If ever a television program violated the maxim to not tinker with success, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis fits that description to a T. Launched in the fall of 1959, the program was based on a series of short stories by Max Shulman that began appearing in 1945 and were collected into a full-length book with the same title as the TV series in 1951. A feature film titled The Affairs of Dobie Gillis with Bobby Van and Debbie Reynolds was released in 1953. In the literary and feature film versions, Dobie was a college age youth, but on the TV show he began as a 17-year-old high school student. What made the show successful was not only that it was the first network program to portray life from the teenage perspective (and the first to include a counter-cultural beatnik character in the person of Maynard G. Krebs) but that it did so in a deliberately farcical, satirical manner. As star Dwayne Hickman explains in his autobiography Forever Dobie, the program was not the first to break the fourth wall in having Dobie begin each show with a monologue directed at the audience while sitting in the park in front of a giant rendition of Rodin's famous sculpture The Thinker--George Burns would sometimes speak directly to his audience on his programs, and Jack Benny was forever exploiting the artificiality of television on The Jack Benny Program. But Dobie also featured a character who spoke in absurdly overblown language when romancing a female, calling his primary love interest Thalia Menninger his "tawny animal," amongst other adjectives, and being singularly driven to find and secure a steady girlfriend who is soft and round and pink, amongst other descriptors. In this exaggerated depiction Shulman captured the irrationality and hormone-driven mania of the teenage male and presented it in an edgy, ironic, and somewhat subversive manner that was far more cutting than anything else on the air at that time. Hickman again in his autobiography compared the show's opening monologues with those of Jerry Seinfeld some 30 years later, and the comparison between the shows is somewhat apt because while Seinfeld was a show about nothing, Dobie was a show about one thing--finding a girl, at least during its first season.
And therein lies the seed of its decline: after having Dobie single-mindedly search for his perfect female in Season 1, Shulman and producer Rod Amateau decided to change the formula for the second season. Hickman explained it as broadening the choice of subjects to a variety of situations and problems a teenager might face. In a story that appeared in the October 15, 1960 edition of TV Guide Shulman described the changes as having the show grow as Dobie gets older. In particular he remarked, "If I had to turn out the same show week after week, season after season, I'd go batty." And admittedly, the show could not have continued on its one-track theme forever, but the show also traded in its cheeky subversive streak for sentimentality. After opening the second season with an episode that was basically a commercial for Hickman's new singing record album Dobie ("Who Needs Elvis?" September 27, 1960), the show proceeded to have Dobie unwittingly enter a newspaper essay contest about his father in "You Ain't Nuthin' But a Houn' Dog" (October 4, 1960) when Maynard doctors a school essay Dobie wrote about his dog and substitutes the word "dad" for every occurrence of "dog." When Dobie wins the contest and its $25 prize, his previously cynical, grumpy father Herbert is so overcome with emotion that he begins spending more time with the son he was constantly berating in Season 1, playing tennis with him and taking him fishing and bowling. And Dobie comes to truly treasure his time with his father, even though it means breaking a series of dates with a beautiful southern belle. He even uses the prize money to buy his father a much-desired new fishing rod. While Dobie would occasionally choose to help his father at the expense of a girlfriend in Season 1--in "The Prettiest Collateral in Town" (April 12, 1960) he forces Melissa Frome to break up with him when a spoiled bank official's daughter demands to have Dobie in exchange for Herbert receiving a bank loan--he would do so because he is forced to. In Season 2 he makes the trade-off with affection.
Maynard becomes the focus of much more screen time in Season 2 as well, and though his character became popular with the public, he was basically a dim-witted buffoon with a limited series of repetitious gags that quickly grow tiresome--walking on stage and answering "You rang?" whenever another character describes something hideous, squawking "Work!" whenever someone mentions the word, launching into a series of manic comparisons that derails a conversation in progress, and complaining about how disrespected he is whenever someone says, "It's only you, Maynard." In "Baby Talk" (October 18, 1960) he finds an abandoned baby and wants to keep it because he was never allowed to keep his pet dog and duck. Rather than just turn the baby over to the police, Dobie and Zelda persuade wealthy Clarice Osborne to adopt the baby, until it is discovered that the baby's natural parents have been recently fired by Osborne, whereupon she rehires them so that parents and baby are financially set for life. Such a heart-warming story would never have been presented in Season 1, wherein the scandalously rich Osbornes, Clarice and her son and Chatsworth (at the beginning of the series Clarice was named Armitage and her son was Milton, but this was changed when Warren Beatty left the show), derive great pleasure from looking down their noses at the hoi poloi, a biting satire of the isolated and tone-deaf upper class. In Season 2, they become beneficent. In "The Mystic Powers of Maynard G. Krebs" (November 1, 1960), Maynard is given the power of ESP and is about to reveal the winner of the Nixon-Kennedy presidential race on television the day before the election until Dobie persuades him that doing so would violate our American democracy by influencing the vote. And in "Around My Room in 80 Days" (November 18, 1960) Dobie and Maynard are recruited by their English teach Mr. Pomfritt to help turn around promising but poor student Paul Merrick, who has adopted a defeatist attitude and is on the path to dropping out of school. In episodes such as these, the show steers directly for the moralizing of straight-laced programs like Father Knows Best, which may have played better in 1960 but is hard to stomach today.
Other changes for Season 2 included Dobie changing his hair color from a surreal peroxide blonde to Hickman's natural brunette color. The idea for making Dobie a blonde was Shulman's, whom Hickman surmised wanted to be blonde himself, though he rationalized that Dobie was supposed to be the All-American boy--blonde haired and blue eyed (never mind that Hickman's eyes were actually hazel). But the weekly dye sessions required to keep Hickman's hair its unnatural shade of yellow caused his hair to start falling out in clumps and gave him sores on his head so that he had to threaten to quit before Shulman and Amateau relented. Dobie's irascible father Herbert was also toned down: in Season 1, Herbert had a catchphrase "I gotta kill that boy, I just gotta" that may have struck a chord with frustrated fathers everywhere who couldn't get a lick of work out of their sons, but the network received complaints from humorless viewers and the catchphrase was jettisoned during the second season. Also gone was actress Tuesday Weld and her character Thalia Menninger as Weld pursued more serious work in feature films. Some have said that a feud between Hickman and Weld led to her departure, but he disputes this claim in his autobiography.
All of these changes made the show less interesting, not more interesting, despite what Amateau told TV Guide. Instead of the morality plays presented in Season 2 (except for the deliciously cynical "Drag Strip Dobie" shown on December 6, 1960), the first season episodes showed a young man pursuing a dream that was as unnatural as his hair color. The ridiculous names of the females he pursues--Thalia Menninger, Aphrodite Millican, Clothilde Ellingboe, Imogene Burkhart (itself an inside joke because it was the real name of actress Jean Byron who in Season 1 played teacher Mrs. Adams but would return in Season 3 as Dr. Imogene Burkhart)--reflect his unrealistic perception of them and absurd strategies for winning them. However, like Sisyphus, all of Dobie's efforts in pursuing his ideal woman are a failure. Meanwhile he himself is pursued by Zelda Gilroy, a plain-looking but intellectually superior girl who has an equally irrational attraction to him and a determination that allows her to persevere despite his disregard for her because she reasons that since nobody else will have either one of them, they are bound to end up together. Even the greedy, seemingly uncaring Thalia Menninger is more nuanced than one would expect in a farce like Dobie. She actually admits that she cares for Dobie but feels obligated to spurn him for a wealthier mate because, she claims, her father has a kidney condition, her mother isn't getting any younger, her sister married a loafer, and her brother is headed for the poorhouse; therefore, she must be her family's breadwinner, and Dobie will never amount to anything financially because, rather than working and striving, his head is in the clouds dreaming about girls. One cannot be sure if Thalia's family story is a fabrication or not, but this ambiguity only adds to the show's complexity.
It's this complexity that makes the first season of Dobie play more like a post-modern comedy than a naive 1950s sit-com. We see the title character stoop at practically nothing--duping the always loyal Zelda and Maynard--in pursuit of an unrealistic ideal but constantly getting jerked back to reality when his conscience forces him to make a choice in favor of his father or best friend or when he is outmaneuvered by a richer rival. Dobie has a heart and a conscience, but he is easily led astray by selfish motives, and this tension is the source of the show's comedy and depth. Dobie's father Herbert seems to regret ever having a son, constantly saying that he has to kill him, but when pressed admits that he cares for him. And gold-digging Thalia Menninger also has a heart that is constantly having her agree to go steady with Dobie before coming to her senses and realizing how impractical such an arrangement is for her future. Unlike the tune "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" that occasionally tinkles in the background on the show, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis shows that idealized notions of love seen on other naive sit-coms don't work and that real love involves sacrifices and trade-offs that are not always splendid. Too bad the show's producers felt that such a statement didn't bear repeating past the show's first season.
The music for the series was composed and arranged by Lionel Newman, with lyrics for the theme song provided by Max Shulman. One of 10 children, Newman was born in New Haven, CT, younger brother to noted composer/arrangers Alfred and Emil Newman (and uncle to Randy Newman). He became a recognized pianist by age 15, was the accompanist for Mae West, and by age 16 was leading his own orchestra aboard the S.S. Rotterdam. With assistance from brother Alfred, he moved to Hollywood and became a rehearsal pianist at 20th Century Fox. He got his first crack at film composing when he was hired to write the title theme for The Cowboy and the Lady in 1938, for which he received his first of 11 Academy Award nominations. In 1948 he wrote his most successful hit with "Again" for the film Road House. While at Fox his wry sense of humor made him a favorite of Marilyn Monroe and she insisted that he write for many of her best-known pictures, including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There's No Business Like Show Business, Niagra, and River of No Return. When brother Alfred left 20th Century Fox in 1959, Lionel was named his successor as musical director and then Vice President of feature and television music. He also continued composing and arranging for feature films such as Cleopatra, The Sand Pebbles, and Alien during this time. He won the Oscar for Best Score for Hello, Dolly! in 1969. In 1985 he left Fox for a similar position at MGM/United Artists, where he remained until his death from cardiac arrest at age 73 on February 3, 1989.
The entire series has been released on DVD by Shout!Factory.
Dwayne Bernard Hickman was born in Los Angeles, the son of silent-film-era extra Louise Lang, who pushed both him and his older brother Darryl into films as children. In his autobiography Hickman tells the tale of how his father, then an insurance salesman, made a deal to sell a policy to Ethel Meglin, who ran a school teaching children to dance and sing, if he would agree to enroll his boys in her school. The more extroverted Darryl was an immediate success, landing a role in Bing Crosby's 1939 feature The Star Maker. As Darryl's film career blossomed, Mrs. Hickman would bring Dwayne along with her to Darryl's film sessions, and the shy, introverted Dwayne would wind up being used as an extra in many of Darryl's films. Both boys appeared in 1940's Grapes of Wrath, but their first credited co-appearance was in the 1945 Eddie Rickenbacker biopic Captain Eddie. Though he says he enjoyed meeting or running into big movie stars like Cary Grant, he was never terribly interested in acting. So despite steady work throughout the 1940s, including a series of Lassie-like films about a dog named Rusty, Hickman walked away from acting when he enrolled in Loyola University, where he first met Bob Denver. However, as he was about to accept a job with the California Department of Water and Power, his agent got him an audition for The Bob Cummings Show, and even though he was not particularly excited about the opportunity, he was cast for the role of Cummings' girl-crazy nephew Chuck McFarland. Hickman says Cummings took him under his wing and told him that working on the show would be like going to comedic acting school, receiving instruction not only from Cummings but also executive producer George Burns, who was actively involved with the show on a daily basis. Hickman's character made him a teen star, so much so that ABC-Paramount recruited him to cut a teen record that was a complete flop, and, with the backing of Cummings, Burns, and Jack Benny, he was given a chance for his own spin-off show called Chuck Goes to College. But none of the networks picked up the series. Just after the start of the fifth and final season of The Bob Cummings Show, Hickman's manager Ted Wick landed him an audition for the casting of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and without even having to do a screen test, he was selected for the title role.
Dobie ran for four seasons, proving to be popular though it never ranked above 21st in viewership. After the series ended, Hickman found himself typecast into youth roles though he was approaching 30 and garnered only a few TV guest spots but found more work in teenage exploitation films such as How to Stuff a Wild Bikini, Ski Party, and Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine. The exception to this trend was his appearance as Jed in the 1965 Academy Award winner Cat Ballou opposite Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. Frustrated in not finding steady acting work, Hickman in 1970 took a job as Entertainment Director at Howard Hughes' Landmark Hotel. In 1977 he moved back into television as a programming executive for CBS, during which he supervised shows such as M*A*S*H, Maude, and Designing Women. He also appeared in the Dobie Gillis reunion shows Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis? in 1977 and Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis in 1988, which depicted Dobie married to Zelda with a son named Georgie. In the 1990s he had a recurring role in the UPN series Clueless and in 2001 appeared in the Gilligan's Island TV movie Surviving Gilligan's Island, playing the part of a network executive. Though he has retired from acting, today he has become a successful painter, concentrating on depictions of houses and landscapes, which can be seen at his web site dwaynehickman.com. He and his third wife, former actress Joan Roberts, live in Los Angeles with their son Albert.
Frank Ruf was born in St, Louis, Missouri, the son of the vaudeville team of Ruf & Cusik, with whom he toured as an infant. After attending St. Joseph's Prepatory College in Kirkwood, MO, he returned to the theater, first as a pantomimist and then as a clown and singer-dancer, a skill he exhibited on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis in the episode "That's Show Biz." While touring the country, he was given a screen test during a Los Angeles tour stop and began appearing in small roles for Warner Brothers. His reume of nearly 200 films includes memorable roles in several film classics, such as Bim, the male nurse in The Lost Weekend and cab driver Ernie Bishop in It's a Wonderful Life. Other memorable films he appeared in include The Pride of the Yankees, Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Blue Dahlia, Detective Story, and Red Garters. His television career did not begin until 1958 when he was cast in individual episodes of shows like Wanted: Dead or Alive, Man With a Camera, and The Ann Sothern Show before landing his most famous roles as the beleagured father of Dobie Gillis.
After Dobie finished its 4-year run iun 1963, he had occasional film roles, most notably in Barbara Streisand's Funny Girl in 1968 and an occasional guest appearance on TV shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, My Mother the Car, and That Girl. He was married to actress Carol Hughes from 1936 until his death from pneumonia at the age of 79 on August 2, 1985. Their daughter Catherine "Kay" Faylen was the first wife of Regis Philbin.
Florida Friebus was born in Auburndale, Massachusetts, the daughter of silent film actor Theodore Friebus. Her acting career began on the stage at age 21 with the Civic Repertory Theater in New York. A few years later she and Eva Le Galliane adapted Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland for the stage, where it was performed on Broadway and years later on television, both in 1955 and 1983. She married British actor Richard Waring in 1934 and they had one child who died in infancy. They divorced in 1952. Her career in television began in 1948 on The Ford Theatre Hour and she made several appearances on other drama anthologies throughout the 1950s as well as occasional guest spots on comedies such as The Goldbergs, Bachelor Father, and The Donna Reed Show before landing the role of Winifred Gillis on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. For 16 years she served on the council of the Actors Equity Association and two years before her death received the Phil Loeb Award for service to her profession. While acting on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, she also hosted a children's reading show titled Look and Listen on the Los Angeles CBS affiliate. She had hosted a similar program on radio for 10 years in New York during the 1940s.
After Dobie's demise, she had a smattering of TV appearances before playing the role of Maggie Riggs during the 1968-69 season of Peyton Place. More occasional TV work continued into the 1970s, when she played therapy group member Mrs. Lillian Bakerman on The Bob Newhart Show from 1972-78. She retired from acting in 1979 after suffering a series of strokes. She died in a retirement home in Laguna Niguel, California at the age of 78 on May 27, 1988.
Robert Osbourne Denver was born in New Rochelle, New York, the great-great grandson of James William Denver, the territorial governor of Kansas and the man after whom the city of Denver, Colorado was named. He attended high school in Brownwood, Texas before his family moved to California, where he graduated from Loyola University with a degree in political science. It was while attending Loyola that Denver first became interested in acting as a career and where he first met co-star Dwayne Hickman. He made his stage debut in a production of The Caine Mutiny Court Martial in the late 1950s and appeared in his first film in A Private's Affair in 1959, the same year he auditioned for and was surprised to win the role of Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.
After the series ended he had a few TV guest spots in 1963 on shows like Dr. Kildare, The Farmer's Daughter, and The Andy Griffith Show, the last a planned placement by the network to make him more recognizable just before the launch of Gilligan's Island. Needless to say, the latter series made him a TV comedy icon and gave him a role he would reprise in many TV movies, animated series, and TV guest spots for the rest of his career, even into the late 1980s and early 1990s on shows like ALF and Baywatch. He later landed a regular role as Rufus Butterworth on the late 1960s series The Good Guys, which ran for two seasons and played the title character in the Gilligan concept goes west series Dusty's Trail in 1973-74. Denver, who married four times, eventually retired to Princeton, West Virginia, where he and his fourth wife hosted a radio program as well as attending numerous events dressed as Gilligan. In 1998 he was arrested for having a box of marijuana delivered to his house, which he first claimed was sent by Gilligan co-star Dawn Wells but later recanted. During Gilligan's original run, Denver had insisted that Wells and Russell Johnson be given equal billing during the show's opening sequence. In 2005 he underwent quadruple bypass surgery, during which it was discovered that he had throat cancer. He passed away while undergoing treatment for the cancer in Winston-Salem, North Carolina on September 2 of that year at the age of 70.
Susan Ker Weld was born in New York City. Her father died when she was only 3, at which time his family offered to take her from her mother, Yosene Balfour Ker, and raise her, provided that her mother agree to never see her again. Her mother refused but put Tuesday, who adopted her unusual first name from her cousin's mispronunciation of "Susan," to work as a child model. Forced into the role of family provider at such a young age, Weld had a nervous breakdown at age 9, began drinking heavily at age 10, and attempted suicide from pills and gin at age 12, the same age at which she made her screen debut in Alfred Hitchcock's The Wrong Man and in the Alan Freed teen rock 'n' roll exploitation flick Rock, Rock, Rock. Her breakout role came in the 1958 feature Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys and the following year she was cast as Thalia Menninger on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which earned her a Golden Globe Award as Most Promising Newcomer of 1960 along with Angie Dickinson and Stella Stevens. Besides her drinking, she caused a sensation by dating much older men, starting at age 12. In 1959, at age 16, she had a scandalous affair with actor John Ireland and was later linked with everyone from Elvis Presley to Frank Sinatra. She also turned down many roles that would have made her a much bigger success, such as the leads in Lolita, Bonnie and Clyde, Rosemary's Baby, True Grit, and Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, later remarking that she deliberately passed on many of these roles because she did not want to become a big star.
After she was cut from Dobie Gillis after the first season, she had the role of Cherie on the short-lived TV series Bus Stop but found more work in film--opposite Steve McQueen and Jackie Gleason in Soldier in the Rain, with one-time lover Richard Beymer in Return to Peyton Place, with McQueen again in The Cincinnati Kid, and with Roddy McDowell in Lord Love a Duck, She married scriptwriter and McDowell secretary Claude Harz, with McDowell serving as best man, in 1965, had a daughter Natasha with him in 1966, but divorced him in 1971. In 1975 she married actor Dudley Moore, had a son Patrick, and divorced in 1980. Her third and last marriage was to Israeli violinist Pinchas Zukerman in 1985, which also ended in divorce in 1998. She received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1977 feature Looking for Mr. Goodbar and was nominated for an Emmy for her role in the 1983 TV movie The Winter of Our Discontent. Her last appearance on a TV series was a 1990 episode of Mistress of Suspense, and her last film role was in the 2002 feature Intimate Affairs. She now lives in the Aspen, Colorado area.
Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sheila James Kuehl began her acting career at age 10 when she was cast as Stu Erwin's tomboy daughter Jackie on The Stu Erwin Show, which ran from 1950-55. During this time she also had a couple of uncredited film appearances, most notably in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and on TV shows like My Little Margie. Appearing in a 1955 episode of The Bob Cummings Show provided the link to her next recurring role as Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis as Cummings was produced by Rod Amateau and included Dwayne Hickman in the cast. Originally the role of Zelda was intended to be a one-time appearance, but Max Shulman liked Kuehl enough to sign her to a contract as a semi-regular character on the show. The character was so popular that the producers even planned a spin-off and filmed a pilot TV movie Zelda, which aired in 1962, but rumors of Kuehl's homosexuality began to spread and the show was never picked up.
After Dobie finished its 4-year run in 1963, she landed the role of Selma Kowalski opposite former Real McCoys star Kathy Nolan on the one-season female version of McHale's Navy, Broadside. But other than the occasional guest appearance on shows like The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, the roles stopped coming for Kuehl and she turned her attention to first serving as campus adviser and then associate dean of students at her alma mater UCLA. Then in the mid-1970s at age 34, she entered Harvard Law School and was elected president of the student council. After completing her degree, she went to work for a couple of law firms in southern California and in 1994 was elected to the California State Assembly as the first openly gay member of the California legislature. After serving 6 years in the Assembly and being the first female Speaker pro tempore, she was elected to the State Senate in 2000 and served 8 years, finally forced out by term limits. She authored several bills for LGBT rights and even passed two bills for universal healthcare in California only to have them vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. She has remained active in politics and advocacy since leaving the Senate in 2008 and is currently running for Los Angeles County Supervisor and hosting a West Hollywood-base program Get Used to It on LGBT issues. Her work-related web site can be found at sheilakuehl.org.
Steve FrankenStephen Robert Franken was born in Queens, New York, the son of a Hollywood press agent. Despite his parents' objection, he pursued a career in acting after graduating from Cornell University, landing a pair of minor film appearances and a role on the TV anthology series Playhouse 90 in 1958. He was spotted by Dobie producer Rod Amateau during a Los Angeles stage production of Say, Darling and was cast as super-rich snob Chatsworth Osborne, Jr. on Dobie after Warren Beatty left the show to appear in feature films. While appearing on Dobie throughout the series's 4-year run, he also had guest spots on other shows such as Lock Up, Checkmate, and Dr. Kildare. After Dobie's demise, he continued guest spots on shows like Perry Mason, The Lieutenant, Petticoat Junction, and four appearances as Jerry Allen on Mr. Novak. In 1964 he was cast as Dr. Dick Moran on the one-season series Tom, Dick, and Mary. He had supporting roles in films such as The Americanization of Emily, Follow Me, Boys!, The Missouri Breaks, and most notably as the increasingly inebriated butler in Peter Sellers' The Party, for which he won rave reviews. He appeared six times in different roles on Bewitched and five times on Love American Style. He remained active in both television and film roles, and added voice work for animated series and video games, up until his death from cancer at age 80 on August 24, 2012. He was a cousin of current Minnesota Senator and former comedian Al Franken.
Hailing from Menominee, Michagan, Doris Packer moved with family to California at a young age and became interested in acting while attending high school. She attended UCLA, then moved to New York and studied under noted acting teacher Evelyn Thomas, followed by appearances on Broadway. There she met and married stage director Rowland G. Edwards in 1928. Upon his death 25 years later, she relocated back to California to try her hand at film and television work, landing her first role in 1953 in Meet Me at the Fair. The following year she had the first of many TV guest appearances and scored a recurring role as Mrs. Millicent Sohmers on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show. As Burns was a co-producer on The Bob Cummings Show, she appeared in a couple of episodes for that show in 1956, which was then being produced by Rod Amateau, who would become producer for The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Initially on Dobie Packer played Clarice Armitage, mother of Warren Beatty's Milton Armitage, but when he left the show and was replaced by Steve Franken as Chatsworth Osborne, Jr., Packer was retained and renamed Clarice Osborne, also keeping her catchphrase about her son being "such a nasty boy." At the same time she was playing Clarice Armitage/Osborne, she also had a recurring role as Beaver Cleaver's principal on Leave It to Beaver. And during 1960 she appeared five times as Clara Mason on the comedy Happy. Her work on Beaver and Dobie continued until both series ended in 1963, at which point she appeared three times as wealthy Mrs. Fenwick on The Beverly Hillbillies as well as single appearances on shows like Green Acres, My Favorite Martian, and The Andy Griffith Show. She also had an occasional role in feature films like Paradise Hawaiian Style and The Perils of Pauline, her last such appearance being a minor role in Beatty's 1975 film Shampoo. She died of natural causes at the age of 74 on March 31, 1979.
Born in Los Angeles the son of famous Los Angeles Times drama critic Edwin Schallert and magazine writer and radio host Elza Schallert, William Joseph Schallert took up acting while attending college (one source says USC, another UCLA) and co-founded the Circle Theatre with Charlie Chaplin's son Sydney and some other classmates in 1946. Though he says on his web site www.william-schallert.com that his first film appearance was as a gas station attendant in the 1949 giant ape thriller Mighty Joe Young, he had actually broken in two years earlier with an uncredited role in The Foxes of Harrow and as George Brant in Doctor Jim. From that point up to the present, he has appeared in over 350 film and television productions, the most recent being a 2014 uncredited turn as an elevator operator on Two Broke Girls. Many of those early roles were uncredited, including in classics like Singin' in the Rain, M, and Them! He appeared in his share of sci-fi and exploitation fare, such as The Man From Planet X, Captive Women, and The Girls of Pleasure Island. His television work began in 1951 on anthologies Family Theatre and Fireside Theatre and remained sporadic until three appearances as Ted Richards on Commando Cody: Sky Marshal of the Universe in 1955. In 1957 he began appearing as Justinian Tebbs on The Adventures of Jim Bowie, logging 8 appearances in the role through 1958. He also had a handful of appearances in the late 1950s as Herbert on Hey, Jeannie!, as Major Karl Richmond on Steve Canyon, and as Lt. Mahhy Harris on Philip Marlowe before being cast as Dobie's teacher Leander Pomfritt, which resulted in 24 appearances running into 1962.
Schallert left Dobie at the end of Season 3 to take perhaps his best-remembered role as Patty Duke's father Martin Lane on The Patty Duke Show, which ran through spring 1966. The following year he appeared on the memorable Star Trek episode "The Trouble With Tribbles" as well as appearing in the original film version of In the Heat of the Night (he would later appear in an episode of the TV version). Schallert was never at a loss for work: he appeared in Elvis' 1968 feature Speedway, in the Disney kid classic The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, four times as Admiral Hargrade on Get Smart, and in four episodes of The Wild, Wild West, all in the later 1960s. In the mid-1970s he played the role of Teddy Futterman on The Nancy Walker Show and Carson Drew on The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries. In the 1980s he appeared four times as Stanley Perkins on The Waltons, played Robert E. Lee in the mini-series North and South, Book II, and had recurring roles on The New Gidget and The New Leave It to Beaver. In the 1990s he played Wesley Hodges on The Torkelsons and Judith's father on Dream On, and in the 2000s played Mayor Hawkins on True Blood and appeared in a couple of episodes of Desperate Housewives. Besides his many appearances on screen, he has also done extensive voicework, perhaps most memorably as the voice of Milton the Toaster in 1970s commercials for Pop Tarts. He served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1979-1981, during which time he founded the Committee for Performers With Disabilities (Schallert himself wears prosthetic legs) and has remained actively involved as a trustee of the SAG Pension and Health Plans. He has been married to actress Leah Waggner since 1949 and says he has no intention of retiring from acting.
A native of York, Australia, the one-time bathing beauty broke into films in 1917, but after only four credits in two years she left the film world until resurfacing again in 1946. After a string of mostly uncredited supporting roles in films such as Dressed to Kill, June Bride, and Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer, Boris Karloff, she began making appearances on TV in the early 1950s on shows like Adventures of Wild Bill Hickock, Rebound, and Racket Squad. Though her career from that point forward would concentrate mostly on TV guest spots, she did appear in such film classics as Charlie Chaplin's landlady in 1952's Limelight, the cook Margaret in Billy Wilder's Sabrina, Mrs. Allenby in the original Ocean's Eleven, the voice of Duchess in 101 Dalmatians, Dehlia Flagg in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, Miss Lark in Mary Poppins, and Miss Pickering in The Love God? On television she had a recurring role as Birdie Brockway on Lassie from 1954-57, then played Mrs. Neimeyer in 6 episodes of The Bob Cummings Show, thereby being introduced to Dobie producer Rod Amateau. On Dobie she played ever-complaining grocery customer Mrs. Kenney, always a thorn in Herbert T. Gillis' side during the show's first two seasons. This was to be her last recurring TV role, though she continued making numerous appearances through the 1970s, including three turns as Mrs. Downey on CHiPs and her final appearance in a 1980 episode of Barney Miller. She passed away at the age of 86 on June 14, 1982.
Notable Guest Stars
Season 1, Episode 14, "The Gaucho": Albert Morin (appeared in The Buccaneer, Two Mules for Sister Sara, Chisum, and The Milagro Beanfield War) plays visiting Spanish Generalissimo Sebastien Romero.
Season 1, Episode 15, "The Smoke-Filled Room": Warren Beatty (shown on the right, starred in Splendor in the Grass, All Fall Down, Bonnie and Clyde, Shampoo, Heaven Can Wait, Reds, and Dick Tracy) plays Dobie's rich rival Milton Armitage.
Season 1, Episode 16, "The Fist Fighter": Warren Beatty (see "The Smoke-Filled Room" above) returns as Milton Armitage. James Westmoreland (Ruel Jaxon on The Monroes and Teddy Holmes on General Hospital) plays malt shop customer Paisan.
Season 1, Episode 17, "The Hunger Strike": Ryan O'Neal (starred in Love Story, What's Up, Doc?, Barry Lyndon, Paper Moon, A Bridge Too Far, and The Main Event and played Tal Garrett on Empire, Rodney Harrington on Peyton Place, Bobby Tannen on Good Sports, Robert Roberts, Jr. on Bull, Jerry Fox on Miss Match, and Max Keenen on Bones) plays high school student Herm. Les Brown, Jr. (son of bandleader Les Brown, played Jim Bailey on The Baileys of Balboa) plays fellow student Frank. Marlo Thomas (shown on the left, played Stella Barnes on The Joey Bishop Show and Ann Marie on That Girl) plays Frank's girlfriend.
Season 1, Episode 18, "The Flying Millicans": Yvonne Craig (starred in Gidget, High Time, Kissin' Cousins, Ski Party, and One Spy Too Many and played Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl, on Batman and Grandma on Olivia) plays teenage trapeze performer Aphrodite Millican. Francis X. Bushman (starred in Romeo and Juliet (1916), Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, Dick Tracy (1937), Sabrina, and The Phantom Planet) plays her father.
Season 1, Episode 19, "Room at the Bottom": Jean Byron (Minnie on Mayor of the Town, Dr. Imogene Burkhart later on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, and Natalie Lane on The Patty Duke Show) plays Dobie's math teacher Mrs. Adams. John Bryant (Dr. Carl Spaulding on The Virginian) plays her husband Esmond. Ron Howard (Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, Bob Smith on The Smith Family, Richie Cunningham on Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley, and the narrator on Arrested Development) plays their son Dan.
Season 1, Episode 20, "The Power of Positive Thinking": John Abbott (appeared in The Woman in White, Madame Bovary, The Merry Widow, and Gigi) plays con man Professor Dobkin.
Season 1, Episode 21, "Dobie Spreads a Rumor": Dabbs Greer (shown on the right, see the biography section of the 1960 post on Gunsmoke) plays Zelda's father Mr. Gilroy. Sherry Alberoni (Debbie Potter on The Tom Ewell Show and Sharon James on Family Affair) plays a Gilroy daughter. Ahna Capri (Mary Rose on Room for One More) plays a Gilroy daughter. Cynthia Pepper (Margie Clayton on Margie and Jean Pearson on My Three Sons) plays a girl in Charlie Wong's malt shop.
Season 1, Episode 22, "Love Is a Fallacy": Jason Wingreen (Dr. Aaron Clark on The Long, Hot Summer, Harry Snowden on All in the Family and Archie Bunker's Place, and Judge Arthur Beaumont on Matlock) plays teacher Mr. Magruder.
Season 1, Episode 23, "The Chicken From Outer Space": Jody Warner (Penny Cooper on One Happy Family) plays Dobie's desire Imogene Burkhart.
Season 1, Episode 24, "Dobie's Navy Blues": Yvonne Craig (shown on the left, see "The Flying Millicans" above) plays Dobie's steady girl Myrna Lomax. Harry von Zell (the announcer on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and The George Burns Show and played Frank Curtis on Bachelor Father) plays her father John.
Season 1, Episode 25, "Taken to the Cleaners": Dick Elliott (shown on the right, played Officer Murphy on Dick Tracy and Mayor Pike on The Andy Griffith Show) plays shady clothes cleaner Mr. Edwards. Joey Faye (Myer in Mack and Myer for Hire) plays his partner Gunnison. Alan Carney (Mike Strager in a series of RKO comedies in the 1940s and appeared in The Absent-Minded Professor, Son of Flubber, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, and Herbie Rides Again) plays policeman Officer Mulcahey.
Season 1, Episode 26, "That's Show Biz": Roberta Shore (Laura Rogan on Walt Disney Presents: Annette, Henrietta Gogerty on The Bob Cummings Show, and Betsy Garth on The Virginian) plays Dobie's steady girl Clothidle Ellingboe. Richard Deacon (Sherman Hall on The Charles Farrell Show, Roger Finley on Date With the Angels, Uncle Archie on Walt Disney Presents: Annette, Fred Rutherford on Leave It to Beaver, Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Roger Buell on The Mothers in Law) plays her father. Reta Shaw (Flora McCauley on The Ann Sothern Show, Thelma on The Tab Hunter Show, Mrs. Stanfield on Oh, Those Bells, and Martha Grant on The Ghost and Mrs. Muir) plays her mother. Joey D. Vieira (Hollis Bridwell on The Pride of the Family, Porky Brockway on Lassie, and Norman Zelinko on Hank) plays her brother Arthur. Jean Byron (see "Room at the Bottom" above) returns as teacher Mrs. Adams. Burt Mustin (Foley on The Great Gildersleeve, Mr. Finley on Date With the Angels, Gus the fireman on Leave It to Beaver, Jud Fletcher on The Andy Griffith Show, and Justin Quigley on All in the Family) plays the head of the Board of Education.
Season 1, Episode 27, "The Prettiest Collateral in Town": Yvonne Fedderson (Dotty Snow on Father Knows Best and Sally Day on Happy) plays Dobie's new girlfriend Melissa Frome. Rose Marie (shown on the right, played Martha Randolph on The Bob Cummings Show, Bertha on My Sister Eileen, Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show, Myrna Gibbons on The Doris Day Show, Hilda on S.W.A.T., and Mitzi Balzer on Hardball) plays waitress Mrs. Tarantino. Hugh Sanders (starred in That's My Boy, The Pride of St. Louis, The Winning Team, and The Wild One) plays bank officer Mr. McCurdy. Sherry Jackson (Terry Williams on Make Room for Daddy) plays his daughter Mignonne.
Season 1, Episode 28, "Live Alone and Like It": Esther Dale (starred in The Awful Truth, The Egg and I, Ma and Pa Kettle, and Holiday Affair) plays landlady Mrs. Finch.
Season 1, Episode 29, "The Big Sandwich": Gordon Jones (shown on the left, appeared in The Green Hornet, Flying Tigers, My Sister Eileen, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and McLintock! and played Mike Kelley on The Abbott and Costello Show, Pete Thompson on The Ray Milland Show, Hubie Dodd on So This Is Hollywood, and Butch Barton on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet) plays Winifred's brother Wilfred.
Season 1, Episode 30, "Soup and Fish": Clinton Sundberg (appeared in Easter Parade, The Kissing Bandit, Annie Get Your Gun, and The Belle of New York) plays the Armitage butler Trembley.
Season 1, Episode 31, "Where There's a Will": Darryl Hickman (Dwayne's older brother, who appeared in The Grapes of Wrath, The Way of All Flesh, The Human Comedy, Captain Eddie, Rhapsody in Blue, and The Tingler and played Cpl. Ben Canfield on The Americans) plays Dobie's older brother Dave. Ron Howard (shown on the right, see "Room at the Bottom" above) plays a boy who underpays for candy. Blanche Sweet (silent film star who appeared in The Secret Orchard, Anna Christie, and Tess of the D'urbervilles) plays grocery customer Mrs. Dowell.
Season 1, Episode 32, "Put Your Feet in Our Hands": Diana Millay (Laura Collins on Dark Shadows) plays Dobie's desire Daphne Root. Cheerio Meredith (Love Hackett on One Happy Family and Emma Brand on The Andy Griffith Show) plays a shoe store customer. Virginia Sale (Selma Plout on Petticoat Junction and Green Acres) plays her friend.
Season 1, Episode 33, "Competition Is the Life of Trade": Jack Albertson (shown on the left, starred in Days of Wine and Roses, Kissin' Cousins, The Flim-Flam Man, and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and played Lt. Harry Evans on The Thin Man, Walter Burton on Room for One More, Lt. Cmdr. Virgil Stoner on Ensign O'Toole, Paul Fenton on Mister Ed, and Ed Brown on Chico and the Man) plays grocer Mr. Quimby.
Season 1, Episode 34, "The French, They Are a Funny Race": Tommy Farrell (Chet Holliday on This Is Alice, Cpl. Thad Carson on The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Jay O'Hanlon on Bourbon Street Beat, and Fred on Room for One More) plays record shop proprietor Riff Ryan. Joey Faye (see "Taken to the Cleaners" above) plays barber Mr. Sneed.
Season 1, Episode 35, "The Unregistered Nurse": Nancy Hadley (shown on the left, played Marilee Dorf on The Brothers and Barbara Simpson on The Joey Bishop Show) plays nurse Valerie Brown. John Stephenson (shown on the right, played Roger Crutcher on The People's Choice, was the narrator on Dragnet 1967, and did the voices for Mr. Slate on The Flintstones, Fancy-Fancy on Top Cat, Dr. Benton C. Quest on Jonny Quest and Luke and Blubber Bear on Wacky Races, to name but a few) plays her employer Dr. Simpson. Tommy Ivo (Herbie Bailey on The Donna Reed Show and Haywood Botts on Margie) plays delivery boy Elden. Jack Orrison (Sgt. Brady on The Plainclothesman) plays a health department official. Herb Vigran (Judge Brooker on Gunsmoke) plays a police officer.
Season 1, Episode 36, "The Long Arm of the Law": Richard Reeves (shown on the left, played Mr. Murphy on Date With the Angels) plays police officer Sam Parmalee.
Season 1, Episode 37, "Here Comes the Groom": Dabbs Greer (see "Dobie Spreads a Rumor" above) returns as Zelda's father Walter Gilroy. Joan Banks (Sylvia Platt on Private Secretary and Helen Hadley on National Velvet) plays his wife Edna. Burt Mustin (see "That's Show Biz" above) plays Justice of the Peace Jethro R. Wiggins.
Season 1, Episode 38, "A Taste for Lobster": Michael Burns (Macauley on It's a Man's World and Barnaby West on Wagon Train) plays child tycoon Chrissie Tyler. Gina Gillespie (Tess on Law of the Plainsman and Mimi Scott on Karen) plays 11-year-old temptress Hermione Kraumeyer. Joey D. Vieira (see "That's Show Biz" above) plays Tyler's employee Wilkins. Billy Booth (see the biography section of the 1960 post on Dennis the Menace) plays another Tyler employee.
Season 1, Episode 39, "Rock-a-Bye Dobie": Denise Alexander (Susan Hunter Martin on Days of Our Lives, Mary McKinnon on Another World, Sister Beatrice on Sunset Beach, Louise Fitzpatrick on Pretty the Series, Lola on The Inn, and Dr. Lesley Webber on General Hospital) plays Dobie's new girlfriend Jenny Metzger. Don Knotts (shown on the right, starred in No Time for Sergeants, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Love God?, The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Gus, How to Frame a Figg, and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo and played Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, Ralph Furley on Three's Company, and Les Calhoun on Matlock) plays her father Simon. Kathleen Freeman (Katie on Topper, Marilly on Mayor of the Town, Bertha Krause on The Bob Cummings Show, Flo Shafer on The Beverly Hillbillies, Kate Harwell on Funny Face, and Iris Belmont on Lotas Luck) plays her mother Alicia.
Season 2, Episode 1, "Who Needs Elvis?": Kathe Green (daughter of composer Johnny Green who sang all of Mark Lester's songs in the film Oliver!) plays Dobie's love interest Esme Lauterbach.
Season 2, Episode 2, "You Ain't Nuthin' But a Houn' Dog": Jack Albertson (see "Competition Is the Life of Trade" above) plays a newspaper reporter.
Season 2, Episode 3, "Baby Talk": Jo Anne Worley (shown on the left, a regular performer on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) plays Mrs. Tarantino, a mother with a small baby.
Season 2, Episode 4, "Dobie Goes Beatnik": Richard Wessel (see the biography section for the 1960 post on Riverboat) plays Edward J. McKluskey, Grand Bull of the Order of the Bison. Carol Byron (Kitty Mathews on Oh, Those Bells) plays Dobie's girlfriend Charlene. Susan Silo (Rusty on Harry's Girls and has been a prolific voice actor on shows such as The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang, James Bond, Jr., and Where's Waldo?) plays her friend Joanne.
Season 2, Episode 5, "The Mystic Powers of Maynard G. Krebs": John Banner (shown on the right, played Bovaro on Rocky Jones, Space Ranger, Hans on The Baileys of Balboa, Sgt. Hans Georg Schultz on Hogan's Heroes, and Uncle Latzi on The Chicago Teddy Bears) plays psychologist Dr. Von Schwering.
Season 2, Episode 6, "The Face That Stopped the Clock": Alan Carney (see "Taken to the Cleaners" above) plays store proprietor Harry. Joey Faye (see "Taken to the Cleaners" above) plays his partner Charlie. Richard Reeves (see "The Long Arm of the Law" above) returns as police officer Sam Parmalee.
Season 2, Episode 7, " Maynard G. Krebs, Boy Millionaire": Jack Albertson (see "Competition Is the Life of Trade" above) plays a police desk sergeant. Milton Frome (starred in Pardners, The Delicate Delinquent, and The Swinger and played Lawrence Chapman on The Beverly Hillbillies) plays con man Alfred Montcalm. Joey Faye (see "Taken to the Cleaners" above) plays his partner Willy.
Season 2, Episode 8, "Around My Room in 80 Days": Diana Millay (shown on the left, see "Put Your Feet in Our Hands" above) plays Dobie's classmate Linda Mayhew. Robert Biheller (Corky on Here Come the Brides) plays a high school dropout.
Season 2, Episode 9, "Drag Strip Dobie": Jody Fair (appeared in High School Confidential, Hot Rod Gang, The Brain Eaters, and Sex Kittens Go to College) plays Dobie's love interest Charlotte Lamarr. Alan Dexter (Frank Ferguson on Days of Our Lives) plays hot rod club president Mr. Sullivan.
Season 2, Episode 11, "Parlez-Vous English?": Marcel Hillaire (appeared in Sabrina, Seven Thieves, and Murderer's Row and played Inspector Bouchard on Adventures in Paradise) plays French painter Aristede le Blanc.