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Hey Everybody, Surf’s Up!

Remembering the Beach Party Films

Who would have ever thought that two Italians from New York City would come to represent the “summer blond” California surfing movement?

But that’s what happened when American International Pictures launched one of the most successful series of pictures with Beach Party in 1963.

Since then, the names Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are not only eternally linked to each other, but also to the whole surfing craze of the 1960’s.

Here's the lowdown on the movies that kept us entertained in the mid-1960's.

Read more: Hey Everybody, Surf’s Up!

The TV That Time Forgot: Supercar (1962)

Before the Thunderbirds were GO… before David Hasselhoff got behind the wheel of KITT… there was Supercar, the first of the Supermarionation series produced by Gerry Anderson!

Supercar was a bit of a misnomer because the vehicle had no wheels and spent more time flying like a plane or diving underwater like a submarine than it ever did cruising down the highways like a car.

The main character on the show was Supercar’s pilot, Mike Mercury, but the car itself was supposedly the creation of Professor Popkiss and Dr. Beaker who helped guide the vehicle from their headquarters in Nevada. Actually, the car was a way that Anderson could avoid having to have his puppets walk – which never looked very convincing.

In the first episode, Supercar rescues a young boy named Jimmy Gibson. Jimmy has a pet monkey named Mitch (because why not?). They are then invited to live at Supercar headquarters and take part in the adventures. A young boy living alone in the dessert with 3 grown men apparently raised few eyebrows at Child & Family Services back in the day.

Read more: The TV That Time Forgot: Supercar (1962)

The TV That Time Forgot: Ozzie and Harriet

Anyone who knows TV history knows that Seinfeld pulled one of the biggest con jobs in American broadcasting history with their claim that they were “A show about nothing.” Every single episode had a main plot and secondary plot (A and B plots in TV jargon) – just like every episode of every sit-com on the air at the time.

The REAL “show about nothing?” Well, that was unquestionably The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Never has the word “adventure” been so misused!

Read more: The TV That Time Forgot: Ozzie and Harriet

Doris Day (1922-2019)

When we lost Doris Day this year, we lost one of the last remaining stars from Hollywood’s Golden Age.

Ironically, Doris started out to be come a dancer, but an auto accident in 1938 that broke both her legs put an end to that dream. Instead of giving up, Doris moved to singing. At the age of 16, she began touring with Bob Crosby’s big band. That, in turn, led to a successful recording career.

Given her good looks, offers from Hollywood soon followed. First under contract to Warner Brothers she appeared in a string of B-movie musicals and comedies, often cast opposite Jack Carson. She worked her way up the Hollywood star system through the 1950s, eventually landing roles in A-pictures, like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (which also gave her her signature tune, "Que Sera Sera."

But her career really took off when she was cast opposite Rock Hudson in 1959 sex comedy Pillow Talk. Just one year later, she was America’s #1 box office attraction – a position she held for the next 3 years. Her on-screen persona as the perpetual virgin who somehow loses her virginity before the closing credits was a formula she returned to again and again. In a way she personified America’s ambivalence to sex as we moved solidly into the Swingin’ 60s. Raised in a different era, our parents enjoyed sex but didn’t want to admit it to each other. So, Doris could only come across if her male co-star put a ring on it.

Outside of those silly, but enjoyable comedies with Hudson and James Garner, Doris proved she had some acting chops in occasional straight dramatic roles.

If you feel like spending a little time this weekend with America’s Sweetheart, here are a few of her better films:

  • Calamity Jane (1953)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  • Pillow Talk (1959)
  • Midnight Lace (1960)
  • Lover, Come Back (1961)
  • That Touch of Mink (1962)
  • Move Over Darling (1963)
  • Send Me No Flowers (1964)

The TV That Time Forgot: The Nat "King" Cole Show

In November, 1956, NBC became the first network to build a variety show around a black headliner when they debuted The Nat “King” Cole Show.

Nat "King" Cole was already an extremely popular singer, with 17 Top 10 hits. His show was well-received an attracted big name talent like Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald as guests. Yet, by December of 1957 the show was gone!

Why?

It wasn’t lack of ratings. Nat “King” Cole competed well. The problem was advertising. The New York agencies were afraid to place their sponsors on a show headlined by an African-American. They feared negative reaction to their clients’ products in the South. The show was only able to attract sponsors at the local level, like Reingold Beer in the New York area.

For a short time, Cole and his guests all agreed to work for AFTRA scale, the equivalent of minimum wage for TV performers. But after a year, Cole became disillusioned and quit, telling reporters, “Madison Avenue is afraid of the dark.”

NBC kept trying, bringing Bill Cosby in to co-star in the hit spy series Ispy beginning in 1965. Three years later they would launch Julia, a sit-com that starred Diahann Carroll.

But it wasn’t until 1970 that the network was finally able to create a variety show starring a black entertainer that could attract national sponsors. That was The Flip Wilson Show.

On My Little Margie, who did Margie's dad, Vern, work for?

The investment firm of Honeywell & Todd
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