Bonus Video: ‘Car 54’ Goes Musical

I’m feeling so much better now, and it’s put me in a good mood.

Car 54, Where Are You?, starring Joe E. Ross and Fred Gwynn, ran from 1961-63–a very funny comedy, and quite a hit for a while there.

Note the special lyrics they drummed up for We Belong to a Mutual Admiration Society: that song had a lot of staying power.

Great comedy, great song!

Farewell, Zacherley

I was thinking of using Zacherley’s 1958 hit, Dinner With Drac, as a Halloween nostalgia piece–when I discovered, just now, that John Zacherle, aka The Cool Ghoul, died yesterday.

He was 98 years old, he died at home, and he worked right up to the very end. He was just as wild and hilarious a week ago as he was in 1958. I’m sure he had a live appearance lined up somewhere for this year’s Halloween, because he always did.

He was the first to hit it big as a horror movie host on television, and no one ever did it better: he was the very best at what he did, with a legion of imitators.

How I loved his show when I was 10 years old! I wanted to be like Zacherley when I grew up. Don’t knock it: you could do worse than keep your marbles, love your work and never have to stop doing it, and be loved by countless people all over the country.

As they said of Julius Caesar, “Whence comes such another?”

Memory Lane: Ramar of the Jungle

If we might return, however briefly, to a more wholesome time, before they set up Satanist clubs in grammar schools, here’s one of those antique TV shows that set my imagination on fire when I was a kid.

Ramar of the Jungle, produced in 1953-54 and then in syndication for years, starred Jon Hall as medical missionary Dr. Tom Reyolds, and told of his adventures in the heart of Africa. Lots and lots of wildlife footage, which I could have sat and watched all day! Between that and Mark Trail comics, it’s no wonder I grew up to be Mr. Nature. Oh, and Ramar went to India, too, and had equally astonishing adventures there.

Do any of you out there remember this? Quite a few full episodes have been preserved on youtube, if you’ve got half an hour to spend on nostalgia.

And I hardly need add that my friends and I played “Ramar” a lot, making up our own adventures. Kids were still allowed to use their imaginations, back then.

I regret we haven’t used them more wisely when we got older.

Who’s Been Messing With My Computer?

We had big computer woes this morning, and I think I know who–or what–is responsible.

Gremlins.

In fact, I think it was the same gremlin who freaked out William Shatner in the classic “Twilight Zone” episode, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. This ambitious gremlin tried to wreck an airliner, but Shatner stopped him. So now he plays it safe and just goes after computers.

I’ll have to have a word with my cats: next time this  critter comes after my computer, they are to run up and bite his ankles.

Memory Lane: ‘Leave It to Beaver’

You all remember this show, right? To certain persons, Leave It to Beaver is the quintessential icon of the 1950s, an era loathed by libs ‘n’ progs–mostly loathed for the good things about it, which were many.

All right, my wife says she always had a problem with Mrs. Cleaver doing housework in high heels and always looking like she was ready to go to a tea party. And Mr. Cleaver had a distressing habit of always being right. But was it such a terrible thing to depict parents as something other than rumpled, dope-smoking, clueless, morally bankrupt, and way, way less intelligent than their smarty-pants kids?

For me the enduring wonderfulness of this show rests in two supporting characters: the fantastically insincere and smarmy Eddie Haskell, and the long-suffering Mr. Rutherford (played by Richard Deacon, certainly one of the funniest TV actors ever), father of the aptly nicknamed Clarence “Lumpy” Rutherford. Unlike Mr. Cleaver, poor Mr. Rutherford never, ever knew what to do.

 

Memory Lane: ‘Jim Bowie’

How many of you remember this TV show from the 1950s–The Adventures of Jim Bowie? It ran from 1956-58, and I was a fan. Not so much a fan that I ever would have dared to try to throw a knife so it would stick in the door–my mother would have taken a very dim view of that. But I sure liked that show when I was eight years old.

If you remember nothing else about it, I’ll bet you remember the theme song, by “The King’s Men,” and the kind of haunting background music (harmonious humming, believe it or not) that was a feature of this show. Man, I’ve been whistling that theme song for 60 years!

Of course, we’re not allowed to admire Jim Bowie anymore, the PC police have sternly forbidden it. But I guess we can still hum the theme song as long as no one’s listening.

More Memory Lane: ‘Fury’

(Thanks to Linda for reminding me of this great old TV show.)

It’s almost inconceivable that a kids’ TV show like Fury would be made today: the story of a troubled orphaned boy and a wild, untameable horse–and how the boy and the horse bring love and healing to each other.

This show, starring a young and not-yet-famous Peter Graves ( Mission: Impossible), took off in 1955 and ran until the child star, Bobby Diamond, started shaving. Looking in my box of toy animals, I find I have an awful lot of horses, especially shiny black ones: Fury surrogates, one and all.

Go ahead, tell me the kids’ stuff that we’ve got now is better.

I won’t believe you.

Memory Lane: ‘Tombstone Territory’

Couldn’t resist this!

Every Saturday morning I used to run across the street to my friend Ellen’s house, and we’d watch this show: Tombstone Territory. I never forgot the theme music. (Psst! See if you can spot Leonard Nimoy before he grew his Vulcan ears.)

Well, that was the Bronze Age for you, tons and tons of Westerns on TV. I don’t even want to think about what the kids are watching now. Probably in today’s TV the marshal is the bad guy and the bank robbers and murderers are the good guys.

But what am I saying? Who’s even allowed to run over to a friend’s house anymore?

Come, Lord Jesus, come!

 

A Crazy Commercial

Hey, remember this commercial? All about cowboys herding cats instead of cattle. Generally I don’t pay any attention at all to Super Bowl commercials, but this one was really funny, and famous, too. Notice the cowboy carefully rolling cat hairs off his shirt!