This literal bridging of the generation gap was a huge success. At the height of its run, the show would have seven million people tune in every day. When asked why he thought the show was such a success, Douglas said it was “because I’m a square”. 

As the first manned landing on the moon drew near, Douglas’ show was still topping the ratings even though it was only a syndicated show and not on a major network. His co-host this week was the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Once again, the show featured the opposite ends of the entertainment and political spectrum. Comedians Robert Klein and Al Freeman Jr appeared on the show as did the jazz and R&B artists Dee Felice Trio who sang backup on several of Brown’s records, actress and cabaret singer Julie Budd, and the editor

of the African-American magazine Jet, Robert E. Johnson.

The TV airwaves were also ringing out with the sounds and songs of Archie Andrews and the gang - Archie, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and Hot Dog - on a show cleverly titled, Archie. The show was so popular that it was given a second season in 1969. Each Archie episode was embedded with a sugary sweet pop song supposedly recorded by a fictional band consisting of Archie and his friends called the Archies. And yes, the songs were literally sugary sweet especially the hit, Sugar Sugar, which was released this month in 1969.


In that same week, over 100,000 braved one-hundred-degree heat indexes to rock out at the Atlanta International Pop Festival. Topping the bill were some big names of the time – Janis Joplin, Canned Heat, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Led Zeppelin, to name only a few.

That summer also saw the sun slowly begin to set on arguably the greatest rock band of all time, the Beatles. On July 4th, John Lennon released his first solo single in the United Kingdom, the iconic anthem of the Vietnam War era, Give Peace a Chance. Even though the song was completely written by Lennon, he gave Paul McCartney co-writing credit which ultimately made the song the last credited to the songwriting super-duo of Lennon/McCartney.

The song was written by Andy Kim and Jeff Barry, recorded by Kim, Toni Wine, Ron Dante, and Ellie Greenwich, and produced by famed record producer Don Kirshner. The song had some ingenious marketing behind it. Kids could get a free 33 1/3 RPM copy of the song on the back of specially marked boxes of Sugar Pops. The single was a very thin vinyl disc that was printed on the cereal’s cardboard box. Kids would have to cut it out of the box to play it on their phonograph, but they didn’t have long to play it. Inevitably, the cardboard would curl up making the disc unplayable. It didn’t matter, the gimmick worked, and the song hit number one in September.

And a new, but short- lived, cartoon show appeared at this time on the Saturday morning schedule, Hot Wheels. The cartoon was the first ever to be based on a line of toys, the wildly popular Hot Wheels cars produced by Mattel. The show experienced severe public outrage over the company incorporating the toys into the show making it a not-so-subliminal suggestion for kids to bug their parents to buy it.

 The outcry was so intense that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) passed a law banning such marketing practices. The law was later overturned in 1983 and the Boob Tube has been inundated with strategic product placement ever since.

 Born in Chicago in 1925, Michael Delaney Dowd Jr.’s singing career began at the young age of fifteen when he became a crooner on a cruise ship that sailed the Great Lakes. Following his service in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Douglas signed on as a singer for Kay Kyser’s big band, the Kollage of Musical Knowledge, under the stage name Mike Douglas where he sang the big hits, Buttermilk Sky and The Old Lamplighter. 

​In 1961, Douglas was asked to host a new television talk show based out of Chicago, the Mike Douglas Show. The show featured local and national celebrities and politicians. In just two years, the show, which had only aired on the one Windy City television station, KYW-TV, began to pick up syndication across the country. This necessitated a move so that the show could get bigger celebrities from New York City. In 1965, the show moved to Philadelphia and that’s where the magic truly began.

While Douglas was the host of the show, he would invite special guests to be his co-host. Over the years, he had such celebrities and national figures as the Rolling Stones, Gene Simmons of the band Kiss, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, even Richard Nixon. Not only were these celebrities co-hosting the show, but they could also book their own guests to appear and be interviewed.

Excerpts from Joe Cuhaj's Latest Manuscript:

Everyone's Gone to the Moon

Part 3: July 1 to 5, 1969: Feelin' Groovy

The week in Pop Culture history wrapped up at the box office with the movie, The Chairman, replacing John Wayne and True Grit as the top grossing movie. On July 4, 1969, Time Magazine led with a cover story about Cesar Chavez, the Mexican-American who led a boycott for bargaining rights and the right to unionize migrant farm workers. Life magazine released a special Off to the Moon edition with Neil Armstrong on the cover and TV-Guide was singing the praises of the cop drama, Adam-12, with former Route 66 star Martin Milner, and Kent McCord.

According to Bruce Spizer in his book, The Beatles on Apple Records, Lennon made the decision to credit his long-time pal as a way of saying thank you to McCartney for helping with the recording of the Beatles’ song, The Ballad of John and Yoko. The Beatles were in a downhill spiral at the time with egos and tensions mounting as is evidenced in their 1970 film, Let it Be, which George Harrison called, “a great film to show how to break up a band.” But despite all of the disagreements, John and Paul could still work together and produce amazing music. In April 1969, Lennon had penned the rough lyrics to The Ballad of John and Yoko and rushed over to McCartney’s house to finish it off.

In no time, both the lyrics and music were completed, and the pair sped off to Abbey Road Studios to record it, just John and Paul by themselves. McCartney later recalled, “John was in an impatient mood so I was happy to help. It’s quite a good song. It has always surprised me how with just the two of us on it, it ended up sounding like the Beatles.”

The curse began in 1945, the last time (until 2016) that the Cubs were in the World Series. Chicago held a two games to one lead over the Detroit Tigers in the Series. A local resident, the owner of the Billy Goat Tavern, Billy Sianis, bought two tickets to game four so that he and the tavern’s namesake goat could watch the game together. The ushers at Wrigley Field refused to admit the goat. Sianis was incensed and was allegedly heard to say, “Them Cubs, they ain’t gonna win no more!”

And they didn’t. Chicago went on to lose the Series in seven games and hadn’t been back to the World Series since, but 1969 looked as if it was going to be their year.  

Through the years, the songwriting credit for Give Peace a Chance has caused friction between McCartney and Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono. Sometimes Paul’s credited, sometimes he’s not. The music licensing organization, American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), however, will always recognize the song as being written by Lennon and McCartney. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, a representative with ASCAP said, “We would have to be advised if the split is changed, which would be a good thing to know.”

As the heat of summer continued to rise, it looked as though the Baltimore Orioles would be unstoppable in the American League Eastern Division as they held a comfortable eleven game lead over the Boston Red Sox. In the west, the Minnesota Twins and Oakland A’s were deadlocked in first place. Over in the National League west, the Los Angeles Dodgers clung to a slim half-game lead over the Atlanta Braves.

Meanwhile in the National League east, the Chicago Cubs led the New York Mets by eight games. Now to many readers not familiar with the Cubs and Mets you may think so what? For the Cubs to even be in first place was a miracle. The team had not won the World Series in sixty-one years, the last time being 1908. In the interim years, they suffered one disappointing,

​Sun Records was famous for bringing to light the rockabilly talents of Johnny

Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and most notably, The King, Elvis Presley.

With the purchase of Sun, Singleton began a massive re-issue of titles and an

incredible marketing and foreign licensing campaign of classic Sun recordings

which made him a fortune and kept Sun Records a major player in the music

business.

Entertainment in the summer of ’69 was not limited to the music world. It

also saw the rise of huge mega-resort casinos in Las Vegas. One in particular

opened this week in 1969 and set the stage for those to come. It was built by billionaire entrepreneur, Kirk Kerkorian, and was called the International Hotel, which, at the time, was the largest ever built in Sin City.

Born Kerkor Kerkorian in 1917, Kerkorian was the son of Armenian immigrants. His mother was a homemaker, his father, a fruit merchant who tried, and failed, at many get-rich-quick schemes that often left the family penniless.


Kirk, as he was later known when he Americanized his name, dropped out of school in the eighth grade, taking up odd jobs and doing a little amateur boxing. During World War II, he became a bomber pilot shuttling the planes from America to Britain for the Royal Air Force and once the war ended, he landed a job flying Hollywood celebrities to Las Vegas which was quickly becoming a mecca for gambling and entertainment.

Through the years, Kerkorian dabbled in various business ventures and quickly made a fortune in the airline, movie (he once owned MGM Studios), and gambling industries. In 1962, he secretly began buying small pieces of property just off the Strip in Las Vegas, and in 1968, he made the announcement that he was going to build the largest resort casino ever. The announcement infuriated the reclusive airplane and movie mogul, Howard Hughes, who had just recently purchased the Sands Hotel, the largest casino in the city at the time.

Only three days prior to the single’s release, while on holiday with his wife, Yoko, her daughter, Kyoko, and his son Julian in Scotland, Lennon crashed his Austin Maxi automobile into a ditch. According to reports, the roads were narrow and the weather poor when Lennon saw a car driven by a foreigner coming towards him. He panicked and ran the car off the road. The family was taken to nearby Golspie Lawson Memorial Hospital where Lennon received seventeen stitches, Yoko fourteen, and Kyoko four. Yoko also injured her back in the incident.

To add insult to injury, the Beatles’ song Get Back was knocked out of the number one spot to the number three position on the Billboard music charts by Henry Mancini and the Love Theme (from Romeo and Juliet) after spending five weeks in the top slot.

Also in the top five that week, the band Creedence Clearwater Revival was at number two with a song that painted a gloomy picture of the year to come, Bad Moon Rising, Marvin Gaye’s song Too Busy Thinking About My Baby topped out at number four, and Three Dog Night sat in fifth position with the song, One.

As records were jockeying for position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a man known for having a unique ear in the world of music, Shelby Singleton, purchased the famous Sun Records label in Memphis from Sam Phillips.

Up Next -

Part 4: July 1 to 5, 1969: 

The Probability of Success is Difficult to Estimate

Coming Soon

As fall rolled around, a crucial game was played on September 9th between the Mets and the Cubs. In the middle of the game, a fan dropped a black cat onto the field at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. The cat ran out onto the diamond, looked around, then crossed in front of the Cubs dugout. Chicago lost their last eighteen out of twenty-seven games of the year and the Miracle Mets were headed to the World Series where they defeated Baltimore for the crown and their first championship.

As the Cubs sat comfortably on top of the baseball world, the youth of America was embracing a new form of live concert event - the pop music festival - and two of the biggest were held the first week of July 1969. In Newport, Rhode Island, over 78,000 people attended the Newport Jazz Fest. The event was the brainchild of musician and nightclub owner George Wien. In 1954, Wein invited some of the legends of American jazz to participate in what he called the First American Jazz Festival. 

12,000 people gathered on the lawn of the Newport Casino for that first festival and were treated to music by jazz royalty: Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Kenton, Gene Krupa, and Billie Holiday and more. The festival is recognized as the first ever American music festival.

The word miracle was tossed around quite freely in 1969. The fact that NASA was nearing the finish line to reach President Kennedy’s ambitious goal of reaching the moon was a miracle in and of itself-- considering all of the technical and human challenges that the agency faced along the way. There were some events not as monumental as a moon landing but were still touted as being miracles, one of which was taking shape on a baseball diamond.


​Baseball was still the American pastime in the summer of 1969 and many fans were watching the eastern division of the National League for what they believed was a miracle in the making. No, it wasn’t as spectacular as landing humans on another world, but for true fans of the game it seemed like the impossible was about to happen.

FacebookLink-Joe Cuhaj

Singleton was hired as a record “plugger” by Mercury Records in 1956, traveling throughout the South, Louisiana in particular, to push the label’s records at small radio stations. On his travels, Singleton said that he would keep his eyes – or ears, really – peeled for new talent and have them sign with Mercury. The results were classic hits such as Chantilly Lace by the Big Bopper and a string of hits for Johnny Preston, Leroy Van Dyke, Ray Stevens, and Bruce Channel. Singleton’s secret? He “listened with the average ear that the public listens with, because the majority don’t know nothing, either.”

Hughes announced that the Sands would undergo a massive renovation and expansion which, he hoped, would scare off Kerkorian’s creditors. The plan failed and Kerkorian was able to gain the credit he needed and the International Hotel was completed.

The hotel officially opened on July 1st, 1969, to huge fanfare and the following day, singing greats Peggy Lee and Barbra Streisand opened on the hotel’s stage for a 4-week engagement.

The world was in an interesting juxtaposition in the summer of 1969 with two generations, the Greatest Generation, who fought through World War II, running headlong into a new and formidable foe - their own children and the counter-culture. While parents and their children may have disagreed on politics and music, there was one unlikely television show that brought the two together - the Mike Douglas Show.

Don’t believe in curses and superstition? Well, as it turns out, it was more than just the goat that jinxed the Cubs. The New York Metropolitans or Mets began taking to the field in 1962 to fill the void left behind by the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants when they moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively. Since their inaugural season, the Mets had finished in last place every year. With a remarkable late season surge the Mets were narrowing the gap and were racing for first place. 

By the summer of the moon landing, headlines in the New York Times read, “Moon or the Mets? In Bars, It’s the Latter.” As man was getting ready to land on the moon, television sets in bars were not focused on the historic event. When asked why the customers were not following the mission, the owner of the La Luna Llena bar in New York City answered, “What’s there? Walter Cronkite talking, that’s all.” When customers were asked what they were more interested in, the Mets or the Moon, the unanimous answer was, “The Mets, of course. Aren’t you?”

​Only three days prior to the single’s release, while on holiday

with his wife, Yoko, her daughter, Kyoko, and his son Julian in

Scotland, Lennon crashed his Austin Maxi automobile into a

ditch. According to reports, the roads were narrow and the

weather poor when Lennon saw a car driven by a foreigner coming

towards him. He panicked and ran the car off the road. The family

was taken to nearby Golspie Lawson Memorial Hospital where

Lennon received seventeen stitches, Yoko fourteen, and Kyoko

four. Yoko also injured her back in the incident.

To add insult to injury, the Beatles’ song Get Back was knocked

out of the number one spot to the number three position on the

Billboard music charts by Henry Mancini and the Love Theme (from

Romeo and Juliet) after spending five weeks in the top slot.

Also in the top five that week, the band Creedence Clearwater Revival was at number two with a song that painted a gloomy picture of the year to come, Bad Moon Rising, Marvin Gaye’s song Too Busy Thinking About My Baby topped out at number four, and Three Dog Night sat in fifth position with the song, One.

As records were jockeying for position on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a man known for having a unique ear in the world of music, Shelby Singleton, purchased the famous Sun Records label in Memphis from Sam Phillips.