A Scandalous ‘Bus Stop’

(Above: ABC promoted Fabian’s ‘Bus Stop’ show the Wednesday before its broadcast by interviewing him on a teen-targeted news show, ‘American Newsstand,’ followed by a promo spot for his upcoming performance. Source: YouTube screenshot)

Last week, we showed how the late David Cassidy went from teen idol singing sensation to playing an undercover cop. His transition though, pales in comparison to how earlier teen idol Fabian attempted to change his image some 15 years earlier – by starring in one of the most notorious and controversial TV shows ever.

“A Lion Walks Among Us,” an episode of ABC’s Bus Stop directed by Robert Altman and starring the formerly squeaky clean Fabian as an unrepentant psychopathic killer, aired 56 years ago this Sunday, December 3. The show’s violence and sexual innuendo were extreme for the time, and only accentuated by its star’s previous innocence. The fallout was also extreme. Regular sponsors and several major stations boycotted the episode that became the subject of Congressional hearings. Further, ABC’s president was fired. Not surprisingly, the episode was never broadcast again.

But now, thanks to a recent posting by YouTuber Andrew Millsap, you can see the show that New York Times critic Jack Gould over three separate articles called “dark,” “sordid,” “disgraceful,” “contemptible” and “an indescribably coarse glorification of vulgarity.”

So pretend it’s 9 pm on Sunday, December 3, 1961. Your teenage son or daughter – perhaps egged on by ABC promos targeting them — turns on the house’s sole TV set to see their fave Fabian, whose latest movie was a silly comedy called Love in a Goldfish Bowl. But instead of the Fabian the whole family knows, the following appears:

The star’s image change could have been foreseen, however, since he had asked to be turned “loose” a couple of years earlier in one of his biggest hits. Here he is performing it on ABC’s Dick Clark’s Saturday Night Beech-Nut Show:

 

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About Les Luchter

Les Luchter is a former managing editor of Multichannel News, editor-in-chief of Cable Marketing, and news editor of Broadcast Week.

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