By Rich Heldenfels
Tribune News Service
You have questions. I have some answers, including several trips in the Wayback Machine.
Q: I have been trying to find out about this TV series that ran in the ‘50s or early ‘60s. I think it was called “The Swamp Fox,” and starred Davy Crockett or Daniel Boone. I loved the stories when I was a kid. Tell me if you know anything.
A: When Walt Disney began making his television series in 1954, it was a mix of animation, documentaries, drama and other elements. The earliest big success was a series of stories about frontiersman Davy Crockett (Fess Parker, who would later play Daniel Boone on TV). Hoping to match that, Disney over the next several years tried out other horseback heroes. “Zorro,” with Guy Williams in the title role, was a stand-alone TV series for two seasons and then aired on the Disney show. Within the Disney series were characters such as Elfego Baca (Robert Loggia), Texas John Slaughter (Tom Tryon, who would become a successful novelist) and Francis Marion, a Revolutionary War hero known as the Swamp Fox. Leslie Nielsen, now remembered largely for his comedic work, played Marion. Only a handful of “Swamp Fox” episodes were made, although they and these other series remain vivid for those of us of a certain age; I am now humming themes to all the shows I just mentioned!
Q: There was a TV show around October 1980 or 1981 called “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” starring Jeff Goldblum as Ichabod Crane. Dick Butkus was also in it. Will they show it again or is it available on DVD?
A: The loose adaptation of Washington Irving’s story originally aired on NBC on Halloween 1980. It indeed starred Goldblum, with Butkus as Brom Bones. I can’t say if it will air on TV again, but you can find it on YouTube in so-so shape. I have not found an authorized DVD and don’t recommend bootlegs; it was released on VHS, if you still use that format, and is for sale that way on Amazon.com.
Q: As an avid fan of “Bones,” I was distressed that Jack Hodgins never recovered from the injuries putting him in a wheelchair. Did the actor playing him become paralyzed in real life?
A: No. That was just good acting by TJ Thyne, who played Hodgins.
Q: I saw an episode of the old “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson recently where someone stole his cigarette case and mug. Were they ever found or just replaced?
A: Some people may think you are remembering one of the most famous Carson bits – his ‘70s confrontation with Don Rickles about a broken cigarette box. But when I asked the folks at Carson Entertainment about your question, they pointed to a show that originally aired in July 22, 1986, and was replayed on Antenna TV in August of this year. Carson Entertainment operations manager Dave Gaysunas said that Carson claimed on that show that his cigarette lighter, coffee cup and cigarette box had been stolen – but, as Gaysunas said, “the whole thing was a joke. Classic Carson. … There was no theft and the mug was back on the desk in the very next segment.
“However, mysteriously the cigarette box did not appear again on Johnny’s desk until July 29th, 1986,” Gaysunas added. “I guess we’ll never know all the details to what really happened.”
Q: After Jerry Lewis died, I saw a picture of him with an actress named Anna Maria Alberghetti. Who is she?
A: Alberghetti, who co-starred with Lewis in “Cinderfella,” is known as a singer as much as an actress. Born in Italy in 1936, she was performing concerts at 12, and in Carnegie Hall at 14. She has been in nine movies, most of them in the ‘50s, and, on Broadway, won a Tony Award for best actress in a musical in 1962, for “Carnival.” She made records, toured and was often seen on TV – in dramas, comedies, talk, variety, games and a TV version of “Kismet.” Commercials watchers will also remember her as “the Good Seasons lady” in ads for that salad dressing. She is still with us at this writing.
MEA CULPA: In a previous column, I referred to Sheila MacRae as the third Alice opposite Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden in versions of “The Honeymooners.” One reader took issue:
Q. Did not Sue Ane Langdon play the third Alice in a few episodes on The American Scene Magazine? Maybe 1962?
A: Yes. In 1962, Gleason returned to his variety-show roots with “The Jackie Gleason Show: The American Scene Magazine,” and within it included some “Honeymooners” sketches. Audrey Meadows, the previous Alice (following Pert Kelton), chose not to take part, so Langdon was brought in, though not for long. A few years later, MacRae became the fourth Alice.