DATELINE: Olde TV Bad Habit
Back in 2013 there was another compilation of “hucksters,” from advertisements and commercials on TV in the mid to late 1950s. It seems a bit unfair to call these old stars “hucksters,” as appearing at the end of their series or show (often in character) to sell a product was just a means of enhancing their income.
This delightful collection is a bit tiresome. Who wants to sit through one hour of commercials, even in fun?
A couple of points are particularly distressing. Most of the commercials were done in black and white, and most of them actually run for a full sixty seconds, which is maddening in our attention deficit age.
In particular, Steve Allen takes a Polaroid photo of Lou Costello and we actually wait while Steve talks for sixty seconds for him to show us the newly developed photo.
Yet, the compilation also features some fun moments and images we’ve never seen: John Wayne sells Christmas Seals on set, and his director really is Wild Bill Wellman!
We were thrilled to hear the William Tell Overture selling some Jeno pizza rolls—and at the end of the commercial, in color no less, Clayton Moore and Jay Silverheels show up in costume as the Lone Ranger and Tonto.
One funny bit features a color King Kong climbing off the Empire State building and driving off down the avenue in his king-size car. He puts his little blonde companion in the passenger seat.
Almost as stunning is to see Marilyn Monroe in full throttle, selling gasoline.
A montage of TV western stars of the era each smokes a different cigarette. We almost want to cry out to stop, please!
Leo G. Carroll as Topper smokes too, as do his ghosts, Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling as Marian and George Kirby.
We also see James Arness smoking away with Today Show host Jack Lescoulie! We had not seen him in fifty years.
Quite a collection.