March 4, 2023

This week in TV Guide: March 4, 1967

Let's address first things first, with Leslie Raddatz's cover story profile of Leonard Nimoy. or "Where else but in America could a son of Russian immigrants become a television star with pointed ears?"

Star Trek is coming up on the end of its first season, and there's no question but that Nimoy has become the breakout star of the series. His father, a barber in Boston, has a picture of his son in costume with a caption reading, "This is a sample of the Spock haircut." His friends call him "Mr. Spock." His mother works at a Boston variety story; there, "teen-agers come in and ask if they can just touch her." By way of explaination, Nimoy offers that "The kids dig the fact that Spock is cool." Gene Roddenberry, predictably, has a more cerebral theory; "We're all im- prisoned within ourselves. We're all aliens on this strange planet. So people find identification with Spock." Actress Evelyn Ward, who went to drama school with Nimoy, thinks it's the actor's "great animal magnetism."

It's been a long road to success for Leonard Nimoy; he started out at the age of eight, playing Hansel in a Peabody Playhouse production of Hansel and Gretel. He was still there at age 16, by which time some of his performances were being directed by a young student named Boris Sagal. He made his way to Hollywood, where he took a class at the Pasadena Playhouse, married, got drafted, and spent 18 months in the military. When he returned to acting, he augmented his income with stings as vacuum cleaner salesman, soda jerk, movie theater usher, and cab driver; one of his fares was a fellow Bostonian, then-Senator John F. Kennedy. "He was curious about everything," Nimoy remembers. "It was one of the most thrilling experiences I’ve ever had."

Through it all, he got better and better parts on TV, including an episode of The Lieutenant, produced by Roddenberry, who now says that he said to himself, "If I ever do a science-fiction show, I’m going to put pointed ears on him and use him." When Star Trek came around, Nimoy wasn't thrilled with the ears; no matter how many variations they tried, he was convinced they "just aren't going to work." Roddenberry promised him that "If the character doesn’t catch on in the first 13 weeks, I'll arrange for you to have an ear job." In case you hadn't noticed, he's still got the ears. He enjoys the stardom ("I feel warmed by it"), but it doesn't seem to have changed him much. He carries himself with a quietude and seriousness that impresses those he works with. "On the set, where nicknames are almost de rigueur, he is always addressed as Leonard, which may be a tribute to the dignity he brings to the character he plays."

Although Nimoy once wrote a book called I Am Not Spock, and he went on to star in series such as Mission: Impossible and In Search Of, it was as Spock that he was most closely identified. He appeared in all the movies with the original cast and interacted with other incarnations, and wrote a second volume of his memoirs called I Am Spock, in which he understood that "in some meaningful sense he had merged with Spock while distancing between fact and fiction." Rewatching the original series over the last couple of years, I've come to appreciate once again how much Star Trek owes to Spock, and the way Nimoy portrays him. Someone associated with the show once said that the writers had to struggle to prevent it from becoming The Mr. Spock Hour, and occasionally had to have William Shatner's Kirk take the lead in situations where it was more logical, to coin a phrase, for Spock to have acted instead. It's really impossible to imagine Star Trek without him, and that's probably the biggest tribute one can pay to an actor.

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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 guests: comedian Alan King; musical-comedy star Gwen Verdon of Broadway's "Sweet Charity," who sings the show's "If My Friends Could See Me Now"; actor-singer Robert Horton; singer Dionne Warwick; and Norman Wisdom of the Broadway musical comedy "Walking Happy." Also: comic Rodney Dangerfield, ventriloquist Christ Kirby and the Wychwoods, an animal act.

Palace: Host Steve Lawrence presents Phyllis Diller, Broadway songstress Florence Henderson and Bill Dana as skydiving instructor Jose Jimenez. Also: the singing Fuller Brothers; ventriloquist Russ Lewis; the Rhodins, aerialists; and Pat Anthony's wild animal act.

This is a really good snapshot of entertainment in the 1960s: Broadway entertainers, stand-up comics, sibling singing groups, and vaudevillian holdovers, such as animal acts and ventriloquists. So who do we like this week? The sensational Gwen Verdon has the Broadway edge, King and Dangerfield gets the nod over Diller, and you throw in Dionne Warwick in the deal. Don't misunderstand me; Palace has a very good lineup this week, but I think Sullivan's even better.

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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. 

About The Road West, NBC's new Western starring Barry Sullivan, Cleveland Amory has this encouraging thought: "There is nothing wrong with it, really, that a good script wouldn’t fix." Well, I suppose that's meant to be encouraging, but what Cleveland giveth with one hand, he taketh away with the other: don't count on getting one. 

Case in point: an episode featuring Lloyd Nolan as an old hunter named Jed. The writers were able to shoehorn him into the format of the show by having him dine with Ben Pride (Sullivan) and his family, and then had a member of said family, Tim (Andrew Prine), witness Jed shooting someone down. "But, honestly," Cleve says, "this story would have fitted just about as well into Girl Talk (he was always talking) or The French Chef (he was always cooking)." In the end, "Tim is forced to shut him up for good by shooting him—honestly, he was an awful talker." I can understand Cleve's frustration; anyone who's seen a Western starring Gary Cooper or Alan Ladd knows that the road West was built by men who did more work and less talk. 

Talk, in fact, seems to be a hallmark of The Road West; another episode—unrelated, if you can believe it—stars Gena Rowlands, with whom Pride family friend Chance (Glenn Corbett) has fallen in love, even though she's already married to Tom Collier (Victor Jory), a mean and bitter man. When asked how she could have ever fallen in love with a man like that, she explains, "When Tom Collier first came into my life, he talked and talked." And then there was the "tough-luck cowpoke" played by Tony Bill, an escaped killer who runs off with guest star Brenda Scott. "You know who you are?" he asks her rhetorically. "You're the girl in the white dress who would never talk to me. There was always a girl in a white dress who would never talk to me. . . ." Clearly, he was in the wrong episode, because there seems to be no shortage of talk on The Road West. And, Amory concludes, that may be why the Old West is no longer: they "talked it to death."

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Elsewhere in this issue, The Doan Report discusses CBS's new fall schedule, and one of the headliners is the apparent cancellation of Gunsmoke after 12 seasons. Now, you and I know that this is not the case, because we have the benefit of hindsight and thus know that Babe Paley will intervene with her husband (who just happens to be the chairman of the network) on behalf of her favorite show, and therefore Gunsmoke stays (for another eight seasons!) and Gilligan's Island goes instead. But the rest of the list of cancelled favorites holds true: What's My Line?, To Tell the Truth, I've Got a Secret, Candid Camera, The Danny Kaye Show, It's About Time, Mr. Terrific, Pistols 'n' Petticoats, and Coliseum. But what's to take the place of these departed shows?

That question, in part, is answered in this week's "As We See It" editorial, which is prefaced with the following explanation: "A year ago in this space we published a list of some of the shows being readied for the upcoming television season. A lot of readers thought we were kidding. Television couldn't really be planning to show those programs, they said. Then the new season arrived. We weren't kidding." This year they repeat the exercise; "We are asking you to believe that the following list is authentic, genuine, bona fide and the real McCoy." So herewith are, "so help us—some of the dozens of new series which the networks are considering for next season." From the list they've provided, here are some of the best, or worst, depending on how you look at it. And despite their warnings that "only a few of them will find berths in the fall schedule," some of them do, in fact, show up there, including the very first:
  • The Flying Nun
  • Return of the Original Yellow Tornado
  • Alfred of the Amazon
  • Walter of the Jungle
  • Maya (an elephant)
  • Dhondo (another elephant)
  • Gentle Ben (a bear)
  • I Married a Bear (no relation to Ben—this one's a pro football player)
  • Three's a Crowd (about a guy married to two girls)
  • My Husbands, Tom and John (about a girl married to two guys)
  • The Outside Man (he was convicted of a crime he didn't commit)
  • The Outsider (an unorthodox detective)
  • Blood and Miss Thunder
  • Ready, Willing and Pamela
  • Jungle Jenny
  • Judd
  • Mannix
  • Hondo
  • The Pickle Brothers
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Clyde
Now, you're obviously going to recognize some of them: Mannix, Judd, Hondo, and Gentle Ben all made the cut, as did The Outsider (starring Darren McGavin; it ran for one season) and Maya (based on the movie of the same name). But think of how absurd a series called The Flying Nun must have sounded? Blasphemy! And the idea of two series based on bigamy? It must have come from the people responsible for Mr. Terrific and Captain Nice. As for the rest, one can only speculate on what they were about, what the title might have been changed to, and why anyone would have come up with the idea in the first place. 

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On the other hand, a couple of pros show us that not everything is as questionable as, say, Reaqdy, Willing and Pamela.

First off, a pictoral essay demonstrates the extensive makeup that Hal Holbrook undergoes when preparing for his one-man show, Mark Twain Tonight, which appears on CBS Monday night (9:30 p.m. PT). Holbrook's been doing the show since 1959, and won a Best Actor Tony for it in 1966. However, the requirements for television, with its close-ups, means that his makeup needs to be more complicated and sophisticated. 

According to the story, Holbrook and his makeup man, Dick Smith, spent 12 hours experimenting with foam-rubber makeup three separate times, with Holbrook looking at his appearance on a Sony video recorder. The results are more like wearing a mask than makeup, "but beneath that mask is Holbrook being Mark Twain.

Quite a transformation, isn't it?

The second old pro is even more distinguished: two-time Academy Award-winner Ingrid Bergman, who visits with Robert Musel in Paris while making a one-character show of her own, Jean Cocteau's The Human Voice, which will air on ABC's Stage 67 on May 4. 

The Human Voice is a 50-minute monologue, one side of a telephone conversation between an aging beauty and her lover, who is in the process of throwing her over for a younger woman. Bergman had done it as a record album several years ago, but has never acted it out until now, and the challenges are daunting. "There's a big difference between reading from a script into a recording microphone and learning thousands of words and acting to them," she says. "The problem is to take the monotony out of it. You have a woman on the phone for 50 minutes—I'll be glad when she finally hangs up. She loves him, she loves him, she loves him! She doesn’t want to hurt him. She doesn’t even want him to know that she knows he is lying to her." And don't look for another one-woman performance anytime soon; "this will be the last of its kind. I so enjoy working with actors, yet here I am all alone with a telephone."

Director Ted Kotcheff has been full of ideas for trying to open up the play, such as adding an old love letter, or having Bergman wake up screaming from a nightmare. He can afford to let his imagination go, for as Musel points out, in Bergman, he has "one of the most sensitive instruments available to any director." This will be only her fourth appearance on television; her first came in 1959 with her Emmy-winning perormance in NBC's The Turn of the Screw and followed that up with Twenty-Four Hours in a Woman's Life for CBS in 1961 and Hedda Gabler, again for CBS, in 1963. She enjoys working in the medium; "It's exciting finding a character on television. In a film it's always cut! cut! cut! for the close-ups. In television the camera does it, and you play the role from the beginning to the end. You can build and you can feel the emotion."

Bergman is still one of the great beauties of the screen; nearing 50, the makeup people still had to age her appearance for The Human Voice (although not as much as they did for Hal Holbrook), and while she is devoted to her children (including future actress Isabella Rossellini, who has been recovring from a back condition, and future journalist Pia Lindstrom, who has just started a San Francisco TV talk show), she also believes they need to figure out how to live with being the child of a famous mother. There are still more successes ahead for Ingrid Bergman, including a third Oscar, for Murder on the Orient Express, and a second Emmy, for 1982's A Woman Called Golda, her last acting role before she died of cancer that year.

In the vague and often frustrating world of television preservation, we're fortunate that both of these performances are available to us; you can see Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight! here, while Ingrid Bergman's The Human Voice can be seen here.

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There are a couple of additional prestige programs on the docket for this week, starting with ABC's Sunday Night Movie and the television premiere of George and Ira Gershwin's American folk opera Porgy and Bess (9:00 p.m.), starring Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis Jr., and Pear Bailey. Judith Crist finds it one of the rare big-screen movies that works better on television; "On the small screen much of the overblown quality will be lost," and even though the production is static, bordering on lethargic, the music is wonderful. Incidentelly, Poitier's singing voice is dubbed by baritone Robert McFerrin, the father of vocalist Bobby McFerrin. That's followed on Monday by another ABC production, the Lerner and Loewe musical Brigadoon (8:30 p.m.), with Robert Goulet, Peter Falk, and Sally Ann Howes. This is a rerun from last October, when the broadcast won critical raves.

On Tuesday, David Susskind's program (9:00 p.m., KQED) covers three topics that I can't help but think are intertwined somehow: U.S. foreign policy, alcoholism, and astrology. Prove me wrong. Also on Tuesday is the controversial CBS Reports special, "The Homosexuals" (10:00 p.m.), with Mike Wallace investigating the key questions: "Is homosexuality a physical or mental illness? Is it a moral crime, or just another product of biological and/or psychological circumstance, such as eye color or a fear of heights?" Wallace would go on to regret the report, saying in 1992, "I should have known better." 

I don't know if there's a category for the longest title of a television episode, but if there is, I'd suggest one of the contenders has to be "The Reason Nobody Hardly Ever Seen a Fat Outlaw in the Old West Is as Follows:", Wednesday night's comic episode of Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre (9:00 p.m., NBC), with Don Knotts as the Curley Kid, an outlaw so incompetent he not only can't get arrested, he can't even successfully break the law. Arthur Godfrey co-stars as Sheriff Tinsley, whom the Curley Kid presumably wants to arrest him.

Godfrey is also one of the guests on The Dean Martin Show (Thursday, 10:00 p.m., NBC), along with Sid Caesar, Peggy Lee, Joey Heatherton, and Bob Melvin; Dean's daughter Claudia also appears in a sketch. Acording to The Doan Report, Deano has now supplanted Bonanza as television's top-rated program, and with lineups like that, it's no wonder. That's on against ABC Stage 67, offering a program that both demonstrates the promise of the series and the reason why it wasn't a ratings success, especially against a show like Martin's. Hosted by Robert Young, it's a look a three poetic views of adolsecent romance, all performed by non-professional actors.

Finally, on Friday we've got a couple of choices: The Time Tunnell (8:00 p.m., ABC) takes Tony and Doug to 13th-century Mongolia for a meeting with Marco Polo. My question, and I'm just curious—did Tony and Doug ever run into anyone who wasn't famous, or a situation that was just ordinary? I can appreciate why dramatic necessity would render that idea absurd, but wouldn't it have been fun if they had popped up in the middle of Ozzie and Harriet or something, where the most important thing going on was whether or not Ricky got an after-school job? After that it's The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (8:30 p.m., NBC), in which Sonny and Cher make their TV acting debuts. It's a typical episode from the series' disasterous third season, and as the old saying goes, there are some things better left unsaid.

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MST3K alert: Gunslinger (Western; 1956) "After her husband is gunned down, Rose Hood takes his place temporarily as Marshal of a small Western town." Beverly Garland, John Ireland, Allison Hayes. (Wednesday, part of KGO's All Night Movie). Directed by Roger Corman, and shot in six days, it's one of the rare Westerns riffed on MST3K, and one of their better movies—not quite as ridiculous as you might think, and Corman actually does some interesting things directorially. Still, it''s where it belongs. TV  


  1. Belatedly (just a bit):
    I finally took a long look at that pilot film list - and not surprisingly, I recognized the ones that sold, and those few that made it to Summer Burnoff Theater.
    But a couple seemed strangely familiar ...
    - My Husbands, John And Tom was not about bigamy.
    This was about a young widow who remarried, but the ghost of Hubby #1 decided to come back, and Hilarity Ensued (it says here).
    The widow/bride was Julie Sommars (she was young then ...).
    The new husband (John) was Peter Duryea (son of Dan Duryea).
    ... And the ghost (Tom)? That was Robert Reed, who was in the market for a sitcom just then, after The Defenders had shut up shop.
    Think about it: if this one had sold, Reed might not have been available for The Brady Bunch (and Gene Hackman's life might have changed forever ...).

    - Three's A Crowd, on the other hand, was about bigamy: Bill Bixby found himself married to two women simultaneously, if inadvertantly; he tried to maintain both relationships, and Hilarity Ensued ...
    By the bye, this was created by Buck Henry - who, as it happened, also created Captain Nice, so give yourself an accidental bullseye on that.

    - Ready, Willing, And Pamela:
    This was a detective comedy, in which two bumbling cop partners get a pretty young criminologist for an assistant.
    Joe Flynn was Sgt. Joe Ready.
    Jack Weston was Sgt. Herbert Willing.
    And Pamela Stevens ...
    ... this was a young contract starlet, Melodie Johnson (just married to Bones Howe, but that's another story ...)
    Check your archives circa 2015, and you'll find an old TV Guide from earlier in this same year, where you'll encounter a profile of Melodie Johnson that you called attention to; might want to give that one another look ...
    ... and then consider how her involvement here (given her interest in crime fiction) might have made this an interesting show, at the very least.

    All I have for now; more later, maybe ...

    1. As always, terrific stuff! Gene Hackman in The Brady Bunch. . . I like the idea that he'd also be in the variety show version. But who's going to do The French Connection? Rod Taylor?

  2. Wasn't "Walter Of The Jungle"' an animated cartoon series produced by Jay Ward that eventually wound up on Saturday mornings under the title" George Of The Jungle "?

  3. Looking Things Up Dept.:
    Walter Of The Jungle was a 15-minute "demonstarion film" from Joe Connelly (just post-Munsters), about a wimpy "jungle man" played by Jonathan Daly, who lived in a treehouse in Africa with his bossy mom, Rose Marie - and Hilarity Ensued ... (The possible cast was to include Nipsey Russell and Bernard Fox, FWIW.)
    My source here is Unsold Television Pilots, Lee Goldberg's definitive reference book on this subject.
    (The listing is on page 142 - right after the one for My Husbands, John and Tom - but that's another story ...).


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!