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Friday Night at the Drive-In: "Ocean's 11" (1960)

The Rat Pack (started by Humphrey Bogart and inherited by Frank Sinatra after Bogey’s death) made two movies in the sixties. Neither were great shakes as movies go, but the first one, Ocean’s 11, is a wonderful time machine back to a place and time that no longer exist.

 

Released in 1960, Ocean’s 11 can be seen as the 1950’s last hurrah. In just a few short years, the British invasion in music and fashion would change everything. Film historians think the film was conceived as way to give Frank, Peter Lawford, Joey Bishop, and the rest something to do with their days while they were headlining at the Sands resort at night.

Read more: Friday Night at the Drive-In: "Ocean's 11" (1960)

Good Morning World (1967)

On paper, this TV series couldn’t miss. It was created by the two guys (Bill Persky & Sam Denoff) who had been head writers on The Dick Van Dyke Show and had launched Marlo Thomas to stardom by creating That Girl for her just a year earlier. It had TV series geniuses, Sheldon Leonard and Carl Reiner, calling the shots behind the scenes.

Unfortunately, Good Morning, World crashed and burned after only a single season.

The show’s premise was original. It starred Ronnie Schell and Joby Baker as a pair of zany morning DJs named Lewis & Clarke at a struggling L.A. radio station owned by Billy DeWolfe. Baker was married to a cute, sexy wife (Julie Parrish) while Schell was dating a ditzy blonde, played by a newcomer named Goldie Hawn.

What went wrong? It seems the show’s writers chose to focus the show on the wrong characters. The series began as a starring vehicle for Schell, who had become a breakout character as Jim Nabors’ best buddy on Gomer Pyle. But the writers treated the show like another Dick Van Dyke, revolving most of the plots around Baker and Parrish as the young married couple.

The problem was that Baker was no Dick Van Dyke and Parrish was no Mary Tyler Moore. Apparently, Baker had real trouble memorizing his lines while Parrish was battling some real-life medical issues. So, the characters with the real comedic chops, Schell, DeWolfe and of course, Hawn, were relegated to supporting character status. In fact, Hawn only appeared in a handful of the series’ 26 episodes.

According to Schell, there was talk of a second season, recasting the Baker & Parrish roles, but CBS decided instead to simply throw in the towel.

There was a silver lining. Schell was welcomed back onto Gomer Pyle while a producer named George Schlatter had caught the show and thought the ditzy blonde actress might have potential. He called Goldie and asked her if she might want to continue playing basically the same character on a new variety show he was putting together. That show was called Laugh-In.

Hawn said yes and the rest is show biz history.

The TV That Time Forgot: Video Village

 Video Village was one of the first game shows to debut after the infamous quiz show scandals.  Up until its debut, most quiz shows fell into one of two categories. 1.) A contestant tried to stump a panel of D-list celebrities (I mean, did anyone ever know what Arlene Francis was “famous” for?) 2.) Two contestants answered questions or solved puzzles while in isolation booths or standing right next to the game show host.

Video Village’s concept was as simple as it was different. It was a board game transferred to TV. The contestants were the living game pieces. They had friends or family members (almost always a spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend) who spun the dice.

Read more: The TV That Time Forgot: Video Village

Remember When: Test Patterns

Those of us of a certain age can remember when TV didn't broadcast 24 hours a day. After the Blue Angels had gone screaming across the sky as "The Star-Spangled Banner" played in the background, most stations put up what was known as a "test pattern." The stations kept broadcasting these cards until they resumed programming the next morning. They were also displayed when networks or local stations lost their transmission signal from remote locations. These were cards designed to help technicians calibrate broadcasting equipment as well as home TV sets.

When color came to dominate television, the test pattern was replaced by color bars, although even those are no longer needed to tune contemporary broadcasting equipment or flat screen TVs.

The most famous test pattern was one of the first - developed by RCA in 1939. It's known as "the Indian head" test pattern because of its inclusion of a Native American in full headdress.

For a time, NBC (owned by RCA) created an additional test pattern, featuring the network's biggest star:

Doodyville Babylon?

The Life & Times of Howdy Doody – Part 4

The puppets on The Howdy Doody Show were fairly easy to control. The flesh and blood actors, not so much. And it was a group of these cast members who almost brought the show to a screeching halt, resulting in the infamous 1953 “Christmas Eve Massacre” as the show was wrapping up its 5th year.

It's time once again to go behind the scenes and discover who was really pulling the strings on It's Howdy Doody Time!

Read more: Doodyville Babylon?

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