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The Incredible Inman: Walken starred in PBS 'Playhouse' episode in '82

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By David Inman
Sunday, April 28, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Question: I saw a show on PBS in the 1980s. I think it was titled “Who Am I This Time Anyway.” A guy who I had never seen, playing a very shy hardware clerk, gets hooked up with a woman who has him audition for a local small-town theater company. He ends up playing Stanley in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” I remembered his name, Christopher Walken, because I was totally impressed with his acting. Was that his first appearance? Is this show on video or DVD?

Answer: The show was called “Who Am I This Time?” and it aired on the PBS anthology series “American Playhouse” in 1982. Based on a short story by Kurt Vonnegut and directed by Jonathan Demme, the show also starred Susan Sarandon as the female lead. So, basically, a bunch of nobodies.

It's on DVD, and also streams through Amazon Instant Video.

As for Walken's career, it actually dates to the early days of TV, beginning in 1953. He played several roles, billed as Ronnie Walken, including episodes of “Naked City” and “The Motorola TV Hour.”

Q: I am trying to remember the name of a film I saw as a teenager. The plot consisted of several men that were trying to survive after a plane crash. Suddenly, they began to disappear. What you discover is that they were all actually dead, and they disappeared when their bodies were discovered. Any idea?

A: That's the 1970 TV movie “Sole Survivor,” with Richard Basehart, Vince Edwards, William Shatner and Patrick Wayne.

You can watch it for yourself — the entire movie is on YouTube.

Q: I'm just wanting to know if “Last Man Standing” has been canceled. I hope not!

A: Nothing official has been announced about “Last Man Standing,” but people who pay close attention to these things seem to think it will be renewed.

Q: I was watching reruns of “Bewitched” last weekend and saw a show with Jimmy Mathers in it. At first, I thought it was Jerry Mathers, but the credits said Jimmy. Was he in any other movies or shows? He had to be Jerry Mathers' brother because they looked so much alike.

A: Jimmy Mathers is the brother of Jerry, of course, and his career was exceedingly brief. In addition to that 1964 episode of “Bewitched,” he was a regular on the CBS sitcom “Ichabod and Me,” which was from the producers of “Leave It to Beaver” but ran only one season, from 1961-62.

He also appeared in a couple of movies, including “Summer Magic” and “The New Interns,” and episodes of “My Three Sons” and “The Munsters.” His last appearance to date was on a 1968 episode of the NBC cop series “Adam-12.”

Q: Tell me I'm not crazy and that there really was a movie where a woman is “trapped” in her own home by a computer. This computer controls the door by way of an intercom and (if I remember correctly) can imitate the woman's voice to send people away. It even ends up impregnating the woman. Am I crazy?

A: Ew.

The movie is 1977's “Demon Seed,” with Julie Christie as the woman.

Q: I used to watch “Days of Our Lives” as a preteen and teenager. The part of Karen was played by Judith Light, later of “Who's the Boss?” and her husband's name was Larry. No matter how Larry seemed to try to be sweet and loving, Karen couldn't seem to shape up and fly right. Was she supposed to actually have a diagnosed condition like clinical depression or sexual addiction, or were we to believe she was just plain sleazy? She always seemed so completely miserable and pitiful to me like she really could not help how she felt and behaved and would do anything to change and be “normal.” This was probably back in the 1970s or '80s, so good luck!

A: Well, the show was actually “One Life to Live,” and Light played poor Karen from 1977-83.

Karen had tricked Dr. Larry Wolek into marrying her and later became a hooker because she needed something to do during the day. She revealed her secret life on the witness stand in 1979 in order to exonerate somebody else on the show who'd been accused of murdering somebody else on the show.

After all that heavy acting, Light needed a rest, so she jumped to the ABC sitcom “Who's the Boss?,” which ran from 1984-92.

Write David Inman in care of The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, 525 W. Broadway, P.O. Box 740031, Louisville, KY 40201-7431; or email him at Questions of general interest will be answered; personal replies are not possible.

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