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TV That Time Forgot: I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster (1962)

A wild sitcom that lasted only a single season, but should have lasted longer, I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster had a talented cast. John Astin was Harry Dickens while Marty Ingels played Arch Fenster, two borderline incompetent carpenters. Emmaline Henry appeared as Dickens’ wife, Kate.

Other series regulars were the construction crew that joined the title character on jobs:  Frank DeVol as Myron Bannister, David Ketchum as Mel Warshaw, Henry Beckman as Bob Mulligan, and Noam Pitlik as Bentley. Notable guest stars who appeared during the show’s brief run included Harvey Korman, Ellen Burstyn, Lee Meriwether and Yvonne Craig.

The show debuted in September of 1962 on ABC in what should have been a very cushy spot between The Flintstones and 77 Sunset Strip. The show was also filmed before a live audience, which was unusual at that time for a show that didn’t feature a well-known star (like Lucille Ball). Alas, the show ran opposite Sing Along with Mitch on NBC and Route 66 on CBS and never attracted enough of an audience for the network to greenlight a second season.

All the principals went on to greater glory. Astin, of course, became famous as Gomez Addams, Ingels had a lucrative career doing voices for Saturday morning cartoon series (and marrying Shirley Jones) and Emmaline Henry was regularly seen on I Dream of Jeannie as the wife of Dr. Bellows. She was also slated to become a regular on Three’s Company when she passed away at the young age of 50.

Despite it lasting only one season, a DVD set of 16 of the show’s 32 episodes is now

Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Is there a Baby Boomer worthy of the name that hasn’t seen Rebel Without a Cause? Doubtful, James Dean in that red jacket has become an everlasting icon of teenage angst and ambivalence.

But here are a few things about that classic film you may not know:

The title comes from a 1944 book – Warner Brothers purchased the rights to a book about a juvenile delinquent named Harold who wound up in the federal pen in Pennsylvania, For years, they tried to work into an acceptable screenplay. In fact, one of the first writers to try was a guy named Theodore Geisel – or as we know him better – Dr. Seuss.

None of the screenplays proved acceptable. Then, in 1954, director Nicholas Ray brought Warner Brothers his idea for a film about affluent juvenile delinquents called The Blind Run. Warners liked Ray’s ideas, but wanted him to combine it with the book they’d already purchased. By the time the final script was completed, about the only thing left from that 1944 book was the title: Rebel Without a Cause.

Read more: Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

Where Are They Now? The Mousketeers Part 3

Mousketeer Roll Call: Darlene Gillespie

The story of Darlene Gillespie is not one that would lend itself to a Disney movie.

She was the daughter of a Canadian song and dance team. In 1943, her parents relocated to the Los Angeles area when Darlene was just two and began grooming her for a career in show business. By 1955, she was already an accomplished singer and dancer. She passed her audition for The Mickey Mouse Club and became one of the core cast members who stayed with the show during its entire first run.

What we at home never knew is that she was involved in an intense backstage rivalry with Annette Funicello. Dueling sets of stage parents put their friends and relatives up to flooding the Disney studio with fan mail for each of the respective girls. While Darlene did get to star in one of the Mousketeer serials (“Corky & White Shadow”) and play a major part in the second “Spin & Marty” serial, as the show progressed (along with Annette’s bustline), it became obvious who was the top Mousketeer.

Gillespie did cut a couple of albums for Disney, just like Funicello, but they didn’t receive the push from Disney’s marketing arm that Annette got.

When The Mouse Club ceased production, Disney kept Annette under contract, but Darlene had to go her own way. Her acting career quickly fizzled. Over the years, she made a few stabs at re-launching a singing career, but nothing really came of those.

Darlene worked for many years as a nurse and, in fact, greatly assisted her fellow Mousketeer Karen Pendleton when Karen had the car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down.

Sadly, her last bit of notoriety came in 1998 when she was arrested in a securities fraud scheme that she cooked up with her husband. Darlene was sentenced to two years in prison, but wound up only doing 3 months. In 2005, she and her husband were back in court on charges of fraud. Those charges were eventually dropped. The husband who landed her in the slammer passed away in 2008.

Darlene is still with us, living in relative anonymity having finally reached a financial settlement with the Disney Company after a years-long battle over royalties she claimed she was owed for her work on that TV show. Sadly, that protracted legal battle led to an estrangement with the rest of the surviving Mousketeers.

Shindig - TV's First Prime-Time Rock Show

Rock & Roll had only gotten a toe-hold on American television until the debut of Shindig, the first prime-show dedicated solely to rock music and Baby Boomers!

Prior to this, the only time you’d see a rock act in prime time was on The Ed Sullivan Show, but Ed would keep rock quarantined to a single act per show – and always intermingling with opera singers, plate spinners, Borscht Belt comics and singers who appealed to your mom and dad.

Yes, we had American Bandstand, but that aired in the late afternoon along with other “kid shows” like Huckleberry Hound. Shindig was the first time an entire 30-minute block was given over to appealing to the Baby Boom generation on a weekly basis.

Read on to discover more fascinating facts about this ground-breaking TV series!

Read more: Shindig - TV's First Prime-Time Rock Show

Rock Around the Clock (1956)

The very first “rock & roll” film is also one of the best. Rock Around the Clock was rushed into production to capitalize on the success of its title song. That song had been released by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1954 to almost total apathy. It was forgotten until it became the song that played behind the opening credits of the definitive film about 1950s’ juvenile delinquency, Blackboard Jungle, in 1955. Overnight, rock & roll went from a small following of teenagers in a few cities to a nationwide phenomenon.

Columbia Pictures, always one of Hollywood’s lesser studios, decided to jump on the craze and quickly threw together a film that would showcase the music industry’s newest stars. The film was shot in one month (January, 1956) and rushed into theaters in March. Apparently, the studio was taking no chances that the “fad” for rock would die before they got make some money off of it.

In addition to Haley, the film also featured the Platters (performing what turned out to be their two biggest hits, “Only You” and “The Great Pretender) and a never-was rock ensemble that billed themselves as Freddie Bell and His Bellboys for the kids. The also an act aimed at a little older demographic, Tony Martinez and His Band.

Read more: Rock Around the Clock (1956)

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