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8 Things You Didn’t Know About "That Girl"

  1. It was the first network sitcom centered around a single working girl who was not a maid. Previously, woman who were sitcom stars tended to be a.) wacky housewives (see I Love Lucy), b.) family matriarchs (see The Donna Reed Show) or 3.) domestics (see Hazel). TV historians say her show paved the way for The Mary Tyler Moore Show just a few years later.
  2. Donald Hollinger was originally supposed to be Ann Marie’s agent as well as her boyfriend. After they filmed the series’ pilot, producers must have decided that agents can sometimes be a little sleazy. So Donald changed jobs and became a magazine writer. (He was played by Ted Bessell in that never-broadcast pilot and the subsequent series.)
  3. There was a connection between That Girl and The Dick Van Dyke Show. The Van Dyke show was produced by Marlo’s father, Danny Thomas and two of the show’s main writers, Bill Persky and Sam Denoff, became the creators of That Girl.
  4. Marlo Thomas came up with the show’s concept. She was the one who insisted that her character be a small-town girl who comes to the big city to try and find work as an actress. (Although her real life was that of the daughter of a rich, famous comedian, which made her entrance into show business much easier.)
  5. Her first next door neighbor was also a Broadway leading lady. Bonnie Scott who played her original next door neighbor, Judy Bessemer, starred on Broadway opposite Robert Morse in the hit musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Bonnie left the series because the shooting schedule took too much time away from her young kids.
  6. Ruth Buzzi and George Carlin made appearances on the show. Ruth played a neighbor of Ann’s in several episodes while Carlin played her agent (replacing Ronnie Schell) in just one episode.
  7. Marlo wanted to call the show Miss Independence. That was the nickname her father had given her as a young girl.
  8. The network wanted the series finale to be the wedding of Ann Marie and Donald. But Marlo Thomas thought that might send the wrong message to the single girls she felt were the series’ core audience. You know, she gets married and “they live happily ever after.” So, she and Donald did get engaged during the show’s fifth season, but the series ended with Ann Marie still single.

Finally, is there any human being who watched the show and thought Ann could really be a virgin living in New York City in the mid 1960’s, especially if she was working in show business?
Didn’t think so.

Pillow Talk (1959)

If one comedy personified how Americans saw themselves in the early 1960’s, that comedy would be Pillow Talk. This first teaming of Doris Day and Rock Hudson was instant box office gold, racking up $18 million in ticket sales (back then, that was a blockbuster!) and leading to more on screen teamings of the two.

Now, the entire premise of Pillow Talk makes it impossible to remake today. It revolves around something we once called a “party line.”

Most people would have trouble remembering a time without cell phones, let alone a time when even the most glamorous of people (like Hudson & Day’s characters in this comedy) had to share their telephone line with total strangers.
The gimmick is a clever twist of the mistaken identity meme quite common in farce.

Read more: Pillow Talk (1959)

He Had the World on a String!

The Life & Times of Howdy Doody – Part 3

We all remember that we spent our afternoons, and later, our Saturday mornings in the 50’s with Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody, but how much do you really remember about the show itself and the strange cast of characters who kept us entertained throughout a good portion of our childhoods?

C’mon backstage because once again, it’s Howdy Doody time!

 

 

Read more: He Had the World on a String!

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