Historical Television Highlights

The EDSEL Show-October 13, 1957


Here is the oldest use of videotape for network television recording in existence. The Edsel Show was recorded as it was presented live on CBS on Sunday, October 13, 1957. A TV Guide® Close-Up is shown here from the Indianapolis edition showing it aired on WCIA, Channel 3-Champaign, WISH-TV, Channel 8-Indianapolis, WTHI-TV, Channel 10-Terre Haute and WANE-TV, Channel 15-Fort Wayne.

It is truly significant because the videotape was used to delay the broadcast for viewing in the Pacific and Mountain time zones the previously live broadcast which was broadcast live for Eastern and Central time zones. Bing Crosby was notoriously in favor of pre-recording his radio shows to fit into his schedule and was considered a financier and developer of the use of audio tape for the AMPEX company to be used for his radio broadcasts. He then by the mid-1950s was working with AMPEX to develop video tape recorders to bring a live broadcast look and feel to pre-recorded programming.

This is also significant for its sponsor, the Ford Motor Company which introduced one of the largest failures of an American automobile maker in history to that point. The Edsel was named for the son of Henry Ford and was meant to compete with the likes of General Motors Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Buick divisions. Unfortunately, it was introduced during a time of an economic recession which lowered the sales numbers of the entire automotive industry. Plus, the car developed a reputation for being less than reliable.

Enjoy this fine example of not only a TV special but a TV spectacular with three huge names in the music industry of the 1950s. Sinatra was enjoying a comeback of sorts after being on the skids in the early 1950s. He was now riding high after his Oscar and Golden Globe awards "From Here to Eternity" in 1953. He went on to star in several other popular films of the mid-1950s including "Young at Heart" with Doris Day, "Suddenly" with Sterling Hayden, "The Man With the Golden Arm" and "High Society" with Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly. "High Society" was one of the highest grossing movies of 1956, the year before this TV special. He also rejuvenated his recording career during the mid-1950s with a large number of recorded albums with the likes of Nelson Riddle and his orchestra. 

Meanwhile, Bing Crosby was also very active in film, TV, and radio having hosted a long-running radio variety special and appearing in the "road" pictures with Bob Hope, who makes a cameo appearance in this special. He was also a broadcast owner purchasing KCOP-TV in Los Angeles in 1954. He also owned for a time, KPTV in Portland, Oregan.

Rosemary Clooney began with a hit record in the early 1950s called "Come On-a My House," "Botch-a-Me," and a number of others. She starred with Bing Crosby in the 1950s color version of "White Christmas." She was the mother of actor Miguel Ferrer, the sister of Nick Clooney and the aunt of actor George Clooney. 

Bing Crosby died in 1977, Frank Sinatra in 1998 and Rosemary Clooney in 2002. The Edsel was removed from production in 1960.

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The Steve Allen Show

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Steve Allen was one of the 1950s and 60s favorite entertainers being in radio, television, but also a composer, musician, comedian, writer, and a movie actor.

He's best known for being the original host of "The Tonight Show" but also hosted his own show during the late 50s and early 60s. After that he emceed "I've Got a Secret" and "What's My Line" for CBS and wrote, produced and hosted the PBS show "Meeting of the Minds."


If you ever watched his show you would have known he was a pianist and composed many standards of the era including "This Could be the Start of Something Big." You probably wouldn't know he also wrote more than 50 books from novels to children's books.


He was born 1921 in New York but listed his hometown as Chicago. He died in 2000 and was active in show business for the last 60s years of his life.


Beginning in 1956, NBC would air "The Steve Allen Show" opposite "The Ed Sullivan Show" to try to chip at the ratings of a long time CBS popular variety show. His show contributed to the TV careers of Tom Poston, Bill Dana, Pat Harrington Jr., Don Knotts, and Gabe Dell. His guest starts included Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, and Elvis, along with other movie/TV personalities Kim Novak, Abbott and Costello.


What we show here are samples of "The Steve Allen Show" as it was sponsored by the Chrysler Corporation. To read more about Steve Allen go to Wikipedia here

From January 1956, "The Tonight Show" starring Steve Allen from Miami, Florida. Guests include Andy Williams and Eydie Gorme with comedian George DeWitt. This would have been seen on WICS, WEEK, WGEM-TV and KSD-TV. 
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On February 9, 1958 "The Steve Allen Show" staged a spectacular tour of the new NBC Burbank, California studios with a single shot being made as Steve Allen, Eydie Gorme, Ann Southern and others join him and performed on the tour. The song they sang was Allen's "This Could be the Start of Something Big."

This kinescope is of "The Steve Allen Show" from April 5, 1959. It stars his regulars Don Knotts, Tom Poston, Gabrial Dell, Louis Nye, Bill Dana, Pat Harrington Jr., and Gene Rayburn. Guests include Lenny Bruce, The Three Stooges, Connie Russell and David Allen. 

Check out where they were comparing the 1958 version with what the same space in the NBC Burbank studios looks like in 2013.

This is one of the syndicated half-hour versions from the late 1950s version of "The Steve Allen Show" as broadcast on NBC. It includes a more contemporary introduction with the late Steve Allen. It was broadcast on the forerunner of The Comedy Channel in the 1980s and produced by MTM Productions.


Steve Allen hosted a number of primetime variety type series including "The Steve Allen Show" on CBS, Monday-Friday from 1950-51, then a Thursday evening series from July through September of 1952. These would not be seen in mid-Illinois as there were no local TV services.

The ones above were broadcast on NBC from 1956 to 1960 and were seen on NBC stations across mid-Illinois, WICS, WEEK-TV, and KSD-TV. The last season from September to December 1961 would air on ABC and the stations WTVP, WTVH, and KTVI.

In 1967 he would host an hour-long comedy series called "The Steve Allen Comedy Hour" for CBS. Supporting players included Ruth Buzzy, Louis Nye(from the original series), John Byner and his wife, Jayne Meadows. It would air on WCIA, WMBD-TV, KMOX-TV, and on WTHI-TV. 

The "Steve Allen Comedy Hour" would return to television on NBC from October 1980 to January 1981 and included a very large group of supporting actors in various comedy bits. It was broadcast on WICS, WEEK-TV, WTWO-TV, and KSD-TV.


"The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable Shows 1946-present" by Tim Brooks and Darle Marsh

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This 2-hour, 40-minute video is from a kinescope of a live CBS Special that was broadcast November 15, 1952 (before any local TV stations were on the air in mid-Illinois to actually watch it) on CBS. It features stars from its many TV shows which were broadcast either live or recorded on film at the facilities grand opening.

(Note: Audio might not play on some smaller devices)

On April 27, 2002, CBS celebrated the 50th year of CBS Television City with a variety show which included many who had worked and performed there over the years. The special was hosted by Carol Burnett.

This page also includes a video of the first commercial videotape used for broadcast television and the oldest surviving program on videotape. "The Edsel Show" produced in 1957 was broadcast live and recorded on videotape at CBS Television City.

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In October of 2018, it was announced that CBS had made the decision to sell its iconic studio location in Los Angeles. By December of 2018, the announcement came that CBS had sold their home for $750-million dollars to an LA-based real estate developer Hackman Capital Partners.

This agreement means that Hackman Capital Partners will continue to use the name of "Television City" but CBS will continue to produce TV shows there at least in the foreseeable future.

The network purchased the property in 1950 located at Fairfax Avenue and Beverly Boulevard. The facility was built for $7-million dollars.



American Bandstand


"American Bandstand" was one of ABC's longest running TV series and certainly the first musical series to feature rock an' roll as is only musical genre. It premiered on WFIL-TV in Philadelphia and was hosted by Bob Horn from 1952 to 1956, then Dick Clark. Soon after, in 1957, "Bandstand" became "American Bandstand" when it went national on ABC every afternoon Monday-Friday.

In August of 1963, it would cease being a weekday series, and would only be seen on Saturday afternoons. The following year it would be relocated to Los Angeles, I assume to fit the schedule and location for what would be Clark's growing empire in entertainment and production of TV series. He would also produce "Where the Action Is" and "It's Happening" for ABC in the mid-1960s.

From April 4, 1959 Edd Byrnes joins "American Bandstand" with his hit (with Connie Stevens) "Kookie, Kookie Lend Me Your Comb." Both were Warner Brothers contract actors and were stars of WB series on ABC. Byrnes with "77 Sunset Strip" and Stevens with "Hawaiian Eye."

Danny and the Juniors had the hit "The Hop" and this video begins with a shout-out to one of the TV stations featured on this website, KTVI, Channel 2 in St. Louis. See it here as it was broadcast in 1958 right after Channel 2 became a full fledge ABC affiliate. This was from the prime-time version of "American Bandstand" from 1957-58.

Dick Clark

From 1958: The Silhouettes and "Get A Job." A number one song for 2 weeks.

Dick Clark on TV Guide

From March 8, 1963, a nearly full edition of "American Bandstand" as it was broadcast from Philidelphia. During this time the show was shortened to one-half hour. By September of 1963, it was increased back to an hour. This edition is the only half-hour weekday version of "American Bandstand" known to exist. Some notes, according to the submitter to YouTube, is that the Top 10 was edited out. Hosted by Dick Clark, the announcer was Charlies O'Donnell.

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American Bandstand

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American Bandstand
American Bandstand

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American Bandstand
American Bandstand

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American Bandstand
American Bandstand

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The American Bandstand "Scrapbook Gallery"

This is a mostly complete installment of "American Bandstand" from June 18, 1966, we see Steve Alamo, Captain Beefhart, and "Love."



Here's a nearly complete installment of "American Bandstand" from August 2, 1969, as broadcast on ABC. It's missing the number one song of the week, having been blocked by YouTube for copyright issues. Once again, historic videos are being defaced by Copywrite issues by YouTube.

This is an entire episode of "American Bandstand" from October 16, 1982. In this edition it was a salute to Hall and Oates. This is really special as it includes ABC promos of the day and commercials as broadcast on ABC and WAAY in Huntsville, AL.

The 50th Anniversary of "American Bandstand" aired on ABC in 2002 and was the final one of the series. This is a short clip from the beginning of the show featuring the guest stars of the early 2000s.

The final American Bandstand edition from the original series was seen in 1987 ending its run on ABC. It was later seen in syndication for a season with Dick Clark, then with replacement hosts. Dick Clark died in 2012 after suffering a stroke in 2004. He did continue co-hosting the New Years Eve Specials on ABC until his death.



Locally Produced 
Programs for

WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL
WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL

Sheriff Sid personal appearance during a local parade in 1962.

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WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL
WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL

Scotty Craig in the earliest WCIA kids show, "Cartoon Time" from 1954

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KACY, Channel 14, Festus, MO, "The Cricket and Millie Show." 1954

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WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL
WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL

Sheriff Sid personal appearance during a local parade in 1962.

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Children Panel Show/Cartoons Based

The first being the traditional "kids panel show" in which at least several children would be a part of the on-camera production. Most of these shows for the kids were modeled after "Howdy Doody" with a host that would be the adult "leader" talking and relating to the local kids on the show. The host would sometimes have a co-host which was usually there as comedy relief and to help keep the show rolling as the kids would participate in games and contests between the airing of local cartoons. Some times the theme of the show would coincide with the cartoons being shown. You'll see examples below

WCIA, Channel 3 late weekday afternoon kids shows included: "The Popeye Show," "Popeye's Circus," "Captain Eddy," and "Sheriff Sid."


WTVP, Channel 17 broadcast "Davey's Locker," "Space Angel," "Dick Tracy's Crimestoppers," and "Kartoon Kampus" as well as others. "Romper Room" the young children's show franchise is also included.


WICS, Channel 20 aired "Pegwill Circus," "Pegwill Pete," "Clickity Clack(or Clicka T. Clack," "The Funny Company," and "Kim's Kiddie Korner," and "Popeye and Kim."


WEEK, Channel 43/25, Peoria had the "Captain Jinks and Salty Sam Show."


WTVH, Channel 19, Peoria was the franchise holder for "Romper Room."


KTVI, Channel 2, St. Louis broadcast "Mr. Patches."

KMOX, Channel 4, St. Louis featured "Cooky and the Captain."


KSD-TV, Channel 5, St. Louis had "Corky the Clown."


KPLR, Channel 11, St. Louis broadcast " Captain 11's Showboat."


KACY, Channel 14, Festus(St. Louis) featured "Millie and Cricket."

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Funny Company was a syndicated concept children's program which would be done locally with local hosts and kids participating. It aired on WICS with Clicka T. Clack as the host on WICS. Unfortunately, there are no videos of the local production seen on Channel 20. This is the opening titles used by WICS.


This is a segment from more recent days as WEEK's children's program "Captain Jinx and Salty Sam." 

This goes back to February of 1953 with someone's home movies of their child's appearance on "Romper Room" from 1953. This took place at WBAL-TV in Baltimore, Maryland. I'm hoping that someone at WTVP(WAND), WTVH(WIRL, WRAU) have similar home movies of their child's appearance on "Romper Room" or any other locally produced children's show. If you have one and have it in a digital format, I would like to feature it here!  Please contact me!



Here is "Cooky and the Captain" from KMOX-TV, Channel 4, St. Louis. It'unknown when this particular clip from videotape aired but it's definitely from the early 1960s.

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Teen age Dance Programs

Teenager Dance/Music Shows



The second type of children's show was for teenagers. It basically was top 40 radio on TV as teens danced to their favorite songs of the day. 

They were all pretty much the same format, consisting of a male host who also was the disc jockey. He would interview the teens, perhaps include a "rate-a-record" type of review of newly released records and an occasional dance contest.

From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, local TV stations would include a Saturday afternoon or sometimes a weeknight hour-long program dance program.

WCIA broadcast "The Hop" with John Coleman and later Ed Mason.

WTVP, Channel 17 broadcast "The Frank Monte Show" later "Marty's Dance Party."

WICS, Channel 20 aired "The Pepsi Dance Party."

WDAN-TV broadcast "Danville Bandstand."

Unfortunately, there's virtually no video that exists of any of the local dance shows, other than some kinescope segments from "The Hop" that was broadcast on WCIA. I don't have access to those, but I'll try. 

WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL
WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL

"The Hop" logo (The Ed Mason Collection)

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WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL
WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL

John Coleman hosting "The Hop" (WCIA and the Ed Mason Collection)

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KSD-TV, Channel 5, St. Louis, MO
KSD-TV, Channel 5, St. Louis, MO

KSD-TV, Channel 5, St. Louis "St. Louis Hop" unknown year, 50s. (Pinterest)

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WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL
WCIA, Channel 3, Champaign, IL

"The Hop" logo (The Ed Mason Collection)

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My Connection to "Star Trek"


Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big "Trekker." It goes back not to when it aired on NBC, but when I was at Western Illinois University, I was on a high floor of dorm and took that as an opportunity to have a large TV antenna in my room, hanging from the ceiling, that enabled me to get TV signals from several different markets. 

I was able to draw stations from the Quad Cities market, Peoria, Hannibal-Quincy, Kirksville-Ottumwa, Springfield, and even occasionally St. Louis and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Syndicated TV programs were "bicycled" from station to station in those days, so each afternoon and evening I could watch a number of different episodes of Star Trek each day! In the current days since to the mid-90s, the same episode is seen by all stations on the same day or week.

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a big "Trekker." It goes back not to when it aired on NBC, but when I was at Western Illinois University, I was on a high floor of dorm and took that as an opportunity to have a large TV antenna in my room, hanging from the ceiling, that enabled me to get TV signals from several different markets. 

I was able to draw stations from the Quad Cities market, Peoria, Hannibal-Quincy, Kirksville-Ottumwa, Springfield, and even occasionally St. Louis and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Syndicated TV programs were "bicycled" from station to station in those days, so each afternoon and evening I could watch a number of different episodes of Star Trek each day! In the current days since to the mid-90s, the same episode is seen by all stations on the same day or week.

Having that weekday Star Trek schedule, most days being able to watch 4 or 5 episodes, instantly made me a fan of the show. It was the time that Star Trek's popularity grew enough to bring about a call to bring the show back. It did come back in a long-running series of motion pictures beginning in 1979.

At WIU, I joyously attended a lecture at the student union that presented Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the classic sci-fi series. I remember getting there hours early to grab a seat in the front row!

Mr. Roddenberry told of the struggle to get the series on the air, and the struggle of producing an original pilot and how it was rejected, then how the original pilot was used as a foundation for re-producing a second pilot. He also included a presentation of the original pilot show and the legendary "Star Trek Blooper Reel." 

Mr. Roddenberry also told of his trip that week to Chicago where he and his wife Majel Barrett had stayed at a hotel the night before. They had discovered the next morning that their room had been robbed the evening before while they were out to dinner. Majel had stayed behind to follow through on the police reports and he traveled solo to Macomb to do the lecture.

It is not an exaggeration to say that evening was the highlight of my college career! 

Many years later, I believe it was in June of 1998, I attended the Pro-Max convention in Chicago and also went to several syndicated program workshops conducted by the producers to promote their individual shows. Among those shows was a Gene Roddenberry Star Trek spinoff produced in part by Majel Barrett who hosted the presentation at the Adler Planetarium.  

During a question and answer session, I mentioned seeing Mr. Roddenberry at Western Illinois University and mentioned the robbery that kept her from making the trip. With that, she and I made a great connection and we ended up talking for what seemed to be a couple of hours, but probably ended up around 20-minutes or so. She was magnificent and that remains another highlight of my life.

That brings me to this discovery. I remember hearing of this project years ago and forgot about it. Then I found these episodes on YouTube!  The producers have built sets, used similar production techniques, music, special effects, storylines to recreate an alternate universe of "Star Trek" episodes. Let me just say, they're incredible! 

It takes a few viewings to get used to not having William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy and the regular cast, but it's worth it!  Enjoy the first two episodes of about a dozen total episodes of "Star Trek Continues" this week's Videos of the Week.

(Source: YouTube and various posters and contributors.

They may be removed without notice
The video quality may be less than desirable, but even a poor video is better than none at all)

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Disneyland Opening, from ABC July 17, 1955

Seeing current plans by the Disney people to reopen their parks, namely Disneyland and Disney World, it won't be at all like the original grand opening from 65 years ago, July 18, 1955.

This was broadcast across the ABC television network live with various guest stars, interviews, many personal observations from Anaheim, California.

From a technical broadcast standpoint, this was an incredible logistic feat to organize and construct a network of video cables all across the park, with black and white videos cameras, alongside an audio system in synch with the video and organized the writing and talent to be where they should be on cue. Obviously the use of the communication system between everyone in the production was built as well. See the video below! 

The final step was to link the production with the ABC network feed from Los Angeles(Hollywood) to master control in New York and then via network feed to the ABC affiliates, at least those with a live network feed, to be broadcast to viewers. In mid-Illinois this production would have been seen on WTVP, WBLN, KTVI, and possibly WTVH.

Enjoy this kinescope of the event, that was probably recorded to be sent to ABC affiliates that did not have a live network feed from the network.   

"Operation Disneyland" or "How They Did it" from July 17, 1955

So, how did they produce the live broadcast at Disneyland on July 17, 1955? Here is a 14-minute documentary produced for ABC that looks at the technical logistics behind the live TV broadcast from Disneyland.

Check out "Operation Disneyland."

If you're involved in TV production and live field broadcasts, sporting events, etc. check out how it as done 65 years ago!

"Disneyland's 10 Year Anniversary" on "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color, NBC 1965

Let's advance 10-years to "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" as broadcast on NBC. This episode celebrates the 10th Anniversary of Disneyland, and his hosted by 64-year-old Walt Disney. As a side note, Mr. Disney was suffering from lung cancer at the time and died in December the following year. 

The show doesn't include commercials, but you'll notice some product placement with Kodak cameras, that sponsored the show during a good part of the 1960s.

This would have been seen on NBC affiliates in color on WICS, WCHU, WEEK-TV, WTWO, WGEM-TV, and KSD-TV. It was also seen in black and white on WICD. (Find out why it was in black and white on the History of WICD section of this site).



Season Premiere Special, ABC, 1963-64

It’s that time of year…the network season premieres!  It’s a time of TV viewing excitement as we anticipate new episodes of your favorite shows…and a healthy mix of new shows. Except that this new TV season has been met with much less enthusiasm. Even with the pandemic, the last few years have been met with far less excitement. The networks don’t promote the new seasons they used to. I miss the full-page ads in TV Guide(at least the old TV Guide that listed local stations), the ads in local newspapers, and the half-hour or hour-long promotional network infomercials that would air multiple times from late August to mid-September. 

In 1963, ABC was going through an “image” update with a schedule of some groundbreaking shows matched to the available audience each night.  Some notes along the way:

The Sunday night schedule was set up with basic family viewing beginning at 6:30 with Kurt Russell as “The Travels of Jamie McPheeters” followed by the more adult shows, each 45-minutes long, “The Arrest” and “The Trial” starring “The Rifleman” star, Chuck Conners. That was followed by a Quiz Show, “Hundred Grand.”

Monday started with classic science fiction, “Outer Limits.” I remember watching this series as an 8-year old and frankly, several episodes scared the hell out me. That was followed by “Wagon Train” at 7:30 (CT). It had just shifted from NBC (and in color) to ABC (back to black and white, but in color the year after).  It also became a 90-minute show to compete with NBC’s 90-minute epic western “The Virginian.” At 9 it was “Breaking Point” an hour-long medical drama.

Tuesday began with another classic, “Combat” the World War II drama. (You have to remember that it was only 20 years after WWII). But not all World War II shows had to be serious, as “McHale’s Navy” followed at 7:30 pm (CT). This became one of my all-time favorite shows. At 8 pm it was Jack Palance in “The Greatest Show on Earth” a Desilu produced drama based on a traveling circus show. Check out the promo for this one with an incredible list of guests including Tuesday Weld, Russ Tamblyn (“Twin Peaks”), Robert Webber, among others. The series would go on to star a long list of past and future guests include that of one of its producers, Lucille Ball. Then at 9, it was the pilot show of  “The Fugitive” with David Janssen.

Wednesday night was “family night” on ABC with the long-running “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet” at 6:30 pm, then “The Patty Duke Show” at 7. The genre changed to the game show “The Price is Right” with Bill Cullen at 7:30(originally on NBC). The attention shifted back to the adults at 8:00 with “Ben Casey” the medical drama with Vince Edwards. “Channing” aired at 9:00 starring Jason Evers(he made many guest appearances in QM produced dramas) and Henry Jones(later on “Phyllis”). This drama was based on events at a university.

Thursday ABC’s successful family animated series “The Flintstones” led off the night at 6:30, followed by “The Donna Reed Show.” (Most audiences remember Donna Reed as being Jimmy Stewart's love interest in “It’s a Wonderful Life”.) It also starred Carle Betz as her doctor husband. You’ll notice Bob Crane(later on "Hogan's Heroes) as their wacky neighbor. The children of the family were Shelly Fabares (later on “Coach”), Paul Peterson(had a couple of top 40 hits at the time), and Patty Peterson. This family sitcom aired on ABC from 1958 to 1966. At 7:30 it was “My Three Sons” where it aired from 1960-65 (moving to CBS in 1965-1972).  The variety show “The Jimmy Dean Show” followed at 9 pm. Yea that’s the sausage king, THE Jimmy Dean.

Friday night began with the hip detective drama, “77 Sunset Strip” with Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Roger Smith (Ann Margaret’s husband), and Edd Byrnes (the movie “Grease”). That was followed by another detective drama “Amos Burke” starring Gene Barry (both “War of the Worlds” movies) and was one of Aaron Spelling’s first produced shows (including "The Mod Squad," "The Love Boat," "Charlies Angels," "Fantasy Island," and many more). At 8:30, we were back to sitcoms with “The Farmer’s Daughter” starring William Windom(later in one memorable episode of "Star Trek" and many other series) and Inger Stevens(who starred in one of the most popular "Twilight Zone" episodes, "The Hitchhiker"). At 9 pm it was “The Fight of the Week” with boxing.

Saturday night had a musical start with “Hootenanny” a show featuring the then-popular musical genre “folk songs” at 6:30. That was followed by “The Jerry Lewis Show,” a two-hour talk/variety show which aired for only 13 weeks. It was a programming disaster for the network. A couple of notes, one of the writers of the show was Dick Cavett, and was broadcast from the same theater/studio which would serve as the broadcast home to “The Hollywood Palace” and many years later “The Jimmy Kimmel Show.”

This entire production was written by Mel Brooks with the animation segments produced by Chester Gould (“Dick Tracy” cartoonist). 

Edie Adams was the singer at the beginning and end of the show. She was the widow of TV comedy pioneer Ernie Kovacs who was killed in a car accident in January of 1962. He died leaving her with many debts. There seemed to be an effort by many who were friends of the couple to employ her in commercials, TV shows, and even movies to help her free her from her husband’s debts.

It appeared the new ABC TV season was off to a great start. You'll notice, most of the westerns were gone. All the Warner Brothers westerns were gone. The only real western was "Wagon Train" and it was made into an epic with a full 90-minute presentation and I suppose "The Tales of Jamie McPheeters" might qualify as a western. The only Warner Brothers series was "77 Sunset Strip." The daytime TV schedule was full at the time with every time period after 10 am with at least some type of programming. The day consisted of off-network sitcoms, dramas along with a few game shows and daytime serials. 

About two months into the season, a major event would stop the presentation of programming for all three networks for over a week. The assassination of President Kennedy would bring the news departments to the forefront of viewing. CBS and NBC had active and established successful news departments, but ABC was playing catch-up. It was the Kennedy assassination that would help boost the efforts of ABC News and bring respect to the once third-string network.

Throughout Central Illinois, ABC programming could be seen on WTVP(later WAND), WTVH(later WIRL, WRAU, WHOI), and KTVI. The Quincy market with stations KHQA and WGEM shared the programming of ABC airing certain programs via tape delay at various weekend and late-night times.  

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(Source: YouTube and various posters and contributors.

They may be removed without notice)


"Praised for its quality and famous for its drama, Desilu’s The Untouchables television show (1959-1963) roared like the era it portrayed in grand, theatrical style. A controversial and Emmy award-winning series, its legacy in film and television has been felt from Hollywood to the halls of Congress and has impacted everything from The Simpsons to The Sopranos.

In recognition of the program’s 60th Anniversary, The Untouchables Retrospective is a detailed and nostalgic account of American television’s finest film noir featuring a comprehensive episode guide and an exclusive, behind-the-scenes exploration of this landmark program."


This groundbreaking series came from the studio that brought us the sitcoms "I Love Lucy," "Our Miss Brooks," "December Bride," "The Ann Southern Show," and other series like "The Adventures of Jim Bowie," "The Walter Winchell File," "The Texan," "Star Trek," "Missioin Impossible," and "Mannix."

"The Untouchables" came about from an episode of the "Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse" airing April 20 and 27, 1959. The "Desilu Playhouse" was a dramatic anthology series that aired on CBS from 1958 to 1960.

"The Untouchables" episode as it called when it was initially presented, was renamed "The Scaface Mob" later when it aired on ABC in the fall of 1959. CBS turned down the series, although ABC agreed to air the series where it would continue through 1963.


Being very controversial for it's violence, and drawing complaints from the Italian-American community, it would face a lawsuit from the Capone family, which ended favorably for Desilu. It's interesting to note that Desi Arnez was a high school classmate of Albert Capone, Al's son. 

The show also faced boycots of advertisers including a tobacco company. Desilu and ABC did change future shows to eliminate the use of Italian names for gangsters in later episodes, added more emphisis on the Italian character within the Untouchables crime force and presented other Italian characters who were lawful and made contributions to society.

The Untouchables Retrospective (Podcast)

"On October 15th, 1959, ABC Television and Desilu Productions unveiled "a new kind of series" called The Untouchables and rocked American audiences out of their suburban living rooms and into Chicago's Prohibition streets with the battle of Eliot Ness (Robert Stack) and his incorruptible agents against the criminal forces of Al Capone. 

Join us on The Untouchables Retrospective as we head to Desilu Studios in the 1960s to explore an overlooked chapter in film and television history and the cultural and artistic impact on what was the most violent, expensive and acclaimed television show of its time."

from theuntouchables.co website

“The Untouchables” Part 1 of the Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Original Introductions (1959)

from theuntouchables.co website

So how did the show look with commercials?  Here’s a sample of a program segment with an original commercial for Chesterfield Cigerettes, a preview of next weeks episode, another commercial with Brylcream and Silvikrin Shampoo.  Notice also the sponsor logo on the closing credits.

So, what was “Westinghouse?” Here’s a commercial from 1959 for Westinghouse Refrigerators. The name of Westinghouse today is on everything from LCD televisions to nuclear reactors.

from theuntouchables.co website

"The Big Train" Part 1-2 (ABC) January 5&12, 1961

In this episode, the Untouchables discover a plot to bring about an escape of Al Capone from a train taking him to Alcatraz. This is one of the rare two part episodes from the series. Al Capone was played to the max by actor Neville Brand. 

Another interesting note, the theme of "The Untouchables" was written by the Nelson Riddle, who wrote and performed the theme for "Route 66.", According to the "Untouchable" credits, the music was by the Wilbur Hatch Orchestra, that performed the "I Love Lucy Theme."           from The OTR Collection-Classic TV Shows

"The White Slavers" (ABC) March 10, 1960

According to theuntouchables.co, this was one of the first seasons most controversial episodes. "Ness hopes to corner the prostitution racket with the help of a reformed madam."


Guest stars include Dick York ("Bewitched"), Mike Kellin ("The Wackiest Ship in the Army") , Nita Talbot ("Hogan's Heroes), Jeremy Slate, and Betty Field.

To see a detailed description of this episode, it's controversies and a behind the scene story of it's writing, direction and stars click HERE.

from The OTR Collection-Classic TV Shows

“The Untouchables” also showed up in syndication for years. Here’s a clip from “The “Bug’s” Moran Story” with the station airing the syndicated 16mm films with slices, scratches, commercial cue marks and tons of film artifacts. It’s hard to believe what is shown now on local television, cable and subchannel networks of these vintage programs now mostly seen in high def with better quality than they were originally seen on network TV!
(YouTube-Doug Quick Channel)

This trailer has been digitally reassembled to improve upon a muddy print and damaged audio track and no complete versions, which introduce the rest of the cast, are known to exist. Desilu Film Distributing Co. Presents THE SCARFACE MOB. Starring Robert Stack as Eliot Ness, Co-Starring Keenan Wynn and Neville Brand. Screenplay by Paul Monash, Directed by Phil Karlson, Produced by Quinn Martin. Narrated by Walter Winchell. Based upon the novel "The Untouchables" by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley.
theuntouchables.co website

I've never endorsed another historcial television website until now. But if you're into the notable ABC series, I urge you to subscribe and join in on The Untouchables Retrospective as it includes the story from Desilu Studios in the 1960s. There you see and exploration of an overlooked chapter in film and television history and the cultural and artistic impact on what was the most violent, expensive and acclaimed television show of its time! Learn more at https://theuntouchables.co.


Another significant contributor to the History of Television will be added here soon!