I recognize most of them. From top clockwise, Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Tom Snyder, Phil Donahue, a mystery talk show host obscured by the label, someone I don't recognize, and occupying center square is TV Game Show King Merv Griffin.
Just looked on the inside cover -- the mystery host, as I suspected, is Dinah Shore. The host I didn't recognize is Mike Douglas.
Anyway, back to Christmas. I loved Christmas shows (still do actually). So I scanned through to see what I would have watched this particular Christmas when I was 11. I found a full-page ad for the grandaddy of all Christmas Specials. Of course, I'm talking about A Charlie Brown Christmas:
Sponsored by Dolly Madison, makers of neat to eat treats! And your local Coca Cola bottler. Apparenlty, it was followed by "Wile E. Coyote meets Raggedy Ann & Andy. " Super Genius! I don't recall that show, but based on the look of the art, another one of Chuck Jones' contributions, albeit a much lesser one. I'll never forget the opening to these specials -- when you heard this, you almost went out of your skull with excitement: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qgptnDhChs
But back to Charlie Brown. I never tire of that show, as much as my kids watch it over and over on DVD. That's a whole other blog -- how DVD's have ruined holiday specials. If you wanted to see a holiday special, you'd better be planted in front of the TV when it was on! I remember just the year before this when I was in 5th grade, I actually skipped our class Christmas concert so I could stay home and watch Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer! I've seen a very good special on the making of a Charlie Brown Christmas (made after Charles Schulz's death), and Bill Melendez (who just passed away September of this year) told of how Charles Schulz first pitched the idea of having Linus' telling of the Christmas story and how the network executives advised against it. As quoted from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Charlie_Brown_Christmas:
"Network executives were not at all keen on several aspects of the show, forcing Schulz and Melendez to wage some serious battles to preserve their vision. The executives did not want to have Linus reciting the story of the birth of Christ from the Gospel of Luke; the network orthodoxy of the time assumed that viewers would not want to sit through passages of the King James Verison of the Bible. A story reported on the Whoopi Goldberg-hosted version of the making of the program that Charles Schulz was adamant about keeping this scene in, remarking that 'If we don't tell the true meaning of Christmas, who will?'"
Maybe we should all take a little advice from Charles Schulz this Christmas season and think about what we're celebrating. As Linus so elequently put:
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."