Thursday, January 29, 2009


In 1961, entertainer,entrepreneur and philanthropist Danny Thomas, along with his accomplished, producing partner, Sheldon Leonard, seemed to have captured lightning in a cathode ray tube.

The shows their company owned, and licensed to the CBS Television Network,occupied the top slots in the weekly, national television ratings.

The Danny Thomas Show and The Andy Griffith Show, which was introduced on,and spun-off from, an episode of the Thomas show, were required, Monday night viewing for millions of American families.They were the kings of situation comedy.

Hoping to use the Thomas show, again, as an incubator for a another hit sitcom, Thomas and Leonard, crafted a pilot for nightclub comedian,and charter member of Frank Sinatra's so-called, Rat Pack, Joey Bishop.

Bishop was white hot in 1961, having just come off a series of record-breaking engagements with Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr.,Dean Martin and Peter Lawford at The Sands Hotel in Las Vegas. Bishop was a co-star, with his fellow Rat Packers,in Warner Bros. original, Ocean's 11 film

Bishop was also a frequent guest on tv variety and talk shows.He seemed poised for television stardom.

Born Joseph Gottlieb in the Bronx NY and raised in South Philadelphia, a veritable hothouse for pop performers, he enjoyed a long and rewarding career in nightclubs.Like Danny Thomas and Andy Griffith, he tired of the road and wanted the anchor of a television series that would give him time at home with his family.

The pilot showcases Bishop as Joey Mason, an inept, but lovable, junior executive in a Los Angeles PR agency. It was shot as a three camera show with a live audience , employing the same production team that worked on the Danny Thomas Show, each week.

That strategy saved a lot of the cost in producing a pilot film.

The cast included the acerbic Joe Flynn (in a pre-McHale's Navy role )as Joey's perpetually iritated boss,plus movie character actor Billy Gilbert,who played his father and ,validating the nepotism in which Thomas so strongly believed,Danny's daughter, Marlo Thomas , is seen in an early television appearance as Joey's sister.She of course went on to fame starring in her own ABC-Tv sitcom, That Girl.

CBS-TV passed on the "backdoor" pilot. But,NBC-TV bought the idea of Joey starring a sitcom, but with a different premise from producers Thomas and Leonard.

In the revamped Joey Bishop Show, Joey played an NBC-TV, talk show host, named Joey Barnes. The new cast featured Abby Dalton as his wife, plus comedians Guy Marks and Corbert Monica serving as sidekicks over the run of the series.

The comedy centered on a mix of Joey's experiences in the workplace and in his home life, against the canvas of show business.

The Joey Bishop Show ran from 1961-1964 on NBC-TV and then, in 1964, moved for a final season to CBS-TV, where it was cancelled after being gunned down by NBC-TV's hit, western drama,Bonanza .

Because the show was shot in Living Color for the NBC run, but moved to monochrome for the singular, CBS-TV season, it's value in syndication was diminished.

The series has rarely been seen in the intervening years.

Bishop went on to host an actual, late night talk show on ABC-TV in the late 1960's, later guest hosting for Johnny Carson on NBC-TV's Tonight Show, and performed a wide range of film and television appearances. He died in October of 2007.

Here is the first segment of the pilot for the Joey Bishop Show. Enjoy!!!!!!

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