Sunday, July 28, 2013

Shari Lewis

When I was a child in the early sixties, the puppet shows that had been all the rage a decade earlier were still popping up from time to time including locally Larry Smith and His Puppets, nationally Kukla, Fran and Ollie and, with her friends Lambchop and Charlie Horse, Shari Lewis. I loved Shari as much as had the generation before me. The coolest thing is that she kept ON doing her thing to the point where my own son ALSO loved Shari Lewis in her 1990's TV incarnation!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Guy Williams as Zorro

I was 2 years old when handsome Guy Williams made his final appearance as Walt Disney's swashbuckling version of Zorro in 1961. The series had premiered in 1957. It must have hit some pretty heavy reruns somewhere in there, though, because, by the time I was 6 I had official Zorro gloves and a mask and a cape and ran around with a big, thick black crayon drawing "Z's" on things I wasn't supposed to be drawing on!

Years later when my now 16 year old son was a baby, The Disney Channel was running ZORRO every night at Midnight, followed by the classic 1950's MICKEY MOUSE CLUB. MY son was born on Johnny Carson's birthday and we called him the new king of late-night as he just wouldn't go to sleep most nights until after he'd watched ZORRO and Annette!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rosalind Chao

My bloggy buddy Rob Kelly has posted a great new interview with Rosalind Chao, best known for her roles on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION,
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE and AFTERMASH. Check it out and let him know what you think in the comments!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Kellogg's OKs

In 1962, my favorite TV show was YOGI BEAR, my favorite Sunday comic strip was YOGI BEAR and my favorite cereal--well, maybe second favorite after Alpha-Bits--was OKs, featuring YOGI BEAR!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Full Color Network-NBC

We watched a lot of NBC series in 1967 in spite of the fact that everything was still in black and white to us until late '68. 

Whether or not we watched WALT DISNEY'S WONDERFUL WORLD OF COLOR depended very much on what that week's episode was. The rest of the Sunday night lineup was always NBC unless a particularly good movie was on ABC.

On Monday nights we often watched THE MONKEES and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. but not regularly. We never watched I SPY and rarely DANNY THOMAS.

On Tuesdays, JEANNIE was a must but not so much the rest.

Wednesdays and Thursdays we were over at ABC for BATMAN but we'd often get back to NBC for the KRAFT MUSIC HALL, IRONSIDE, DRAGNET and Dino.

TARZAN and STAR TREK were, surprisingly, only occasional stops on Friday. What the heck was CHICK-CHICK?

On Saturdays, I never saw an episode of MAYA but if nothing was on the other networks, we would catch GET SMART.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Unbeatable Beatnik

Bob Denver was one of the few actors to create not one but two of the most memorable characters on television. Gilligan and, before that, Maynard G. Krebs. With the entire Donie Gillis series just out on DVD, here's a contemporary article on Bob from his Maynard years.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Prime Time-Week Ending October 27th, 1978

I don't really remember too much about the period between high school graduation in 1977 and joining a local comedy troupe in 1980. I always assume that just not that much interesting happened in there. That said, let's take a look at the prime-time TV schedule here in the Cincinnati area for the week ending October 27th, 1978 and see what was on, shall we?

Saturday night at 8, CHIPS was probably the most popular show and tonight's episode guest-starred Elaine Joyce, a favorite of mine now married to Neil Simon. We would have watched RHODA, though, or perhaps HEE HAW with the President's brother, Billy Carter. Even if we watched the former, we would have turned to the latter for the last half hour as we didn't care for GOOD TIMES which was on at 8:30.

At 9 PM came the conclusion of the fun TV movie RESCUE FROM GILLIGAN'S ISLAND, split into two segments for some bizarre reason. So cool to see them finally get off that %^%$!!! island! We watched that over LOVE BOAT and the forgotten AMERICAN GIRLS. Dack Rambo's short-lived SWORD OF JUSTICE would have taken precedence over FANTASY ISLAND. I stayed up to catch Frank Zappa hosting SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE, too! He was a Dancing Foooool!

The Disney film, NOW YOU SEE HIM, NOW YOU DON'T with Kurt Russell and my Facebook friend Michael McGreevey started out the Sunday prime time schedule at 7. It was the concluding part. Most likely watched that over ABC's HARDY BOYS. I preferred NANCY DREW.

At 8, CBS aired a deep and serious episode of ALL IN THE FAMILY about death but I remember us watching NBC's 10th anniversary 2 hour celebration of HEE HAW! This meant we also skipped Linda Lavin in both ALICE and a TV movie co-starring Kristy McNichol. At 10 PM, LOVE AMERICAN STYLE reruns aired on the local independent station, tonight guest-starring Stefanie Powers, Christopher George, Alan Sues and Judy Carne.

On Monday night at 8 all the choices had local themes--Bob Hope headlined a special from The Ohio State Fair, there was an Ohio Election special that we didn't care about since we live din Kentucky, and there was WKRP IN CINCINNATI, one of my all-time favorite sitcoms! Never missed an episode. After that, former Miss America and future Kentucky First Lady Phyllis George hosted PEOPLE (based on the magazine?). Tonight's episode featured Paul Newman, Diana Ross, Lynda Carter and The Electric Light Orchestra, all in one half hour. M*A*S*H, ONE DAY AT A TIME and LOU GRANT were our Monday night standards after that but MERV looks awfully good. Joan Fontaine, Susan St. James and Maya Angelou. At 11, if one skipped the local news, the choice was between THE GONG SHOW and THE DICK CAVETT SHOW. I hated the former with a passion!

Tuesday night at 7:30, I saw the live local coverage of the gala re-opening of Cincinnati'sPalace Theater, rehabbed by the neighbor who lived directly across the street from us. Bob Newhart and mimes Shields and Yarnell were the opening act and my friend Terry and I would catch them there that weekend.

After that it was a choice between old favorite HAPPY DAYS, Jack Albertson in GRANDPA GOES TO WASHINGTON or Steve McQueen and Dustin Hoffman in the big screen hit, PAPILLON, edited for television. I think we went with the movie actually, although I know at some point I caught the PBS conclusion of COUNT DRACULA with Louis Jourdan and Frank Finlay. Favorites like LAVERNE AND SHIRLEY, THREE'S COMPANY  and STARSKY & HUTCH fell by the wayside this night and a TV movie about the Donner Party never stood a chance.

BUGS BUNNY and FAT ALBERT Halloween specials were both preempted on Wednesday evening by yet another Ohio elections special so I probably caught DICK CLARK'S LIVE WEDNESDAY with his guests Chicago, Raquel Welch and future TONIGHT SHOW host Jay Leno. The other options were EIGHT IS ENOUGH and a GUNSMOKE rerun, though, so it could have been one of them.

At 9 PM came Carol Burnett's highly publicized turn in Erma Bombeck's THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER OVER THE SEPTIC TANK. Susan St. James was in a TV western called DESPERATE WOMEN and a Kate/Jackie/Cheryl episode of CHARLIE'S ANGELS was on. Knowing what I know now, I most likely would have scurried to PBS for the undoubtedly well-acted version of THE COLLECTION starring Lord Laurence Olivier and a young Helen Mirren. Then, I probably opted for the Angels, followed by Robert Urich in VEGAS.

An early directorial outing for Ron Howard, COTTON CANDY, highlighted Thursday's lineup but I don't recall seeing it. Most likely we went with THE WALTONS or perhaps the Dr. Seuss special, HALLOWEEN IS GRINCH NIGHT. Football then took over ABC, leaving BARNABY JONES, QUINCY, HAWAII 5-O and the John Wayne movie HATARI. Most likely my Dad watched the football and I retired to my room.

Finally, Friday started out with Gilda Radner voicing the animated WITCH'S NIGHT OUT, followed by the well-cast WHO'S WATCHING THE KIDS with Larry Breeding, Scott Baio, Jim Belushi and Robert Donner. I don't think we watched either of those, though, most likely opting for Sherman Hemsley on either the David Copperfield magic special or DONNY & MARIE. He was on both.

The evening's movie was Brian DePalma's OBSESSION but it was opposite THE ROCKFORD FILES and THE INCREDIBLE HULK so it didn't stand a chance. FLYING HIGH, a silly stewardess show, and the short-lived EDDIE CAPRA MYSTERIES came on at 10. I liked the latter.

Well, that was my prime-time week in October of 1978. The following night would be the long-awaited KISS MEETS THE PHANTOM OF THE PARK!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Archies

In retrospect, TV's animated ARCHIE from Filmation is pretty bad with annoying music, ancient gags and memorably bad voice-casting that included Dallas McKennon as Arch and Howard Morris as Jughead. In the tradition of THE MONKEES, the former producer of that series had songs recorded, this time by an anonymous studio group that couldn't argue with him. The group included Ron Dante and Andy Kim and with songs inserted in each and every episode, the novelty album release seen here sold well, even generating a minor hit with the bubble gummy "Bang-Shang-A-Lang." "Sugar, Sugar," however, from the second (of four I believe) albums, became a massive worldwide hit and beat out the Beatles to be the biggest selling record of the year in the year of Woodstock!

The show itself is cringe-worthy to me these days.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Annuals

THE GIRL FROM U.N.C.L.E. remained popular in the UK slightly longer than in the US. These are the British hardcover annuals from 1967-69. Stefanie Powers was the first actress whose autograph I ever got when I wrote her a fan letter while she was doing summer stock in 1972. So I can tell you for a fact that her spelling is "Stefanie." Every one of these annuals spells it incorrectly on the covers. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Television Years


THE TELEVISION YEARS, published by Popular Library (and James E. Galton, later the head of Marvel for many years) in 1974, is a book masquerading as a one-shot magazine. At the time it came out, however, it was just about the only book, magazine or anything else on television history. At age 15 I purchased this at Woolworth’s and sat down for the first time to learn the rich and varied history of Newton Minnow’s so-called "vast wasteland." From Paul Winchell and Mary Hartline to Molly Goldberg and Chester Riley to Archie Bunker and Richard Nixon, it’s all here in brief snippets that either trigger memories or make you want to learn more. 

Laid out year by year, each section is labeled (as in 1961’s "Year of the Surly Surgeon" and 1971's "Year of the Bigot")) with little one-liner bits of nostalgia and a few pages of pertinent pictures. The cowboys, the kids’ shows, the detectives, the doctors, the game shows, the monsters, the spies, the heroes-all the trends are here. Within the pages of this book, though, I also met for the first time Edward R. Murrow, Dave Garroway and Ernie Kovacs. I first heard here of the quiz show scandals, the McCarthy hearings and the Amos and Andy controversy.

Considering its price of 98 cents, THE TELEVISION YEARS may well have been the best bargain any budding pop culture buff could have bought in 1974. With television evolving and becoming ever more important in real world issues during that period and since, I remember speculating on just where it would end up by the turn of the century. If you had told me we would have more than a hundred channels and still not be able to find anything worth watching most of the time I simply would not have believed you. Let’s get a couple channels that just rerun 1947-1974. Now THAT was good television! 

MY MOTHER, THE CAR and THE PRUITTS OF SOUTHAMPTON may have seemed stupid at the time but then we’d never seen JACKASS or FEAR FACTOR. Sigh.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013