Bernard Fox: What a Character – Calling Dr. Bombay

We are in the middle of our “What A Character” blog series. No overview of television character actors during the golden age would be complete without Bernard Fox.

As a young tyke, you still expect him to say, “Come along old chap.” Photo: tagswrc.com

Fox was meant to be an actor. He was born to Queenie and Gerald Lawson in Glamorgan, Wales. Both his parents were actors. Fox had his first film role at the age of 18 months. By 14 he was an apprentice assistant manager of a theater.

Bernard served with the Royal Navy during WWII as a minesweeper and then in the Korean War. From 1956-2004 he made more than 30 films. Ironically, he was in two different Titanic movies. In 1958 at the beginning of his career, he was in A Night to Remember and in 1997, at the end of his career, he was in the Oscar-nominated Titanic. He liked to say that he was the only person to survive the Titanic twice.

He began his television career in 1955 when he received a recurring role on the United Kingdom show Sixpenny Corner as Tom Norton. The show was centered around Bill and Sally Norton, a young married couple who ran a garage together. Fox played Bill’s youngest brother.

Titanic 1997 Photo: imdb.com

Eventually, he made his way to the United States. His first US show was in Wire Service in 1957, a show filmed at the Desilu studio. His next seven shows were filmed in the United Kingdom.

Fox mentioned that being a character actor was a mental strain. Early in his career, he had to worry about when the next job would be coming. He did post office work, logging, and other interesting jobs to get by. Once he got to America, he was able to rely on his acting career and didn’t have to moonlight anymore.

In 1962, he married his wife Jacqueline. They had two daughters. The same year he was back on US television with a regular role on The Danny Thomas Show. He played Danny’s English friend, Alfie Wingate. In 1963 he appeared on Ensign O’Toole, The Great Adventure, and General Hospital. The mid-sixties showed him in a variety of shows including McHale’s Navy, Perry Mason, The Dick Van Dyke Show, F-Troop, I Spy, I Dream of Jeannie, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and The Farmer’s Daughter.

Hello Constable Photo: pinterest.com

He had another recurring role during this era on The Andy Griffith Show as Andy’s friend/valet Malcolm Merriweather. Fox appeared on the show in season three. We see him pedaling his bike next to Andy’s squad car at Andy’s house and says, “Excuse me, Constable.” When Andy understands what he is saying, he explains that he is the sheriff. With all the quirky characters in Mayberry, Malcolm fit right in and it’s a charming scene.

He continued receiving regular work in the late sixties for The Monkees; The Wild, Wild West; Here Come the Brides; and Daniel Boone.

Monkeeing Around Photo: sunshinefactory.com

Bernard did not enjoy his time on The Monkees set. He called them “an amateur bunch of rabble rousers . . . a bunch of unprofessional idiots.” He said that “they’d have cans of chocolates or something in the cupboards and in between shots, they’d be cramming chocolates in their mouths.” Fox was amazed, he said he got used to it but “professionally speaking, I expected a bit more.”

It was in the late sixties that he received the role he may be best known for: Dr. Bombay on Bewitched.

In an interview on bewitched.net, Fox was asked about his popular character, Dr. Bombay. He said that the spin he put on the doctor made him more interesting, saying, “If I’d just gone for an ordinary doctor, you wouldn’t have heard any more about it. But because I made him such a colorful character, that’s why they wanted him back.” He said the character was “easy to write for” and the writers had him being summoned from all over the world. He showed up in a variety of costumes including a wet suit, a football uniform, a toga, a towel, and a matador costume among others.

On Bewitched Photo: closerweekly.com

Bernard discussed the stars on Bewitched. He said Marion Lorne was a “dear lady.” When asked about Agnes Moorhead, he said she was a “thoroughly professional lady” and that praise from her was a thrilling thing to get. He said that he “liked Dick very much, a fine actor. He was a darling man.” And about Elizabeth, he said, “she was always very sweet and knew her lines.” She liked to bet on horses and whenever she won, she treated the cast to a party on the set. He also said once she found out he had a vegetable garden, she got him a subscription to Gourmet Magazine which she renewed every year.

He fondly recalled one episode where he was supposed to be squeezing a lemon into clam dip. When he squeezed it, it went in Elizabeth’s eye. The director yelled, “cut” and re-filmed it, but it happened again. The director said, “Bet you can’t do it a third time,” but he did, so they left it in the show.

Visiting MASH Photo: imdb.com

His career did not slow down in the seventies where you could watch him on The Partridge Family, Night Gallery, Love American Style, Columbo, Cannon, Soap, and MASH. When asked about his appearance on The Partridge Family, Fox said, “Oh, I loved Shirley, she’s a doll, she’s a really nice lady.”

Following the pattern, he also had a recurring role in this decade as Colonel Crittendon on Hogan’s Heroes. As Crittendon, he was incompetent and dense and drove Colonel Hogan crazy with his ineptness.

Colonel Crittendon Photo: pinterest.com

In his bewitched.net interview, Fox also discussed his role on Hogan’s Heroes a bit. He said that in one episode he had hidden some maps in a corn bin. When he lifted the lid, it came down on his head. He just put the lid up and carried on with the script. When the director asked about reshooting, Fox said it was fine, and they left it in the film. He did say when he was playing a role on Hogan’s Heroes and Bewitched at the same time, it could get a bit confusing. They typically worked it out. For example, he said one time the studios agreed that Fox would be on the Bewitched set Tuesday and Wednesday and on Hogan’s Heroes Thursday and Friday.

Offers did slow down a bit in the eighties and nineties, and he ventured into animation work during those two decades. However, he still accepted offers for Fantasy Island, Lou Grant, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, The Jeffersons, Simon and Simon, and Murder She Wrote among others.

His last acting credit occurred in 2001 for Dharma and Greg.

Not only was Fox an actor but he was an expert in history of the theater. For fun, he enjoyed gardening, painting landscapes, and performing magic.

Photo: walmart.com

In 2016, Fox died from heart failure.

I’m so glad he was able to find a successful career on television in the United States. After learning in a previous blog what a legend Marion Lorne was in England where she lived much of her life, I like to think about Aunt Clara and Dr. Bombay sharing some time talking about the delightful English ways that they missed. Hopefully they served tea on the set once in a while.

Ruth McDevitt: What a Character – Delightfully Daffy

One of my favorite blog series is beginning again today: “What a Character !” Our first character actor is Ruth McDevitt. You might not recognize her name, but the minute you see a photo of her you will definitely recognize this busy television star. Her on-screen personality is perfectly captured in her imdb biography where she is described as “delightfully daffy and quite an apple dumpling of a darling, a cheerfully wizened character.”

On Love American Style with Meredith McCrae Photo: pinterest

Ruth was born in Michigan but she spent most of her early life in Ohio. Her father was the county sheriff and both of her parents were musicians. After graduation, she attended college (some sites give her college as Bowling Green and others Wooster) and after her graduation, she studied at the Toledo Dramatic Academy. She then moved to New York to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Art.

When she married Patrick McDevitt in 1928, she decided to devote her time to her husband, giving up her career. Her husband was a widowed contractor who lived in Florida, so she made the move south and participated in a variety of women’s clubs and community groups. Unfortunately, her husband passed away in 1934, and she then returned to her acting profession in her forties. She made her debut on Broadway in 1940 in several shows and later appeared in “Arsenic and Old Lace” in 1942 and “The Solid Gold Cadillac” in 1954.

In the thirties, Ruth also began her radio career, taking on the roles of Rosemary’s mother in “Keeping up with Rosemary” and Jane in “This Life is Mine.”

The Birds with Tippi Hedren Photo:

Ruth also found success on the big screen. Her first movie role was in The Guy Who Came Back in 1951. She would appear in a variety of movies during her career including The Birds, The Parent Trap, The Shakiest Gun in the West, Mame, and Angel in My Pocket.

With Frank DeVol in The Parent Trap Photo: imdb.com

It was in television that she found most of her fame. Her first appearances were in 1949 when she was cast in A Woman to Remember, The Ford Theater Hour, and Suspense. She continued to receive dramatic roles throughout the fifties. From 1953-54, she appeared in seven episodes of Mister Peepers as his mother.

Pistols and Petticoats Photo: pinterest

Ruth began the 1960s in several medical shows and then transitioned to comedies appearing in The Andy Griffith Show, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Debbie Reynolds Show, I Dream of Jeanne, and Mayberry RFD. She received a recurring role in The Doctors in 1963 as Mrs. McMurtrie. She also became a cast member of Pistols and Petticoats in 1966. She was described as pistol-toting grannie, Effie Hanks. The show was set in Colorado in 1871 where the Hanks family are beloved residents and run things better than the sheriff does. It was canceled after its first season. Ann Sheridan starred in the tv series and she passed away a couple of months before the show was canceled.

The 1970s was Ruth’s busiest decade. She showed up in various dramas including Ironside, McCloud, Mannix, and The Rookies. She popped up in Gunsmoke and Little House on the Prairie and took part in the medical shows Marcus Welby and Medical Center.

With Bert Mustin on All in the Family Photo:

However, comedies kept her employed. She accepted roles on My World and Welcome to It, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, That Girl, Here’s Lucy, Love American Style, Nanny and the Professor, Bewitched, Room 222, and Phyllis. among others.

She accepted a recurring role on All in the Family as Jo Nelson from 1973-1975. Her last starring role was in Kolchak: The Night Stalker from 1974-1975. Darren McGavin plays a newspaper reporter who specializes in solving supernatural mysteries. His only friend was a coworker who also had a column in the paper played by McDevitt. The show supposedly inspired the X Files in part.

Photo: wiki-fandom.com

Ruth’s last two roles were in 1976 in made-for-tv movies. She passed away the same year from natural causes at age 80.

Whenever I write about these character actors, it makes me happy and sad. I respect them so much and appreciate the depth they add to make our television series better, but I am always disappointed that there is so little information available about their lives and careers. I very much enjoyed getting to know Ruth McDevitt a little better—she certainly was a character and we all benefit from that.

Bob Barker: Celebrity Game Show Host

This month we are learning about game shows, and no one is better known for game show hosting than Bob Barker. Born in 1923 in the state of Washington, Robert William Barker was best known for hosting the two games shows we discussed the past two weeks: Truth or Consequences and The Price is Right.

Photo: cnn.com

Barker’s family did not have much money, and he spent most of his youth on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in Mission, South Dakota with his mother. The U.S. Indian Census Rolls list Barker as an enlisted member of the Sioux tribe. His mother was a school teacher, and his father was an electrical line worker for the state of Washington. When his mother remarried, she and Bob moved to Springfield, Missouri. Bob met Dorothy Jo Gideon at an Ella Fitzgerald concert when he was in Missouri going to high school. They began dating at that time. Barker received a basketball scholarship at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri. Later the street behind Drury University would be changed to Bob Barker Boulevard. Barker has contributed more than 3 million dollars to the University as well.

On Bonanza Photo: cnn.com

Bob enlisted in the Navy during WWII, hoping to train as a fighter pilot but did not have any active duty. On one of his military leaves, he and Dorothy married. After he was discharged, he returned to Drury, graduating with a major in economics. During his college studies, he was also working part time in radio on KTTS FM. Bob and Dorothy moved to Florida, and he took a job as news editor and announcer at WWPG AM in Palm Beach. In 1950, he moved to California to pursue a career in broadcasting. He received his own radio show in the early fifties, The Bob Barker Show. Ralph Edwards caught Barker’s show and thought he had a nice voice and asked him to work on Truth or Consequences.

In 1956 he began his game show hosting with Truth or Consequences. In 1967 he was asked to host the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants which he continued to do until 1987. Bob joined The Price is Right in 1972. Barker would win 19 Emmys and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Before Bob Barker, emcees dyed their hair to look younger on the air. In 1987 Barker decided to stop coloring his hair and go with his natural gray.

Dian, Holly, Bob, and Janice Photo: worthpoint.com

There was one disturbing part of Barker’s career which never seemed to affect his emcee duties. In 1994, one of the former models, Dian Parkinson filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment after she and Barker had a three-year affair. She later dropped the lawsuit, citing it was putting her under too much stress. The following year, another long-time model, Holly Hallstrom, sued Barker saying he had fired her because she gained weight caused by one of her medications and because she would not testify falsely in Parkinson’s case. Barker countersued for slander, but Hallstrom won the case in 2005. Then in 2007, Deborah Curling, a CBS employee on the show, filed a suit against Barker and the producers saying that she was forced to quit her job after testifying against Barker in a lawsuit made by a former producer. Barker was later removed from the lawsuit and later the case was dismissed.

Photo: insideedition.com

In 2007 he decided to retire, reaching fifty years in the entertainment business. Bob would revisit The Price is Right three times after retirement: in 2009 he showed up to promote his recent biography, in 2013 he returned to the set to celebrate his 90th birthday, and in 2015 he walked out as the emcee instead of Carey for an April Fool’s Day prank.

The autobiography is titled Priceless Memories and discusses his fifty years in show business. It was authored with LA Times book review editor Digby Diehl.

With wife Dorothy Photo: amomama.com

Bob has made other appearances in addition to his game-show hosting duties.

In 1960 Bob received a part on Bonanza, playing Mort.

In the seventies, he hosted the Pillsbury Bake-Off. During the seventies and eighties he also took over hosting duties for the Rose Bowl Parade several times.

Barker made his way around the talk show circuit, appearing on Dinah, Larry King Live, The Arsenio Hall Show, Crook & Chase, Donny & Marie, The Rosie O’Donnell Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Wayne Brady Show, The Late Show with David Letterman, and the The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Barker could be seen on a number of game shows as a celebrity. He and his wife were on Celebrity Tattletales, and he sat in for Richard Dawson after he left Match Game.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – NOVEMBER 29: PETA Goes Postal: Bob Barker unveils Vegetarian Icons Postage Sheet at Hollywood Post Office on November 29, 2011 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jonathan Leibson/WireImage)

In 1996, he appeared in his first big-screen film, playing himself in Happy Gilmore.

In 2009 he even managed to guest host a show for WWE Raw or The Price is Raw. He agreed to be a rotating host for Mike Huckabee’s show beginning in 2010.

He took part in a State Farm commercial when a woman who needed a new car was presented with her new car by him. He made a few public service announcements for the networks and did some campaigning for a Republican candidate in Florida.

And if all that was not enough, he voiced the character of Bob Barnacle on Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Photo: yahoo.com

When his wife Dorothy died from lung cancer in 1981, he decided to become a vegetarian and an animal activist. He worked for animal rights and gave his support to such groups as The United Activists for Animal Rights and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. In 2010 the Society secretly purchased and outfitted a ship to intercept Japanese whaling operations which Barker contributed $5,000,000 to. In 1989 he created the DJ&T Foundation for his wife and mother and the fund has contributed millions of dollars to fund animal neutering and animal rescue and park facilities construction around the US. He was known for reminding viewers to have their pets spayed or neutered at the end of his shows. In 1987, Barker requested the removal of real furs on the Miss USA pageant and when the show refused, he quit as emcee. In 2004, Bob donated one million dollars to Columbia Law School to support the study of animal rights. In 2009 he wrote several businesses in North Carolina to ask them to close their bear exhibits. In 2010 Barker gave 2.5 million dollars to renovate a building for PETA’s office which opened in 2012.

In 1999, Barker was asked to testify before Congress regarding proposed legislation that would prohibit traveling shows with elephants. During his preparation, he realized something was wrong with his hand. He was admitted to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a partially blocked left carotid artery. The procedure was successful and he returned to work a few months later. He had a stroke in 2002 and was hospitalized for six weeks. Shortly afterward, he underwent surgery for prostate cancer. He also experienced mild bouts of skin cancer over the years.

Photo: usatoday.com

Bob had several episodes with falls and one bout with severe back pain. For the last decade or so he was confined to his house with a caretaker, primarily going out only to visit his wife’s gravesite.

It’s hard for me to disregard the lawsuits brought against Barker while hosting The Price is Right. Before that time, I thought he was a pretty great guy. He has had a long and full career, becoming a celebrity and able to pursue his own causes to help animals. Many of us who grew up in the seventies and eighties have fond memories associated with watching The Price is Right. You have to give him credit for helping to make the show a successful one for decades.

The Price is Right: It’s Been Right for Almost 70 Years

While most of us remember watching The Price is Right with Bob Barker as the emcee, the show actually began in 1956. It was created by Bob Stewart and produced by Mark Goodson and Bill Todman. Bill Cullen was the original host. From 1956-1965 the show aired on NBC. Four contestants bid on a variety of items. Whoever came closest to the actual cost of the item, without exceeding the cost, won the prize. The contestants continued to try to win prizes, and the contestant who won the most came back for the next episode to compete again.

Photo: vulture.com

There was also a home viewer component where fans could guess prize totals by sending in a postcard; these prize packages often included a new car or a luxury vacation.

The show was on during the day, and in 1957 a second version was created for prime time. It aired weekly and was the first game show to be filmed in color. It was in the top ten for years, but when the ratings began to decline in 1963 NBC canceled it, and ABC picked it up. ABC aired the prime-time version for a year and then ended it in 1964. NBC’s daytime version was canceled in 1965.

In 1972, the show most of us are familiar with, began with host Bob Barker. Bob would host the long-running show until 2007 when Drew Carey took over the emcee duties. Barker won a lot of awards and honors during his time with the show including 19 Daytime Emmys and a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Announcer Rod Roddy Photo: factinate.com

In 1972 the show was called The New Price is Right which changed to The Price is Right in 1973.

Photo: imdb.com

In this version of the show, four contestants are called up to the stage where they try to guess the suggested retail price of a product. Whoever wins gets the prize and is able to play another game for a more expensive prize. The two top winners of the day face off in the showcase. The showcase had a theme of prizes and whoever guessed the cost of all the items without going over the total value won their showcase.

In 1975 the show was expanded from thirty minutes to an hour. The Showcase Showdown was added at this time. For this part of the show, the first three players spun a roulette wheel with spaces from 5 to $1. Players spun once and could stay with that spin or spin a second time and add their two numbers together. Whoever was closest to $1 without going over $1 advanced to the showcase. The last three players of the day went through the same process and the winners went to the Showcase to compete.

Photo: movieguide.com

The show is the longest-running game show in television history. Another fun history fact is that on September 22, 2008, contestant Terry Kneiss guessed his showcase to be worth $23,743 and it was to the penny. The taping was halted to determine if cheating had taken place. However, some detective work revealed that a fan, Ted Slauson, was in the audience sitting next to Terry’s wife Linda. Slauson had legitimately determined the exact prices of a lot of items but since he was not picked to be on the show, he gave the information to Linda.

Another first in television history was one the show did not want to see happen. One day a young woman was called to “Come on down” and not only did she come down but so did her tube top, revealing more than her name to the studio audience.

Talk show host Jenny Jones and Wheel of Fortune letter turner Vanna White were both contestants on the show before they became famous for their own television work.

Photo: pinterest.com

There are 34 retired games and 74 current games. Some of the ones that were played in the early years that are still around include Bullseye, Cliff Hangers, Cover Up, Danger Price, Grocery Game, Hi-Lo, Hole in One (or Two), Plinko, Safe Crackers, Shell Game, Squeeze Play, Switcheroo, Take Two, and 3 Strikes.

After Carey took over, there have been some special editions of the daily shows including Celebrity Week when stars appear to help contestants win their games and the stars win the amount of money equal to the contestants’ prizes to give to a charity of their choice. The other special is The Price is Right Salutes when the show has honored firefighters, policemen, teachers, firefighters and branches of the military.

With all the game shows that have been on the air, it is pretty amazing that Jeopardy, The Price is Right, and Wheel of Fortune have been able to gain new viewers through the decades, providing generations of viewers with special memories of watching the show.

Truth or Consequences: Truth or Dare for Adults

This month we are looking at some classic television game shows. I have fond memories of watching Bob Barker hosting Truth or Consequences when I was a little girl, but I must admit I had no idea it continued for so long. I would have guessed it ended in 1970.

Photo: ebay.com

The premise of the show was to blend trivia answers with wacky stunts, like a Beat the Clock Jeopardy. Contestants had two seconds to answer an obscure question before being beat by Beulah the Buzzer. If the contestant was able to answer the question, the host would then mention there was a part two. When the contestant was not able to answer the question with the truth, they had to take the consequence; similar to Truth or Dare for Adults. The consequence was typically a crazy stunt that often was embarrassing for the contestants.

For example, in Conveyor Belt of Doom, a woman had to stop a complex machine before the conveyor belt dropped a pie on her husband. She flipped a lot of switches and lights but later learned the only way to stop the machine was to unplug it. On one episode, while contestants were in the Green Room waiting, they “saw” a gorilla escape from a cage and run after them, not realizing it was a man in a suit and being shown to the viewers.

Photo: tumblr.com

Occasionally the contestant was there for a special reason and during or after the stunt they were surprised by some event like a child coming home from the military or a long-lost relative found.

During Barker’s run on the show, a segment was added called Barker’s Box. The box had four drawers and three of them contained money with a pop-up item in one drawer. The contestant chose a drawer at a time and could keep the money unless the pop-up was revealed. Barker also ended all his shows with the closing, “Hoping all your consequences are happy ones.”

Photo: ralphedwardsproductions.com

Ralph Edwards created the game and it was a hit immediately. It began on NBC radio where it ran from 1940-1957. In 1950 the show debuted on television on CBS. After his stint as host, Edwards would create This is Your Life which also became very popular.  In 1952 it moved to NBC when Jack Bailey hosted. Three months after going off the air, NBC revived it, bringing in Bob Barker to emcee. Barker would stay with the show until 1975. During Barker’s time on the show, a primetime version was also created hosted by Steve Dunne for part of 1958. In 1977 a syndicated version of the show was produced. Barker had already accepted a position as host of The Nighttime Price is Right, so Bob Hilton became the host but the show was canceled after one season. A decade later the show was revived again with Larry Anderson at the helm. This one also lasted one season.

The City of Truth or Consequences Photo: sierracountynewmexico.com

In 1949, Edwards aired a request as a joke that the first place to change its name to the name of the show would be the host for the tenth-year anniversary taping of the show. The town of Hot Springs, New Mexico agreed to change its name to Truth or Consequences. For fifty years afterward, Edwards returned to the town every first weekend in May for a festival called Fiesta. The town still goes by Truth or Consequences today, and Fiesta is still celebrated annually.

Barker said that the show was not affected by the quiz show scandals in that decade. He said primarily it was because they did not give away a lot of money, and the show was more about the stunts that were performed. The only way they would have been able to “fix” the show was to bring in actors and the whole appealing reality concept of using actual people on the show would have disappeared.

Photo: tumblr.com

With the exception of Jeopardy, we tend to think of game shows as prime-time offerings. Many old shows have been rebooted in the past few years. However, in the fifties and sixties, they were an essential part of daytime programming. Truth or Consequences was one of the highest-rated game shows on the air during those decades, and the show propelled Bob Barker to stardom. When contestants were slimed on the Nickelodeon network or have some humiliating consequence on Ellen’s Game of Games, they can thank Truth or Consequences for inspiring such outcomes. It seems odd that a show that relies so much on visual antics was so successful on the radio for 17 years. I guess we all had more imagination back then.

The Newlywed Game: Contestants Did Not Live Happily Ever After

This month we are looking at some classic game shows from the sixties and seventies. The Newlywed Game which aired a year after The Dating Game, debuted was often partnered with The Dating Game. The Newlywed Game was created by Robert Nicholson and E. Roger Muir and both shows were produced by Chuck Barris.

couples compete on the newlywed game tv show | Newlywed game, Memories, Game  show
Photo: pinterest.com

The premise of the show featured three couples, recently wed. The men would leave the set while the women were asked specific questions, and then the husbands were brought back to see how well they knew their spouses. In the second half of the show the women went off stage. Whichever couple had the most points at the end of the night received a prize.

The Newlywed Game | Newlywed game, Newlywed game questions, Tv show games
Photo: pinterest.com

The host was Bob Eubanks. His trademark phrase was “making whoopee” which is how he got around talking about sex without using words he could not say.

Apparently, the show led to several divorces. I read a lot of sources that made that claim, but I could not verify any couples that actually divorced because of the show.

In 1977 a syndicated version of the show was created that was identical to the original ABC entity. The show was canceled in 1980 when another one of Barris’ shows, 3’s A Crowd created a lot of controversy. In that show, a man’s wife and secretary would compete to see who knew him best. It resulted in so many complaints that all Barris’ shows were canceled.

However, the show was revived from 1985-1989 and again from 1996-1999. Eubanks continued his hosting duties in the first reboot until 1988 when he was replaced with Paul Rodriguez. The 1996 version was emceed by Gary Kroeger but after the ratings did not increase, Eubanks was brought back from retirement. Its first announcer was Johnny Jacobs who also hosted The Dating Game.  In the other versions, there were a variety of announcers.

8 things you would have never guessed about 'The Newlywed Game'
Photo: metv.com

Barris wrote a song “Summertime Guy” for singer Eddie Rambeau. He was banned from singing it on American Bandstand because Barris was employed by the same network. Barris wanted to use the song for something so he had it arranged as an instrumental by Milton DeLugg and it was recorded by Trumpets Ole, a similar style of band to Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass who did the music for The Dating Game.

Most of the original episodes don’t exist any longer. Many were unairable due to color deterioration. A few episodes were somehow saved and have been seen on GSN, the Game Show Network.

Hasbro made board games for The Newlywed Game so everyone could argue at home as well as on the show.

Vintage 1969 Hasbro The Newlywed Game 3rd Edition Tub4 for sale online |  eBay

Although I watched this show from time to time, I cannot say I watched it often or was a fan of the show. I do remember more contestants being mad than happy during their appearance on the show.

I think I consider it a blessing that not many of the original episodes exist. Once was probably enough to watch this game show.

The Dating Game: I’ll Take Bachelor Number 4

This month we are taking a look back at some of the game shows on television in the fifties and sixties. If you grew up in that era you will definitely remember The Dating Game. Airing in December of 1965, it was created by Chuck Barris who would create many game shows and might be known best for The Gong Show.

Photo: latimes.com

The original host was Jim Lange. The show was revived several times, a trend we continue to see with Match Game and the 100,000 Pyramid among other shows that have appeared in different decades. The original series was on the air until 1973. Jim Lange continued to host for the syndicated version in 1973 which only lasted a year and again in 1978 without the participation of Barris. Johnny Jacobs was the announcer with Lange. In 1986 the show was rebooted with Elaine Joyce as host, followed by Jeff MacGregor for 1987 and 1988. The show popped up again in 1996 with Brad Sherwood hosting, again followed by Chuck Woolery for two years.

The Newlywed Game, which we’ll discuss next week, was often packaged with The Dating Game for an hour of programming beginning in 1966.

9 Actors Who Appeared On 'The Dating Game' Before They Were Famous
Photo: throwback.com

If you are not familiar with the show, three bachelors would sit on stools behind a wall and a bachelorette on the other side asked the three men questions. Every once in a while, things would reverse with the man asking questions to three women. She referred to them as Bachelor No. 1, 2, and 3. At the end of the question-and-answer period, the bachelorette would choose one of the three and the pair would go on a date with the show paying the expenses. The dates began as expensive dinners, but when the show went to primetime in 1966 exotic locations like Paris or Hawaii were the destinations, and the couples were chaperoned.

That chaperone would have been very important in the case of Rodney Alcala, one of the bachelors chosen for a date in 1978. Jim Lange introduced him as a successful photographer. At that time, there was no technology available to conduct background checks which would have already flagged him as potentially dangerous. Cheryl Bradshaw, the bachelorette, found him creepy and refused to go on the date. It was later learned that by the time he made his appearance on the show, he had killed at least two women in California and two in New York. After the episode aired, he continued his serial killing career and killed between 8-120 women in a nine-year time span. He was on death row at San Quentin Prison and is currently serving his time at the Corcoran State Prison with his execution postponed due to a moratorium on the death penalty in the state.

Bradshaw was not the only contestant who refused to go on the date. Many contestants chose to skip that once they met in person.

How to Make a Decision. - Thin. Rich. Happy.
Photo: thewisdomdaily.com

Barris had a problem with the show in that so many of the responses were not appropriate to put on the air. Often, they were crude or had sexual connotations. Finally, he came up with a creative solution. He hired an actor to dress like an enforcement official. He appeared in the dressing room before the bachelors were sent to the set. He told them any profanity or sexual references would be a violation of the FCC policy which was a federal offense, and it could lead to jail time. This was not true, but the bachelors did not know that, and Barris said the threat took care of his problem.

Suzanne Somers Photo: groovyhistory.com

While I do remember seeing Mel Harris as a contestant on Pyramid reruns, and I’m sure that happens sometimes on game shows, this show really hit the jackpot with contestants who later became celebrities including Yvonne Craig, Farrah Fawcett, Leif Garrett, Phil Hartman, Don Johnson, Andy Kaufman, Steve Martin, Lee Majors, Burt Reynolds, Michael Richards, John Ritter, Tom Selleck, Suzanne Somers, and Lindsay Wagner.

Photo: pinterest.com

The set screamed 1960s with colorful daisy-like shapes on the wall designed by Art Director George Smith. The flowers were vivid sixties colors. The show ended with the winning contestants and Lange blowing kisses to the audience.

The music was also easily identifiable with the show. Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass songs were used in the three different parts of the show. “Spanish Flea” before introducing the bachelor, “Whipped Cream” when introducing the bachelorette, and “Lollipops and Roses” when the couple first meets.

The show was a hit from the beginning. Airing during the day in 1965, in 1966 it switched to primetime.

If watching the show was not enough excitement, you could play at home. Hasbro released three different games based on the show. In 1968, an album was recorded called The Dating Game Party Pak. Jim Lange narrated the album and packaged with it were invitations, name tags, and scorecards.

As for “happy ever afters,” I could only find two mentions of potential marriage from the show, and I could not verify either one of them. Barris said the network told him he needed to have at least one couple end up together; one couple discussed marriage and the network was involved with it but they called it off right beforehand; the other was a reporter who Barris knew would not give the show favorable publicity, so he apparently had three call girls as contestants and asked the reporter to be on the show. The reporter and one of the prostitutes went on their date, hit it off, and apparently, married. Happy ever after?  Who knows?

Like Laugh In, this was a show that could only have come out of the late sixties and early seventies. While I do remember watching the show often, I think it was probably because my parents were watching it. I’ll take Jeopardy, Concentration, or Sale of the Century any day.

Downton Abbey: An Inspiration for Learning History

If you love history, you may have been a fan of Downton Abbey. This British historical drama was created by Julian Fellowes and written by Fellowes, Shelagh Stephenson, and Tina Pepler. The show debuted on television in 2010 in England and in the United States in 2011.

Cast Photo Photo: hellomagazine.com

As the show begins, Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville), Earl of Grantham, has married American heiress Cora Levinson (Elizabeth McGovern). We learn that the Crawley family has had financial difficulties and the marriage is a way to save the family and their property. Robert and Cora have three daughters and no son.

Photo: hollywoodreporter.com

The oldest daughter, Mary (Michelle Dockery), agrees to marry her cousin Patrick. As the show begins, the family learns that both Patrick and his father James have died in the Titanic disaster. The new family heir is now Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), a distant cousin who is the son of an upper-middle-class doctor. Eventually, Mary and Matthew become close. Matthew proposes and Mary wants to accept but when her mother becomes pregnant, she delays her answer knowing that a brother would take Matthew’s place as family heir. When her mother has a miscarriage, she accepts the proposal, but Matthew rescinds the proposal assuming she is not as interested in him as he hoped. The first season ends with the death of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and the start of WWI. The youngest Crawley daughter Isobel is played by Penelope Wilton.

In season two Matthew and Mary are reunited. They plan to be married during season three. Robert realizes that his entire fortune including his wife’s dowry is now gone after he invested it in the Grand Trunk Railway. Robert and Matthew agree to run the estate together, although later Robert will resist any efforts on Matthew’s part to make the estate more modern and more profitable. Mary becomes pregnant and returns to her home to give birth and while she is there, she learns that Matthew has been killed in a car crash. Downton Abbey serves as a hospital on the show for soldiers during WWI. In reality, Highclere Castle also served as a convalescent home for soldiers during that war.

Photo: vanityfair.com

Season four is set in 1922-23. Mary is Matthew’s sole heir which gives her management of the estate until their son George comes of age. Mary settles back into life at the estate with her son. Two men, Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen) and Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden), are interested in her but she is still mourning. Mary’s sister Edith (Laura Carmichael) begins writing a weekly newspaper column and she falls in love with her editor, Michael, a married man whose wife has been confined to an asylum for some time. Michael travels to Germany where he plans on becoming a citizen and then will be allowed a divorce from his wife which Great Britain prohibits. While there, he is killed by Hitler’s men during a riot. Edith, who is pregnant and has kept it secret, goes abroad to give birth and places her child with a family in Switzerland. She later finds her daughter Marigold (Eva Karina Samms) and gives her to a family who lives on the estate.

Season five finds the family in 1924. Charles Blake, still interested in Mary, decides to try to reunite Lord Gillingham with his former fiancée Mabel. In the meantime, Edith inherits Michael’s publishing company. Cora learns that Marigold is actually Edith’s daughter but the truth is kept from Mary.

Halcyon Style: Downton Abbey Style
Photo: halcyonstyle.com

Season 6 is set in 1925. Many wealthy families in England are being forced to sell their large estates. Bertie Pelham (Harry Hadden-Paton) proposes to Edith but she does not know if she should accept because of Marigold. Edith eventually accepts and reveals the truth about her daughter to her mother-in-law who supports her because of her honesty. Mary marries Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode).

Of course, there were dozens of subplots based on other characters living nearby and the household staff that added interest to each season.

Photo: inside highclere Photo: pinterest.com

The series was filmed at Highclere Castle in North Hampshire. Many outdoor scenes were shot in Oxfordshire, including St. Mary’s the Virgin Church and the rectory in Bampton.

The opening theme is “Did I Make the Most of Loving You?,” composed by John Lunn.

The show was praised by critics. Metacritic gave it a rating of 91/100. The show received a Guinness World Record for the highest critical review acclaim for a TV show. Breaking Bad would overtake that record in its fourth season with a rating of 96/100.

The series was congratulated for a sympathetic portrayal of a wealthy family rather than ridiculing them. Sam Wollaston of The Guardian said that “it’s beautifully made—handsome, artfully crafted and acted. [Maggie] Smith, who plays the formidable and disdainful Dowager Countess, has a lovely way of delivering words, always spaced to perfection. This is going to be a treat if you like a lavish period drama on a Sunday evening.”

downton abbey
The Crawley Women Photo: town&countrymagazine.com

Fellowes said a tremendous amount of research went into making all aspects of the show realistic. Costume designer Anna Robbins said she found many pieces of vintage clothing in her native Scotland and went to Paris annually to buy items. They were then painstakingly restored by Anna and costumer Caroline McCall. The furniture was based on a real-life photo of the house during that era. The show was so popular that an exhibit featuring original props, costumes, jewelry, kitchenware, and other items toured various world cities.

Because of the attention to detail, each episode cost more than $1 million dollars to produce.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is among the show’s fans. She had been a guest at Highclere castle.

The show was nominated for sixteen Emmys in its home country of England. With so many fans and awards, why was the show canceled? Apparently, the characters found their happy endings, the plots were resolved, Maggie Smith had decided not to return to the show, and the show was coming to an era where the estate would not have been able to be maintained. By 1930, it was hard to find domestic staffs for large homes and the estates were too expensive to operate, which was made worse when taxes increased after the war. Fellowes wrote a letter to American fans saying, “We wanted to leave while we would still be missed and not wait until everyone was dying to see the back of us.” However, it wasn’t truly over because the movie Downton Abbey came out in 2019.

Who was your favourite suitor of Downton Abbey's Lady Mary? - EVOKE.ie
Photo: evoke.ie

I have to admit I have never seen the show. I have a self-imposed rule that I need to watch at least several episodes of each show before discussing them in my blog. This time I made an exception because I do have plans to watch this one. During the time it was on, I did read about it often and felt like I had a good understanding of the plots and characters. With only 52 episodes total, it can easily be watched within a month. I do love history, and I am looking forward to studying all the cultural history that this show displays. For those of you who have seen it, I would live to hear your thoughts on what you loved or did not enjoy about the series.

Rick Steves’ Europe: Inspiration for Your Traveling Passion

Rick Steves' Books: The Only Way To Travel Europe - Tourist Meets Traveler
Photo: touristmeetstraveler.com

We are learning about some adult PBS shows this month that inspire us. We have learned about shows that inspire our collecting and our cooking, but one of my favorite things is travel, and today we get inspiration for getting away. Any time you are stuck at home with the travel bug (hint, think any moment from the last two years), turn on the TV and tune into Rick Steves’ Europe. This travel documentary series was created by Steves and is hosted by him.

The show is produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting. It debuted in 2000 with 152 episodes being released, as well as a few specials. Steves spends about a third of his year filming TV shows and researching locations for his guide books.

Photo: ricksteveseurope.com

Rick was born in 1955. His love of Europe began when he was 14. His parents owned a piano store, and the family traveled to Europe to check out piano factories. Steve kept a journal of their travels. He stored postcards and numbered them to remember the trip. After high school, he attended the University of Washington, majoring in European history and business administration. He wrote his first travel book in 1979. Before Rick Steves’ Europe, he had another show on PBS called Travels in Europe with Rick Steves from 1991-1998.

His travel philosophy encourages people to explore destinations that are not tourist-centered spots and to learn more about European lifestyles. He also has a radio show called “Travel with Rick Steves” and has authored numerous travel guides and newspaper columns. He donates royalties from one of his books to Bread for the World, an organization to end hunger. His newest venture is an app called “Rick Steves Audio Europe” which features self-guided walking tours.

Photo: kbps.com

Rick designs all the tours that are featured on the series. He emphasizes trying local cuisine and encourages making discoveries on your own that you might not see on the show. Annually, he takes about 30,000 people to Europe, utilizing 100 native guides.

His PBS series is one of the most popular and longest-running travel series. With long-time producer Simon Griffith and cameraman Karel Bauer, Rick lets visitors, physically and mentally, learn about the best B&Bs in Tuscany; play backgammon in Turkey; hike on Alpine ridges in Switzerland; and eat tapas in Spain or pub-grub in Ireland.

As we have seen throughout the past year, Steves was also grounded by COVID-19. His travel strolls were limited to his own neighborhood. He realized that as things open up, his tours will still have to wait for an extended period of time. Because he likes to visit small, cozy villages and interact closely with Europeans, he knows this will require a bit more patience. As he says, “So, the whole beauty of travel for me is people. And that’ll come back, but I’m gonna be patient.”

Rick Steves' Europe: An innkeeper explains the real Venice | HeraldNet.com
Photo: heraldnet.com

Until that happens, you can find a lot of interesting information on his website. It’s all free. He also has a Europe Bingo. Download and print the Bingo cards and learn about the great European cities while streaming an episode of his show.

Steves’ motto is “Keep on Travelin.’” Luckily for us, watching his show will allow us to do so no matter how often we are stuck in our living rooms.

Antiques Roadshow: Inspiration for Your Collecting Passion

Earlier in the year we looked at some kids shows on PBS. This month it’s the adults turn. You can learn so many fun facts and become inspired on PBS. Up today is a show that has now been on a quarter of a century. Antiques Roadshow began on the BBC as a special in 1977. In 1979 it became a regular series in Great Britain. The American version was produced under a BBC license at WGBH in Boston in 1996 and began airing in 1997.

Pottery segments are some of my very favorites Photo: kpbs.com

Traveling around the country to different cities, antique owners bring in their personal items to be discussed and appraised on the show.

Chris Jussel was the host for the first four seasons. Contemporary art expert Dan Elias took over from 2001-2003. Lara Spencer, who had been a correspondent on Good Morning America, moved into the seat for seasons 8 and 9. Actor and game show host Mark Walberg became the host after she left.

For the first nineteen seasons. the hour-long episode began with the host introducing the location. Most cities had three programs devoted to their location. The format showed a variety of items being evaluated by a variety of appraisers with knowledge of different categories of collectibles. Throughout the show, you would see shorter segments at the tables where a very brief appraisal was given for a couple of items. Halfway through the show, the host would explain more about the city or location where the show was being filmed.  Often, shows were held in city convention centers or hotel ballrooms. The show ended with taped comments from the Feedback Booth where people discussed what they learned about their items. Some episodes would then have a Hidden Treasures segment where one or two items that were more rare or expensive or old would be given a more thorough appraisal.

Behind the scenes Photo: pbs.org

In season 16, a few small changes occurred to the format. New logos,as well as  opening and closing credits were designed. A new set was created. Most of the host’s appearances including the halfway segment were dropped. Beginning in season 23, more shows were filmed at historic sites and parks, rather than city or commercial buildings. Walberg left the show in season 23, and Coral Pena took over the voiceover duties.

Author Jason Reynolds on celebrity edition Photo: pbs.org

Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic affected the television industry and Antiques Roadshow was no exception. The limited number of episodes that aired in 2021 were conducted with celebrities instead of a variety of antique owners. I thought they were very interesting shows. Four celebrities were included in each hour: my favorite collections were with Jay Leno, Jason Reynolds, S. Epatha Merkerson, Marc Brown, and Nancy Kerrigan.

Tickets are free but are provided on a random basis. Viewers must fill out a form on the website and if you receive a ticket, you also receive a free appraisal whether your segment makes it on the air or not. Keep in mind, if you wear clothing with a business logo, you are automatically not appearing on television; the show cannot take time to contact all business owners for permission.

On the filming day, visitors check in at designated times and wait in line to see an appraiser. About 150 of the appraisals are taped, and approximately 30 of them make it on the final show. What if you live alone and want your antique dresser appraised? If the show thinks the item is interesting, they will move it free. If you receive a ticket, you can submit photos of your furniture to the producers and they will pick it up and return it in a 60-mile radius of the host city. However interesting some items are, there are several types of collectibles that the show won’t appraise including cars, stamps, currency, coins, fossils, tools, ammunition, and explosives.

Former Playboy Bunny items appraised by Laura Woolley Photo: arizonapublicmedia.com

Typically. there are about seventy people appraising at each site. Antiques Roadshow uses volunteer appraisers and does not pay them or cover travel expenses. However, they do receive a few free meals that day. While they cannot buy or sell any items that day, they do get national exposure. To learn more about the appraisers, you can go to pbs.org and find the Antiques Roadshow page. You can also learn their rules and the cities that they will be visiting, along with a lot of other interesting information.

Sports are always popular Photo: leiladunbar.com

While items are often identified as fakes or reproductions, there have been some very significant finds on Antiques Roadshow. The most expensive appraisal never made it on the air. The owner preferred not to let America see who had this rare collection. It was a collection of autographs from every Presidential cabinet member from Washington to Franklin Roosevelt and was valued at a million dollars.

Some of the other fun collectibles included: a set of Chinese cups carved from rhinoceros horns from the late 17th century, valued at over a million dollars; sports appraiser Leila Dunbar valued a Bost Red Stockings 1870s memorabilia set at a million dollars in 2015; a never-worn Rolex Oyster Daytona Chronograph watch was valued at $500,000-700,000; and a set of Charles Schulz Peanuts comic art at $450,000. A New Jersey woman bought a card table at a garage sale for $25 and sold it for half a million.

The show draws about 8 million viewers a week and is very popular with PBS financial supporters.

Antiques Roadshow has been nominated for more than 19 Emmys. It has won more nominations than any other reality show, but it has never won an award.

Not worth $50,000 (except to her parents) Photo: cbc.ca

I could not find too many mishaps on the show, so either the network keeps them very quiet or they have been very lucky. One vase was appraised for $50,000 which later turned out to be made by a local high school student and valued much, much, much less. One man collapsed and fell after learning the value of his object, but I’m sure it was embarrassing for him so I won’t share the location and item from that incident.

While I have always loved history, I remember seeing the show as a parent of toddlers and thinking it had some interesting pieces but seemed like “an old person’s show” and about ten years ago, I began to watch it regularly so I either misjudged it or I am now an old person; if you have an opinion, I’ll let you keep it to yourself!

The always popular Keno brothers Photo: npr.org

As a museum curator, I have learned some valuable information that I have been able apply to items in our collection. What I love most about the show is that there is something for everyone: handmade furniture, first-edition books, beautiful pottery, sports memorabilia, clothing from the entertainment field, and on and on. There is a reason the show has been on the air for 25 years so if you have never seen it, check it out this year.