Saturday, June 22, 2013

Funniest Game Show Bloopers

The bloopers I enjoy the most are from game shows, probably because they are so spontaneous. Enjoy some of the most hilarious outtakes ever:

Lousy answers and bad guesses from people with sex on their minds, apparently. The outtakes from the Newlywed Game are the best - THE classic answer they bleeped at the end, "In the butt. Bob."

Calamities on The Price is Right:

Still more hilarious gaffes from game shows...

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

Trigger Warning! Toy Gun Commercials of the 1960s

There was a line of toys based on The Rifleman TV series including this cap gun. 

Is it nature or nurture, our society's love for mayhem? Those stodgy experts who love to find fault in our popular culture point towards violent video games and easy access to firearms as the reason for so much day-in day-out carnage. But before video games it was TV they blamed, before that comic books. So what do they know?

Roy Rogers Toy Guns on TVWhen did this all start? Perhaps at the very beginning of recorded history - the nifty fifties. Cowboys like Gene Autry, Hopalong Cassidy and The Lone Ranger were the hottest properties on television, after watching these programs all afternoon kids naturally wanted to play shoot-em-up at home.

Not a problem, since all of the television cowpokes and dimestore detectives had their own line of realistic-looking toy firearms for sale at the nearest dime store. And best of all - no pesky background checks! The most popular western cap gun sets of the '50s were Mattel's Fanner 50 realistic Winchester rifle, Buc'N Bronco, and the Hubley pistols.

Mattel's Tommy Burst set - because every detective needs a sub-machine gun:

Toy Guns based on TV showsWhen western wranglers and pistol-waving cops started to lose favor in the early-'60s, toy gun lines lost their key salespersons and innovative products had to be created from scratch.

Is that a Suicide Vest you're wearing Sonny, or are you just mad to see me?

Products with catchy names like the TommyBurst submachine gun, Remco's Monkey Division (for "jungle warfare" with two-way wrist radios), Secret Sam, and the Fan-O-matic (with Greenie Stick-M caps for ammo) burst onto the market.

Let's hope the terrorists don't get their hands on this!
Johnny Seven OMA (One Man Army) by Topper was the ultimate killing machine and much sought after - with seven actions, including a grenade launcher, anti-tank weapon, anti-bunker missile, armor-piercing shell, and a detachable pistol with the rat-a-tat-tat sound.


Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution

One of the hottest Saturday morning shows of 1970 was the live action spy spoof Lancelot Link Secret Chimp. As was the style of the day pop songs were integrated into the concept, it worked for The Archies who had a number one hit a couple of years earlier.

While Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution failed to chart the music was upbeat and catchy - no wonder, some of the guys behind The Grass Roots produced the tunes.

Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution - 'Wild Dreams (Jelly Beans)'

Lancelot Link and the Evolution Revolution - 'Superstatic, Instamatic, Electric Vibrations'

More on the Evolution Revolution!

Friday, June 21, 2013

1968 Saturday Morning Cartoons

Saturday morning cartoons

In 1968, CBS began broadcasting their Saturday morning kid fare at an earlier hour, 8:00am, thanks to a growing baby boomer audience looking for cheap thrills. And these were some cheaply produced shows but they had a charm, being the first of their genres.

The other networks started in at 8:00am not long after the fall ratings came in and they realized CBS was clobbering the competition..

Superheroes had been hot on Saturdays for a few years, Superman scored a huge audience share for CBS in 1967, this year The Man of Steel was tag teamed with the animated adventures of Batman. ABC's Batman live-action primetime series was still running, so Batman had two shows on two networks.

Hanna-Barbera and a few other smaller animation studios pumped out an amazing array of comic book inspired mind candy for 1968-69, some of it actually good.

The ArchiesAlthough Hanna-Barbera produced shows dominated the morning on all three networks, The Archies made Filmation a force to be reckoned with for the next twenty years.

Here are shows based on fantasy concepts or comic book characters in 1968:

Super 6 / NBC
Year two, ran for three years - well-liked adventures of six super-powered do-gooders available for hire from Super Service, Inc.

Adventures of Gulliver / ABC

Ginny Tyler also provided the voice Flirtacia in this cartoon based on the Jonathan Swift novel. 17 episodes ran for two years.

  Spiderman / ABC

A rare second season of new episodes, leading off with the 'Origin of Spiderman'. Stories for 1968-69 were now 30 minutes in length, last season there were two 15 minute episodes per show.

A third season was produced for syndication - the series had the same theme song, but the show took on a darker look and attitude with surrealistic watercolor backgrounds (by DC artist Gray Morrow) and a new guy playing Spidey's voice. Ralph Bakshi ('Fritz the Cat') produced the third season.

Note the jazzy music and use of still drawings to suggest movement.

Super President / NBC

You think Obama's powerful, this guy had real super-powers... almost as great as Obama's ability to listen to all of our calls and read all our emails. Huh?!? Super President's second term was cut short - he was impeached mid-season because of low ratings. The producers of this cartoon had mega-success with 'The Pink Panther' on Saturday mornings.


More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s

Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s
Gene Roddenberry in the 1970s - Part One
Gene Roddenberry After Star Trek - Genesis 2 & Planet Earth
Gene Roddenberry's Questor & Spectre

Star Trek The decade between the cancellation of the original Star Trek series in 1969 and the debut of Star Trek, The Motion Picture in 1979 was a lean one for television producer, writer, and Trek creator Gene Roddenberry.

Though he made valiant efforts, he only got one series off the ground during that time, the Saturday morning cartoon version of Star Trek in 1973.

A massive letter-writing campaign organized by fans (but secretly instigated by Roddenberry himself) got Star Trek renewed after NBC cancelled it in 1968. When the network moved the show to the Friday-night-at-ten death-slot, Roddenberry issued an ultimatum: restore the program to an appropriate timeslot or he would quit. Having just proven there was a vocal audience for his work, Roddenberry was surprised when the network didn't back down and he was forced to walk away from the show he created and nurtured for two years. This resulted in a dreadful last season for Star Trek.

For the 1968–69 season, Roddenberry hoped to move from the stars to the vines with a new version of Tarzan. The last TV Tarzan (Ron Ely) didn’t make much of an impression cavorting around NBC’s jungle just two years earlier, so Roddenberry intended instead to concentrate on the Lord Greystoke side of the apeman’s personality. This project made it to script but not to film.

Jot's Dirty Hands : Christian Kid Shows 1960s / 70s

Jot was a series of five minute short subjects produced and written by Ruth Byers for The Radio and Television Commission of The Southern Baptist Convention. The first batch of thirteen segments debuted in 1968, they were non-denominational but carried a strong religious message.

A condensed episode of JOT:

Jot was meant to teach morals and Judeo/Christian ideals and was distributed to television stations around the country to run alongside the Bugs Bunny, Little Rascals and Hanna-Barbera cartoons shown on their local kid shows.

In the first segment, Jot steals a cupcake from his mom and goes through a psychedelic freak-out of conscience. In most of the morality plays, it's Jot's conscience that speaks loudest, a concept that may be forever lost on modern audiences.

An entire Jot episode

Lessons in obedience, honesty and virtue are reinforced by feelings of guilt when Jot does the wrong thing. This is all balanced with words of wisdom from Jot's parents - and implicit forgiveness from God.

Simple and inexpensive to relatively produce (each episode of Jot cost $15,000 to produce), the graphic style of the cartoons was bold and simple, a style of art only now enjoying a renaissance with the new shockwave cartoons popping up on the net. At the end of each segment, an address was provided for kids to send off for Jot stuff - a Jot booklet and button.

The promotion was a successful one for the Southern Baptist Convention, generating lots of mail and long memories from the kids who watched the cartoons.


TV's First Sex Symbol

Mary Hartline /Super Circus

Wholesome as apple pie and naturally appealing Mary Hartline was one of the first breakout stars in an era when there were very few TV stations even on the air across the nation.

A successful model, Mary Hartline broke into The Windy City's burgeoning broadcast industry in 1946, appearing on the ABC radio's Junior Junction (later known as Teen Town), about a city inhabited solely by teenagers.

The producer of the show was her husband Harold Stokes. They met the year before and were married in 1947, Stokes was forty-two and Mary twenty-one.

Mary Hartline left Teen Town in 1949 to join Super Circus, a weekly live kid's program also produced by her husband. Super Circus began life as a Chicago radio contest program in the 1940s starring former real-life circus barker turned commercial announcer Claude Kirchner.

Super Circus
Starting on TV as a Chicago local in 1948, Super Circus was presented live on Sunday afternoons beginning in 1949 (from the Civic Theater in Chicago) over the ABC network. In addition to lovely Mary Hartline, regulars included Cliffy, Scampy, & Nicky the clowns, and Mike Wallace (yes that Mike Wallace) as the show's commercial pitchman.

With an authentic circus feel and Mary's sparkling, low cut outfits, the program became an instant national sensation and Mary was catapulted to fame as one of TV's first bright shining lights, with both kid and adult appeal.

Mary would often open the show with a rousing number fronting the ultra-brassy Super Circus Band. Her rhythmic moves and smooth baton twirling were a real live manifestation of every '50s girl's dream - to be the lead majorette, as pretty as a china doll. Platinum blond, statuesque, and perfectly formed, Mary was wildly popular with the little girls - and their daddies - inspiring an entire line of dolls and other toys.


The Merry Mailman : 50s TV Kiddie Host

Merry Mailman

Merry Mailman
Ray Heatherton as The Merry Mailman entertained the toddlers in the New York City area in the 50s and 60s, he also had a successful children's recording.

According to expert Kevin Butler: "The Merry Mailman" was seen weekday evenings and afternoons on WOR TV 9 in NYC from Monday October 16, 1950 to Friday June 22, 1956. Sadly, Mr. Heatherton became a victim of the Communist witch hunts, when a bogus supermarket chain owner wrongly accused him of being in support of 'the Red Menace'. The show began to lose ratings and sponsors as a result. Tom O'Neil didn't believe that Ray Heatherton was a communist and agreed to maintain the series as a station-supported show.

These recordings from the Merry Mailman single are scratchy but here's the theme song:

And Happy Birthday:

I'm not sure this program would work today, the mailmen just aren't that merry anymore...

Ray Heatherton's last network gig was as the co-host of 'Joey & Dad' with his daughter Joey Heatherton, a summer replacement series for Cher in 1975.


Mary Kay Place

Mary Kay Place Albums in the seventies

Mary Kay Place albums of the 70sMary Kay Place was one of a handful of stars who made television worth watching in 1976-77. As the second banana on the weeknight syndicated soap opera satire Mary Hartman Mary Hartman (Jan. 1976-May 1977) she walked away with the series in the same way Flo stole Alice out from under Linda Lavin.

Place's character, dippy aspiring country singer Loretta Haggers, was one of TV's symbiotic moments - bright script writing brought to vivid life by an actress perfectly suited to her role. Portrayed with a hesitantly sweet but staggering niavete, every scene was rich with comedy gold when Loretta was in the mix. So much so that Mary Hartman herself became irrelevant to the series; star Louise Lasser dropped out after a year and change. (It's a lot more complicated than that but let's move on.)

With the show at its peak of popularity in 1976 Mary Kay Place recorded an album, 'Tonite! At the Capri Lounge, Loretta Haggers' produced by Brian Ahern. The LP was nominated for a Grammy Award, reaching # 6 on the Country album charts; the single, "Baby Boy" written by Ms. Place, reached #3.

Mary Kay Place albums"Baby Boy" had quite a bit of crossover play because of the TV tie-in and because Country artists were beginning to invade the pop charts in a big way in 1976, a year that included massive hits like Glen Campbell's "Southern Nights"; "Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue" by Crystal Gayle; "Here You Come Again" by Dolly Parton; and "You Light Up My Life" from Debby Boone.

This was a period of transition for Country acts in general, touring and hard living seemed to be wearing out veterans like Jerry Lee Lewis and George Jones. Newer, slicker acts wanted to distance themselves from the Nashville twang so this album wasn't exactly embraced by the Country music establishment. At least that's my recollection.

While 'Tonite! At the Capri Lounge, Loretta Haggers' was marketed as a send-up of country music the songs were all solid, pristinely produced. Dolly Parton sang background on at least two cuts, "Good Ol' Country Baptizin'" (below) and “All I Can Do", a Parton original. Emmylou Harris, Anne Murray and Nicolette Larson all sang backup on various tunes as well.


Shocking Interview with Sanford & Son's Demond Wilson

Why Sanford & Son was cancelled I talked with Demond Wilson in September of '09, he had just written an amazing book called Second Banana about his adventures in show business and his amazing run on Sanford & Son.

Demond starts out talking about Michael Jordan being inducted into the Hall of Fame, the dearth of black TV shows before Sanford and the shocking conditions he and Redd Foxx worked under despite starring in the network's number one show. You won't believe it...

He also spoke about the Sanford & Son's supporting players and the key to the success of the production - the comradery between Redd and himself. He also talked about the old school comics like Jack Carter, and what happened when he walked away from Sanford & Son.


Mr. Wilson is frank and doesn't mince his words, he provides a revealing glimpse into the inner workings of the television business - the way it was and the way it is - and the blatant racism he encountered as the star of one of TV's biggest sitcom hits.

You can order Demond Wilson's book Second Banana: The Bitter Sweet Memoirs of the Sanford and Son Years at

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Soul Alive : '70s NYC Local Dance Show

 Soul Alive From TVparty reader Ray Mora comes an amazing find - an ultra-rare episode of Soul Alive starring WWRL radio DJ 'Golden Voice' Gerry Bledsoe. Soul Alive aired during 1978 in New York City for an hour on WPIX channel 11 Saturday mornings at 11:00am.

A staple of TV markets around the country in the 1960s, local dance shows were rare by the late-seventies; they fell out of favor at the end of the 1960s and we aren't likely to see a revival. (Then again, you never know. Similar in nature, nationally broadcast Dance Party USA was a hit in the 1980s.)

Soul Alive in NYCWith the Disco craze in full swing and nationally syndicated Soul Train still hot on Saturdays, WPIX saw an opportunity to bring that stone cold format back to TV screens.

The main feature on Soul Alive was the heated competition between dancers representing some of the City's top discotheques or local high schools. The winning couple's names were delivered via the 'Mechanical Hand' - they could collect a bounty of prizes including a trip, new sound system or might end up with a package that included Bic disposable shavers. They were new then!


More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

TV Sci-Fi & Superheroes That Almost Made It - '77-79

The Great TV Superhero / science fiction bust of 1977-1978

Batman 1966 TV showTen years after the Batman inspired camp Superhero craze of the mid-1960s collapsed, the networks were poised to unleash dozens of costumed crusaders and weird science fiction concepts. Most were extremely lame, the TV industry in the seventies just didn't get sci-fi or have any understanding of what the superhero phenomenon was all about.

One of the myriad problems with almost all of these productions was in the details, like costume design. Perhaps they figured the producers of Star Trek had done such a piss poor job that no one would notice. Did they not realize we could see Spiderman's pit stains or that putting men in flimsy pastel cotton tunics wasn't the most masculine look for an action show?

Star WarsIn May of 1977 Star Wars kicked Hollywood's ass, followed by the blockbuster Superman movie in 1978. The big three networks scrambled to craft a post-Star Wars TV landscape but their womb was a barren as Tatooine... naturally they turned to established concepts they could bastardize.

Here's a brief rundown of the various projects with a superhero or science fiction influence that the networks and studios announced in trade publications like The Hollywood Reporter and Variety from the beginning of 1977 until the end of 1978. Everything from a new Star Trek series shot against a green screen to TV versions of the Marvel heroes like Dr. Strange and Thor.


The Betty White Show : What Happened?

Betty White Show / 1970s TV Shows

Betty White Show / 1977 CBS sitcomOne of my favorite shows of the 1977 fall season - and there were some pretty decent productions that met their demise that year - was The Betty White Show.

Though she had been a fixture on daytime game shows for two decades, Betty White never really caught fire in primetime TV until she was cast as caustic Sue Anne Niven the Happy Homemaker on The Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1973.

Her character added a real zing to the production and, before long, she became a regular, one of the biggest laugh getters on that series. Audiences loved her character's sugary sting, it was primarily the addition of Sue Anne that took the bite out of losing two key supporting characters. After The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended in 1977, and flush off the (initial) successes of Rhoda and Phyllis, it was Betty's turn to star in her own series, with another MTM alumni along for added attraction.

The premise: Joyce Whitman (Betty) was the star of Undercover Woman, a send up of Angie Dickinson in Police Woman; the show is directed by her contentious ex-husband played by John Hillerman (Magnum P.I.), Georgia Engel from The MTM Show played her best friend.


Fabulous Moms Mabley

Moms Mabley was perhaps the funniest woman ever to take to the stage, a completely original act. The sight of this little old lady toddling out was cute enough, but then she would tell the most wicked stories. She was a loud voice for equality as well. She packed them at her nightclub dates on the 'Chitlin' Circuit' and sold millions of albums. This Brevard, NC native was a popular guest on variety shows right up to her death in 1975.

Here's a great example, 'The Good Old Days':

Have a listen to her one woman act from the mid-1960s:

At 75 years old, Moms Mabley became the oldest person ever to have a US Top 40 hit with her cover version of "Abraham, Martin and John" in July, 1969. One of her greatest performances was also her last, the lead role in a wonderful film called 'Amazing Grace' made in 1974.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

Knockers Up! Risque Rusty Warren

TV Blog / Nightclub comic Rusty Warren

Rusty Warren is a risque nightclub comic with a million selling series of albums with titles like Knockers Up and Songs For Sinners. I say risque because, while she was considered a dirty act in the 1960s, it's tame stuff by today's standards. More suggestive than vulgar. It had to be, remember what happened to Lenny Bruce and Jim Morrison?

In 1960 the idea of a woman comic talking about sex and intimacy was unheard of, an affront even. Rusty Warren never achieved great fame but she blazed a trail for all who followed and she's the subject of a DVD documentary Knockers Up: The Lady Behind The Laughs.

She may not have been the funniest comedian back in the day, more of a novelty performer really, but I miss that old style nightclub act, the kind that mostly died out after the 1970s partly thanks to TV and disco. Once people started to go out dancing in the mid-1970s the lounge act circuit collapsed. Here's the lady in more recent times entertaining at the piano and doing her 'hit' 'Knockers Up.' (Skip to minute four to see Rusty.) Watching this makes me wonder if modern audiences are too rude for this type of entertainment.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

More Las Vegas Legends!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Remembering Philly Kid Show Great Sally Starr!

Sally Starr Mindy Feinberg writes with her
memories of Philly local kid shows:

I have several Sally Starr stories starting back around 1963 or '64, she made an appearance at a fair at one of the local churches in Levittown, Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It was thrilling. Of course, I'd see her riding her horse down Market St for the parades in Philly. Now jump forward to 1985 (ish). My neighbor was friends with Sally and was the owner of the old I-95 Marketplace.

It was Sally's first personal appearance since she had moved back to Jersey from Florida. Well, since I had a shop there and also the owners were our neighbors who I had known since I was a young kid, I was excited. The Marketplace grew with hundreds of people in my age group (early 30's ) some dragging their young kids who had no idea who she was. A friend of mine showed up at my store, he had not been there since it opened. I suddenly realized he was there to see Sally. I told him to come with me and we'll go to the office to see if she was there yet. Now, I was always in the office and I have never been at a loss for words, and Joey wasn't exactly a choir boy. He's a great guy, but not who you would expect to show up. So I dragged him up and the door was opened.

I just stood there speechless and my friend asked me what I was doing. Suddenly, I was a 6 year old again and barely got out that we wanted to know if we could come in and meet Sally, I even had my Sally Starr Holster that she signed. I turned to tell Joey we could go in and he was hiding around the corner. I dragged him in and we both stood there like little kids and introduced ourselves and we got a picture and an autograph, giggling the whole time.

We then left but not before she said "Love, Luck and Lollipops", we walked through the crowd with our bounty and we were treated like "mini" stars since we actually talked to her. She then came to the market a lot so it became less exciting but still brought out the little kids in all of us. Her house burned down about a year or so after I first met her and she lost almost all of her memorabilia so I gave her my holster. Thanks for the memories.

A funny story about Sally was when we all went down to the Trop to watch the first solo show by one of Patti LaBelle's backup singers. Everyone got to the Top but Sally was nowhere to be found. Well, she finally arrived and told us how she seemed to be having some trouble with her van. She stopped at her local garage and the mechanic told her the carburetor was clogged so he told her to drive fast to blow out the dirt. He meant for about a minute at the most. Well "our gal" got on the A.C. Expressway and proceeded to go about 75-80 mph. the entire length of the expressway.

Of course she got pulled over and the cop (who was around our age) saw it was Sally. Being a little star struck he asked her why she was going at such a high rate of speed. Her answer was that the guy at the garage had told her she had to drive very fast in order to fix her car. The cop got a good laugh out of it and she got away with it!

Another story is about Pete's Gang. When I was in, I think, 5th grade in about 1962 or 63 my father was working in Philly at the old PGH Hospital, he was the head of the cardiac research lab. Anyway, while walking in town he ran into Pete on the street and they started talking. He told my dad to bring my brother and me in for a taping. We went in. It actually taped in the evening which was strange for a group of small kids. My brother was around 4 or 5 at the time. As you probably remember one kid was picked to be a "helper" and the show started by pulling one of those things that make a bang and streamers come out of it. Then the trap door would go up and all of us had to crawl through the door.

They put my brother first because he was the smallest one. I was behind him and so when the thing popped and the door opened I was afraid my brother wouldn't go out so I gave him a "little" push to start. Well, he went out all right - about half way across the stage from my push. We all were laughing when we came through. No one told us that the TVs on the stage were monitors that what was on the monitor was on TV. So we all started making faces and watching ourselves on the "TV". Being a kid who had ADHD and not much was known so I was just an "active child". I was in my 40's when they finally figured it out. I now take Ritalin.

Anyway, I can't remember what else I was doing, all I remember is that I was chosen to go out in the audience and pass out candy to everyone there. I even remember I was wearing a 2 piece dress that was pink little flowers in all shades from dark pink to light. The buttons on the top where white with rhinestones in the middle. I hated that outfit! (I was 9 or 10). I just remember it was a lot of fun. All my friends got to come over to watch the show at our house.

I have several other stories from the late-'60s early-'70s, like when I was a "Boss Chick" for WFIL. And when I was at Neshaminy we had my soph year Patti Labelle and the Bluebells, my Jr. year was Chicago who I actually flew on a plane to Chicago with and we were all sitting in a small room since they were redoing the airport for a change. Then I met them again when I worked in AC one summer and worked on Steel Pier when all the good groups were.

I played baseball with B.J. Thomas and his band for an hour so he'd come back and engrave a mug for us. Also the Ides Of March. I saw the Supremes, then my Sr. year we were supposed to have James Taylor but he cancelled right before because his girlfriend had committed suicide (the song that starts, 'Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone') and he was hospitalized for depression. So was I, but not then. We ended up having Richie Havens who was so wasted he did more talking and breaking guitar strings than anything else.

Well those are a few stories for now, I haven't gotten to the time I ran away from school and went into Philly and The Mike Douglas Show. I met all of the guests from that day and also Mike and his wife.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Room 222 Theme

I loaded this in '98 - and this guy ripped it... thanks! Better than the audio on the DVD. I was so proud! I had a first transfer...

Former Porn Star Threatens to Sue Me

My latest book, PUNK, is about my time (1980-83) covering the East LA / Downtown underground music scene for a bi-weekly gay magazine, Data-Boy.  This clip, reading from the book, contains lewd language as I discuss my actual job at Data-Boy, servicing our nightclub and porn clients. Well, servicing is entirely the wrong word, I was creating ads for them... an amazing experience for a 22-year old who knew nothing about any of these worlds.

This excerpt from the book PUNK below is what has self-fellator and one time Ford model Gene Carrier hot as he used to be, threatening me with a lawsuit over it.


 It seems Gene's name is a trademark now so is Johnny Harden(TM) so the former has-been feels as if it can't be uttered without him getting cashed out. Oddly, the guy made news in 2011 when he claimed to be the biological father of Ashton Kutcher, Josh Harnett, Robbie Williams, and porn star Brent Corrigan. He told Corrigan (who's mother denied the story), "I did do a DNA test with Ashton and it checked out."

He also announced a planned return to gay porn movies in 2013 which sent shivers of excitement into exactly nobody.

 This is not the first time Harden has threatened litigation, the internet is littered with similar appeals to just about every web site that has ever uttered his name(s). You can read the same lawsuit threat I got on many other sites.

I suspect whatever reputation Mr. Harden wishes to preserve was long ago washed away in a sea of poorly lit 8mm reels and VHS tapes, most of which can be found in assisted living home recycling cans or splattered all over the internet... including footage of Harden pleasuring himself in a most contortive manner. His reputation, like his stiffy, precedes him... I only had nice things to say about him in the book. Wish someone would describe ME in those terms!

TVparty! is Classic TV!

The Bic Banana

Bic Banana pens were introduced during the mid-1960s to huge sales thanks to a genius campaign. In marketing an absurdly named product they hired the master of absurdity, Mel Brooks. This one-minute spot launched a massive new product line for Bic.

Bic Banana Ink Crayons was a successful spin-off line that clicked with the public because of crazy commercials like this one, starring Charles Nelson Reilly.

When he says, "The colors are so bright and gay" he knows what's he's talking about!

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

The First (Available) Instant Video Camera

Polavision set The Polaroid Polavision Player allowed users to view their Super8 films instantly, without sending out for processing.

You shot the action with the Polavision camera then removed the cartridge which automatically developed the film in a mere 90 seconds. Then drop the cartridge into a special viewer / projector to watch. This was in 1977.

It was a huge leap forward for home filming, but the movies had no sound and the home video recorder (VCR) was lurking just over the horizon. By 1980 you could buy a VCR for around $600, the cameras were much more expensive... but they had sound.

That spelled doom for Polavision, they were gone by 1979.

Did you have one of these gizmos?

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!


Her film career in disarray Joan Crawford made a few random television appearances in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s.

Her fifties work was primarily on variety shows like The Colgate Variety Hour, The Bob Hope Buick Show and Caesar's Hour and drama anthology shows including three episodes of General Electric Theater. That's in addition to the talk and awards show appearances. Let's look at some of her comedy / variety roles on television.

In the sixties she made four trips to The Hollywood Palace in 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1970. Here she is hosting one of those Hollywood Palace extravaganzas in 1966.


She entertained on The Joey Bishop Show in 1968 and made two guest shots on the short-lived Tim Conway Show in 1970, on the first and third episodes. Here are Tim and Joan in their skits from The Tim Conway Show.

Joan Crawford vs Lucy; Joan substitutes for her daughter on a soap opera!

Joan Crawford made a troubled guest appearance on The Lucy Show that aired in February of 1968 playing herself. She and Lucille Ball did not get along during the rehearsal week, in fact Ball fired the actress for drinking and Joan had to beg for her role back. However, when it came time to tape Crawford's performance, it was spot on, even Lucy was impressed.

Her most bizarre work on TV was her week substituting for daughter Christina on the CBS soap opera The Secret Storm in October of 1968. Sadly only the audio exists for her first day on the job. At this time in her life pills and booze fueled the actress and she delivered erratic performances that took a great deal of editing, something they rarely did on daytime dramas.

Here's the show in two parts but Joan doesn't appear until part two, clearly sloshed. Only the audio exists:

More Joan Crawford on TV at TVparty!

Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy's First TV Special

Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy were major stars on radio and in films so naturally 'they' turned their attention to television in the 1950s. While they remained popular guest stars on other performer's shows until the end, Bergen's attempts at a weekly television series never really caught on.

First let's start with a sample of their radio antics as Edgar talks to Charlie about dating.


Now watch the opening of the first Edgar Bergen TV Special.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

More Las Vegas Legends

Uncalled For T-Shirt Designs

Folks seem to like the columns on Fast Food Joints, here's an oldie but wierdie.

retro T-Shirts
Does anyone know if Tony's Pizza was a chain? Sure looks like it by the sign. This particular business was on Battleground in Greensboro, NC and closed in 1974, replaced by The Grinder. I seem to remember the pizza was really good at Tony's, we ate lunch there in high school a lot.

retro T-Shirts
Wow. Quite the tourist spot, eh?

boardless hodad - Frank Frazetta T Shirt

From a Frank Frazetta public service ad in the 1960s.

See the entire couture collection here. Very fashionable, don't you know? If you live in a neighborhood you'll surely be the envy of it.


T-Shirts with obscure 1970s references are the latest fad so I knocked out a few that are sure to turns some heads.

Century - classic T Shirt
Legendary San Fran porn theater

Flight of the Conchords style T-Shirts
'Nuff said!

The Odyssey - Flight of the Conchords style T-Shirts
Infamous gay / straight new wave disco owned by Eddie Nash (Wonderland murders).

Basic Plumbing gay sex club T-Shirts
Basic Plumbing, 1980's gay sex club on the former premises where Manson murder victim hairdresser Jay Sebring had his shop.

Find more here.

The Jim Nabors Hour

Gomer Pyle It's 1969 and you've got the top sitcom in the country, after 5 seasons the ratings are even higher than the year before. But you're sick of playing the same character week after week so what do you do?

That was where Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle, USMC) found himself in '69, he chose to leverage his ratings clout by getting CBS to green light his own variety hour, ala Carol Burnett. This way Nabors got to display his considerable singing talents between the requisite comedy skits where he played - basically the same Gomer Pyle character week after week. The Jim Nabors Hour finished season one at a highly respectable number 12 but lasted only two seasons thanks to the one-two punch of dropping out of the top 25 in year 2 along with CBS' desire to rid itself of the network's country bumpkin image.

Video from the series is very rare there have been no DVD releases planned, here's a musical salute to Dixie:

The Jackson 5 were guests on the show, Jim Nabors is still doing that Gomer voice, it's the only character he ever played.

Here's the opening from the 1967 Friends & Nabors special.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

TV Pow!

TV Pow! was played on local kids shows across the country in the late-1970s / early-1980s; it was done with a modified Fairchild System F system with simple video games like Space Battle and Intellivision Football projected on the screen.

Contestants would call into the station and 'play' the game live by saying "Pow!" when they wanted the guy at the controls to shoot. Mostly it consisted of kids saying "pow,pow,pow,pow" continuously and indiscriminately.

Here's a clip of someone playing TV Pow! (or TV Powww!), this is from Barney's Army in 1982, not a great example but interesting:

The final TV Pow! game on Barney's Army from a station in North Carolina.

Here's the opening for TV Powww! with Cap'n Mitch from 3/31/80.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

Rock 'em Sock 'em Kid Shows of the 50s

 kiddie tv shows I was digging around and found the very first children's TV page I ever created, back in 1994. It's called 'Bizarre Kid Shows' - real kiddie shows that could be found on television sixty or more years ago, weird programs like:

Kid Gloves

Only in the fifties - toddler and pre-teen boys don boxing gloves and battle to the finish! You have to admit, that one kid with the upper cut has good form...

Produced in Philadelphia, the series was an audience hit in 1951 but lasted only 26 weeks because - big surprise - no one would sponsor it.

The announcer was Bill Sears with commentary by Boxing Commissioner John De Groza; the ref was Frank Goodman.

tv kiddie shows

Star Time

Holy Jon Benet! Wee ones competing in a weekly fashion show circa 1952.

TV kid shows of the fifties

Strong Man

Kids competing in feats of strength - the prize was the opportunity to be gawked at on the Steel Pier in Atlanta for a week.

You can see more weird kiddie shows here.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey on Broadway

The two actresses most associated with the Broadway musical Hello Dolly - Carol Channing and Pearl Bailey - got together for a musical TV special in 1969. Was '69 the greatest year for TV of all?

In case you don't know (it was a long time ago) Carol Channing originated the role of Dolly Levi, after her smash run the show was recast with black performers in 1967 and Pearl Bailey stepped into the role. That kind of thing was unheard of but Hello Dolly was revitalized by the changes. Both actresses won a Tony for the role.

Here's the big finale of the TV hour, after a bit of special material they launch into 2 signature numbers from their greatest stage triumph. Wait, did Carol say something about "Ol' Massa" during 'Elegance'? That's not in the Broadway lyrics. Television shows just could not avoid playing into racial stereotypes back in the day. It used to bug me at the time... and I'm white and from the South.

Note how deftly Pearl Bailey plays off of Carol Channing, there was certainly no way anyone anywhere could upstage Ms. Channing, Pearl hits all the right notes by going downbeat. I love me some Pearl Bailey, we'll come back to her later, okay?

More Las Vegas Legends!

A Few Moments with Edith Piaf

I just watched a thoroughly engrossing documentary on Edith Piaf (Edith Piaf - A Passionate Life) that was filmed four years after her death in 1963. So here are some powerful performances from one of the greatest singers who ever lived.

Her best known hit - La Vie En Rose - is heard in this performance from a 1954 TV broadcast.

Here Edith defiantly sings that she has no regrets ('Non, je ne regrette rien' from 1961). You don't have to speak the language to get the message, that's for sure.

Piaf sings a remarkable tune, this time in English - Hymn to Love - from the 1951 US TV program Holidays in Paris. When Edith Piaf died at age 47, hundreds of thousands of people showed up in the rain to pay their respects.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Wonderama was a popular local NYC show that eventually was syndicated to a handful of stations around the USA. Here's a bit from Wonderama's early days when Sonny Fox was the host. He was a brilliant interviewer of children. Sonny Fox had an autobiography that you should check out.

Here's a segment from Bob McAllister's Wonderama in the 1970s. Wonderama episodes are very rare so don't write in requesting the show your were on. No one thought to save that stuff. A popular feature was Snake Cans, Bob could really get his young audience worked up - he had to, the show ran for four hours (down from 6 originally) on Sunday mornings.

McAllister's signature tune was 'Kids Are People Too', he even hosted a show by that name, at least for the first year...

Read all about Wonderama.

More Classic TV fun at TVparty!

Country Music Shows of the 1960s

Let's listen to some good old country music from television in the 1960s, shall we?

TV on the weekends were crowded with country music shows in the 1960s & 70s, at least in the South where I grew up. I did my best to avoid them but occasionally they were on, there wasn't a lot to choose from, especially on the weekends. Today I enjoy Bluegrass and the old country tunes and love to watch Billy Walker Country Carnival, The Arthur Smith Show, Porter Wagner Show, or any other of those 'corny' shows.

You'll remember Flatt & Scruggs, if for nothing else than penning and performing The Beverly Hillbillies theme song. Here they are doing 'Ruby,' a big Bluegrass hit on the Martha White Show. The 7 year old kid playing Mandolin and singing with them is a young Ricky Skaggs.

Like I said I hated those country shows, but the theme to The Martha White Show grabbed me for some reason. What's not to like... it was performed by Flatt & Scruggs. "Martha White self-risin' flower with Hot Rise Plus..." I never forgot that jingle.

Dolly Parton and Porter Wagner were the Sonny & Cher of the country music world, long before Sonny & Cher conquered TV. Wagner & Parton had a rocky relationship, to say the least, but they had a definite chemistry. Here they are singing 'Run That By Me One More Time.'

Dolly Parton in her early days singing 'If We Never Meet Again' from The Porter Wagner Show in the late-sixties.

More Classic TV at TVparty!

Gayest TV Special Ever (We Just Didn't Know It)

melba mooreThe Beatrice Arthur Special in January 1980 was possibly the gayest TV show ever seen up to that point.

This was the star's first big production after Maude left the air and it was, if I recall correctly, the lowest rated TV special of the year, of the decade, a huge bomb. But then Maude's ratings that last season were abysmal.

'Miss Thing'

Why was it the gayest show? Look at the guest stars - Rock Hudson (he and Bea Arthur sing about the virtues Amyl Nitrate), Wayland Flowers & Madame, along with Melba Moore singing the disco hit 'Miss Thing.'

Gays in the 1970s loved Bea Arthur's brash TV persona so I guess it was a natural to tailor the material in that direction but this was pretty shocking for the time. Here is Bea Arthur with Wayland Flowers & Madam, the puppet with the put-downs who rose to fame by playing in gay clubs in LA and New York.

For the next few minutes you'll be watching TV in 1979... you just won't be able to change the channel! A bit from the show with a commercial break:

TV Bumpers from the 50s, 60s & 70s

classic TV video This is an edit of some network bumpers and 'brought to you by's that I strung together for you the other day. They're sampled from the 1950s, '60s and '70s, some of these shows you'll recognize, some you won't.