December 4, 1972: Winter Show

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(Pictured: Elizabeth Montgomery, at center, plays Password.)

December 4, 1972, is a Monday. Time magazine reports on the opening of the SALT II arms limitation talks. At the Vietnam peace talks in Paris, North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho tells Henry Kissinger that even if the United States were to use nuclear weapons against his country, “our children will continue the struggle.” Five mice are selected to fly aboard Apollo 17, the final mission to the moon, which will be launched on Wednesday—if mission controllers don’t go on strike as they are threatening to do. Future porn star Nikki Tyler, future NBA player Howard Eisley, and future NFL linebackers Ted Johnson and Damien Covington are born. An executive at Motorola tells the company’s lead designer, “We have to build a portable telephone.” Less than four months later, Motorola will unveil the predecessor of the cellular phone at a press conference. In Merced, California, seven-year-old Steven Stayner is kidnapped. He will be held for nearly eight years; in 1989, his story will be told in the TV miniseries I Know My Name Is Steven.

Guest celebrities on Password this week are Elizabeth Montgomery and Bert Convy. Stars on Hollywood Squares are Wally Cox, Nanette Fabray, Jan Murray, John Davidson, Paul Lynde, Marilyn Michaels, Don Rickles, Della Reese, and Vincent Price. On NBC tonight, Jack Klugman, Rich Little, and Henny Youngman appear on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. Also on NBC, it’s The Perry Como Winter Show, a Christmas special with guest stars Joey Heatherton, Art Carney, and the Muppets. In tonight’s NFL game, the Los Angeles Rams beat the San Francisco 49ers 26-16. Roman Gabriel throws two touchdown passes for the Rams and David Ray kicks four field goals. At the 92nd Street Y in New York, author Erica Jong reads from her current bestseller Fear of Flying.

In a courtroom in Nice, France, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts, Bill Wyman, and Mick Taylor are cleared of drug charges. Led Zeppelin plays Glasgow, Scotland, the Velvet Underground plays Reading, England, and Lynryd Skynyrd plays Atlanta. Disc jockey Don Imus celebrates his first anniversary on the air at WNBC in New York. At WCOL in Columbus, Ohio, it’s a glorious week for soul music: “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” by the Temptations knocks “I’m Stone in Love With You” by the Stylistics from #1 to #5 on the new music survey out today; “Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul is at #7, “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes is at #9, and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” is at #11. Also on the chart is a cover of “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” by a British group called Blue Haze, at #12. In a small Wisconsin town without a single black resident, the manager of the seventh-grade basketball team is deeply into soul music nevertheless.

Perspective From the Present: “I’m Stone in Love With You” is a wonder. It makes me feel stupidly happy whenever I hear it, and nobody made prettier records than producer Thom Bell did. He and his songwriting partner, Linda Creed, were responsible for some of the most glorious confections of the 1970s, including all of the Stylistics’ signature hits and “Rubberband Man” by the Spinners. Bell and Creed (who died in 1986) are both in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. As for “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” I knew neither the song nor the Blue Haze version of it back then, although I have since come to adore the Platters’ version.


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