(Television History and Trivia)




Victor Edward Swanson,


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- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 28 - - -

    If you were to examine the "tone" of prime-time broadcast television in the U.S. as a whole through the decades, you would find the tone was likable between the 1940s and the 1970s as a rule and has been getting less likable since the 1980s.  Yes, you probably like at least a few of the television programs that are on prime-time television, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, but if you were to name all the likable television programs on prime-time broadcast television, you would probably come up with a small number.  For this edition of T.H.A.T., I have chosen "likable" as the theme.

    I have to admit I am not a "fan" of anyone who can be seen on television; however, I like the look of Emma Samms, and when I do see Emma Samms, I wonder if she is a woman who is worth knowing because she truly is a worthwhile woman or if she is a woman not worth knowing because she does nothing, thinks about nothing, and is nothing, and I hope she fits in the former category.  The image that an actress or an actor presents on the television screen is not representative of what the actress or the actor really is as a person.  In fact, the image that any person exhibits on the television screen can be useless information about the person for others.

    Over the years or, really, decades, I have seen Aaron Spelling on television shows, such as on entertainment-news shows, and I have not been able to determine, based on all the shows that I have seen, whether or not Aaron Spelling was a guy worth knowing or not worth knowing, but based on the types of programs that Aaron Spelling was involved with between the 1950s and 2006 as a maker of television  programs (such as as a writer or a "producer" or whatever), I do have to say that he was involved with a lot of "likable" programs over the years, from Burke's Law to Charmed, and that I can admire about Aaron Spelling.

    Let me make some facts clear about Aaron Spelling.  Aaron Spelling died on June 23, 2006, and he should be remembered most by television historians for producing or getting produced such television series as Dynasty and Beverly Hills, 90210 and for producing or getting produced made-for-TV movies (many of which were produced in the 1970s for ABC-TV).  Aaron Spelling, who had been an actor for a short while, was the father of Tori Spelling, who, for instance, was one of the performers in Beverly Hills, 90210.

    The obituaries that I have seen for Aaron Spelling in paper publications or on television shows have mostly talked about the television series that he helped make popular over the years, some of which have already been mentioned in this edition of T.H.A.T., but the obituaries have rarely presented any information about the made-for-TV movies that he was associated with.  During the 1970-1971 season and the 1971-1972 season, Aaron Spelling Productions produced a number of made-for-TV movies for ABC-TV, though not all the movies were produced solely by Aaron Spelling Productions (a movie called The Reluctant Heroes was a production of ABC-TV and Aaron Spelling Productions).  Mostly, the movies that Aaron Spelling was associated with for the 1970-1971 season and 1971-1972 season were presented under the ABC Movie of the Week umbrella title, which was used as an umbrella title for movies shown on Tuesday evenings (one movie that I am going to talk about in this edition of T.H.A.T. was presented under the ABC Movie of the Weekend umbrella title, which was an umbrella title used on Saturday evenings).

    This talk about movies associated with Aaron Spelling begins with a movie in which a man, called Walter Benjamin (played by Herschel Bernardi), found himself in the sights of single females after becoming newly widowed.  The movie was shown on October 6, 1970, and it featured such performers as Shirley Jones, Nanette Fabray, Tina Louise, June Lockhart, Sue Lyon, Joyce Van Patten, and Jerry Paris.  What was the name of the movie?  That is your first trivia question in this edition of T.H.A.T.

    Barbara Stanwyck had been a well-known actress for several decades when a movie in which she performed was seen on ABC-TV on October 27, 1970.  The movie was about a woman, named Ruth Bennett, who inherits what appears to be a haunted house built in the 1700s.  I have no questions to ask you about this movie, which also had such performers as Katherine Winn (as Sara), Richard Egan, Mabel Albertson, and Michael Anderson, Jr.  I now tell you that this movie was called The House That Would Not Die.

    On November 24, 1970, ABC-TV presented a movie that had witchcraft as the focus.  The movie was Crowhaven Farm, and it was written by John McGreevey and directed by Walter Grauman.  Some of the performers in the movie were Hope Lange, Paul Burke, Lloyd Bochner, John Carradine, Cindy Eilbacher, and Cyril Delevanti.

    I do have to admit, if you were to look at some of the movies that were associated with Aaron Spelling during the two seasons that I am focusing on in this edition of T.H.A.T., you would see some of the movies do look rather "cheap," and a movie entitled Love, Hate, Love would probably be one of the movies.  This movie was shown on ABC-TV on February 9, 1971, and it was about a man (played by Peter Haskell) who has a deadly obsession with a model named Sheila Blunden.  Some of the performers in the movie were Ryan O'Neal, Henry Jones, and Fred Holliday.  Who played Sheila Blunden in this movie?

    Let me run through a few of Aaron Spelling's movies quickly.  On September 21, 1971, Bill Bixby, Diane Baker, Ann Sothern, and Jack Albertson were some of the performers seen in Congratulations, It's a Boy, which was about a man (played by Bill Bixby) who discovers he has a son (age 17).  A class reunion was filled with terror in the story entitled Five Desperate Women, which was shown on ABC-TV on September 28, 1971, and featured such performers as Robert Conrad, Bradford Dillman, Julie Sommars, Joan Hackett, Denise Nicholas, and Stefanie Powers.  A married couple (played by Michael Cole and Janet Margolin) was in trouble because of population-control laws in the movie entitled The Last Child, which was shown on ABC-TV on October 5, 1971.  Aaron Spelling (the producer) and Barbara Stanwyck (the actress) were both involved in the movie entitled A Taste of Evil, which was shown on ABC-TV on October 12, 1971, and the movie focused on a mental patient named Susan Wilcox (played by Barbara Parkins) and her past.  Officially, Aaron Spelling was the "producer" of a spy-type movie that was shown on ABC-TV on October 26, 1971, and the movie was called The Death of Me Yet and had such performers as Doug McClure (as Edward T. Young and Paul Towers), Darren McGavin, Rosemary Forsyth, Richard Basehart, and Meg Foster (a gal with such light-green eyes that the eyes can make her look spooky).

    I hope you have come to you realize, through what has been presented about Aaron Spelling so far, the movies associated with Aaron Spelling during the time period covered in this discussion were fictional stories and not like so many movies made by producers for television since the 1980s--docu-drama movies or movies based on the lives of real people.

    The Reluctant Heroes was shown on ABC-TV on November 23, 1971.  The story focused on the Korean War and a lieutenant who was keeping his soldiers alive by using his knowledge of army history.  Some of the performers were Jim Hutton, Trini Lopez, Don Marshall, Ralph Meeker, Cameron Mitchell, Warren Oates, and Richard Young.  Who played the lieutenant--Lt. Murphy?  (Yes, that is a question you must try to answer.)

    Interracial marriage and World War II was the theme of the movie entitled If Tomorrow Comes.  The movie was first shown on ABC-TV on December 7, 1971.  The two main performers were Patty Duke and Frank Liu, and some of the other performers were James Whitmore, Anne Baxter, Pat Hingle, Beulah Quo, and Mako (who, by the way, died on July  21, 2006, at the age of 72).

    The movie entitled The Trackers was shown on ABC-TV on December 13, 1971.  The movie was credited to Aaron Spelling Productions, but the "producers" were Aaron Spelling and Sammy Davis, Jr., the latter of whom was a featured actor in the movie.  Sammy Davis, Jr., played U.S. Marshal Ezekiel Smith, and this Western movie was about the search for a kidnapped girl, named Becky, and more.  Some of the other performers were Ernest Borgnine, Julie Adams, Jim Davis, Norman Alden, and Arthur Hunnicutt.

    I now talk about two "cop" movies.  The Rookies was shown on ABC-TV on March 7, 1972, and it featured such performers as Darren McGavin, Paul Burke, Georg Stanford Brown, and Cameron Mitchell, and the movie was a "pilot" for a series (The Rookies) that soon showed up on ABC-TV and was popular in the country.  Two for the Money was a presentation of the ABC Movie of the Weekend, and it was shown on ABC-TV on February 26, 1972, and, really, the story started out as a "cop" movie and evolved into a private-eye movie, in which  two guys (played by Robert Hooks and Stephen Brooks) tried to find a man wanted by the FBI for a number of killings.

    "Likable" does not always translate in to "good," even in the case of movies associated with Aaron Spelling, but I have shown Aaron Spelling was associated with likable productions, and although a measure of a man can be made through the work he does and shows, I cannot really report that Aaron Spelling was truly a likable man, but I will say it seems to me he was not bad.  (Now, if only my assumptions about Emma Samms are correct, because I should be disappointed in my having erred in my deductions, based on bits of fact from articles and interviews and not fictional portrayals that I have; for example, I would be disappointed if she were a type of woman who claims that I stole a lot of money from her bank account, though it is false, or claims that I had a loud argument with her in public--at a bank--though it is false, and I would be very disappointed if she were the type of woman who would attempt to take sets of keys not belonging to her from but belonging to family members, such as their back-up house keys, and if it would take my having to take the keys from her to stop her from having the keys, which were entrusted to me for safe keeping, as if I were a trustee of the stash of keys.)

    Incidentally, Aaron Spelling was not associated with a two-part TV-movie that was shown on NBC-TV on Monday, March 8, 1971, and Tuesday, March 9, 1971, which happened to be a two-part movie entitled Vanished.  I guess I could call the 1971 TV-movie a "mini-series," though the term "mini-series" did not exist in 1971.  The reason I bring up Vanished through this edition of T.H.A.T. is Lifetime, a cable channel, presented a made-for-TV movie entitled Vanished to viewers on Sunday, July 16, 2006, and once again I note that more than one TV-movie in history has had the same title, and this time the same title for two movies is Vanished (the two movies are not the same movie or have the same plot).  The likable 1971 movie was about the disappearance of Arnold Greer (played by Arthur Hill), who was a U.S. presidential adviser (Richard Widmark played the president), and the 1971 movie had many familiar actors, such as James Farentino, Skye Aubrey, Tom Bosley, Larry Hagman, Murray Hamilton, Robert Hooks, E.G. Marshall, Eleanor Parker, William Shatner, Robert Young, Chet Huntley, Betty White, Stephen McNally, Sheree North, Michael Strong, Christine Belford, Jim Davis, Russell Johnson, Larry Linville, Martin Agronsky, Denny Miller, Don Pedro Colley, William Boyett, Fred Holliday, Richard Dix, Earl Ebi, Kevin Hagen, Neil Hamilton, Ray Ballard, Stacy Keach (Sr.), Herb Vigran, Clark Howat, James Hong, and Stacy Harris.  I wonder if the 2006 Vanished, which featured such performers as A.J. Cook, Carlos Ponce, and Brad Rowe, will be remembered by television historians as fondly in the years to come as I remember the 1971 Vanished today.

Stay well!


    P.S.: You are probably thinking I would forget to present the answers to the questions that I posed in the previous edition of T.H.A.T.  I was not about to skip answering the questions, but I thought I would make you wonder if I was going to forget to give you the answers.  The question related to Hawaiian Tropic that I posed in the previous edition of T.H.A.T. has two answers: Miss Hawaiian Tropic presents Joe Piscopo's Summer Beach Party (or simply Joe Piscopo's Summer Beach Party, which is the short title) and Joe Piscopo (who hosted the program).  And the first three series of The WB were: The Wayans Bros., Unhappily Ever After, and Muscle.

copyright c. 2006
Date published: August 10, 2006

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