When I went to UCLA for grad school, I knew it had one of the country's best film and TV archive for a university, though it was difficult for the public to get access to. It was pretty much only available for academic research, which included students -- and happily I qualified for that. I didn't access it much, I think I only went to watch two things there, but they were gems.
They had a full collection of the classic Hallmark Hall of Fame series, and I watched two of them. One was the emotional drama A Storm in Summer, written by, of all people, Rod Serling, which won an Emmy as Best Actor for Peter Ustinov, which isn't shabby considering his competition that year included Sir Laurence Olivier. (I wrote here about the time years latter when I worked with Ustinov and had a wonderful experience related to discussing this production.) It had originally aired only a few years earlier, and I loved it so much that I wanted to see it again) The other was much fuzzier in my memory, having seen it as a kid, and I wanted to confirm it was as great as I recalled, and from the perspective of a kid. It was the great play, The Magnificent Yankee, about Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and his wife, and it starred the legendary Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne, in one of their rare performances on film or TV. And happily, it was as brilliant as I'd thought. The utter shame is that this has aired only once, and as far as I know is pretty much lost to all expect in archives like this.
All of this is to mentioned that at least part of the UCLA Film and Television Archive is available online. It's limited, of course, but still quite good. You can check it out here.
And that in turn is prelude to one of the shows in their archive that I'm able to embed here. It's a production from the U.S. Steel Hour that aired on January 13, 1960, titled Queen of the Orange Bowl, What is so notable about the hour-long show is that it stars the legendary host of The Tonight Show Johnny Carson. It's only his second scripted, character-role (other than small appearances, or walk-ons as himself) and as far as I can, his last. He took over The Tonight Show two years later. And the thing is, he does a nice job -- no small thing since, as I said, it was done live. No re-takes if you screw up and want to do it better. One chance, and that's it.
The light-hearted comedy concerns a sort of "bohemian" young woman who tries in to get her new boyfriend to take their relationship seriously.
The show has a pretty good pedigree beyond just Carson. The female lead is played by Anne Francis, who had a long career is such films as Bad Day at Black Rock and starred in the detective series Honey West. And supporting performers included Elizabeth Wilson (who played Dustin Hoffman's mother in The Graduate), Al Lewis (best-known as 'Grandpa' in The Munsters), and Frank McHugh (who was Bing Crosby's best-friend in Going My Way.)
Also, the production was directed by Paul Bogart, who later directed over 90 episodes of the series All in the Family. It was written by Robert Van Scoyk, who had a long career that included two episodes of Columbo and five seasons as executive story editor of Murder, She Wrote, for which he wrote 21 episodes.and three made-for-TV movies.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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