The Mike Douglas Show (1961–1982)


The Mike Douglas Show (TV Series 1961–1982)

The Mike Douglas Show was a variety show out of Cleveland OH and then Philadelphia PA, broadcast in the daytime. It's structure was similar to The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and The Merv Griffin Show and was very popular in its time. Mike Douglas was no relation to Michael nor Kirk Douglas.
IMDb   7.1 /10
TheMovieDb    7.5 /10
RottenTomatoes  7.9 /10
Creator Ernest Sherry
Creator Arthur Forrest
Creator Barry W. Blaustein
Release Date1961-12-10
GenreComedy, Music, Talk-Show
Content Rating
AwardsWon 1 Primetime Emmy4 wins & 19 nominations total
CompanyWestinghouse Broadcasting Company, Mike Douglas Entertainments
Self - Hostas Self - Host…
Ellie Frankel
Ellie Frankel
Self - The Ellie Frankel Trioas Self - The Ellie Frankel Trio…
Ellie Frankel Sextet
Ellie Frankel Sextet
Themselvesas Themselves…
Totie Fields
Totie Fields
Selfas Self…
Marty Allen
Marty Allen
Self - Comedianas Self - Comedian…
Self - Comedianas Self - Comedian…
Stan Kann
Stan Kann
Self - the Gadget Manas Self - the Gadget Man…
Self - Comedianas Self - Comedian…
Self - Co-Hostessas Self - Co-Hostess…
Self - the Amazing Kreskinas Self - the Amazing Kreskin…
Selfas Self…
Self - Co-Hostas Self - Co-Host…
Self - Film Criticas Self - Film Critic…
Self - Co-Hostas Self - Co-Host…
Self - Co-Hostas Self - Co-Host…
Self - Co-Hostas Self - Co-Host…
Self - Co-Hostas Self - Co-Host…
Self - Co-Hostas Self - Co-Host…

The Mike Douglas Show

The Mike Douglas Show was an American daytime television talk show that was hosted by Mike Douglas. It began as a local program in Cleveland before being carried on other stations owned by Westinghouse Broadcasting. The show went into national syndication and was moved to Philadelphia in 1965. The program remained on television until 1981. It was distributed by Westinghouse Broadcasting, and for much of its run, originated from studios at two of the company's TV stations in Cleveland and Philadelphia.

History in Cleveland

The Mike Douglas Show premiered on KYW-TV in Cleveland on December 11, 1961, and featured a mix of light banter with guests and musical performances, along with more serious interviews with prominent newsmakers. Local entertainment shows were popular in the early days of television. Joining Douglas as part of the everyday lineup was the Ellie Frankel Trio, a local jazz group. Instead of an opening comedic monologue (as was the case with The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, for example), Douglas, given his vocalist background, would begin each show by singing a popular song for the audience. Each week would have a different co-host who would appear every day with Douglas.

The inevitable growing pains of a new program were evident during the first week of shows, when the scheduled co-host, Irish singer Carmel Quinn, missed the first two shows due to a scheduling conflict in New York. In addition, faulty microphones on the inaugural broadcast were coupled with equally problematic chairs that caused a pair of guests to fall off stage.

Some moments of controversy developed in the opening months, including a guest's satirical look at First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's televised tour of the White House that was criticized for bad taste, and a look at censorship that was to involve the reading of selections from books such as Lady Chatterley's Lover and Tropic of Cancer. The show was postponed until a representative for banning such books could be found.

In February 1963, singer Barbra Streisand was the show's co-host. During that week, she was performing in a local club, and was asked by the club owner to promote her appearances on The Mike Douglas Show each day. The reason given was that Cleveland newspapers were in the midst of a lengthy labor strike, preventing any consistent advertising. Douglas later said that the station erased the videotapes of Streisand's appearance, as most early television programs did, in order to re-use them for station editorials.

Just a few months later, Douglas had atheist Madalyn Murray as a guest, three days after the U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in her favor in the Abington School District v. Schempp case, which banned mandatory Bible reading in public schools.

In September 1963, The Mike Douglas Show was syndicated to four other television stations owned by Westinghouse: KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh, WBZ-TV in Boston, WJZ-TV in Baltimore and KPIX in San Francisco. Less than one year later, the show had expanded to a total of 27 cities.

On November 22, 1963, Douglas was speaking with Federal Housing Administrator Robert C. Weaver, when station newscaster John Dancy interrupted the live broadcast by walking through the audience in order to give the first reports of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The show soon ended as NBC began its four-day coverage of the tragedy.

On July 23, 1964, comedian Henry Morgan made a brief appearance at the start of the show, but later walked out when Douglas was interviewing Dr. Sam Sheppard, who had been released from prison one week earlier.

History in Philadelphia

In 1965, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reversed a 1956 station switch, in which NBC strong-armed Westinghouse to move to Cleveland, so it could have a station in the much larger Philadelphia market. With NBC forced to move back to Cleveland, Westinghouse regained control of what had been NBC-owned WRCV-TV in Philadelphia and renamed the station KYW-TV. NBC, which now owned the former KYW-TV as WKYC-TV, tried to buy The Mike Douglas Show to keep it in Cleveland. However, it was the only real big moneymaker for Westinghouse's syndication unit at the time, so the show moved with KYW-TV to eastern Pennsylvania in August.

At first, The Mike Douglas Show was broadcast from a small 140-seat basement studio located in the WRCV/KYW building at 1619 Walnut Street (see photos on right). It continued to be aired live until the following year when Zsa Zsa Gabor called Morey Amsterdam a "son of a bitch" for interrupting her joke during the April 29, 1966, program. After that, the program aired on a one-day tape delay basis, allowing for the editing out of any objectionable material. Live broadcasts (with a seven-second delay) were attempted only on a few special occasions thereafter, such as when the Philadelphia Flyers won the Stanley Cup.

Future political consultant and Fox News Channel founder and CEO Roger Ailes served as a producer beginning in 1965, then as executive producer from 1967–68. It was while working on the show in 1967 that he met Richard Nixon, with whom he had an off-air discussion about television and politics. Nixon subsequently hired Ailes to work as a media consultant on his 1968 presidential campaign, thus launching Ailes's career as a national political consultant and media strategist.

In July 1972, the show moved to a new studio in the newly constructed KYW-TV studios at 5th and Market streets in Center City Philadelphia. That studio ("Studio A") was the first and only studio especially constructed for the program. While the overall new studio was larger, it accommodated only 120 seats. Ellie Frankel continued as musical director until 1967, when Joe Harnell, an accomplished musician, composer, and bandleader took over the position until 1973. Harnell was followed by Frank Hunter, and the show ended with Joe Massimino in that role.

During much of its time on the air, the show remained strong in ratings, consistently finishing among the most popular daytime television shows nearly every season. Douglas took the success lightly. He made a surprise visit in 1976 to the set of Match Game, a competing program that managed to score higher ratings than The Mike Douglas Show during the mid-1970s. Douglas wanted to congratulate host Gene Rayburn on making his game show the #1 daytime TV program.

The show's run spanned 21 years and more than 4,000 episodes. In 1978, production of the show moved to CBS Television City in Hollywood, where it remained until the end of the show's run in 1981.

In the fall of 1980, Westinghouse dropped Douglas, deciding to give younger entertainer John Davidson the show. Douglas' show continued, with Syndicast taking over the program's distribution. However, in an effort to boost falling ratings during the show's final season, a third of the staff was fired and the program was revamped with a traveling roadshow format, re-titled The Mike Douglas Entertainment Hour. The format change did not help, and Douglas' show was canceled at the end of the 1981–82 season. The last episode aired on November 30, 1981.


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The show featured the first television appearance of then two-year-old Tiger Woods, who showed off his swing for Bob Hope and James Stewart. Others who appeared on the show over the years include Edie Adams, Muhammad Ali, Marty Allen, Steve Allen, Ian Anderson, Lynn Anderson, Dana Andrews, Paul Anka, Louis Armstrong, Eddy Arnold, Fred Astaire, Joan Baez, Pearl Bailey, Lucille Ball, Sandy Baron, Leonard Barr, Yank Barry, Harry Belafonte, Richard Belzer, Joan Bennett, Milton Berle, Joey Bishop, Amanda Blake, Elayne Boosler, Victor Borge, Foster Brooks, Mel Brooks, Victor Buono, George Burns, Sid Caesar, Charlie Callas, George Carlin, Diahann Carroll, Jack Carter, Johnny Cash, Roy Clark, Rosemary Clooney, Imogene Coca, Sean Connery, Pat Cooper, Irwin Corey, Bill Cosby, Howard Cosell, Joan Crawford, Bing Crosby, Norm Crosby, Tony Curtis, Rodney Dangerfield, Jimmy Dean, Phyllis Diller, Angela Davis, Bette Davis, Sammy Davis Jr., Amrit Desai, Ronnie Dove, Richard Dreyfuss, Cass Elliott, Nanette Fabray, Lola Falana, Totie Fields, Carrie Fisher, Fannie Flagg, Harrison Ford, Redd Foxx, Connie Francis, Judy Garland, Eydie Gorme, Frank Gorshin, Robert Goulet, Shecky Greene, Tammy Grimes, Buddy Hackett, Mark Hamill, George Hamilton, Valerie Harper, Joey Heatherton, Alfred Hitchcock, Celeste Holm, Moe Howard of The Three Stooges, Janis Ian, George Jessel, Artie Johnson, Van Johnson, Jack Jones, Jim Jones, Stan Kann, Andy Kaufman, Howard Keel, Gene Kelly, Alan King, Martin Luther King Jr., Eartha Kitt, Robert Klein, Kreskin, Frankie Laine, Dorothy Lamour, Steve Landesberg, Peter Lawford, Carol Lawrence, Jack Lemmon, Jay Leno, Rich Little, Jack Lord, Malcolm X, Marcel Marceau, Dick Martin, Lee Marvin, Sergio Mendes, Ethel Merman, James Meredith, Liza Minnelli, Martha Mitchell, Ricardo Montalban, Roger Moore, Mother Teresa, Jan Murray, Madelyn Murray O'Hair, Ralph Nader, Joe Namath, Paul Newman, Olivia Newton-John, Richard Nixon, Patti Page, Gloria Parker, Jack Palance, Molly Picon, Vincent Price, George Raft, Lou Rawls, Martha Raye, Rex Reed, Mason Reese, Debbie Reynolds, Buddy Rich, Joan Rivers, Pernell Roberts, Cliff Robertson, Lawrence Rocks, Ginger Rogers, Kenny Rogers, Mickey Rooney, Dan Rowan, Jerry Rubin, Soupy Sales, Tony Sandler, George Schindler, William Shatner, Dick Shawn, Sam Sheppard, Beverly Sills, Red Skelton, Kaye Stevens, Ray Stevens, Dr. Cody Sweet, Bernie Taupin, Rip Taylor, Gene Tierney, Tiny Tim, Lily Tomlin, John Travolta, Tina Turner, Vivian Vance, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Peter Ustinov, Jerry Vale, Frankie Valli, Gwen Verdon, Ben Vereen, Tom Waits, Jimmie Walker, Jonathan Winters, Roger Williams (pianist), Fulton J. Sheen, Ralph Young and Jimmy Edmonson (better known as "Professor Backwards", who appeared more times on the show than any other guest).

Musical performers

  • The 5th Dimension
  • 707
  • ABBA
  • The Babys
  • The Bay City Rollers
  • Shirley Bassey
  • The Beach Boys
  • The Bee Gees
  • Chaka Khan
  • Chuck Berry
  • The Boomtown Rats
  • Brewer & Shipley
  • Brooklyn Dreams
  • James Brown
  • The Carpenters
  • The Chambers Brothers
  • Ray Charles
  • Cher
  • Natalie Cole
  • Sam Cooke
  • Andrae Crouch
  • Cherie & Marie Currie
  • Jimmy Dean and The Imperials
  • Devo
  • Bo Diddley
  • The Doobie Brothers
  • Ronnie Dove
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • The Electric Prunes
  • Cass Elliot
  • Ralna English
  • Every Mother's Son
  • Maynard Ferguson
  • The Four Aces
  • Virgil Fox
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Marvin Gaye
  • Erroll Garner
  • Gary Lewis and the Playboys
  • Genesis
  • Andy Gibb
  • Gladys Knight & The Pips
  • Lesley Gore
  • Herman's Hermits
  • Guy Hovis
  • The Jacksons
  • Sonny James
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • Dick Jensen
  • Billy Joel
  • Elton John
  • Johnny Maestro & the Brooklyn Bridge
  • KC and the Sunshine Band
  • The Kinks
  • KISS
  • Cleo Laine
  • Lemon Pipers
  • John Lennon and Yoko Ono
  • Liberace
  • Little Anthony & the Imperials
  • Dony McGuire
  • Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.
  • Sérgio Mendes and Brasil 66
  • The Mills Brothers
  • The Miracles
  • Moby Grape
  • Eddie Money
  • Wayne Newton
  • Olivia Newton-John
  • Marie Osmond
  • Donny Osmond
  • Mike Ostrowski
  • Patti Page
  • Perrey and Kingsley
  • Player
  • Suzi Quatro
  • Reba Rambo
  • The Rascals
  • The Raspberries
  • Renaissance
  • Minnie Riperton
  • The Rolling Stones
  • Kenny Rogers
  • Linda Ronstadt
  • Biff Rose
  • Todd Rundgren
  • Leon Russell
  • Sam & Dave
  • Sandler and Young
  • The Seekers
  • Sly & the Family Stone
  • Patti Smith
  • Barbra Streisand
  • Donna Summer
  • The Supremes
  • The Turtles
  • Utopia
  • Tom Waits
  • Betty Wright
  • Roger Williams
  • Frank Zappa

Guest co-hosts

There was a different celebrity co-host every week on the show during its entire run, including The 5th Dimension, Frankie Avalon, Kaye Ballard, Shirley Bassey, Anne Baxter, Tony Bennett, Shelley Berman, David Brenner, James Brown, Joe E. Brown, Anita Bryant, Red Buttons, Dyan Cannon, Pat Carroll, Carol Channing, Harry Chapin, Cher, Mike Connors, Billy Crystal, Bobby Darin, Linda Darnell, Jimmy Dean, Billy DeWolfe, Patty Duke, Barbara Feldon, Totie Fields, Eddie Fisher, Joan Fontaine, Adriana Caselotti, Mary Ford, Jackie Gleason, Dody Goodman, Dick Gregory, Joel Grey, Marvin Hamlisch, Pat Harrington Jr., Richard Harris, Florence Henderson, Charlton Heston, Hildegarde, Kate Jackson, David Janssen George Jessel, Gladys Knight, Ted Knight, Steve Lawrence, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Jerry Lewis, Liberace, Gordon MacRae, Johnny Mathis, Al Martino, Rod McKuen, Anne Murray, Anthony Newley, Louie Nye, Pat O'Brien, Hugh O'Brian, Patti Page, Les Paul, Minnie Pearl, Bernadette Peters, Richard Pryor, Tony Randall, Martha Raye, Rex Reed, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Roger Williams (pianist), Cesar Romero, Sandler and Young, William Shatner, Brooke Shields, The Smothers Brothers, Suzanne Somers, David Steinberg, Barbra Streisand, Richard Thomas, Mel Tillis, Mel Torme, Forrest Tucker, Cicely Tyson, Karen Valentine, Vivian Vance, Bobby Vinton and Jimmie Walker.

Comedian George Carlin remarked on Douglas' "guest host" feature in "Some Werds", on his Toledo Window Box album.

The Muppets

The Muppets appeared in several episodes and ended up co-hosting some episodes with Mike Douglas. Muppets that appeared in these appearances include Kermit, Rowlf the Dog, the Two-Headed Muppet Monster, King Goshposh (as "King Louie"), Rowlf's mother Tilly, Big V, Polly Cramer, Beautiful Day Monster, Dr. Teeth, Fozzie Bear, the Swedish Chef (as Chef Bernard) and Miss Piggy. Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Juhl and Jerry Nelson appeared during the week of July 19, 1966.


1967Emmy AwardProgram and Individual Achievements in Daytime Programming – IndividualsMike DouglasWon
1977Outstanding Individual Director for a Daytime Variety ProgramDon Roy King
(For episode "Mike in Hollywood with Ray Charles and Michel Legrand")
1978Outstanding Individual Achievement in Daytime ProgrammingDavid M. Clark
1981Individual Achievement in Any Area of Creative Technical Crafts – Costume DesignerDayton Anderson
(For episode on February 9, 1981)