Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Classic TV: The Hollywood Palace (1964)

A true variety show mixes not only music and comedy, but a total mixture of daredevil stuntmen, jugglers and assorted other performers. CBS had The Ed Sullivan Show for 23 years (1948-71). ABC, in the winter of 1964, finally found their answer.

The Hollywood Palace had the same kind of mix, but with a different host each week, the latter a format utilized today by Saturday Night Live. Palace was a mid-season replacement, debuting in January 1964, after Jerry Lewis' 1st primetime series was cancelled, and was recorded in the same studio as Lewis' show.

ABC loaded up on music on Saturdays back then. At various times, Palace was coupled with The Lawrence Welk Show and/or, if memory serves me, The Johnny Cash Show, and I believe also the King Family were given a similar spot. Today? Saturdays means college football in the fall, and movies and reruns the rest of the year.

Adam West, appearing in costume as Batman to start the show, emcees this sample from October 1966. With a star-laden lineup including Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, George Carlin (clean-shaven, pre-hippie), Joey Heatherton, and Ray Charles, West takes his turn at singing in bookend segments. Yes, he sings as Batman. Oddly, his Bat-number had been recorded by Burt Ward around the same time, but Ward seemingly shied away from this sort of thing.

Uploaded by---wait for it---Hollywood Palace:

West's rendition of "Summer Wind", more associated with Frank Sinatra, is worth waiting for. It's just too bad Frank Gorshin couldn't be coaxed to at least do an audio cameo as Riddler.

I do have memories of watching this show as a toddler. After all, it was on a Saturday night.

Rating: B+.

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