IF: repeat

here's a story

Almost a full year before Jan nearly screwed up Mom and Dad’s anniversary gift when she misunderstood that the engraving on a silver platter was 85 cents a letter, not for the entire thing, she almost screwed up another anniversary gift.

Under Dad’s suggestion, the Brady kids secretly gather to have a photographer take a formal portrait for Mom and Dad’s anniversary. Then, while at the playground, Jan, the regularly troubled middle Brady daughter, mistakenly took another girl’s bicycle. It is revealed that Jan is having difficulty with her vision. Soon, things get worse when her grades begin slipping because she can’t see the blackboard. Recognizing there is a problem, myopic Jan was fitted with a teeny pair of wire frame glasses. Jan becomes angered, declaring that the specs will make her look like a dork, especially when she’s trying to attract boys. (y’know… Marcia’s castoffs.) Jan finally concedes to her parents’ wishes for her to wear the glasses. But, as soon as she leaves the house, she whips them off.

The framed portrait is hidden in the garage in the days before the anniversary, but blind-as-a-bat Jan crashes her bike into it when she wasn’t wearing her glasses. It is ruined. So, the kids gather together to take a duplicate picture and no one will be the wiser. The portrait is finally presented to Mom on the big day. She is ferklempt and notes how pleased she is that Jan wore her glasses. As the family retires to the living room for cake and ice cream, Dad calls Jan for a private conference. Dad confronts Jan, knowing that when he arranged for the portrait she had not yet worn glasses. Realizing the jig is up and that Dad can’t be outsmarted, Jan confesses and waits to receive punishment. Dad sentences her to a week without her bike. Jan, fighting back tears, asks for different penance. In a twist on The Gift of the Magi, Jan explains that she sold her bike to pay for the replacement picture. Dad smirks, believing Jan has learned her lesson.

But, she hadn’t. Jan was a repeat offender. In later episodes, Jan will wish to be an only child, weasel her sister Marcia out of a job at Mr. Haskell’s ice cream parlor, make a bunch of empty promises to her classmates in order to get elected “Most Popular Student,” and conspire with Marcia to make younger sister Cindy believe she’s the next Shirley Temple. All that in addition to sinking her siblings fifty-six bucks in debt over that damn silver platter.

No wonder Marcia was the favorite.

from my sketchbook: marc bolan and gloria jones

I love you though you hurt me so

Marc Feld was in love with rock and roll. The former child catalog model was obsessed with the music of Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent. At 12, he bought a guitar and formed a skiffle trio with future British pop singer Helen Shapiro. Marc played with dozens of bands and went through just as many stage names until he settled on “Marc Bolan.”

Marc and his friend, drummer Steve Took, performed as Tyrannosaurus Rex after paring down a full band to a duo. Soon the pair grew apart, mostly due to Took’s heavy drug use. Marc hired multi-instrumentalist Mickey Finn and told Took to beat it. The new duo named themselves T. Rex and, with the help of some studio musicians, released their debut in 1970.  Marc also married his longtime girlfriend June Child, a secretary to Syd Barrett‘s manager.

The usually shy Marc began sporting top hats and glitter makeup, unintentionally starting the musical genre that came to be known as “Glam Rock.”  T. Rex’s popularity took off with the consecutive hits “Hot Love,”  “Bang a Gong ” and “Jeepster.” Marc began lending his talents to some of his famous friends. He played guitar on two tracks on Electric Light Orchestra’s On The Third Day for his friend Jeff Lynne. He also played on Ringo Starr’s eponymous 1973 release, as well as tracks for Ike and Tina Turner and David Bowie. As busy as he was, Marc found time to begin an affair with backing vocalist Gloria Jones, best known for the original recording of “Tainted Love” in 1965.

In 1975, Gloria gave birth to a son. Marc and Gloria left England for the United States. Marc continued to release singles, although his days of massive success were behind him.

In early 1977, Marc formed a new band and returned to England, going on tour with the punk band The Damned. He found a new audience and was, once again, gaining popularity.

In September 1977, Marc and Gloria were drinking in a West London pub. They left and Gloria got behind the wheel of their Mini. On a rain-slicked street, Gloria misjudged a bridge and struck a steel fence post. She lost control of the car and slammed into a tree. Marc was ejected from the vehicle and was killed instantly. Gloria was thrown through the windshield. She was found unconscious, sprawled across the hood of the car. She suffered a broken arm and a broken jaw. During a lengthy hospital stay, Gloria was informed of Marc’s death. It was two weeks before his 30th birthday. Shortly after the accident, Marc’s house was looted by fans.

Gloria was summoned to appear in British court to face reckless driving charges. She moved to Los Angeles with her son and never returned to England.

from my sketchbook: brandon dewilde

In My Hour Of Darkness
In 1950, Brandon deWilde became the talk of Broadway when he debuted in Member of the Wedding at the age of 7. Three years later, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his heart-rending performance as Joey Starrett opposite star Alan Ladd in Shane.

Based on his popularity, Brandon was given his own weekly sitcom on ABC, called Jamie, in which he played a young orphan being shuffled among many reluctant family members. The show lasted one season. He continued his career with roles in television and movies, including the controversial Blue Denim in 1959, with co-star Carol Lynley. The film dealt with a young couple and the dilemma over abortion, although the taboo word is never spoken.

He also filmed in a segment of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, playing a mentally-challenged youngster who has difficulty separating fantasy from the real world. After watching a magician on television, he kills a girl by sawing her in half. NBC deemed the episode “too gruesome” and it was never aired.

In 1963, he once again received critical acclaim in Hud, alongside Paul Newman, Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas. Although he, himself, was not nominated, Brandon graciously accepted the Oscar for co-star Douglas, who was out of the country during the awards ceremony.

In the early 70s, Brandon hoped to embark on a career in music, with the help of his friend singer-songwriter Gram Parsons. A Parsons associate cited Brandon as the best harmony singer after Emmylou Harris.

Just days after finishing a run of the play Butterflies are Free in Denver, Colorado, Brandon was driving his van to Colorado State Hospital to visit his wife after recent surgery. In a light rain, his vehicle struck a flatbed truck piled high with guardrails that workers had yet to install. Brandon’s van overturned and he was pinned in the wreckage. He died in the hospital, three hours later, of multiple injuries. Brandon was 30 years old. His last film was Wild in the Sky, a story of a hijacking co-starring The Rookies’  Georg Stanford Brown, Keenan Wynn, The Love Boat’s Bernie Kopell and Hogan’s Heroes‘ Larry Hovis in his film debut.

from my sketchbook: gale gordon

Mr. Wilson redux
Everyone (of a certain age) remembers Gale Gordon, the eternal curmudgeon, easily excitable and forever exasperated by the likes of Dennis Mitchell and Lucy Carmichael. Gale was a master of the “slow burn” — his temper rising, his brow furrowing, until he blasted forth with “gale-force” anger.

His career spanned seven decades, starting out in radio, simultaneously appearing on several popular programs like Fibber McGee and Molly, The Great Gildersleeve and even using his distinctive voice for the title role in The Amazing Interplanetary Adventures of Flash Gordon. He also starred opposite Bea Benaderet in Granby’s Green Acres, the forerunner to the Eddie Albert/Eva Gabor sitcom Green Acres.

When his pal Lucille Ball was preparing to bring her radio show My Favorite Husband to television (as I Love Lucy), she tapped Gale to play her neighbor Fred Mertz. Unfortunately, the always in-demand Gale had already committed to a role as the pompous school principal Osgood Conklin on Our Miss Brooks and the role went to William Frawley. He did, however, oblige Lucy with a few guest shots as the owner of the Tropicana Club that employed her husband Ricky Ricardo (as played by Desi Arnaz).

After I Love Lucy ended, Lucille Ball cast Gale in her solo sitcom The Lucy Show and again in the subsequent series Here’s Lucy. He was coaxed out of retirement in the 80s to costar with Ball in her short-lived Life with Lucy. He was the only actor to have appeared in every one of Lucille Ball’s series since the 1940s.

Gale made appearances in many television comedies, plying his patented short fuse in Pete and Gladys, The Real McCoys and his best remembered turn as the replacement Mr. Wilson on Dennis the Menace after the sudden death of Joseph Kearns.

Gale retired to his ranch in southern California where he had built a house and painting studio (doing most of the construction himself). Aside from his on-screen work, he quietly made a fortune as one of the only commercial carob growers in the United States.

Gale passed away in 1991 at the age of 89, just after filming the premiere episode of the Nickelodeon Network’s sitcom homage Hi Honey, I’m Home, in which he reprised his role of bank president Theodore J. Mooney.

from my sketchbook: wanda hawley

silence is golden
A career in Hollywood was the natural choice for pretty, petite blond Wanda Hawley. Beginning in 1917 with her debut in the drama The Derelict, Wanda crammed an astounding 84 film appearances into fifteen years. She proved her versatility and was adept at both comedy and drama. Wanda shared the screen with forgotten stars like Bryant Washburn (star of over 375 silents) as well as memorable legends like Douglas Fairbanks and Western stalwart William S. Hart. She was one of the most popular actresses of the silent film era.

However, when talking pictures came into vogue, Wanda was left in the dust. She, like many of her contemporaries, dismissed the “novelty” of sound. But she found herself out of Hollywood’s favor by 1933. With no skills and nowhere to turn, Wanda earned a meager living as a prostitute in San Francisco.

Wanda passed away in obscurity at the age of 67.