Frederick Ziv was listed as #66 on our list of radio’s most essential people, but he was also critical in early television. Ziv Television turned out some of the most fascinating first-run syndicated television series. Many of these titles will be recognizable to old time radio fans such as Mr. District Attorney, Boston Blackie, Easy Aces, Bold Venture (alas without Bogart and Becall), Dr. Christian (with Carey playing the nephew of the original Dr. Christian), and the Eddie Cantor Comedy Theater. In addition fans of I Was a Communist for the FBI would appreciate the even better TV series I Led Three Lives.
Sadly, most of these programs are unavailable on DVD. A few like Lock Up (starring Macdonald Carey) have lapsed into the public domain in their entirety or like Boston Blackie or Bat Masterson have lapsed partially, so some prints are available, but alas most of these programs if they’re available at all are only available through gray market or black market source with variable quality.
It’s a shame because Ziv had some truly entertaining programs that filled non-prime time hours.
In addition to all of the radio programs brought to television, there were many other highlights: There was the King of Diamond series that featured William Gargan’s only acting appearance after the loss of his voice due to removal of his larynx. There were several great sea programs including Men of Annapolis, The Aquanauts, Harbor Command, Waterfront, and Seahunt. There was the sky diving drama Ripcord. MGM’s only step on the Ziv programs was an over-priced released of Season 1 of Highway Patrol at a cost of more than $50.
Of course, it’s not only Ziv’s programs that MGM’s neglected. Only one episode of MGM’s Thin Man Television series from 1957 with Peter Lawford has been released and that as an extra with the Thin Man movies.
I hope that MGM will work to get these programs released, maybe by selling the rights to a company like Timeless Media Group or Shout Factory who have shown competence in selling and marketing classic television shows. As it is right now, there’s a lot of great TV going to waste in the MGM vault.
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