The Incredible Inman: 'Behind the Eight Ball' starred 'Jetsons' voice actor in silly antics
Question: In the afternoons and on Saturdays around the late 1950s and '60s, when I was really young, I used to watch horror movies, cartoons and the Stooges on TV. But I also barely remember some humorous live-action movie shorts. The theme was kind of a day in the life of a typical guy. In one of them, he was on a commuter train going to work. Odd things would happen to him, but he would just take it in stride. I don't know who the actor was or the movie company. He may have not spoken, and there may have been narration. Do you remember seeing this? Any info is appreciated.
Answer: Sounds to me like you were watching a series of shorts called “Behind the Eight Ball,” which were produced at Warner Bros. from 1943 to 1956. The hero of these shorts was Joe McDoakes, played by actor George O'Hanlon, who would go on to provide the voice of George Jetson on “The Jetsons.” O'Hanlon was also the co-writer of the shorts with Richard L. Bare, who also produced and directed them. Bare would go on to direct every episode of “Green Acres,” which ran from 1966 to 1971 on CBS.
The format of the shorts would take the form of a self-help session, with titles like “So You Want to Give Up Smoking” or “So You Want to Be a Cowboy.” Joe would struggle with each situation to hilarious effect, it says here.
The shorts still pop up on Turner Classic Movies, and you can see a few of them on youtube.com.
Q: Will “Golden Boy” be returning to CBS? They left a lot of loose ends. I really enjoyed the show.
A: Sorry, but CBS chose not to renew “Golden Boy.” It's been canceled.
Q: Whenever I see Harry Hamlin on “Mad Men,” I think of a show he was in after “L.A. Law.” It didn't air for very long, and it was about two huge movie stars married to each other. What was it called, and when did it run?
A: That was “Movie Stars,” a sitcom that ran on the WB network from 1999 to 2000. Hamlin played screen heartthrob Reese Hardin. Jennifer Grant, the real-life daughter of Dyan Cannon and Cary Grant, played his wife, screen heartthrob Jacey Wyatt. Their children were Apache (Zack Hopkins) and Moonglow (Rachel David).
Q: When I was a teenager in the 1980s, I remember seeing a movie about two teens who fell in love and both of them were in some sort of work camp. It was very Romeo and Juliet-ish. Title, please?
A: That sounds like “Fire with Fire,” a 1986 film that's a little like “Flashdance” crossed with “The Fugitive.” Virginia Masden plays a girl working on a photography assignment in a forest who meets a prison farm escapee played by Craig Sheffer. Naturally, they fall deeply in love and grow ever closer whilst the cold, cruel, outside world threatens to tear them apart and stuff.
Q: I'm looking for the name of the episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” where they check into a haunted hotel and everyone starts disappearing. During what season did it originally air?
A: Frankly, that episode was a little gimmicky for me, but my opinion and five bucks will buy you a cup of coffee.
That episode is called “The Ghost of A. Chantz,” and it originally aired on Sept. 30, 1964 as part of season four. You can see it on Netflix, which is streaming “The Dick Van Dyke Show.” It's also on YouTube.
Q: I remember a TV movie from the 1970s that had great visual photography. It was about a traffic copter reporter who got involved in chasing some bank robbers, who started out by car and then got a helicopter of their own. Can you tell me the title and if it's on DVD?
A: That was “Birds of Prey,” a 1973 TV movie with David Janssen as the pilot. It isn't officially on DVD, but there are bootleg copies out there.
Q: A bunch of us soap fans are wondering why Ronn Moss isn't on “The Bold and the Beautiful” anymore. We miss him! Is he coming back?
A: Ronn Moss has left “The Bold and Beautiful,” cheekbones and all. He says the producers asked him to take a pay cut, and he refused.
Q: Who is the blond actress who used to be on the cigar commercials in the 1960s? She said, “Why don't you pick one up and smoke it sometime?” I say it was Lola Albright; my husband says it was Lainie Kazan. Who's right?
A: Neither of you. Edie Adams did those commercials for Muriel Cigars. Lainie Kazan did the commercials for Aqua Velva after-shave — “There's something about an Aqua Velva man.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions of general interest will be answered; personal replies are not possible.