Sunday, August 6, 2017

What Might've Been: The King Family Show (1965)

Lawrence Welk liked to refer to the ensemble he formed on his show as his "musical family", from the orchestra to singers like the Lennon Sisters, Jo Ann Castle, & Norma Zimmer, to name a few.

The King Family put Welk to shame.

Spun off from The Hollywood Palace, The King Family Show, with 39 family members total, launched in January 1965, and ran for 1 calendar year. Why? Part of it was network meddling. The show started as an hour long variety show, like Palace and The Lawrence Welk Show, but in September, ABC suits cut the show to a half-hour, up against the established Jackie Gleason Show on CBS, and freshman sitcom I Dream of Jeannie on NBC. The 2nd season barely got past the holidays.

With a heavy emphasis on music, the Kings' show was similar to another ABC series, Shindig, and NBC's Hullabaloo. With 39 family members, you'd think they were a branch office of Up With People. Two family members are better known, though, for their acting. Cameron Clarke, for example, grew up to become a voice actor, and worked on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series. Tina Cole, prominently featured in the following video, moved on to My Three Sons, joining that series in 1967. Cole, though, would return when The King Family Show was revived as a spring replacement in March 1969, this time lasting 6 months. In the video, Cole performs a cover of Petula Clark's "Downtown", which she would also do on Sons.

In between the two series, the Kings produced a series of syndicated specials, which resumed after the 2nd series ended. They even turned up on PBS. And the names on the sweaters? I think they got that idea from the Mickey Mouse Club.

My only memory is seeing some advertising for the show in reading some back issues of Reader's Digest at an optician's office back in the day as a youth. Never saw either show, so there's no rating.

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