Previews & Reviews that are Z's Views

14 Nostalgic Facts About “Happy Days”

Kara Kovalchik and Mental_Floss present 14 Nostalgic Facts About Happy Days.   Here are three of my favorites…

When Garry Marshall was first approached by Paramount executives Michael Eisner and Tom Miller in 1971 to create a new sitcom, they envisioned something set in the 1920s or ’30s. Marshall told them that he knew nothing about flappers, but he could write a show about the era in which he spent his teen and young adult years—the 1950s. He put together a pilot about a Midwestern family that just purchased their first TV set (the first one in the neighborhood!) and how the teenaged son planned to use it as a chick magnet. The series didn’t sell, and the pilot ended up as a vignette on Love, American Style—“the dumping ground of failed pilots” according to Marshall.

George Lucas’s Oscar-nominated 1973 film American Graffiti launched a craze for 1950s nostalgia (even though the movie was set in 1962). Casting director Fred Roos had worked with Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show and recommended him to Lucas for the role of Steve Bolander. Lucas dug out the “Love and the Happy Days” episode of Love, American Style to determine whether Howard could play an 18-year-old high school student convincingly. Once American Graffiti became a runaway success, ABC decided that the time was ripe for a 1950s-era sitcom and Garry Marshall’s project was resurrected.

When Henry Winkler got the callback after his first audition for the role of Arthur Fonzarelli, he was taken aback when he saw that the other contender was former Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz. According to Dolenz, Winkler admitted to him later that he had thought, “Oh crap, Micky Dolenz is here. I’ll never get it!” Dolenz was Marshall’s original choice to play Fonzie, on the strength of a recent guest appearance he had made as a biker on Adam-12. But at six feet tall, Dolenz towered over the five-foot-nine Ron Howard, so Winkler was deemed a better fit.

15 Fateful Facts About “Gilligan’s Island”

Kara Kovalchik and Mental_Floss present 15 Fateful Facts About Gilligan’s Island.   Here are three of my favorites (and this was one of the hardest to get down to top three )…


The pilot for the series was filmed over several days in November of 1963 on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. The last day of shooting was scheduled for November 23, 1963 in Honolulu Harbor for the scenes showing the S.S. Minnow embarking on its fateful three-hour tour. Late in the morning on November 22, a crew member ran to the set and announced that he’d just heard on the radio that President John F. Kennedy had been shot. As Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President, it was announced that all military installations (including Honolulu Harbor) would be closed for the next two days as a period of mourning. Filming was delayed by several days as a result, and in the opening credits—as the Minnow cruises the harbor—the American flag can be seen flying at half-mast in the background.

After getting a green light from CBS for the pilot, Schwartz went about assembling his cast. He chose the name of the bumbling first mate—Gilligan—from the Los Angeles telephone directory. Gilligan’s first name was never mentioned during the series, but according to Schwartz’s original notes, it was intended to be “Willy.” Yet Bob Denver always insisted that “Gilligan” was the character’s first name. “Almost every time I see Bob Denver we still argue,” Schwartz once admitted. “He thinks Gilligan is his first name, and I think it’s his last name. Because in the original presentation, it’s Willy Gilligan. But he doesn’t believe it, and he doesn’t want to discuss it. He insists the name is Gilligan.”

All of the actors signed contracts that guaranteed them a certain amount of money per original episode plus a residual payment for the first five repeats of each episode. This was a pretty standard contract in 1965, when as a rule most TV shows were only rerun during the summer months as a placeholder between seasons.

Even though the word “syndication” wasn’t yet a standard term in the TV production glossary, Dawn Wells’ then-husband, talent agent Larry Rosen, advised her to ask for an amendment to that residual clause in her contract, and the producers granted it, never thinking the series would be on the air nearly 50 years later. As a result, the estate of the late Sherwood Schwartz (who reportedly pocketed around $90 million during his lifetime from his little microcosm-on-an-island show) and Dawn Wells are the only two folks connected to the show who still receive money from it.

Z-View: “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”

I saw Glen Campbell perform live when I was a kid.  Glen Campbell was one of the first celebrities that I can remember seeing “in person.”  The concert took place at the Indiana State Fair.   At the time Mr. Campbell was a recording star, but would go on to have his own television series and appear in movies.

Glen Campbell always came across as a nice guy.  Mr. Campbell seemed like someone you’d enjoy sharing a meal with or just talking to.  That made the news that he was suffering from Alzheimer’s even more tragic.  Not that you’d want anyone to get the disease, but especially not one of the good people.

Last October I posted about Glen Campbell’s song, I’m Not Gonna Miss You.  At the time I said it was one of the saddest songs that I’d ever heard.  I still think it is.  Perhaps even more so after watching the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.

Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me takes us behind the scenes for a look at how Alzheimer’s wrecks the life of not only the person with the disease but also everyone who is close to the him/her.

Luckily for Mr. Campbell he has a devoted wife, family and friends and the financial resources to provide him a superior support system.  Still even with all of that, the disease is unstoppable.

Mark Evanier wrote about being at a party a few years ago and the excitement that went through the crowd as it became known that Glen Campbell was going to sing a few songs… and the initial discomfort when they realized the toll Alzheimer’s was taking on him.  Mr. Evanier goes on to say, heck, instead of me telling you what he said, why don’t you just click on over and read his words for yourself.  Like everything Mark Evanier posts, it is more than worth a read.  I’ll be here when you get back.

I want to echo Mark Evanier’s recommendation that you check out Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me.


As I was posting this, I noticed (and it was probably unintentional) that the title of the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me can also read like Glen Campbell: Ill Be Me.

Every Message Left on Jim Rockford’s Answering Machine

The Rockford Files always opened with a message left on Rockford’s answering machine.  The message (unrelated to the episode) “…invited the viewer to return to the quirky, down-on-his-luck world of Jim Rockford.”

Here’s a favorite:

“Jim, It’s Norma at the market. It bounced. You want us to tear it up, send it back, or put it with the others?”

Now thanks to That Eric Alper we can listen and download every message used.