Monday, June 27, 2016

This Week in Television History: June 2016 PART III

As always, the further we go back in Hollywood history,
the more that fact and legend become intertwined.
It's hard to say where the truth really lies.



June 27, 1966 
Dark Shadows, premiered on ABC
The gothic soap opera that originally aired weekdays on the ABC television network, from June 27, 1966, to April 2, 1971. The show was created by Dan Curtis. The story bible, which was written by Art Wallace, does not mention any supernatural elements. It was unprecedented in daytime television when ghosts were introduced about six months after it began.
The series became hugely popular when vampire Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid) appeared a year into its run. Dark Shadows also featured werewolveszombies, man-made monsters, witcheswarlockstime travel, and a parallel universe. A small company of actors each played many roles (as actors came and went, some characters were played by more than one actor). Major writers besides Art Wallace included Malcolm MarmorsteinSam HallGordon Russell, and Violet Welles.
Dark Shadows was distinguished by its vividly melodramatic performances, atmospheric interiors, memorable storylines, numerous dramatic plot twists, unusually adventurous music score, and broad and epic cosmos of characters and heroic adventures. Now regarded as something of a classic, it continues to enjoy an intense cult following. Although the original series ran for only five years, its scheduling as a daily daytime drama allowed it to amass more single episodes during its run (1,225) than most other science-fiction/fantasy genre series produced for English-language television, including Doctor Who and the entire Star Trek television franchise. Only the paranormal soap opera Passions, with a total of 2,231 episodes, has more.
Directors Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino, and pop singer Madonna have publicly stated they are fans of the series. As a child, Johnny Depp was so obsessed with Barnabas Collins that he wanted to be him; he collaborated with Tim Burton on a theatrical film adaptation which opened in 2012, in which he plays Barnabas.

In 2004 and 2007, Dark Shadows was ranked #19 and #23 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever.


June 28, 1926
Mel Brooks is born Melvin James Kaminsky

He is known as a creator of broad film farces and comic parodies. Brooks began his career as a comic and a writer for the early TV variety show Your Show of Shows. He became well known as part of the comedy duo with Carl Reiner in the comedy skit, The 2000 Year Old Man

He also created, with Buck Henry, the hit television comedy series, Get Smart, which ran from 1965 to 1970.
In middle age, Brooks became one of the most successful film directors of the 1970s, with many of his films being among the top 10 moneymakers of the year they were released. His best-known films include The Producers,The Twelve ChairsBlazing SaddlesYoung FrankensteinSilent MovieHigh AnxietyHistory of the World, Part I,Spaceballs and Robin Hood: Men in Tights. A musical adaptation of his first film, The Producers, ran on Broadway from 2001 to 2007.
In 2001, having previously won an Emmy, a Grammy and an Oscar, he joined a small list of EGOT winners with his Tony award for The Producers. He received a Kennedy Center Honor in 2009, the 41st AFI Life Achievement Award in June 2013, and a British Film Institute Fellowship in March 2015. Three of his films ranked in theAmerican Film Institute's list of the top 100 comedy films of all-time, all of which ranked in the top 20 of the list:Blazing Saddles at number 6, The Producers at number 11, and Young Frankenstein at number 13.

Brooks was married to Oscar-winning actress Anne Bancroft from 1964 until her death in 2005.


June 28, 1946
Gilda Susan Radner was born. She was best known as one of the original cast members of the hit NBC sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live, for which she won an Emmy Award in 1978.
Radner was born in Detroit, Michigan, the daughter of Jewish parents Henrietta (née Dworkin), a legal secretary, and Herman Radner, a businessman. She grew up in Detroit with a nanny, Elizabeth Clementine Gillies, whom she called "Dibby" (and on whom she based her famous character Emily Litella), and an older brother named Michael. She attended the University Liggett School in Grosse Pointe. Radner wrote in her autobiography It's Always Something that toward the end of her life she, "coped with stress by having every possible eating disorder from the time I was nine years old. I have weighed as much as 160 pounds and as little as 93. When I was a kid, I overate constantly. My weight distressed my mother and she took me to a doctor who put me on Dexedrine diet pills when I was ten years old."
Radner was close to her father, who operated Detroit's Seville Hotel, where many nightclub performers and actors stayed while performing in the city. He took her on trips to New York to see Broadway shows. As Radner wrote in It's Always Something, when she was twelve her father developed a brain tumor, and the symptoms began so suddenly that he told people his eyeglasses were too tight. Within days he was bedridden and unable to communicate, and he remained in that condition until his death two years later.
Radner enrolled at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where she made a lifelong platonic friend of fellow student David Saltman, who wrote a biography of her after her death. Radner joined Saltman and his girlfriend on a trip to Paris in the summer of 1966. Saltman wrote that he was so affectionate with his girlfriend that they left Radner to fend for herself during much of their sightseeing. Twenty years later, when many details of Radner's eating disorder were reported in a bestselling book about Saturday Night Live by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad, Saltman realized she had been in a quandary over the French cuisine, but had no one with whom she could discuss her situation.
In Ann Arbor, Radner began her broadcasting career as the weather girl for college radio station WCBN, but dropped out in her senior year to follow her then-boyfriend, a Canadian sculptor named Jeffrey Rubinoff, to Toronto, Canada. In Toronto, she made her professional acting debut in the 1972 production of Godspell with future stars Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Victor Garber and Martin Short. Afterward, Radner joined the Toronto Second City comedy troupe.
Radner was a featured player on the National Lampoon Radio Hour, a comedy program syndicated to some 600 U.S. radio stations from 1974 to 1975. Fellow cast members included John Belushi, Richard Belzer, Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, Brian Doyle-Murray, and Rhonda Coullet.
Radner gained name recognition as one of the original "Not Ready for Prime Time Players", a member of the freshman group on the first season of Saturday Night Live. She was the first performer cast for the show. Between 1975 and 1980, she created such characters as obnoxious personal advice expert Roseanne Roseannadanna, "Baba Wawa", a parody of Barbara Walters, and Emily Litella, an elderly hearing-impaired woman who gave angry and misinformed editorial replies on "Weekend Update". Radner also parodied such celebrities as Lucille Ball, Patti Smith, and Olga Korbut in SNL sketches. She won an Emmy Award in 1978 for her work on SNL.
Radner battled bulimia during her time on the show. She once told a reporter that she had thrown up in every toilet in Rockefeller Center. She had a relationship with SNL castmate Bill Murray, with whom she had also worked at the National Lampoon, that ended badly. Few details of their relationship or its end were made public at the time. When Radner wrote It's Always Something, this is the only reference she made to Murray in the entire book: "All the guys [in the National Lampoon group of writers and performers] liked to have me around because I would laugh at them till I peed in my pants and tears rolled out of my eyes. We worked together for a couple of years creating The National Lampoon Show, writing The National Lampoon Radio Hour, and even working on stuff for the magazine. Bill Murray joined the show and Richard Belzer ..." According to Bill Murray, last time Radner and he saw each other was at a party thrown by Laraine Newman. Hearing she was leaving, Murray and Dan Akroyd carried her around and around the house party, repeatedly saying goodbye to everyone, and since all the guests were comedians, they all did comedy bits with her, over and over.
In 1979, incoming NBC President Fred Silverman offered Radner her own prime time variety show, which she ultimately turned down. That year, she was one of the hosts of the Music for UNICEF Concert at the United Nations General Assembly.
Alan Zweibel, who co-created the Roseanne Roseannadanna character and co-wrote all of Roseanne's dialogue, recalled that Radner, one of three original SNL cast members who stayed away from cocaine, chastised him for using it.
Radner had mixed emotions about the fans and strangers who recognized her in public. She sometimes became "angry when she was approached, but upset when she wasn't."
In 1979, Radner appeared on Broadway in a successful one-woman show entitled Gilda Radner - Live From New York. The show featured material that was racier than what NBC censors allowed Saturday Night Live to put on the television airwaves, such as the song Let's Talk Dirty to the Animals. In 1979, shortly before Radner began her final season on Saturday Night Live, her Broadway show was filmed by Mike Nichols under the title Gilda Live!, co-starring Paul Shaffer and Don Novello, and was released to theaters nationwide in 1980 with poor results. A soundtrack album was also unsuccessful. During the production, she met her first husband, G. E. Smith, a musician who also worked on the show. They were married in a civil ceremony in 1980.
In the fall of 1980, after all original SNL cast members departed from the show, Radner starred opposite Sam Waterston in the Jean Kerr play, Lunch Hour, as a pair whose spouses are having an affair, and in response invent one of their own, consisting of trysts on their lunch hour. The show ran for over seven months.
Radner met actor Gene Wilder on the set of the Sidney Poitier film Hanky Panky, when the two appeared together. She described their first meeting as "love at first sight." She was unable to resist her attraction to Wilder as her marriage to guitarist G. E. Smith deteriorated. Radner went on to make a second film, The Woman in Red, released in 1984 with Wilder and their relationship grew. The two were married on September 18, 1984, in St. Tropez. The pair made a third film together, Haunted Honeymoon, released in 1986.
After experiencing severe fatigue and suffering from pain in her upper legs on the set of Haunted Honeymoon in the United Kingdom in 1985, Radner sought medical treatment. After 10 months of false diagnoses, she learned that she had ovarian cancer on October 21, 1986. She suffered extreme physical and emotional pain during chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.



After Radner was told she had gone into remission, she wrote It's Always Something (a catchphrase of her character Roseanne Roseannadanna), which included many details of her struggle with the illness. Life magazine did a March 1988 cover story on her illness, entitled "Gilda Radner's Answer to Cancer: Healing the Body with Mind and Heart." In 1988, Radner guest-starred on It's Garry Shandling's Show on Showtime, to great critical acclaim. When Shandling asked her why she had not been seen in public for a while, she replied, "Oh, I had cancer. What did you have?" Shandling's reply: "A very bad series of career moves... which, by the way, there's no cure for whatsoever." She also repeated on-camera Mark Twain's apocryphal saying, "Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated." Radner planned to host an episode of Saturday Night Live that year, but a writers' strike caused the cancellation of the rest of the network television season.
In the fall of 1988, after biopsies and a saline wash of her abdomen showed no signs of cancer, Radner was put on a maintenance chemotherapy treatment to prolong her remission, but later that same year, she learned that her cancer had returned after a routine blood test showed her levels of the tumor marker CA-125 had increased. She was admitted to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles on May 17, 1989 for a CAT scan. Despite being fearful that she would never wake up, she was given a sedative but passed into a coma during the scan. She did not regain consciousness and died three days later from ovarian cancer at 6:20 am on May 20, 1989; Wilder was at her side.
Gene Wilder had this to say about her death:
She went in for the scan – but the people there could not keep her on the gurney. She was raving like a crazed woman – she knew they would give her morphine and was afraid she’d never regain consciousness. She kept getting off the cart as they were wheeling her out. Finally three people were holding her gently and saying, "Come on Gilda. We’re just going to go down and come back up." She kept saying, "Get me out, get me out!" She’d look at me and beg me, "Help me out of here. I’ve got to get out of here." And I’d tell her, "You’re okay honey. I know. I know." They sedated her, and when she came back, she remained unconscious for three days. I stayed at her side late into the night, sometimes sleeping over. Finally a doctor told me to go home and get some sleep. At 4 am on Saturday, I heard a pounding on my door. It was an old friend, a surgeon, who told me, "Come on. It's time to go." When I got there, a night nurse, whom I still want to thank, had washed Gilda and taken out all the tubes. She put a pretty yellow barrette in her hair. She looked like an angel. So peaceful. She was still alive, and as she lay there, I kissed her. But then her breathing became irregular, and there were long gasps and little gasps. Two hours after I arrived, Gilda was gone. While she was conscious, I never said goodbye.
Her funeral was held in Connecticut on May 24, 1989. In lieu of flowers, her family requested that donations be sent to The Wellness Community. Her gravestone reads: "Gilda Radner Wilder - Comedienne - Ballerina 1946-1989". She was interred at Long Ridge Union Cemetery in Stamford, Connecticut.
By coincidence, the news of her death broke on early Saturday afternoon (Eastern Daylight Time), while Steve Martin was rehearsing as the guest host for that night's season finale of Saturday Night Live. Saturday Night Live personnel—including Lorne Michaels, Phil Hartman, and Mike Myers (who had, in his own words, "fallen in love" with Radner after playing her son in a BC Hydro commercial on Canadian television and considered her the reason he wanted to be on SNL)—had not known she was so close to death. They scrapped Martin's planned opening monologue and instead, Martin, in tears, introduced a video clip of a 1978 sketch in which he and Radner parodied Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in a well-known dance routine from The Band Wagon.
Wilder established the Gilda Radner Ovarian Detection Center at Cedars-Sinai to screen high-risk candidates (such as women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent) and run basic diagnostic tests. He testified before a Congressional committee that Radner's condition had been misdiagnosed and that if doctors had inquired more deeply into her family background they would have learned that her grandmother, aunt and cousin had all died of ovarian cancer, and therefore they might have attacked the disease earlier.
Radner's death from ovarian cancer helped to raise awareness of early detection and the connection to familial epidemiology. The media attention in the two years after Radner's death led to registry of 450 families with familial ovarian cancer at the Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry, a research database registry at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York. The registry was later renamed the Gilda Radner Familial Ovarian Cancer Registry (GRFOCR). In 1996, Gene Wilder and Registry founder Steven Piver, one of Radner's medical consultants, published Gilda's Disease: Sharing Personal Experiences and a Medical Perspective on Ovarian Cancer. Through Wilder's efforts and those of others, awareness of ovarian cancer and its symptoms has continued to grow.
In 1991, Gilda's Club, a network of affiliate clubhouses where people living with cancer, their friends and families, can meet to learn how to live with cancer, was founded. The center was named for a quip from Radner, who said, "Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I'd rather not belong to." Many Gilda's Clubs have opened across the United States and in Canada. In 2009, Gilda's Club merged with another similar institution, The Wellness Community, under the new name of Cancer Support Community, which was legally adopted in 2011.
In 2002, the ABC television network aired a television movie about her life: Gilda Radner: It's Always Something, starring Jami Gertz as Radner.
In 2007 she was featured in the film Making Trouble, a tribute to female Jewish comedians, produced by the Jewish Women’s Archive.
Radner won an Emmy Award for "Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in Variety or Music" for her performance on Saturday Night Live in 1977. She posthumously won a Grammy for "Best Spoken Word Or Non-Musical Recording" in 1990.
In 1992, Radner was inducted into the Michigan Women's Hall of Fame for her achievements in arts and entertainment. On June 27, 2003, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6801 Hollywood Blvd.
Parts of West Houston Street in New York City, Lombard Street in Toronto, and Chester Street in White Plains, New York have been renamed "Gilda Radner Way."


June 28, 1951

Amos ’n’ Andy moved to CBS-TV from radio.

Amos and Andy began as one of the first radio comedy series, written and voiced by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and originating from station WMAQ in Chicago. After the program was first broadcast in 1928, it grew to become a huge influence on radio series that followed. The show ran as a nightly radio serial from 1928 until 1943, as a weekly situation comedy from 1943 until 1955, and as a nightly disc-jockey program from 1954 until 1960. A television adaptation ran on CBS-TV from 1951 until 1953, and continued in syndicated reruns from 1954 until 1966. The Amos 'n Andy Show was produced from June 1951 to April 1953 with 78 filmed episodes, sponsored by the Blatz Brewing Company. The television series used African-American actors in the main roles, although the actors were instructed to keep their voices and speech patterns as close to Gosden and Correll's as possible. Produced at the Hal Roach Studios for CBS, it was one of the first television series to be filmed with a multicamera setup, four months before the more famous I Love Lucy used the technique. The lighting cameraman (Director of Photography) was Robert de Grasse ASC. The operating cameramen (camera operators) were Robert de Grasse, Lucien Andriot ASC, and Benjamin Kline ASC. The classic theme song was "The Perfect Song." In the TV series, however, the theme became Gaetano Braga's "Angel's Serenade", which sounded similar to "The Perfect Song" (and because it was in the public domain), performed by The Jeff Alexander Chorus. The program went on the air June 28, 1951.

 The main roles in the television series were played by the following African-American actors:

This time, the NAACP mounted a formal protest almost as soon as the television version began, and that pressure was considered a primary factor in the video version's cancellation (the sponsor, Blatz Beer, was targeted as well, finally discontinuing their advertising support in June 1953). It has been suggested that CBS erred in its choice of having the program premiere during the NAACP national convention for that year, as the timing may have increased the objections to it. The show was widely repeated in syndicated reruns until 1966 when CBS acquiesced to pressure from the NAACP and the growing civil rights movement and withdrew the program. Until recently, the television show had been released only on bootleg videotape versions, but by 2005, 72 of the 78 known TV episodes were available in bootleg DVD sets.
When the show was cancelled, 65 episodes had been produced. An additional 13 episodes were produced to be added to the syndicated rerun package. These episodes were focused on Kingfish, with little participation from Amos 'n' Andy. This is because these episodes were to be titled The Adventures of Kingfish, but they premiered under the Amos 'n' Andy title instead. The additional episodes first aired on CBS on January 4, 1955. Plans were made for a vaudeville act of the television program in August 1953, with Tim Moore, Alvin Childress and Spencer Williams playing the same roles. It is not known whether there were any performances. Still eager for television success, Gosden, Correll and CBS made initial efforts to give the series another try. The plan was to begin televising Amos 'n' Andy in the fall of 1956, with both of its creators appearing on television in a split screen with the proposed African-American cast.
A group of cast members began a "TV Stars of Amos 'n' Andy" cross-country tour in 1956, which was halted by CBS; the network considered it an infringement of their exclusive rights to the show and its characters. A similar tour had been planned by some cast members in 1953 after cancellation of the series. Following the threatened legal action which brought the 1956 tour to an end, Moore, Childress, Williams and Lee were able to perform like this for at least one night in 1957 in Windsor, Ontario.

In 1978, a one-hour documentary film, Amos 'n' Andy: Anatomy of a Controversy, aired in television syndication (and in later years, on PBS). It told a brief history of the franchise from its radio days to the CBS series, and featured interviews with then-surviving cast members. The film also contained a select complete episode of the classic TV series that had not been seen since it was pulled from the air in 1966. 


July 1, 1941
NBC broadcasts the first TV commercial to be sanctioned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 

The FCC began licensing commercial television stations in May 1941, granting the first license to NBC. During a Dodgers-Phillies game that was broadcast July 1, NBC ran its first commercial. Advertiser Bulova paid $9 to advertise its watches on the air.
Although the first TV license was issued by the Federal Radio Commission (which later became the FCC) in 1928, all licenses were noncommercial until 1941, meaning they were not allowed to sell air time for advertisements or other commercial purposes. However, several stations had already aired advertisements by the time the FCC began issuing commercial licenses.
Although the development of television had been eagerly pursued by radio companies for decades, World War II slowed the development process. Only in the late 1940s did the medium become widespread: Until 1947, no commercial TV stations were licensed west of the Mississippi. Geographically Speaking, the first commercially sponsored TV show, debuted in 1946 with the backing of Bristol-Myers. Many other sponsored shows debuted in the early 1950s.

July 1, 1981

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that candidates for federal office had an "affirmative right" to go on national television.

On October 11, 1979, the Carter-Mondale Presidential Committee(Committee) requested each of the three major television networks (petitioners) to provide time for a 30-minute program between 8 p. m. and 10:30 p.m. on any day from the 4th through the 7th of December, 1979. The Committee intended to present, in conjunction with President Carter's formal announcement of his candidacy, a documentary outlining the record of his administration. The petitioners refused to make the requested time available. CBS emphasized the large number of candidates for the Presidential nominations and the potential disruption of regular programming to accommodate requests for equal treatment, but offered to sell a 5-minute segment at 10:55 p.m. on December 8 and a 5-minute segment in the daytime; American Broadcasting Cos. replied that it had not yet decided when it would begin selling political time for the 1980 Presidential campaign, but later indicated that it would allow such sales in January, 1980; and National Broadcasting Co., noting the number of potential requests for time from Presidential candidates, stated that it was not prepared to sell time for political programs as early as December, 1979. The Committee then filed a complaint with the FCC, charging that the networks had violated their obligation to provide "reasonable access" under § 312(a)(7). The FCC ruled that the networks had violated the statute, concluding that their reasons for refusing to sell the time requested were "deficient" under the FCC's standards
of reasonableness, and directing the networks to indicate by a specified date how they intended to fulfill their statutory obligations. On the networks' petition for review, the Court of Appeals affirmed the FCC's orders, holding that the statute created a new, affirmative right of access to the broadcast media for individual candidates for federal elective office, and that the FCC has the authority to independently evaluate whether a campaign has begun for purposes of the statute. The court approved the FCC's insistence that, in responding to a candidate's request for time, broadcasters must weigh certain factors, including the individual needs of the candidate (as expressed by the candidate); the amount of time previously provided to the candidate; potential disruption of regular programming; the number of other candidates likely to invoke equal opportunity rights if the broadcaster granted the request before it; and the timing of the request. The court determined that the record supported the FCC's conclusion that the networks failed to apply the proper standards, and had thus violated the statute's "reasonable access" requirement. The court also rejected petitioners' First Amendment challenge to § 312(a)(7) as applied.
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To quote the Bicentennial Minute, "And that's the way it was".

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Tony Figueroa
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