Friday, July 28, 2023

The New Loretta Young Show (1962)


Loretta Young had been one of the first big Hollywood movie stars to embrace television when she abandoned feature films and launched her own drama anthology series, originally titled Letters to Loretta before being renamed simply The Loretta Young Show, in 1953. Though she garnered three Emmys for Best actress over the series' 8-season tenure, it had been dropped by sponsor Proctor & Gamble in 1958 for being too religiously Catholic and by 1961 drama anthologies had fallen out of favor with few exceptions, as noted by author Bernard F. Dick in his biography of Young, Hollywood Madonna: Loretta Young. But as Dick observes, Young "had no intention of abandoning television" because returning to feature films at age 49 would have meant being relegated to character parts or grotesques like Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Seeing the success of former movie stars Fred MacMurray in My Three Sons and Donna Reed in The Donna Reed Show likely inspired her to try the sit-com format. Like MacMurray, she had herself cast as a widow, but instead of three sons she upped the ante with seven children, five of them girls. Unlike MacMurray, whose character only occasionally encounters any sort of romantic temptation in his series' early seasons, the image-obsessed Young also had her character portrayed as a romantically desirable woman, necessitating the introduction of magazine editor Paul Belzer in the series' third episode, "First Encounter" (October 8, 1962). This episode followed the first of a series of shows that focused on Loretta's Christine Massey dispensing life advice to her daughters--in "Second Look" (October 1, 1962) she has to show her eldest, 18-year-old Marnie, that it is ridiculous to consider marrying a much older college professor by having Christine pretend to seriously consider the romantic advances of a much younger man. Of course, because Christine is so alluring her younger suitor is dead serious about actually marrying her until she kicks him out of her house when she learns he is twice divorced.

Before this template of still desirable, morally upright widow is established we are forced to endure the painful pilot episode, "America at Home" (September 24, 1962), which clumsily attempts to spoof then-popular "reality" shows that look in on the typical American family. This episode attempts to introduce us to the entire family, including the singing Rambo twins who are obviously promoted as a double-barreled answer to Ricky Nelson, and allows Christine to recite her beliefs about family and morals as if they are controversial and yet resonant with the majority of viewers. Thankfully, the format for this pilot is never used again, but Young does retain the opening and closing bookends from her earlier anthology series which have her swoop in through two large doors in a fashionable Jean Louis gown (his name gets the biggest billing in the closing credits, and he would years later become Young's third husband) and offer an aphorism apropos to that evening's episode, then close the show with her reading from a book of quotations to sum up the moral of that evening's story. While many other sit-coms of the era are today criticized for playing like Sunday school lessons, none were as blatant about their intentions as The New Loretta Young Show.

While the program tries to show Christine Massey as a wise and discerning woman who may not have all the answers right away but always finds the appropriate resolution by following her instincts, her choice of Paul Belzer as her romantic interest does not initially demonstrate good judgment. When we first meet him in "First Encounter," he is a rude, impatient, yelling boss who takes pills constantly to tame the ulcer brought on by his own bad temper. His main attraction, based on what Loretta/Christine tells us, is that she finds him physically attractive. But he soon incurs the disfavor of her children when he tries to parent them before even getting to know them, such as disapproving of what Binkie is wearing to go skating in "Two of a Kind" (November 5, 1962). He first meets Christine when she comes to his office to try to sell him a story she has written for his magazine, then immediately claims that her depiction of a 10-year-old girl in her story is unrealistic before learning that she has seven children, including four girls past the age of 10, while he has never had any children. In other words, he is a typical male who thinks he knows everything. The producers and writers try to start rehabilitating his image beginning with "Not a Moment Too Soon" (October 15, 1962) by having him step in to save two of Christine's daughters--he recognizes that Judy is suffering from appendicitis though she is determined to go to a dance that evening, and he comes to Marnie's rescue when she is trapped in a closet at the home of her psychotic, gun-toting boyfriend. Christine and Paul have their ups and downs to give the romance a bit of suspense--they clash when he gives her a writing assignment and tries to push her to produce a sensationalist piece about a scandalous socialite due to pressure from his boss, while she insists on finding the subject of her piece sad and pathetic. Then it appears they might break up when he tries to hasten her into marriage but she resists until she feels that her children will accept and love him in "Love Willow" (November 12, 1962). We finally feel the relationship is on solid ground when the children see the couple kissing on the back patio one evening, making them finally realize that their mother actually loves the big lug, something that should have been obvious from the fact that he has been spending weekends at their Connecticut home rather than in his New York apartment for many weeks prior.

Off-screen, the series had its own dramas to deal with. Though Young hand-picked the actors who would portray her on-screen children, some of her choices did not work out. Her initial choice for the eldest daughter Marnie was Portland Mason, daughter of British movie star James Mason and his wife Pamela. However, when Young got word that the Masons had separated and were headed for divorce, she hurriedly dismissed Portland on a trumped up charge of refusing to supply her own wardrobe and replaced her with the inexperienced Celia Kaye, who had only a couple of credits at that point. Pamela Mason sued for breach of contract, and the case dragged into 1965 with occasional newspaper headlines that did not reflect well on Young. Likewise, she replaced the actress playing the youngest daughter Maria sometime during the filming of the pilot. As replacement actor Tracy Stratford revealed in her interview included with the DVD release of the show, the original actor, whose name Stratford did not remember, had very long hair, requiring Stratford to wear an uncomfortable wig when they reshot her character's scenes for the pilot. The unnamed original Maria was fired for calling Young "Loretta" on set rather than the mandated "Miss Young" or "Mrs. Lewis" (her married name at the time). These two incidents point to Young's obsession about her image, also indicated by her failure to acknowledge her out-of-wedlock daughter with Clark Gable, Judith Lewis, and her contractual requirement that syndicated versions of The Loretta Young Show remove the opening and closing segments to avoid showing her in outdated fashions (both incidents are described in more detail in Young's biography below). It is always dangerous to play amateur psychologist, but it seems plausible that some of Young's motivation in creating The New Loretta Young Show was to show herself as a caring and competent mother after failing to be one to her real-life daughter Judith and as a still relevant and desirable woman at age 49. It's also conceivable that Young saw her on-screen role as part of her religious calling as a Catholic--preaching the proper way to live the Christian life even if she didn't always live up to it in her life off-screen. Episodes such as "Decision at Midnight" (December 10, 1962) and "Anything for a Laugh" (December 24, 1962) show Christine as a culture warrior guided by Christian virtue. In the former episode, she tangles with the owner of movie theater showing "adult" foreign films but allowing underage teenagers admittance. She writes letters to the editor of the newspaper complaining about his practices, even though her own children confess that having seen the movies which they really didn't understand, it's questionable how inappropriate they really are.  In "Anything for a Laugh" (December 24, 1962) she agrees to house a derelict family whose home supposedly has been flooded by a bad storm only to learn that they have been taking advantage of her generosity. But when she is about to drive them out, she learns that their motivation for overstaying their welcome is that they know in their impoverished state that they would never again have the chance to live in a place as swank as Christine's, and she is forced to recognize that a true Christian would respond with kindness regardless how her guests behaved. It's probably not a coincidence that her character's name is a derivative of Christ.

In Hollywood Madonna author Dick suggests that the reason for The New Loretta Young Show's failure was Young's inability to pull off comedy the way MacMurray could in appearing constantly befuddled and the questionable assumption by Young and her producers that viewers wanted to see her saddled with seven children when she had built her prior career as a glamorous leading lady. Just as the drama anthology series she mastered was on its way out, proselytizing family sit-coms were beginning to lose out to the newest trend in TV comedy--the wacky premise of shows like Mister Ed and The Beverly Hillbillies.

The theme song and some of the single episode scores for The New Loretta Young Show were composed by Ken Wilhoit, who was better known as a music editor than composer. Little has been published about his biography other than his birthdate of November 6, 1923, filmography, and death date of May 28, 2013 at age 89. His first credits are from 1957, including the TV movie The Pied Piper of Hamelin, the TV western Boots and Saddles for which he is listed as music supervisor for 36 of its 38 episodes, and the TV series The Silent Service for which he also was music supervisor as well as composing scores for 2 episodes. He began working on The Loretta Young Show in 1959 and is credited as music supervisor, music editor, and music coordinator. Like much of the staff for that program, he was brought along when Young launched her new series in 1962. During that time he also worked on the TV series version of The Third Man both as music supervisor and composer. Probably his most significant work was done on The Fugitive where he served as music editor and supervisor on 119 episodes from 1963-67. An online article about the music for the series at says that Wilhoit assembled the score for each episode from a pastiche of original material composed earlier by Pete Rugolo and existing material from the CBS Music Library, particular pieces originally used on The Twilight Zone. In the program's final season, Wilhoit and associates also pulled old music from Gunsmoke, The Outer Limits, and western Stoney Burke. Wilhoit also served as music editor and supervisor in later seasons of The F.B.I., contributing to 98 episodes between 1970-74. In 1974 he recruited his son Michael D. Wilhoit to serve as his apprentice, helping launch the latter's Emmy-winning career as a sound editor. In the later 1970s, Ken concentrated on TV movies with the occasional TV series such as Barnaby Jones, and in the 1980s he worked more on feature films such as The Earthling, Inside Moves, Whose Life Is It Anyway?, and Code of Silence. His last credit was for the 1987 TV movie Sister Margaret and the Saturday Night Ladies.

The series' one and only season has been released on DVD by VCI Entertainment. It's worth noting that the episodes have been edited, perhaps the syndicated versions, to show the title as The Loretta Young Show rather than The New Loretta Young Show. Also odd is that the opening title sequence, which includes exploding fireworks, is in color, but the rest of the episodes are black-and-white.

The Actors

Loretta Young

Born Gretchen Young on January 6, 1913 in Salt Lake City, Young was one of four children whose parents separated when she was 2 (an October 20, 1962 cover story in TV Guide says her father abandoned the family). When Gretchen was 3, her mother moved the family to Hollywood and with the help of a Catholic priest ran a boarding house to support the family, though they remained poor and young Gretchen sometimes had to go to school with no socks. Gretchen's uncle, who was an assistant director in Hollywood, helped get her and her two sisters small parts in silent movies beginning when Gretchen was 4. Actress Mae Murray was impressed by young Gretchen and wanted to adopt her. Though this did not happen, Gretchen still lived with Murray for a year and a half. When she was 10, her mother married one of her boarders, George Belzer, and they had another daughter Georgiana (who later married Ricardo Montalban) two years later. During the filming of Naughty But Nice, silent film star Colleen Moore noticed Gretchen's intensity, concentration, and businesslike attitude even at this early age and had her husband John McCormick sign Gretchen to a contract. Moore decided that her stage name should be Loretta in reference to a favorite doll of Moore's. She first used the name in the 1928 feature The Whip Woman and that same year starred opposite Lon Chaney, Sr. in Laugh, Clown, Laugh. At age 17 she eloped with actor Grant Withers, 9 years her senior, but the marriage was annulled the following year. Despite claiming to be a devout Catholic, Young had a very public affair with Spencer Tracy, then married, while they were filming Man's Castle in 1933-34. The following year she co-starred with Clark Gable, also then married, in The Call of the Wild. Young became pregnant and knew that the studio would pressure her to have an abortion, which as a Catholic was considered a mortal sin. So Young, her mother, and sisters, devised a plan to hide the pregnancy. She took a trip to Europe, and when she returned took to bed, claiming to be ill from an affliction she had since childhood, even doing an interview from her bed piled with blankets to hide the pregnancy. After her daughter Judith was born on November 6, 1935, the baby was hidden away in multiple orphanages for 19 months before Young publicly "adopted" her as if she were another woman's child. But young Judith bore a striking resemblance to her father, and rumors circulated throughout Hollywood about her parentage, though Young never acknowledged it publicly during her lifetime. When she was 15, Judith came home to find Gable standing in their living room. Though she was never told why he was there, years later she realized that he had wanted to meet her and kiss her goodbye. It wasn't until she was about to be married herself and needed her birth certificate, which her mother said she could not find, that her fiance broke the news to her about the well-kept "secret" regarding her parentage. Judith confronted her mother, who admitted the truth but forbade Judith from revealing the secret that Loretta felt would destroy her image as the essence of purity. Shortly before her death, Young revealed the truth to her authorized biographer, but insisted the book not be released until after she died. Meanwhile, Loretta married advertising executive Tom Lewis in 1940 and had Judith take his last name, though Lewis himself was never told about Judith's parentage. But Judith revealed in a 2001 interview in The Telegraph that once Lewis and Young had their own children, sons Peter and Christopher, Lewis came to resent her, never legally adopted her, and made her feel unwelcome in her own home. In 2015 after Judith had died, Christopher's wife Linda came forward and said that Young told her that she had been raped by Gable but she did not realize it at the time because she only became aware of the concept of date rape late in life from a segment she viewed of Larry King Live. According to Linda Lewis, Young told her that she and Gable never had consensual sex. However, in her 2001 interview Judith also said that her mother told her that Gable wanted to marry her and even offered to divorce his wife to do so, but Loretta was too racked with shame and fear, refusing to be seen with him. Judith said that her mother told her that her greatest regret in life was not marrying Gable. With the "secret" of her illegitimate child successfully hidden, Young's film career thrived. After appearing in a number of box office hits, she won the Best Actress Oscar for her role as a Swedish immigrant who gets elected to Congress in the 1947 feature The Farmer's Daughter. She received another Oscar nomination two years later for Come to the Stable but lost out to Olivia de Havilland. During the filming of Come to the Stable, Young was offended by the amount of swearing taking place on set, so she instituted a "swear box" in which any offender had to deposit 50 cents for each infraction, with the proceeds going to a charitable home for unwed mothers, a policy she carried forward on all her future projects. She also starred in three films nominated for Best Picture Oscars: The House of Rothschild (1934), The White Parade (1934), and The Bishop's Wife (1947). In the late 1940s she also appeared on a number of radio programs including The Comedy Writers Show, Family Theater, Four-Star Playhouse, and Lux Radio Theater. After appearing in her last feature film, It Happens Every Thursday, in 1953, Young became one of the first Hollywood stars to transition to television with her own drama anthology series, originally titled Letters to Loretta, because the stories for each episode supposedly derived from fan mail she received. The name of the show was changed to simply The Loretta Young Show midway through its first season, and the fan mail concept was dropped at the end of Season 2. The format for the show was the same as that for The New Loretta Young Show in that each episode began with Young appearing in a glamorous gown from behind two massive doors, twirling around to show the entire outfit, and then offering an aphorism related to the theme of that evening's teleplay; at the end of the episode she would return and read a quotation that summarized the "moral of the story." Young would win three Emmys for Best Actress in 1955, 1957, and 1959. Toward the end of Season 2, Young was hospitalized for exhaustion and thereafter appeared in only about half of each season's teleplays, though she continued to serve as host for each episode. In 1958 sponsor Proctor & Gamble dropped the program because they claimed it was too religious, but other sponsors stepped in to keep the show running for another two seasons. The program ended after 8 seasons, but after a year off, Young returned to television with The New Loretta Young Show in the fall of 1962, this time a family sit-com rather than a drama anthology. During her time between series she also published a self-help book titled The Things I Had to Learn.

Despite the success of her earlier series, The New Loretta Young Show lasted only a single season. She filmed a TV movie intended to be a pilot titled A Day at the Beach in 1963, but it went unsold and never aired. She was also offered a part in the Bette Davis film Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte but turned it down. Despite denying that she and Lewis were separated in the previously mentioned 1962 TV Guide article (she claimed they just happened to live on opposite coasts because of work), she ended up divorcing him in 1969, reportedly years after he got her to agree to give him half her assets, even those acquired before they married. Young was so image-conscious that when NBC bought 176 episodes of the original Loretta Young Show to run in syndication, Young contractually demanded that they be edited to remove the opening and closing segments so that she would not be shown in what would have been by that time outdated fashions. When her British housekeeper tipped her off that the episodes were being run uncut in the U.K., Young sued NBC and after five years of litigation was awarded $559,000 in 1972. Young retired from acting after A Day at the Beach was not picked up but stayed busy with various charities and fashion-oriented business ventures such as bridal salons, instructional courses on fashion and self-improvement, and a line of cosmetics based in New York. The copy accompanying a 1973 publicity photo said she divided her time between the executive offices of the cosmetics company and a youth project in Phoenix Arizona. In the mid-1980s, she made a limited return to acting, first in the unsold pilot Dark Mansions but more notably in the 1986 TV movie Christmas Eve, which won her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie. She followed that with Lady in the Corner starring opposite Brian Keith, which earned her another Golden Globe nomination. In 1993 she married renowned fashion designer Jean Louis whose late wife Maggy had been a good friend of Young's for many years. Louis had also provided the fashions for The New Loretta Young Show and his name was featured prominently in the closing credits. He died in 1997 and Young followed three years later at the age of 87 after contracting ovarian cancer.


James Philbrook

James Frederick Philbrook was born October 22, 1924 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, but soon thereafter his family moved to Davenport, Iowa where his father Rev. Roland F. Philbrook was dean of Trinity Cathedral. After completing high school, James attended Ambrose College in Davenport and at some time was involved in community theater in his hometown before moving on to the University of Iowa. In 1942 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served as an aviation electronics specialist during his 4-year stint, which saw deployments to Africa, the Aleutian Islands, India, China, and Europe. Back in civilian life he completed a degree in electrical engineering at MIT in 1946, and then worked as a radio announcer and salesman before being hired by the U.S. Naval Academy as a radio and news correspondent during the Korean War. After returning from Korea, he moved to Hollywood to try to break into acting. Having past experience working in rodeos made him a natural for TV westerns, and he logged his first credits on 1957 episodes of Wagon Train and Alfred Hitchcock Presents playing a horse mover. The following year saw an explosion of appearances on westerns such as Tales of Wells Fargo, Maverick, and Sugarfoot as well as his first feature film appearance in From Hell to Texas. But it was his appearance supporting, or rather condemning, Susan Hayward in I Want to Live! that took his career to the next level. That year he also made the first of five appearances on The Loretta Young Show. He appeared in Hayward's 1959 drama feature Woman Obsessed and began scoring guest appearances on TV shows other than westerns such as Rescue 8, Lock Up, and The Ann Sothern Show. In 1960 he landed the recurring role of Zack Malloy on the TV adventure series The Islanders, but the show lasted for only 24 episodes. He followed this with the recurring role of insurance investigator Steve Banks on the 1961 TV drama The Investigators, but it also met an early end after only 13 episodes. His past experience with Loretta Young then got him yet another recurring role as her love interest Paul Belzer on The New Loretta Young Show in 1962.

As we know, that series was canceled after just 26 episodes, at which point Philbrook commented in an interview in the Davenport Daily Times that he was done with television for at least the next two or three years unless someone offered him a big fat contract. Instead, he turned back to feature films, most notably the 1964 World War II drama The Thin Red Line. This was followed by westerns such as Finger on the Trigger and Son of a Gunfighter and exploitation fare such as Sound of Horror and The Drums of Tabu. His last television credit came in a 1966 episode of The Rat Patrol, which did not revive his TV career. Like many fading actors, he then turned to Spanish "spaghetti" westerns such as Two Thousand Dollars for Coyote, Los 7 de Pancho Villa, and I Do Not Forgive...I Kill! By the 1970s his work was sparse, even in these Spanish dramas, as he logged only The Last Day of the War in 1970 and The Killer Is Not Alone and If You Shoot...You Live! both in 1975. In his personal life, he married Frances Faythe Cassling three times, and they had a total of four children together. After divorcing her for the third time in 1969, he remained single until he married Iris Hogan in 1981, less than a year before his death at age 58 on October 24, 1982.

Celia Kaye

Celia Kay Burkholder was born February 24, 1942 in Carthage, Missouri. Her father was a chemical engineer, and her mother ran a private pre-school. When Celia was 1 year old, the family relocated to Wilmington, Delaware. In high school, Celia was active in National Thespian Society theatrical productions, which she later described as being just for fun, but also studied dance and was a talented diver and swimmer featured in regional exhibitions for the Wilmington Swim Club. She also had modeling experience after graduating from the Philadelphia Modeling and Charm School. After graduating early from high school at age 17, she spent the summer visiting an aunt who lived in Pasadena, California, where Celia enrolled in the Pasadena Playhouse summer program for students. Despite planning to enroll at the University of Delaware and study pre-med in the Fall, Celia wound up winning a scholarship for the following year, and on her mother's advice decided to accept it and study acting. She also won a scholarship for a second year at the Playhouse and graduated at age 19, at which point she found an agent and managed to get guest spot on Tales of Wells Fargo in February 1962 as a favor just to get her Screen Actors Guild card. When Loretta Young decidedly to abruptly replace James Mason's daughter Portland for the role of Marnie during filming of The New Loretta Young Show pilot, Kaye was hurriedly summoned for the part, though she wasn't sure why she was selected other than her background in dance which gave her a deportment and way of carrying herself that Young liked.

After The New Loretta Young Show was canceled in the Spring of 1962, Kaye guest starred in two episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in 1963 before landing her next big role for Universal Pictures as the lead character Karana in the film version of Island of the Blue Dolphins based on the award-winning novel by Scott O'Dell. Kaye later said in an interview that she was selected for the part out of 1500 applicants because of her dance and swimming backgrounds that made her suited for the outdoor athletic demands of the part. During production when it was discovered that she had a trace of Cherokee blood in her background, the publicity department played this to the hilt since her character was also Native American, though from a different tribe. The movie earned Kaye a Golden Globe for Best Newcomer, Female along with Mia Farrow and Mary Ann Mobley. She filmed two more features for Universal--Wild Seed and Fluffy--both released in 1965. Her work throughout the remaining 1960s was sparse--guest spots on The Green Hornet, Iron Horse, and Insight all coming in 1967--but Kaye was also interested in behind-the-camera aspects of the film business, studying production and screenwriting as well as taking night classes in other subjects at UCLA and City College in trying to complete her college degree. In the 1970s, she appeared in several more feature films such as The Final Comedown, Rattlers, and Big Wednesday as well as episodes of Adam's Rib, Little House on the Prairie, and Police Story before, as she said in an interview, the roles dried up for her. She then worked for a company called Videography that did videotape work for commercials and tried to learn more about screenwriting. While attending a one-night seminar she met her future husband John Milius, who was the instructor. Amongst his many credits, Milius co-wrote the screenplays for Jeremiah Johnson, Dillinger, Magnum Force, Apocalypse Now, and Conan the Barbarian. After running into Milius for some time due to mutual acquaintances, Kaye went to work as a researcher for Milius, and the two eventually married. They remained married about 10 years before divorcing and had a daughter Amanda Milius, who won several awards for her 2015 short The Lotus Gun. While she was married to Milius, Kaye took up shotgun shooting as a sport and became a medal-winning competitor nationally. In an interview included on the 2006 DVD release of The New Loretta Young Show, Kaye said that she was currently studying golf, though she said she did not have any competitive aspirations in that sport. She also said that she might one day try to get back into screenwriting when she is too old to do anything else.

Cindy Carol (Carol Sydes)

Annette Carol Sydes was born in Los Angeles on October 11, 1944. Her acting career began by chance when she accompanied older brother Anthony Sydes when he was to appear on an episode of Medic in 1955. Anthony had been appearing in feature films since he was 5, but on this date producer Jim Moser was impressed by Carol and asked her to play a developmentally disabled girl. This appearance was followed by uncredited appearances in the feature films The McConnell Story and Good Morning, Miss Dove that same year. However, her English teacher father was against her pursuing an acting career, so Cindy resorted to subterfuge to change his mind, as she revealed in a 1963 feature story in Family Weekly. She first told him she wanted to be a teacher knowing that her father's teaching salary could not afford to send all four of his children to college. Cindy reasoned with him that she could take an occasional acting job to help save enough for her college tuition, which her father agreed to. So she began landing guest appearances on TV sit-coms such as Leave It to Beaver, on which she played Wally's classmate Alma Hanson 4 times, Bachelor Father, Mike Hammer, and My Three Sons. In 1962 she had a small part in the thriller Cape Fear as well as guest spots on Wagon Train and The Donna Reed Show before being selected to play Binkie Massey on The New Loretta Young Show. In the aforementioned 1963 Family Weekly article, she says she didn't tell her father originally that the role was for a weekly series.

After The New Loretta Young Show was canceled, Carol was selected to play the title role in the third and final Gidget feature film, Gidget Goes to Rome, released in 1963. In 1964 she married otolaryngologist Dr. Kent Long Combs and largely put her acting career on hold, though she did appear in an episode of Vacation Playhouse in 1964 and the Jimmy Stewart and Bill Mumy comedy Dear Brigitte in 1965. Later that year, she was cast as Susan in the daytime teen-oriented soap opera Never Too Young starring Tony Dow, but that series lasted only a single season, and Carol retired from acting afterward. She divorced Combs in 1968 and married Peyton Place star Christopher Connelly in 1969. Shortly before Connelly died from lung cancer in 1988, Carol divorced him so that his long-time girlfriend Carol Zander could legally inherit his estate. She retired to Bainbridge Island, Washington and at one point was an occasional teacher at Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary School, in essence pursuing the pretend career she had devised for her father so that he would allow her to take acting jobs.

Dack Rambo

Norman Jay Rambo was born in Earlimont, California on November 13, 1941 and grew up on a cotton farm in Delano. When visiting an aunt in Los Angeles, he and twin brother Dirk were spotted by Loretta Young while attending Mass and asked if they would be interested in acting in her new series. After that series ended, Rambo appeared 17 times in the teen-oriented soap opera Never Too Young along with fellow New Loretta Young Show alumnus Cindy Carol. He then landed the co-starring role with Walter Brennan in the 1967 western series The Guns of Will Sonnett playing Brennan's grandson for 50 episodes over two seasons. After a supporting role in the 1970 Jerry Lewis feature Which Way to the Front? Rambo played gunman Cyrus Pike in a two-part episode of Gunsmoke in 1971 alongside Jeanette Nolan's rough and rowdy prospector Sally Fergus, which was spun off into its own series, Dirty Sally, in 1974 with Rambo continuing to play Pike for its short, 14-episode run. Meanwhile, he continued to find guest spots on TV series such as The Man and the City, Cannon, and Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law as well as a couple of TV movies. In 1978 one of those TV movies, A Double Life, was spun into a series, Sword of Justice, with Rambo playing lead character Jack Cole, a millionaire ex-con turned vigilante crime fighter. The series lasted only 10 episodes before Rambo was again doing guest spots for Charlie's Angels, Fantasy Island, and The Love Boat. In 1982 he returned to the soaps, this time the adult-oriented daytime variety, playing Steve Jacobi on All My Children. In 1984 he had another leading role in the short-lived modeling-themed series Paper Dolls, which also starred Lloyd Bridges, Morgan Fairchild, Mimi Rogers, Brenda Vaccaro, and Nicolette Sheridan, to name a few. Then in 1985 he was cast as J.R. Ewing's long-lost cousin Jack on Dallas, but Rambo revealed years later that from the start Larry Hagman shunned him and made his time on the series miserable. According to Rambo, rumors were circulating about his sexuality, as there were about many actors in Hollywood, and Hagman saw to it that Rambo's character was diminished and eventually written out of the series after 51 appearances between 1985-87. During that final year on Dallas, Rambo introduced his own line of men's underwear called Under Ware by dack rambo. But Rambo was also struggling with an addiction to pills, saying he took pills to go to sleep and more pills to wake up every day. Guest spots on series such as Hunter, Highway to Heaven, and Murder, She Wrote continued, though they became fewer in number during the late 1980s. After a few forgettable feature films in 1990, he landed the role of Senator Grant Harrison on the daytime soap Another World later that year. During the summer of 1991 he checked himself into the Betty Ford Clinic to deal with his addictions to pills and alcohol, but in November 1991 he learned that he had contracted HIV.

Rather than continuing to hide his sexuality, Rambo decided to complete filming the scenes for Another World scheduled that day and then retire from acting. Even though the producers of the series were open to having him continue, Rambo explained that with so much unknown about the virus at that time, he could not allow himself to possibly infect fellow actresses from scenes involving kissing. Instead, Rambo decided to come out that he was bisexual and to devote himself to increasing awareness of the disease he now had as well as promote research into its causes and transmission. He was the first major Hollywood actor to go public with his status over a month before Magic Johnson admitted that he also had contracted the virus. In a lengthy interview with The Washington Post, Rambo said he felt a sense of relief in coming out and that he had pursued an acting career for the wrong reasons--to become rich and famous, which was unsatisfying--whereas now he had the opportunity to do something that could benefit many people. He admitted his past promiscuity and became an advocate for safe sex as well as working for the AIDS Project Los Angeles. He also helped establish an international data bank for AIDS research. He pursued what he called "unorthodox" therapies but finally succumbed to his illness and died at age 52 on March 21, 1994.

Dirk Rambo

Orman Ray Rambo, like his twin brother, was born in Earlimont, California on November 13, 1941 and grew up on a cotton farm in Delano. The Rambo twins were said to look so alike that even their parents sometimes had trouble telling them apart, though Dack had a telltale mole on his left cheek. Although brother Dack indicated in The Washington Post interview cited above that the twins were discovered by Loretta Young to become cast members for her New Loretta Young Show, a small news item in the August 21, 1961 issue of Billboard magazine (over a year before Young's program first aired) announced that talent scout Henry Willson was forming Zing Records to promote his latest discoveries into big-time stars. The first act signed to the new label were the singing Rambo twins, who released the single "When Am I Gonna Be Loved?" backed with "Why'd You Leave, Genevieve," which turned out to be the only record ever released on the label. It should also be noted that in the New Loretta Young Show pilot episode, Dirk and Dack have their own band and sing a number towards the end of the show. Their music career, however, seems not have gone any further. Dirk's acting career also did not go much further than his stint on The New Loretta Young Show. He appeared in one episode of The Virginian in 1966 and filmed an episode of Dragnet in 1967 before being killed in a fiery head-on car crash at age 25 on February 5, 1967. The driver of the other vehicle was former actress Kathleen Case, but a Los Angeles municipal county judge dismissed charges of drunken driving and manslaughter against her two months later. Dack Rambo commented that the loss of his brother was like losing half of himself because they were so close, and he frequently was a featured speaker at meetings for Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Beverly Washburn

Born in Los Angeles on November 25, 1943, Washburn was a child model who got into acting at the suggestion of her parents but says she was never forced to do it--she likened it to playing "pretend." She credits actor Jock Mahoney with her first big break after he saw her perform as a singer at a benefit at the Veteran's Hospital in Long Beach, and when she was auditioning for a part in the 1950 feature film The Killer That Stalked New York, Mahoney, then under contract with Columbia, recognized her in the lobby of the building where the auditions were being held and spoke to the producers about using her, claiming she had a list of experiences that he made up on the spot. The role proved pivotal because even though her character was uncredited, she had several lines that established her ability and led to future roles in films such as Here Comes the Groom, The Greatest Show on Earth, Hans Christian Andersen, Shane, and Superman and the Mole-Men which was later re-edited to be a two-part story on the TV series Adventures of Superman. At the same time, she began getting roles on TV anthology series such as Fireside Theatre, The Ford Television Theatre, and Omnibus. She also demonstrated comic acting skills on series such as The Jack Benny Program and The Red Skelton Hour. She first met Loretta Young when she made the first of four appearances on The Loretta Young Show in 1954 and would form a life-long friendship with Young. In 1955 she landed her first recurring TV role as Kit Wilson on the series Professional Father which ran for only a single season but featured Barbara Billingsley as her mother. Washburn became an in-demand child actress both because she was remarkable in being able to memorize her own lines as well as those of her fellow cast members and because she was able to cry on cue, a talent documented with photos in a feature story in the April 13, 1957 issue of TV Guide. She also was a favorite of directors because she was willing to do whatever was required, such as the time she performed a dangerous falling stunt  on a 1956 episode of Fury after her stunt double refused to do it. In 1957 she landed one of her most famous feature film roles as Lisabeth Searcy in the Walt Disney tear-jerker Old Yeller. The following year she was in the ensemble cast of the teen exploitation film Summer Love starring John Saxon and including everyone from Troy Donahue, Jill St. John, and Shelley Fabares to Fay Wray, Edward Platt, and Rod McKuen. Her TV work was also steady during this period on shows such as Father Knows Best, The Texan, and Wagon Train during which the welfare worker from the Los Angeles Board of Educators threatened to pull her off the set because of Ward Bond's swearing. She also appeared in a 1958 episode of the same series that was Lou Costello's first attempt at a dramatic role which caused him considerable fear, and he credited Washburn with helping him get through the ordeal in his memoirs. Her connection with Barbara Billingsley got her a guest spot on a 1959 episode of Leave It to Beaver when she stopped by their set ostensibly to say hello to Billingsley, though really to see Tony Dow, on whom Washburn had a crush. Later a teen magazine set up a faux date for the couple as a publicity stunt. When Loretta Young was making plans for her new series, The New Loretta Young Show, she personally called Washburn to ask her to be in the cast. Washburn recalled in an interview for the DVD release of the series that makeup used a rinse to darken her hair, as she was a natural blonde but needed to appear to have darker hair when playing the daughter of brunette Loretta Young. Washburn got to use her crying skills in at least two episodes of the series--"Not a Moment Too Soon" (October 15, 1962) when she is the only one of the daughters without a date and Paul Belzer finds her crying alone near the fireplace after her sister Judy has been diagnosed with appendicitis and been sent to the hospital, and "Somebody Somewhere" (December 3, 1962) when she makes up a fictional boyfriend while on a trip to Philadelphia because all her sisters have boyfriends and she doesn't, then has her ruse punctured by her mother. During her tenure on The New Loretta Young Show she dusted off her singing skills and attempted to launch a Shelley Fabares-like career by releasing a single on Smash Records covering "Ev'rybody Loves Saturday Night" backed with "The Heart You Break May Be Your Own."

Unlike many other child stars, Washburn continued to find work after The New Loretta Young Show was canceled, she would later say, because she was not in a lengthy series that ended up typecasting her into only one type of role, even if she initially was known for her crying ability. She found teen guest spots on series such as 77 Sunset Strip, Mr. Novak, The Patty Duke Show, and Gidget. She had a memorable turn as Lt. Arlene Galway in a 1967 episode of Star Trek titled "The Deadly Years." She also appeared in the cult horror classic Spider Baby directed by Jack Hill and starring Lon Chaney, Jr. The movie was actually shot 3 years earlier in 12 days on a budget of $65,000 but was tied up in litigation before finally seeing its official release in 1968. In 1969 she appeared in another Jack Hill production, Pit Stop, a car-racing exploitation feature with Richard Davalos and Ellen Burstyn. The 1970s saw her focusing mostly on occasional TV guest spots on The Streets of San Francisco, McMillan and Wife, and a short-lived series starring Bobby Sherman called Getting Together. She had a supporting role in one of Martin Sheen's earliest features, When the Line Goes Through, in 1973 but had only a couple of credits in all of the 1980s and 1990s before showing up in the pilot episode of Las Vegas in 2003 after she had settled in Sin City. Since then, she has taken occasional roles in a variety of formats, most notably starring in the 2015 features When the World Came to San Francisco for which she was named Best Actress at the Gladiator Film Festival in Istanbul, Turkey. Her latest credit was playing herself in the 2020 feature Unbelievable!!!, a pseudo Star Trek-like sci-fi film starring Snoop Dogg and Gilbert Gottfried. She has published two memoirs: Reel Tears: The Beverly Washburn Story and Reel Tears: The Beverly Washburn Story, Take Two both from BearManor Media.

Sandy Descher

Sandra Kay Descher was born in Burbank, California on November 30, 1945. She was "discovered" while on vacation with her parents by director Gordon Douglas in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Douglas was filming The Charge at Feather River. Douglas noticed Descher in a lodge dining room and approached her parents about having Sandy appear in his movie. Her parents declined because they said they had to be moving on but took his card and contacted him when they returned to California. Her first film appearance came in an uncredited part in the Elizabeth Taylor feature Love Is Better Than Ever, which actually came out in 1952. She would appear in three more features that year--It Grows on Trees, My Pal Gus, and The Bad and the Beautiful--and made her television debut on Dangerous Assignment. After a trio of TV anthology series in 1953, she made a memorable appearance as a terrified little girl in the opening scenes of the sci-fi horror feature Them! in 1954, which led to a long-term contract with MGM. Later that year she would have her biggest role to date playing Taylor's daughter in The Last Time I Saw Paris. She played Richard Widmark's daughter in the 1955 melodrama The Cobweb while continuing to take occasional TV guest spots. She again played Van Johnson's daughter in the 1956 feature The Bottom of the Bottle and later that year played the daughter of Gregory Peck and Jennifer Jones in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. She then got called on to play the daughter of June Allyson and Leslie Nielsen in The Opposite Sex also released in 1956, while the following year allowed her to meet her idol while guesting on an episode of The Loretta Young Show. She appeared in her final feature films in 1958, first in the sci-fi cult classic The Space Children and then starring in the title role of A Gift for Heidi co-written by Bonanza creator David Dortort. Thereafter she limited herself exclusively to television shows such as The Real McCoys and My Three Sons. She again got to work with Loretta Young when she was chosen to play 13-year-old Judy on The New Loretta Young Show in 1962.

After the series' demise, Descher soon found another recurring role playing Susan on The New Phil Silvers Show, but this program lasted only 8 episodes in 1964. The following year Descher married Donald White and appeared in only two TV guest spots on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and The Donna Reed Show. She made her final TV appearance on an episode of Perry Mason in 1966 before retiring from acting to manage the Palm Springs branch of her parents' Hawaiian fashion store Michaels which they had created 10 years earlier in Hawaii. In the interview included in the 2006 DVD release of The New Loretta Young Show, Descher said that she left show business because she wanted to start a family after getting married and that she had one son. She also said that she worked in the clothing business designing and manufacturing clothing as well has having retail stores but that she moved away from Southern California for 14 years and only returned the year before the interview was conducted.

Tracy Stratford

Tracy Allison Stratford was born in Los Angeles on January 19, 1955. Her mother had worked in the publicity department at Paramount Studios, and her grandfather had been head electrician at 20th Century Fox, so her mother got her daughters into acting and modeling at an early age. Her older sisters had done a fair amount of modeling and photography, and Stratford says that she began acting as young as 6 months old (elsewhere she has said by age 2) in filming commercials and going on audition interviews for open parts. Her first credits came in the 1959 API feature film The Miracle of the Hills, whose cast also included a pre-Dennis the Menace Jay North, and an episode of the Charles Bronson crime drama Man With a Camera. In 1961 she had uncredited parts in the feature comedies Bachelor in Paradise with Bob Hope and Lana Turner and The Second Time Around starring Debbie Reynolds and Andy Griffith. The following year she had guest spots on Bonanza, Ben Casey, and a memorable Twilight Zone titled "Little Girl Lost" in which she gets sucked into the fourth dimension through a portal behind her bed. She recalled in the interview included in the DVD set for The New Loretta Young Show that she got the chance to interview for the part of Maria after the first actress for the part had made the mistake of calling Loretta Young by her first name on the set and was then dismissed. Stratford remembered that this young actress had very long hair, so she had to wear a wig when they refilmed her scenes with Stratford in the role. Stratford enjoyed working with Young whom she said had tried to teach her how to cry on cue but that the lessons didn't really work until they actually filmed the scene for an episode in which her character is kidnapped by Victor Buono, whom she said terrified her and actually made her cry.

After The New Loretta Young Show was canceled, Stratford filmed a second, even more memorable episode of The Twilight Zone titled "Living Doll" in which she has a doll that comes to life and protects her from an evil Telly Savalas, another actor who frightened the young Stratford. In 1964 she appeared in episodes of Rawhide and The Joey Bishop Show followed the next year by appearances on The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Fugitive, and the Jay North feature film Zebra in the Kitchen. That year she also had another of her signature roles--providing the voice for Lucy Van Pelt in A Charlie Brown Christmas. She had a semi-recurring role in the early episodes of The John Forsythe Show in 1965-66 when Forsythe's character ran an exclusive school for girls and Stratford played one of the students, Susan. But her character was written out when the show's format was changed to a secret agent spoof later in its first and only season. She also appeared five times in various roles on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet in its last years from 1964-66. But Stratford said her roles dried up when she reached her early teen years because she was now too old-sounding to voice Lucy in the subsequent Charlie Brown animated films and studios tended to hire young-looking 18-year-olds for all their teen parts to avoid the child labor laws and education requirements for minors. After playing an unnamed Girl Scout in a 1966 episode of Run for Your Life, she had one more credit on a 1969 episode of My Three Sons. She eventually moved to Washington state where she became a librarian and drama teacher in Bellingham. She has also written three Charlie Brown children's books, published by Little Patriot Press in 2016, that the Conservative Book Club describes as telling stories about "US history, while emphasizing the nature of American Exceptionalism, using the famed Peanuts characters."

Notable Guest Stars

Season 1, Episode 1, "America at Home": Ted Knight  (shown on the left, played Phil Buckley on The Young Marrieds, Ted Baxter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Roger Dennis on The Ted Knight Show, and Henry Rush on Too Close for Comfort) plays TV host Gary Haskell. Clem Bevans (appeared in Sergeant York, Saboteur, The Yearling, Mourning Becomes Electra, and Harvey) plays Ellendale Mayor Quincy A. Scofield.

Season 1, Episode 2, "Second Look": Charles Robinson (shown on the right, appeared in The Interns, The Singing Nun, The Sand Pebbles, and The Cable Guy) plays magazine writer Neal Bowman.

Season 1, Episode 3, "First Encounter": Joseph La Cava (Bud Abbott's stand-in who appeared in various small roles on The Abbott and Costello Show and thereafter often played waiters and bartenders in uncredited parts on programs such as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Bachelor Father, Dante, The Untouchables, Burke's Law, Perry Mason, Mission: Impossible, and The Doris Day Show) plays restaurant waiter Harry.

Season 1, Episode 4, "Not a Moment Too Soon": Neil Burstyn (shown on the left, third husband of Ellen Burstyn, story editor on The Monkees) plays Marnie's boyfriend Charles Whiting III. Jack Lester (Blaney Cobb on The Bennetts and Carl Sherman on A Time to Live) plays psychiatrist Dr. Kranzer.

Season 1, Episode 5, "Ponytails and Politics": Sheila James (shown on the far right, see the biography section for the 1960 post on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) plays Binkie's classmate Sockie.

Season 1, Episode 6, "First Assignment": Joyce Van Patten (shown on the left, appeared in I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!, Mame, The Bad News Bears, St. Elmo's Fire, and The Falcon and the Snowman and played Janice Turner Hughes on As the World Turns, Clara Kershaw on Young Dr. Malone, Claudia Gramus on The Good Guys, Iris Chapman on The Mary Tyler Moore Hour, Helen Marsh on All My Children, and Maureen Slattery on Unhappily Ever After) plays socialite Charlotte Ramey.

Season 1, Episode 7, "Two of a Kind": Kelly Harmon (shown on the right, played Dr. Jane Lewis on The Young and the Restless and Sunny Hayward on Bay City Blues) plays new girl in town Teedee Dooley.

Season 1, Episode 8, "Love Willow": Paul Crabtree (writer and director on The Loretta Young Show and The New Loretta Young Show) plays transient philosopher Mr. Gandy.

Season 1, Episode 9, "The Cheat": Peter Brooks (Hank Ferguson on My Three Sons) plays Peter and Paul's classmate Charlie Sudstill. Stafford Repp (shown on the left, played Lt. Ralph Raines on The Thin Man, Brink on The New Phil Silvers Show, and Chief O'Hara on Batman) plays his father. Norman Leavitt (Ralph on Trackdown) plays Ellendale Sheriff Owen Scofield.

Season 1, Episode 10, "Possessive Woman": Dorothy Collins (shown on the right, featured singer on Your Hit Parade and wife of orchestra leader Raymond Scott) plays Belzer's beauty editor Jane Hilliard. Gene O'Donnell (Barney Blake on Barney Blake, Police Reporter and Judge Charles E. Webber on Peyton Place) plays party guest Bill. Frances Mercer (Nurse Ann Talbot on Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal) plays party guest Alice.

Season 1, Episode 12, "Decision at Midnight": Jane Kean (shown on the left, played Dot and Gravel Gertie on General Hospital, Trixie Norton on The Jackie Gleason Show, and Grace Hutton, Mrs. Miniver, and Diane Hunter on Days of Our Lives) plays Christine's friend Nancy Ferguson. Theodore Marcuse (starred in Hitler, The Cincinnati Kid, and Harum Scarum and played Von Bloheim on Batman) plays movie theater owner Mr. Garth.

Season 1, Episode 14, "Anything for a Laugh": Iggie Wolfington (the Mailman on The Magic Cottage and Edmund Dexter on All My Children) plays free-loading musician Puggy Burnside. Cloris Leachman (shown on the right, starred in The Last Picture Show, Charley and the Angel, Dillinger, and Young Frankenstein and played Effie Perrine on Charlie Wild, Private Detective, Ruth Martin on Lassie, Rhoda Kirsh on Dr. Kildare, Phyllis Lindstrom on Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, and Phyllis, Beverly Ann Stickle on The Facts of Life, Mrs. Frick on The Nutt House, Emily Collins on Walter & Emily, Grammy Winthrop on Thanks, Dot Richmond on The Ellen Show, Ida on Malcolm in the Middle, Maw Maw on Raising Hope, and Mrs. Mandelbaum on Mad About You) plays his wife Sugar.

Season 1, Episode 15, "A Little Peace and Quiet": Dal McKennon (shown on the left, see the biography section for the 1961 post on 87th Precinct) plays neighbor Mr. Teesdale.