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1969 TV shows on DVD here!
Supposedly steamy melodrama that took place behind the scenes in the sleazy movie business where, as you know, everybody's screwing everybody (true fact).
During the first season, Bracken (a big time Hollywood movie producer) was never seen, only referred to. For the short second season, Leslie Nielsen took on the role of the now-seen Bracken.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 1969, The Wonderful World of Disney got a new theme. Disney staff composer George Bruns arranged a medley of familiar tunes: "Someday My Prince Will Come" and "Whistle While You Work" from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, "When You Wish Upon a Star", "Chim Chim Cher-ee" from Mary Poppins, "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" from So Dear to My Heart, "Davy Crockett", and "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" from Cinderella.
During the next decade, the arrangement of songs in the opening medley as well as the film clips would change every few years or so to include more recent fare.
:THE MAGIC OF ABC:
Bewitched, which debuted in 1964, was a monster hit for ABC, one of the few consistent winners the network had in the late-sixties, finishing the 1968-69 season at number eleven. In 1969, the network hoped to inspire a next-generation Bewitched with a pair of supernatural comedies.
The series starred Hope Lange, Edward Mulhare, Rita Shaw and Charles Nelson Reilly (as a character the Captain referred to as, "a whimpering, mewling, brittle-boned pest").
ABC Bewitched the series up in 1969 by changing the focus of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir to appeal to a younger audience; the plots revolving more around Captain Gregg's ghostly world and his supernatural powers.
As a result, the show became more boisterous and silly although Hope Lange handled the broad humor with that remarkable poise and dignity she possesed in spades.
The first ABC episode was about a ghost ship that saps Captain Clegg's powers just as his home is overun by a woman's club meeting.
Opening to the 1968 pilot of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir.
Peter Tewksbury directed the pilot from a script by creators Thomas L. Miller and A. J. Carothers.
ABC had high hopes for the series but it never really caught on in a big way like The Brady Bunch or Partridge Family, two more famous shows from the network's Friday night lineup at the time. Still, the show was popular enough to spawn Nanny paper doll sets, a fiction book series, coloring books and comics.
In early episodes, Phoebe Pickadilly's magical powers were subtle and only hinted at. Did she or didn't she? She was more intuitive than anything else.
In later episodes, the magical aspect of Nanny's personality became more obvious; she had powers almost on par with Bewitched's Samantha by the third season and the show lost much of its charm as a result.
In 1969, Bewitched fell out of the top twenty for the first time in five years - The Ghost and Mrs. Muir was dropped in 1970 while Nanny barely lasted until 1971, then enjoyed a brief run in syndication, occuping afternoon slots.
There were two episodes of a Nanny and The Professor cartoon in 1974 with the original kids providing the voices as part of The Saturday Superstar Movies.
Richard Long, who played the professorial dad, was a notorious alcoholic that made newspaper headlines for beating his wife shortly after Nanny and the Professor went off the air. Long was taken into custody after police asked him if he had hit his wife and he replied, "Yes, and I'll do it again, the dirty bitch!" He passed away on December 21, 1974.
David Doremus, seen as the oldest son Hal, was a semi-regular on on The Waltons as Mary Ellen's boyfriend, G.W. Haines.
Trent Lehman, the young actor that played middle son Butch, died in 1982. Despondent over a recent breakup and a nowhere career, he hung himself on the fence outside his former Elementary school.
Kim Richards, the young daughter, has had a long career and can be seen in movies like The Blair Witch Project; she was a regular on James at 15 and Hello Larry. She is Paris Hilton's aunt.
Juliet Mills appeared in commercials for Johnson's Disposable Diapers in 1977 as "Nanny" and was recently seen on the hilarious NBC soap opera Passions as the delightfully evil Tabitha.
Fresh from his success on I-Spy, Bill Cosby returned to network TV as high school gym teacher Chet Kincaid.
Cosby's first sitcom was a thinking person's comedy, there was no overbearing laugh track and the humor was generated from character interaction, uncommon for late-sixties sitcoms.
Unlike his later shows, in this production Cosby played a single guy. Lillian Randolph (Madame Queen on Amos and Andy) played Chet Kincaid's mom in the first season, other old-time character actors like Mantan Moreland also appeared.
The Bill Cosby Show shot to the top of the ratings for the first half of the '69-70 season, but numbers dropped over time.
NBC had given producer and star Bill Cosby a two-year commitment and that's how long the series lasted.
Fifteen years later, Cosby almost single handedly revived the sitcom format with The Cosby Show.
The Bold Ones was a rotating 'wheel' of dramas. During the first season, the lineup consisted of The New Doctors, The Lawyers and The Protectors (aka The Law Enforcers). This was an expensive experiment for NBC, costing an unheard of $200,000 an episode.
Produced at Universal Studios with executive producer Roy Huggins (The Fugitive, 77 Sunset Strip), The Bold Ones kicked off with The New Doctors (with E.G. Marshall, John Saxon and David Hartman) as they tackled the legal definition of death when a motorcycle accident leaves one patient brain dead just as another could use his kidney to live.
The New Doctors was the only segment to last the four year run. It was also the most elaborate, with a real working operating room for a set. Jerry Lewis directed a 1971 episode concerning a golf pro and a child with Muscular Dystrophy.
Series star Hartman was quoted as saying, "Television is bringing back the medical shows because in this way they can have blood without violence." Hartman went on to host Good Morning America in the seventies.
The Lawyers ran until 1972, with Burl Ives, Joseph Campenella and James Farentino.
Ives played basically the same character in The Lawyers that he did in Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, mostly meandering around smoking a pipe and saying, "Hold on there!"
In The Law Enforcers (aka The Protectors), Leslie Neilsen (Police Squad) played a by-the-book Deputy Police Chief who clashes with a liberal District Attorney played by Hari Rhodes (Daktari) over how to best police the city.
Typical plot: when an escaped convict dies from the plague and an epidemic threatens the city, there's a difference of opinion on how to handle it.
The Protectors was dropped in March of 1970, replaced by The Senator.
Second and last year for TV's only sci-fi show in 1969 - Land of the Giants.
There was a bizarre second season show guest-starring Jonathan Harris (Dr. Smith on Lost in Space) as a Pied Piper trying to lure little boys away from their homes.
Were we naive back then or what?
Easy Rider was a hit in 1969, a movie about two young counterculture cyclists looking for the "real" America. Perhaps Middle America was not quite ready for that story on the small screen, but Then Came Bronson (starring Michael Parks) expressed some of the themes of that movie in a way more palatable to the mass audience (interestingly, the pilot movie was completed before Easy Rider hit the screen, so TCB was not an Easy Rider knockoff.)
The idea of getting back to basics was "blowin' in the wind" at that time. "Natural" food, ecology and hippie communes were other expressions of this philosophy. However, promotional literature assured us that "for the necessities of life, (Bronson) works".
He owned only his motorcycle, his bedroll and the clothes on his back. Those clothes usually consisted of corduroy pants, black tee shirt, leather jacket, and watchcap (according to Michael Parks, he took this costume from the Jack London book, Sailor on Horseback).
The two-hour pilot movie told the story of how Bronson began his travels. Martin Sheen played Nick, the friend who bequeathed his motorbike to Bronson. Bonnie Bedelia is a girl he meets who had run out on her own wedding. After a rocky start, Bronson develops feelings for the girl that conflict with his need to continue his journey and come to peace with himself.
The pilot featured a hill climb contest, which Bronson won (remarkable, considering he rode a street-equipped Harley-Davidson Sportster!). The most identifiable feature of the Bronson bike is the insignia on the gas tank, a triangle with an eye in the middle.
While Bronson and the girl were in a diner, a local yokel hopped on the bike and ran it directly off a ramp into the water. It was hauled out and painstakingly disassembled and cleaned up. Soon they were back on the highway.
By the end of the show, the two understand that their life paths must diverge. Good thing, or else there would have been no series!
- Mike Ransom
:ON SATURDAY MORNINGS:
H.R. Pufnstuf debuted in 1969.
Debbie Reynolds played a housewife who spent her time snooping into other people's business and avoiding sex with her husband (Don Chastain). Maybe Ellen wasn't the first lesbian sitcom after all...
This was basically a rip-off of Here's Lucy (rated number six in 1969), with Debbie running around in ridiculous disguises and getting into all kinds of stupid trouble with her kooky sister (Patricia Smith).
In one episode, Debbie lands an advice column for the paper, but she sends the wrong solution to the wrong couple and a predictable form of confusion ensues.
Tom Bosley (Happy Days) appeared as Debbie's wiseacre brother-in-law. This show followed I Dream of Jeannie on Tuesday nights - they were both gone at season's end.
After avoiding the medium for almost two decades, Lana Turner came to television with an all-star cast that included Ralph Bellamy, Kevin McCarthy and George Hamilton. The show also had former Gilligan's Island-er Natalie Schaffer (Mrs. Howell) in it.
The Survivors was ABC's big budget best bet for 1969 - but it landed a huge flop. ABC brought George Hamilton back a couple of weeks after The Survivors was cancelled in an 'adult drama' entitled Paris 7000. It also quickly got the ax.
The Ann-Margret Special - her second for CBS, aired December 6, 1969.
Diana Ross and The Supremes and The Temptations: TCB on Broadway, produced by Motown, was a big hit on NBC and spawned a soundtrack album.
Frosty the Snowman debuted on CBS in December.
Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert was an animated special on NBC, based on Bill Cosby's hilarious stand up routines. It inspired a long-running CBS Saturday morning show.
Bing Crosby celebrated Christmas with Carol Burnett on December 18, 1969.
Dionne Warwick hosted Glen Campbell and Burt Bacharach in a salute to Bacharach's many lovely tunes.
Flip Wilson, Jack Benny, Don Adams, Johnny Carson, Robert Goulet, Perry Como, Raquel Welch, Mitzi Gaynor Frank Sinatra and Frank Sinatra, Jr. all hosted one-hour specials in the latter part of 1969.
Jack Benny was seen on Liberace's weekly show.
Jack Benny & Phil Silvers with Dick Cavett:
Download the Romper Room tunes you loved!
:LATE NIGHT WAR:
The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson accounted for $15 million dollars of revenue for NBC in 1969, that's $100 million in today's dollars. The show was earning so much money, CBS and ABC were determined to get in on the act and break Carson's grip on the late night audience.
They were doomed to failure but not for lack of trying.
ABC launched The Joey Bishop Show in 1967 but Bishop failed to make much of a dent in Carson's ratings in part because Carson used aggressive tactics to book the best guests first. Regis Philbin was Bishop's sidekick.
The Merv Griffin Show on CBS was launched on August 18, 1969 after four years in afternoon syndication, replacing late show movies. The network signed the star to a two year deal and renovated an old Broadway theater to broadcast from.
Opening week guests: Woody Allen, Joe Namath, Tiny Tim, Sonny and Cher, Joan Baez, Moms Mabley and Rodney Dangerfield. Merv's co-host was Arthur Treacher, Mort Lindsay was the musical director.
Despite clearance on 90% of the CBS affiliates, the Merv Griffin Show never clicked. By the spring of 1970, stations were dropping it altogether or moving the show to afternoons.
Most of the big stars lived in LA, so Carson moved his production permanently to Los Angeles in 1970. CBS then realized it had been a mistake to broadcast Merv's show from New York. At great expense, Merv was relocated to Hollywood in the fall of 1970 but the program was gone by February, 1971.
Merv Griffin finally hit his stride with another afternoon syndicated variety/talk show that was highly rated throughout the seventies.
On ABC, The Dick Cavett Show bowed on ABC December 29, 1969 replacing Joey Bishop who quit by storming off the set after his opening monologue just a few weeks earlier.
Opening week guests: Woody Allen, Isaac Stern, Buck Henry, Mama Cass, Rex Reed and Rod Steiger.
Before his late night show debuted, Cavett hosted a low-rated but critically acclaimed primetime talk show in the summer of 1969 that attracted a number of major film stars that shied away from talk shows.
Cavett was considered the thinking man's talk show host, indeed his style - and his guests - tended to be more serious and introspective than the Carson/ Merv model.
Dick Cavett with Rex Reed in 1969.
Unfortunately for the contenders, the Tonight Show was more popular than ever, capping off 1969 with a ratings bombshell - the wedding of Tiny Tim to Miss Vickie on December 17th.
The Hollywood Palace with Anthony Newley and Lola Falana singing "Where Would You Be Without Me?" from his musical, The Roar of the Greasepaint the Smell of the Crowd.
First year of a 7 year run. This show shot to number one and revived a TV format popular in the early-sixties - the medical drama. It has proven successful, on and off, ever since.
In this clip, Herb Klein remarks about one of the first things Nixon did upon taking office - it has to do with television.
Sugar Ray Robinson tells Art how he ran through millions of dollars and was now broke.
With Linkletter never caught on and was cancelled in the fall of
1970. Despite a run of 18 years on network daytime TV, Art Linkletter
never hosted another network TV series, in part due to his fervent, heart-breaking
anti-drug crusade following his daughter's death. In October of 1969 Art's
daughter Diane Linkletter (who was featured on the last season of the
previous series when it was re-titled The Linkletter Show) made
headlines when she committed suicide by jumping to her death during an
acid trip. Thanks to A.J. from Television
Archives for the ultra-rare footage!
Let's Make A Deal aired
Friday nights on ABC.
Other games in primetime - The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game.
Password was in syndicated reruns.
The television variety hour was in its heyday.
ABC had the wholesome Lennon Sisters (The Lawrence Welk Show) under contract but didn't know what to do with them. Jimmy Durante was a hold over from vaudeville and a popular variety show guest; the network figured that together they could attract both old and young to the set. On opposite The Dean Martin Show, JDPTLS went quietly after one season.
Carol's third season featured guests like Jim Nabors (her traditional first show guest), Ken Berry, Tim Conway (on several times), Martha Raye, Peggy Lee, Steve Lawrence, Donald O'Connor, Nancy Wilson, Mel Torme, Andy Griffith, Merv Griffin, Soupy Sales, Ronald Reagan, Garry Moore and Durwood Kirby. Burnett earned the best ratings of her show's eleven year run in 1969.
Love, American Style was scheduled opposite The Carol Burnett Show. This sketch comedy hour was the only winner ABC had on Monday nights, in a losing line-up included Music Scene, New People and The Survivors. B-list TV stars like Arte Johnson, Alice Ghostley, Stefanie Powers, Stu Gilliam, Richard Deacon, Harrison Ford, Tina Louise and others were seen in Laugh-in style blackouts and skits revolving around love. The first episode featured Eddie Anderson, Gail Fisher, Mantan Moreland and Flip Wilson in 'Love and the Hustler'; another brought together Vivian Vance and George Gobel in a story about a wacky psychic. The series lasted until 1974.
This was the second NBC incarnation of The Andy Williams Show which originally ran from 1962-67, this time produced and written by the guys who were behind The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour and who made Sonny and Cher a TV hit just two years later.
Dopey Laugh-In style comedy routines featuring The Bear (a guy in a bear suit) were interspersed with William's sublime vocals, modern arrangements and special musical guests (like Bread and Donovan) aimed at a younger audience. This variety hour was remarkably successful at giving young and old people something to watch together. Networks put all they had into their variety shows of the sixties and this was a brilliant attempt to loosen up the format a bit.
Jim Nabors Hour
In the fall of 1969, Jim Nabors, star of CBS's top-rated sitcom Gomer Pyle, USMC, leveraged his clout with the network to launch his own one-hour musical-variety series (similar to The Carol Burnett Show). For the production, Nabors brought along his friends and Pyle costars Ronnie Schell and Frank Sutton.
TVparty-er Joe tells us, "I remember, a regular sketch was called 'The Brother-in-laws' and it starred Frank Sutton with Barbara Harris (Sgt. Carter's girlfriend Bunny on Gomer) as Sutton's wife and Jim Nabors as his brother-in-law Loomis running a boarding house - they were just Gomer Pyle, Sgt. Carter, and Bunny again but with different names and in a different setting. Also, Ronnie Schell (Duke Forrester on Gomer) was in some of the sketches as a resident of the boarding house who was always drunk, and would always make his entrance by falling down the stairs."
The Jim Nabors Hour did well enough in the ratings, finishing twelfth for the first season. That still represented a net loss of more than twenty percent of the audience from the year before. That's undoubtedly why CBS aired reruns of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. during the summer of 1970 while the The Jim Nabors Hour was on hiatus.
Leslie Uggams Show
Also in 1969: Dean Martin Show, Ed Sullivan Show, Johnny Cash Show, This is Tom Jones, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, Kraft Music Hall, Hollywood Palace, Lawrence Welk Show, Engelbert Humperdink and The Jackie Gleason Show.
Skelton was in his
The Good Guys starred Bob Denver (Gilligan) and Herb Edelman. It was about two bungling losers; one drives a cab, the other owns a hamburger stand.
During the first season, Denver's character drove a cool hot rod taxi designed by George Barris. Alan Hale, Jr. (Skipper) and Jim Backus (Mr. Howell) turned up semi-regularly during the first season in an attempt to recreate the ratings magic Gilligan's Island had enjoyed.
Audience numbers weren't so great in 1968-69, so the series (and the diner) was moved to the beach for 1969-70.
The Good Guys was tsunami-ed by ABC's surprise hit The Brady Bunch (ironically, produced by Gilligan producer Sherwood Schwartz) and cancelled in January, 1970.
When news anchorman Chet Huntley retired in 1970, a trusted voice in broadcasting was seldom heard again - and never again would the nation hear that duo's famous closing signature: "Good night, Chet. Good night, David. And good night for NBC News."
Huntley was replaced by two newsmen - John Chancellor and Frank McGee.
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