Felix In Hollywood

A Blog for the Smart Set

Sunday, August 18, 2013

This Fascination For Chronicling Hollywood......

.....started even before I was born!

I have written before about my parents, Phil and Dee.  Well that story took us up to their marriage in 1956. So let's pick things up from there, shall we?

Shortly after their wedding in Columbus OH, the decision was made that my Dad would re-enlist in the Army.  When he received his orders for his first relocation, surprise, surprise, it was Fairbanks Alaska! Now, Alaska wasn't even a state yet but, those crazy pioneering kids traveled north with glee to inhabit the Last Frontier and, once there, settled into base housing.

He was working full time, she was working full time, they had a two year old and if all that wasn't enough, they also formed "The Michael Company" (named after my half brother) which supplied and engraved trophies to the greater Fairbanks area.  A smart move considering there wasn't much to do in Fairbanks in '56 outside of bowling and other sporting contests.  Needless to say, business was brisk.

After about a year, all of this activity just didn't seem like enough so, they got a plot of land and some materials

and with the help of some trusty friends

they built themselves a log cabin!

You'd think that this would be enough to satisfy these busy Alaskan beavers but you'd be wrong.

Scoping the local scene looking for another business opportunity, they saw a need in the market, partnered up with their friend Dalton and started "The Fairbanks TV Guide" and Hollywood came to Fairbanks.

Dalton was the Editor and Publisher, Dee was the Advertising Director, Secretary, Marketing Rep, and all around gofer, and Phil was, well, he was really proud.

In addition to being chocked full of pictures and blurbs teasing the week of programming adhead, it had loads of local advertising.  Fairbanks was a pretty rough and ready town at the time and one of the ads was for the "Top Hat Club, featuring exotic dancing sensation, Renee Starr.  Come as you are - no formality necessary.  Couples are always welcome.  Lovely Hostesses available for you single gentlemen."

But most important of all, it gave complete listings of the two television stations that made up the Fairbanks television market.  Channel 2 carried split ABC/NBC shows and Channel 11 handled CBS.  What's more, they each broadcast for about six hours Every. Single. Evening.

No fools Dalton and Dee, they gave away the first three weeks of copies to get everyone dependent on it and then began charging the princely sum of 15¢ per week, or $3.75 for 6 months, $6.50 for 1 year.

Dee even appeared (doing her best Carol Merrill, before Carol!) in one issue for a television give away:

By far the most popular of all the covers didn't show a Hollywood starlet though:

It celebrated the announcement of statehood for Alaska (though the actual admission didn't occur till Jan 3, 1959).

Later that month another contest was held to rename the Fairbanks TV Guide.  The winning name:

Why change a perfectly good name you ask?  It seems that Dalton and Dee got the sweetest registered letter from "TV Guide Magazine" down in the lower 48.  I believe they call it a 'cease and desist' letter.

By the end of '58 Phil and Dee cashed in their chips on the glamorous world of Television listings.  It seems there was a new star that was going to debut in the Mershon household in about 6 months.....but that's a whole other story........