TV’s identical cousins: They laugh alike, they walk alike

cousins day cardJuly 24 is Cousins Day.

Lots of people have cousins, but let’s talk for a moment about something rarer—the identical cousin. Are identical cousins possible? How about if two sets of twins married each other? Couldn’t their children be identical?  The question was posed on Yahoo. Some guy named Brian gave this answer, and he sounds authoritative, so he must know:

It’s virtually impossible. But technically not impossible.

It’s so improbable I can guarantee it’s never happened and never will. The statistical chances with these two gene variations matching up EXACTLY would be one in quadrillions, if not more. Astronomically low chances.

So to answer your question:

Yes. Identical cousins could exist.

But it won’t ever happen. You have higher chances winning the lottery 100 times in a row.

But in the TV world, we know the chances are very good for cousins to be identical!

Patty Duke as Cathy and Patty Lane on The Patty Duke Show

Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens and Serena on Bewitched

Everyone knows there must be one wild cousin and one cousin who is more proper. On Bewitched, Samantha behaves more conservatively, while Serena is a free spirit. On The Patty Duke Show, Patty is the wild one (she “likes to rock ’n roll, a hot dog makes her lose control”), and cousin Cathy is more level-headed. So you see, even though they are identical, there must be polarity.

On Patty Duke, a third identical cousin, Betsy, arrives to stay with the Lanes for one episode (“The Perfect Hostess”), and it totally screws with that polarity. Played by Patty Duke with a blonde wig and a Southern accent, Cousin Betsy tries to get between Patty and Cathy because she is jealous of their friendship. Rest assured, she learns her lesson before she goes away, never to trouble us again.

A lot of people mistakenly assume Barbara Eden’s dual characters on I Dream of Jeannie are cousins, but Eden’s brunette character (also named Jeannie) is blonde Jeannie’s sister, not her cousin.

And how could I write a post about identical cousins and not include the Patty Duke Show theme song, which explains the whole identical cousin concept?

The Patty Duke Show opening credits

Let’s have equal time for Samantha/Serena:

Compilation of Samantha and Serena clips, Bewitched

So there you have it: identical cousins. Happy Cousins Day!

Born on this date: Sandra Gould

Sandra GouldSandra Gould, known to many as the second Mrs. Kravitz on Bewitched, was born 98 years ago today. She died in 1999.

Gould assumed the role of Mrs. Kravitz in 1966 following the death of Alice Pearce, who had originated the role. Gould’s Mrs. Kravitz was a bit more antagonistic towards the Stephenses, always wanting to report them to the authorities. Nevertheless, they were kind to her—for example, they took her in when she and Abner separated in the episode titled “Splitsville” (below). At the 3:37 mark, watch her come down to breakfast wearing curlers in her hair and a face full of cold cream as she lectures the Stephenses about nutrition.

Bewitched, “Splitsville” (May 16, 1968)

Gould guest starred on many TV programs in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. She appears in the “Oil Wells” episode of I Love Lucy as a Texas oil tycoon who, with her husband, sells oil wells to the Ricardos and the Mertzes. I also remember her from a Brady Bunch episode in which she winds up stuck in a closet in the Brady house with a goat. I know it sounds strange, but it will make sense if you watch “Getting Greg’s Goat” below. The goat in the closet scene starts at 22:01.

The Brady Bunch, “Getting Greg’s Goat” (Oct. 19, 1973)

If you are a Sandra Gould fan, you might also enjoy this novelty recording of hers from 1963. It’s called “My Son the Surfer.”

Sandra Gould, “My Son the Surfer” (1963)

Today on the tray: Hot dogs

hot dog and soda

Veggie dog and Diet RC cola at my favorite hot dog spot, Top Dog in Oakland, Calif.

July 23 is National Hot Dog Day.

In 2013, consumers spent more than $2.5 billion on hot dogs in U.S. supermarkets, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. On Independence Day, Americans enjoy 150 million hot dogs, enough to stretch from D.C. to L.A. over five times. Yet hot dogs sales are declining, according to BusinessWeek. Perhaps that’s because today’s hot dog advertising doesn’t match the great hot dog commercials of the past.

This 1967 Armour Hot Dog commercial emphasizes equity and inclusion, inviting all kids to take a bite regardless of body size/shape, gender role conformity, or health status.

Armour Hot Dogs commercial (1967)

Hot dogs, Armour Hot Dogs
What kind of kids eat Armour Hot Dogs?
Fat kids, skinny kids
Kids who climb on rocks
Tough kids, sissy kids
Even kids with chickenpox
Love hot dots, Armour Hot Dogs
The dogs kids like to bite!

Parents: Why not serve Armour Hot Dogs at your next pox party, and turn a boring disease-spreading event into a fun cookout? After all, “even kids with chickenpox” love Armour Hot Dogs.

Oscar Mayer took a different approach to marketing its hot dogs, choosing to tap into kids’ universal desire to be loved and to be wieners.

Oscar Mayer wiener commercial (1965)

Oh, I’d love to be an Oscar Mayer wiener
That is what I’d truly like to be
’Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener
Everyone would be in love with me.

Okay, but what would that jingle wound like if it were sung by Jay Sherman of The Critic on an episode of The Simpsons, in Italian? Probably something like this:

Jay Sherman on The Simpsons with Italian dubbing, “A Star is Burns” (March 5, 1995)

Whether you call them hot dogs or wieners, whether your taste runs towards Armour, Oscar Mayer, or another brand, have a happy Hot Dog Day!

Born on this date: Bobby Sherman

Bobby ShermanSinger/actor/heartthrob Bobby Sherman turns 71 today, July 22, 2014.

Sherman was all over TV in the 1960s and ’70s. He was a regular on Shindig! and appeared on American Bandstand and in episodes of The Monkees and The Partridge Family. He starred in Here Come the Brides and Getting Together.

Did you have a crush on Bobby Sherman? If you did, you’re not alone. So did lots of people, including Marge Simpson, who revealed it in an episode of The Simpsons.

There are lots of Bobby Sherman clips on YouTube, and it was hard to decide which one to feature in this post. Ultimately I settled on this interesting 1964 clip from Shindig! Sherman is singing “She’s Not There.” It was a hit for The Zombies that year, but it seems to me like an odd song choice for him.

Today on the tray: Lollipops

lollipopJuly 20 is National Lollipop Day.

According to the holiday site Punchbowl, “Culinary historians believe that the lollipop (or at least some form of it) has been around since the prehistoric era. Early humans often enjoyed honey on a stick as a delicious treat. No one really knows how the modern-day lollipop was invented, but we do know how it got its name. George Smith, the owner of a small American candy store, came up with the sweet’s name. In the early 1900s, he called the candy a ‘lollipop’ after his favorite racehorse—Lolly Pop.”

cindy brady lollipop

Cindy Brady (Susan Olsen) and Penelope Fletcher (Natalie Schaeffer) sing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” on The Brady Bunch.

When I first posted this last year, I desperately searched YouTube for a clip of Cindy Brady singing “On the Good Ship Lollipop” with Natalie Schaeffer from the episode of The Brady Bunch titled “The Snooperstar,” but it was nowhere to be found. This year, however, the Brady gods smiled upon us and someone posted it. It’s embedded below.

Here’s what happens: Earlier in the series, Cindy showed herself to be a tattletale; in this episode, she’s a snoop who reads her sister’s diary. Jan and Marcia decide to teach her a lesson—aren’t those Brady kids always teaching each other lessons?—and plant an entry about a talent scout being interested in making Cindy the next Shirley Temple. Say what you will, the Brady kids knew their classic cinema—Peter with his Humphrey Bogart voice in “The Personality Kid” and now Cindy, who styles herself like Shirley Temple and sings “Good Ship Lollipop” to Mike’s visiting client, convinced the woman is the talent scout. But she’s not. She’s Penelope Fletcher (played by “Lovey Howell” actress Natalie Schaeffer), and she’s a difficult client, but she is so charmed by Cindy that she joins her in the song and dance. The audio is way low, but here it is. The singing and dancing start at 08:59.

Jan and Marcia teach Cindy a lesson on The Brady Bunch in “The Snooperstar” (Feb. 22, 1974)

But wait—there’s more lollipop goodness. Here is a video of the Chordettes singing “Lollipop” on The Andy Williams Show. And it has the words, karaoke-style, in case you can’t remember “Lollipop, lollipop, oh lolli lolli lolli lollipop.” That’s Andy Williams making the pop sound. Didn’t his mother ever tell him to keep his fingers out of his mouth?

The Chordettes, “Lollipop,” on The Andy Williams Show (1960s)

Today on the tray: Caviar, dahling

July 18 is National Caviar Day.

Caviar, as we all know, is a fancy fish egg. According to the National Caviar Day website, “It may be hard to believe, but at one time, caviar was served in bars, sometimes for free like peanuts are today to encourage customers to drink more. That was during the caviar boom experienced in North America during the 19th century after sturgeon fish were discovered in U.S. rivers.”

Zsa Zsa Gabor enjoys eating her caviar with Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, if this 1970 commercial is to be believed.

Lawry's Seasoned Salt commercial with Zsa Zsa Gabor (1970)

Voiceover:  Zsa Zsa? Uh, Miss Gabor?
Zsa Zsa:  Yes?
Voiceover:  Have you tried Lawry’s Seasoned Salt?
Zsa Zsa:  Of course.
Voiceover:  Good. It’s really terrific on hamburgers. How did you like it?
Zsa Zsa:  On caviar, dahling.

Born on this date: Phyllis Diller

Phyllis DillerComedienne Phyllis Diller was born 97 years ago today, on July 17, 1917. She died in 2012.

Diller’s career stretched back to the 1950s, but I remember her for her many TV guest appearances throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Her wild hair and raucous laugh were unmistakable.

Here she is on The Liberace Show in 1969, arriving with her entire wardrobe. As they look through the items together, Liberace suggests that she wear something conservative, along the lines of his spangle-covered jacket. Someone was very brave or very foolish to put these two performers together. With so much flamboyance all in one place, it’s a wonder the TV didn’t explode!

Phyllis Diller on The Liberace Show (May 23, 1969)

Born on this date: Denise Nicholas

Denise Nicholas turns 70 today, July 12, 2014. I’m sure she has done other things, but to me she will always be guidance counselor Liz McIntyre on Room 222. The series ran from 1969 to 1974.

I find the opening credits to this show very entertaining, with the period fashions and the orderly students climbing the stairs in sync in their short skirts and knee socks. It’s hard to believe that at that time, most schools still had dress codes that prohibited girls from wearing pants.

Opening credits, Room 222

If you want to see the later version of the opening credits where Karen Valentine drops her books instead of having the bus doors close on her, watch it here. (Note: You might recognize Michael Constantine, the actor playing the school principal, as the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who sprayed Windex on everything.)

This article in the Los Angeles Times compares the high school in Room 222 with the ones in Glee and 90210, and finds the newer shows’ depictions lacking. “Despite its dated elements, ‘Room 222’ was rooted in a relevance and topicality that those involved say is missing from ‘Glee,’ ‘90210’ and other contemporary school-based shows that put more emphasis on being crass than going to class,” the article says.

Well, I don’t know about that. I mean, I certainly don’t recall that Miss McIntyre ever produced her own line of homemade pamphlets like Emma, the guidance counselor on Glee. Take a look at the samples below—you can’t say they’re not relevant and topical.

Today on the tray: Piña coladas

pina coladaJuly 10 is National Piña Colada Day. 

According to CNN Eatocracy: “The pineapple, coconut and rum concoction is wildly popular in Puerto Rico and wherever there’s hot sun, cold ice, and a Caribbean breeze…Depending on who you ask, the piña colada was invented in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1963 by Ramón Portas Mingot, in 1954 by Ramón Marrero or Ricardo Gracia, or in Cuba in 1950. Variations on the recipe abound as well, but generally if you blend cream of coconut, light rum and pineapple juice together with ice, you’ve got a piña colada.”

And it wouldn’t be National Piña Colada Day without the song—yeah, you know the one, about liking piña coladas and getting caught in the rain. The actual name is “Escape,” but it is subtitled “The Piña Colada Song,” which is what everyone calls it. Here is Rupert Holmes performing the song on The Midnight Special, introduced by the Village People—34 years ago almost to the day!

Rupert Holmes, “Escape (The Piña Colada Song),” The Midnight Special (July 11, 1980)

Move over, Bacon!

Actor Kevin Bacon turns 56 today, July 8, 2014. The Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award winner has appeared in films such as Footloose, Diner, JKF, Apollo 13, and many others. See his filmography on IMDb.

But move over, Bacon. There’s something leaner: Tasty Sizzlean!

That’s right, I’m using Kevin Bacon’s birthday as an excuse to post this 1985 Sizzlean commercial with the classic line, “Move over, bacon!” Watch the bacon fly off the plate and through the air to make room for a less fatty alternative. Sizzlean was a cured meat bacon substitute that had its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s but was apparently manufactured until 2005. It claimed to be 50 percent leaner than bacon. “So why sizzle fat? Sizzlean!”

Sizzlean commercial (1985)


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