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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.

The TV That Time Forgot: Maverick

When you mention the TV series Maverick to any Baby Boomer, the first name they are likely to mention is James Garner. Yet, here’s a fun fact. Garner starred in less than half of the Maverick episodes filmed!

The Maverick TV series was very popular, running from the fall of 1957 through the summer of 1962 or 5 full seasons. But Garner left the show after Season 3 and even then, he shared the first 3 seasons with actor Jack Kelly, who played brother, Bart Maverick to Garner’s Brett.

Read more: The TV That Time Forgot: Maverick

Where the Boys Are (1960)

The granddaddy (or is that grandmommy) of all Spring Break films is Where the Boys Are! Released in December of 1960, this was an “A” picture for MGM, shot in Technicolor and CinemaScope.

The movie’s advertising billed it as “The HILARIOUS Inside Story of Those Rip-Roaring Spring Vacations!” Let’s look at the plot. We have a date rape (laughing yet?), a girl wandering out into traffic and getting hit by a car (a chuckle maybe?) and the film’s two leads going their separate ways at the end of the picture (side-splitting, right?).

Actually, this baby is pretty damn melodramatic. What few laughs there are belong to Frank Gorshin as a very nearsighted musician committed to “dialectic jazz.”

The film’s title allegedly came from a remark a college girl made when a reporter asked her why she came to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break. The plot was based on a novel by Glendon Swarthout.

Read more: Where the Boys Are (1960)

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