Sunday, February 28, 2016

Betty White's "Men!"

Remember watching a game show called Just Men! hosted by Betty White? Yeah, me neither. That's probably because it lasted only 13 weeks on NBC, from January to April 1983. But despite its quick demise, Betty has a pretty terrific memento from the experience -- her Emmy Award as Best Game Show Host. She was the first, and thus far only, woman to be so honored, in a field long dominated by men.

As it turned out, losing this gig didn't turn out to be such a bad break. Always in demand, she went on not only to reprise her role as Ellen Harper in the sitcom Mama's Family, but to be cast in one of the biggest hits of her career -- The Golden Girls, for which she would be awarded yet another Emmy.

If you're curious to sample Betty's short-lived game show, you can watch an episode here.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Remembering Rue

Happy birthday, in memoriam, to the one-of-a-kind Rue McClanahan, born on this date in 1934. Rue deservedly won an Emmy for her flamboyant, joyous performances as Blanche on The Golden Girls. The role became so firmly identified with McClanahan that it's hard to picture the original concept, which was for Betty White to play Blanche, while Rue would portray the sweetly naive Rose.

If you haven't done so, check out Rue's memoir My First Five Husbands ... and The Ones Who Got Away, a fun, juicy, candid account that covers her career on the New York stage,  her rise to fame with Maude, and even a little backstage dish about The Golden Girls. Like the lady herself, the book is one you won't soon forget.

Monday, February 15, 2016

President Duke

First Couple Ted Bessell and Patty Duke.
In honor of Presidents' Day, here's a chief executive you may or may not remember -- President Julia Mansfield, as played by Oscar and Emmy winner Patty Duke, in the 1985 ABC sitcom Hail to the Chief.

The show was created by Susan Harris, the mastermind behind the popular comedy Soap. Like that show, Hail to the Chief utilized a serial format, with stories that continued week to week. Unfortunately, as Duke noted in her autobiography, though she thought Harris' pilot script "was the best thing I'd ever read for half-hour television," subsequent episodes fell short, and ABC canceled the show after only seven weeks.

Now, more than 30 years later, life may catch up with art, if voters elect our first Madam President this fall. As for Patty Duke, aside from her continuing popularity as an actress, she went on to serve as president of the Screen Actors' Guild, and become a respected advocate for mental health awareness. Not bad for a lady whose TV term was over almost before it began.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Thought for the Day

Courtesy of a friend this past holiday season comes a slogan many of us can surely adopt. Happy reading, everyone!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reading the Fine Print

How much attention do you pay to the closing credits of your favorite shows? See if you recognize these phrases commonly seen at the closing of some favorite 60s and 70s sitcoms:

Hint: Not one of the correct answers! 
A. "Train furnished by Barbary Coast, Hoyt Hotel, Portland, Oregon"

B. "Based on The Saturday Evening Post character"

C. "Based on the book Life without George by Irene Kampen"

D. "(Actor's name) courtesy of the Broadway musical Raisin"

Answers on Wednesday, unless some bright TV watcher posts them first.