Family Affair Friday(ish): Episode 16, “That Was the Dinner That Wasn’t,” 1/9/1967

Welcome to another installment in my weekly Family Affair series. I’m sorry that it’s late. My husband had to use our laptop last night for actual work–the nerve!

Episode 16, “That Was the Dinner That Wasn’t,” 1/9/1967

Written by: Dorothy Cooper Foote. Directed by: William D. Russell.


Something’s bothering Cissy. What could it be?

Oh. Ouch.

Oh. Ouch.

If being an orphan isn’t bad enough, she has the least tactful group of friends ever. This is only a slight paraphrase:

Friend 1: Is your mother coming to the dinner, Cissy? Oh…right, sorry.”

Friend 2: Don’t worry, we have a father-daughter dance in the spring! Oh…yeah, sorry.”

Cissy even has to listen as the girls complain about their own mothers.

Cissy even has to listen as the girls complain about their own mothers.

And, to make matters worse, some of her sketches will be on display at this dinner she can’t attend. Did you know Cissy is an artist? Well, she is, as we’ll see shortly.

She hides the reason for her sadness from Uncle Bill, but he knows something is bothering her and wants to help. He spends a lot of time worrying and lamenting his lack of parenting skills. How concerned is he? On his one evening home between two business trips, he actually cancels a date to spend time with Cissy.

Actually, he makes French cancel his date. The woman in question, Maria Cantelli, doesn't take it especially well.

Actually, he makes French cancel his date. The woman in question, Maria Cantelli, doesn’t take it especially well.

As it turns out, Cissy has a date of her own, so Bill tries to mend fences with an unforgiving Miss Cantelli. God forbid he should spend his evening with Buffy and Jody. Hey, they’re not having a major emotional crisis this week.

Random fashion note: Cissy looks pretty in her green date dress.

Random fashion note: Cissy looks pretty in her green date dress.

The next day, as Bill prepares to head for the airport, he’s still clueless about what’s bothering Cissy. Even his suggestion of retail therapy doesn’t help. Cissy’s response is one that few teenage girls have ever uttered: “I have more clothes than I need.”

She's so upset she doesn't even touch this hearty meal French has prepared for her.

She’s so upset she doesn’t even touch this hearty meal French has prepared for her.

At the airport, he meets Miss Cantelli, who’s willing to make nice with him if he apologizes and joins her for dinner.

They should have saved this episode for St. Patrick's Day. Green is everywhere.

They should have saved this episode for St. Patrick’s Day. Green is everywhere.

Just then, however, he runs into Cissy’s friend Gail, who fills him in about the dinner.

My God, what's that on Gail's head? It's not even the same color as the rest of her hair.

My God, what’s that on Gail’s head? It’s not even the same color as the rest of her hair.

Bill quickly enlists French’s help to maneuver Cissy to the airport, where he spends some quality time with her without letting her know that he knows about the banquet.

Cissy is very impressed by this "fancy" airport restaurant.

Cissy is very impressed by this “fancy” airport restaurant.

They have a warm conversation, and at one point Uncle Bill offhandedly refers to her has his daughter, rather than his niece.

Cissy is so moved that she dashes off this sketch of Uncle Bill in about two minutes.

Cissy is so moved that she dashes off this sketch of Uncle Bill in about two minutes.

Watching this scene even warms the heart of Maria Cantelli, who was angry about being rebuffed for a second time.

Watching this scene warms even the cold, cold heart of Maria Cantelli, who was angry about being rebuffed for a second time.


This is another nice Cissy-Uncle Bill episode; the part where he calls her his daughter is especially touching. Occasionally, though, Kathy Garver’s admiring-niece portrayal strays uncomfortably close to girl-with-a-crush territory.

Feel the love.

Feel the love.

Guest Cast

Patty: Elizabeth Bader. Maria Cantelli: Jacqueline Bertrand. Miss Lee: Betty Lynn. Gail: Diane Mountford. This is Mountford’s second of five appearances and Lynn’s second of four as Uncle Bill’s secretary.

Fun Facts

When Cissy was 12, she wanted to be a nurse.

Continuity Notes

This episode makes specific reference to the death of the kids’ parents.

Ted Gaynor gets a mention.

Random decor note: I like Uncle Bill's sheets.

Random decor note: I like Uncle Bill’s sheets.

Notable Quotes

“If Cissy marries Freddy, will he be our brother or our uncle?” Buffy

Random twin image: Buffy and Mrs. Beasley, who are playing cowboys and Indians with Jody.

Random twin image: Buffy and Mrs. Beasley, who are playing cowboys and Indians with Jody.

Today’s Bonus Feature

TV Guide, November 16, 1968


Old-Time Radio Playlist: Happy New Year

This is the first installment of a two-part New Year playlist. I’ll post the second part on New Year’s Day. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

The Happiest Person in the World”

Family Theater
, January 8, 1948
“Everyone could be happy if they would think happiness into their lives.”
Story: Time is a newspaper, and City Editor Father Time has to break in a new reporter. He gives cub reporter 1948 an assignment to find the happiest person in the world—an assignment that teaches the new year about human nature.

Notable Performers: Life of Riley star William Bendix plays Father Time, while The Great Gildersleeve’s Walter Tetley plays baby 1948.
Referencing Radio: Bendix mentions his own show.
My Verdict: The performers make this entertaining, and the story keeps you guessing about the moral that it’s building to. Actually, it seems to me that the story fails to support the stated moral, which is quoted above. At one point, I thought they were making the point that happiness stems from giving, which made sense. For the characters in this episode, though, happiness stems from external validation, and you can’t just “think” that into being.

“Big New Year’s Eve Party”

The Great Gildersleeve, December 24, 1944
“Be a good boy if you can, but have a good time.”
Story: Gildy rings in 1945 with Leila, but his Delores troubles aren’t over.
Musical Notes: Harold Peary sings a love song…but it’s a good episode anyway.
Interesting History: There’s a reference to 1943 as the year of penicillin and sulfonamide. Penicillin did come into widespread use around that time, but my brief research seems to indicate that sulfa was available earlier.
My Verdict
: The jokes seem sharper in this episode than in many Gildersleeve offerings. I like Birdie’s comment when Gildy asks her about preparing an intimate supper: “I fix the supper, Mr. Gildersleeve. The rest is up to you.”
I must be a total nerd (big surprise!) because the lawyers’ club’s mock trial of the old year sounds fun to me. Unfortunately, my New Year’s Eve will be more like Peavy’s.

“Puckett’s New Year”

Gunsmoke, January 1, 1956
“A man’s gotta make a change once in a while, ain’t he?”
Story: Buffalo hunter Ira Puckett heads to Dodge to kill the man who left him to die in a blizzard. Matt, who doesn’t want to see the old man hang, intervenes.
My Verdict: A Gunsmoke rarity—an episode with no deaths! Puckett is an endearing character, and I like Matt’s efforts to keep him out of trouble. I feel bad for Kitty in this episode—her New Year’s reflections are sad, and Matt sure isn’t going to intervene to help her.

“Gladys Zybisco disappoints Jack on New Year’s Eve”

The Jack Benny Program, December 31, 1939
“What this world needs is a few less people who are making less people.”
Story: This episode follows Jack on New Year’s Eve, as he leaves the broadcast early. He’s in a funk because Gladys cancelled their date.
Interesting History: This episode tosses off many topical references. Jack mentions social security; President Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act in 1935, but monthly checks started going out in January 1940. “It can’t happen here” is a Phil punch line; it was also the title of a 1935 Sinclair Lewis novel about fascism. Mary mentions the movie Gone with the Wind, which had just premiered earlier in December.
Celebrity Name Droppings: Mary is attending Ginger Rogers’ New Year’s Eve party. Don is planning to take in Sally Rand’s show; you can do the same through the magic of Youtube.
Musical Notes: Dennis sings “All the Things You Are,” and I actually enjoy his performance, for a change.
Jell-o Hell No Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Jell-o combined with pineapple juice, egg whites, and crushed ice to create pineapple snow, a “foamy rose pink” dessert.
My Verdict: This episode’s unusual structure provides laughs for listeners, if not for poor Jack. Comic highlights are Gladys’ surprise appearance and Phil’s response to “In just a few hours the old year will pass right out.”

“Babysitting on New Year’s Eve”

Our Miss Brooks, January 1, 1950
“Liberty? You can take shore leave!”
Story: Connie takes a job babysitting Mr. Conklin’s nephew on New Year’s Eve; she needs the money to attend a party with Mr. Boynton. Of course, things don’t work out the way she planned.
Celebrity Name Droppings: Famed lion tamer Clyde Beatty gets a mention.
My Verdict: Connie’s attempts to woo the clueless Mr. Boynton are always a hit with me. I love the record scene, in which they express their feelings through contrasting song titles.

Enjoy more old-time radio playlists!

Weird (and Wonderful) Words of Wisdom: Special Year-End Edition, Part 2

In My Opinion: The Seventeen Book of Very Important Persons, 1966
Edited by Enid Haupt

Today, we receive more wisdom from the 20th century’s cultural leaders, courtesy of Seventeen Magazine. As I told you last week, this book comprises essays from the magazine’s long-running “Talk to Teens” column. Seventeen Editor Enid Haupt edited this book. I hope you will gain some year-end inspiration–and a bit of amusement–from these quotes.

(You’ll noticed I included Joan Crawford quotes in each part of this edition. Her whole essay is a gold mine. She even starts it with a dig at one of her daughters–most likely Christina–for wanting to achieve stardom without doing all the hard work it requires.)

Next week, Weird Words of Wisdom will revert to what it does best–mocking vintage teen advice books.

Quotes from In My Opinion

Vance Packard

Vance Packard

“In my travels during the past year I have found myself talking with at least a dozen women I knew as teenage girls. Some, I must confess, have not aged very gracefully. What impresses me most is that those who were most conspicuously girls of strong-minded integrity then are the most delightfully stimulating adults today.”

Vance Packard, journalist and social critic, author of The Hidden Persuaders, a groundbreaking work about advertising

Shelley Winters

Shelley Winters

“Although I am no longer the blonde bombshell of my early career, I often find myself acting that part because I feel I won’t be accepted as an educated, intelligent woman. These feelings limit my social world considerably. The discipline of study, of developing your mind so that it wants to study and likes to and considers it fun, which I have seen in many young people, I have never acquired. These feelings of inadequacy have made me make life decisions which have proved to be terribly serious mistakes.”

Shelley Winters, Academy Award-winning actress

Artur Rubinstein

Artur Rubinstein

“American girls marry much too young. I don’t believe a girl should marry until she finds the right person, and knows it deeply. I don’t care if she doesn’t marry until she is 35.”

Artur Rubinstein, pianist

Dr. J. Roswell Gallagher

Dr. J. Roswell Gallagher

“If these are your primary concerns–amounting to something and getting high marks–if you put these first and all else subordinate to them, what may this do to your feminine feelings and attitudes and role, to your regard for what is really good and really important, and to those people who cannot achieve your sort of success?”

Dr. J Roswell Gallagher, Boston physician specializing in adolescents

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

“Most women look as if they dressed in the dark and made up in a closet. They needn’t, for the essence of chic is simplicity. Chic begins with cleanliness–that wonderful sense of being freshly bathed and powdered and perfumed.”

Joan Crawford, Academy Award-winning actress

Philip Roth

Philip Roth

“Novels do not pussyfoot around. They can leave you sulky, angry, fearful and desperate. They can leave you dissatisfied with the life you are living. Sometimes, upon finishing a book, you can’t help but dislike yourself–for being smug or narrow or callous or unambitious…Novels can make you skeptical and doubting–of your family, of your religion, of your country; they can reveal to you that the kind of person you happen to be or think you want to be isn’t really worth being.”

Philip Roth, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist

Rosalind Russell

Rosalind Russell

“You’ll know us (parents) by the pride in our eyes and by our outstretched arms. No, we won’t smother you. We promise. We want to stand by you, not over you. We want to talk with you, not dictate to you. We want to talk frankly, not nag you. We want to discipline you because we’re supposed to. We want your cooperation to help us be better parents. We want your respect, and most of us know we must earn that respect. We want you to forgive our mistakes or at least try to overlook them. Above all, we want to love you, and you cannot deny us this because we loved you first.”

Rosalind Russell, Tony Award-winning actress

Pete Seeger

Pete Seeger

“Travel while you are young and still are free of responsibilities. See what a big, broad, beautiful land we have here, then maybe a foreign land or two. See that there are honest, hard-working people in every corner of the globe, all quite certain that their own way of living, their local geography, their music, etc, is the most beautiful.”

Pete Seeger, folk singer

Jean Dalrymple

Jean Dalrymple

“Seventeen is a darling age…It is an age to enjoy, to savor and to appreciate, especially if you are a girl, because then you are lovely. Everything about you is fresh and springlike–your body, your mind, and your soul.”

Jean Dalrymple, playwright and theatrical producer

Rod Serling

Rod Serling

“Only the Lord knows how many adults are forced into psychoanalysis at age thirty-five because of sweeping a problem under the rug at age twelve or thirteen.”

Rod Serling, television producer


“Like morality, good taste recognizes the existence of other people. Good taste requires that we care about other people’s feelings sufficiently to discipline our behavior.”

Rosemary Park, president of Barnard College at the time this book was written

Eileen Farrell

Eileen Farrell

“The successful human being, as I see him, is willing, even eager, to expose himself to new experiences and ideas. He welcomes contact not only with those who agree with him, but with those who don’t–not necessarily to persuade them to his way of thinking (though that’s always a possibility) but to learn something about theirs. That’s the only way to replace prejudices that create fear–with the knowledge born of conviction that gives courage. And with courage, everything is possible!”

Eileen Farrell, concert and opera soprano

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy

Attending to Our Bodily Housekeeping Edition

Betty Betz and Vintage Teen Etiquette That Rhymes Edition

Big Splendid Manhood Edition

Family Affair Friday: Episode 15, Hard Hat Jody, 1/2/1967

Welcome to another installment in my weekly Family Affair series. I’m glad the world didn’t end today because we have many more Family Affair episodes to re-discover together.

Episode 15, “Hard Hat Jody,” 1/2/1967.

Written by: Ted Sherdeman and Jane Klove. Directed by: William D. Russell.


Uncle Bill is worried because Jody seems to be living in a fantasy world–he thinks he’s an Indian.

French isn't too thrilled with Jody's fantasy life either.

French isn’t too thrilled with Jody’s fantasy life either.

Uncle Bill is also facing a long business trip to Japan, and, for once, he’s reluctant to leave the kids. He can only justify staying in New York if his firm lands “the Pennington project.” Unfortunately, Owen Pennington is an elusive eccentric whom Uncle Bill can’t seem to meet.

Uncle Bill decides that giving Jody a hard hat will help ground the boy in reality. Jody is delighted with the gift, and so is Buffy--she hopes it will keep Jody from "capturing" Mrs. Beasley during his Indian raids.

Uncle Bill decides that giving Jody a hard hat will help ground the boy in reality. Jody is delighted with the gift, and so is Buffy–she hopes it will keep Jody from “capturing” Mrs. Beasley during his Indian raids.

Switching the Indian headdress for a hard hat does Jody no good–he believes he’s a construction worker and even refuses to take his hat off at school because he’s “tearing down the building.” Playing on his own after school, Jody wanders onto a construction site and befriends “Owny”–actually Mr. Pennington. What a coincidence!

Mr. Pennington puts Jody to “work” on the construction site, but no one at home will believe Jody has a job. Uncle Bill gets so frustrated with Jody’s fantasies that he takes back the hard hat.

See if you can detect some subtle dismay on Jody's part.

See if you can detect some subtle dismay on Jody’s part.

Eventually, Jody brings his friend home.

VTS_01_4.VOB_000530372 (2)

Pennington quickly scopes out the situation and gives Davis and Gaynor his job so Uncle Bill can spend more time with Jody.


A cute Jody episode with lots of warm Uncle Bill smiles, although again I find myself concerned about the twins’ state of mental health. Jody did seem out of touch with reality for a while. Brian Donlevy brings a strong presence to the under-developed role of Mr. Pennington.

This episode includes a steam-room scene that shows us more of Uncle Bill than we normally get to see. Thank goodness it was him and not French in the steam room.

This episode includes a steam-room scene that shows us more of Uncle Bill than we normally get to see. Thank goodness it was him and not French in the steam room.

Continuity notes

Uncle Bills cites the shock of the kids’ losing their parents as the source of Jody’s problem.

The tag scene is extra adorable. Jody imitates Uncle Bill, complete with a Brian-Keith-style face rub of consternation.

The tag scene is extra adorable. Jody imitates Uncle Bill, complete with a Brian-Keith-style face rub of consternation.

Fun facts

Ted Gaynor has no kids.

Burning question

Should a six-year-old really wander around Manhattan alone, even in 1967?

This is pretty much the mental image I get when I think about why a six-year-old shouldn't wander the streets alone.

This is pretty much the mental image I get when I think about why a six-year-old shouldn’t wander the streets alone.

Guest cast

Owen Pennington: Brian Donlevy. Foreman: William Boyett. Misawa: Dale Ishimoto. Brian Donlevy had a long film career. Just a few highlights include Beau Geste (he received a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination), The Glass Key, The Great McGinty and The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek. My fellow old-time radio fans will be familiar with his work in Dangerous Assignment. Boyett appeared in several other episodes of Family Affair.

Today’s Bonus Feature

This 1969 CBS publicity photo has a Christmas theme.

Weird (and Wonderful) Words of Wisdom: Special Year-End Edition, Part 1

in my opinionIn My Opinion: The Seventeen Book of Very Important Persons, 1966
Edited by Enid Haupt

Today, in the holiday spirit, I’m offering something a little bit different than a typical Weird Words of Wisdom post making fun of a vintage teen advice book. (Don’t worry, we’ll get back to those in the new year.)

About This Book: For many years, Seventeen Magazine featured a regular column called “Talk to Teens.” In this space, celebrities and leaders from various fields gave advice to young readers. In My Opinion is a collection of 43 such columns.

Our old friend Enid Haupt writes in her introduction, “Opening this book is rather like walking into a large party with every guest a celebrity, and all of them eager to talk just to you.”

Actually, it reads more like a series of college commencement speeches.

Many of the authors offer good advice—and, of course, a few offer weird advice. I have to wonder how 1960s teens would have received even the best advice in this book, however, considering that most featured authors came from their parents’ generation.

Many of these essays mention the generation gap, and my impression is that the gap was widening rapidly in 1966. My mother graduated from high school in 1965, and I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t have found relevance in advice from people like Bennett Cerf, Burl Ives, Rosalind Russell, and Joan Crawford. (Actually, taking advice from Joan Crawford is probably a bad idea, no matter what your age.)

As we prepare to enter a new year, may these quotes provide inspiration (or, in some cases, amusement).

Quotes from In My Opinion

Jan Peerce

Jan Peerce

“…it’s so important to be flexible and to try to develop a number of interests, whether you use them for a cushion or a steppingstone. History books are full of people who stumbled onto the right path by sheer accident. And sometimes the best way to find your ultimate destination is simply to change your course.”

Jan Peerce, opera singer

kenneth tynan

Kenneth Tynan

“Nonsense is part of our birthright; and the more we are allowed to indulge in it—the more we are encouraged to make our own mistakes—the healthier we grow up to be.”

Kenneth Tynan, theater critic

sj perelman

S.J. Perelman

“My vocation, it may have leaked out to you, is that of a writer, which means that I sit in a hot little room stringing words together like beads at so many cents per bead. It’s shabby-genteel work and, on the whole, poorly paid, but I’m too fragile to drive a brewery truck and I’m too nervous to steal…In the poolrooms I frequent, it has often reached my ears that the chief advantage of being a writer is that it allows you to sleep late in the morning. Don’t believe it. You can enjoy the same privilege as a night counterman in a cafeteria, and, what’s more, in that job you can always bring home stale Danish pastries for the kiddies.”

S.J. Perelman, humorist

Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford

“Though a career girl must often think like a man, she must always act like a lady…A woman in business has an enormous advantage: the fact that men are courteous. They will treat you with respect, listen when you talk and give your opinions priority. This is wonderful, of course, but don’t abuse their gallantry.”

Joan Crawford, actress

chet huntley

Chet Huntley

“The American girl is aware of most of the ingredients of beauty: posture, coiffure, make-up, costume and the rest. But she frequently quite overlooks voice and diction…To be beautiful, a girl must sound so.”

Chet Huntley, newscaster

Pearl S. Buck

Pearl S. Buck

“Sometimes talent is insufficient for earning a living and yet enough to provide for happiness. It is then worth the effort of pursuit. You will enjoy art more if you pursue it without thought of money. Pursue it for pleasure, for release, for enrichment of the mind and spirit, for simple happiness.”

Pearl S. Buck, author

Next week–advice from Shelley Winters, Pete Seeger, Rosalind Russell, Philip Roth, and others!

Other Weird Words of Wisdom posts you might enjoy:

Spanking New Edition

Where the Boys Are (You’d Better Wear a Skirt) Edition

Speak Softly and  Carry a Hot Breakfast Edition

Old-Time Radio Playlist: Christmas, Part 6

draft_lens18469959module153045571photo_1315361292MerryCatsI didn’t post an installment of Spin Again Sunday this week because it seemed too frivolous in light of the tragic events in Connecticut. I’m also dealing with some personal issues this week that are sapping my Christmas spirit. I find, at times like this, that old-time radio can offer a pleasing escape from today’s problems. That’s especially true of Christmas episodes, which often show people finding moments of light in a season of darkness. In that spirit, I present the sixth part of my Christmas OTR playlist.

Read parts one, two, three, four, and five of my Christmas playlist.

America for Christmas”

Cavalcade of America
, December 25, 1944
“Roll on, Columbia, roll on.”
Story: A USO show somewhere in the Pacific provides the framework for a musical tour of the United States.
Notable Performers: Walter Huston narrates this episode. The father of John Huston, he is best remembered for his Academy Award-winning performance in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Musical Notes: The entire episode revolves around folk music representing various U.S. regions. “Roll On, Columbia,” by Woody Guthrie bookends the program.
My Verdict: Corny but cute humor pervades this show, which concludes with an idealistic message about the world that will emerge after World War II.

“Listening to Christmas Carols”

Fibber McGee and Molly, December 22, 1942
“Why, the idea of having Christmas come right in the middle of the holidays—right when everybody is their busiest!”
Story: Teeny hangs around the McGees’ house and tries to get a Grinchy Fibber to show some Christmas spirit.
Musical Notes: Teeny and her “little friends” sing “The Night Before Christmas.”
Interesting History: As usual in Fibber episodes from this era, there are many World War II homefront references.
My Verdict
: A fun aspect of this episode is the unusual degree of interaction between Teeny and Molly; Marian Jordan played both characters.

“Room for a Stranger”

Radio Reader’s Digest, December 19, 1946
“The best town, the best people, and the best Christmas I ever knew.”
Story: An injured Army officer, headed home for Christmas, learns that his leave has been cancelled. He has just enough time for a Christmas Eve reunion with this girlfriend, but they find themselves stranded with no place to spend the holiday.
About Radio Reader’s Digest: This show ran from 1942 to 1948, presenting uplifting stories that had appeared in Reader’s Digest magazine.
Notable Performers: Frank Sinatra stars in this comedy-drama. His acting is not fully assured, but the audience doesn’t seem to mind.
Musical Notes: Frank sings “Silent Night.”
Commercial Curiosities: Sponsor Hallmark advertises a new line a Christmas cards for men—the game bird collection—“masculine as a briar pipe.”
My Verdict: This is a nice, simple story (supposedly true) with gentle humor.

“Dog Star”

Suspense, December 22, 1957
“You’ll never believe me.”
Story: A little girl is grieving the loss of her beloved dog and hoping for a puppy for Christmas. She seems to get her wish when a dog literally falls from the sky.
Notable Performers: Child actress Evelyn Rudie made a big splash in 1956 when she played Kay Thompson’s beloved imp in the Playhouse 90 story “Eloise.” Since 1973, she has served as co-artistic director of the Santa Monica Playhouse.
Interesting History: This episode mentions real Soviet space dog Laika.
My Verdict: This story tugs at the heartstrings, repeatedly. I’m a little worried about dad, though—getting an early morning phone call from the president of the United States would certainly be startling, but I’m not sure it should drive you to drink.