Family Affair Flashback: Season 3, Episode 28, “My Man the Star,” 4/14/1969

Good news, Family Affair fans! Kathy Garver’s book Surviving Cissy is now in stock at Amazon and B&N.com. My copy has already arrived, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. After I do, I’ll be posting a review. To celebrate its release, I am also posting a special edition of Spin Again Sunday tomorrow. Family Affair fans won’t want to miss it!

Written by: Austin and Irma Kalish. Directed by: Charles Barton.

As we reach the end of Season 3, our scene opens at the park.

I wonder how Buffy got Jody and that other boy to hold her jump rope for her.

I wonder how Buffy got Jody and that other boy to hold her jump rope for her.

As the kids play, the nanny and butler crew is having a chat–or a chinwag, as they might say.

Their topic is a recent appearance by "her majesty" on "the telly."

Their topic is a recent appearance by “her majesty” on “the telly.”

We know, we know–you’re British!

Always nostalgic, they quickly transition from talking about Queen Elizabeth II to remembering her grandmother, Mary of Teck.

Always nostalgic, they quickly transition from talking about Queen Elizabeth II to remembering her grandmother, Mary of Teck.

Queen Mary was “a symbol of strength and continuity,” Miss Faversham sighs. (I’m more used to hearing the intervening queen, the late Queen Mother, described that way, but it makes sense that Miss F would have a soft spot for her childhood queen.)

Meanwhile, some onlookers have noticed our quintessentially British servants.

Meanwhile, some onlookers have noticed our quintessentially British servants.

They are especially taken with Mr. French.

He's perfect, they say--"right down to the last whisker."

He’s perfect, they say–“right down to the last whisker.”

When they approach French, he assumes they are salesmen and dismisses them in his inimitable way.

"I would suggest that you be off, post-haste," he huffs.

“I would suggest that you be off, post-haste.”

His high-handedness only endears him to these strangers further. You see, they are movie producers, and they think French would be perfect to play Henry VIII in their upcoming film.

Mr. Hardcastle and Mrs. Marley make some dismissive comments about the producers being “in trade” and movie acting being undignified. Miss Faversham admits that French bears a resemblance to the much-married monarch, however. French utters a few “stuff and nonsense”-type demurrals, but he begins to come around when producer Fred Wallace notes the Queen has knighted many movie actors.

His other friends, also coming around, suggest that French might perform a service to Britain by giving an accurate portrayal of King Henry.

“One must sacrifice oneself in the name of one’s country,” Mrs. Marley argues. “Even one’s dignity.”

When Buffy and Jody arrive on the scene, French realizes he still has an out.

When Buffy and Jody arrive on the scene, French realizes he still has an out–his child care responsibilities will preclude any movie work.

“You’re going to pass up the chance of a lifetime to play nurse to two kids?,” Wallace’s mystified associate asks.

Of course, the kids are all for French doing the movie. They enjoy the idea of living with someone who’s “like Lassie and all the other movie stars.” (Lassie seems like an unlikely reference here, since kids their age would associate the dog with TV rather than movies.)

Mostly, they want to be able to trade French's autograph to their friends for really important things, such as bubble gum.

Mostly, they want to be able to trade French’s autograph to their friends for really important things…such as bubble gum.

Their opinion doesn’t sway French, of course, but when Hardcastle asks what Sir Walter Raleigh or Sir Francis Drake would have done, French weakens.

Back at home, Cissy becomes another enthusiastic cheerleader for French's taking the role.

Back at home, Cissy becomes another enthusiastic cheerleader for French’s taking the role.

“It’s absolutely ideal casting,” she gushes. She even wishes that she could co-star in the film as one of Henry’s wives.

Um…ew.

French admits he would find it appealing to counter farcical depictions of Henry VIII–“the throwing of chicken bones” and all that.

Making one last attempt to resist the cinema's call, French announces that his place is with the Davis family.

Making one last attempt to resist the cinema’s call, French announces that his place is with the Davis family.

Uncle Bill replies that they can spare him for awhile.

It would be a patriotic gesture, Cissy adds, reminding him that “England expects every man to…you know.”

By the time he finally gives in, French seems rather pleased with his new status as an actor.

French finally gives in–he’ll play the part and donate his salary to a British charity.

He doesn’t even pick up on any danger signals when he visits the producers’ offices, but we do.

These guys seem unfamiliar with Shakespeare, and their "wardrobe department" turns out to be a rack in the basement.

These guys seem unfamiliar with Shakespeare, and their “wardrobe department” turns out to be a rack in the basement.

(It may be the Family Affair green walls that make French feel at home and blind him to impending trouble.)

At home, Buffy and Jody are stepping up to handle household tasks that French doesn’t have time for.

You wouldn't expect Bill to hang up his own jacket or put away his own briefcase, would you?

You wouldn’t expect Bill to hang up his own jacket or put away his own briefcase, would you?

And what exactly is French doing?

Getting into character.

Getting into character.

“Is he our Mr. French?” a wide-eyed Buffy wonders.

“Used to be,” Jody replies.

Cissy thinks French looks "beautiful" and Buffy admires his "miniskirt and pantyhose."

Cissy thinks French looks “beautiful” and Buffy admires his “miniskirt and pantyhose.”

Jody adds that he now understands why men grew beards back in the day–so you could tell them from the ladies.

It's a measure of how much French is enjoying himself that this feminization doesn't faze him.

It’s a measure of how much French is enjoying himself that all this emasculation doesn’t faze him.

Later, Bill asks some gentle questions about what kind of production French is working on, since it doesn’t seem to involve a script, rehearsals, or much of a crew.

French says the picture is intended for art houses and tosses around words like "new wave" and "trans-realism."

French says the picture is intended for art houses and tosses around words like “new wave” and “trans-realism.”

He admits he doesn’t know what that last term means, though.

Bill is skeptical.

Bill remains skeptical.

So skeptical that he’s soon calling a friend with entertainment industry connections.

Herb is familiar with Fred Wallace's operation--Wallace is a "shoestring operator" who makes a feature about $2,000 or $3,000 and tries to make a small profit.

Herb is familiar with Fred Wallace’s operation–Wallace is a “shoestring operator” who makes a feature for about $1,500 or $2,000 and tries to turn a small profit.

Wallace probably cast French so he could “save beard money,” Herb adds.

Bill is worried about the final product embarrassing French. He asks Herb if there is any way to screen the film before it’s released, and Herb promises to ask around.

Meanwhile, French is basking in his friends' admiration.

Meanwhile, French is basking in his friends’ admiration.

“Once a gentleman’s gentleman, always a gentleman’s gentleman,” Hardcastle says, and the others agree that success hasn’t changed him a bit.

The women note with excitement that they have organized a premiere that will benefit the British Colonial Society. They even plan to send the Queen a print of the film!

The women note with excitement that they have organized a premiere that will benefit the British Colonial Society. They even plan to send the Queen a print of the film!

Uncle Bill soon gets a look at this production. (Herb made the arrangements through some wheeling and dealing with Wallace.)

Right from the title card, things don't look promising.

Right from the title card, it doesn’t look promising.

It goes downhill from there.

And it goes downhill from there.

For instance, a dance between Henry and Anne Boleyn is sped up and scored with silly music and sound effects. When Henry sings “Greensleeves” to Anne, that’s also accelerated, Chipmunks-style.

And a scene in which the King and Queen watch a performance at court...

And a scene in which the King and Queen watch a performance at court…

...becomes ridiculous when a belly-dancer is edited in as the performer.

…becomes ridiculous when a belly-dancer is edited in as the performer.

How does Bill react to all this?

Not well.

Not well.

Even Herb's experiencing a little second-hand embarrassment.

Even Herb’s experiencing a little second-hand embarrassment.

His theory is that Wallace shot a legitimate version of the Henry VIII story, didn’t like how it turned out, and then “hoked up the film.”

(The biggest hits of 1969 inlcuded Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Easy Rider, Midnight Cowboy, and True Grit. Somehow, I can’t imagine that a “hoked up” Tudor film would do well at the box office.)

Wallace disagrees, however, and resists Bill's offer to buy the film from him.

Wallace disagrees, however, and resists Bill’s offer to buy the film from him.

“I smell big money,” he says. “Your Mr. French is funny.”

He’s not sympathetic to Bill’s argument that the movie will humiliate French. And he’s incredulous that Bill is “all worked up over a butler,” though Bill says French is his friend, too. Aww…

Bill threatens to sue Wallace for fraud since French didn’t agree to star in a comedy, but Wallace points out that French’s contract didn’t include script approval.

Wallace is right, it seems to me, but Bill is also right when he says the legal process could strand the film in limbo for a while.

“Sell it to me or don’t sell, and go into court,” he says finally, making Wallace an offer he can’t refuse–$2,000.

On the night of the premiere, everyone is excited.

"Goodbye, Mr. French; hello, star of the cinema," Hardcastle crows.

“Goodbye, Mr. French; hello, star of the cinema,” Hardcastle crows.

Cissy can’t wait to tell all her friends that she knows a movie star.

She seems to be forgetting that she's already met a few.

She seems to be forgetting that she’s already met a few, like Uncle Bill’s friend who almost escorted her to a dance, and the female star Bill almost married, and…

Soon, French comes on stage and makes a stunning announcement.

The film's only existing print has been destroyed in a laboratory fire!

The film’s only existing print has been destroyed in a laboratory fire!

He notes an odd coincidence: It is June 29, the anniversary of the fire that destroyed the Globe Theater in 1613. And the fire started during a performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII.”

Since the movie is unavailable, French announces that he will give readings “from that inflammable play.” He starts with Henry’s speech after the birth of Elizabeth.

Buffy and Jody don’t understand the speech, but they enjoy hearing French intone it. And, since their separation anxiety is never far from the surface, they are relieved that French won’t become a big movie star and leave the Davis home.

Cissy likes French’s reading but still wishes she could have seen the movie.

Yes, Bill agrees. That would have really been something...

Yes, Bill agrees…wouldn’t that have been something?

Commentary

As a child, I would have found this episode dull–too much of French’s friends and not enough of the kids. It’s still not really a favorite, but it has its charms: Seeing Bill’s affection for French, seeing French in his costume, and seeing Joe Flynn on Family Affair.

Bill put a high value on protecting French’s feelings–according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, $2,000 in 1969 is equivalent to about $13,000 in today’s money.

Bill’s expressions during the movie screening are another highlight.

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Fun fact: French believes he resembles the Hans Holbein portrait of Henry VIII.

Workshop_of_Hans_Holbein_the_Younger_-_Portrait_of_Henry_VIII_-_Google_Art_Project

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What do you think?

Guest Cast

Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Mr. Hardcastle: Noel Drayton. Fred Wallace: Joe Flynn. Herb Donaldson: Del Moore. Mrs. Marley: Margaret Muse. Tony Brooks: Dick Patterson. Actress: Anne Travis.

Joe Flynn is fondly remembered for his role as Captain Wallace ‘Leadbottom’ Binghamton on McHale’s Navy. Like Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot, he also had a strong association with Disney: He appeared in live-action films such as The Love Bug and The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes and was a voice actor in The Rescuers. The latter film was released three years after his death in 1974; Flynn was only 49 when he drowned in his swimming pool after suffering a heart attack.

Margaret Muse was the third wife of silent film actor Charles Meredith. Her TV appearances included two episodes of Burke’s Law, and she had a family connection with that show’s star, Gene Barry—her son married Barry’s sister.

Dick Patterson’s 1999 obituary describes him as a “song and dance man.” He made several appearances on Broadway in musicals such as Fade Out – Fade In and Smile. As a TV guest actor, he showed up in several episodes each of Love, American Style and Here’s Lucy and two episodes of The Brian Keith Show. On film, he appeared in Grease and Grease II, the campy Village People vehicle Can’t Stop the Music (directed by Season 5 Family Affair cast member Nancy Walker), and Disney’s Strongest Man in the World (1975), in which Joe Flynn starred. (The cast also included three-time Family Affair guest star Benson Fong and Michael McGreevey, son of frequent Family Affair writer John McGreevey.)

Anne Travis’ acting career seems to have been about as successful as Anne Boleyn’s marriage to Henry VIII. As best I can tell, she was in this episode and maybe an episode of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

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Family Affair Flashback: Season 3, Episode 26, “The Matter of Dignity,” 3/31/1969

I apologize for the unplanned hiatus from my Family Affair series. Health issues and a hectic day job put blogging on a back burner for a while. To increase the frequency of these posts, I am trying to cut back on their length, which has ballooned considerably since I started the series (and surely pushes into tl;dr category at times). Also, I’ve changed the series name to abandon the pretext that these posts will always appear on Fridays. I hope to bring them to you every week or two, on whatever day I get the chance.

Teleplay by: Peggy Chantler Dick and John McGreevey. Story by: Peggy Chantler Dick and Douglas Dick. Directed by Charles Barton.

As we open, French is entertaining a fellow gentleman’s gentleman, Alfred Dimsdale. French’s digs impress his old friend.

"This establishment has style," he says. "It's not quite Glenmore Castle, but..."

“This establishment has style,” Dimsdale says. “It’s not quite Glenmore Castle, but…”

He also admires the way French manages the Davis children.

Especially when French opens the door to this.

Especially when French opens the door to this.

The caller’s name is Gopher Resnick, and he has come to see Cissy.

Pay particular attention to the young man's lack of footwear. Walking around the sidewalks of Manhattan in bare feet? Eww.

Pay particular attention to the young man’s lack of footwear. Walking around the sidewalks of Manhattan in bare feet? Eww.

“Whistle for the little bird, man,” Gopher orders French. “I’m ready to fly.”

Such a charmer.

“Is it possible that this Gopher proposes to escort you to a public place?” French asks when Cissy arrives on the scene.

“Is it possible that this Gopher proposes to escort you to a public place?” French asks when Cissy arrives on the scene.

No shirt, no shoes, no date with Cissy, is French’s motto.

“You got something against feet, man?” an aggrieved Gopher asks.

In response, we get an all-time great Frenchism: “Not in their proper place, no. The cradle, the seashore, or the shower.”

In response, we get an all-time great Frenchism: “Not in their proper place, no. The cradle, the seashore, or the shower.”

When Gopher asks if French is “for real,” French assures him he is as real as the Davis front door–which he then closes in his face.

Luckily, Cissy is relieved because she didn't want to go out with Gopher anyway.

Cissy is relieved because she didn’t want to go out with Gopher anyway.

I would have lost all respect for her if she felt otherwise.

Alfred leaves soon after Gopher, but not before meeting Bill and letting him know that he's looking for a position in New York.

Alfred leaves soon after Gopher, but not before meeting Bill and letting him know that he’s looking for a position in New York.

We next see Bill in his office, where he has apparently acquired a new secretary.

Or, judging by her robotic manner of speaking, he has built one.

Or, judging by the secretary’s robotic manner of speaking, built one.

She gives him his mail, which includes this shocking missive:

Oh, my.

At home, Bill shows the letter to French.

French apologizes to Bill, but Bill says there's no need--the letter is obviously the work of a "sick mind."

French apologizes to Bill, but Bill says there’s no need–the letter is obviously the work of a “sick mind.”

The sick mind is soon at work again.

This time Cissy is the recipient of its ravings.

This time Cissy is the recipient of its ravings.

She heads straight to Uncle Bill, who informs her about the letter he received.

Cissy has a hunch about the culprit.

Cissy has a hunch about the culprit.

She thinks the shoeless wonder felt disrespected by French and is trying to get him fired.

Nobody puts Gopher in a corner, I guess.

VTS_01_2.VOB_000740441

Cissy heads to what is obviously the hippie section of Central Park.

But Gopher has only a vague recollection of French as “the cat with the beaver and the hangup about shoes.”

He’s been preoccupied thinking about his new girlfriend, Jenny.

She's a better match for him than Cissy would be, certainly.

She’s a better match for him than Cissy would be, certainly.

Meanwhile, Bill is putting his number one suspect to the test.

He offers Dimsdale French's position, adding that rumors from England have persuaded him to dismiss French.

He offers Dimsdale French’s position, adding that rumors from England have persuaded him to dismiss French.

Dimsdale urges Bill to ignore rumors and turns down the job–he only like children from a distance and wants to work for an uncomplicated bachelor.

That let’s him off the hook.

At home, Jody gets the mail and lets Buffy open an unaddressed, unstamped letter. Cissy enters the room as Buffy is reading it.

When Buffy asks her what "set his cap" means, Cissy reacts with such shock that you'd think Buffy asked her to explain "throbbing member" or something.

When Buffy asks her what “set his cap” means, Cissy reacts with such shock that you’d think Buffy asked her to explain “throbbing member” or something.

This third letter is more detailed in its accusations.

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Showing the letter to French, Cissy bubbles with anger about the person spreading lies.

To her surprise, French says the message is true.

To her surprise, French says the message is true.

Lord Glenmore did dismiss him with cause. He was lucky that Bill hired him shortly thereafter on the basis of an interview, without checking references.

Cissy's opinion of French takes such a nosedive that she doesn't want him to take the twins to the park--she insists on taking them herself.

Cissy’s opinion of French takes such a nosedive that she doesn’t want him to take the twins to the park–she insists on taking them herself.

Just how young is she imagining that “Lord Glenmore’s young daughter” was?

At the park, she runs into Miss Faversham and Alfred Dimdale's sister Alice, another nanny.

At the park, she runs into Miss Faversham and Alfred Dimdale’s sister Alice, another nanny.

When they ask where French is, Cissy says she’s going to be taking more responsibility for the children.

(As a knitter myself, I watched this scene closely to see if Heather Angel is actually knitting. She’s doing something with the needles, but it looks awkward.)

At home, Cissy pours her heart out to Bill.

At home, Cissy pours her heart out to Bill.

“What kind of man is Mr. French?” she wonders.

Bill replies that French is intelligent and honest, and that there has to be more to the Glenmore story than it seems.

They get interrupted by the twins, who have sensed how worried Bill and Cissy are.

They get interrupted by the twins, who have sensed how worried French, Bill and Cissy are.

They are tired of being told that nothing is wrong.

Bill says that three people worrying is enough for one family, so they should let the older people handle it. The twins agree and secure Bill’s promise to tell them when it’s time to start worrying.

Bill goes to see French and listens as his French confirms again that the letter is true. When French offers to quit, Bill goes into mock-annoyed mode.

"Don't start talking about leaving!" he grumbles.

“Don’t start talking about leaving!” he grumbles.

He lets French know that he still doesn’t believe the letter writer. French, who is obviously moved by him employer’s faith in him, says that is his privilege.

Bill then joins a still-brooding Cissy for another conversation.

She feels like there are two Mr. Frenches, and she wishes he would prove that the good French they've known all along is the real one.

She feels like there are two Mr. Frenches. She wishes French would prove that the good one  they’ve known all along is the real one.

That’s exactly what French won’t do, Bill says:”If he has to prove himself to keep your respect, your respect isn’t worth anything to him.”

Chastened, Cissy finds French and apologizes to him.

She thanks him for being the kind of person he is--and for being "very tolerant of emotional teenage girls."

She thanks him for being the kind of person he is–and for being “very tolerant of emotional teenage girls.”

Now that French feels trusted, he’s willing to tell Bill and Cissy the whole story.

Lord Glenmore’s shy and overprotected daughter Evelyn had hardly any contact with men. She enjoyed talking to French about books and eventually believed herself to be in love with him.

"I was younger then and my figure a bit trimmer," he explains sheepishly.

“I was younger then and my figure a bit trimmer,” he explains sheepishly.

He and Lord Glenmore were afraid that if French merely quit, Evelyn would continue to pine for him. Instead, they cooked up a story that French was a married cad scheming to extort money from his employer.

Things turned out okay for Evelyn, who is now happily married with a lovely family.

That rules her out. So who wrote the letters?

French says he's known all along that it was Alice Dimsdale.

French says he’s known all along it was Alice Dimsdale.

Alice probably feels it’s her duty to protect Cissy and the children, he says.

The next day, French is back on park duty.

When Alice expresses surprise that he's still taking care of the children, he returns her letters.

When Alice expresses surprise that he’s still taking care of the children, he returns her letters with thanks.

“They served a purpose–oh, not necessarily the one you had in mind,” he crows.

Then he joins a beaming Miss F to share what he calls "in every way, an exceptional day."

Then he joins a beaming Miss F to share what he calls “in every way, an exceptional day.”

Aww.

Commentary

This episode fills in a crucial hole in French’s back story–how he made his way from a British castle to a New York bachelor pad.

A mystery is always fun, although I feel confused about Alice’s motives. French’s explanation that she was protecting the children makes it sound like she doesn’t know the true story. His confrontation of her in the park, however, suggests that he ascribes malice to her actions. I suppose the details don’t matter, since this episode is really about French’s need to feel trusted by the Davis family.

I enjoy the scene where Buffy and Jody express frustration when no one will tell them what’s wrong. It’s realistic for kids to pick up on tension, and Bill handles the situation well.

There’s a slight oddity in the final park scene–Buffy, Jody and French talk about a game Jody invented called “I Know.” It seems to be a followup to an earlier conversation, one we didn’t see.

Even by their standards, the twins seem overdressed. Buffy looks like she's going to see a performance of The Nutcracker.

Also even by their standards, the twins are overdressed. Buffy looks like she’s going to a performance of The Nutcracker.

Guest Cast

Miss Faversham: Heather Angel. Miss Grayson: Annette Cabot. Alfred Dimsdale: David Montresor. Alice Dimsdale: Irene Tedrow. Gopher: Gary Tigerman.

According to a bio of Irene Tedrow, “Her features grew more severe with age, which ultimately typed her as puritanical meddlers and no-nonsense matrons.”

She was certainly playing to type as Alice.

She was certainly playing to type as Alice.

Before TV, she was active in radio, with a regular role on Meet Corliss Archer and frequent appearances on such shows as Suspense, Family Theater, and Crime Classics. She worked steadily in television throughout the 1980s; her more memorable appearances include playing Aunt Martha on an episode of Leave it to Beaver—and reprising the role in twice on the 1980s comeback series—and attending two of Mary’s disastrous parties as Congresswoman Margaret Geddes on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She had a recurring role as Mrs. Elkins on Dennis the Menace. She appeared once on Sebastian Cabot’s earlier series Checkmate and crossed professional paths with Brian Keith in The Parent Trap (her role was tiny and uncredited) and Centennial.

Gary Tigerman’s screen career was short—Oggo the Caveboy on Lost in Space was probably his best role—but his life has gone in interesting directions. He served jail time for refusing to serve in Vietnam, and after his release he got involved in music and songwriting and later wrote a sci-fi novel, The Orion Project.

David Montresor didn’t have much of a screen career. His most intriguing credit is the 1960 Italian-made sci-fi film Space Man, a.k.a. Assignment Outer Space.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 3, Episode 24, “Speak for Yourself, Mr. French,” 3/17/1969

Written by: Edmund Beloin and Henry Garson. Directed by: Charles Barton.

Before we dive into this week’s episode, I wanted to alert Family Affair fans that Kathy Garver has written a memoir called Surviving Cissy. It will be published in September and is available now for pre-order on Amazon. Check it out!

We open this week in the park, as Mr. French reminds Jody about an upcoming dental appointment.

Jody hopes he'll get his with a ball in the park so his loose tooth will come out. Then the dentist won't have to pull it.

Jody hopes he’ll get hit by a ball in the park so his loose tooth will come out. Then the dentist won’t have to pull it.

French assures Jody that the dentist won’t be pulling any teeth–he’ll only be checking Jody’s bite.

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“Bite him good,” Buffy urges.

(She has a bit of a biting fixation–remember her early encounter with French?)

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That night at dinner, Bill reproves Jody for not eating his meat.

Jody claims his mouth hurts too much from the dentist, but Cissy disputes this.

The dentist only made a wax impression of Jody's teeth, she says. Any pain Jody's in is purely psychosomatic.

The dentist only made a wax impression of Jody’s teeth, she says. Any pain is purely psychosomatic.

Someone’s been paying attention in psychology class again, I see.

The word "psychosomatic" leaves the twins predictable clueless.

The word “psychosomatic” leaves the twins predictable clueless.

"It's all in your head," Cissy explains.

“It’s all in your head,” Cissy explains.

Of course it’s all in his head, Jody agrees–that’s where his teeth are. Ba-dum-bump.

Somehow, the conversation shifts to Cissy’s intention to become a nurse. That surprises Bill, who notes that she wanted to be an actress the week before. (Cissy’s very practical plan is to become a nurse, then use her nursing salary to put herself through dramatic school.)

Buffy announces that she wants to be a secretary, which finally leads us into this week’s main story.

Buffy wants to be like Miss Travers, a pretty young secretary that French met in the park that day.

Buffy wants to be like Miss Travers, a pretty young secretary that French met in the park that day.

French explains to Bill that Miss Travers recognized the twins’ names when she heard French talking to them. She’s a secretary at a construction company, and her boss is an acquaintance of Bill’s.

Well, Buffy and Jody are rather odd names, so I guess that makes sense.

Bill's attempts to recall Miss Travers to mind are amusing. Is she the one that's very short  and a little too...?

Bill’s attempts to recall Miss Travers to mind are amusing. Is she the one that’s very short and a little too…?

He gestures with his hands, ever so briefly, in the way that conveys the ampleness of the female form.

Oh no, French replies, in a slightly salacious and un-French-like way. Emily Travers is not "too" anything--she's just right.

Oh no, French replies, in a slightly salacious and un-French-like way. Emily Travers is not “too” anything–she’s just right.

Bill finally remembers her as an attractive blond with blue eyes, but French says they are aquamarine–“the limip hue one associates with tropical reefs in the Caribbean.”

Picking up on French's infatuation with Miss Travers, Cissy says she wishes a boyfriend would describe her eyes so poetically.

Picking up on French’s infatuation with Miss Travers, Cissy says she wishes a boyfriend would describe her eyes so poetically.

Buffy adds to French’s embarrassment by observing that he and Emily shook hands for a long time before parting.

“I don’t know which one was holding on,” she says. “Maybe both.”

As usual, Bill finds some amusement in French's discomfort.

As usual, Bill takes some amusement in French’s discomfort.

Next, we find ourselves back in the park, this time with the British servant contingent.

French's encounter with Emily has already become gossip fodder for them.

French’s encounter with Emily has already become gossip fodder for them.

“He’s quite crackers about the young woman,” Mr. Tyburn burbles, noting that she is half French’s age.

"Let him chase her--he'll never catch her," a smug Hardcastle says.

“Let him chase her–he’ll never catch her,” a smug Hardcastle says.

Quick to defend her friend, Miss Faversham says she heard Miss Travers was doing the chasing. Tyburn and Hardcastle decide then that Miss Travers must be frumpy–“thick glasses and flat shoes.”

After Miss Faversham leaves, French comes along and endures some teasing from his frenemies.

After Miss Faversham leaves, French comes along and endures some teasing from his frenemies.

They aren’t laughing for long, though, because the woman in question soon makes an appearance.

Well, here she is--the long-awaited Emily.

Well, here she is–the long-awaited Emily.

French and Emily walk on, leaving behind two stunned butlers.

"They say that love is blind, but this is ridiculous," Hardcastle grumbles.

“They say that love is blind, but this is ridiculous,” Hardcastle grumbles.

Later, Bill comes home to wait for a long-distance business call and encounters Cissy.

He compliments her on cute outfit.

He compliments her on a cute outfit.

(I don’t think I share his opinion.)

She’s heading off to the library to study psychology with a cute boy, Freddie. She gets insulted, though, when Bill assumes that Freddie is her main focus, rather than studying.

"Freddie is incidental," she says, none to convincingly.

“Freddie is incidental,” she says, none to convincingly.

After she leaves, it’s not long before Bill hears a knock at the door.

It's Emily, ostensibly looking for French and bearing a present for Buffy and Jody.

It’s Emily, ostensibly looking for French and bearing a present for Buffy and Jody.

(The wardrobe in this scene makes it fitting that this episode first aired on St. Patrick’s Day.)

French and the kids are out, but Bill invites Emily in to talk for a few minutes.

She passes the present along to Bill and tells him how much she likes the children. Jody is "all boy," but so polite, and Buffy is adorable.

She passes the present along to Bill and tells him how much she likes the children. Jody is “all boy,” but so polite, and Buffy is adorable.

Bill deflects credit for their politeness, saying manners are French’s department.

Ignoring the reference to French, Emily gushes that she has admired Bill from a distance for years.

Ignoring the reference to French, Emily gushes that she has admired Bill from a distance for years.

He’s surprised, but she tells him how impressive it is that a busy professional like him with no parenting experience took on the job of raising three children.

Modestly, Bill says that he and French do all right with the kids.

Modestly, Bill says that he and French do all right with the kids.

(It’s nice how he considers French a co-parent.)

Sometimes, they probably need a woman’s touch around the house, Bill admits.

He's not flirting, although it may read that way on paper.

He’s not flirting, although it may read that way on paper.

“Maybe someday you’ll find just the right girl,” Emily replies.

Now, she's definitely flirting.

Now, she’s definitely flirting.

Oh, dear.

When French and the kids return, Emily is gone. The twins play with her gift, a game of quoits.

When French and the kids return, Emily is gone. The twins play with her gift, a game of quoits.

(That’s not a term I’m familiar with. I would have called it ring-toss, I guess.)

French takes a moment to talk to Bill about Emily. He asks whether Bill finds it odd that such a young and attractive girl is interested in him.

French takes a moment to talk to Bill about Emily. He asks whether Bill finds it odd that such a young and attractive girl is interested in him.

Bill assures French that many women prefer older men.

Relieved, French decided to ask Emily to accompany him to the theater for an outing with the British gang to see The Barretts of Wimpole Street.

Emily enjoys the play, finding that the traditional British reserve conceals a strong romantic streak.

Emily enjoys the play, finding that the traditional British reserve conceals a strong romantic streak.

(Tyburn, for his part, faults the play for “far too much display of sentiment.”)

When French leaves to get Emily some orangeade, Emily chats with Miss Faversham.

Miss F, who's feeling protective and perhaps a bit jealous, tries to suss out Emily's feelings for French.

Miss F tries to suss out Emily’s feelings for French.

Emily says she admires his style, which must have come from being around rich and sophisticated people so much.

Miss F notes that "working among them" would be a more accurate description.

Miss F notes that “working among them” would be a more accurate description.

Nevertheless, Emily responds, French has traveled the world. She herself has been nowhere.

She wants to see the world, but not as a tourist, she explains. She wants to be one of the beautiful people--like Mr. Davis' friends.

She wants to see the world, but not as a tourist, she explains. She wants to be one of the beautiful people–like Mr. Davis’ friends.

Of course it’s not possible on a secretary’s salary, she adds.

"Well, you're young yet," Miss F observes drily, and Emily replies that she plans to make the most of it.

“Well, you’re young yet,” Miss F observes drily. Emily agrees–and says she plans to make the most of it.

Returning from the theater, Miss F meets Bill in the apartment building lobby.

She asks Bill what he thinks of Emily. Typically taciturn, he only says that she seems nice and pretty.

She asks Bill what he thinks of Emily. Typically taciturn, he only says that she seems nice and pretty.

She says she thinks French is falling in love with the girl, and Bill admits that wouldn’t surprise him.

Miss F claims that her womanly intuition gives her a bad feeling about Emily's motives.

Miss F claims that her womanly intuition gives her a bad feeling about Emily’s motives.

She’s afraid Emily doesn’t care one bit about French. “Isn’t it possible,” she asks, “that she isn’t after the gentleman’s gentleman, but after the gentleman?”

Bill finds this conversation all kinds of awkward.

Bill finds this conversation all kinds of awkward.

He seems to take it to heart, however.

Later, French returns bubbling with enthusiasm about Emily and the passion they share for Browning and Keats.

Later, French returns bubbling with enthusiasm about Emily and the passion they share for Browning and Keats.

The next day, Bill pays a visit to Emily’s office.

He tells her he feels unsure about what he wants to say and hopes he doesn't come across as a "fathead."

He tells her he feels unsure about what he wants to say and hopes he doesn’t come across as a “fathead.”

You can feel Emily’s hopes rising that he’s about to make some kind of pass.

Instead, he begins to quiz her about her feelings for French.

Instead, he quizzes her about her feelings for French.

When she’s vague, he tells her how happy French has been since meeting her. Emily wonders why that’s a bad thing.

French is way up on a cloud, Bill says. If he falls off, it will be a long drop.

Emily says she considers French her friend, like Buffy and Jody and Cissy.

Emily says she considers French her friend, like Buffy and Jody and Cissy.

(Hey, when did she meet Cissy?)

Bill says French is much more serious. He wouldn’t be surprised if he starts shopping for a ring soon. How would that make Emily feel?

“Flattered,” is all she can come up with.

When Bill asks where that leaves French, a chastened Emily says, "Nowhere, Mr. Davis."

When Bill asks where that leaves French, a chastened Emily says, “Nowhere, Mr. Davis.”

She promises she won’t let things get that far, and a relieved Bill tells her he thinks she’s okay. She says she’s not so sure.

Later, French is waiting around the park for another chance to see Emily.

Later, French is waiting around the park for another chance to see Emily.

He’s been there so long that Buffy and Jody are bored and want to leave and do their homework.

When he's just about given up, he finally sees Emily coming.

When he’s just about given up, he finally sees Emily approaching.

(She loves that green suit, doesn’t she?)

She wastes no time in telling him that she won't be seeing him again. She doesn't want to give explanations and hopes he'll accept this as final.

She wastes no time in telling him that she won’t be seeing him again. She doesn’t want to give explanations and hopes he’ll accept this as final.

Heartbroken but ever-the-gentleman, French does so.

At home, French tells Bill what happened and conjectures that Emily found someone else.

At home, French tells Bill what happened and conjectures that Emily found someone else.

Bill comforts him by saying that while it hurts now, he will soon recover.

French surprises Bill by saying that, on the contrary, he feels wonderful--he's just had the best week of his life.

French surprises Bill by saying that, on the contrary, he feels wonderful–he’s just had the best week of his life.

Commentary

This isn’t the kind of episode that would have appealed to me as a child. The kids’ roles are incidental (like Freddie), and the script’s light on humor. Surprisingly, we don’t even get many good Frenchisms. But as an adult what I most appreciate is the episode’s restraint. Other shows might have gone for melodrama, making a Emily a conniving femme fatale and having French undergo the humiliation of discovering her true motives. Instead, Emily comes across as young and misguided. Leslie Parrish’s acting in the final scene with Uncle Bill, as Emily becomes ashamed of her actions, is nicely subtle. Heather Angel also does a good job of conveying Miss F’s concern about French, along with just a touch of jealousy. (I’m on Team Fraversham, all the way!)

We get a new spin on Uncle Bill's famous head rubs this week--the one-fingered version.

We get a new spin on Uncle Bill’s famous head rubs this week–the one-fingered version.

Inconsistency Alert

Miss Faversham mentions Peter as the child she’s watching. Didn’t his family let her go?

Guest Cast
Emily Travers: Leslie Parrish. Mr. Hardcastle: Noel Drayton. Mr. Tyburn: Leslie Randall. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel.

Leslie Parrish was one of those promising mid-century starlets who never quite broke through to full-fledged stardom. Her most memorable film appearance was as Jocelyn Jordan in The Manchurian Candidate. She also played Daisy Mae in the 1959 musical Lil Abner. Her TV roles included three Batman appearances and the Star Trek episode “Who Mourns for Adonais?” Later, she ended up in some B movies such as 1975’s The Giant Spider Invasion. She retired from acting in the late 1970s, around the time she married Richard Bach, author of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. (They divorced 20 years later.)

Let's end with some Uncle Bill eye candy, just because.

Let’s end with some Uncle Bill eye candy, just because.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Episode 13, The Thursday Man, 12/12/1966

I apologize for the lateness of this week’s entry in my Family Affair series.

Episode 13, “The Thursday Man,” 12/12/1966

Written by: Edmund Hartmann (the show’s executive producer). Directed by: William D. Russell.

Synopsis

Cissy’s attempt at a composition about Mr. French leads her to the conclusion that people are truly unknowable (rather a pessimistic thought for a TV teen).

At least Cissy's classmates find her composition interesting.Well, maybe that one in the front left does.

At least Cissy’s classmates find her composition interesting.
Well, maybe that one in the front left does.

Her teacher challenges her to find out more about Mr. French, and Cissy begins a great deal of snooping.

withers

All she gets from French’s frenemy Withers is a description of French as “opinionated, stubborn, aloof, difficult, and stiff-necked.” Oh, and apparently French becomes unhinged if you mention “Old Bertie.”

So what does Cissy do next? Confront Mr. French about Old Bertie, of course.

French's reaction is painful to behold. You'd think this might stop Cissy, but no...

French’s reaction is painful to behold. You’d think this might stop Cissy, but no…

She really crosses the line by pretending to check his credit references with an old lady he secretly visits every Thursday. When Cissy confesses her true identity, Mrs. Allenby tells her the sad truth: Mr. French was once in love with a girl who died in the London blitz.

And “Old Bertie,” a name that provokes a strong reaction in French? It’s a stuffed dog he won for his girl and the only trace of her he found after the blitz. Cissy vows to keep the secret and refrain from violating the privacy of others.

Old Bertie

Old Bertie

Commentary

It’s painful to watch Cissy nosing around in the life of someone who so clearly values privacy (and what kind of teacher would turn a student into a junior Kitty Kelly?).

The teacher in question. Between her and the teacher we'll meet next week, I'm wondering if public school was such a good idea.

The teacher in question. Between her and the teacher we’ll meet next week, I’m wondering if public school was such a good idea.

Sebastian Cabot does a wonderful job conveying hurt and indignation when Cissy confronts him with the name “Old Bertie.” Cissy really goes over the line by pumping Mrs. Allenby for information, but watching her realize that she really would rather not have known the sad truth is gratifying.

Cissy and Mrs. Allenby.

Cissy and Mrs. Allenby

It’s wonderful to get some back-story on Mr. French, and a scene between him and Old Bertie and Buffy and Mrs. Beasley is sweet.

Guest Cast

Mrs. Allenby: Kathryn Givney. Freddy: Eugene Martin. Withers: Richard Peel. Mrs. Mariani: Lillian Adams. Miss Elliot: Ila Britton. Miss Faversham: Heather Angel.

Fun Facts

Mr. French was born in the West End of London. His father and grandfather were both butlers. He has worked for Uncle Bill for nine years–they met when Uncle Bill was working on a project in London. Mr. French’s first name is Giles, and his day off is Thursday.

Notable Quotes

Cissy: “It kind of scares me…I mean, trying to get personal with Mr. French.”

Cissy: “Maybe men aren’t as inquisitive as women.” Uncle Bill: “Maybe we respect each other’s privacy, too.”

Today’s Bonus Feature

An article about Sebastian Cabot from Photoplay, October 1967.