What’s My Line

I’m a sucker for old TV shows…….

Especially if they feature personalities of which I am familiar, even if the program is from before I was born.

That’s what’s so spectacular about You Tube;

Man, if you’re interested in a particular TV show from the late 50’s or early 60’s, it’s probably on there somewhere.

And in my case, a program called
“What’s My Line” always provides an interesting mix of vintage celebrities and lighthearted quiz show fun.

It ran from 1950 through until 1967 – and was the longest running network panel show.

John Charles Daly, a well-known
and respected broadcast journalist,
did a yeoman’s job as moderator –

— and he had to be fast on his feet to keep up with the intellectual, witty panel usually consisting of Random House publisher Bennett Serf, show biz columnist Dorothy Kilgallen, and the stunningly beautiful actress Arlene Francis.

TV personality Steve Allen was
on the show for almost 2 years
filling a fourth slot , as did
comedian Fred Allen –
but after his death in 1957,
the seat was usually filled by
a guest star.

The premise of the
show was simple:
the celebrity panel would question their guests to
try to determine their
occupation or claim to fame.

Almost every show would
feature at least one well known
personality for which the panel
would have to be blindfolded-

– but folks from a wide range
of occupations would make
up the majority of guests.

John Daly would welcome the guest and ask him or her to
“Sign In Please “ .

The guest’s occupation would
then be superimposed on the
monitors and the TV screen
so the panel wouldn’t be
able to see it.

Each panelist could ask the guest yes or no questions about their occupation until they received a ‘no’ answer –

— 10 ‘no’ answers and the
guest would win the game –
and the prize of 50 bucks.

There are several things that
make the show a real treasure
for a vintage culture fan –
– seeing the celebrities in
their prime-
Willie Mays ,
Mickey Mantle,
Ella Fitzgerald, etc….

— and the lovely level of civility
that was shared among the
panel and participants alike.

And of course,
the sometimes
bizarre occupations –

— sausage stuffers,
side-show performers,
pretzel benders,
trombone teachers —

— about the only thing you’d
know for sure is that you
can’t tell by just looking at them.

One other thing —
considering the program
ran every Sunday for 17 years,
it also means that you won’t
ever have to re-watch the
same episode –
– unless you want to –
once you catch the bug !

So, why not catch it !

!! HOY !!

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Rocky Jones- Space Ranger

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“Hey Kids!

Are you ready for another adventure with Rocky Jones and his crew of Space Rangers?”

Get ready to blast off !

‘Rocky Jones – Space Ranger’ ran for one season on U.S. syndicated television,
……. starting in the spring of 1954.

Before my time, ohhhh yes.

I guess I’d better explain.

I spent much of this last weekend bored outta my tree.

Without going into long, painful, and possibly argument-starting explanations………….

lets just say I wanted to go to Isle of Palms,

play in the resort’s large pool with sauna and whirlpool,

watch pretty bikini clad silicone floats….
….errr…. I mean,
float by in the pool,

eat oysters,

drink drinks with little umbrellas on em,

and such…..

——- but instead I stayed home and watched it rain.

OK, so I went to the gym and spent two and a half hours trying to pry a bench from the weekend warriors.

Fun Fun.

I also dug around in my video collection,
and found some old tape of some much older sci-fi movies and TV shows from the fifties.

Some of you might remember from my post on Captain Z-Ro, that I got a bit of a hard on for old sci-fi stuff, especially bad ones….

And since my all time favorite BAD sci-fi movie “Zontar- The Thing From Venus” was on there….

I spent a happy hour or two making a running commentary, mocking everything in it–

….. sorta like a musclehead’s version of Mystery Science 3000….

weird

( you know, they stole that idea from me……. )

Some episodes of the old TV series “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger” were on there, too.

Boy, is that Cleolanta a bitch.

Wait — you say you’ve never heard of “Rocky Jones, Space Ranger“?????

“Rocky Jones – Space Ranger” ran for one season on U.S. syndicated television,
…starting in the spring of 1954.

Despite the fact that the special effects were laughable when compared to the effects used today,

in 1954- the effects were cutting edge-

and the show was cancelled in large part because of it’s high production costs.

The show centered around Rocky Jones
– a space ship pilot and galactic peace keeper —
and his co-pilot, Winky.

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Rocky also had a blonde hottie assistant, Vena, who for some reason,
liked to wear very short skirts with very long capes.

There was a mad scientist, Professor Newton,
who wasn’t really a very good scientist to speak of…..

A kid of unknown parentage named Bobby-
( kinda like a Space-S’weePea),
who would get to tag along on Rockys adventures……..

And a very bad razor-girl named Cleolanta,
who was always trying to blow up something or somebody,
while clothed in low cut evening gown and high heels.

( Actually, most of the women on this show were surprisingly scantily clad for the time )

There’s a lot about these old shows to like, besides the aforementioned hotties –

……. but, I’m gonna dwell on them for another hot second, here.

Something you’ll notice about the women on this show — they all have figures…. you know, CURVES.

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And the men- they all have muscles.

Even that second banana Winky guy – and he could fight, too.

If you did that show today, the casting would be …. well…. much different.

So would the characters……

Naahh…. nobody would even do a show like that, I guess.

Rocky Jones was exactly the kinda guy you’d want protecting the universe, though —
— he was tough but fair,
handsome but rugged,
strong but gentle,
moral but not judgmental.

We’re too cynical these days for the old notion of the ethical, two-fisted All-American hero.

A guy who will defend the innocent,
deal with every one fairly,
speak out against injustice,
and battle evil.

In Rocky’s world, it was simple to know the good guy from the bad guy.

I guess there a lot more gray areas these days……

Or maybe we’ve just complicated our understanding of right and wrong to the point where we
don’t even know where the line is, anymore.

We certainly don’t have the technology they had back then, either.

Landing a V-2 rocket on it’s fins— well, I dunno if we’ll ever master that trick.

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Instant inter-space communication —
–that’s pretty cool, and we coulda used that on the Mars Rovers.

Talk about neat-o space suits….
I mean, NASA spent billions on the latest spacesuits,
and they aren’t half as cool as Rocky’s.

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I especially liked the wheeled office chairs …..

…….you hit a little turbulence, and everybody’s chairs start rolling around the space station.

Vena’s car looked suspiciously like a — what the hell IZ that….

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———– and how cool would THAT car look in your driveway?

And that quartz rocket technology that Cleolanta wanted to steal from planet Foronax —

……….. woweeee, would that solve our energy problems here.

But alas, Rocky Jones has gone the way of all flesh…..
so have all the hotties, Cleolanta included.

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And, the old TV show doesn’t even get reruns anymore.

I just want to know why they don’t air the old classic TV programs like this,
on one of the thousands of cable channels that are out there these days??

I mean, you got the friggin SEWING CHANNEL fer cryin out loud…. why not 50’s TV?

I’m not talking about the Brady Bunch like on Nick at Nite–
I’m talking about
“Your Show of Shows”,
“Tom Corbett”,
“Ernie Kovacs Show”,
“Stan Freberg”,
or any one of the hundreds of other great shows from the 50’s????

Don’t tell me the kinescopes aren’t out there—
…. and some of them were on standard film.

Surely, there’d be a large interest in seeing these things–
—– most people would be seeing them for the first time.

I’d love to see them again…………

……………… how about you ???

a 78 rpm record from 1955, featuring Rocky Jones and Winky on Planet X

a 78 rpm record from 1955, featuring Rocky Jones and Winky on Planet X

TeeVee

1I don’t watch network TV these days.

I can’t tell ya the last time I watched any of the ‘major’ networks… it was probably the Super Bowl.

And I only watched the first 10 minutes of that.

Network TV has become so commercial-dense, that it seems you’re watching more commercials than content.

And the content, what there is of it, is total crap.

Actually, I watch so little of network TV, I don’t know what’s hot now, but it’s only gotten worse since I gave up on it.

I guess there’s a lot of folks who watch celebrities learning to dance the tango, but me, I just don’t care.

A lot of network shows all seem to be a revival of that stupid American Idol thing.

Pleeeeeze… It’s “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour”
……………. with a touch of the “Gong” show.

Dumbed down.

They must make a lot of money on people calling in to vote on their favorite talent…

…. and I hear people talking incessantly about it after the show airs….
………  so I guess folks must like it, too.

Gaaaah.

Even cartoons have gotten out of hand.

Do you think that Family Guy show could come up with any less appealing plot twists or baby fetishes?

I’m sure there’s something they haven’t covered yet…

… on next week’s episode, don’t miss it, when Peter Griffin puts Stewie in a blender and eats him.

Don’t worry, though- its a dream sequence.

After all, he’s the star of the show..

….. without him, you’d only have a dog who sleeps with women…

( who apparently has been killed off — or has he been brought back from the Pet Cemetery yet? )

… and the obese stereotype of how the average American thinks, acts and looks like to the cynical producers of that show.2

OK….

The wife Lois looks semi-cute in leather, though, I admit.

But, somebody else’s wife always looks good in leather.

That’s rule 57 — or 58, I think.

Remember the Psychotic doctor with a limp who has a penchant for diagnoses and a bad attitude?

Hell, I can go to my family Doctor and get all that; with the added benefit of a cold gloved finger.

And what was the trip with that Jack Bauer guy on that ’24’ show……

…….. how many times is the world gonna have to rely on this one pinhead to save the world?

I understand the whole suspension of belief routine- but suspension of rationality, believability?

Not to mention a need for a little more variety in concept.

But again, folks like it.

Hey, I’m not saying I’m too intelligent for it.

3I just like characters with some personality, is all.

Now, you take Mister Haney from my all time favorite TV show GREEN ACRES.

He’d sell you anything you needed or wanted. And anything you didn’t need or want, too.

Pat Buttram, the actor who played Mr. Haney, was a gen-u-wine country comedian and writer, one of the funniest guys to walk the planet.

That Haney guy had personality.

Actually, the whole town did- only the guy who moved in from up Nawth didn’t.

His wife certainly did…
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……. she didnt even want to move there, and she ended up fitting in much better than he.

Not withstanding just how hot Eva Gabor would look whether she was wearing mink or overalls……..

Any farm would look better having that gorgeous creature on it.

Remember Hank Kimball, the guy from the Department of Agriculture?

5You couldn’t help but laugh at the way Alvy Moore played him-

— oblivious but loveable…

……… on his own schedule in his very own time zone.

The brilliant simplicity of the humor and the humanity of the characters…

…………….. that was a show you couldn’t help but like.

And you could really relate to the characters……

Back in the late 90’s, I bought some farm land in a rural North Carolina county,
(Surry County) and did the Oliver Wendell Douglas experience myself.

Mister Kimball really reminds a lot of the guy who inspected the foundation of the barn I was building out there.

Yep– looks like a solid foundation, alright. You gonna put a building on it? “–
he said, sitting in his truck 50 yards from the site.

We talked about 3 hours about all kinds of things, and he never got out of his truck.

Take it from me, those characters on Green Acres were more true to life than you would believe unless you actually lived it.

They live in their own time zone there, too…
….. and it took a good deal of getting used to, I can tell ya.

The local general store guy had everything known to man in that store somewhere…..

where, no one knew,
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but if you were willing to help him look for it,

you’d find what you needed eventually.

The guys who hooked my electricity up to the pole 1/2 mile away from my barn
reminded me a good deal of the Monroe Brothers, too  ……..

Even the non human characters were funny.

Arnold the pig was no ham.

Ahhhhh….. if only life was that simple, huh?

7I got another one…..

Lloyd Bridges on Sea Hunt.

Wow. I wanted to be that guy.

Rugged. Tough. Square jawed. Adventuresome. Laconic.

That show was one reason that, when I got old enough, I went into the Navy.

That, and ’cause it would tick my US Marine father off no end.

But, sometimes I don’t even need a lot of personality on a show to like it.

Brady Bunch was an example.

I didnt care nothin about the housemaid or the dork brothers, or the parents either.

I was ten years old when that show was popular, and I watched it for one reason.

The same reason I watch it today.

Hoo boy, do I miss mini-skirts.

Yeah, I know…

I oughta be ashamed of myself.

………………………………….   Well,  I’m not.

I’d watch Batman for basically the same reason….

Julie Newmar in that cat suit.  

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