Wednesday, May 13, 2015

As the TV World Turns

Here's a fun little artifact I acquired recently, courtesy of eBay -- the October 1955 issue of a television fan magazine. On the cover are Liberace ("man of a million talents"), Fess Parker, then playing Davy Crockett in a serial on ABC's Disneyland, and comedians Groucho Marx (You Bet Your Life) and Martha Raye (The Martha Raye Show). 

I enjoyed seeing the photos and stories about some of the most popular performers in the mid-fifties. There's a layout featuring husband and wife Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling, of Topper fame, showing off their baby son Jeffreys Sterling. Of course, some of the articles remind us that the information imparted in these publications often needs to be taken with a grain of salt, or twelve. A profile of Betty White declares, "Betty Ought to Get Married!" -- glossing over the fact that the clean-cut star was in fact a two-time divorcee. TV World also assures us that actress Jean Hagen (Make Room for Daddy) "loves co-star Danny [Thomas] as a dear friend," and that "being a TV mom comes second nature" to her. In reality, a frustrated Hagen would quit the show only a few months later, forcing the writers to make Thomas' character a widower the following season. Thomas would admit years later in his autobiography that their working relationship was often bumpy.

If readers didn't think they were getting their 25 cents worth from TV World, they could always venture down the darker alleys of magazines like the infamous Confidential, whose articles that year were more along the lines of "Rory Calhoun -- But for the Grace of God, Still a Convict!" Me, I think I'll stick with Betty White and her quest to find the man who can give her "that tingle that means Mama had better be shopping for wedding announcements."

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