Is Anybody There?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says Yahweh Sabaoth" Zach 4:6 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dio di Signore, nella Sua volontà è nostra pace!" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Ben Franklin 1759

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Dick Van Dyke Christmas

The Dick Van Dyke Show in the early 60s probably had 1 of the most multitalented casts ever gathered in 1 place. The show was created by Carl Reiner. Robert Petrie was based on his time as scriptwriter for Your Show of Shows. Fortunately Carl Reiner decided to let Dick Van Dyke play the lead as well as name the show after him. Van Dyke was mostly known for his stage work in musicals. His 1st big movie was the big screen version of Bye Bye Birdie where he recreated the role he played on Broadway. He went on to star in Mary Poppins & later in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang a non-Bond James Bond movie.

But the rest of the cast was just as talented. Mary Tyler Moore (Rob's wife Laura) started her career as "Happy Hotpoint", a tiny elf dancing on TV commericals for Hotpoint appliances during the 1950s. She went on to play Mary Richards in the 70s. Initially mary Richards was to be a divorcee but the CBS big shots were concerned that viewers might think she divorced Rob & not watch the show.

Their son Richie was played by Larry Mathews. Mathews went on to graduate from UCLA. He went back to show business but worked mostly behind the scenes. Richie's full name was Richard "Richie" Rosebud Petrie. His middle name was an acronym for "Robert Oscar Sam Edward Benjamin Ulysses David," all members of Rob's & Laura's families. (This was explained on another episode, What's in a Middle Name?.)

Next, there were the next door neighbors, the Helpers. Jerry Helper was a dentist & was played by Jerry Paris. Paris did much of his acting in the 1950s. While doing occasional acting gigs, he spent most of the rest of his career as a director in movies & TV. Jerry's wife, Mildred "Millie" Krumbermacher Helper was played by Ann Morgan Guilbert. While mostly appearing in guest roles on TV after that she did land a regular role as Fran's grandmother Yetta Rosenberg Jones on The Nanny.

Then there were Rob's co-workers. Rob's fellow writers were Buddy Sorrell, played by Morey Amsterdam & Sally Rogers Rose Marie. Amsterdam started out in vaudeville. In 1924 he was working in a speakeasy run by Al Capone. After being caught in the middle of a gunfight he moved to California. He was an early pioneer of TV. He was 1 of the hosts of the 1st late night series Broadway Open House.

Rose Marie (nee Rose Marie Mazetta) started her career as a child star at age 3 under the name of Baby Rose Marie. She went on to have a radio show & appeared in many movies. She also has an Al Capone connection, claiming he helped her career. She also performed at the the opening night of the Flamingo Hotel which was built by Bugsy Siegel. She also appeared in many other series over the years including The Doris Day Show.

Mel Cooley, the show's producer (& Alan Brady's brother -in-law) was played by Richard Deacon who was also playing Fred Rutherford on Leave It To Beaver at the same time. Carl Reiner occasionally played Alan Brady their boss. & Dick Van Dyke's brother Jerry occasionally played Rob's sleepwalking, banjo playing brother Stacey Petrie. (Talk about type casting, or nepotism, or both.) There are way too many other occasional regulars to mention.

1 of my favorite episodes was the 3rd season Christmas episode The Alan Brady Show Presents (aired 18 Dec 1963), a show within the show that allowed the cast to show off their talents which they not so surprizingly shared with the characters they played. The concept was that we were watching an actual Alan Brady Show featuring the cast.

My favorite bit in the show was the scene where Laura, Mel, Sally & Buddy were a vocal quartet under the direction of Rob. They were singing a paean in honor of their boss, Alan Brady. But of course it didn't quite go as planned. (Now if they had decided to sing about a different Allen it might have worked out better.)

Some of the other bits were a little more serious, sort of:

Unlike today, the show did actually acknowlegde what Christmas was about. In this case Larry Mathews who played Richie sang Little Drummer Boy.

All together now: "LA DA DA DA DA DA DA, DA DA DA . . . .


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