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Bygone TV times

By john workman  |  Posted: November 25, 2010

Barbara Stanwyk

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IT’S BEEN A while since the Bugle switched over to another batch of programme memories, courtesy of our TV maestro Alan Keeling, and once again he has been delving deep into his archive’s collection to provide us with some old favourites, and perhaps some we’d forgotten all about. Alan writes: “From the early 1950s until the early 1970s, there were always plenty of anthology series on the small screen, whether they were an hour or half-an-hour long, British or American, or not to be forgotten titles like Alfred Hitchcock Presents or Dou- Bygone TV times Local history meeting at Kingswinford Sad loss for Memories Club glas Fairbanks Presents. One memorable series was entitled The Barbara Stanwyk Show, and starred the famous Hollywood actress in all but four of the half-hour episodes, that were filmed in monochrome at the Desilu Studios in California during 1960 and 1961. Each episode, hosted by Miss Stanwyk, was produced by ESW Productions and featured many up and coming actors and household names including a very young Jack Nicholson, Patrick Knowles, Lloyd Nolan, Vic Morrow, Ralph Bellamy, Charles Bickford, Marion Ross, Dennis Hopper, Julie London, Michael Rennie, Lee Marvin, Robert Culp, Buddy Ebson, Peter Falk, Dana Andrews and Joseph Cotton. The US series was one of the few that didn’t enjoy universal coverage on British television, but Bugle readers may have caught a glimpse of the show in some ITV regions.

‘Journey to the Unknown’ was an Anglo-American series not to be confused with a BBC2 programme called ‘Out of the Unknown.’ There were seventeen hour long episodes made altogether, all produced in 1968 and all in colour, by Twentieth Century Fox Television and Hammer films. It was basically an anthology series with a star hosting every programme, dealing with the supernatural, suspense and sciencefiction.

The title sequence of the series featured a haunted funfair (Battersea) and a bigdipper ride, with a sinister “whistling” theme tune.

Filmed at MGM British Studios Boreham Wood in Hertfordshire, the series boasted some top line British and American actors, but the leading roles were always taken by the Americans. The list of actors included Carol Lynley, Julie Harris, Stefanie Powers, Robert Reed, Vera Miles, David Hedison, Joseph Cotton, Robert Lansing, and Roddy McDowell. Whilst the Brits were represented by the likes of Ingrid Pitt, Jack Hedley, Jane Hylton, Bernard Lee, Kay Walsh, Kenneth Haigh, Jane Asher, Milo O’Shea, Tom Adams, and a pre-Sweeney Dennis Waterman.

Eight episodes were later edited to make four feature length TV movies, two of which were hosted by Joan Crawford and the others by Patrick McGoohan and Sebastian Cabot. The series was screened in most ITV regions from 1969 onwards, but the majority of viewers in the Midlands didn’t get the chance to see the programme until January 1977.

In 1958 David Niven, a well known British actor in Hollywood before and after the war, won an Oscar for Best Actor in the film Separate Tables, and the following year, on the back of this success, he hosted his own TV drama series, The David Niven Show. It was produced by the Four Star TV Production Company, which had evolved from Four Star Television, co-owned by David Niven, that made a dramatic anthology series called Four Star Playhouse in the the mid 1950s, and ran for thirteen episodes in the US during the summer of 1959.

“Niven acted in only one of the thirteen episodes, which was called The Last Room.

Other actors who appeared in the series included Cameron Mitchell, Frank Lovejoy, Eddie Albert, Fay Wray, Anne Francis, Eddie Bracken, Julie London, James Best and Dan Duryea. In the UK The David Niven Show was shown by a couple of ITV regions in the mid 1960s, and later by Cable TV and satellite Stations in the 1990s

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