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What’s on TV: A Year in Review

Hey, hey, hey! Kim here! So, over the last number of weeks, I’ve been taking a deep dive into the year on television that was 1965. Over the course of the year, a number of things became clear. While there were a host of shows that have really stood the test of time for nostalgic viewers out there… or those of us who were reared on Nick at Night… when we’re looking at TV as a business, CBS was really the dominant force over the course of the year. Without fail, ever single night saw CBS airing a show which we still remember today. 

Well, we have one final test. So, when we’re taking into account the tv season as a whole, things seem clear. However, did the industry agree? Who did they vote for as the greatest programs of the year? Let’s look to the 1966 Emmy Awards. 

The 1966 Emmy Awards were held May 22, 1966 at the Hollywood Palladium and were hosted by Danny Kaye and Bill Cosby. Without further ado, let’s get to the awards. 

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A DRAMA. 

The nominees were: David Burns for his work on The Trials of O’Brien, Leo G. Carroll for his work on The Man From U.N.C.L.E. And James Daly for his work on the Hallmark Hall of Fame— episode “Eagle in a Cage” for those keeping track. Daly would take home the award at the end of the night. 

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A DRAMA

The nominees were: Jeanette Nolan for her work in I Spy. Pamela Franklin for her work on Hallmark Hall of Fame. Diane Baker, also for her work on Hallmark Hall of Fame and finally, Lee Grant for her work on Peyton Place. Grant would take home the Emmy for where work on the popular prime-time soap. 

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A COMEDY

The nominees were: Agnes Moorehead for her work on Bewitched. Rose Marie for her work on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Alice Pearce for her work on Bewitched. The winner as Pearce who took home the award for her portrayal of Gladys Kravitz. 

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A COMEDY

The nominees were, Werner Klemperer for his work on Hogan’s Heroes. Frank Gorshin for his work on Batman. Morey Amsterdam for his work on The Dick Van Dyke Show and Don Knotts for his work on The Andy Griffith Show. Knotts would go home with the award. 

OUTSTANDING CONTINUED PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A DRAMA SERIES

The nominees were, Bill Cosby for his work on I Spy. Richard Crenna for his work on Slattery’s People. Robert Culp also for his work on I Spy. David Janssen for his work on The Fugitive and David McCallum for his work on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Bill Cosby walked away at the end of the night with the award. 

OUTSTANDING CONTINUED PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A DRAMATIC SERIES

The nominees were, Barbara Stanwyck for her work on The Big Valley, Anne Francis for her work on Honey West and Barbara Parkins for her work on Peyton Place. In one of the least suprising reveals of the night, Miss. Stanwyck took home the award. 

OUTSTANDING CONTINUED PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE IN A COMEDY SERIES

The nominees were, Elizabeth Montgomery for her work on Bewitched. Lucille Ball for her work on The Lucy Show and Mary Tyler Moore for her work on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Mary Tyler Moore would take home the award. 

OUTSTANDING CONTINUED PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE IN A COMEDY SERIES

The nominees were, Dick Van Dyke for his work on The Dick Van Dyke Show. Don Adams for his wok on Get Smart and Bob Crane for his work on Hogan’s Heroes. Dick Van Dyke walked away with the award. 

OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES

The nominees were, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Batman, Bewitched, Get Smart and Hogan’s Heroes. The Dick Van Dyke Show took home the big award. 

OUTSTANDING DRAMATIC SERIES

The nominees were, The Fugitive, Bonanza, I Spy, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Slattery’s People. The Fugitive ended up winning the big prize. 

Looking over these awards, there’s one major pattern staring us all in the face. The Dick Van Dyke Show taking home Best Comedy as well as the two lead performer in a comedy catagories. Supporting performers Rose Marie and Morey Amsterdam were also nominated… just in very tight catagories. While I’m impressed at the variety in the Outstanding supporting actor in a comedy nominees (particularly Gorshin– who while being one of my favorite performers… my eye jaded by contemporary perspective is suprised to see a performance from a superhero show nominated). The catagory is undoubedly one of the bigger of the night featuring a line-up of nominees which are all still household names as either performers, or in the characters they played. However, Don Knotts was the titan to beat that night… and they couldn’t. He had taken home the award in 1961, 1962 and 1963. 

At the same time, the Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy race is a bit more interesting. Bewitched was still very early in it’s run and the legendary Moorehead would go onto receive six Emmy nominations for the part of Endora. Alice Pearce won the award posthumously. She passed away in March of 1966 at the age of 48. While Pearce is probably the name which is least recognizable on this list, think of the cultural mark she made for even a short time as Gladys Kravitz. She definied this very specific character type, so much so in fact that we still see her performance parodied even outside the context of Betwitched

Over on the drama side, the same shows pop up throughout the catagories with relative frequencey, most notably: The Fugitive, I Spy, Slattery’s People and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 

We had a groundbreaking moment in the Lead Actor in a drama series catagory with Bill Cosby avoiding a ‘split the vote’ situation with co-star Robert Culp and taking home the award. We discussed how I Spy stands as one of the first shows to feature a black performer in a lead roll and at the same time, Cosby does stand as the first black performer to take home the award for Outstanding Leading Actor in a drama series. This is also the only catagory where every performer nominated was from a series nominated for Best Drama. The fifth nomiee for Best Drama– the long running western series Bonanza, didn’t recieve any acting nominations. 

Interestingly, the actress nominations are far more free wheeling. There aren’t any real stunners among the winners, though Barbara Stanwyck and Anne Francis both received the lone nomination from their shows. Francis also secured a nomination despite the fact Honey West wouldn’t receive another season. We also see Peyton Place nominated in both lead and supporitng. The win marked Lee Grant’s return to form. The actress had been blacklisted throughout much of the 1950s and early 1960s. She’d started securing roles two years earlier, but her work on Peyton Place was probably her most popular, recurring role bakc in the spotlight. We discussed just how much of a titan Peyton Place was during this season. After all, at one point it was running three times a week. For better or for worse though, it was a half hour primetime soap, competing against bigger, longer and more complex productions. 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t call out the strong performance of the drama Slattery’s People. We talked about this series in the Friday night video. The political drama only received a half season during the 1965 tv season and aired its final episode in November. Despite all this though, they still managed a nomination for not only Richard Crenna in the lead actor catagory, but also for outstanding drama series. That’s a heck of a showing for a series which didnn’t really get a break. 

Looking back over the schedule of the week a number of new shows started: The Legend of Jesse James, A Man Called Shenandoah, The Steve Lawrence Show, Art Linkletter’s Hollywood Talent Scourts, The John Forsythe Show, Run for You Life, F-Troop, My Mother the Car, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, Gidget, Blue Light, Green Acres, Lost in Space, I Spy, Batman, OK Crackerby, The Double Life of Henry Phyfe, The Baron, The Big Valley, The Long Hot Summer, Laredo, The Dean Martin Show, Tammy, Wild Wild West, Camp Runamuck, Hank, Convoy, The Sammy Davis Jr. Show, Mister Roberts, The Smothers Brohters Show, Hogan’s Heroes, Honey West, I Dream of Jeanie, Get Smart, the Trials of O’Brien, The Loner, The Face is Familiar, The Wackiest Ship in the Army and The FBI

Only a handful of these really took hold: most notably, The FBI, F-Troop, Green Acres, Lost in Space, Batman, The Wild Wild West, Get Smart and I Dream of Jeannie. While there were a few modest successes in this group, most were quickly cancelled. At the same time, there were alot of shows coming to an end as this season came to an end: Perry Mason, Donna Reed, Ben Casey, The DOnna Reed Show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Hariet and Burke’s Law, The Patty Duke Show and My Favorite Martian. So, it’s easy to see that the seasons to follow would be looking very different as the television industry kept evolving. This seems like a very interest mark in TV history with the end of shows like The Donna Reed Show and Ozzie and Harriet, the halmarks of the 1950s were coming to an end to be replaced by newer shows in an industry always looking for the next trend. 

I mentioned over the course of the week that we saw a few on-going narrative trends throughout the year. One of the most interesting was the number of shows helmed by young women during this year. However, that is also the most disappointing as most (Gidget, Honey West, Tammy and The Patty Duke Show) were all off the air by the following season. At the same time, we see westerns clinging to life more than five years after their popularity exploded on television in the late 1950s. It’s also interesting to watch the secret agent/espionage trend really catching fire with a number of shows hitting the airwaves. 

All in all, a look at the Emmy awards after a year of television shows us something… popular culture remembers what is popular and what it wants us to remember. I suppose it isn’t suprising that many of these nomiees (and all the wins) are for shows which are still remembered today in DVD release and in sydication. And sure, they’re recognized as the best of the best. However, if a look over the 1965 TV season as shown us, TV culture is far richer and more interesting from a wide scale perspective. There’s tons of fascinating stuff if you aren’t afraid to dig a little deeper. 

So this wraps up the first season of ‘What’s on TV’. I’ll have lots more video projects coming your way soon! So Stay tuned! 

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Kimberly Pierce View All

Podcaster at Hollywood and Wine, historian and filmmaker studying contributions of women in Classic TV. Film critic for Geek Girl Authority. Classic film lover for Ticklish Business.

You can find me on Twitter @kpierce624!

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