Friday, March 16, 2018

The 1960s: How We Played

David Inman and his brother Steve take another trip down memory lane to recall the toys they played with as kids, from G.I. Joes fully equipped for nuclear war to electric football games, which were basically vibrating pieces of sheet metal. There are also special guest appearances by Hot Wheels, Mr. Kelly's Car Wash, Major Matt Mason and Zero M spy toys.

Friday, March 9, 2018

The 1960s: What We Watched

This week on the podcast, David Inman and his brother Steve remember what it was like in the dark days when many cities only had three TV stations, and the shows they would watch, from "Batman" to "Lost in Space" to "Davey and Goliath." They also discuss their fears (the Joker on "Batman," the monsters on "Lost in Space") and the shows that were off limits at their house (Hint: Both shows featured actors named Jack).

Friday, March 2, 2018

"The Andy Griffith Show" and How It Grew

“The Andy Griffith Show” is Griffith’s best work — certainly his most personal. It was never out of TV’s Top 10 programs for its entire eight-season run, and it inspired a spinoff series, a TV movies and several reunion specials. Fifty years after it left the air, the reruns continue. Griffith never won an Emmy Award, but he was the guiding creative force behind the show, building it into a situation comedy with heart as well as humor — and shaping the relationship between himself and Don Knotts, as deputy Barney Fife, to reflect the relationship between two friends in one of his favorite radio shows, the comic serial “Lum and Abner.”
"Andy Griffith: Cornball with the Steel-Trap Mind," Lee Edson, TV Guide, January 28 and February 4, 1961
" 'The Andy Griffith Show' Has H.A.Q. (High Acceptability Quotient)," TV Guide, May 11, 1963
"The Wondrous Andy Griffith TV Machine," Richard Warren Lewis, TV Guide, July 13 and July 20, 1968
The Andy Griffith Show, by Richard Kelly
The Andy Griffith Show Book, by Ken Beck and Jim Clark
"Richard Linke, Andy Griffith's Talent Manager, Dies at 98," Sam Roberts, The New York Times, June 20, 2016 

Friday, February 23, 2018

James Cagney's Final Act(ing)

After a thirty-year Hollywood career, James Cagney made what he thought would be his final film in 1961 -- a comedy directed by Billy Wilder called "One Two Three." Cagney then retired, spending his time between two farms he owned -- one on Martha's Vineyard and one in upstate New York. But Cagney got tired of being retired, and in 1980 his friend, director Milos Forman, talked Cagney into taking a small but significant role in Forman's film adaptation of the bestselling novel "Ragtime." Further encouraged by his family and lifelong friend Pat O'Brien, Cagney went on to play the lead role in a 1984 TV movie called "Terrible Joe Moran." By that point Cagney had been weakened by several strokes and was in a wheelchair, but he powered through, inspired by O'Brien's words of encouragement: "Do it, Cagney. It's medicine."

"Cagney, 82, Is Embarrassed Anew at Being a 'Star'," Chris Chase, The New York Times, November 17, 1981

"Peter Gallagher,", June 14, 2011



"TV Review: 'Terrible Joe Moran' Starring James Cagney," John J. O'Connor, The New York Times, March 27, 1984

"Faraway Fella: 'Cagney,' a Biography by John McCabe," David Thomson, The Los Angeles Times, January 4, 1998

Art Carney: A Biography, by Michael Seth Starr

Cagney, by John McCabe

"Cagney Felt at Home in Dutchess," Larry Hughes, Poughkeepsie Journal, June 18, 2015

"James Cagney: Looking Backward," Timothy White, Rolling Stone, February 18, 1982

"James Cagney's Condition Provokes Controversy," Sylvia Lawler, The Morning Call, March 25, 1984

Director Joseph Sargent on James Cagney,

"Profile in Courage: Nobody Ever Said Cagney Wasn't a Fighter," Rod Townley, TV Guide, March 24, 1984

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Variety Show Skirmishes of 1963

In the fall of 1963, the big TV news was that three bonafide movie stars were going to host weekly variety shows — Judy Garland, Jerry Lewis and Danny Kaye. By the end of the season, only one of them would still be on the air — the other flamed out spectacularly and the third, after being wrecked by network interference, started again from scratch and found itself in its outstanding final episodes. Along the way, there were ego clashes, blown-out budgets, behind-the-scenes drama, creative upheaval, flat-out sexism and a final gesture of defiance centered around the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
Rainbow’s End: The Judy Garland Show, by Coyne Steven Sanders
Television Variety Shows, by David Inman
“Over the Rainbow, and Then Some!,” James Kaplan, Vanity Fair, May 2011
“The Danny Kaye Show,” Encyclopedia of Television, Museum of Broadcast Communications
JFK’s Final Days: November 19, 1963, Presidential History Geeks
“The Great Garland Gamble,” Dwight Whitney, TV Guide, October 19, 1963
“Judy Garland and the Show That Failed,” Vernon Scott, TV Guide, May 2, 1964
“Danny Kaye: Satisfied with Perfection,” Richard de Roos, TV Guide, February 1, 1964
“The Seven Faces of Danny Kaye,” Dwight Whitney, TV Guide, January 9, 1965
” ‘The Danny Kaye Show’ Is Not Returning in 1967 After 4 Seasons,” Richard K. Doan, TV Guide, December 17, 1966
“How Jerry Lewis Got What He Wanted,” Richard Gehman, TV Guide, June 15, 1963
“What Happened to Jerry Lewis,” Richard Gehman, TV Guide, December 14, 1963

Friday, February 9, 2018

1952: The 60-Second Election

In 1952, Republican Dwight Eisenhower squared off against Democrat Adlai Stevenson in the presidential election. Eisenhower, who had been commander of allied forces in Europe during World War II, was enormously popular but not much of a public speaker. So a combination of talents from America’s largest advertising agencies, including the man upon whom the “Mad Men” character Don Draper was roughly based, convinced Eisenhower and his advisers that the best way to reach American voters was the same way they received selling propositions about what soap to use, what car to drive, what cigarette to smoke — by a TV commercial. Eisenhower reluctantly agreed — and political campaigns were changed forever.
“Political Advertising,”, September 15, 2003
“Eisenhower, an Unlikely Pioneer of TV Ads,” Michael Beschloss, The New York Times, October 30, 2015
“8 of Adlai Stevenson’s Awful 1952 TV Campaign Ads,” Chris Higgins,, February 20, 2012

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Jack Benny-Johnny Carson Connection

In 1949, Jack Benny took advantage of new capital gains laws and moved his popular program from NBC to CBS, an immense boost to that network in ratings and prestige. At about the same time, a senior at the University of Nebraska named Johnny Carson was putting together his thesis, “How to Write Comedy for Radio,” a tape-recorded presentation filled with examples of Jack Benny’s work. Carson couldn’t have known it at the time, but within a few years Benny would become one of Carson’s biggest boosters – they formed a kind of mutual admiration society that would last until Benny’s death in 1974. Benny had been one of America’s dominant comedy voices during the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s – and by utilizing tricks he’d learned from Benny, Carson, as host of “The Tonight Show” for thirty years, would become one of America’s dominant comedy voices during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s.
Johnny Carson, by Henry Bushkin
“Red Skelton Butts Scenery, Sprains Neck,” Rome (GA) News-Tribune, August 18, 1954
“Comics’ Comics,” TV Guide, January 15, 1955
“Johnny Carson: Young Man with a Grin,” TV Guide, September 3, 1955
“Johnny Carson Defined Late-Night TV,” The Los Angeles Times, January 24, 2005