Most of us know about the classic movie National Velvet starring Liz Taylor and Mickey Rooney.

But how many us remember that there was a National Velvet TV series as well?

It debuted on Sunday, September 18, 1960 on NBC. It starred Lori Martin as the young horse lover Velvet Brown. Scottish actor James McCallion played the former jockey Mi Taylor who was helping Velvet groom her stallion, King, for a run in the Grand National Steeplechase.

It would have seemed that the show couldn’t miss. Young girls love horses, but apparently they loved Ed Sullivan more. He was Velvet’s competition on CBS.


Remember the Beach Party movies of the 1960’s? They were made quickly and cheaply with the barest excuse for a plot (and the barest excuse for swimsuits they could get away with in those days.

Somehow, when they decided to make one more trip to beach in 1987 with Paramount Pictures’ Back to the Beach, they made it look just as cheap and feeble as the original films!

Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello are the stars (natch) only instead of being “Frankie and Dee Dee” as they were called in the original series, they’re now named “Annette” and “Annette’s Husband” (no, we’re not making that up).

What little plot there is revolves around a return trip to Malibu where their grown-up daughter is “living in sin” (remember that concept?) with a new generation of surfer. Also along for the ride is their young son, who actually looks like he could be Eric Von Zipper’s kid (although Harvey Lembeck is nowhere to be found). If we were Frankie, we’d get a DNA test. Just sayin’…

With all of the CSI-style forensic cop shows on TV, it may be hard to remember that network television was once ruled by cowboys and two-fisted private eyes.

One of the first of the shamuses was Richard Diamond, Private Detective.

The show was one of the first on TV because it had been a long-running, successful radio series. The radio show was created by Blake Edwards, who was later to create TV detective Peter Gunn as well as the bumbling Inspector Clouseau of Pink Panther film fame.

 Diamond had been played on radio by Dick Powell, but when it made the jump to CBS television, Powell stepped behind the camera as Executive Producer. In his place a young David Janssen was cast, beginning what was a very long career as a television star (The Fugitive, O’Hara, U.S. Treasury, Harry O, etc.).

Shows come and go so fast. For every I Love Lucy or Andy Griffith Show, there are hundreds that have vanished from the pop culture landscape. How many of these do you remember?

Bachelor Father

In TV-land, millionaires came in two flavors: the crusty old guy with a bushy white mustache (think Mr. Moneybags from the Monopoly game) and handsome, dashing playboys.

Bachelor Father featured this second flavor and served as the launching pad for one of TV’s most durable actors, John Forsythe.

This week’s featured presentation is the film that signaled the end of Beach Party movies. Frankie and Annette traded their swimsuits for stock cars in FIREBALL 500.

Released in 1966, the film was co-written and directed by William Asher, the same guy who first teamed Avalon and Funicello in the original Beach Party a few years earlier.

It’s worth a look not just to see the Beach Party gang try something different (and pretty much fail), but as a glimpse at the fledgling organization known as N.A.S.C.A.R. According to the film, stock car racing was such small potatoes (mainly popular with kids from California and Southern good ol’ boys) that a guy like Frankie had to augment his income as a stock car driver by hauling moonshine!


A.K.A. The Danny Thomas Show

Virtually forgotten now, Make Room for Daddy was one of TV’s earliest and most successful sitcoms.

But it took a long and winding road to get there and along the way, it created some television firsts.

© 2015 By Allen B. Ury

in some ways, TV themes provided a soundtrack to our lives even more than rock & roll. Life-long TV fan, writer and raconteur Allen Ury picks 10 themes we guarantee you'll recognize instantly! 

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.

How We Went Koo-Koo for "Kookie"

Who could have known that a serial killer would become one of TV’s first teen idols?

In the late 1950’s, private eye shows were giving Westerns a real run for their money in prime time. Starting in the summer of 1957, Richard Diamond (created by Blake Edwards) made the jump from radio to television and did pretty well.

In the fall of 1958, two “imitation Diamonds” hit the air: Peter Gunn (also created by Edwards) and 77 Sunset Strip (created by Roy Huggins). Both were smash hits.

Huggins had intended his series to be hard-boiled, centering on former military intelligence officer Stu Bailey (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.). However, viewer reaction to a serial killer in the pilot soon sent the series in a radically different direction.

If you're a comic book fan who noticed the mention of a "Stephen Strange" in this spring's Captain America movie, you may be pleased to know that MARVEL has announced that Benedict Cumberbatch (BBC's Sherlock, Star Trek into Darkness) will play "Master of Mystical Arts," Doctor Strange in an upcoming horror-flavored Marvel film.

The film is scheduled to hit theaters November 4, 2016.

The Life & Times of Howdy Doody – Part 3

We all remember that we spent our afternoons, and later, our Saturday mornings in the 50’s with Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody, but how much do you really remember about the show itself and the strange cast of characters who kept us entertained throughout a good portion of our childhoods?

C’mon backstage because once again, it’s Howdy Doody time!



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