Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Jan Smithers went to my high school!

Glad to see that a lot of you enjoy my excerpts from the book I'm writing on growing up in LA in the 60s. Here's a little snippet from 1966.Our high school made national news!

The March 21st edition of Newsweek magazine did their big cover story on “The Teenagers – a Newsweek survey of what they’re really like” and a good portion of it focused on Taft High. The cover featured a pretty coed sitting on the back of a motorcycle glancing over her shoulder at the camera. That girl was Taft senior, Jan Smithers. Jan, of course, would go to play Bailey on WKRP IN CINCINNATI.

The survey determined that there was in fact this so-called “Generation Gap” (who knew???). And it’s widened because the older generation is resistant to listening to and understanding us. Whatever. Taft was mentioned! And our very own Jan was selected as the cover girl!

For five minutes she was the absolute star of the school, eclipsing even the football star, and the girl who played a rape victim on BEN CASEY.

The cover itself was very telling. Yes, we were rebellious, yes we rode motorcycles but they were cute little motorcycles with drivers who wore jean jackets and California golden girls on the back who wore sweaters and white slacks. Hardly Brando in THE WILD ONE.

25 comments:

Mike Bell said...

I've always thought Jan was MUCH sexier than Loni Anderson. MUCH!

RikerDonegal said...

Yeah, Mike Bell, I think Jan is/was sexier than Loni on the show.

I didn't back then, of course, I was ten and Loni was IT.

But, now...

Mac said...

Agreed. Much like Mary Ann and Ginger. Those hot pants!

Matt said...

These were my preferences:
Bailey over Jennifer
Maryann over Ginger
Ellie May over Granny.

Elisa said...

Although I'm a girl, I agree with you ;)

Paul Duca said...

I have never forgiven James Brolin for leaving Jan in Nova Scotia to go off with Streisand...

sephim said...

I've never forgiven James Brolin for leaving that house in Amityville to go off with Margot Kidder...

Mike Bell said...

Of course I should have said Jan IS. But I was overcome with a slight case of the vapors.

Sean said...

Oddly enough, the sales guy at my radio station brought up the Bailey/Jennifer question yesterday. (No doubt thanks to the Hessman autographed 8x10 in the studio that also has Jan and Loni.)

We both agreed Bailey would be our pick, but it's not as easy the Mary Ann over Ginger pick. While Jennifer is high mantinance, there is a very sweet character behind the shell. Ginger may have pulled her wieght on the island but in the end there were kiddie pools with more depth.

CHURGEAD: The sound your engine will make if you try to start it without having put oil in for a year.

Joe said...

Instruments have yet to be devised that can accurately measure how big a crush I had on Jan Smithers.

James Brolin deserves everything he's got coming to him. (This reminds me of Joe Queenan's rather savage essay assessing Streisand, with the rather acid title "Sacred Cow.")

John said...

Loni was much more accessible as someone you could have the hots for not based on body type alone, during the show's run as a hot blonde with a brain. But despite the writing staff trying to avoid the typical Hollywood blonde stereotype, that's where she ended up, once she and Burt became the early-80s version of Brangelina. Jan's look, the shyness of her character and the fact that she didn't become the National Enquirer's poster child defintely gave her the edge by the time WKRP had been in syndication for a couple of years.

blogward said...

Well can we all agree that Gary Sandy came bottom?

WV: tamatte = you say tomato...

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

Ken, you lucky devil, you! The hottest girl in my high school looked like Sam Kinison...

p.s. She screamed like him, too (don't ask me how I know)...

Mary Stella said...

Notice that there's no debate on whether Herb was hotter than Johnny?

tb said...

All of you guys who pick Mary Ann over Ginger - you're crazy, man. Ginger was a brick house

A. Buck Short said...

Apropos of the general topic, I will never forget Jan Smithers’ memorable quote at Bruce Dern’s funeral in the 1966 Roger Corman classic The Wild Angels – in answer to the inquiry, “What is it you young people want, anyway?

“We want to be free…to ride our machines…without bein’ hassled... by THE MAN!”

Words I try to live by.

ajm said...

Well, the world's leading Liza impersonator went to MY high school.

And I went to grammar school with Calista Flockhart, for good measure.

Michael Hagerty said...

Jan over Loni.

Jan over Ginger.

Jan over Mary Ann.

Jan...Lisa Edelstein....hmmm...Ken, you've met both...are they open-minded?

Mike McCann said...

Ken,

I can't believe I'm going to be the first to ask -- who was driving the motorcycle? s

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

Definitely Jan. But I'd sooner have Ginger than Mary Ann. I think most guys are afraid that Ginger would be too much to handle. I'd welcome the challenge. Also, Ginger was really an intelligent woman off screen. Someone you could talk to, after...

Larry S said...

Jan versus Loni, and Mary Ann versus Ginger. In both cases, the one is like a real person, not just a sex-pot, and that makes them (Jan and Mary Ann) sexier than all-get-out in my opinion.

Ralphie said...

There exists a spectacular B&W photo of 17-year-old Smithers in several car and youth magazines from mid-1967. She's not credited but I'm sure it's her. The photo is in a full-page ad by the National Automobile Dealers Assoc. (N.A.D.A.) promoting driver training courses. She takes up most of the page and is shown seated outside, in a sweater, with schoolbooks in her lap, flashing a 1000-watt smile for the camera.

The perfect '60's girl.

"Motor Trend", August 1967 page 24 has one.

Anonymous said...

I had the biggest crush on Jan Smithers when I was a kid. Years later I worked with a woman who had been in one of the same gym classes in high school as Jan Smithers years earlier. My co-worker said that post gym class showers were mandatory, and that the showers were group showers, and that Jan would walk around the girls locker room in the nude a lot.
I've never known if that was true or not, or if my co-worker was just yanking my chain because she knew that it would turn me on to hear that?
Anyone know if that was true about the gym class showers thing? My high school never required students to shower after gym class.

Jim H

afriendfaraway said...

Know anything about this? :I heard (offline)something about poor Jan is being exploited by a gigolo and man's sister.Hope not true.if true,hope someone can help her!