An Ask Morty Page

Tuesday, May 18, 2021
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THAT THING YOU DO:  Ever wonder whose hand was in that box on "The Addams Family?"   The credits say:  " Thing. . . . . . . . . .Itself ,"   but the truth is Ted Cassidy (Lurch) was on the other end of " Thing ".   When both Thing and Lurch were in the same scene, the assistant director,  Jack Voglin,  would,  well,  lend a hand.  Was Thing right or left handed?  In most scenes Thing is right handed,  but,  if you watch carefully,  you can spot a lefty here and there.  It was a good gig for Cassidy,  he even signed a separate contract to perform his handicraft.

UN-REAL ESTATES:   Before,  we gave the location of "Myer's Lake" from the opening credits of "The Andy Griffith Show."  Everyone seemed to like it--    so here are two more places you may want to visit:
Want to visit M*A*S*H?   It was shot on the Fox backlot in the Santa Monica Mountains.   Just before the last season,  Fox donated the land to the State of California.  They made it a state park,   Malibu Creek State Park.   MCSP is in Calabasas, north of Los Angeles. Take the Ventura Freeway north to Las Virgenes Road/Malibu Canyon Road.   This is about 15 miles from the intersection of the Ventura Freeway with the San Diego Freeway.   Exit and turn left.  Go about six miles past the stop light at Mullholland Highway. About a quarter of a mile further is the entrance to the park (on the right).   At the site, all you should expect to find are a burned out ambulance and jeep and a post marking the location. If you know the show, you should be able to figure out where the chopper pad was.  It's about a 2 or 3 mile hike in from the parking lot.  You can also get there by taking the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu Canyon Road (which is where Pepperdine University is located). Turn inland and go about 5 miles. The entrance will be on your left. If you come to the stoplight at Mulholland, you've gone too far.  Remember that summer is fire season, and if it gets very dry, the rangers may close the park to visitors because of the danger of fires.  The fire in the last episode of M*A*S*H* was real;  they had to add it to the storyline.  The fire forced them to wrap up shooting a little sooner than they had planned.  You can check with the rangers by phone at (818) 880-0367 before you make the trek.

Want to pay a call on Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot) and Cousin Larry Appletoen (Mark Linn-Baker)?  In the first two seasons of "Perfect Strangers,"   Larry & Balki worked at the Ritz Discount Store (the store with a monthly going out of business sale) and lived in an apartment above.  Even though they changed jobs,  the duo remained tenants of the third floor Chicago apartment,  except it was really located on the Southern fringe of downtown Los Angeles.  The Ritz Discount Store was really Goldstone's Imports and their apartment is really the Hotel Santa Rita (above Goldstones),  The four story, brick building is located east of the Harbor Freeway (110) and North of the Santa Monica Freeway (10) at 1100 South Main Street. 

Be sure to tune in here next month for more famous TV locations

WHY THE GERMANS LOST THE WAR:  Col. Wilhelm Klink (Werner Klemperer) didn't know about the tunnels or the bugs Col. Robert Hogan (Bob Crane) planted in his office,   but even the viewers didn't know that Hogan had planted a spy in Klink's office.   For the last four years of  "Hogan's Heroes,"   Klink's lovely blonde secretary,   Hilda,  was played by Bob Crane's real-life wife,   Sigrid Valdis.   Another odd piece of trivia you may not have known is that Robert Clary (Corporal Louis LeBeau) was a real P.O.W. for 31 months in a Nazi prison camp during W.W.II.   Robert appeared as himself in "Remembrance of Love,"   a 1982 TV movie about the real-life gathering of survivors of the Holocaust in Israel in 1981.   Robert lectures on the subject and says appearing as Louis LeBeau in "Hogan's Heroes" was often a disturbing experience,   bringing back memories of a horror that was nothing like the sitcom antics of Hogan & Klink.   Robert is married to a daughter of Eddie Cantor.

Many of the TV characters we know and love were originally cast to be played by actors who we never saw in the roles.  On Nick at Nite,  viewers are told that Gale Gordon and Bea Benaderet were Lucy's first choice to play Fred & Ethel Mertz,  but the story doesn't end there.  Desi Arnaz took a gamble casting William Frawley as Fred.  Bill had a reputation as a drinking man and Desi worried that his boozing would create a problem;  it never did.  Lucy wanted her good friend Barbara Pepper to play Ethel.  Desi turned down his wife's request.  Barbara was a known drunk.  Desi was already gambling on Bill showing up sober and didn't want to take the chance that both his co-stars would show up tanked.  Barbara Pepper did appear in bit parts on "I Love Lucy” and was later cast as Doris Ziffel on "Green Acres."  Barbara often showed up on the "Green Acres" set sloshed and even had to be carried off on one occasion.  Barbara was a happy alcoholic,  and got along well with the other cast members including Arnold the pig,  who sometimes knocked her down and, on occasion,  bit her.
While we're down on the farm, let's look at some casting changes made on "Green Acres."   Don Ameche was the producer's first choice to play Oliver Wendell Douglas,  however,  Don turned the role down.  They were apprehensive about asking Eddie Albert;  he had been offered and turned down the role of Steve Douglas on "My Three Sons"  (that went to Fred MacMurray) and the part of Wilbur Post on "Mr. Ed,"  (that went to Alan Young).   Lucky for us,   Eddie said yes to playing Oliver Wendell Douglas.   Perhaps you heard Zsa Zsa Gabor telling Larry King that she was offered the part of Lisa Douglas on "Green Acres" and turned it down ("It was just so silly dahling").   Not true.   She tested for the part and producer Jay Sommers said she couldn't act.   His next consideration for the part was Martha Hyer and she turned him down,  making way for Eva Gabor.
How would you feel about being marooned on "Gilligan's Island" with Jerry Van Dyke?   Sherwood Schwartz (producer,  creator,  and writer of "Gilligan" and "The Brady Bunch") was all set to sign Jerry until he had lunch with Bob Denver.   Sherwood changed his mind when he found out that Bob's favorite book was the same as his, "Robinson Crusoe."   Can you picture Raquel Welch playing Mary Ann?   This was another one of Sherwood's choices--   then he met Dawn Wells.
Tune In Next Month For More of Morty's Crazy Casting Call

Separate Beds,  Please...

The question of which TV sitcom was the first to feature a husband and wife sleeping in the same bed (rather than twin beds) has been asked many times.  For years Florence Henderson claimed that Mike (Robert Reed) & Carol (Florence Henderson) Brady were the first.  Then she announced that she was incorrect;   it was Herman & Lily Munster.  The correct answer:  The first time a sitcom husband and wife got in the same bed was on January 17, 1955 when Fred (William Frawley) & Ethel (Vivian Vance) Mertz demonstrated their unique way to cope with a sagging mattress in the "I Love Lucy" episode entitled "First Stop."   Many people reject this account as Fred was pretty much a prisoner of the bed and it was a one-time occurrence. The first time a couple shared a bed on a regular basis came nearly a decade later on September 17 1964 when Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) and Darrin Stephens (Dick York) went on their honeymoon (beating Herman & Lily to the sheets).  Samantha & Darrin (both Darrins) continued to share a common bed throughout the eight years "Bewitched" ran on ABC.

We owe a lot of early television photography to German cinematographer Karl ("Pappa") Freund.  He did the beautiful photography in three of Greta Garbo's most memorable movies,  including "Camille" and won an Oscar for "The Good Earth."  He was hired in 1951 by Desi Arnaz to design the lighting and oversee the photography of "I Love Lucy."   If you were to make a print from any of the 36,000 frames that make up an episode of "I Love Lucy,"  you'd have a photo of Ansel Adams quality.
Papa's systems were used by Desilu and most other filmed B/W series of the 60's.  This was ART!  When color television arrived on the scene,   photography required more light and some of the art was lost.  In the 70's,  producers opted for the economy of video.  Video often produces the cold,  stark images we see on most programs today.  The art is gone.
Other examples of  TV photographic art to look for are the wipes (scene transitions) on the "Addams Family."   The optics were left over from the silent film days and were handed down to Howard Anderson II from his father,  who started a film production company in 1927. The wipes were later used on "Get Smart" & "Batman."

Each week viewers would turn in to watch Dobie Gillis (Dwayne Hickman) chase the love of his life,  Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld).   While Dobie was chasing Thalia,   Zelda Gilroy (Sheila James) was chasing Dobie and stealing scenes.   Eager to cash in on Zelda's popularity,  the network decided to spin her off in her own series, "Zelda."   You say you never saw her show?   Only four episodes were shot,  and they were never aired.  Rumors began to circulate that Sheila was a lesbian.  The rumors were true and she did very little additional acting work after.  After leaving show business,   she was passed over for a promotion in favor of a man with less experience.   Sheila began to see major obstacles for women in the job market.   She went back to school,  got a degree in law and became an attorney specializing in Feminist causes.  Sheila James,  now Sheila Kuehl, lives in Sacramento and in 1992 was elected to California State Assembly to represent the 41st district.   In 1995 she became California State Assembly Democratic Whip.  From time to time you can see Sheila on "Politically Incorrect."

What do you do after you create what's considered the worst show in TV history?    Allan Burns is that person.  He created and wrote "My Mother The Car" in 1965.   MMTC star Jerry Van Dyke says the series was so bad he didn't work for years after it.   Allan Burns,  on the other hand,  went on to produce "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" for Grant Tinker.   Allan's work on the show contributed to the show's numerous Emmy awards.  His success didn't stop there.    He went on to write "Butch and Sundance: The Early Days" in 1979 and got an Oscar nomination for his screenplay "A Little Romance" also in 1979.   Not all of his work is Oscar worthy,   for example: "The Garbage Pail Kids Movie" (Allan teamed up with Rod Amateau, the director of MMTC for this masterpiece) and "Swimsuit" are also among Allan's credits.   It just goes to show you;  no matter how horrendous your mistakes are,  everyone deserves a second chance.

On April 29th Nickelodeon's TV Land will be one year old. When the cable network premiered, the folks at Viacom threw a big party to kick things off.  A highlight of the event was the re-uniting of three of the Bradley girls from "Petticoat Junction,"  Meredith MacRae (the third to play Billie Jo),  Lori Saunders (the second to play Bobbie Jo) and Linda Kate Henning (daughter of creator Paul Henning and the only one to play Betty Jo).   The top question asked of the girls was "what did you wear when they filmed the scene in the water tank."  They wouldn't tell,  but Morty will. The girls never set foot,  or any other body part,  in the water tower,  the famous scene was filmed indoors.  The girls stood behind a four foot high plywood mock-up of the tank.  A cyclorama behind them was painted sky blue,  and some tree tops were placed in the background to add to the illusion.  The indoor scene was cleverly edited into the Oregon location footage that included the girls dresses draped over the top of the tank and the Shady Rest Hotel sign.

Mr. Potato Head was born in Rhode Island in 1952 and was the first toy to be advertised on TV!   Mr. Potato Head began as a set of eyes, ears,   noses and mouths that gave everyday vegetables their own personalities. In 1964,   Mr. Potato Head took shape in the form of a molded plastic body,   you no longer had to settle for turnip,  or rutabaga substitutes when mom was out of potatoes.   Mr. "P" has gone through other changes:   In 1974 Mr. Potato Head doubled in size later becoming Super Mr. Potato Head in 1980.   Facelifts, bendable arms and a trap door to store their spare parts followed in 1983.   On February 11, 1985,  Baby Potato Head was born.   As father and role model to 12 Potato Head Kids,   Mr. Potato Head made the important decision to stop smoking.   In 1987 he was the official "spokespud" of the American Cancer Society's Great American Smokeout when he gave up his pipe to lead a healthier life.   And of course,   in 1995 he makes his mark in "Toy Story."   Over four decades of American children have enjoyed their funny and imaginative Potato Head creations,  manufactured by Hasbro, Inc.


More Kewl Stuff:

Survivor - The Complete First Season (2000)

Survivor All-Stars - The Complete Season (2004)

Survivor The Australian Outback - The Complete Season (2001)

Survivor: The Official Soundtrack to the Hit CBS TV Series [SOUNDTRACK] 


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