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.
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.
Many of the classic movie comedy teams from Laurel & Hardy to The Three Stooges scampered across the TV screens of our youth, but only one actually appeared in a brand-new, made-for-TV series. That was Abbott and Costello.
Actually, to say the series featured brand new material is a bit misleading. What The Abbott and Costello Show accomplished is something far more significant. It preserved for future generations a portion of American theatrical history that might have been lost to the ages without them.
How to Marry a Millionaire is a classic Hollywood comedy of the 1950’s. How many remember that there was a short-lived TV version of the film, one that co-starred a young actress named Barbara Eden?
The How to Marry a Millionaire TV series was one of the first times they made a hit movie into a weekly TV show. Frankly, it’s not remembered today because it was slightly less successful than M*A*S*H.
The movie came out in 1953. It wasn’t until 1957 that National Telefilm Associates (NTA) got around to producing their TV version. While the show was not carried by the three major networks, NTA did manage to sell it to 115 local stations around the country.
Yes, it really happened! Bill Murray has portrayed a Marvel super-hero. The year was 1975 and Marvel was trying to expand from Saturday morning TV into the world of radio. So they spent $47,000 on a Fantastic Four radio series.
Murray was a struggling comic who had migrated from Chicago to New York. He was already working on The National Lampoon Radio Show, but picked up extra work when he was cast as Johnny Storm a.k.a. The Human Torch!
The shows were all adaptations of the very early issue of the Fantastic Four comic books of the early 1960’s. They were narrated by none other than Stan Lee himself. They are the cheese fest you would expect with all of Lee’s breathless, over-the-top prose and Murray faithfully shouting the Torch’s catchphrase “Flame on!” in every episode.
Sadly, the series lasted only 13 episodes and earned a paltry $22,000.
Oh, John Belushi was up for the part of the Thing, but was turned down.
A year later, Murray replaced Chevy Chase on the second season of NBC’s Saturday Night (it wouldn’t become Saturday Night Live until near the end of the second season). And the rest is show biz history!
This is the film that started it all!
Teen exploitation movies! A nationwide craze for surfing! The slang phrase “Big Kahuna!” Sandra Dee’s brief career as a movie star!
Before Gidget, there had been movies aimed at teenagers, but they were mainly bad horror and science fiction films whose stars were still adults. Gidget was the first movie for the Baby Boomers to make the kids and their personal lifestyle the focus.
In the early days of TV, most major Hollywood studios saw it as “the enemy,” the force that was driving down attendance at movie theaters.
In those days, only Universal (which frankly could use the money), Walt Disney (who knew how to use TV to promote his movies and new theme park) and Warner Brothers really embraced the new medium.
Warner Brothers specialized in churning out 60-minure Westerns and private eye shows for ABC-TV. They began with the Western Cheyenne. When that clicked, others soon followed. One of the first was Sugarfoot, starring Will Hutchins.
Is there a Baby Boomer male who didn’t have a crush on Hayley Mills back in the early 60’s?
If there was, he probably never saw her in her magnum opus, The Parent Trap.
The film trades on the extremely popular, but probably psychologically unhealthy fantasy of a lot of divorced kids that they can somehow get their parents back together again.
In this case, the too dumb for their own good ‘rents are played by Brian Keith (who owns every young girl’s fantasy of a California horse ranch) and Maureen O’Hara (who inhabits no one’s fantasy of a stuffy Boston home, relieved only by Charlie Ruggles as a grandfather with a permanent twinkle in his eye).
In The Parent Trap, their kids are both Hayley Mills (or Hayley and her body double, Susan Henning) as twins who were separated at birth by their idiot parents.
While often lumped together with “The Twilight Zone” and “Boris Karloff’s Thriller,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” is the true original, debuting 4 years before TZ and 5 before “Thriller.”
Alfred Hitchcock’s show was also different than the other two in that it didn’t deal in either supernatural or science-fiction. The situations may have been odd, but were always rooted in reality. Cold, brutal or gruesome reality, but reality nonetheless.
The show debuted in the fall of 1955 featuring a pair of now-classic episodes directed by the master himself. The first, “Revenge” about a husband looking for the man who assaulted his wife when she was alone in their mobile home and “Breakdown” featuring Joseph Cotton as a man paralyzed in a car crash, unable to tell the workers carting him off to the morgue that he’s not dead!
Hitch would go on to direct 15 more half-hours during the show’s 8 season run. But even when he wasn’t directing, the show always highlighted ed his style of crime thrillers. And of course, each episode featured the master himself introducing and closing each program with a generous helping of his macabre sense of humor and disdain for the sponsor.
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