Monday, January 12, 2009

Sitcoms 65

From my look back at growing up in the 60s...

My allowance was $5.00 a week. Out of that largesse I bought records, movie passes, Clearasil, junk food, Stridex Medicated Pads, surf magazines – y’know, the essentials. In the mid 60s my g-g-g-g-generation would spend $11 billion on such items. By 1970 we would spend $70 billion. I guess they figured in drugs.

It was a banner year for television. MY MOTHER THE CAR premiered. (Has there ever been a more terrifying Oedipal concept for a teenage boy than his mother being his car? Short of MY MOTHER THE DICK I can’t think of anything worse.) Truth is the show was not as bad as its title.

More shows were being shown in color. We didn’t have a color TV but I knew more people who did so that was exciting.

Sitcoms for the most part were lame. PETTICOAT JUNCTION (which opens with the three starring girls bathing in the town’s water supply -- but I had a crush on the three girls), THE PATTY DUKE SHOW (she played identical cousins and wasn’t funny as either. But I had a crush on her), THE DONNA REED SHOW (I had a crush on Shelley Fabares), BEWITCHED (I had a crush on Elizabeth Montgomery), CAMP RUNAMUCK (I had a crush on Maureen McCormick), and GIDGET (I had a major crush on Sally Field). Most people watched sitcoms to laugh. I watched them to get off.

Teenage characters in 60s comedies were all written by 50 year old men. We were all portrayed as fun loving kooks who got into “jams” and were usually bailed out by our (coincidentally) 50 year old fathers. Boys were all oversexed, which meant we wanted to “go steady” before the girls were ready. Girls were oversexed too and were willing to “put out” for the right dreamy boy… and by “put out” I mean accept a double-date for miniature golf. It was a fairy world. Just once I wanted to see Gidget pass out not because Moondoggie invited her to the prom but because she had severe menstrual cramps.

46 comments:

Barefoot Billy Aloha said...

Damn dog hit its head under my audio studio console again, after I gave out a loud, "Ha!" upon reading, "My Mother the Dick."

The dog is pissed, and now I have to explain the knot on his head to the boss.

Jeez. Thanks alot.

sephim said...

They made MY MOTHER THE DICK, except they called it ROSEANNE or however the fuck you spell her damn name.

Randall said...

Well, finally! Someone who admits to having a crush on Sally Field. I developed a crush on the lady when I saw Gidget and it has not left. In fact a year or so ago she was the cover article on AARP magazine (yes I am that old). I wrote a letter to AARP commenting on the article and the fact that at 60 Sally was still as cute as a button, and it was published. Never heard from her, though (sigh).

On the subject on 1965 television, I recall my younger brother got a coloring book of My Mother the Car. I don't remember it as being that rotten of a show, although history now pegs it as being a stinker.

My faves of the year were Hullabaloo, Man from UNCLE, Get Smart and the Dean Martin show. How's that for a mix from an eleven year old! Oh and Gidget, of course.

benson said...

A couple of more 60's crushes; The Girl from UNCLE, Stephanie Powers, and the All-American girl from Kansas-Mary Ann, Dawn Wells.

Speaking of My Mother the Car, I heard the story several times that Jerry Van Dyke was up for the role of Gilligan and later I saw I think it was Oprah make him cry when she asked him about being replaced as handyman on Newhart.

Rory L. Aronsky said...

Short of MY MOTHER THE DICK I can’t think of anything worse.

Actually, that one's called "Momma's Boys."

WV: fraphip - Someone who can dance well after drinking coffee at Starbucks. I apologize. That's all I've got.

Anonymous said...

Was that the town's water supply? I always thought it was the water supply for the train.

cheers
BS

PS We didn't get colour TV in Australia till 1974....and my family didn't get a colour set till 1980 (and no starting on the "Four Yorkshiremen" sketch....)

A_Homer said...

I was a kid then too, and you have to compare these programs to Dobie Gillis to get the sense of change. Although Dobie at least had a "beatnik" in there.

Jerry van Dyke seemed such a perfect comic foil for his brother in the Dick van Dyke series, but on his own ... well, he got the "My Mother the Car" script right?

Interesting when considering the teenagers in 60s shows - why didn't THEY get the supernatural-powers of Jeannie, Bewitched, among others? I guess being a teenager in the new-postEd Sullivan Beatles era, was proposed like a superpower. It was the housewives who needed magic to survive?

mcp said...

There was a Friday question about if a writer can overcome working on a bad show. Look at some of those who wrote on "My Mother the Car and just a small portion of their credits after (Thanks IMDB):"

Created by:
Alan Burns (Co-Created the Mary Tyler Moore Show)
Chris Hayward (Co-Created Barney Miller)

Wrote 2 Episodes
James L. Brooks (The Simpsons)

Tedifyin - A fear of Ted Williams being reanimated.

45 is the new 30 said...

Annnd ... now I have an earworm of the Pettycoat Junction theme eating at my brain ("... and there's Uncle Joe, he's a'moving kind of slow, at the Junction ...")

Should be a great accompanying track to an all-day meeting I'll be attending today. ACK!

(Good post, Ken - thanks, as always!)

Harlan said...

We are from completely different generations and even I had a crush on Elizabeth Montgomergy growing up.

And I'm 25.

Anonymous said...

My ultimate '60s crush was Diana Rigg in The Avengers. The antidote to the girly-girls of the sitcoms you note here, though I was right there on Liz Montgomery (the fantasy mom) and, going back a bit, Angela Cartwright.

Anonymous said...

Seeing Joey Heatherton on the Dean Martin show was definitely a turning point in my young life.

Vermonter17032 said...

Ken,

Don't mean to get picky, but Billy Jo, Betty Jo and Bobby Jo were bathing in the water tower for the steam locomotive, not in the town's water supply.

My first crush on a female TV character was Ann Francis as Honey West. Just watched a couple of episodes recently... oh, my. That was one horrific show, but Ann Francis was still hot.

SharoneRosen said...

I remember watching My Mother the Car and thinking Ann Sothern's voice was hilarious! And I watched Petticoat Junction for Bea Benaderet. But then, I'm a girl who wanted to do VOs, so.... there it is.

WV: TRAINGO- the dance of passengers trying to pass each other in the hallway of a locomotive (anything else was too obvious)

Beth Ciotta said...

Ah, yes. Stridex Medicated Pads. They were an essential.

I didn't have a crush on any of those women--LOL--but I did want to BE... Bobby Joe (Petticoat Junction), Samantha (Bewitched), and/or 'Gidget'. I also wanted to be Sister Bertrille (Flying Nun) and 'Frog' (Smokey and the Bandit.) Hey. Maybe I DID have a crush on Sally Field.

Jeff Sparkman said...

I've only seen a few episodes of "My Mother the Car," but I'm hoping they didn't dwell to long on having Jerry have to gas up his mom and sticking the nozzle in her tank.

Inestee: State one finds oneself in after performing the Nestea Plunge.

VP81955 said...

Interesting when considering the teenagers in 60s shows - why didn't THEY get the supernatural-powers of Jeannie, Bewitched, among others? I guess being a teenager in the new post-Ed Sullivan Beatles era was proposed like a superpower. It was the housewives who needed magic to survive?

Well, Sabrina the teenage witch was starting to become popular in the Archie comic books around 1965, though the Saturday morning cartoons hadn't arrived yet. Heck, Melissa Joan Hart wouldn't be born for another decade.

The only superpowered teens I can think of from '65 were the villains in "Village Of The Giants" (a film I'm sure Beau Bridges and Ron Howard, as the boy genius who concocts the growth formula the baddies steal and use on themselves, proudly list on their resumes). Hey, who would object to seeing a 30-foot-tall Joy Harmon or Tisha Sterling stroll through your town? (The '65 versions, I mean -- Joy and Tisha are probably still lovely ladies, but giant senior citizens would hardly be considered erotic...with the possible exception of an enlarged Sophia Loren.)

Verification word: "nowpinge" -- a rather perverse order, or the original name of that Bette Davis film.

2nd verification word: "lablear" -- trademark for some device used to numbers or markings on the ears of cattle herds. Or something that's French, in which case one wonders why "blear" is deemed feminine.

Kirk Jusko said...

Elizabeth Montgomery? What about Barbera "I Dream of Jeannie" Eden?

subrator: someone who grades hoagies

blogward said...

Who was the girl in Beverly Hillbillies? I remember being strangely fascinated by that rope holding her jeans up. Heck, I was 7!

WV: ingestio

Anonymous said...

How could you skip Connie Hines
on MR. ED?

tudeban: charm school dictum

dictum: aw, never mind

Richard Marcej said...

"Who was the girl in Beverly Hillbillies? "

Donna Douglas (Who also starred in the infamous "Eye of the Beholder" Twilight Zone episode, though they didn't use her voice)

As for sit-coms of '65 being lame.....

ain't nothing funnier than incredibly weird Green Acres!

The Curmudgeon said...

Yes, but now that you're a 50+ yourself, don't you sometimes wish the world were that simple?

I do.

P.S. -- I remember "My Mother the Car" and I don't remember it as awful. Perhaps it's time for an artistic reappraisal....

WV -- jestenet: Your internet home for humor, 24/7.

Kirk Jusko said...

How about the Geen Acres episode where the rocks beeped whenever there was a full moon?

"Who knows about this?"

"Just three people--you, me, and the President of the United States!"

Tom Quigley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Quigley said...

Imagine having a crush on one of the TV babes from the 60's and then getting the chance to actually meet one 30 years later, and not only that, but do something for her that perked up her spirits... Happened to me when I met Shelley Fabares at a taping of COACH... A few weeks earlier I had heard through a mutual friend that she was a bit down at that particular period in her life; her mother was ill with Alzheimer's and I guess there were some other issues she was dealing with... Years before, I had come up with a parody of her hit song "Johnny Angel" which was still rolling around in my head. So I finally put it to paper, gave to our mutual friend which he then gave to her. The parody? I turned Johnny Angel into a hitman for the mob! Happy to say she loved it!...

benson said...

Tom, you're story reminds of a wonderful episode of "Mad about you" where Paula and Ira meet Barbara Feldon, playing a 60's action series star.

Beth, your comment about Stridex brought back memories of a staple of 60's and 70's Top 40 radio: zit cream commercials. Favorite was Oxy 5 and then Oxy 10. "Which would you rather have, a few more cents or a few less zits".
(totally trivial: the bank manager who confiscates Dan Ackroyd's credit cards in "Trading Places" I believe is the guy who did the VO for those.)

Bob M. said...

I definitely had a crush on Diana Rigg in The Avengers. Can't forget Anne Francis as Honey West. I remember yelling at the TV when Larry Hagman's Major Nelson wouldn't let Jeannie do her magic. There were a few wishes I would have let her grant that wouldn't have made it past the censors.

D. McEwan said...

"Tom Quigley said...
Imagine having a crush on one of the TV babes from the 60's and then getting the chance to actually meet one 30 years later."

Although I had crushes on none of these women, on account of their not being men (And I was goo-goo for Sean Connery in those days.), I did meet Donna Douglas of The Beverly Hillibillies about two years ago. Sad. She was dressed, made up, and bewigged to simulate still being Ellie Mae, and it only emphasized the fact that this was Granny Clampett dressed up as Ellie Mae. Few things are more grotesque than a person in their 70s pretending they're still a person in their 20s. Folks, Benjamin Button is a fantasy!

I ran into Shelley Frabres in the Carney's Hot Dogs on Sunset once, about 25 years ago. What a charmer. Complete delight.

The closest I came to obsession with any of the above-named women was with Diana Rigg. She had class light-years above all those rural hicks. And Sally Field doesn't inhabit the same universe as Mrs. Peel.

While nothing could get me to sit through a PETTICOAT JUNCTION or a GREEN ACRES anymore, or even back then come to think of it, they were always torture to me (Sorry Richard Marcej, but almost anything is funnier than GREEN ACRES. It may have been funnier than all those other hick comedies, but that isn't exacly swinging for the fence.) (Hey Ken! A baseball metaphor!), you will find on my DVD shelf a boxed set of ALL the Emma Peel AVENGERS episodes. (Though I note now that the outfits they put her in were often stunningly ugly!)

I have had the priviledge of meeting Dame Diana Rigg twice, once in 1970, when still in the full-flower of her Emma Peel beauty, just after she was the Best Bond Girl of All in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, and again in 1994, following a performance of MEDEA on Broadway. She made no effort to pretend she still looked like Emma Peel, and as a result, she looked wonderful. Looks that last, and genuine talent and class.

Mrs. Peel, you're needed.

David K. M. Klaus said...

Beth Ciotta said...

> Ah, yes. Stridex Medicated
> Pads. They were an essential.


My sons are 17 and 15. Stridex Pads are still an essential.

V-word: psicsi, the Air-Pressured Crime Scene Investigators a/k/a CSI-Space and CSI-Oceanic, soon to appear on a CBS affiliate near you, starring Wil Wheaton and whichever Bridges brother is willing to follow in his father's swim fins.

David K. M. Klaus said...

D. McEwan wrote:


> I have had the priviledge of
> meeting Dame Diana Rigg twice,
> once in 1970, when still in the
> full-flower of her Emma Peel
> beauty, just after she was the
> Best Bond Girl of All in On
> Her Majesty's Secret
> Service
, and again in 1994,
> following a performance of
> Medea on Broadway. She
> made no effort to pretend she
> still looked like Emma Peel, and
> as a result, she looked
> wonderful. Looks that last, and
> genuine talent and class.


You are a man twice privileged beyond us mere mortals. Her earlier incarnation once launched a thousand ships.


> Mrs. Peel, you're needed.


Always.



V-word: sherfic, a fan-written story about Sherman Potter.

Dana Gabbard said...

In remember in the early 1970's as a teenager growing up in in Yakima Washington a car dealership brought in Burt Ward to do a personal appearance and arranged for the Batman movie to be played on a local TV station with Ward at the commercial breaks being interviewed to promote his being at the dealership the next day. My brother and I pestered our Mom to take us to see him. She stayed in the car while we walked in. Only to discover Ward, a Man in his 30s, dressed as Robin sitting with a little kid on his lap. And a sign next to the tableaux announced you had to pay to meet him (and get your picture taken with him). We took this in, then did a 180 and told Mom to get us away from this abomination.

"D. McEwan said...
I did meet Donna Douglas of The Beverly Hillibillies about two years ago. Sad. She was dressed, made up, and bewigged to simulate still being Ellie Mae, and it only emphasized the fact that this was Granny Clampett dressed up as Ellie Mae. Few things are more grotesque than a person in their 70s pretending they're still a person in their 20s. Folks, Benjamin Button is a fantasy!

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I never had zits as a teenager, but I get them sometimes now, at mumbledy-mumble years old. Talk about a late bloomer.

I loved all those beautiful sixties women, and include a holdover from the fifties, Amanda Blake--Miss Kitty from Gunsmoke.

WV: sphot. What you say when you see a babe and your mouth is full of beer.

Beth Ciotta said...

Benson and David, Ken's mention of Stridex made me nostalgic. What can I say? Pimple medication I can relate to. Surfer mags, no.

Oh, and, "45 is the new 30"? Thanks a lot. I now have the Petticoat Junction theme in my brain. ;)

Joe said...

Y'mean those were NOT menstrual cramps Gidget was having?

Mike Schryver said...

Aren't we going to get equal time for the teenage boys in those shows? Among my crushes were:

Tony Dow in LEAVE IT TO BEAVER
Don Grady in MY THREE SONS
Any of THE MONKEES

If I were a couple of years older, I could probably have added Rick Nelson, but I missed him by a bit, and the reruns must not have been popular in our house.

Forget teens - what about Robert Conrad as Jim West?
I have to stop now, I'm getting the vapors.

(MY MOTHER THE CAR wasn't that bad a show - the concept was just easy to make fun of. There were much worse shows in the '60s...IT'S ABOUT TIME, anyone?)

LouOCNY said...

Paul Henning got away with MURDER on Green Acres - just Eva Gabor saying HooterSville five times a show alone!

proty - a nice looking toilet

D. McEwan said...

"Mike Schryver said...
Aren't we going to get equal time for the teenage boys in those shows? Among my crushes were: Tony Dow in LEAVE IT TO BEAVER."

Oh yes Mike. How I pined to share a bedroom with Wally Cleaver instead of my most unappealing real-life brother. I actually told Tony Dow this when I met him a decade ago, when I was in my 40s and he was in his 50s. He did a very good job of politely hiding how creeped he was. I appreciated the effort.

And Robert Conrad, oh my God yes! Robert was a guest on a radio show I produced back in 1974, and I spent 90 minutes in a room with him. He was so intensely beautiful, and radiated such massive, palpable sexuality, that I was - ah - ill-advised to stand up throughout the whole of the hour and a half. Plus, off-the-air, he was telling extremely indiscreet, obscene tales of his sexual adventures.

BUT, the stories he was telling were all kind of mean-spirited, ugly, straight-guy-chauvinist-pig stories. I remained aroused by his physical presence, but by the end of my time with him, I was completely turned off to him as a human. Ew. Not a man I'd want in my life. Bob's beauty was only skin deep.

Sunshine said...

As a little girl I didn't think much of most of the guys on TV, but I had a crush on that guy who played Rowdy on "Rawhide." Strong, silent type. Wonder what ever happened to him?...


Word verification: "Poutaste:" 1) a small sample of french fries topped by gravy. 2), the aftereffects of a very bad meal.

Mike McCann said...

A high-five to "Anonymous," who was the first to mention Connie Hines. Also from the alurring housewife category, Anne Jeffreys on TOPPER. Sexy, sarcastic, sensational.

OK, got to stick to our generation?
Shiela James, Dobie Gillis' "Zelda," she was one of the guys -- brainy, feisty and aggressive. In real life, she grew up to be a California State Senator. But don't you get the sense the character begat Hillary Clinton.

I can't overlook Patty Lane, the American half of the Identical Twin Cousins. She was in Brooklyn, maybe 45 minutes where I grew up. Darn that our paths never crossed.

Another young actress who caught my eye -- Angela Cartwright a/k/a Linda Williams. (I wonder if Marlo Thomas was like that as a little girl?) And a couple of years later, she was drafted into NASA as a member of the Space Family Robinsons on LOST IN SPACE!

VP81955 said...

In the mid-1990, I met two of the babes from '60s TV, Yvonne Craig and Julie Newmar, at memorabilia shows. Both were splendid, charming, intelligent and still attractive at AARP age.

Oh, one more thing about Tisha Sterling, who I mentioned earlier -- she is the daughter of Ann Sothern, who really should be remembered more for her work in the "Maisie" films than for providing the voice of a 1928 Porter. (If you watch "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," check the WJM schedule listings on the wall. Mary Richards' station ran "My Mother The Car" reruns, a wonderful in-joke. Heck, Jerry Van Dyke guested on an episode.)

verification word: "miert." The woman nominated to the Supreme Court in an alternate universe. There, she not only got the seat but did brilliantly, putting the Ivy Leaguers to shame. (Remember, this is an alternate universe...and someone other than Bush nominated her.)

Paul Duca said...

Ken, I am a little worried...your being 15 and having a crush on a pre-pubescent Maureen McCormick.
(I never knew she had a role on CAMP RUNAMUCK--I guess she wasn't considered a regular, or she would have been mentioned under the program's listing in my encyclopedia of TV shows).
You have already been corrected by others...the PETTICOAT JUNCTION water tower was for the steam locomotive.

And to Richard Marcej...that WAS, in fact Donna Douglas doing her version of Maxine Stuart's voice in "Eye of the Beholder". As written in THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION, Douglas studied Stuart throughout the filming of the episode, and while the director expected to redub the voice. Donna did it so well, he didn't need to do so.


And to all who mentioned...I do feel Sally Field is ageless. I just have trouble seeing her as a matriarch/grandmother (even if she does get a osteoparosis hump the Boniva won't cure). Heck. watching STEEL MAGNOLIAS 20 years ago, I still expected her to have Julia Roberts' role.

John said...

"Paul Henning got away with MURDER on Green Acres - just Eva Gabor saying HooterSville five times a show alone!"

If you look at the female stars of the Paul Henning-produced shows -- Eva, Connie Hines, Donna Douglas, the Petticoat Junction girls and any of Ronnie's Burns or Bob Cummings' girlfriends on "The Burns & Allen Show" or "Love that Bob" -- Henning was the Lord High Mayor of Hooterville.

And as far as 1965 goes, I kind of had an infatuation with Carolyn Jones on "The Addams Family". Not a Paul Henning type of body, but I went for the long hair, and the Goth look works great on B&W television.

Roger Owen Green said...

Someone mentioning Angela Cartwright reminded me that she was one of my many crushes in the day: http://rogerowengreen.blogspot.com/2008/04/crushes-question.html

remate - giving your divorced spouse a second chance

Killer said...

Re: Dana Gabbard's comments about meeting Burt Ward at a car dealership in the early '70s -- I went to see him at Arthur Mendenhall Chevrolet in Atlanta in the early '70s. He was in costume and giving out photos that had were pre-printed with "Pow! Bam! Sokk!" or whatever in each corner; then he'd add your name to the fourth corner. So I told him my name, and he wrote "Kirk!" in the fourth corner of mine ... but my name is "Kurt," so I threw it out before long.

(It didn't occur to me to correct him and ask for a new photo. Funny how, as a kid, you don't think of that.)

I attended an appearance he gave at Harvard in the early '80s, after some undergraduate film society selected him as Man of the Year. He gave a funny and self-deprecating speech.

jbryant said...

Green Acres was pure American surrealism. Worthy of Bunuel. Hicks could miss that layer and still enjoy it, but some sophisticates couldn't see past the rural stuff.

But the comedy, she is subjective. I realize that one could "get" the show without liking it.

Anonymous said...

Her name was Donna Douglas