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  1. 1. I’ve Been Down this Yellow Brick ever entered your mind. I hope this will be suffi- Road Before! cient for all you fans who have wondered about these topics and written me letters. Here goes: I wish I could stay and have a long conver- that I don’t remember it at all, I do: It was Do you have a favorite memory of making The sation with each and every fan of The Wiz- the thrill of my life. I made lifelong friends Wizard of Oz? ard of Oz who has approached me with because of The Wizard of Oz, too, and the I think how wonderful Judy Garland was to all of wide eyes and curious hearts. I’m flattered movie probably means more to me today us. I think maybe some of us were expecting her that I get recognized. I get questions about than when it happened. to be a snob because she was just then becoming Oz just about everywhere: restaurants, air- So in order to handle some of the most ports, and elevators. Unfortunately, there’s common questions I’ve been asked over the just not enough time to answer every ques- decades, I thought it might be best to offer tion in person, in every situation. I don’t re- answers right here for you. I hope you call all of the day-to-day activities of making won’t mind my doing it this way. Some of the movie; remember, it was made seventy these questions you might have already years ago. That was a long time ago. It’s not thought of yourself, some might not have Here is Judy chat- ting with some of us Munchkins on the set. (left to right) Fern Formica, Rae-Nell Lasky (child Munchkin), Priscilla Montgomery (child Munchkin), me, Betty Ann Bruno (a child Munchkin whose head is peeking out behind me), Judy, and little Olga Nardone. This is the memory I keep of Judy, sitting down and talking with 31 us during the downtime.
  2. 2. 3 “Oh, I wish i were an oscar mayer wiener” O NE OF MY FIRST FORAYS into television, when TV was in its infancy, was Superman, star- ring George Reeves in 1951. Originally it wasn’t intended to be for television. I was hired along with a few other little guys (Tony Boris, Johnny Bambury, and Billy Curtis) to play subterranean-dwelling mole creatures in a feature film called Superman and the Mole Men. Naturally, I knew who Superman was from comic books and the serials, so this was an ex- citing job. Outside of serials on Saturday afternoons, Superman had never been on the big screen. I was pretty sure this might be something big. In this film, us little guys played these creatures who are angered when an oil company has invaded our space with “the world’s deepest well.” After the film was completed, a TV series starring the Man of Steel was sold and the first few episodes consisted of this movie chopped up into thirty minute segments. 71
  3. 3. In a few sketches on The Andy Williams Show, I played a little dancing bear, while Janos Pro- haska was the larger dancing bear. I wanted cookies! Andy loved to have Jonathan Winters on the show too. would follow Janos looking for cookies, too. You’d be surprised how many fans sent in boxes of cookies to the show; then the cookie companies began shipping out cases and cases of complimentary goodies, hoping for a plug on the show. I wish Andy would have used me on one of his Christmas specials during those years. As the Little General in a sketch with the great Jimmy Durante on The Andy Williams Show in 1970. The character of the Little General was the most memo- He never did. I could have played an elf, but I guess no one thought of it. I’m not sure rable one I did on the show. I would interrupt Andy and yell German commands at him at the wildest times. 116 117
  4. 4. “His first name was Jesse. He never liked that name. He let me know it one time Chock-Full o’Knotts and I always called him Jess after that. ” —ANDY GRIFFITH M aybe the greatest career challenge for Don Knotts came early in 1964, when he faced a serious crossroads. While his fame was skyrocketing, his shelves were filling up with awards, and his wallet was fat, he wasn’t sure what to do next. Like a frazzled Barney Fife, he was all over the place, in the middle of the street with horns honking at him and cars whizzing by. Knotts told veteran Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper in January of that year that he had a “tough decision to make.” Committed as a resident of Mayberry for one more year, Knotts wasn’t sure where to turn after that. He was welcome to stay in town or head out on his own. It was his choice. “I’ve had several offers to do my own show when I’m free, but I don’t know where to jump. If I had a hit show the financial gain would be great; but there are many things to think about. I was on TV with Steve Allen four years, then this present series will make nine years straight on TV. “My only Broadway experience was two years in No Time for Sergeants, and I’d like to do another play. Most of all I’d like to do an English comedy; I love their sense of humor. There’s been some interest in that direction, but I haven’t done anything about it as I’m committed to Andy for another year; I don’t want to tie myself down so I won’t be able to do feature pictures. Film offers don’t always come in at the right time; you can’t depend on the timing. They make such attractive offers for TV, but I think maybe if I took a year or two off to do some of these other things they wouldn’t want me anymore.” During the hiatus before his final season, Don and his longtime pal—and boss—Andy Griffith took to the road and performed some routines together at Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe. Promoters for the popular state fair circuit were slinging huge dollar signs their way to do a traveling Mayberry act on the road, but Knotts refused. The cast of The Beverly Hillbillies cashed in doing their arena show and so did cast members from McHale’s Navy, as well as other popular TV performers. Admitting the money was fantastic and very hard to turn 3
  5. 5. “Movies were something I never thought would happen to me,” life in a different direction. He married Loralee Czuchna and Knotts told Entertainment Weekly in 1998. “It’s what I dreamed of as remained quite content until their marriage ended nine years later. a kid. I’d have dreamed of a career in TV, but it wasn’t around back Careerwise, he took to the stage and toured in productions of Neil then.” Simon’s comedy The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, a snappy comedy The Knotts vehicles were stacked with every great character actor called The Mind with the Dirty Man, and a production of The Odd in town (including several ex-Mayberry residents), excellent writing, Couple with Art Carney. Determined to adjust his public image and and magical music created by Vic Mizzy. “Ed Montagne had used reinvent himself as an actor, Don told the press at the time: “The this little stock company of character actors in these films,” explains nervous little fellow who’d let big guys kick sand in his face is gone. Al Checco, who popped up in several Knotts films with his old army I am branching out as a character comedian. I got the feeling of being pal. “I never kissed his ass or asked him for work, because I was get- boxed in, stuck with the same character, so I decided to do some the- ting work, luckily. Much of our work together was coincidental, ater because I could play parts there that I’d never be allowed to do mainly because of Ed Montagne, who used to cast me in bit parts in on the tube.” Don’s movies. When the Walt Disney Studios came calling for a TV special star- “I have a picture that Don signed to me years ago and he wrote: ring Mickey Mouse, Don was all ears. Eventually, he signed a con- ‘Long may our paths cross,’” says Checco. “What he meant by that is tract with the studio to make a series of films; it was a welcomed he was always surprised to see me in his movies, but it was all departure that led to the inspired teaming of Knotts with fellow because of Ed Montagne. If Don recommended me for work, I wasn’t comedian Tim Conway in several films including The Apple FROM TV’S HOLLYWOOD aware of it. But then again, Don was a very compassionate guy. Years Dumpling Gang and The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again. Don ago when I was in a show at the same time Don was in No Time for kept busy with more family-oriented feature films at Disney (No SQUARES: Sergeants, I lost my wife. She died at a very early age and we hadn’t Deposit, No Return and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo), as well as “Host Peter Marshall: been married that long. It was tragic for me. Don was great, he practi- cally saw me every night after the shows. I’d be crying in my booze voice-over work and stage productions. ABC Television approached Don in the summer of 1979 about Don, you’ve been having and Don was there helping me through it, so concerned.” joining the cast of the sexually revolutionized hit show Three’s trouble going to sleep. Company; Knotts leaped at the opportunity to return to prime time. Nip It! He would be the landlord, replacing Norman Fell and Audra Lind- Are you probably a man Karen Knotts described him as “an awesome father” who treated her ley as the Ropers. As the ascot-wearing pseudo-swinger Ralph Fur- or a woman? more like a friend than a child. “He told me everything,” she ley, Don slipped into his toupee phase and played the goofy explained to Larry King on CNN in 2006. “Since a lot of my growing landlord to the hilt. Secretly nervous about performing in front of a Knotts: That’s what’s been up he was single during the time, he talked to me about even his love live audience for the weekly tapings, Don soon shook his fears and keeping me awake! ” life and everything that was going on. We were like buddies, like best friends. blended well with costars John Ritter, Suzanne Somers, and Joyce DeWitt. Don stayed with the show until it went off the air in 1984 “When my mother and he divorced, I went to live with him after eight seasons. because she moved up to a ranch and I wasn’t quite prepared for “When Don agreed to come on the show, we were absolutely that. All through the ’70s he was a single parent. He was quite the astounded,” says Joyce DeWitt, who played peppy Janet on the trendsetter during the ’70s; he even had a man-purse and the whole series. “That this amazing, creative, extraordinary talent would agree thing. He was just a whimsical guy who had a lot of fun in his life.” to join our cast. In 1970, Don returned to television in a short-lived variety series, “The first day he came to the set, we were dumbfounded,” she The Don Knotts Show, but it didn’t work with audiences and the star remembers. “We could hardly speak because Don was working with was uncomfortable in that format. He continued to guest-star in us. He came in and thanked us for inviting him and asked for other performers’ shows (Here’s Lucy, The Captain and Tennille, The absolutely nothing. He was the kind of person you wanted to make Muppet Show) to earn a living and keep his exposure level up. sure was taken care of because Don would never ask for himself. He After a decade of doing the nervous routine on television and in was such a gift to the show, making a seamless transition from the films, the comedian was haunted by the little fellow with bugged Ropers leaving and Mr. Furley coming in. eyeballs and pursed lips. Don sought to take his career and personal “One of the great joys for me about Three’s Company that lives in 12 The Incredible Mr. D on Knotts Cho ck-Fu ll o’Knotts
  6. 6. “I’ve made about thirty movies and my favorite is The Ghost The Movies and Mr. Chicken, which was the first feature I did on my own after I left The Andy Griffith Show, and I had a lot of control over the writing and everything. And then another picture I liked was the one that Tim Conway and I got together on later at Disney, The Apple Dumpling Gang. And the other picture I’m proud of is The Incredible Mr. Limpet. ” —DON KNOTTS, ON HIS TOP THREE FAVORITES
  7. 7. whole ordeal. After getting their discharge both Hall and Bower go to blamed Jack Webb: “Perhaps if Jack Webb had stuck to his direc- Hollywood and land jobs at a movie studio. After a while Bower torial chores and left his ‘buddy’ role to someone else, things becomes a successful screenwriter pounding the keys in a cubicle might have possibly turned out a little better.” working on films, while goldbrick Archie wrangles his way into becoming head of the studio. Reviews Hollywood Citizen News: “Theatergoers who might have expected Sidelights an army comedy similar in slapstick • Filming was completed on January 6, 1961. theme to the excellent British releases • This film was fledgling director Jack Webb’s most expensive pro- of the same nature are in for a big dis- duction to date. The film cost nearly $2 million to produce; it appointment. . . . It all seems rather an was also his biggest flop, grossing just above half of its produc- absurd waste of time and talent and an tion cost. unhappy venture for all concerned.” • This is Don Knotts’s third military comedy. His stints in the ser- Los Angeles Times: “The most irritating vice fail to improve or expand as his role in this film is minus- fact is that it could have been a really cule. In this film, he is a nervous (of course) commanding officer, hilarious picture, but every time the Corporal Little of the 165th Squadron, U.S. Army Air Corps. He action shows promise of better things prefers to be known as “Ol’ Iron Pants,” but no one takes him to come, it bogs down in the same old seriously. static situations and these receive no • Look for small roles from ballplayers Bill Kilmer of the San Fran- help from William Brower’s script or cisco 49ers and Don Drysdale of the Los Angeles Dodgers. James Jack Webb’s direction.” Mitchum, the eldest son of star Robert Mitchum, has a small role in the film. • Robert Osborne—author, film critic, and host on Turner Classic Movies—has a rare on-camera role as a feisty pilot. For some reason, Osborne goes uncredited in the film; and to this day, he does not make reference to the film on his own résumé. • Watch for Eddie Quillan as the bellboy. Quillan hailed from the mid-1920s film era, including Mack Sennett Veterans of The Steve Allen Show, Don Knotts comedies. He would play a bit part in several Don and Louis Nye appeared Knotts films including The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The together in The Last Time Shakiest Gun in the West, and How to Frame a Figg. I Saw Archie. Writers Greenbaum and Fritzell would also use him in their Andy Griffith film Angel in My Pocket. Coincidentally, his last film appearance would be an episode of Matlock titled “The Author” in 1987. • Look for Mayberry’s Howard McNear (Floyd the Barber) in a bit role. • This film bombed at the box Captain Little (Don Knotts) office. One critic from the introduces himself as “Ol’ Hollywood Citizen News Iron Pants” to the squad. The Incredible Mr. D on Knotts The Las t Time I S aw Archi e 31
  8. 8. 1 FINDING YOUR RIDE The process of purchasing or leasing a ride is exciting! It’s a time to explore what auto styles and amenities appeal to you, test drive cool vehicles, ponder how your lifestyle and needs affect what you want to drive, and eventually take home your new prized possession, which will hopefully be the ideal extension of you. Unlike many other possessions, this one won’t sit on a shelf somewhere collecting dust. It will be with you daily, in good times and bad, taking you where you need to go and exemplifying your personality along the way. In many ways your ride will be like your new best friend. You’ll need to give it love and care and in return you will truly appreciate it, trust it, and enjoy its company. The road ahead may not always be smooth. But it’s my hope that you will purchase a car or truck that makes you feel at home when you’re on the road, that you’ll learn the fundamentals of auto main- tenance so that you can properly care for your vehicle, and that, ultimately, you will connect with your ride the way that I connect with mine. Shopping for a new vehicle is a lot of fun. But in order to make a successful purchase, the process should be done thoroughly and carefully. A car or truck is 11
  9. 9. T h e G a r a g e G i r l ’s G u i d e Is it worth trying to refurbish an engine, or is it better to just buy a new SINCE YOU ASKED . . . one? That’s largely a question of time and economics. It depends on the magnitude of work involved. Years ago, it was cheaper to have an engine rebuilt than to simply replace it with a new one. Now, however, labor costs are higher, and you may find it’s less expensive to purchase a new engine. The new engine or crate motor will also come with a warranty, while the rebuilt engine may not. That’s a huge bonus. How do I know the maximum weight that my vehicle can withstand? Rule of thumb: One passenger per seatbelt. If there is the same number of passen- gers as there are seats and belts in the vehicle, you are fine. Cars have what’s called a gross vehicle weight (GVW) and a curb weight. The curb weight is how much the vehicle weighs when empty. The GVW is the maximum safety performance weight. You should never exceed your manufacturer’s recommended GVW. I hate the way my front license plate looks on the car. What can I do about that? Filthy from work- cised and parts can wear into each other slowly and properly. This I hear you on this one! I feel the front plate on a car takes away from its aesthetic. ing on a Monte In California we’re required to have front plates, but it mars the beautiful body will help extend vehicle life. Carlo during design. I believe the manufacturers feel this way too, and that’s why so many sports Overhaulin'. Breaking in your ride is like running a marathon. It’s best to cars don’t have a place to easily mount a front license plate. After receiving a ticket start at a slow, even pace before transitioning into a full run. In for driving without my front plate, I reluctantly put it back on in a creative way, vehicular terms, this means avoiding heavy loads on the power- without drilling holes for the bracket. Feel free to be creative with your brackets and train for the first two hundred miles. The powertrain is comprised application, while being good and obeying the laws for your state. of all the parts of the engine that connect the transmission with My boyfriend wants a new exhaust system. What are the advantages and the drive axle(s) of your car. Starting at full-throttle, towing trail- how much should he spend? ers, and packing the vehicle with heavy loads place extra force on After-market exhaust systems look cool, sound killer, and will increase horsepower all the moving parts in the drivetrain and should not be done right and torque. The systems have fancy mufflers and tailpipes that either mask sound away. Although you might assume the new components in the or create that deep rumbling, throaty effect. It’s a lot like music—some like classi- cal, while others prefer rap. A big exhaust company will tailor the system to fit your powertrain are ready and capable, extreme exertion within those individual preferences. first couple hundred miles is not advisable. As you drive your car or truck, oil lubricates the moving parts, preventing unnecessary rubbing and damaging of components and allowing everything to function smoothly and seamlessly. But 108 109
  10. 10. 28 Hope and Help for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia Diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia 29 30 How are CFS/FM and Depression Different? 25 • Desire and motivation to be active is present in CFS/FM. Number of 20 Patients Depressed patients lose their motivation and can’t get going; they 15 have inertia. 10 • Intensity of pain/fatigue is usually higher in CFS/FM. 5 • Sudden onset is more common in CFS/FM. 0 • More severe neurocognitive deficits are seen in CFS/FM. Jan–Apr May–Aug Sep–Dec Months of the Year • Hypersensitivities and numerous bodily symptoms, while present in depression, are more common to CFS/FM. SOME STATISTICS TO CONSIDER • The level of exercise that can improve the mood in depression may worsen CFS/FM symptoms. • 25 percent of all patients in a general practice report fatigue as a symptom. FATIGUE SYNDROME, CHRONIC and click the “go” button. • 10 to 12 percent of the general population report chronic For fibromyalgia information, enter FIBROMYALGIA and click widespread pain. “go.” • CFS is present in 522 women per 100,000 and 291 men per 100,000. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention • FM is present in 3,400 women per 100,000 and 500 men The CDC provides considerable information about CFS on their per 100,000. Web site. Go to their CFS home page at • AIDS is present in 12 women per 100,000. dod/diseases/cfs/index.htm • Breast cancer is present in 26 per 100,000. References for MCS • Diabetes is present in 900 women per 100,000. References for multiple chemical sensitivity can be found at the • Heart disease is present in 3,400 women per 100,000. Web site at Women’s College Hospital site of Sunny- • Arthritis is present in 3,800 women per 100,000. brook and Women’s College Health Sciences Centre at Reference: L. A. Jason et al., Archives in Internal Medicine 159 (Oct 1999): Under the title Women’s 2129–37. Health Matters, click Enter, then in the topic list on the lefthand side of the page, click Health Centres, then Environmental REFERENCES Health. CFS, FM, and MCS are all present. Another helpful site National Library of Medicine is By using a MEDLINE search, a comprehensive list of references for CFS/FM can be obtained. MEDLINE accesses the official online archives of the National Library of Medicine in the United States. This Web site is freely accessible by all users. Go to, the online home of MEDLINE. In the “search for” box enter
  11. 11. A ONE-NIGHT STAND IN THE HEARTLAND A Collection of Original Photographs from THE BEATLES! AUGUST 215 196 Bill Carlson Foreword by Larry Kane CUMBERLAND HOUSE NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE
  12. 12. INTRODUCTION BY COLLEEN SHEEHY By all measurements, the sheer volume of information on the Beatles con- of Minneapolis where Metropolitan Stadium, the Twins’ baseball home, tinues to grow. A conventional Internet search yields nearly four million was located), none of the other Morris staff photographers wanted to see websites referring to the Beatles. (Bob Dylan is the next closest with three that crazy “kids’ stuff.” So, Carlson claimed a pass, grabbed his Hasselblad million; the Rolling Stones are a distant 1.7 million; Kurt Cobain comes in and Nikon cameras, and headed out to Met Stadium, not so much as a at just over 600,000.) RR Bowker, a book industry resource for publishing Beatles fan but as a photography-hungry youth, determined to seize every data, lists more than one thousand books on the Beatles. The world seems opportunity to learn and perfect his art form. to need the Beatles now more than ever, thirty-five years after the group His images show the public face of the Beatles at the press conference disbanded. as they expertly pose and trade quips with reporters. But Carlson also cap- Bill Carlson’s book of photographs from the Beatles’ visit to Minnesota tures some candid exchanges, such as B-Sharp Music’s presentation of a on August 21, 1965, adds a new chapter to the Beatles story. He brings to new Rickenbacker twelve-string guitar to George Harrison, a gift that came Beatles fans, photography aficionados, and history buffs these previously to mean quite a bit to the Beatle. And for someone who grew up in the unseen photographs, documenting a day in the life of the Beatles on tour. Twin Cities, Carlson’s scenes of the fans are priceless. They look so young, The Beatles toured in the United States just three times: 1964, 1965, and hardly even teenagers. And to think that you might even know one of 1966. And as former Beatles journalist Larry Kane tells it in his recent book, these young people, boys and girls, and wonder where they are today, is Ticket to Ride, the Beatles were still having fun in ’65. very touching. His fan shots also put the Minnesota youth on the same Carlson’s The Beatles! A One Night Stand in the Heartland brings footing as those in London and New York, the more familiar scenes of together strands from many remarkable stories: First, the story of the Beatlemania, countering the sense, particularly in 1965, that Minnesota Beatles themselves as phenomenal artists who changed music and culture was outside of the cultural hot spots. And Carlson’s long shots of the con- forever, enchanting new generations of young ears with their remarkably cert stage recall the security that had to be enforced then, when not even fresh and creative sound. Second, Bill Carlson’s own impressive story, and photographers were allowed on the field. Images of the crowds in the how he intersected with the Beatles as they convened on that singular day stands vividly bring back the grandeur of the old stadium, which was torn in August. And last, the twenty-five thousand or more screaming, shouting, down in 1985 to make way for the Mall of America. cheering, swooning, clapping, crying, and singing Minnesotans who were There are other books by Beatles photographers. Robert Freeman, inspired and transformed by what they experienced that day. who photographed many album covers for the group, published The While a high school student, Carlson apprenticed with the prestigious Beatles: A Private View (2003). Harry Benson photographed them on tour photographer Merle Morris, whose studio was an affiliate of United Press from Paris to Miami, a collection presented in Once There Was a Way International. When the press passes came in through the Telex for the (2003). But there is no other book like Bill Carlson’s that documents one Beatles’ press conference and concert in Bloomington (the suburb south day, one concert, one place. It was a day that brought high fun and high xiii
  13. 13. I was fifteen years old and went to the 1965 Beatles concert with my boyfriend, who had to work tons of hours at the local Perkins as a busboy to earn the money to buy the tickets. He surprised me with them, and I was, of course, crazy with joy! I always loved Paul the best, because he was gorgeous and we shared the same birth date (June 18). I remember that it was an evening concert, and we dressed up for the event. Even though we were seated high in the stadium, I felt like I was sitting right on the stage. It was thrilling when the opening act started (Cannibal & the Headhunters doing “Land of a Thousand Dances”), because we knew we were just that much closer to seeing “The Fab Four!” The opening act was actually fantastic. I remember thinking that I liked them as well, simply because I could actually hear them and that they inspired us to dance in our seats. Then the magic moment arrived, and the Beatles were announced! The lights seemed to increase, and the roar of screams filled the air. The screams were deafening! The Beatles came running out and I think they had their guitars in their hands when they climbed on stage. We could slightly hear them over the screams, but it was a strain. That was forty-one years ago, and it seems like yesterday . . . I’ll never, ever forget that magic night. Ever. . . . DEETTA MILLER, MINNEAPOLIS Opposite: A young fan reveals her obvious predilection in welcoming the famed drummer. 3
  14. 14. I remember all the waiting for the Beatles concert to begin. I also recall the circulating rumor that if there was too much screaming, the Beatles would leave. It must have been much quieter than what they had experienced at other concerts, because I remember John Lennon moving his arms up and down trying to get us to yell louder when they came out. DEBORAH MALECHA, ISANTI, MINNESOTA Looking at Paul McCartney’s face in these Beatles pictures brings me back to that day in 1965. I was there at that con- cert with my little brother. I remember seeing Paul and the boys enter the stadium. Looking at these pictures of the Beatles allows me to relive those magical moments again and again. TINA J., EVANSTON, ILLINOIS
  15. 15. Chapter Two A Writer in the Family } A S FAR BACK AS I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. My mother once told me that I was writing my numbers when I was two years old and reading by the time I was four. She was my first teacher, and when I started grade school I knew the first-grade primer by heart. I kept a journal, and in it I wrote of whatever I found of interest during the day. Here is a page I came across not long ago: Undated. Today it rained and we all had to stay in the house. It wasn’t much fun until Marion decided we would catch some birds. She got this old box from Luke Snead and set it up in the yard under the maple tree. She propped up one end of the box with a stick and tied a string to one end of the stick so she could pull it from where we were all hiding by the kitchen door. Under the box she put some stale bread and then we all waited and watched for the birds to come. A cardinal showed up first. He saw the bread but he wouldn’t go in there. Once he kind of poked his head in and Bill kept hollering for Marion to pull the string and she kept hollering for him to shut up. Then the car- dinal flew off and Marion blamed Bill and he started crying and saying curse words and Mama came in and said, “Lord, what are y’all children up to now?” Marion said we were catching birds and Mama said that was all right as long as we didn’t kill any and let them go after we looked at them. After a while about a million gold finches showed up and swarmed around the box, just showed up out of nowhere. They walked around the box for a while just looking at the bread crumbs. After a while one of them Earl growing up in Schuyler, Virginia, circa 1929. walked in. Bill yelled “Pull the string!” Marion pulled it, but the goldfinch flew away before the box fell on him. We watched him fly to the crab apple tree and the rest of them were roosting up there too. Marion got mad and there was a fight between her and Bill and while I was trying to break up the fight all the birds flew away. 19
  16. 16. NBC’s Tonight! with host Steve Allen broadcast live in cut back his late-night chores to Wednesday through Friday until he left Tonight! A New York from 11:20 P.M. to 1 A.M. “This show will go on series of guest hosts filled in the remaining days until the brilliant TV pioneer Ernie forever,” Allen groaned to the audience on his first night. Kovacs accepted the position as permanent guest host for Allen’s nights off. Allen was referring to the late hour, but he might as well have been predicting the series’ longevity. “You think you’re “For most of his laughs,” wrote TV historian Bart Andrews, “Steve Allen relied on tired now, wait till one o’clock in the morning rolls around.” his guests. They were his springboard to humor. Once one of them showed up with a Allen’s show set the standard for what is still broadcast on few live ducks in a wading pool, so Steve went wading too. late-night TV: the opening monologue; the familiar talk show “When two old ladies in his Tonight! audience kept talking noisily to each other set with a desk and city skyline mural behind it; the improvised bits and sprints out into the streets of Manhattan—the trade- during the performance, Steve turned the problem into a plus. He recalls: ‘I think the marks were all built here. heart of all humor is something going wrong. So I slanted all my talk that night to these two old ladies. I could have had a page throw them out, but instead I made them a part of the show.’” Allen boldly introduced to his audience a string of new talent, including Lenny Bruce, Shelly Berman, and Jonathan Winters. Above all, with his wide-rang- ing improvisational skills that are still Carson’s “Carnac, the Magnificent.” greatly imitated and adapted by David Within a year, Allen was riding high Letterman, Allen pulled in a sizable on the popularity of his hit and newly audience during his tenure as host, and married to actress Jayne Meadows he became a television superstar. (sister of Audrey Meadows). Actor Tony Randall recalls Steve There were guest stars on Allen’s show with fondness as he Tonight! with Allen, in addition to describes one of his guest-hosting stints: semi-regulars such as Gene Rayburn “In those days, it was live, and the show (who went on to host the popular TV was two hours and fifteen minutes game show The Match Game), Steve long,” he explains. “I was playing in Lawrence, Eydie Gorme, Andy Inherit the Wind at the Broadway Williams, Skitch Henderson and Theater on Forty-first Street, and his Orchestra, Hy Averback, and Tonight! was from the Hudson Theater announcer Bill Wendell. Some of on Forty-fourth Street. My curtain came the fresh performers who down at 11:15 and the Tonight! show appeared with Allen early in their career were Louis Nye, Don Knotts, Tom Poston, the began at 11:15 P.M. There was no way to Smothers Brothers, Bill Dana, Don Adams, Jim Nabors, Tim Conway, and Jackie get a limo or cab through those streets Mason, to name but a few. at that hour when all the theaters were As Allen’s popularity grew, so did his value to NBC. Allen had many projects letting out. There was only one way to going on simultaneously, and he eventually starred in a weekly prime-time series for do it, and that was to run, literally run, the network as well. For several months in 1956, Allen was hosting the ninety-minute through the streets. The announcer, Bill Tonight! show as well as an hour-long Sunday evening prime-time comedy program, Wendell, would cover for me until I got The Steve Allen Show, and he somehow found time to star as the King of Swing in the there,” Randall says, laughing. “A couple dramatic motion picture The Benny Goodman Story for Universal. Allen was caught in of times they had the cameras out there Steve Allen and bandleader Skitch Henderson rehearse an outdoor a web of hectic schedules, conflicting engagements, and just plain exhaustion, so he on the streets so the audience could see bit in New York City for Tonight! 32 Here’s Johnny! The Evolution of The Tonight Show 33
  17. 17. 2 THE MONOLOGUE: “THAT’S GOOD STUFF” An animated moment during of one of his earliest Tonight Show monologues, circa 1962.
  18. 18. Granny’s equipment for “The Jug” makin’ the white-mule . . . the Tennessee *** tranquilizer . . . the rheumatiz medicine. White Lightnin’. Mountain dew. Corn renderins. Moonshine. White Mule. Mash. It all looked like pure, clear branch water, but Granny’s potent private stock had set so long it was good for only two things: drinkin’ and blastin’ stumps. Like many mountain folk, Granny had a secret recipe for her illegally distilled whiskey. Nobody knew the exact ingredients, and after a few slugs, nobody cared. Two gallons was enough for a whole barn dance; two sips was enough for whatever ailed ya. Spring tonics were her specialty. Of course, Granny claimed her nippin’ was for health reasons. It was her “rheumatiz medi- cine.” She admitted it wouldn’t cure rheuma- tism . . . “but it’ll make ya happy ya got it!” Granny found any excuse to have a nip, but she reassured Jed, “This is strictly for medicinal Back in the hills, Jed first tried to lure Granny to Beverly Hills by assuring her she could run purposes—I can feel the her still year ‘round in California. rheumatiz burnin’ its way up my legs. I gotta build Granny: I run it year ‘round here. a firebreak across my Jed: Yeah, but walkin’ down to the still through the snow always makes you feel miserable. stomach.” Granny: I might feel miserable walkin’ down . . . but the way I feels comin’ back makes up for it! As the cliche says, much of life imitates art. And Irene Ryan mirrored Granny in many ways, including the jug. “She loved her Scotch,” says Kingsley Colton. “With lunch she usually enjoyed a martini, but like clockwork, come 5 P.M., it was Scotch time.” Max Baer said there were times when he’d tell her “she’d been drinking too many martinis and she’d better brush her goddamned teeth. And then she’d get into a scene and she’d hit me with a real pan instead of a phony one.” Granny sniffs some of her powerful stump water to see if it’s ripe. 56 57
  19. 19. The Beverly Hillbillies Jed and All His Kin “Donna’s just a baby . . . basically a simple, says. She was married a second time, to classic cheapskates. The road between straightforward person, but I always have Hillbillies director Bob Leeds, for a few years Bailey’s two banking jobs was a long one, the feeling that she goes home and studies after the show’s nine-year reign, but they and it took him around the world several and figures it all out.” divorced around 1980. Leeds died in 1993. times and into various lines of work. TV Star Parade magazine asked another Today, Donna travels, occasionally does Bailey was born in San Francisco on May Hillbillies crew member about Douglas’s a bit of country singing, and hopes to com- 6, 1905. Not much is known about his early child. “I’ve never asked Donna about her plete a second gospel album. On talk shows childhood. He always preferred to speak of boy,” said the crew member. “It would be in the 1990s, she held up a new Elly May doll his life after high school, when he took off to rubbing salt in the wound. There has that she marketed, and she was also pro- Hollywood to become an actor. been a firm lid on any personal moting a product called “Critter Cologne”— He landed a job as a laborer at a movie publicity for her and yet she’s a perfume for cats and dogs that goes for studio when he arrived in Hollywood in the Donna Douglas did never denied her kid. She wouldn’t fifty dollars a bottle. days of silent films. He hoped to be discov- more for blue jeans in think of it. When she can take a She loves to work with young people and ered by a director or producer, but instead 7 months than cow- weekend and fly home to see speaks frequently at church groups and he was fired for attempting to sneak into a boys did in 110 years. him, she comes back a different Christian assemblies. Beneath her auto- mob scene. He then hitchhiked to New York —TV Guide Douglas was more than girl.” graph she usually inscribes her favorite to experience a stage career, but he had no just window dressing on Donna Douglas was one of Bible passage, Proverbs 3:5–6: “Trust in the luck there either. the show and she knew it, but the the busiest of the cast mem- Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto Young Bailey, “penniless and hungry,” press put her on a pedestal as bers, constantly traveling out thine own understanding. In all thy ways his CBS biography reports, “shipped out as a TV’s newest sex symbol and of state and out of the coun- acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy mess boy on a freighter bound for San proudly splashed those baby- try doing publicity chores paths.” This perfectly describes her faith Francisco.” He spent the next few years at blues on countless magazine cov- ers. In 1963, the Saturday for the show’s benefit. She and she’s never shy about mentioning it. “I sea as a deckhand, seaman, and quarter- Evening Post added: “Miss received most of the fan care about young people,” she says. “You master, traveling to China, Japan, the Douglas, the former hot-pepper- mail during the show’s can’t just receive; you have to give back.” Philippines, Hawaii, and the Mediterranean. eating champion of Baywood, nine years, and today Donna still loves to be recognized as Elly During the Depression, he became Louisiana, has proved a pretty there are men in their May. Now in her sixties, and a gentle sixties bored with the voyages and attempted to hot number in a pair of tight- forties who tell her she at that, she makes appearances around the tackle Hollywood once again without suc- fitting Levis. Her personal arse- nal includes a seductive drawl, was part of their fantasy country dressed in the familiar pink-check- cess. He worked at a variety of odd places, such tomboy skills as relief world as they trudged ered shirt and rope-tied blue jeans. She can including a pineapple plantation and a pitching for the Paramount through puberty. still belt out a whistle through her teeth with shipping firm, then decided to try out for Studio softball team and During the 1970s, a shrill blast that could peel the bark off a community theater in Hawaii. Finally, his whistling through her teeth for the only thing the pub- cottonwood tree at three hundred paces. acting career began with a few roles in trav- cabs . . . lic heard about pretty eling stock companies. When Bailey “Elly May’s attraction lies in her intriguing combination Donna Douglas was Raymond Bailey— returned to Hollywood in 1938, he launched of a 36-23-36 figure and her that she was working “Milburn Drysdale” his film career at Warner Brothers with, as pose of virgin-pure sexual in real estate in he put it, “several unspectacular parts in innocence.” California. That was As a young man, Raymond Bailey aspired to several unspectacular movies.” His first role old news. “I began be a banker or a stockbroker, but after work- was in Blackwell’s Island with John Garfield. working in real estate ing in these fields, he deserted high finance Bailey felt his more important movie in 1974 after the show for a career as an actor. Ironically, many credits included Picnic, No Time for ended, for about four years later, he would become America’s Sergeants, Underwater Warrior, and Al or five years,” she most famous banker and one of the all-time Capone. He also successfully tackled 78 79
  20. 20. 8 A Heapin’ Helpin’ of Hillbilly History A hillbilly couple went on their honeymoon and were really having a nice time, so they decided to stay another week. The groom wired his dad, “It’s wonderful here. Please send fifty dollars.” The old man wired back, “Come on home, it’s good any place.” —JIM OWEN Y ears ago, there was a celebrated hillbilly named Jim Owen. He was short, stocky, balding, quite well-educated, not the typical Appalachian hillbilly you might expect. Ol’ Jim Owen became known Above: Elvis plays a dual role— as “King of the River” in parts of the Midwest where his tales of fishing soldier and identical hillbilly took on a life of their own. Paul Henning described the humorist from kin—in Kissin’ Cousins (1964). Missouri as a “hillbilly by choice,” who was converted to devout hill- Pratfalls, music, and moonshine! Yeehaw! Right: Somehow, the billy when he spent time fishing on the White (now Table Rock) River Monkees get caught in the mid- in the Ozarks. The outdoorsman’s wonderful anecdotes, originally told dle of a madcap family feud in to amuse other fisherman on float trips, were brought back to the episode “Hillbilly Hollywood by Owen’s fishing buddies, who included Gene Autry, Honeymoon”(1967). Billie Hayes Charlton Heston, and Forrest Tucker. Owen became a midwest home- (here as the pipe-smokin’ spun humorist with articles about him and by him featured in Life, granny) poses with teen idol and Monkee Davy Jones. (Courtesy Look, and the Saturday Evening Post . . . as well as newspapers across of Kevin Marhanka) the land. Owen was retired by the time he and Paul Henning became friends, but as Henning didn’t mind admitting, Owen had unknow- ingly been contributing to his Beverly Hillbillies television show for years, as Henning had applied many of the humorist’s expressions and observations to the vernacular of Jed, Granny, and the rest. Henning explained later, “It’s hard to beat the combination of wit and sagacity in some of those hillbilly expressions . . . in fact, as Jim would say, ‘It’s 165