April 22, 2023

This week in TV Guide: April 22, 1967

In our last episode, TV Guide's David Lachenbruch looked to the future to see what television might have in store for us. This week, he looks back to the past, in an interview with "the father of television," who says, "it realy hasn't turned out at all as I expected."

Dr. Vladimir Kosma Zworykin is currently Honorary Vice President of RCA and recently recived the National Medal of Science from President Johnson at a White House ceremony. The 77-year-old comes by his title as father of television honestly; as the inventor of both the first TV camera tube and the picture tube, his influence is compared to Marconi's in radio. Yet he "would rather look to the future than pack to the past."

But what a past. Zworykin first became interested in television in 1910 in St. Petersburg; after a sojourn in France, Zworykin came to the United States in 1918, and resumed his television experiments at Westinghouse where, in 1923, he demonstrated the first working television system without moving parts. Westinghouse may not have been impressed, telling Zworykin to "work on something more useful," but David Sarnoff was, and in 1929 Zworykin and his entire team moved over to RCA. Ten years later, Sarnoff formally launched the nation's first regular television broadcasting service with a televadts of President Roosevelt opening the New York World's Fair.

Looking back on it all, Zworykin is asked what he'd anticipated from his invention. "Certainly not Amos 'n' Andy," he says of the first television program he'd witnessed. "I essentially visualized an extension of human sight, to let us see what we couldn’t see with our own eyes—whatever was too small, too big, too dangerous or too far." In 1954, he'd written that one day the TV camera would be "the pioneer observer in interplanetary travel." But the entertainment potential quickly overshadowed the scientific, industrial, and educational potential. "You work with something and it blossoms, and turns out to be something quite different from what you visualized," he says, and TV's popularity probably did bring in the investment that allowed development of the products we're now seeing in science and medicine. 

As for his own viewing habits, Zworykin acknowledges that he doesn't watch much TV. "My wife watches, he says, "and she sometimes calls me when a good program is on." His favorites include opera and musical shows—"something which gives pleasure or is instructive." Asked about his opinion on current television, he's blunt: "Too often [programs] try to suit the taste of the majority, and there are many people who don’t agree with the majority. I think you can have a good program without killing half a dozen people in half an hour." He doesn't have much time for television, though; he's working in a new science called "medical engineering." Less than a decade ago, his team developed the radio endosonde, a tiny transmitter which aids in diagnosing ailments when the patient swallows it. Electronics, he ponts out, has already been indespensible in medicine, including closed-circuit TV training for doctors, and he things the computer will "save countless lives." 

Asked to sum it all up, Vladimir Zworykin says, "It has been my privilege to live long enough to see television grow and have my dreams of the past materialize,” and adds: “My only complaint is that it was far slower than we thought it would be.”

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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: Bert Lahr; the McGuire Sisters; comedians Jackie Mason, George Kirby and Joan Rivers; singer Bobby Vinton; the Y Americans, a choral group from Brigham Young University in Utah; and balancer Agostino.  

Palace: Hostess Joan Crawford performs "The Dreamer," a dramatic scene about a little girl. Joan also presents singers Nancy Ames and Julius La Rosa; Tim "Rango" Conway, who plays a prison warden; the rock ‘n’ rolling Cyrkle; the Flying Cavarettas, teen-age aerialists; the acrobatic Halasis; and illusionist Ralph Adams.  

This is one of those weeks where the choice depends almost entirely on your own personal tastes. If you're a fan of Joan Crawford, you're probably going to let her pull Nancy Ames and Julius La Rosa across the finish line; meanwhile, if you're fond of Bert Lahr and Jackie Mason, you might the McGuire Sisters and Joan Rivers tag along. I don't have any strong feelings one way or another; if I was a real television historian I might rely on some video clips,but I'm really just typing as fast as I can, so I'm calling it a push.

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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. 

I'm sure some of you are going to tell me you remember the Smothers Brothers from way back when, when they were only "folk-singing comedians." Or maybe you first saw them in their 1965 sitcom, which cast Tom in the unlikely role of an angel and served them poorly. For the rest of us, it's hard to imagine a time when the Smothers Brothers, agree with them or not, weren't associated with political controversy. (For reference, the Pete Seeger controversy doesn't occur until September 1967.)  But that's where we are, in the first season of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and it's almost as if Cleveland Amory is reviewing a show completely different from the one we've since come to know and love—or hate.

It's easy to overlook the "comedy" part of that title, given the trouble with the network and the White House that would come, but at this point, that's what this show is about, and Amory praises the format for allowing more of the "brotherly chit-spats" the duo are known for. Their personalities are defined and work well off each other, particularly Tommy's "Smothersese" doubletalk. At times their bits can remind you of great comedy teams of the past, especially one where Dick accidentelly claps to death a singing mosquito. Accused by Tom of being a murderer, Dick protests. "Everybody kills mosquitos," to which Tom replies, "I know everybody kills mosquitoes. That’s why so few of them make it in show business." All right, maybe it's not Abbott and Costello, but it's still funny. Also funny was a show featuring Jack Benny and George Burns as guests; says Cleve, "great as Benny and Burns have been, you had only to see the Smothers Brothers working with them to see how good the Brothers are now."

There are, however, clouds on the horizon, although they're easier to see in retrospect. Amory thought that a bit including Paul Revere and the Raiders that made fun of Revolutionary heroes was "on the edge of tastelessness," and a recent show that made fun of the Lindbergh flight to Paris ws "definitely over the edge." Nowadays the Founding Fathers are ridiculed as oppressive white men, and Lindbergh's star started to dim with his involvement with Germany before World War II, but in 1967 it was still standard to see them—rightly—as American icons, integral parts of the nation's history. As Amory says, "The line between poking fun and insulting heroes is a thin one—but it is a line." One we can see the Smothers Brothers only too willing to cross. CBS should have seen it coming.

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I've noted in the past how today's network television doesn't have much time for religious holidays compared to how things were in, say, 1967. I'm usually talking about Christmas or Easter, but this week it's Passover, and you'd certainly know it by Sunday's programming. 

CBS offers a Sunday morning doubleheader of sorts, beginning at 8:00 a.m. PT with Ben-Gurion on the Bible, an interview with former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, who talks about how the Bible's teachings apply to today's world. That's followed at 8:30 a.m. by Passover Today, a roundtable discussion on the meaning of Passover and how it relates to modern times. 

NBC's Eternal Light (5:00 p.m.) presents "How Far Away, How Long Ago," a half-hour drama baesd on a story by 1966 Nobel Prize winner S.Y. Agnon, about two lonely people who attend a Seder together. And later, on their acclaimed documentary series Project 20 (10:00 p.m.), Alexander Scourby narrates "The Law and the Prophets," a look at Old Testament history as seen through paintings of the old masters, including Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Velazquez, Rubens, Raphael and Caravaggio, with music by Robert Russell Bennett. The program is presented without commercial interruption. A few years previously, Project 20 did a similar story on Christmas, and I'd imagine this one is equally good—but then, as my wife says, you'd listen to Alexander Scourby read from the phone book.

Perhaps the most interesting program of the day is on ABC's religion program Directors, which expands to an hour to present the one-act Passover opera "The Final Ingredient," about a Seder held in a Nazi concentration camp. (2:30 p.m.) The music is by the very interesting composer David Amram* with a libretto by Arnold Weinstein, based on a play by Defenders creator Reginald Rose; the opera was commissioned by ABC.

*Fun fact: David Amram also composed the score for The Manchurian Candidate, among other movies.

Specials like this are cultural as well as religious, and obviously the networks don't think the audience for them will be limited to those celebrating Passover. What's changed now? You could argue that programs for Christmas, Easter, Passover, what have you, are passe because not everyone shares those beliefs. You know what? They never did. Perhaps there were more who did back then, but even those who didn't allowed for their cultural importance. Again, what's changed now? Never mind; I'm sure I know the answer.

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Bob Newhart is scheduled to be the guest host for Johnny Carson this week on The Tonight Show, and therein lies a story. Johnny's involved in one of his periodic contract disputes with NBC, according to Richard K. Doan's Doan Report, and nobody's quite sure what the future holds. It all has to do with the recent AFTRA strike, which we covered here (you might remember it as the one that made Arnold Zenker a star). Carson honored the picket line during the strike, but, according to the excellent website Eyes of a Generation, in his absense, "NBC was airing Carson reruns without having negotiated a fee in advance, which his contract called for." Carson insisted that "My contract was terminated" because of NBC's actions, while the network maintained a more concilatory approach. ("We still hope Johnny will return.") Jimmy Dean has already done two weeks in Carson's place and Newhart is up next.

Behind the scenes, Carson's lawyer is supposedly talking with CBS, which is looking for its own late-night show (and finally settles on one with Merv Griffin), while NBC, having just signed Newhart to a new contract, has him waiting in the winds "in case the network decided to switch instead of fight the Carson battle." Of course, we know how this all ends; Carson returns to the show on April 24 (meaning Newhart isn't needed), and while various sources dispute the amount of money Carson was making before and after the walkout, he gets a nice bump in salary upon his return. In all likelihood, neither Carson nor NBC were probably ever serious about there being a split.

But this does create one of those "what-if" scenarios, doesn't it? Suppose NBC had moved on from Carson; after all, he'd only been hosting The Tonight Show for five years, the same length of time that Jack Paar had been the host, and while he was popular, he was hardly an institution at that point. Had Carson gone to CBS, that could have changed the entire dymanic of the late-night battle, or he might have stayed with the show for a few more years and then gone on to something else. Newhart had substituted for Carson several times; had he taken over the show, would he have ever had his succession of hit sitcoms? Would Merv have wound up back at NBC, the network he'd started out at? What about Steve Allen, who started Tonight? And let's not forget that Joey Bishop had started his own show on ABC the week before Carson's return (Carson supposedly waited a week to come back, so that he wouldn't upstage Bishop's debut)—does Bishop become a success? Does he still quit ABC in a contract dispute, ceding the slot to Dick Cavett? Does Jack Paar himself make a dramatic return somewhere? And does the talk show format ever get bumped back to an hour, changing the chemistry of the shows forever? One can only wonder.

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It's a week of specials, but we'll begin Saturday night with a couple of classic Barbara Stanwyck movies that are pretty special themselves. At. 11:00 p.m. on KXTV, it's Double Indemnity, with Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in one of the great noirs of all time. Or, you could opt for Stanwyck and William Holden in Golden Boy on KHSL; it's the second half of a double feature that begins at 10:00 p.m. with Day of the Badmen, starring—Fred MacMurray. No matter which way you turn, you can't lose here.

The Bell Telephone Hour
ends its penultimate season with "El Prado: Masterpieces and Music" (Sunday, 6:30 p.m., NBC), a tour of Spain's famed El Prado art museum, led by the magnificent classcal guitarist Andrés Segovia. Among the priceless masterpieces at the El Prado are works by Goya, Velazquez, and El Greco. There's also a one-hour documentary on Humphrey Bogart on ABC (8:00 p.m.), narrated by Charlton Heston, that points out the continuing fascination with Bogart. I mention this because KTVU has an episode of the 1963-64 series Hollywood and the Stars earlier in the evening, and the introductory episode of that series was about Humphrey Bogart. Bogart has a dynamic presence on-screen, and I doubt his movies will ever not be popular. I wonder, though, whether the interest in him in the 1960s also has to do with the masculinity he projects—the "Bogart mystique," as it's referred to here—and whether people felt it was a quality in short supply in this hippie era. Just thinking out loud; don't pay any attention to me.

If I wanted to pursue that theory, I might be inclined to look at Monday's KRON-produced special "The Vanishing Cowboy" (7:00 p.m.). After all, read this description: "See the cowboy of today:
A man who's traded his pistol for a hypodermic needle to fight livestock diseases instead of Indians. A man who still ropes, herds and brands cattle in the age-old manner, but lives a life far different than his fictional counterpart—a life perhaps destined to disappear in our time." Note the repeated use of the word "man" as if to imply "real man" or "manly man"; you see it in the Bogart special as well. There are people who would probably call that toxic today. Again, I'm probably thinking too much here, but there are things. . .

Let's look at something else, like Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, in their first television special (funny how the ads always like to point that out), presented by Singer as part of their continuing series of "Singer Presents" music specials; others in the past and future include Frank Sinatra, Elvis (his comeback special), Tony Bennett, and Burt Bacharach. (Monday, 9:00 p.m., CBS) Herb had some really big hits back then; the special features hits like "A Taste of Honey," "Lonely Bull," "Tijuana Taxi," and more. Oh, and note the special offers in the ad, including $75 off of a new Singer color TV. Who knew?

On Tuesday, a CBS News Special entitled "Inside Pop—The Rock Revolution" (10:00 p.m.) features Leonard Bernstein "exploring the world of pop music." Usinghis piano and recordings, Bernstein shows what he thinks is, and isn't valuable in today's sound. We also see performances and interviews with Herman's Hermits, Brian Wilson, the Hollies, Janis Ian, Tim Buckley and others, (And an ad on the page for "significant new talent" Janis Ian's new album, courtesy of Verve/Folkways. The ads in this issue are great!) By the way, you can see that special here.

Wednesday, the Hallmark Hall of Fame presents Jean Simmons, Claire Bloom, and Keith Michell in "Soldier in Love," the story of the friendship between Queen Anne and her friends John and Sarah Churchill*, the first Duke and Duchess of Marlborough. (7:30 p.m., NBC) If you want something a little less highbrow, you might check out tonight's Batman (7:30 p.m., ABC), which stars David Wayne as Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter, in his first and, I believe, only appearance. You can see the exciting conclusion tomorrow night, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

*Fun fact #1: John and Sarah Churchill were the ancestors of Winston Churchill. Fun fact #2: Winston Churchill's daughter, actress Sarah Churchill, was the first host and occasional star of Hallmark Hall of Fame.

Thursday, the hottest fashion model around, Twiggy, is the subject of an ABC profile (8:00 p.m.), shot cinema-verité style by fashion photographer Bert Stern in New York, during the first of three show on her U.S. tour. Yes, fashion models used to go on tour; now I suppose they make reality shows. In non-specials, Dean Martin features twice tonight; first, in the movie Toys in the Attic (9:00 p.m., CBS), an adaptation of the Lillian Helman play that, according to Judith Crist, is decidedly not special (it's "strictly from fantasyland and leads straight to disastersville."). Better to stick with Dean's variety show (10:00 p.m., NBC), with a great guest lineup of Peggy Lee; comedians Buddy Hackett, Guy Marks, and Rowan and Martin; and singer-dancer Dorothy Provine.

Friday's CBS movie is a rerun of the political thriller Advise and Consent, based on Allen Drury's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, directed by Otto Preminger, with an all-star cast including Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton, Don Murray, Walter Pidgeon, Lew Ayres, Franchot Tone, Peter Lawford, and Burgess Meredith. (9;00 p.m.) Not withstanding Judith Crist's thumbs-down ("a mechanically contrived tale that promises much and delivers a bland morality tale"), it's an entertaining-enough movie, although the script has some outrageous factual errors; I find it falls far short of Drury's novel, which itself has become somewhat stale over the years. Premimger wasn't one for sticking to the story, though; he wanted to cast Martin Luther King Jr., if you can believe it, as one of the senators (King reportedly did consider the offer); when someone pointed out to him that there were no black senators at the time, Preminger replied, "Well, there should be." He also offered Richard Nixon the role of vice president; Nixon refused as well, and the role went to Lew Ayres

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No MST3K update this week, but here's an episode of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea that would have made a splendid "cheesy movie": "Nelson must defeat an ingenious adversary who has learned to control vegetable growth—and who's planning to create a conquering army of plant creatures. Nelson: Richard Basehart. Ben/John Wilson: William Smithers. Crane: David Hedison. Morton: Bob Dowdell. (Sunday, 5:00 p.m., KOVR) I don't think the Satellite of Love could have done any better. TV  


  1. Just fourteen days prior to the airing of the Herb Alpert special, the Oscars telecast awarded A HERB ALPERT AND THE TIJUANA BRASS DOUBLE FEATURE the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. It's actually quite entertaining--Check it out:

  2. Brian Keith stated either in the Sebastian Cabot profile in this issue or his own profile earlier that "Sebby" (or "Sabby") liked publicity more than he did. This is likely 1 reason why Mr. Keith made only this 1 cover appearance during the run of FAMILY AFFAIR while Mr. Cabot made a total of 4.

    As a TVG issue (that you may have already reviewed) from June 10, 1967 stated, the Smothers Brothers were already controversial. I was too young to remember seeing this variety show and most of LAUGH-IN, but LAUGH-IN I think lasted longer because it didn't spend too long lingering on the same idea.

    I'm surprised that Passover was this week, as Easter was 4 weeks earlier, and I thought Easter usually came the Sunday after Passover. I'm sure there's more complexity there than I'm aware of.

    According to his bio of Carson, his long-time lawyer Henry Bushkin stated that after he met Carson in 1970, NBC was ripping off Carson with most of his salary in "deferred compensation". Carson was of course making a lot more money after Bushkin worked for him.


Thanks for writing! Drive safely!