WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
I always get asked when did my fascination with Sixties starlets begin since I was just a little kid by the end of the decade. So here goes. Picture it. A seven-year -old boy sits down to watch this new comedy/drama set in late 1800s Seattle called Here Come the Brides starring pop sensation Bobby Sherman. The kid loves his music as he is all the rage of the teenage baby-sitting set and we had a lot of baby-sitters. My first starlet crush (not counting him but that is for another Blog) was on the delightful Bridget Hanley as his girlfriend Candy. I don’t know if it was because of her great hair styles or because if she was paired with that teen dream wearing the tightest pants allowed on network TV.
I next fell for Deanna Lund as the fiery redheaded, mini-skirted intergalactic castaway Valerie Scott on Land of the Giants. In the first couple of episodes, her character had spunk and schemed with villainous Col. Fitzhugh to get themselves rescued. Later as her skirts became shorter, she became more of a team player with her fellow castaways. My brother and I at this time used to play with Matt Mason 6 inch action figures. We had a space pod and 3-story space station. I would always get my sister’s red haired Dawn doll, put her in a mini-skirt, and dub her Valerie the damsel in distress to be rescued by Matt and his team. Too much information? I hope my poor mother doesn’t read this.
Number three was Marta Kristen on Lost in Space. Watching in syndication, I like most viewers enjoyed the machinations of Dr. Zachary Smith and his interplay with Will Robinson and the Robot. Then the third season began and Marta’s Judy Robinson went from long limp blond hair and a pants suit to a wild mod hair style and mini-skirt with matching go-go boots. I was awed. And unlike the earlier seasons, she is featured prominently in a lot more episodes here.
By 1970-71 my starlet affection grew to include Batman‘s Yvonne Craig as Batgirl and Julie Newmar as Catwoman (do they really think the scrawny, ridiculous Anne Hathaway will be able to fill Ms. Julie Newmar’s catsuit? I think not.); Tina Louise from Gilligan’s Island (no contest for me who I prefer. Pitiful Dawn Wells entire post-Gilligan’s Island career consists almost entirely of bad-mouthing Tina); Meredith MacRae and Linda Saunders (Billie Jo and Bobbie Jo) from Petticoat Junction; Judy Carne from Laugh-In; Karen Valentine in Room 222; Annette Funicello; Shelley Fabares; and Linda Harrison who played Nova in the Planet of the Apes movies.
So wasn’t I excited when I discovered ABC-TV’s anthology series Love, American Style when it moved to the 10pm timeslot on Friday nights. I think for two years the line-up before it began with The Brady Bunch at 8pm followed by The Partridge Family; Room 222; and The Odd Couple at 9:30pm. I loved them all (maybe not so much The Partridge Family as skinny David Cassidy ws no Bobby Sherman). I would sit with bated breath as the opening for Love, American Style would begin hoping one of my gals would appear. I would clap in delight when I saw Tina or Julie or Yvonne or Bridget or Shelley or Deanna’s face appear in the heart-shaped opening. The 4 skits was just soooo that period in time and the clothes and hair styles and sets spot on. I think most of the adult themes went right over my 9 year-old head but I just loved this show.
My fascination with all these actresses never went away, but did take a back seat when I saw The Poseidon Adventure on May 11, 1973. I was infatuated with the pretty waifish-looking long-haired blond who played the terrified pop singer Nonnie. When I asked my mom who she was she said, “Carol Lynley. She was in that vampire movie I told you not to watch.” The light bulb went off. She was reporter Carl Kolchak’s girlfriend in The Night Stalker. The movie that gave me nightmares for days. I was in heaven demented as that sounds. Once I saw a more glamorous Carol with a short haircut playing tough-talking Yvonne Phillips who goes part way across the country in a stolen sedan with Vietnam Vet Glen Campbell in Norwood I was hooked. Forty years later I still am on Carol and all the other Sixties starlets.