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“Dr. Kildare” Episode To Focus on Unscrupulous Funeral Practices

Oct. 12, 1963 - The “Dr. Kildare” television series will get away from its customary hospital cases on Oct. 31 and present a drama with subject matter that is particularly timely. An announcement by NBC said the drama, called “The Exploiters,” was about the “exploitation of the bereaved by an unscrupulous undertaker who hikes funeral costs.” Whether by coincidence or otherwise, the episode has been scheduled in the midst of nationwide controversy stimulated by a recently published book, “The American Way of Death.” Jessica Mitford (pictured), its author, was critical of many funeral practices and wrote sardonically of what she considered highly commercialized aspects of the modern funeral. Funeral directors, who have charged that Miss Mitford’s book is greatly exaggerated, are now running full-page newspaper ads throughout the country giving their side of the controversy. In “The Exploiters,” a nurse seeks the help of Dr. Kildare and Dr. Gillespie “to protect her mother from undertaker Brown’s plan to sell an expensive funeral” after the death of the father in the family. The NBC drama will be presented the night after “CBS Reports” televises “The Great American Funeral” on CBS-TV. The program, CBS said, is a survey of “the uniquely American ritual of the expensive burial.” Mr. Mitford will be among the guests on the CBS program. Her charges will be answered by various members of the National Funeral Directors Association.


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