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Funeral Directors Refute “Kildare” Episode

Jan. 6, 1964 - A group of funeral directors asked the Federal Communications Commission today for equal time on television. They want to defend their profession’s reputation, which they insist was damaged by a “Dr. Kildare” program. The episode, televised Oct. 31 by NBC, was called “The Exploiters.” In a petition before the F.C.C., the Los Angeles County Funeral Directors Association said the show portrayed funeral directors as “ruthless, cunning, greedy, cut-throat, fraudulent, vulturous, deceitful, overbearing hucksters of grief.” The association said the program gave the impression that a funeral director’s main objective was “to capitalize on the sadness, sorrow, vulnerability, and bereavement of a decedent’s family.” Such a portrayal, the undertakers said, was “false, slanderous, libelous, and defamatory of funeral directors.” An F.C.C. official said he “could not recall any other equal-time demand in connection with a straight dramatic show.”

Norman Felton, executive producer of the “Kildare” show, said the episode was not an attack against the entire funeral industry. “There are men in every profession who do a disservice to the profession,” said Mr. Felton. “This was a story depicting that type of individual.”


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