Lloyd Thaxton Show, The

Lloyd Thaxton was a fixture of Los Angeles TV for much of the sixties, primarily for an afternoon dance party show not unlike Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Thaxton’s had a couple of different names — Lloyd Thaxton’s Record Shop, The Lloyd Thaxton Show, Thaxton’s Show and others — but they were all Lloyd with a bunch of local teens, a few musical guests and a lot of clever games and stunts.

Working with almost no budget in the shabby studios of KCOP, Channel 13, Thaxton came up with ingenious ways to keep viewers interested when all he did was to play current hits and let kids dance to them. Recording artists would come on and lip-sync their records…and I always liked the fact that they usually wouldn’t assume we thought they were playing and singing live. They’d own up to the miming…and if the performer didn’t seem to know the lyrics to their own song, as was sometimes the case, Thaxton would run over and mix up the cue cards to throw them further off. He’d also get up himself and lip-sync to a Bobby Darin or Bobby Vinton record. Teenagers who showed up with tickets like the one above would dance or participate in games but Thaxton would also select some of them to get up and pretend to be Chad and Jeremy or Sonny and Cher or someone and lip-sync to those performers’ hits. Sometimes, Lloyd would take a photo of a singer or an album cover with a close-up of the artist’s face, cut out the mouth area, insert his own lips and “sing” the song that way.

What made it all work was Thaxton himself. He was unpretentious, self-effacing and funny…more than could be said for most of those who went up against him with similar shows. There were a number of them because they didn’t last, while Thaxton went on and on…all the way until around 1968 when all the local stations were getting out of producing their own shows. For the last few years, he was also syndicated and the show did well in other cities, as well. The trouble was that with the rise of afternoon talk shows and stations expanding their news broadcasts, there were no time slots for it. Thaxton moved on to host a few game shows that didn’t last, then moved to the other side of the camera as a producer and writer.

I used to see him in the hallways at NBC when I was writing a show that taped there and he was producing a series with consumer advocate David Horowitz. He always looked so busy, rushing to some meeting or something, that it was awkward to stop him and tell him how much I’d enjoyed watching his show. Finally one day, I approached him and got about six words into what I wanted to say before someone came running down the hall to tell him there was an urgent phone call. He excused himself and ran off and I never got to finish. I thought of calling his office and leaving it on his voice mail but I was afraid he’d just lip-sync to it.