‘On the Path of Glory’

(Above: Petula Clark dares to touch Harry Belafonte’s arm on 1968 TV. Source: YouTube screenshot)

“Man Who Dances: Edward Villella,” an episode of NBC’s Bell Telephone Hour profiling the New York City Ballet star, aired 50 years ago today. It will be shown Sunday as part of this month’s “1968/Television” screenings taking place at the Paley Center for Media in both New York and Los Angeles.

If you’re not near those two cities, or can’t make it to the Paley Center on Sunday, you can watch the show right here:

Sunday’s Paley Center schedule also includes a serious turn by Johnny Carson, an historic moment in TV race relations, and a controversial public tv show – about Mozart!

Carson turned serious in an episode of NBC’s The Tonight Show that aired a day after Robert F Kennedy’s assassination. His guests include Orson Bean, Jimmy Breslin, Louis Nizer, Sander Vanocur and Alan King.

The historic moment in TV race relations occurred on an NBC variety special, Petula, when British white pop singer Petula Clark (“Downtown) innocently touched the shirt sleeve of African-American singer/activist Harry Belafonte towards the end of an anti-war duet on a song called “On the Path of Glory.”

The incident, which ran despite an irate sponsor who tried to get the scene omitted, “marked the first time a man and woman of different races exchanged physical contact on American television.” Two days later civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Here’s the “offending” segment:

The public TV controversy concerned pianist Glenn Gould’s ‘How Mozart Became a Bad Composer,” a 40-minute segment from the pre-PBS news magazine series Public Broadcasting Laboratory (PBL). Gould begins with a satirical analysis of Mozart’s music and ends with the pianist performing the complete Mozart Piano Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333.

Unlike at the Paley Center screening, we’ve got the complete two-hour PBL episode here (the whole show is fascinating, but, in particular, you may want to stay tuned for a prescient report on marijuana law reform — and note the complete absence of corporate underwriting!):

If you’re in the New York or Los Angeles area, the screenings this Sunday, March 11, are free. For more information, visit PaleyCenter.org.

The 1968/Television screenings are taking place every Sunday this month as part of Carnegie Hall’s “The ’60s: The Years that Changed America” festival.

For a recap of what was shown last week, visit The Savvy Screener’s story “Back to the Big Muddy.” For a preview of the March 18 and March 25 screenings, check back with The Savvy Screener next Thursday, March 15.


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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