Let’s Read TV Guide, March 1976!

How you used to find stuff to watch on TV in a pre-cable world: you channel surfed through all eight channels on your TV (maybe you had a few more with a separate “rabbit ears” antenna on top of the TV) and you’d pay close attention to commercials that promoted upcoming stuff. And if you were really on top of your life/the dregs of society who spent all of your time on the couch watching television, you read through TV Guide to plan out your TV-watching week.

This particular copy of the magazine is for the East Coast television market, where all channels and stations listed are specific to that area.

Because beer bellies and craggy jowls sold magazine covers in 1976. I’m going to level with you: I know almost nothing about 70s TV. The extent of my personal experience with 70s TV is The Muppet Show and occasional reruns of Good Times. If I accidentally insult or skim over your favorite show from this era, it wasn’t at all intentional.

While it isn’t as earth-shaking as “Rudolph Nureyev turns his back on Mother Russia for good to endorse Japanese Vodka”, I imagine a martini made with rum would be very, um, disruptive to the norm.

If this top section formatting is making your eye twitch, you aren’t alone. Typewriters didn’t have italics, so whereas nowadays the titles of films and TV shows are formatted in italics, films here are formatted in quotes and TV shows are formatted with underlines. That’s a style choice for that feature, but not one followed through for the rest of the magazine. Hmm, I wonder what came of that Francis Ford Coppola “The Apocalypse” film…and the project between Coppola and Carl Sagan was a huge and ugly mess that eventually became Contact twenty years later.

TV Guide was amazingly easy for me to photograph, because the text is so big and blocky that my phone focuses on it immediately and almost nothing came out blurry the first time. It also has little use for glossy pages, so there’s minimal glare. On the other hand, the cheapness of the paper and breakneck printing pace made it so that in over half of the pages the print gets cut off at the bottom. These magazines were not made with long-term storage in mind.

“Gary, you’d better not be feeding that toucan your cigarette butts again!”

“Warm nostalgia” means that Tom Patchett is so couch-colored that I didn’t even see him until I had been looking at this picture for five whole minutes.

I can’t imagine the legions of people who thought they were going to buy weed-infused shampoo and were sorely disappointed.

Grace Lichtenstein has been writing about feminism and women in sports since 1974. I enjoy that she mentions several times the ridiculousness of women having to do things like sacrifice the integrity of their casseroles in order to watch something on television that they like. One put-upon husband has to put a roast in the oven himself! THE HORROR!


“If a guy likes one of the Pittsburgh Pirates, does that mean he’s after him sexually?OHHHH!

As someone who’s never smoked before, I’m confused by why a cigarette fresh out of the pack would taste different at the end of the day. Are they dancing around the notion that your throat is heavily irritated after a few smokes? What does any of this mean?

Well this is all rather unnerving journalism that feels uncomfortably relevant today.

And, uh…someone at TV Guide really really hated Grady.

What you would see if you were flipping channels on a Saturday afternoon in March of 1976. I know I’ll be clearing my schedule for the double creature feature of Earth vs. The Spiders and Attack of the Crab Monsters!

I am clearing my schedule for Roller Derby at 3:30 and Challenge of the Sexes after that.

He may not be smoking statistics, but he’s about to become one!

Saturday morning cartoon lineup, much of which looks extraordinarily retro in 2018 but was almost all new at the time, and that’s kind of mind-blowing.

“I buy my shoes from TV Guide“, said the coolest guy in the room.

Interesting use of the imperative there – “you must become a completely different person in two weeks, or your money back!”

Who ever dreamed of such a thrilling way to lose weight?

A Jack Lemmon and Ray Bolger movie called The Entertainer was the talk of this week’s promotions, so they’re everywhere in this issue. These are certainly some …flattering…photos of Dinah Shore and Mike Douglas. Dinah looks like you just told her it was the 32nd of January.

Champagne and space orphans in far-off Basenji, Monday night on Channel 11!

Not much to say, except I like the overall design.

Nick Nolte in…Too Many Dorothys!

Ooh, sounds lascivious!

I figured that Soap Opera Digest was one of those things that had been around since time itself, but it only started in 1975. It also seems kind of weird that the publisher just couldn’t wait for Love of Life to be around for another year so that they could sell the 25-year anniversary special book.

Even in the 70s, Rip Torn looked like he was eighty years old. And yes that is William Daniels, AKA Mr. Feeny, as John Quincy Adams, because for some reason the man could not get away from being cast as John Adams throughout the 70s.

It’s pretty cool that they give you information on guest stars and variety show numbers, even if they refer to the stars by their first names and, again, as an editor that makes me very twitchy.

Starring a bunch of forgotten actors portraying various stages of nausea!

Saint Dymphna – also the patron saint of incest! Victims. Incest victims.

The urgency of this rebate countdown is really impressive.

I don’t know how to break this to you, but…this plant still needs to be watered and occasionally fertilized. It is also now listed as an invasive species to Hawaii.

That is some very wonky type off-centering and placement in the mail-away part of the form. It makes my head hurt.

Notable in my opinion for being a film about Japanese Americans featuring all Japanese-American cast, which seems like a monumental task in 2018 let alone 1976.

It just never fails to amuse me how openly the tobacco companies loathed having to use the word “tar” in their advertising.

Scrolling past this quickly creates a really bizarre optical illusion between the disembodied eye and the disembodied mouth. Try it!

$32 in 1976 was about the equivalent to $165 today, which is on par for about how much makeup has always cost. Which is, to say, stupidly expensive.

Tareyton cigarettes had this whole campaign of “I’d rather get my ass kicked than stop smoking!” which is really bizarre and led to a lot of weird ads that straight-up glamorized domestic abuse. A young Martha Stewart even showed up in one of them in her early modeling days.

Also worthy of inclusion, this other Tareyton ad from a different TV Guide around the same time, for its sheer nightmare-inducing imagery:

Really makes you want to take up smoking, right?

Cover feature interview with Noah Beery, Jr., one of the stars of The Rockford Files. I don’t have much else to go on here other than he seems like a nice man. I can’t help but feel that calling an actor “Old Pidge” is something very much lost to time.

Of course these are all things that I need to worry about, including whether or not the cigarette fits my face well. DOES THIS CIGARETTE MAKE ME LOOK FAT? — 80s More campaign.

Interestingly, you’d think this was a Campbells-sponsored section or something, but nope – it’s just a genuine recipe feature. Seems kind of random in a magazine about television listings, but People magazine to this day still publishes recipes in their magazines so it’s an unstoppable feature. I’m guessing “taco chips or tostados” is an old-school word for tortilla chips.

A special Bicentennial story about two boys…and their musically-inclined vermin friends…and a girl… Oh wait, this IS IN NO WAY REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ACTUAL MOVIE, which is a live-action movie starring Herman Munster and Broadway legend George Hearn. I spent a whole two minutes looking for it on the internet, and here it is in full, because the Internet is a beautiful and truly wondrous thing.

Say a prayer for all the poor kids who probably had to sit through this thing in history class for decades to come.

And, pardon my indulgence here, but its not every day that you open up a random old magazine and see a feature on your very own hometown! This is an article on the filming of The Entertainer, a TV movie starring Jack Lemmon about a seaside vaudeville entertainer filmed largely at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Evidently the producers were expecting Santa Cruz to be quaint and sleepy but found that somehow we had all come together as a community to be super hip and packed with sexy beach babes unsuitable for a 1940s setting (a feat that we are still attempting to surpass over forty years later). So, in the Santa Cruz spirit, we turned to our hipsters to ruin everything. I’m using the collective “we” because my dad would have been one of those hipsters at the time.

We as a city would eventually and very very briefly become cool enough again for The Lost Boys to be filmed there in 1987. We have still not recovered from that.

Come For The Filter, the latest Cohen brothers movie about a skeezy insurance salesman in Venice Beach who gets in over his head with the mob, starring Gary Oldman as the coolest guy of 1976.

This is sadly a grossly misleading headline and is not, in fact, a bombshell ABOUT Johnny Carson. It is a lame story about a lame woman who has evidently never seen an episode of The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and the dinner guests won’t shut up about it.

And, finally, the back cover, which is worth everything just to get to that headline. If only they knew what that would mean in just a few years..

And we’re done! Oh man, the 70s! So awful! I need a palatte cleanser for a more innocent time, when television was pure prestige and crass commercialism to children was at an all-time low…


Oh what’s that, we’re reading the April 1992 issue of Nintendo Power instead?

Also I made a quick poll that will help guide this feature’s future as I make the transition towards choosing more of my own magazines and having more free reign over the content. It’s only four questions and I would love your feedback.