NOSTALGIA TV – Comedies, sitcoms & family shows Pt 3.



#2        BEWITCHED

Alice Pearce

Dick York                                         Dick Sargent

(1964-72). This delightful series owed most of its enormous popularity to Elizabeth Montgomery who played Samantha, the cute witch who is married to a mortal. The support cast, however, contained some wonderfully eccentric performers. Marion Lorne was gorgeous as dithery witch Aunt Clara, even winning an Emmy along the way. Agnes Moorehead (another witch) was also excellent as Samantha’s mother Alice Pearce was equally good as snoopy neighbour Gladys Kravitz but, sadly, she passed away after just 29 episodes and had to be replaced.

Dick York also had to be replaced in 1969 because of a chronic, debilitating back complaint he suffered while working on a movie with Gary Cooper. Moorehead and he were very close off-camera and she consequently refused to warm to his replacement, Dick Sargent. Occasionally, Paul Lynde popped in as the hilarious Uncle Arthur and David White, a fine actor, was terrific as Larry Tate. His 33 year-old son was aboard Pan-Am Flight 103 when terrorists blew it up over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. The young man’s death affected Tate enormously and he died two years later.

Elizabeth Montgomery, of course, was the daughter of romantic lead (and war hero) Robert Montgomery. She never lacked courage either. In support of Sargent (who was gay), she rode in the 1992 Los Angeles Gay Pride Parade as a grand marshall. Sadly, she contracted colon cancer in 1995 and died 8 weeks later at the age of 62.


#3        GOMER PYLE U.S.M.C.

(1964-9). Jim Nabors was the kind-hearted, but bumbling Marine Gomer Pyle, stationed at Fort Henderson near Los Angeles. His nemesis is Sergeant Carter played by Frank Sutton, a real-life WW2 veteran who participated in no fewer than fourteen landings with the US Army in the Pacific. Ironically, the Marines had previously rejected him because he failed the physical exam. Gentle-natured Nabors still finds it hard to watch the opening credits for the series because many of the young Marines shown marching (at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego) were later killed in Vietnam.






#8        THE LUCY SHOW




#13      MY THREE SONS




#17      LASSIE



(1964-6). Fans of Desperate Housewives (2004) might recognize the Munsters’ house which features on the set of that series. Yvonne De Carlo who played Lily Munster was born in 1922. Al Lewis played her father (Grandpa), and he was born in 1923! The only ‘normal’ member of the family was Marilyn Munster. Beverly Owen portrayed her in the first 13 episodes, but her perpetual weeping (she missed her fiancée back in New York) eventually resulted in the rest of the cast getting her released from her contract. She dashed home to New York, married her fiancée and virtually retired from acting. The marriage lasted ten years. Curiously, Pat Priest took her place for the remaining 57 episodes. Both actresses were extremely alike physically and very few fans noticed the change! Needless to say, the star of The Munsters was the inimitable Fred Gwynne as Herman



That is not a big island

That’s not a big hole in the boat either

The best dressed castaways in history

(1964-7). The most surprising thing about Gilligan’s Island (to me anyway), is that it only lasted three seasons (99 episodes). The show seems to have been in permanent rerun mode since the sixties. I just naturally assumed they made about 20,000 episodes! You might have noticed the American flag flying at half-mast in the very first shot of the opening credits. That is because President John F Kennedy had just been assassinated. Looking for plot-holes in Gilligan’s Island is almost an endless quest. For example:

  1. Why is their boat called the SS Minnow? ‘SS’ stands for ‘steam ship’. The Minnow is either diesel or gasoline-driven.
  2. How many ‘uncharted desert islands’ can there be within three hours of an American port?
  3. If the Professor can invent and customize just about anything, then why can’t he patch the hole in the bloody boat?
  4. Speaking of the Professor, why would he take a library full of books on a three-hour cruise?
  5. Similarly, why would the others take a hundred changes of clothes?
  6. How big is the island? Throughout the series people keep popping up from ‘the other side of the island’ who have been stranded there for ten years! Yet they have never met each other.

The more I think about this dumb show the more I am beginning to think it is not a true story.



(1964-6). The producers must have had a ball thinking up names for this show. Gomez Addams was initially going to be called Repelli (short for Repellent); Pugsley was going to be Pubert, but it sounded too sexual; Wednesday was named for the nursery rhyme, ‘Wednesday’s child is full of woe’; her black widow spider was called Homer, her headless doll was Marie Antoinette (priceless); and then there was Morticia Frump Addams, Uncle Fester Frump, Lurch, Thing, and Cousin Itt. Morticia’s man-eating plant was called Cleopatra, and even the polar bear skin rug had a name. It was Bruno. The family’s pet lion was ‘Kitty Kat’.




#25      FLIPPER

(1964-7). Flipper came into being following the success of the Chuck Connors film of the same name in 1963. That film led to Flipper’s New Adventure (1964), which then spawned this series. Young Luke Halpin played Sandy Ricks in both movies and the 88 episodes of the series. Three different dolphins were used as Flipper. The world’s love affair with these creatures ensured the series rolled on for three seasons before it ran out of ideas.




#29      MCHALE’S NAVY




#2        GOMER PYLE U.S.M.C.


#3        THE LUCY SHOW




#7        BEWITCHED




#9        HOGAN’S HEROES

A posed shot of the principal players

(1965-71). The four principal German characters in this series were Colonel Klink, Sergeant Shultz, Hochstetter and Burkhalter; and all four were played by Jewish actors. In fact, John Banner (Schultz), Leon Askin (Burkhalter) and Robert Clary (LeBeau) were all survivors of the Holocaust. Werner Klemperer (Klink) escaped Nazi Germany with his parents in 1933. For continuity’s sake, all episodes were depicted as taking place in winter, so much of the time the actors were standing around in greatcoats and stamping their feet ‘to keep warm’ when, in fact, it was over 90 degrees.

Cynthia Lynn & Bob Crane

Sigrid Valdis & Crane

Bob Crane (Hogan) insisted his girlfriend (and later his wife) Sigrid Valdis replace Cynthia Lynn as Klink’s secretary Helga. Stalag 13 was located on a backlot at Culver City on the spot where the façade for Tara in Gone with the Wind (1939) stood. The area was bulldozed in 1976 and is now an industrial park. Ivan Dixon (Kinch) left the show at the end of the fifth season, stating he was fed up with the posturing of Crane, Klemperer and Richard Dawson (Newkirk). Crane would be murdered in 1978 in Scottsdale, Arizona. His killer was never found.

There is something very unsettling about Hogan’s Heroes. A few things actually. Crane’s smugness begins to really irritate after a while, but it is the premise that grates most of all. Nazis were many things, but two things they were not. They were not stupid and they most certainly were not funny. No doubt genuine prisoners of war would have cringed watching the show. Indeed, I imagine they probably gave the thing a wide berth altogether.


#11      GREEN ACRES

(1965-71). I wonder how many fans of Green Acres still believe that Arnold the Pig was devoured by the cast at a final day of filming luau? He wasn’t. Tom Lester (he played Eb Dawson), tired of being asked what happened to Arnold, so he made up the story. A lot of fans believed it for a long while. The first Arnold was a male, but all the others (2 to 4 every season) were females. That means there were between a dozen and 24 ‘Arnolds’ employed over the series, so the chances of at least one of them ending up on a barbecue are pretty good.

Lovers or just friends?

The chemistry between the stars Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor was evident to all, but whether or not they were off-screen lovers has never been proven. Eddie was reported to be ‘devastated and heartbroken’ by Eva’s death in 1995. He died at 99 in 2005. They are buried just yards apart at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.


#12      GET SMART

(1965-70). It will always remain a mystery to me how Mel Brooks could be the creator of two of the funniest TV series in history (Get Smart and F Troop), yet make such lamentably childish movies like History of the World Pt 1 (1981), Robin Hood: Men in Tights (1993) and Life Stinks (1991), to name but three. Don Adams (Maxwell Smart) was given the choice of taking more money per episode or accepting part ownership of the series. He chose the latter and made a mint. No 99, played by Barbara Feldon never had a real name. For ten years Barbara was married to a producer of Get Smart. Adams’ did not speak like Maxwell Smart in real life. The voice was ‘put on’ for the show.


#15      MY THREE SONS








#27      LASSIE



Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman

Hayden Rorke as Dr Bellows

Michael Ansara and Barbara

(1965-70). I was 18 years old when I Dream of Jeannie hit the screens. At that age I would have gladly watched Barbara Eden with the sound turned completely off! She was truly something special. Probably still is. When I learned she was married to Michael Ansara I was shattered. In fact, Barbara was pregnant with his child throughout the first season’s filming, her condition disguised with veils and close-ups when she really started to show. Jeannie’s pink harem costume now resides in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, and so it should – it being a national treasure and all. The interior of Jeannie’s bottle was actually a sound stage that required her to climb an eight-foot ladder to get into. In a 2011 interview Barbara revealed that Hayden Rorke (Dr Bellows) was gay and had a long-time romantic partner. In her autobiography she also discusses Larry Hagman’s problems with drugs and booze throughout the series.


#29      FLIPPER






#4        THE LUCY SHOW


#6        GREEN ACRES


#7        BEWITCHED




#9        GOMER PYLE U.S.M.C.



Brian Keith (centre), Anissa Jones (front centre)

(1966-71). Eight year-old Anissa Jones played Buffy and was required to carry her ‘Mrs. Beasley’ doll wherever she went. On promotional tours, even when she reached her teenage years, she was still required to do so and to also have her chest bound to disguise the fact that she was growing breasts. At the age of 18 she died from a massive drug overdose, a mixture of cocaine, angel dust, Quaaludes and Seconal. The San Diego County coroner described it as the most severe drug overdose he had seen. Her brother died in similar circumstances in 1984.

The star of Family Affair was undoubtedly Brian Keith, a fine actor. He, too, took his own life, although it is not difficult to understand why. Diagnosed with emphysema and terminal lung cancer, he could not contend with the added horror of his 27 year-old daughter shooting herself just ten weeks earlier. He was 75.




#22      GET SMART




#29      MY THREE SONS

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