing a girl os 22 or 23, yet her appearance has a sub-teen look! It's pre-brains!" Theiss adds that "Nancy Sinatra makes it work; Marlo doesn't."

In other commends, Jayne Meadows gets a thumbs-down (Whittaker: "Jayne Meadows is so overly dressed it's not funny! She puts everything on but the kitchen sink."), as does daytime talk show host Gypsy Rose Lee (Cardinali says "What a clothes hanger she is! Just outrageously marvelous," while Whittaker calls her "the most horribly dressed woman I know!"

It is, as I say, a very interesting analysis, and it's obvious that our experts all understand the psychology of dressing as much as the visual aspect. Unfortunately, there are no pictures of any of the women in question. But, being that you're reading this courtesy of the internet, I'm sure you'll have no problem making up the difference.

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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: Tentatively scheduled: Tony Bennett, performing with Woody Herman and his orchestra; singers Dionne Warwick and Tiny Tim; comedian Flip Wilson; the Kessler Twins, singer-dancers; and unicyclist Goetchie. Also: the cast of the off-Broadway musical "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown."

Palace: Host Jimmy Durante presents Joey Heatherton, Don Ho and the Allis, the Lennon Sisters, the comedy team of Lewis and Christy, and six finalists in the Olympic tryouts for the U.S. gymnastic team.

This week's choice is, when you come down to it, pretty easy. The Palace looks to me like a tryout for next season's Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters, and I can't see Joey Heatherton's name without thinking of Lola Heatherton. Ed's holding all the cards tonight, starting with Tony Bennett and Woody Herman, so there's no doubt about the outcome: Ed's the winner, hands down.

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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. 

We've had just about every kind of cop show on television, so Cleveland Amory isn't surprised that ABC has finally turned to "the teen-agent, or bop cop. Not even a quiz kid, nor even a whiz kid, but a genuine fuzz kid." Furthermore, Cleve adds, "you have three of them—a white boy, a black boy and a white girl. This is, of course, in keeping with the black-and-white trend in color shows this season." There can be only one show we're talking about: The Mod Squad.

For the uninitiated, our three heroes are young people, in trouble with the law, who are given a choice: "pay their debt to society or join the boys in blue." They don't go all the way, of course: they don't carry guns, they don't arrest people, and they don't fink on their friends. Instead, their mission is to try and turn them away from trouble before it's too late, for both them and society. As Amory points out, most of the crimes in the show occur as the result of "seemingly bad-guy young fry" being used as pawns by evil adults. "And what could be better TV than half-bad, half-cop kids vs. all-bad, anti-kid adults?"

Despite all these word games, Amory likes The Mod Squad. While the excess violence bothers him, there's a depth to the characters that is unexpected, and welcome. "On the surface these kids may seem to have chosen just to cop in instead of copping out. But underneath, they are searching not only for desperate criminals but also, sometimes equally desperately, for their own identities." It's sure to appeal to those young viewers who find themselves in a similar search. The acting is equally good; Clarence Williams III and Michael Cole are no threat to Bill Cosby and Robert Culp, but they have more integrity. And while Peggy Lipton could be a bit more expressive, "remember, she's playing it the way kids are—not the way you evil adults wish they were." Amory gives it a B for the show and an A for effort; The Mod Squad lasts for five successful and influential seasons.

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And now I'm hoping you'll indulge my interest in classic sports one more time to look at another World Series, although in fact you have no choice, other than to stop reading altogether and come back next week in hopes that I've moved on to something else. The simple truth, though, is that whenever you're dealing with television in early October, at least in this time period, you're going to run into the Series, and the 1968 edition is notable for several reasons. It's the last World Series to take place prior to the start of divisional play (and playoffs), which means it's the last Series to be played this early in the month. It is, I think, an underappreciated Series for several reasons, but today we're going to take a look at its most famous moment, perhaps one of the most famous in baseball history—and it takes place before the game's first pitch is even thrown.

It happens on Monday, October 7th, before the fifth game, played in Detroit, between the Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals. (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC) Ernie Harwell, the legendary Tigers radio announcer (who was also a songwriter, albeit an unsuccessful one; "As a songwriter, I’ve got a no-hitter going," he used to joke), had been asked by Tigers general manager Jim Campbell to select the singers for the games to be played in Detroit. (I imagine something like that is done by the commissioner's office today.) Harwell chose Detroit native Margaret Whiting for the third game, and Motown star Marvin Gaye for Game 4 (more on him later), but he had something different in mind for Monday’s Game 5, a young singer he liked, who’d scored some hits, including a cover of The Doors’ "Light My Fire": José Feliciano. And, well—

As you can hear from the live broadcast, fan reaction to Feliciano’s folk-blues rendition is muted, and you can hear what sounds like some jeering starting as NBC goes to a commercial break. Down on the field, there is no mistake. "Well, I heard some cheers, but they were very sparse," Feliciano says. "And I heard a lot of boos. And I said, 'Who, what did I do? Why are they booing me?'" NBC is flooded with thousands of angry letters and calls, as are the Tigers offices; editorial writers have their say as well. One Detroit resident accuses Harwell of being a communist for recommending such a performance.

It's hard to see, from today's vantage point, what all the fuss is about. Certainly I've heard much worse versions of the National Anthem, both in quality and performance. Although it’s certainly an unorthodox arrangement, it doesn’t trade in on the inherent dignity of the song’s meaning. It is, however, a controversy of its time, of the awful year of unrest and violence engulfing the country, and I suppose this was inevitable.

I mentioned Marvin Gaye earlier, and the irony is that Gaye's rendition the day before was an honest and straightforward one; he admitted later that he'd been encouraged to tone it down a bit, and Tigers catcher Bill Freehan said that Feliciano's version made Gaye "sound like a square." Gaye would later perform the Anthem at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game, a performance in which the actual intent of the song as the "National Anthem" is lost amidst a kind of ersatz "Sexual Healing" that hardly calls to mind Francis Scott Key and the bombing of Fort McHenry. Feliciano may have made Gaye sound like a square in 1968, but in 1983 Gaye made Feliciano's sound like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir by comparison. 

Anyway, the Tigers win that fifth game, 5-3; stay tuned for how it all ends.

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Highlights: There's an interesting article about the varying approaches that Nixon and Humphrey are taking to television in this jet age, but I don't have the stomach for politics at the moment (you'd probably think, looking at me, that it's the only thing I don't have in the stomach). Therefore, we'll talk for a moment about politics and movies, at least on TV. This week, ABC's Wednesday night movie presents the television premiere of the 1964 black comedy Dr. Strangelove (9:00 p.m.). Judith Crist calls Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece "Swiftian satire at its best, a scathing survey of the human and his propensity for self-destruction." With "unique" performances by Peter Sellers, George C. Scott, Sterling Hayden, and others, Crist says Strangelove is "undoubtedly the most significant American film of the past 20 years." 

Crist also has kind words for Khartoum (Saturday, 9:00 p.m., NBC) a masterful and literate epic on the 1833 siege of Khartoum, with Charlton Heston in "his best performance to date" as General Gordon, and Laurence Olivier "simply stunning" as the fanatic leader of the dervishes. I've meant to check that movie out, but now I'll have to get more serious. Sunday sees the Beatles star on The Smothers Brothers Show (9:00 p.m., CBS) in the first of two taped performances; other guests include Nancy Sinatra, and I wonder if she displays the clean legs that Mr. Blackwell so appreciated. 

's episode of The Avengers (7:30 p.m., ABC) hits perhaps a little too close to our times, as Steed and Tara investigate a mysterious epidemic that's killed one doctor after another. They suspect the bug is man-made, and investigate "a hypochondriac millionaire, a sinister nursing home, and a 'cold cure' clinic." (If only we'd had them on the case the last couple of years.) On Tuesday, the musical-comedy series That's Life (10:00 p.m., ABC) presents us with another "very special wedding" episode, as Robert and Gloria (Robert Morse and E.J. Peaker) finally tie the knot. (That this episode doesn't appear in many famous-TV-wedding lists attests to how this show was perhaps the Cop Rock of its time.) Thursday, Dragnet (9:30 p.m., NBC) has a fact-based episode detailing the measures taken by the LAPD to maintain peace in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King., Jr. 

Thursday marks the seventh and final game of the World Series (1:30 p.m., NBC), with the showdown between the two pitching aces of the Series: Bob Gibson from the Cardinals, and Mickey Lolich of the Tigers. A misplay of a fly ball by St. Louis's usually-dependable center fielder Curt Flood in the seventh inning leads to a two-run triple that breaks up a scoreless tie, and Detroit goes on to a 4-1 victory. Lolich, the Series MVP, becomes the last pitcher to-date to start and win a seventh game on two days' rest.

As you know, I'm not a big fan of "message" episodes, but the consistently-good Judd for the Defense (Friday, 10:00 p.m., ABC) puts Judd in a difficult place; his client, a black mechanic named Jady Crews (Bernie Hamilton), has been falsely convicted of murder. Does he follow Judd's maneuvering to reverse his life sentence, or does he go along with his militant son (the always-excellent Georg Stanford Brown), who wants him to use the occasion to denounce the "sick white society" and its discriminatory system of justice? Paul Lambert and Dabney Coleman make up a good supporting cast and Carl Betz, once again, is the eloquent spokesman for a justice that may never have existed and probably doesn't now, but one to which we should always aspire. 

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Last but certainly not least, on Friday it's the launch of Apollo VII, the first American manned spaceflight since the Apollo 1 fire that claimed the lives of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967. Apollo VII represents perhaps the most important American space mission since John Glenn's orbital flight, and for NASA to have any chance of meeting JFK's goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the decade, it is vital for this flight to succeed.

Underlining the criticality of the mission, NASA has put veteran astronaut Wally Schirra in command, with Donn Eisele and Walter Cunningham as the other members of the crew. Network coverage is expected to begin at 10:00 a.m., with the launch scheduled for 11:00 a.m. and updates throughout the day. If all goes well, daily television transmissions from the spacecraft—another first for an American spaceflight—are slated to begin Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

Despite some tense moments—the crew becomes congested from head colds; and the tough-as-nails Schirra, flying his last mission before retiring from NASA (he'll work as a space analyst with Cronkite at CBS), is constantly battling with Mission Control—the mission is a rousing success, and soon NASA makes the stunning announcement that Apollo VIII, will orbit the moon before the end of the year. And the beginning of another great adventure. TV  

1 comment:

  1. Ironically, Cardinali's clothes were priced beyond the reach of Thomas' character, a struggling actress working odd jobs between parts.

    The most surprising thing about THE MOD SQUAD is that is based on the real-life experiences of Los Angeles police officer Buddy Ruskin (who is listed in the end credits)



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