Friday, June 1, 2012


Scott Brady stars in Shotgun Slade.
Browsing old periodicals like TV Guide allows me advance behind-the-scenes peaks at what was "planned." Hoping to have an edge over the competition, the magazine often featured snippets of news items that ran across their desk, hoping to inform their readers of television-yet-to-come. But many of those news items never came to be, or offers us a glimpse into some fascinating trivia. Here are a few from 1959. 

February 7, 1959
Producer Nat Holt’s planned new Western, Shotgun, will have Scott Brady as its star.
Note: It was later retitled Shotgun Slade before its premiere.

February 14, 1959
Lillian and Dorothy Gish may do a series test film for producer Henry Jaffe’s planned Larceny and Old Lace, based on a play of a slightly different name.
Note: never happened.

Lloyd Nolan wants out of the new syndicated series, Special Agent 7, but has agreed to make 13 more episodes for a total of 26. Another actor will play Nolan’s assistant in the 13 episodes and will eventually take over as the star if the series is successful and warrants further episodes beyond the initial 26.
Note: He starred in all 26 with no assistance. (Nolan never needed assistance as an actor.)

February 21, 1959
Warner Brothers wants New York Giants star halfback Frank Gifford to star in Public Enemy, a new half-hour series that ABC may pick up next fall.
Note: Obviously based on the James Cagney movie of the same name. Show never came to be.

Robert Taylor
Robert Taylor, long a TV holdout, has agreed to star in a new series for Four Star, Captain of Detectives, with shooting to start this summer. The series already has a network -- ABC.
Note: Later re-titled The Detectives before it premiered.

NBC has bought Jack Webb’s new series, The Black Cat, dealing with a San Francisco newspaperman. It will go on the network’s fall schedule.
Note: never happened.

March 7, 1959
The trend to hour-long film series continues with NBC’s announcement of its Riverboat series…it may be done in color.
Note: It was black and white throughout the entire run.

March 21, 1959
Barbara Bain is leaving CBS’s Richard Diamond, Private Detective series after only five episodes. She’ll take a Broadway role.
Note: I was always wondering why she played Karen Wells in five episodes and not more. I kind of got the impression she was going to continue in the recurring role.

Esther Williams
Esther Williams will not do her TV series at Fox. “The series is my own idea,” she says, “not theirs, and I want to be fully responsible for it, good or bad. I want a creative partnership, not another term contract with a major studio.” She will set up such a partnership, probably with either Four Star or CBS, fully intends to be on the air this fall.
Note: never happened.

March 28, 1959
Sid Caesar’s test film for his It’s a Living series will co-star Audrey Meadows and will be seen on the air as an episode of Alcoa-Goodyear Theatre.
Note: never happened.

The Man From Lloyds, new series designed for the late Tyrone Power, probably will go with Dewey Martin as the star.
Note: never happened.

April 25, 1959
The last episode of Lux Playhouse, June 26, will be the Jackie Cooper test film for his planned new Hennessey series.
Note: never happened. The series was a success even without an advance preview on Lux. I remember Cooper played the same role in a cross-over episode of The Gertrude Berg Show. (Now that qualifies me for being a geek, doesn’t it?)

With Desilu Playhouse moving to Friday nights at 9 on CBS next fall, replacing Phil Silvers (cancelled) and Lux Playhouse, the network tentatively plans to insert two half-hour mystery shows, Nero Wolfe and Suspense, in the old Monday night time.
Note: Nero Wolfe and Suspense never made a comeback that year, or the year after, or the year after... but the pilot films were shot and in the can.

May 2, 1959
A British-produced anthology series, Tales of Dickens, is now shooting in London. Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, Robert Morley and Basil Rathbone are among those set for individual episodes.
Note: It was eventually re-titled Fredric March Presents Tales of Dickens and Eldridge and Rathbone were never among the cast.

Victor Jory signed to star in Undercover Car, a new series.

Have Gun-Will Travel television advertisement.
June 1, 1959 
Have Gun-Will Travel will film four shows in Mexico this summer, another four or five in Hawaii.
Note: never happened. But Richard Boone did move to Hawaii and take up permanent residence, so this proposal might have been because of Boone's involvement.

July 4, 1959
All through with Richard Diamond, which may also be through, David Janssen now goes into the test film for a new ABC Films syndicated series, The Racers, about auto racing.
Note: never happened.

Jack Benny will appear in a Perry Mason episode next season and Raymond Burr in a Benny show.
Note: Burr did appear on The Jack Benny Program, but Jack Benny never made a guest appearance on Perry Mason.

July 11, 1959
Blake Edwards also doing a movie this summer based on Peter Gunn, to star the Gunn cast, excluding Hope Emerson who’s leaving the series for a role in the new Dennis O’Keefe Show.
Note: Wow. Movie was never shot until seven years later.

Jack Webb’s Johnny Guitar test film will be the July 31 Stripe Playhouse.
Note: Never heard of Stripe Playhouse, but the pilot film does circulate in collector hands with William Joyce and Fay Spain in the cast.

The planned Victor Jory-Patrick McVey series, Undercover Car, is now Manhunt.

Guy Williams as Zorro
July 18, 1959
The reason Zorro is not back on ABC is that each episode is priced at $45,000 (new) and $35,000 (repeat). Sponsors find the repeat price kinda heavy.

August 29, 1959
Broderick Crawford has come to the end of the Highway Patrol road after four years. He’ll do at least 39 episodes of a new series, a Western, which will probably go into production before the snow flies.
Note: No, he did not. Instead, he did a modern-day detective program for ZIV (where Highway Patrol was filmed) called King of Diamonds.

In what probably marks new highs for a single program, Desilu has assembled 30 sets and a cast of 39 actors for the “Ma Barker and Her Boys” episode of The Untouchables, new ABC series this fall.
Note: Thirty sets? I kind of doubt it. It's one of my favorite episodes of the series and I can only think of five or six sets used max.

Spencer Tracy willing to do one live TV show this year -- but only if he’s paid $350,000. So far, no takers.
Note: Which explains why he never acted on television throughout his career.

Andy Devine
September 26, 1959
Andy Devine, long-time Jingles in the Wild Bill Hickok series, has plans for a new show of his own, Big Jake.
Note: The pilot was filmed. It was broadcast as part of The Barbara Stanwyck Show. Just saw it last month as part of The Barbara Stanwyck Show Volume Two DVD release.

October 3, 1959
William Morris Agency planning a special based on the life of speakeasy-owner Texas Guinan. Kay Starr may play the title role.
Note: never happened, but would have been nice. I enjoyed watching Texas Guinan silent film shorts at a film festival last year.

October 10, 1959
After 30 years of acting, Joe Sawyer, sergeant of Rin-Tin-Tin, is retiring to devote full time to his California building business.
Note: Didn’t last long. He was still making TV and movie appearances in 1960 and 1961. He probably retired in late 1961 or early 1962.

October 17, 1959
Gore Vidal and Merle Miller signed to write scripts for NBC’s Five Fingers.
Note: Gore Vidal? Impressive. But sadly, neither men wrote a single script.