With summer arriving this week, it reminds us of a TV tradition that has virtually disappeared. We’re talking about the summer replacement series — usually a variety show that would take the place of an existing variety show while its star presumably chilled out all summer. From the 1950s through the 1970s, you could count on seeing these shows, which offered an alternative to summer reruns. Here are five:
FANFARE (CBS, 1965) No, this show did not provide the inspiration for Newsday’s Sunday entertainment section. Rather, this was the summer replacement for “The Jackie Gleason Show” and starred bearded New Orleans trumpeter Al Hirt.
THE DEAN MARTIN SUMMER SHOW (NBC, 1966-67) This show ran in the same Thursday-at-10 time slot as “The Dean Martin Show.” The comedy duo of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin (two years before “Laugh-In” made them household names) hosted the show its first summer, with singer Vic Damone taking over for the summer of ’67.
THE SUMMER BROTHERS SMOTHERS SHOW (CBS, 1968) Glen Campbell hosted this summer replacement for “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” which also featured Smothers regular Pat Paulsen, the deadpan comic who was also running his quixotic campaign for president that year.
THE MELBA MOORE-CLIFTON DAVIS SHOW (CBS, 1972) This five-week replacement for “The Carol Burnett Show” starred real-life couple Melba Moore (“Purlie”) and Clifton Davis (“Amen”). CBS would have picked up the series full time, but Moore and Davis broke up and the plans were scotched.
TONY ORLANDO AND DAWN (CBS, 1974) The “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” hitmakers took over the Wednesday-at-8 slot that had been occupied by “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” (which ceased production when the couple announced that spring that they were getting divorced). Tony and Co. proved so popular that they were given a prime-time berth from the fall of 1974 through 1976.