(Television History and Trivia)
Victor Edward Swanson,
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- - - T.H.A.T., Edition No. 33 - - -
This edition of T.H.A.T. is made up of four main sections, if you forget about a very short closing section. One section provides answers to questions posed in the previous edition of T.H.A.T. Another section provides trivia questions for you to answer before you see the next edition of T.H.A.T. Yet another section is a special section made up of facts and comments by me that can be deemed commentary, and the section is entitled "A Tale of Two Periods in Television." And yet another section provides you with a surprise, coming about through my being surprised by what happened in the process of buying a used computer.
A Tale of Two Periods in Television
In the past, I have noted in T.H.A.T. that the heyday or the best time for television so far has been the period of time between roughly the mid-1950s and mid-1970s, though there have been good times or good shows aired between the mid-1940s and the mid-1950s (sometimes thought of as the "Golden Years" or the "Golden Age" of television, when technical values were often weak and budgets were often very low) and between the mid-1970s and today (the age of more and more double-runs or repeats, infomercials, clutter, et cetera), and one reason the period between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s has been the best period so far is it was a likable period or a fun period, as I shall show within this section by making a little review of some past programs.
Let us look at some holiday-themed made-for-TV programs that aired during some of the December holiday seasons in the period of time from the mid-1950s and mid-1970s, really focusing on the period from 1962 through 1974. An animated character whose history can be traced back to at least 1947 was the featured character in a one-hour animated program shown on NBC-TV for the first time on December 18, 1962, and that character was Mr. Magoo, and the show was entitled Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol; Mr. Magoo is a nearsighted character with a big nose and a bald head, and for about four decades, Jim Backus provided the voice of the character, and the company that brought Mr. Magoo to the marketplace was UPA Pictures. On December 6, 1964, viewers of NBC-TV saw for the first time Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which was an amimated program put together by Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass; the program, which was promoted as a "G.E. Fantasy Hour," featured the voices of such performers as Billie Richards (as Rudolph), Burl Ives (as the Snowman), Larry Mann, Paul Soles, Stan Francis, Alfie Schop, and Janice Orinstein, and had such songs as "Silver and Gold," "We're a Couple of Misfits," "Holly Jolly Christmas," and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (I consider the full title of this program to be Burl Ives Tells the Story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer because of what was and is shown on the screen when it was and is aired). It was CBS-TV that first aired A Charlie Brown Christmas, an animated special, and the first showing was on December 9, 1965, and this program was written by Charles M. Schulz and produced by, in essence, Bill Melendez and Bill Mendelson. CBS-TV showed "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" on December 18, 1966, and this is that animated cartoon that focused on the people of Whoville and the Grinch who lives on the nearby mountain and that featured the performances of Boris Karloff as the narrator and Thurl Ravenscroft (who would die in 2005 at the age of 91) as the singer of the main song of the show. Performer Jimmy Durante played himself--in animated form--for the program entitled Frosty the Snowman, which was first shown on CBS-TV on December 7, 1969, and some of the other performers in this program put together by Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass, were Billy DeWolfe, Jackie Vernon (doing the voice of Frosty the Snowman), June Foray, and Paul Frees. Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass were instrumental in producing Santa Claus is Comin' To Town for ABC-TV, which aired the animated show (really an "animagic"-type show, as had been the program about Rudolph already mentioned in this section) for the first time on December 13,1970; this program about Santa featured the voices of such performers as Fred Astaire (who did the voice of the mailman, who did happen to look much like Fred Astaire), Mickey Rooney (as Kris), and Keenan Wynn (as Winter Warlock). The Year Without a Santa Claus was the animated program that ABC-TV showed on December 10, 1974; the program featured the voices of such actors as Mickey Rooney (as Santa Claus), Shirley Booth (as Mrs. Claus), Dick Shawn (as Snowmiser), and George S. Irving (as Heatmiser). Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass were instrumental in putting together 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, an animated program that was first shown on CBS-TV on December 8, 1974, and it was a show that featured the voices of, for instance, Joey Grey, Tammy Grimes, John McGiver, George Gobel, and Allen Swift.
Keep two main thoughts in mind. Since each program of the previous paragraph was shown on prime-time network television, each has been repeatedly shown on at least network television; for example, this past holiday season, CBC-TV (a broadcast network in Canada) aired "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (that 1966 program already mentioned) on December 11, Santa Claus is Comin To Town (that 1970 program already mentioned) on December 14, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (that 1964 program already mentioned) on December 21. The programs mentioned so far have been available on videotape and DVDs for some time, and I can report that they are popular today, though I do not have survey material to backup my statement, and I can say that I like the programs.
Let us look at almost all the holiday-themed programs that were aired during December 2006 (really December 1 through December 24) by networks, especially the broadcast networks (and I only look at the prime-time period and programs that were made to be shown on television first). Bah, Humduck! was shown by the Cartoon Network on December 1 (the show was an animated show). The Christmas Card was a new movie shown by the Hallmark Channel on December 2 (and on December 7). The Hallmark Channel showed A Carol Christmas (a 2003 made-for-TV movie about a selfish television personality) on December 3. The Lifetime Channel showed a new made-for-TV movie entitled A Dad for Christmas on December 3 (which was about a teenage dad and his new son). The Year Without a Santa Claus (that 1974 animated program mentioned in this edition of T.H.A.T. already) was shown by the Disney Channel on December 4 (and December 20), and Lifetime showed a new movie entitled Under the Mistletoe (about a boy who tries to get a romantic interest for his widowed mother) on December 4. Santa Claus is Comin' To Town (that 1970 program already mentioned) on December 5 (and December 15), and Lifetime showed the 2001 TV-movie called Call Me Claus (about a female television producer who may become the new Santa Claus) on December 5 (and December 10). The ABC Family channel presented a 2001 TV-movie called Twice Upon a Christmas (which featured model Kathy Ireland playing Santa's daughter and which was a sequel to a 2000 TV-movie called Once Upon A Christmas) on December 6, and His and Her Christmas (about rival newspaper columnists--one a guy and one a gal) was a 2005 movie shown by Lifetime on December 6 (and on December 23). December 7 was the day on which Lifetime showed Recipe for a Perfect Christmas, which was a 2005 movie featuring Christine Baranski and about a food writer and the writer's mom. On December 8, CBS-TV showed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (that 1964 animated production), Frosty the Snowman (that 1969 program), and Frosty Returns (a 1995 animated program), and it was Hallmark that gave viewers A Christmas Visitor, a 2002 TV-movie about a grieving family, on December 8, and Lifetime showed Santa Who? (a 2000 TV-movie about what happens when Santa gets amnesia) on December 8. ABC-TV showed Holidaze: The Christmas That Almost Didn't Happen (a new one-hour animated special) on December 9, and Hallmark showed a new movie entitled What I Did for Love (about a lawyer) on December 9 (and December 14 and December 22). The i network showed Mary Christmas, a 2002 TV-movie about a television reporter, on December 10, and ABC Family showed Santa Baby (a new movie about Santa's alcoholic daughter) on December 10 (and December 12), and Lifetime gave viewers Christmas on Chestnut Street, a 2006 TV-movie about a work-driven business woman, on December 10. NBC-TV aired The Year Without a Santa Claus (a new 2006 movie) on December 11, and Lifetime showed the 2006 movie entitled A Christmas Wedding (about a guy and gal hoping to get married on Christmas Day) on December 11. ABC-TV aired "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (that 1966 program) on December 12, and Hallmark showed a 1996 movie featuring Dolly Parton called Unlikely Angel (about a country-music performer who dies and then has to help a troubled family headed by a widower) on December 12 (and December 24). On December 13, Hallmark showed Angel in the Family, a 2004 movie that featured Meredith Baxter and was about a widower, and Lifetime showed Deck the Halls, a 2005 movie that featured Gabrielle Carteris as a widowed mother, on December 13, and TNT had a music program entitled Christmas in Washington on December 13. On December 14, Bravo showed two music programs--Christmas in Rockefeller Center and Clay Aiken Christmas--and Lifetime showed the 2005 movie entitled Crazy for Christmas (about a family headed by a single mother) on December 14. Mr. St. Nick (a 2002 movie about Santa's son (played by Kelsey Grammer)) was shown by Lifetime on December 15. A new movie about a man spending holiday time with his ex-wife's family was shown by ABC Family on December 16 (and December 20), and that movie was called Christmas Do-Over, and Lifetime showed Christmas Wish (a 1998 movie featuring Neil Patrick Harris) on December 16. A Charlie Brown Christmas (that 1965 animated program) showed up on ABC-TV on December 17, and the i network had the 2002 movie entitled The Santa Trap (about a girl who captures Santa) on the air on December 17, and Hallmark showed Meet the Santas (a 2005 movie that was a sequel to the 2004 movie entitled Single Santa Meets Mrs. Claus) and A Boyfriend for Christmas (a 2004 movie in which, in essence, Santa plays cupid) on December 17, and Lifetime showed The Road to Christmas (a 2006 movie about a bride-to-be) on December 17. Hallmark showed a 1994 movie entitled One Christmas (about a boy and his estranged a father) on December 18, and All She Wants for Christmas (a new movie focusing on people associated with a Christmas shop) showed up on Lifetime on December 18 (and December 24), and TNT presented A Perfect Day, a new movie about an author, on December 18 (and December 20). I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown--this 2003 animated program was shown by ABC-TV on December 19, and Hallmark showed Off Season (a 2001 movie about an orphaned boy) on December 19, and Lifetime showed Christmas at Water's Edge (a 2004 movie that featured Keshia Knight Pulliam as a materialistic college student) on December 19. Lifetime showed Home for the Holidays (a 2005 movie about a woman who tries to adopt her orphaned niece and nephews) on December 20. Once again during the holiday season, CBS-TV showed Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (that 1964 animated production), and the program was shown on December 21, and Lifetime showed a 2001 movie entitled A Town Without Christmas (about a television reporter who tries to find a boy who writes Santa and may kill himself if his parents get divorced) on December 21. A concert featuring Rod Stewart entitled A Home for the Holidays was shown by CBS-TV on December 22, and the Cartoon Network showed the 2001 animated program entitled Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer on December 22, and the Disney Channel showed the 2000 movie entitled The Ultimate Christmas Present (focusing on Santa's weather-making machine) on December 22, and Lifetime presented the 2003 movie entitled Christmas Child (about a journalist who needs to learn the true meaning of Christmas) on December 22. Hallmark showed Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus (a 2004 movie) on December 23, the day on which, once again for the holiday, Hallmark showed the movie entitled Meet the Santas, and Lifetime showed Eve's Christmas (a 2004 movie) on December 23. CBS-TV showed A Very Married Christmas (a 2004 movie about a marriage that is falling apart) on December 24, and on December 24, ABC Family showed Frosty's Winter Wonderland (that 1976 animated program), 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (that 1974 animated program), Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (that 1970 program), A Year Without a Santa Claus (that 1974 cartoon), and Rudolph's Shiny New Year (a 1975 cartoon). Lifetime gave viewers Holiday Wishes (a 2006 movie about a spoiled rich girl) on December 24, and TSB had "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" for viewers on December 24.
Incidentally, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and the Island of Misfit Toys was shown by ABC Family on December 4 (and December 15), and you may have seen it--one or twice--and you might think the stop-motion animated production was made for television, but it was not--it was made for video release, and it was released in 2001.
When you examine what was done this past December, you should come up with several conclusions. You should see most of the fun holiday-themed animated programs that were shown had been made many years ago, and some of the programs were shown more than once. You should understand the Hallmark Channel and Lifetime mostly provided viewers with live-action made-for-TV movies, many of which were not fun, being not like the old animated programs and having such themes as a man spending the holiday season with relatives of his ex-wife. Of the broadcast networks, the broadcast network that aired the most holiday-themed programs was CBS-TV. A lot of the movies dealt with widowed persons, and a lot of the other movies dealt with media people (such as television personalities).
It was a new program that was aired during this past December by NBC-TV that inspired me to put this paragraph together because the program has a link to an old theatrical movie that people can see broadcast at least several times each December, and that theatrical movie is It's a Wonderful Life, which was produced and directed by Frank Capra, written by Frank Capra, Frances Goodrich, and Albert Hackett, and featured such actors as James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore, and, by the way, this movie was produced in 1946, yet it gets aired by at least broadcast networks in this day and age (NBC-TV aired It's a Wonderful Life on December 16 and December 24). The recent 2006 program shown by NBC-TV was a program that--I feel--will not be repeated and be enjoyed in the years to come by many people, since the program was lifeless, lacked heart (like the heart that can be felt in the animated programs noted in the second paragraph of this section), was "padded," was not fun, et cetera. The 2006 program was a made-for-TV movie entitled The Year Without A Santa Claus, and it was shown for the first time on December 11, 2006, and it featured such performers as John Goodman (as Santa Claus), Delta Burke (as Mrs. Claus), Carol Kane (as Mother Nature), Michael McKean (as Snowmiser), Harvey Fierstein (as Heatmiser), Ethan Suplee (as Jingle, who was an elf), Eddie Griffin (as Jangle, who was an elf), Chris Kattan (as Sparky, who was Santa's head elf), and Dylan Minevette (as Iggy Thistlewhite, who played a boy). Some of the people who worked on the movie were Mark M. Wolper (the executive producer), Gideon Amir (the producer), Larry Wilson (a writer), Tom Martin (a writer), and Ron Underwood (the director). When I saw Mark M. Wolper listed in the end credits of the show, I remembered how David L. Wolper (the father to Mark M. Wolper) had been involved in putting a lot of good programs together for network television in the past, such as in the 1960s. While I was watching the end-credits, I wondered what company was involved in putting the program together or what companies were involved in putting the program together, and I discovered the program was put together by The Wolper Organization and distributed by Warner Bros. Television. I was shocked when I saw one credit listed in the end-credits--I found that the first assistant director was "Frank Capra III."
The Answers T.H.A.T. You Seek
This section has answers, but not the answers that I could give, such as my answer to why people who follow in the footsteps of relatives in certain jobs do not do as well as those they follow.
Several television-trivia questions were presented to you in the previous edition of T.H.A.T., and, here, I have the answers to the questions. I talked about Get Down Tonight: The Disco Explosion, which was originally shown on PBS-associated television stations in late 2004 and is one of the programs of the My Music series, and I wondered whether or not you knew information about two cuties seen on the show, particularly the name of the musical group in which the two cuties were or are associated. The name of the musical group that I wanted you to say is: A Taste of Honey. By the way, the two gals are Hazel Payne and Janice Marie Johnson. Another show that I talked about in the previous edition of T.H.A.T. is a My Music program entitled Legends of Country: Classic Hits of the '50s, '60s & '70s. You might have been confused about what program I was talking about, because some television-program listings listed the show as Country Pop Legends or, more fully, really, My Music: Country Pop Legends, neither of which is a correct title. (I think publishers of television listings do readers or viewers a disservice when they publish the incorrect titles of programs in television-program listings or television-program grids, though errors might really be attributed to program suppliers who supply incorrect information to the publishers.) One question was asked about Legends of Country: Classic Hits of the '50s, '60s & '70s, and the answer to the question is "Roy Clark" (he was the host of the program). Three movies entitled Stranded were talked about in the previous edition of T.H.A.T., and in relation to one of the movies, I wanted you to give me or yourself the names of the actors who played the two persons stranded on an island in that movie--you should have found the actors were Loni Anderson and Perry King. And in the previous edition of T.H.A.T., you were given a question about "Sarah," and if you were to answer the question correctly, you would have to say "Kay Lenz" played Sarah in the original movie entitled The Initiation of Sarah.
Yet One More Question for You At Least
I have noted that there have been some fun programs on the air between the mid-1970s and today. For instance, on December 2, 1976, ABC-TV aired Frosty's Winter Wonderland, which was an animated production featuring the voices of such actors as Andy Griffith (as Andy Griffith), Jackie Vernon (as Frosty), Dennis Day, and Paul Frees and was from Rankin-Bass Productions (which was related to Arthur Rankin, Jr., and Jules Bass). In addition, for example, CBS-TV aired The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, an animated-type program, for the first time on December 17, 1985, and this production from Rankin-Bass Productions and Telepictures featured the voices of such performers as Alfred Drake, Earl Mamond, Robert McFadden, Earle Hyman, and J.D. Roth (and this program was "A CBS/Library of Congress 'Read More About It' Book Project").
I have seen a program entitled Frosty Returns, which was an animated program that was first shown by CBS-TV on December 1, 1995, and on the card in my files associated with the program, I have a comment listed: "Vic crit: 'It's not quite as likeable as Frosty the Snowman." Frosty Returns was an animated special, and Jonathan Winters provided the voice of the narrator. The question that I now have for you is: "Who provided the voice of Frosty in Frosty Returns?
A Surprise for Everyone
To make this edition of T.H.A.T., I had to do research, such as look at past TV-program listings published by The Detroit News, particularly editions published between 1961 and 1970, which were available to me at The Mardigian Library of the University of Michigan in Dearborn. The purpose of doing the research was to get information about old animated holiday programs, one of which was Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, which was the first one-hour animated program made for a broadcast network and which really inspired others, such as, it seems, the team of Rankin and Bass to make animated-type holiday programs. During the search, I came across programs that I did not know about and that I did then add to my files, such as The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood, which was a live-action program that featured Liza Minnelli as Little Red Riding Hood and Cyril Ritchard as Lone T. Wolf and was shown by ABC-TV on November 28, 1965, and I came across Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, which was an animated program that was first shown by NBC-TV on November 30, 1970. (Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day, which featured the voices of Sterling Holloway, Paul Winchell, and John Fiedler, was produced by The Walt Disney Company for theaters, and the program is not a made-for-TV product, as is not Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree, which was first shown by NBC-TV on March 10, 1970. Remember: Both "Winnie the Pooh" programs are good programs for anyone to see, but neither is a made-for-TV animated program. I do have cards for both shows in my files, since the cards note that the programs are not-made-for-TV programs.) Also during the search for facts and information, officially on the first day of two days that I used to search for facts and information, I came across information about a talk show that was hosted by Bill Kennedy that I did not have listed in my files; Bill Kennedy is a person whom I have talked about in past editions of T.H.A.T. (T.H.A.T. #10, which can be reached by hitting T.H.A.T #10, and T.H.A.T. #11, which can be reached by hitting T.H.A.T. #11), and I have noted that Bill Kennedy was a well-known movie host on Detroit-area television stations for several decades. (Let me make this clear: A "movie host" was a person who hosted a television show during which a movie was shown--shown in a number of segments, which were separated by commercials--and the television show that was used to show a movie was informally thought of as a "movie show" or "movie program.")
Here are some happenings. On Monday, December 18, 2006, during the day, I went to see a man named David Kahn, who runs a company called Dataway, Inc. (Farmington Hills, Michigan) and sells used computers, and on the evening of the same day, I went to the library and came across information about the talk-show program with Bill Kennedy (mentioned in the previous paragraph), but I did not take any notes on the program. On Tuesday, December 19, 2006, I went back to see David Kahn, who was getting a computer ready for me (really, an associate, named Alex, was hunting for drivers on the Internet to get the computer ready for me), and David Kahn and I spent about two hours talking about a variety of subjects. David and I talked about television, especially local television programs, and we talked about how he worked as a producer for Bill Kennedy during the time that Bill Kennedy was hosting his six-day-a-week movie program for CKLW-TV Channel 9 (Windsor, Ontario, Canada). David said he was the producer for a talk-show that Bill Kennedy did for a while, and, on that day, David called the program Bill Kennedy Presents. On Wednesday, December 20, 2006, in the evening, I went back to the library to do more research.
Let me talk about the Bill Kennedy program that David Kahn talked with me about, and what I talk about here is not all correct information, and I mention this information to show how a person can sort of get television facts of long ago a little mixed up. The program, which David called Bill Kennedy Presents, was seen on CKLW-TV Channel 9, which was based in Windsor, Ontario, Canada (Windsor is across the Detroit River from Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.), and during each program, Bill Kennedy interviewed a celebrity who had come to town to do something or appear in something. David said that he was involved in what he called Bill Kennedy Presents in 1968 or 1964. David said that some of the celebrities came to town to appear in stage productions done by the Northland Players, which was a theater group associated with the first mall made in the U.S.A.--the Northland Mall. I asked him if he knew who some of the guests were on the talk show, and he remembered Bill had visits from Diane Lane, Walter Slezak, Dolores Hart, and Diana Barrymore. In essence, Bill Kennedy and David Kahn bought thirty minutes of air time from CKLW-TV each weekday to air the program on CKLW-TV, and they sold portions of the air time to adveristers to show commercials (really, David Kahn was the person who sold the air time). David noted that CKLW-TV did not sell any commercials for the show.
In the next edition of T.H.A.T., I will provide a lot of information about Bill Kennedy, much of which I already have at hand now, and it will give you a clear understanding about Bill Kennedy's programs, especially the talk show on which David Kahn worked, and it will provide you with information about other subjects that came to my mind while I did my research to get information about Bill Kennedy's talk show.
Incidentally, David and I talked about Rita Bell, who was, for instance, a host of a weekday-morning movie show on WXYZ-TV Channel 7 in Detroit in the 1960s, and he mentioned how one day--then the days of live television--she was standing in front of a podium, while talking about something, had to cover her mouth with a hand to sneeze, and had to continue talking, and while she was talking, she ended up wiping the palm of her hand of on the side of the podium (it was an incident that David found amusing and finds amusing today).
And We're About Out of Time
Remember: Animated programs that I have mentioned within this edition of T.H.A.T. are available on videotapes or digital video discs, and if you go looking for one of them so that you can buy it, make sure when you are about to buy the program that you are sure that the program is a program that I have talked about--if you are not careful, you might buy a show that has the title of one of the programs that I have mentioned but is not one of the programs (I have seen what can be called copy-cat shows for sale.) Of course, you can choose to buy a show though you know it is not a show that I have talked about, feeling the program might be good enough to buy and watch. Look at the credits of a show before you buy the show!
PS.: David, I easily found the drivers--even the audio driver--for that Compaq Armada 100S by doing a little bit of research on the Internet, and now the machine is doing everything that it should.
copyright c. 2007
Date published: January 10, 2007
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