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Ralph Woolsey was born before World War I.

Woolsey, who turned 100 on January 1, is best known the cinematographer on more than a dozen cult and exploitation movies of the 1970s, some of them outliers in the New Hollywood movement of innovative, European-influenced studio filmmaking: The Lawyer; The Strawberry Statement; Little Fauss and Big Halsy; Deadhead Miles; The Culpepper Cattle Co.; The New Centurions; Dirty Little Billy; Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins; Lifeguard; Mother, Jugs & Speed; and The Great Santini.  Woolsey photographed The Mack as well as The Pack, and two features for John Frankenheimer, The Iceman Cometh and 99 44/100% Dead.

Before he transitioned into features, though, Woolsey was a prolific director of photography in television.  He made a comparatively late entry into the medium via Warner Bros., which needed a large corps of DPs to churn out the suddenly popular Westerns and private eye shows that put its TV department on the map in the late fifties.  Fast and cheap, the Warners shows attracted a mix of newcomers and veterans, many of them favored more for speed than talent.

After Warner’s television department faltered in the mid-sixties, Woolsey followed 77 Sunset Strip producer Howie Horwitz to Fox, where he became the original director of photography for Batman.  Next Woolsey moved to Universal, where he worked on It Takes a Thief (for which he won an Emmy) and The Name of the Game.

In June of 2012, I spoke with Woolsey about his career by telephone.  Although many of the shows and the stars (especially at Warners, where DPs rotated among a dozen different shows instead of settling in on just one) were a blur, Woolsey had some fascinating, detailed recollections of the nuts and bolts of his profession and of many of the directors with whom he worked.

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How did you get involved with Warner Bros. in the early days of its television operation?

The first show was Maverick.  Basically, I was a freelance cinematographer, while I was teaching in the cinema department at USC.  I did commercials and things like that.  I had an agent who, one day, got me a fill-in job at Warner Bros.  I had never worked at Warner Bros., and it seemed like I was just a short replacement for somebody who was sick.  I went out there, and Warner Bros. was practically shut down at that time.  There wasn’t much going.  Television was just getting started.  There was sort of a legend around there that television was like poison, and they didn’t want anything to do with it.  There were stories about Jack Warner firing actors when he found out that they had TV sets in their dressing rooms.

But anyway, they were at the point that they weren’t making any features.  They were gearing up to do some television shows.  The reason that I got this call was that the cameraman who was going to shoot it – he was a well-known Hollywood guy – was sick.  Not only that, the director, who was another well-known Hollywood guy, also got sick.  So my job was to replace the cameraman, and the guy who was to replace the director was a well-known figure named Howard W. Koch.  He had quite a career at Paramount.  

Now, all the people were hired and the sets were built and the actors were ready and the makeup people were all geared up to go on my say-so.  This was the situation that I stepped in to.  So we went to work and everything went along very smoothly.  Howard Koch was extremely knowledgeable and didn’t waste any time.  As a matter of fact, we were going home on time, which was by most standards of that time was early.

Of course, the camera crew tested me like they would a stranger.  The new boss steps in and takes over, which meant that I had to deal with the art director and the sets that he had arranged and all the other stuff.  But the crew was top-notch and as you might expect at a major studio, the equipment was as good as you could ask for.

Then you started working there full time?

Well, the way it turned out, yes.  We went ahead and finished that show and started another one.  On about the fourth day, my agent, whom I hadn’t seen yet at all, didn’t even know the guy, he showed up on the set.  He came over and he said, “What the hell are you doing here?”  I was puzzled.  I wondered if he had heard some negative comment or complaint or something.  I said, “What do you mean?”  Well, he says, “I don’t know, excepting that the studio wants to sign you for five years.”

And it went on from there.  I did a lot more, but that particular show happened to be Maverick, and that was Warners’ lead show in the television market.  It was a big success.  We were using feature picture sets, which actually made some of the very first shows look fantastic.  On the other hand, you paid a price, because it took longer to work with those sets.  They were more elaborate, took more lighting, and all that.  Eventually, of course, they built sets on separate stages just for the television division.

Did you get to know the producer of Maverick, Roy Huggins?

Well, obviously, he was an organizer.  We people in production didn’t actually brush up against [series producers] that much.  We didn’t have much personal contact with those guys.  Maybe sometimes when you walked out of the screening room you would pass like ships in the night.  As long as everything was going fine, you’d never hear from any of them.  Which was just as well.

At Warners, weren’t you rotated among the different shows rather than staying with a single series for every episode?

That’s true.  Now, you may have had preferences, like I had, for working with certain directors, and I’m sure that some of the directors had the same experience.  Everybody had their favorites.  They scheduled everything out, and it was always fun if you were teamed up with a director that you liked, because that director probably would be more inventive.  

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Which directors did you like working with?  Let me mention a few: Leslie H. Martinson?

Les Martinson made good shows, and I enjoyed the results from working with Les.  But he was one of these guys who was always crying about things are taking too long, or [something else].  It was a yes or no situation.  You liked to work with him because he got good shows.  They were assigned to him and they usually turned out pretty well, but you had to go through a certain amount of hand-holding and all that stuff with him.  Like, one day, he said to the assembled group: “I wanted to do this shot but Mr. Woolsey didn’t think it would be a good idea.”  I don’t know what effect my – he was just looking for an excuse not to make the shot himself.  But that was kind of petty stuff, you know.

Why couldn’t he make that shot?

I can’t remember the details, but he – early on, while we were using the big sets that were left over from the features, he would see a beautiful staircase in like a hotel lobby and would immediately want to have several people be featured coming down the staircase.  Later on, on a television set, there wouldn’t be such a thing at all, because everybody knows it’s a time-consuming element for lighting and action and everything else.  So you don’t put that into shows where you want to make some time.

He did funny things.  He was kind of a crybaby about getting his stuff.  Like, he hit his thumb with a hammer one day in a little fit of temper.  It almost seemed deliberate, because it swelled up and over the weekend it was worse.  Monday morning, instead of having gone to a doctor over the weekend or something, he brought it to the set looking absolutely horrible, [to] reinforce the terrible state that he described himself in.  

There were some people that [if they] heard they were going to be teamed up with someone, they would refuse to do it.

It sounds as if that was a difficult relationship with Martinson.

One time I was working at another studio later on when my contract was up, and he was doing a show and he actually asked them to get me.  But as soon as I got to do the show, he was the same old guy.  However, we respected each other’s limitations, I guess.

Douglas Heyes?

Oh, Doug Heyes was one of my favorites.  He a talented writer, because he wrote some of the best shows we ever did.  He was top-notch.  He was a lot of fun.  On a personal level, we got along very well, and we sometimes would see each other outside of work.

He was always very sure of himself.  For instance, when he was directing something like some of the Warner Bros. TV shows, he would come in late, with an armload of doughnuts or cookies or something like that for the crew.  But he would always be late.  The studio production guys didn’t like this at all, and they would lie in wait for him, so when he came into the studio they would have all the lights turned out or something, and then start trying to teach him: “We like what you’re doing, but you’ve got to be on time!”

Did things like that put you in between the director and the production department?

Not really, but of course if they get behind, they’d look for anybody that they could blame.  If, say, the producer came over and said, “What the hell is taking so long?” you would be an idiot if you said, “Well, the director just goes on and on and on, doing rehearsals and this and that.”  Because there is a true saying that of the entire production, the crew and everybody, only the director and the cameraman are in every shot, and you and the director had better get along.

Arthur Lubin?

I enjoyed working with Arthur.  He was particularly talented working with actors.

Richard L. Bare?

Yeah, he was good.  Workmanlike.  Nothing flashy.  Just did the job.

George waGGner?

He would probably be my top favorite.  We used to call him George Wag-ig-ner, because of the double G.  He got into directing films accidentally.  He came to Hollywood from somewhere up north, and he said, “I didn’t even know this was going on.”  But George was a very thorough director.  He gave a lot of attention to every detail.  The sets and the decor, and interesting ways to open a sequence.

So you were aware of some of the regular Warners directors as being more visually creative than others?

Oh, yeah.  That’s certainly true.  There were some where you could do a scene in six different ways and they would be just as happy.  But somebody like George who would have a definite way he would want to open the scene, by looking through some piece of architecture or maybe a bit of closeup action.  Just kicking it off in a more spicy way.

Did the directors mainly leave the lighting to you, or did some of them have input into that?

The directors had nothing to do with the lighting.  No, the lighting was the cinematographer’s bailiwick.  And at Warners we had crews who had been working on pictures for years.  So sometimes they would tend to be a little too fancy or elaborate for a television show.  In other words, you had to say, forget the frosting on the cake and let’s take care of the meat and potatoes first.  But there’s always an opportunity where you can make a set sort of perform on its own.

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Did you prefer some of the Warners shows to the others?

Well, first of all, you had to take the attitude that whatever the assignment was for the next two weeks, that’s your favorite show.  If they said you had to shoot only these shows for the rest of your life, which ones would they be?  You’d probably pick the ones with the most interesting actors.  [Or] the longest schedules, which give you more opportunity to concoct something interesting.

Which was your favorite among the Warners shows?

Probably Maverick.

Tell me about your departure from Warner Bros.

I shot the first color [TV] show there at Warners, Mister Roberts.  That was our first color show.  [Then] I went over with the producer of Sunset Strip started a show – well, that was Batman.  I went over and started that.  I think I shot a dozen shows.

Did you like doing Batman?

Yeah.  Mainly because it was something different.  We had split-screen situations, with this character Mister Freeze, for instance.  Half of the screen would be frigid and the other half of the screen would be normal.  And it was always fun working with those actors, because they knew the characters that they portrayed.  People like Burgess Meredith, for instance, who played the Penguin, was outstanding.  

I borrowed the Penguin’s whistle, and he used to blow it with a sort of “honk, honk” sound that everybody knew.  I brought it home and blew it for my kids.  The other kids heard about it and they all came over and they were nuts about it.  Naturally, I had a hard time keeping it from getting stolen, and I had been warned that if that whistle did not come back the next day, I was in deep trouble!

Why did you leave Batman?

Because I got fired.  

Why?

I think we did a dozen or so.  They hadn’t been on the air yet, and everybody was running scared about this or that.  There was some talk about taking too much time preparing some of the shots.  Well, it later turned out they had some prop guys who were drunk half the time, and they were supposed to be preparing or fixing some of the tech-y props that were used on the show.  And you had to wait for them really much too long.  So somebody had to go, and it happened to be me that time.  Fortunately, there was a job [waiting].  I went right back to Warner Bros.  Howard Schwartz came in and took it over.  So I can claim the first dozen or so of Batman.  But people, even today, associate me with Batman.

Were you instrumental in devising the visual signature visual of Batman – the extreme tilted camera angles?

I don’t know, I was not so crazy about it.  I know what they were trying to do – they were trying to give an off-kilter look to the show.  But compared to doing things like that later on, just a few years later we had equipment that would make it much easier to do that.  It was very clumsy, making those few shots.

Do you have any memories of Adam West and Burt Ward?

Well, everybody on the crew used to say, “Those two should save their money.”

Then you shot the pilot for It Takes a Thief.

That grew out of a [made-for-television] feature that we shot up in Montreal during the Expo, with Robert Wagner.  We went up to the Expo and shot the picture for Universal, and it was sold to one of the networks as a pilot for what turned out to be the series It Takes a Thief.

And you stayed with the show.

Yeah, I did maybe a dozen or so, along with some segments of some other TV shows they had going there.

What do you remember about It Takes a Thief?

The Montreal location for the movie was very enjoyable.  Leslie Stevens was the creator and the director.  We were friends to begin with, so we could tell each other if something was lousy, or whether we loved it.  Talk about ideas, you know.

What was he like as a director and producer?

A very creative guy.  Stoney Burke was one he did, and The Outer Limits.  Conrad Hall worked on that, on both of those in fact, and before him, Leslie hired a great cameraman whom we both admired a great deal, Ted McCord.

Right, McCord was Conrad Hall’s mentor, I think.

That’s correct, because Connie was his operator, and he took over when Ted more or less retired.  Connie had graduated from USC Cinema just a year before I started teaching there, so we met a few times but I didn’t get to know him personally too well until somewhat later.

Did you expect to become a cinematographer, or had you planned to remain a teacher?

I think the teaching came accidentally.  I was a cinematographer.  During World War II, I was shooting training films for the U.S. Air Force.  I was not in the military; I was working for an aircraft company, Bell Aircraft.  They were developing the first helicopter.  Before we were in World War II, they were selling planes to Russia, and we were making training films as to how you took care of the planes and serviced them.  So when we got into the war, that program just got magnified.  That’s what I had been doing, so at the end of the war I could call myself a cinematographer.  In fact, I was the head of the unit.

I came to California, and how I got to USC – let’s see, I knew some people who were shooting non-theatrical films.  My working at USC was sort of an accident.  I went down there to see the head of the department about something else, and while I was there the head of the department invited me to do some temporary work.  There were a bunch of servicemen, Navy people, who were using the G.I. Bill.  They had to go back to service and they weren’t getting done, and they hired me and a guy named Irving Lerner to direct these things.  The two of us finished all of the projects for these servicemen.  Just shot them ourselves, and then Irving edited them.  Then the guy who was teaching camera had to leave for some commitment, and they offered me the job of teaching his class.  So I did.  But I had an arrangement where I could shoot stuff on the side.

You won an Emmy for It Takes a Thief.

Yeah, that’s true.  That was the pilot.

What about your work on that show caused it to win, do you think?

Well, do you want me to be truthful or inventive?  I think if the show is different in its concept or its location, the way the location is used, I think that does a long way to making it of great interest to the nominating [committee].  And of course, that show was shot as a movie.  So there was a lot more spent on it.

Do you mean it was a feature film, or a made-for-TV movie?

[It was] meant for TV, but we did shoot it in a rather sketchy way.  In other words, we went there with inadequate lighting for some of the night shots that we did, so we had to get inventive.  We pulled off some pretty good night shooting, and I think had some special processing done on the negative, which of course the studio and the camera department fought me on tooth and nail.

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In the 1970s you moved exclusively into shooting feature films.  How did that differ from the work you did in television?

There are things that I could and did do in shooting television that I wouldn’t do in shooting a feature.  In other words, I could experiment more, and I did.  When I was shooting some of these black-and-white Warner Bros. westerns, like Maverick, I fooled around and I even used what some of the people in the production department thought were my secrets.  At least, I never told them how I did some of the things to get a certain kind of look.  

For instance, all the old buildings, the wooden buildings in the backlot that you’d use in a western, like the western street.  If you look at real old black-and-white pictures, the buildings all had a certain kind of a look, and it was because the film was colorblind.  The sky would be white and anything blue would be pretty white, and anything red would be pretty dark.  The more common film, orthochromatic, was sensitive to blue and green but not red.  

A lot of the old pictures, even some of the early movies, were shot with that kind of film.  That had the property of making all the reds look dark.  For instance, you would be crazy if you shoot close-ups of a woman with that kind of film, because her lips would go black, or very dark.  But there were advantages in getting that look, too.  The old buildings really looked old.  In the western street scenes, I used a filter combination to get that look.  And I didn’t tell anybody what it was.  I’d put it in the camera myself, and take it back home with me at night.  And in the camera department, they were furious.  They wanted to know what it was.  Of course, for scenes where I’d shoot close-ups of women, I wouldn’t use it.  But it did lend a very authentic kind of an old-time look to the buildings.  

And there was another big problem: the streets were always photographing extremely light or even white because they were yellow.  Every now and then they’d bring in a truckload of [dirt] and smooth out the street, and it was yellow.  To make it darken down, they used to run a water wagon through the set before anybody worked on it.  They’d create a little mud, and that made it unpleasant to work on.  But with my system, they didn’t have to do that.  People would say, “How come you got those streets darkened down and we didn’t have to water it?”

Who do you remember among the many other cinematographers working at Warner Bros. at that time?

Harold Stine had previously worked in special effects at Paramount or one of those studios, so he was really an expert on the technology.  He gave me one of my best compliments one time.  We actually used to compliment each other, because they would bring some of these guys in and some of their work really was pretty lousy.  But if they had a reputation of being fast, that was evidently how they got the job.  Anyway, Hal said to me one day as we were laughing about that: “Well, one thing about your work: It always looks finished, right up to the corners.”  He said, “Some of these guys, they just light the center and let the rest go.”

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The images above are taken from the three first season episodes of Maverick that Woolsey photographed and the pilot for It Takes a Thief.

Yes, that’s right.  I’ve decided to Upworthy-ize the blog!

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But seriously – anyone out there recognize the obscure series from which these frame grabs were taken?  It’s not quite like anything else that was on TV at the time, and I’m probably going to write more about it soon.

It’s been over a month (!) since my last entry here, and obviously I’m still vamping with picture posts.  But I’ll have some meatier pieces here soon, as well as more for The A.V. Club in the near future.  In the meantime I’ve also started contributing to my old friend Stuart Galbraith IV’s new film website, World Cinema Paradise, starting with this survey of some obscure ’70s exploitation films.  There’s some good writing there; check it out!

 

 

So have you been diving into your new DVD set of the complete Naked City, or are you saving it for Christmas vacation?  As I suspected when I was researching last year’s article about the complicated, unhappy journey taken by the rights to producer Herbert B. Leonard’s series, the new-to-DVD episodes have been given the low-budget treatment.  But the grotty sourced-from-16-millimeter transfers still look better than any bootlegs I’d managed to get my hands on over the years, so I can’t complain.  Much.

Two years ago I used the original DVDs to illustrate a three-part look at some of the many familiar faces who decorated the edges of the Naked City – faces who were too new to warrant screen credit for their early bit roles.  At the time, I left out the half-hour first season, just because I didn’t have a good source from which to derive screen grabs.  Well, now I do.  So we can reprise that feature and look at some of the noteworthy uncredited actors from Naked City‘s one fifties-lensed season, many of them not yet mentioned anywhere in print or on the internet in connection with these early appearances.

In fact, let’s take it a step further.  Here, taken from the Herbert B. Leonard archives at UCLA, are transcripts of the first season cast credits in their entirety, including all of the uncredited actors.  Along with the handful of future celebs are dozens of forgotten names who never went on to substantial acting careers, including a cadre of bit players and stuntmen (Harold Gaetano, James Little, Frank Downing, Edd Simon) who formed a kind of invisible Naked City repertory company.  Whatever happened to all these people?

(1) “Meridian” (9/30/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Jerry Hopper.
Guest Stars Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Alison Marshall (Debbie Halloran), Joey Walsh (Lefty), Pat De Simone (Arturo Gutierrez), Harry Kadison (Arcaro), William Zuckert (Captain Donohue), Frank Downing (McGregor), Al Hodge (Johnson), Barbara Banks (Sylvia Simpkins), Miriam Acevedo (Mrs. Gutierrez).

(2) “Nickel Ride” (10/7/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Douglas Heyes.
Guest Stars Cameron Prud’homme (Captain Adam Flint), John Seven (Hood), Ralph Stantley (Hagerson), Harry Holcombe (Police Commissioner), Robert Burr (Armored Car Driver), Ray Singer (Armored Car Guard), Peter Dawson (Bronson).
Uncredited Lawrence R. Dutchyshyn (Deckhand), Don Gonzales (Assistant Engineer), Doyle Brooks (Fireman), Steve DePalma (Man on phone), Stella Robinson (Secretary).

(3) “Line of Duty” (10/14/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Eugenie Leontovich (Kotina), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Diane Ladd (Yanice), Paul Lipson (Bartender), Alison Marshall (Debbie Halloran), Andrew Gerado (Peter), Nora Ferris (Baby Sitter), William A. Forester (Bailiff).

(4) “The Sidewalk Fisherman” (10/21/58)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  From a New Yorker story by Meyer Berger.  Directed by Douglas Heyes.
Guest Stars Jay Novello (Gio Bartolo), Tarry Green (Jocko), Leonardo Cimino (Shellshock), Mark Burkan (Laddie), Gary Morgan (Paulie), Ruth Altman (Mother Superior), Joanna Heyes (Nun), Allen Nourse (Mr. Thompson).
Uncredited Chris Vallon (Plip), Anthony Tuttle (Ernie), Loney Lewis (Newsvendor), Frank Downing (Patrolman), James Little (Sergeant), Edd Simon (Patrolman), George McCoy (Husband).

NCBlossom

The psych ward-set “The Violent Circle” featured a Cuckoo’s Nest-worthy ensemble of offbeat New York faces as the mental patients, including the great Roberts Blossom (right, with James Franciscus), who would make his credited debut on the show a few weeks later in the brilliant Christmas episode “And Merry Christmas to the Force on Patrol.”

(5) “The Violent Circle” (10/28/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Douglas Heyes.
Guest Stars Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), House Jameson (Dr. Morgan), Earl Rowe (Hanson), Robert F. Weil (Crane), Mark Allen (Green), Donald Moffat (Brickwell), Janice Mars (Miss Kaufman), Helm Lyon (Romaine), Jeno Mate (Parker), Alison Marshall (Debbie Halloran).
Uncredited Howard Wierum (Dr. Miller), Roberts Blossom (Brissen), Natalie Priest (Woman Attendant), Roger Quinlan (Elderly Man), Laura Pritkovits (Wife), Doyle Brooks (Silent Attendant).

(6) “Stakeout” (11/4/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Michael Tolan (Alan Keller), Irene Kane (Betty Keller), Horace McMahon (Chief), Matt Crowley (Commissioner O’Donnell), Jan Miner (Mrs. Rogan), Nina Reader (Janie Rogan), Donald Cohen (Ely).
Uncredited Elliot Sullivan (Ben Reilly), Doyle Brooks (Jacobs), Mike O’Dowd (Vinnie), Frank Downing (Patrolman), Sid Raymond (Shoe Clerk).

(7) “No More Rumbles” (11/11/58)
Written by Sam Ross.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), David Winters (Marty Nemo), Frank Dana (Packy), Sandy Smith (Lucy), Arny Freeman (Mr. Cienzi), David Challis (Little Poncho), Julia McMillan (Model), Harry Davis (Foreman), Alison Marshall (Debbie Halloran).
Uncredited Erny Costaldo (Ramrod), Bobby Nick (Cosy), Lawrence Whitman (Pedey), Bob Towner (Photo Double for David Winters).

(8) “Belvedere Tower” (11/18/58)
Written by Robert Sylvester & John Mackenzie.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Paul Spencer [Paul Schirn] (Mitchell Pierce), Tom Ahearne (Bellows), Dean Almquist (Dodds), Dorothy Dollivar (Evie), Bo Enivel (Mizotti).
Uncredited Ken Kenopka (Milkman), Fred Herrick (Elevator Man), Brooks Rogers (Patrolman), Harry Bergman (Stoddard), Frank Downing (Cop).

(9) “The Bird Guard” (11/25/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Diana Van Der Vlis (Linda Stevenson), John McQuade (Cassidy), Jock MacGregor (Andrew Stevenson), Don Supinski (Sick Arch), John Lawrence (Grubber), John Seven (Brick), Lester Mack (Mr. Freeman).
Uncredited Ray Parker (Dapper Eddie), Donald Cohen (Eli), Sy Travers (Superintendent), Natalie Priest (Cashier).

(10) “The Other Face of Goodness” (12/2/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  From a story by Charles Jackson.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Arnold Merritt (Jimmy), Loretta Leversee (Nora), Gerald Gordon (Walt), David J. Stewart (Professor), John Gibson (City Editor), Frank Campanella (Cameraman).
Uncredited Marty Greene (Newsvendor), Allan Frank (1st Man), Martin Newman (2nd Man).

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James Dukas was a big, working-class type who had a major role as one of the criminals in the heist flick The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (1958), with a young Steve McQueen, and small parts in The Hustler, Coogan’s Bluff, God Told Me To, and The Amityville Horror.  He appeared briefly as a rooftop sniper in the climax of “Ladybug, Ladybug..”

(11) “Lady Bug, Lady Bug . .” (12/9/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Leon B. Stevens (Eddie Stober), Peter Votrian (Bobby Stober), Daniel Ocko (Julio Marsatti), Arthur Wenzel (Butler), Peter Falk (Extortionist).
Uncredited James Dukas (Rifleman), Doug Reid (Plainclothesman).

(12) “Susquehanna 4-7598” (12/16/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Sandy Robinson (Carol Thomas), William Clemens (Johnny), Paul Valentine (Larry), Frank Campanella (Mr. Viola).

(13) “And Merry Christmas to the Force on Patrol” (12/23/58)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Frank Sutton (Marco), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Michael Strong (Det. Hal Perleman), Rudy Bond (Lt. Daniels), Richard Kronold (Det. Dutton), Roberts Blossom (Quint), Mary Boylan (Marie), James Little (Sgt. Daniels).
Uncredited Martin Newman (Butcher), Tom Nello (Slug Passer), Wyrley Birch (Burr), Harry Davis (1st Liquor Store Owner), Al Leberfeld (2nd Liquor Store Owner), Grant Code (Reynolds), Tom Ahearne (Van Driver), Helen Waters (Italian Wife), Leslie Woolf (Italian Husband).

(14) “The Explosive Heart” (12/30/58)
Written by Jesse Lasky, Jr.  Directed by William Beaudine.
Guest Stars Barbara Lord (Laurie White Garcia), Noel Leslie (Commodore White), Cliff Carnell (Billy Garcia), Grant Gordon (Dr. Randy Colt), Maggie O’Byrne (May).
Uncredited Eva Gerson (Woman in hall), Scott Moore (Porter), Opal Baker (Nurse on boat), Natalie Priest (Nurse in hospital), Mitchell Lear (Tim Gariss), Loney Lewis (Vendor), Richard Kronold (Dutton), Helen Waters (Woman Vendor).

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Ronnie Haran (left, with Harry Bellaver) was part of the sixties rock scene in Los Angeles after a brief career as a TV ingénue, with leads in episodes of Ben Casey and The Fugitive.  Before all that, she had a tiny role as a teenager in trouble in “The Manhole.”

(15) “The Manhole” (1/6/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Will Kuluva (Papa Strokirch), George Maharis (“Stroke” Strokirch), John Karlen (Chunk), Victor Werber (Leo), James Little (Higgins), Richard Kronold (Dutton), Dirk Kooiman (Skeet), Don Gonzales (Tico), Ronald Maccone (Rider), Raymond A. Singer (Lansing).
Uncredited Lilian Field (Nurse), Ronnie Haran (Ethel), Roger Quinlan (Diamond Merchant), Jim Kenny (2nd Clerk), Anthony Garrett (Walk-on).

(16) “Even Crows Sing Good” (1/13/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Lee Philips (Larry Hine), Diana Douglas (Hilda Wallace), Bernard Fein (Dasher), Robert Weil (Happy), Frieda Altman (Mrs. Hine), James Little (Sgt. Higgins), Joanne Courtney (Nurse), Allan Frank (Citizen), Jean Martin (Young Woman).

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Among the witnesses to an inexplicable mass murder committed by oddball Woodrow Parfrey in “Burst of Passion” was Maria Gambarelli (right), a once-renowned Metropolitan Opera ballerina who did small acting parts in commercials (plus a few Italian films, including Antonioni’s Le Amiche) later in her career.  Also visible in the background here, as the druggist, is Albert Linville, a stage actor who originated the role of Vernon in the Broadway and film versions of Damn Yankees!

(17) “Burst of Passion” (1/20/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Woodrow Parfrey (Andrew Eisert), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Guy Spaul (Reverend Thomason), Dorothy Peterson (Mrs. Crother), Kirk Alyn (Sgt. Muller), Matt Crowley (Commissioner O’Donnell), Richard Kronold (Dutton), John C. Becher (First Man).
Uncredited Shawn Donahue (Debbie Halloran), Ben Yaffee (Mr. Bell), Nina Hansen (Mrs. Harris), Rudd Lowry (Dr. Evans), Bob Smith (Mr. Hansen), Maria Gambarelli (1st Woman), Marin Riley (Weeping Woman), Jesse Jacobs (Milkman), Robert Dryden (Man in TV door), Albert Linville (Druggist).

(18) “Goodbye, My Lady Love” (1/27/59)
[Original title: “And Through Fields of Clover.”]
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  Based on a story by Edmund G. Love & Robert Esson.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars James Barton (Matty), William Edmonson (Chain), Louis Guss (Skull), Guy Raymond (Augie), Pat Malone (Harrison), William Baron (Wiper), Gilbert Mack (Mr. Lombardi), Edd Simon (Recorder).
Uncredited Ed Bruce (Citizen Agent), Ray Parker (D.A.’s Man), Ed Dorsey (Bartender).

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Briefly visible in “The Shield” was Michael Conrad (top) as a firing range instructor, already telling the other cops to be careful out there.  Also in small parts in this episode were Lou Antonio (center, right) as one of wannabe cop Vic Morrow’s pals, and Peyton Place‘s Henry Beckman (above, with John McIntyre and Jack Klugman) as a priest.

(19) “The Shield” (2/3/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Jack Klugman (Officer Greco), Gino Ardito (The Sneaker), Marguerite Lenert (Mrs. Greco), Sheldon Koretz (Husband), Lester Mack (Civil Service Examiner), Walter Kinsella (Markham), Vincent Van Lynn (Ted), Vic Morrow (David Greco).
Uncredited Michael Conrad (Firing Range Instructor), Carl Low (Medical Examiner), Frank Downing (Patrolman), Paul Alberts (Pawnbroker), Edd Simon (Recorder), Lou Antonio (Young Man), Grant Code (Police Doctor), Henry Beckman (Priest).

(20) “One to Get Lost” (2/10/59)
Written by Sam Ross.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Kent Smith (George Blake), Lawrence Tierney (Mike Jensen), Jeanette Nolan (Kate Blake), Norma Crane (Fay), Charles Gaines (Coroner), William Daprato (Janitor), Richard Barrows (Union Representative), Florence Anglim (Blake’s Secretary), Teri Scott (Union Secretary). 
Uncredited Austin Hay (Photographer), Pete Gumeny (Organizer), Tom Geraghty (Starter), Margie King (Woman Passenger), Chris Barbery (Newsboy).

(21) “Hey, Teach!” (2/17/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Robert Morris (Fred “Flip” Weller), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Jose Alcarez (Luis), Jean Muir (Mrs. Klinn), Bernard Kates (Mr. Madison), Anthony Franke (Mark).

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Whoever typed up the end credits for “Ticker Tape” must not have seen the episode beforehand, since he or she omitted the episode’s guest lead while finding room for several bit players.  The actor who starred as the Olympic star feted in the titular parade (top, with Beverly Bentley, soon to be Mrs. Norman Mailer) can be revealed after fifty years as Ed Fury, a bodybuilder about to embark on a brief career as a star of Italian sword-and-sandal movies.  Also uncredited in the episode are Clement Fowler, in the first of many Naked City appearances, as a police operator and Buck Kartalian (bottom, right) as a sanitation worker.

(22) “Ticker Tape” (2/24/59)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  From a story by Cal Berkeley.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Ernest Sarracino (Anton Marshak), Beverly Bentley (Arline), Paul Alberts (Kettleman), George Lambert (Hanson), Adrienne Moore (Mother), Tana Manners (Child).
Uncredited Clement Fowler (Rizzo), Charles Stewart (Petersen), Bob Alvin (Captain Gold), Harold Gaetano (Patrolman #1), Ed Fury (Mason Conway), Kelly McCormick (Sergeant on Horse), Mike Keene (Commissioner), Buck Kartalian (Sanitation Department Foreman), Mitchell Lear (Sgt. Faber), Frank Downing (Patrolman #2), Bob Oran (Jackson).

(23) “Fire Island” (3/3/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Norman Tokar.
Guest Stars Henry Hull (Alky), George Maharis (Lundy), Michael Conrad (Hartog), Guy Raymond (Boz), Will Hussung (Lab Man), Philip Huston (Lee).

(24) “Ten Cent Dreams” (3/10/59)
Written by Sam Ross.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Ross Martin (Carlo Ramirez), Kay Chaqué (Maria Ramirez), Richard X. Slattery (Solid), Al Lewis (Harry Pike), Thelma Pelish (Mrs. Pike).
Uncredited Henry Casso (Runner), Eleanor Eaton (Blowsy Woman), William Conn (Controller), Howard Mann (Comptometer), Alberto Monte (Juan), Mario DeLara (Max), Stanley Simmonds (Guard), Bob Allen (Executive), Arthur Hammer (Teller).

(25) “The Bumper” (3/17/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Matt Crowley (Police Commissioner), Clement D. Fowler (The Bumper), Doyle Brooks (Garage Man), Sam Gray (Thomas Doyle), Al Henderson (Landers), Michael Strong (Det. Nate Perlman), Richard Kronold (Det. Dutton).

(26) “A Running of Bulls” (3/24/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Michael Ansara (Rafael Valente), Michel Ray (Felipe), Felice Orlandi (Luis), Gloria Marlow (Castana).

(27) “Fallen Star” (3/31/59)
Written by Sam Ross.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Robert Alda (Jess Burton), Arnold Merritt (Larry Peters), Rocky Graziano (Lou Curtis), Al Morgenstern (Al McBride), Guy Sorel (Harry Weeks), Bruno Damon (Manager).

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Barbara Wilkin (left), star of The Flesh Eaters (1964), pops up for a few seconds as a runway model in “Beyond Truth.”

(28) “Beyond Truth” (4/7/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Martin Balsam (Arnold Fleischman), Suzanne Storrs (Janet Halloran), Shawn Donahue (Debbie Halloran), Phyllis Hill (Betty Fleischman), Gerald Price (Max Buchwald), Sloan Simpson (Shirley Buchwald), Romo Vincent (Teddy Simpson), Pat Tobin (Commentator).
Uncredited Sam Hanna (Handcuffed Man), Barbara Wilkin (Model), Patsie de Souza (Nervous Woman), Joseph Boley (Nervous Man).

(29) “Baker’s Dozen” (4/14/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by George Sherman.
Guest Stars Joseph Ruskin (“Count” Baker), Richard Jaeckel (Lance), Vincent Gardenia (Crudelli), Carlos Montalban (Frank Baker), Alex Dayna (Stubleman), Al Ward (Clerk), Edd Simon [Ed Siani] (Recorder), Herb Oscar Anderson (Disc Jockey Voice).

(30) “The Rebirth” (4/21/59)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  Story by Sam Ross.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Betty Sinclair (Ruth Barnaby), Maureen Delany (Scrubwoman #1), John Becher (Bank Teller), Anna Appel (Mrs. Levinsky), Rebecca Darke (Woman with baby), Ludwig Donath (Pawnshop Owner), Crahan Denton (Superindentent).

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After a large role in “And a Merry Christmas to the Force on Patrol,” Frank “Sergeant Carter” Sutton (top, with a female extra) returned for an unbilled cameo as a drug dealer in “Four Sweet Corners,” a sort-of back-door pilot for Route 66.  His stooge, misidentified by the Internet Movie Database as the similar-looking Jan Merlin, was played by Rayford Barnes (above, right), seen here with Robert Morris, whose early death may have prevented him from taking the Martin Milner role in Route 66.

(31) “Four Sweet Corners” (4/28/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars George Maharis (Johnny Gary), Robert Morris (Link Ridgeway), Irene Dailey (Amy Gary), Rochelle Oliver (Cora Gary), Mary Perry (Mrs. Gamby), Martha Greenhouse (Evelyn Roth), Patrick J. Kelly (Thin Man).
Uncredited Frank Sutton (Aces), Rayford Barnes (Tough).

(32) “The Sandman” (5/5/59)
Written by Louis Salaman.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Mike Kellin (Ketch), Will Kuluva (Farmer), Fred Irving Lewis (Mr. Moretti), Vincent Van Lynn (Robbins), Gordon G. Peters (Technician).

(33) “Turn of Events” (5/12/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Jan Miner (Elsie Knolf), Melville Ruick (John Harding), Eugenia Rawls (Mrs. Harding), Kay Doubleday (Laura Harding), Irene Cowan (Mrs. Miles).

(34) “A Little of the Action” (5/19/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars James Barton (Bo Giles), Johnny Seven (Al), Simon Oakland (Duke), Jan Norris (Doris Giles), Ben Yaffee (Mr. Watkins), Jonathan Gilmore (Jimmy).

(35) “The Bloodhounds” (5/26/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Phyllis Hill (Jane Whitmore), Byron Sanders (Charles Whitmore), Rudy Bond (Lt. Springer), Janice Manzo (Lynn Whitmore), Richard Kronold (Det. Dutton), James Little (Sgt. Higgins), Louis Nye (Drunk).

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What was it about shooting range officers?  In “The Scorpion Sting,” it’s the wonderful Clifton James (right, with Nehemiah Persoff) who did a small turn in that function.

(36) “The Scorpion Sting” (6/2/59)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  Based on a story by Alfred Bester.  Directed by John Brahm.
Guest Stars Nehemiah Persoff (Barney Peters), Tamara Daykarhanova (Mrs. Petraloff), Diana Douglas (Meg Peters), William Meigs (Matty Dixon), Marvin Kline (Charley Schwartz).
Uncredited Clifton James (Shooting Range Officer).

(37) “Saw My Baby There” (6/9/59)
Written by L. I. [Louis] Salaman.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Harold J. Stone (Simon Becker), Mark Rydell (Ralph Harris), Rochelle Oliver (Katie Harris), Arny Freeman (Klutz), Robert Dryden (Morgue Attendant), Angelo Pirozzi (Harry).

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Remade as the hour-long episode “Five Cranks For Winter … Ten Cranks For Spring,” “The Canvas Bullet” featured Harry Guardino and Diane Ladd as a punchy boxer and his wife (played by Robert Duvall and Shirley Knight in the remake).  Also present were William Edmonson (top, left, with the ubiquitous Clement Fowler), an African-American actor who played in Oscar Micheaux’s films and made an impression in two Twilight Zones, as a cut man; the blacklisted character actor Gilbert Green (center, right) as manager to boxer Rocky Graziano; and Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis (above, center) as a bookie.  And yes, that’s Vincent Gardenia on the right in the last image.  Could this be the only time those two sharp-featured comedic actors shared a frame?

(38) “The Canvas Bullet” (6/16/59)
Teleplay by Stirling Silliphant.  From a story by Ed Lacy.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Stars Harry Guardino (Johnny Mills), Diane Ladd (Kathie Mills), Clement Fowler (Gus Slack), House Jameson (Doc Nearing), Vincent Gardenia (Musso), Rocky Graziano (Eddie Gibbs). 
Uncredited Al Lewis (Bookie), William Edmonson (Cut Man), Gilbert Green (Gibbs’ Manager), James Little (Sgt. Higgins).

(39) “A Wood of Thorns” (6/23/59)
Written by Stirling Silliphant.  Directed by Stuart Rosenberg.
Guest Star Cara Williams (Lois Heller).

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He only played one decent-sized role in a movie, but critic Jonathan Rosenbaum called that performance “unforgettable.”  In John Cassavetes’s sophomore film, Too Late Blues, the villain, a weaselly musician’s agent named Benny Flowers, is played by a casting director and fledgling producer named Everett Chambers.  Crewcut, compact, and contained, Chambers is truly terrifying as a cunning manipulator of fragile egos who seems to be just barely in control of a nearly psychopathic rage.

But Chambers himself thought Too Late Blues was “self-indulgent,” and his own independent films as director (a short, The Kiss, and two features, Run Across the River and The Lollipop Cover) received little attention.  The cinema’s loss was television’s gain, as Chambers became the primary non-writing producer of a succession of smart, well-made series: Johnny Staccato, Target: The Corrupters, The Lloyd Bridges Show, Peyton Place, and Columbo, not to mention an infamous unsold pilot (Calhoun: County Agent, the subject of writer Merle Miller’s mocking, juicy book Only You, Dick Daring) and a number of worthy made-for-television movies.

In a 2005 telephone interview, Chambers shared some candid and often very funny memories from his four-year stint as the producer of Peyton Place.

Tell me about your transition from in front of the camera to behind it.

I started first as an actor in New York in live television, and then I worked on Broadway, Off-Broadway.  I wanted to be a director; I didn’t want to be an actor.  But when I got out of drama school I looked like I was twelve years old, and I played twelve years old until I was about twenty-two.  Eventually I went to work as a casting director, first as an assistant to Fred Coe’s casting director on Philco Playhouse [and] Mister Peepers.  I worked there with Paddy Chayefsky and Delbert Mann and Arthur Penn and Tad Mosel – all these people who were working on Philco Playhouse.  Fred Coe was the premiere live television producer at the time.

I came out from New York.  John Cassavetes did that, brought me out to produce Johnny Staccato.  Forced me onto Revue/MCA, and they did it.  I stayed with that for the year, and then I stayed in California and got a divorce.  Why not?  I did other things, and then Paul Monash called me a couple of times.  He called me before Felix Feist [the second producer of Peyton Place], and didn’t hire me, and then when Feist died, he did.

What you did on Peyton Place, relative to Paul Monash and the other members of the production staff?

First of all, I’m doing all of the casting, all the hiring of the actors.  Most of the time we had the same revolving directors, but from time to time I would change them.  I cut all of the pictures with the editors, and we did three of them a week most of the time.  When we cut to [broadcasting] two a week, I still convinced them to shoot three, so that we could all get some time off.

Did you institute any major changes when you first came in on the show?

Well, there were some rocky things.  The sound quality of the show wasn’t very good.  It was cut, I think, very slow.  The style in which it was shot, which was a lot of camera movement up and down and sideways, and a lot of dolly shots and masters of maybe five, six, seven, eight, ten pages.  On the stages at Fox, which were very old, that was noisy.  They put up with it by bringing the people back and having them loop the lines, which to me was very expensive.  So I integrated new carpets on all the sets to kill the sound.  And started using radio mics, which they hadn’t used before, and instituted a lot of lighter weight modern equipment, because we were all using this antiquated equipment that was there as part of the facilities of Twentieth Century-Fox.  They didn’t want to buy new lighting equipment and stuff, but eventually we did.  Then we went from black and white to color, and we segued.  Every week, as we were getting to know when we were going to broadcast in color, I would change three or four sets, until we had them all in color.  All of that was part of my responsibility.  

Paul was also making movies and making a couple of other pilots and shows.  That’s why eventually, when [writing producer] Dick DeRoy left and [story editor] Del Reisman moved up, instead of bringing somebody in he said, “You do it.”  So I went down and I plotted it out with them and worked on that.  I didn’t do any of the writing; I just plotted.

When you came in, was there a sense that Mia Farrow was the breakout star of the show?

Mia was probably the most popular one on the show, next to then Ryan [O’Neal] and then Rita, who was played by Pat Morrow, and then the other guy, the brother [Christopher Connelly].  Wherever they would go, they were mobbed.

Did the network, or Monash, direct you to place a greater emphasis on the younger characters?

No.

Who were some of the actors you cast personally in the show?

Well, I was watching The Long Hot Summer when I saw this gorgeous Lana Wood.  We had a Christmas party, and she was dancing, and holy shit, look at that!  So I manipulated them getting a part for her.  I can’t remember how that all happened, but I got her in there.  Then there was also this – Myrna Fahey, I thought she was gorgeous.  I thought she looked like Elizabeth Taylor.  I got her in there in a part, and I used her a few times later.  I thought both of them would be bigger than they were.  Stephen Oliver, I found in an interview.  I brought in Leigh Taylor-Young.  I found her.  Then she and Ryan started messing around, and he knocked her up.  He was married to Joanna Moore.  That was a problem to work out.  When Mia left, we had a number of different women come in to kind of replace [her]: Joyce Jillson, Tippy Walker.  Leigh Taylor-Young was the most interesting one.

Leslie Nielsen came in for a while and played a double part.  Susan Oliver came in.  I don’t know if you know who Don Gordon [the star and co-writer of Chambers's 1965 film The Lollipop Cover] is, but he came in for a while.  Then of course Lee Grant, and there was John Kellogg.  He was a character actor, a bad guy from the thirties and forties.  Dan Duryea, we brought in for a while.  Generally, we didn’t lock them in.  Gena Rowlands I had to lock in, because she only wanted to work until so-and-so, and then I said, “Okay, you’ll just do this amount of episodes and then out.”  Some of them were just [bit players] – Richard Dreyfuss used to play the newspaper boy!  There was a black policeman, Sergeant Walker: Morris Buchanan.  And then there was a guy that ran the lobster thing on the pier, Frankie London.

Ah, now I’m seeing a pattern – not just Gena Rowlands but Buchanan and London were all actors who had worked often with Cassavetes, as you had.

Yeah, Frank was one of John’s.  He was in Too Late Blues, as I was.  

To what extent did Paul Monash give you a free hand in producing Peyton Place?

Generally, as he had confidence in me, after about six months, then he just let me alone.  You didn’t need to run any casting [by him], except major people like Gena or when Susan Oliver came in.  [For those roles] I would tell him who I would like.

Did you have much to do with the network?

No, I did not have much to do with the network.  At that time the guy responsible for us was Tony Barr.  I talked to him every week.  He would want to know what’s going on – who’s this, what’s that.  And we would clear things with him.  We were so much in advance – we were ten weeks, probably, filmed in advance.  So that means our material was even more weeks [ahead] than that.  So they knew where we were going way ahead of airtime.  If there was any red flags, we would get them early.  But it was too successful to have much problem.  In those days, there weren’t as many people muddling in everything.  I’ve been on flops where they’d beat your head in every day.  On Johnny Staccato, Lew Wasserman wanted a forty share.  We couldn’t get there, so he was on my neck all the time.

Whereas on Peyton Place….

It was already in there!  I mean, in the summertime, we were one, two, and three [in the ratings].  So you don’t mess around with success too much.  Now, they meddle in everything, even if you’re successful.

Was it a good experience for you?

It was terrific!  From my background, it wasn’t the most exciting kind of drama.  About the sixth or seventh month of working on the show, I came out of the dailies one day and say, “Well, that was a pretty good show.  That was pretty good stuff I saw there today.”  I says, “Uh-oh.  I’m in trouble!”  I mean, I had just come from Fred Coe, with Paddy Chayefsky and Delbert Mann.  You have a sense of value and quality that’s a little different.  But you learn to adjust: hey, wait a minute, it’s a soap opera.  It’s television.  You do the best you can.  And that I did, then, for the rest of my career.  I would do the best I could with what I had.

Tell me about how the writing staff functioned.

They had a deal with the Writers Guild that was complicated.  They had about nine writers, right?  How did they get credit?  So what they did is that we would plot these things out, and Nina [Laemmle] would alternate with Del [Reisman], writing up the plot.  Nina would do one act and Del would do the other act.  Then they would give that outline to a writer, whoever it was.  They would write it.  Doesn’t mean that they got the credit on that episode.  Just everybody got credits, but they didn’t always write what was there.  Sometimes somebody’s name would be on something that somebody else wrote.  But I would know who wrote what.  And I was most impressed by – Carol Sobieski was very good, but Lee [Lionel E.] Siegel was the best of all of them.

What do you remember about Peyton Place’s directors?

Ted Post was my first directing teacher, back in New York.  He and Walter Doniger had the same technique.  Walter was much more rigid than Ted.  Ted was the kind of director, no matter what it was, you said, “We’ve got this thing we’ve got to shoot here, these twelve pages over here, Teddy….”

“Well, I haven’t read ’em….”

“Well, it starts over here….”

“Okay, thank you!”  And he just goes and does it.  He could do anything.

I really admired the long takes and elaborate compositions in Doniger’s episodes.

Well, that wasn’t Walter’s style.  It was the style of the show.  Teddy Post shot that way.  It was actually a live television look.  If you went back to the soaps and things of live television, they had a lot of movement in a single camera.  And that became part of the style, mixed, of course, with the film technique.  So we had a lot of movement.  Sometimes 23 or 24 or 25 moves in one scene.  They would be in a two-shot, move to a close-up, move to an over-the-shoulder.  Not the actors, the camera is doing it.

I’m getting the sense that you were not a big admirer of Walter Doniger.

Walter knew nothing about acting.  He would say to the actors one thing: “Don’t do anything!  Don’t do anything!  Don’t feel anything, don’t do anything.”  That was his direction.  Teddy was more Method-oriented.

I have a Walter Doniger story you may not like, but….  Walter was a very rigid control freak.  I had talked Gena Rowlands into coming in to play a part for ninety episodes.  She would come in in episode so-and-so and ninety episodes later she would leave, because she was [at] the beginning of a movie career.  But I happened to know John needed the money to finish one of his pictures [Faces, 1968].  I knew her from New York, before, with John.

Anyway, her first day happens to be with Walter Doniger.  Now, I have had my problems with Walter Doniger from time to time, when I would ask him to do something specifically and he wouldn’t do it.  It would annoy me, but I wouldn’t come down on him.  I would get annoyed and the next time something would happen I would bring it up, but he would do what he wanted to do when he wanted to do it.  It wasn’t that big a deal, but this became a big deal.  

Gena’s first day.  Now she’s a friend of mine, right?  It’s about a six, seven, eight-page scene.  So they start shooting it.  I’m not there; I’m in the office.  Somewhere, Gena goes up.  Now, she wasn’t used to doing seven or eight page masters.  She was used to doing a piece of a master and then maybe some coverage, then another piece of a master.  But she wasn’t used to doing seven, eight, nine moves, ten moves, fifteen.  It was a whole new technique and she was just starting, right?  So she did it and stopped.  Then he started all over again.  And then did it again, stopped.  Maybe they did that three or four times, and then finally she said, “Couldn’t you just print and pick up?”

He said, “Who’s the director, you or me?”  

She says, “Oh, okay.”  She said, “Excuse me, I have to go to my dressing room.”  

She went to her dressing room and called me.  Now, Gena is a lady.  She is the daughter of a state senator.  Her mother is elegant.  You don’t swear in front of Gena, right?  She got on the phone and she said, “Everett, I’ve got to talk to you right now about this prick, Walter Doniger.”

Oh.

She said, “I’ll be in my dressing room.  Come.  And my agent is coming, and my press agent is coming.”

So I went in to Paul and I said, “Paul, we’ve got a small problem.”  

He said, “Go down and talk to her.”  

So eventually what happened is that I went up to the set and said, “Walter, you’ve got to go down there and eat some crow.  Because she’s going home.”  I think we called him up to the office, as I recall, because Walter and Paul and I were [all talking].  

So I took him down to Gena and took her into the dressing room, and by then her agent, Jack Gilardi, had arrived.  They went in, and [Gilardi] and I went out to the end of the corridor and sat down on the steps and we heard Gena ream … his … ass.  “You son of a bitch, you no-good fuck, you….”  [Laughs]  She really worked him over the coals.  Then, when that was done, he ate some crow, and she went back on the set and finished.  

But Walter Doniger and I didn’t cut it from then on, and I replaced him.  

Really?  Is it accurate to say that you fired him?

When you replace somebody that’s been with a show for about three years, I would think so.

When I interviewed him, Doniger made it sound like he’d left of his own volition.

No, he did not.  When his option or whatever it was came up, I told Paul I don’t want to work with him any more.  Because that was just one incident on top of these other little ones.

One other thing about Walter Doniger: every day he sent his dailies to Dick Zanuck’s screening room, hoping that Zanuck would like the dailies and give him a movie.

Some of the other actors on the show found Walter charming, though.

Well, he could be that too.  It’s just that when you’re a control freak, and I’m a control freak, something’s gotta give.  Who’s gonna run the show, is what that comes down to.  And it was kind of a battle from time to time about who was.  A dear friend of mine is Jeffrey Hayden, and we had the same problem.  It was about wardrobe with Barbara Parkins.  We had decided what we wanted her to wear and he changed it.  I had it [with Hayden] on The Lloyd Bridges Show, also; it was something to do with [guest star] Diane Baker.

So you hired Jeff Hayden after having worked with him on that series.

I did indeed.  John Newland was the third director when I came on, and I looked at a couple of his shows and I thought they were shitty.  I knew John, also, from New York, so I went down on the set and I said, “John, could you and I have a conversation please?” 

He says, “This is all crap!  The show is crap!  Everything about it is crap!  Don’t talk to me about it, it’s crap.”  

“John, that’s a bad attitude.  I want your best.  If you can’t do your best, you can’t do it.”  

He said, “Then I don’t do it!”  

So he left and Jeff came in.

I’ve talked to some talented people from Peyton Place (like Franklin Barton, one of the original writers) who looked down on it.  They just couldn’t wrap their minds around doing a soap opera.

All television is soap opera.  We’ve tried to make it look like something else, but it isn’t.

Who were you closest to among the cast?

Well, I hung out a lot with Ryan.  And there was a guy, William Allyn, who was the associate producer.  He and I knew each other; he was an actor in New York.  He and I and Ryan would go to lunch a lot.  And Ryan is very funny.  We really had a lot of laughs with him.  After he got out and started making movies, I ran into him once and it was like he didn’t know me.

Were there others among the actors with whom you didn’t get along?

I did have some run-ins with Barbara Parkins.  Her agent, and I can’t think of his name now, they were very pissy.  She and Lee Grant were both nominated for an Emmy, and the Emmy committee called and said, “Would you pick a film for them to show to the Actors’ [Branch], so they could vote for them.”  You know, you send material over, the actors look at the material, and then they vote.  So I picked an episode that both of them had real good stuff in.  Then one day I get a call from her agent and he said, “We want to sit down with Barbara and pick out material.”  

I said, “Well, you can’t, because it’s gone.  It was three weeks ago they asked for it.”

“What do you mean, they asked for it?”

“Well, they asked for it.  I sent the material.”  

Well, she had a fit.  She didn’t speak to me until I was working on Columbo, and she was over there on some movie of the week or something.

She really didn’t speak to you again during the entire run of Peyton Place?

She didn’t speak to me for at least two years.  Well, I directed some [episodes], so she had to talk to me at that time.

One other thing was: Dorothy Malone was never on time.  Never.  Never did her hair.  She would come in and not have her roots done, and we’d have to stop and fix her roots and do her hair.  And one of the stand-ins was her spy.  If she had an eight o’clock call, or a ten o’clock call, he would see where they were and call her: “Don’t worry, they’re not going to get to you till eleven.”  And so she wouldn’t come in.  And then she got sick and I replaced her for a while with Lola Albright, and Mr. Peyton got sick, George Macready, and I replaced him for a while with Wilfrid Hyde-White.

Macready was terrific in that part.

Yeah, he was terrific.  And he was never one of my favorite actors, but I really liked him [on Peyton Place].

Peyton Place went through some interesting changes during its last year on the air.

We were [on] during the Vietnam War, but we were in limbo, never-never-land, in terms of reality.  The war was never spoken of.  And in the fifth year, [the ratings] may have been weakening a little bit, so Paul and I had a meeting and decided to get into something more contemporary.  He came back and wanted to introduce a black family.  I said, “Okay, if we do that, are we going to introduce the war, are we going to introduce rock and roll, something more contemporary with the kids?”

“Yes.”  

So we started to make a transition.  Paul put out a press release about the black family coming in, with a son who’s in love with a white girl.  Hate mail came.  This is 1968, right?  Hate mail.  One letter I got said that if you have this black boy with this white girl, I will nail you up to my garage door.  And I was very uncomfortable with that myself.  I said to Paul, “Let us get a black sociologist or psychologist, or somebody, to advise us.”  Because we were totally lily-white.  Everybody on the show was lily-white.  We cast Ruby Dee and Percy Rodriguez and Glynn Turman and another girl [Judy Pace].

Did you keep the interracial relationship angle?

Absolutely not.  First of all, I knew Ruby Dee and her husband [Ossie Davis] from New York, and when she got the job both of them came out and wanted to talk about where we were going.  Both of them were very oriented in not making it look bad, not making the black family look ridiculous.  It was ridiculous enough that we made him a brain surgeon, [of] which there were only nine in the United States!  Nine black neurosurgeons at the time.  We had an interview with one of them, who came to talk to us.  Anyway, eventually, I was able to stop the black-white [interracial romance] thing, bring in a doctor of psychology, get a couple of black writers.  We had rap sessions every week with the writers about what could be done with the black family to keep it from being distasteful and [depicted as] white fantasies, which is what it would have been if we’d have continued it without that kind of help.

It seems like the look of the show got a little more contemporary — more “mod,” so to speak — in the final year.

Yes, it did.  We put in a disco.  We had a rock and roll band in the disco, called The Pillory.  Jerry Moss at A&M Records was a friend of mine, so I said, “Can you put together a group for me?”  So he sent over a bunch of groups and we auditioned them.  One of them was The Carpenters.  And I said no, I cannot see a rock and roll band with a female drummer.  Needless to say….  Anyway, we put together an ad hoc band and they would do all the music, and then we’d just send it over and do it to playback.

Did you get to know Paul Monash well personally?

Yeah, sure.  I mean, I spent four years with him.  He was a strange, mercurial man.  He was very ego-oriented.  When I came in there, I was working at the time at a place called International Productions, with Robert Brandt, who was Janet Leigh’s husband.  When I left, he just dissolved the company.  We had a PR firm working with us, and I said, “Well, we have this commitment and I’ll take it with me.”  

I called Paul, because I knew he was PR-oriented.  You always saw his name [in the press] about whatever happened on Peyton Place.  He got his name there first.  I said, “Is it all right if I use [a publicist]?”  

He says, “It’s okay.  I’ve gotten all the publicity I need.”  

Right?  And then when he starts seeing my name casting so-and-so, and my name doing this, he got pissed.  In fact, they did a special with him moderating it about Peyton Place.  He never mentioned anybody but him.  Not one of the directors.  Not one of the producers.  Nothing.  It was all him.  So, knowing that, and having worked with Aaron Spelling, who was the same kind of PR-oriented person, you don’t infringe.  You just stay cool.

Did you think Monash was talented?

Oh, he was the best writer on the show.  The best.  He also was a good director.  He did one episode.  He would rewrite stuff, and write stuff, yeah.  He never took any credit for it.  He would just do it.  Once in a while they would get stuck and he would do something.

Someone else who worked for him intimated that Monash would avail himself of the casting couch.

Oh, he was fucking everything that walked.  Everything.  Truck drivers, if they were female – anything.  He was just terrible.  One of my friends I got on there as a secretary, and they used our beach house once.  She said, “He’s like a rabbit.”  You know, Fox has another gate on the west side of the lot.  It was a temporary gate, but mostly it was a set.  He had an apartment over there, right across the street.

I guess that wasn’t uncommon at that time.

I guess, but it was like a cliche.  He was, in his own way, very insecure.  He had, I believe, a very dominant father, who never gave him any recognition.  He was a little driven by that.  And he was married to this one woman when we were doing that show, then later he married a writer, Merrit Malloy, who had one hand.  Lee Philips, who was in the original Peyton Place [movie], was also a buddy of mine; I had brought him in in the later years as one of the directors.  Then Paul was making movies at CBS, and he gave Merrit some of these movies to write or something, and then Lee became one of the directors.  Lee and Merrit became an item, and Lee’s wife found out and she threw him out.  They got a divorce.  He came and stayed with me, because I was single at the time.  It was a mess.  And Paul found about it – he was chasing all over town looking for Lee Philips.

I think the photography on Peyton Place is gorgeous, and I neglected to ask you about the cinematographer, Robert Hauser.

Yeah, he was a wonderful cameraman.  Bill Cronjager was the operator.  After Bob Hauser left, I made him the cameraman.  And he worked with me also on Columbo, and Partners in Crime.  We shot it in San Francisco, with Loni Anderson and Lynda Carter.  I used to call the show Cagney and Cleavage.  It was a terrible show.

It seems like people of your generation had fewer opportunities to do meaningful work in the seventies and eighties than in the years before.

It started to flatten out a bit.  It got so controlled by the networks that I quit and moved back to New York in 1980, for four years.  I couldn’t take one more meeting with one more twenty-four year-old Wharton School of Business executive telling me how you do drama.  Now it’s worse.

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Above: Everett Chambers in Too Late Blues (1961).

When I was in high school, I stumbled across Picket Fences. It became the first adult, contemporary television series to stoke my imagination in the same way that older shows like The Twilight Zone and The Fugitive had already been doing for some time.

Twenty years later, I got the chance to write about the career of David E. Kelley, the creator of Picket Fences, for The A.V. Club. Even though his career has sputtered during the past decade or so, I’m still a big fan of his best work, and I hope I’ve done justice to it.

I know that some of you have followed me to Twitter, but the only reader who’s become a regular thorn in my side over there is Marty McKee, author of the estimable Johnny LaRue’s Crane Shot blog. Recently – after a quibble over whether another TV critic could still be taken seriously after he admitted he’d never seen The Bob Newhart Show – Marty asked me what major television series I’d never seen.

Now that’s a question that I’ve always loved asking other critics, in part because they hate it. No professional ever really seems eager to admit to the gaps in their knowledge. Especially nowadays, on the internet, any show of weakness is going to get you reamed. One of my college friends, now a respected film critic, was always suspiciously noncommittal whenever I inquired about which Hitchcock films he had under his belt. I also remember an “Ask the Critic” column (apparently no longer online) in which Manohla Dargis, then a lead film critic for the Los Angeles Times, was asked the dreaded question. Reluctantly, she agreed only to fess up to some examples from a single national cinema — Italian — and so we learned that she’d never gotten around to I Vitelloni.

Me, on the other hand, I’m an open book. Well, not really. But Marty asked for five TV shows I’ve never seen at all (apart from a stray clip here or there), and I figure I can admit to that many without completely decimating my credibility. So here goes. Never seen a single episode of any of these — not for lack of interest, just for lack of hours in the day.

1. Maude
2. Lou Grant
3. Taxi
4. thirtysomething
5. Homicide

I can think of a handful of others, but Marty asked for five so that’s all I’m giving up. Now it’s your turn. For all of you fellow expert-level TV maniacs, get your skeletons out of the closet: What are you embarrassed to admit you’ve never seen?

Ever since I discovered it ten years ago, one of the series I’ve most wanted to write about in a definitive way is Peyton Place.  Most of the truly canonical television series have been identified, if not universally agreed upon, by now.  I think Peyton Place may be the one exception – the sole long-running American show that belongs in the pantheon but has generally been excluded.  To my great delight, The A.V. Club has given me the opportunity to make a case for its excellence.

I’ve also written about Peyton Place in a less comprehensive way in a few other places.  After you read the A.V. Club piece, you may want to check out (or revisit) my interviews with writer-producer Richard DeRoy and actor Tim O’Connor, my obituary for director Walter Doniger, and my thoughts on James Rosin’s book about the series.

In addition to the four people named in the preceding paragraph, I also want to acknowledge a number of others who spoke to me about Peyton Place over the years: the late Franklin Barton; the late Gerry Day; the late Harold Gast; Lee Grant; Jeffrey Hayden; Patricia Morrow; Ed Nelson; Peggy (Shaw) O’Shea; the late William Self; and Jack Senter.  In particular, I’m grateful to the late Del Reisman, who spent many patient hours discussing this and other shows with me over the course of several years, and to Sonya Roberts, an off-the-record friend of long standing who finally and graciously consented to become a source for this piece.

As was the case with Ben Casey, there will be a few sidebars here during the next few weeks to showcase some of the research that didn’t make it into the A.V. Club essay.

(A final postscript: I spent some time trying unsuccessfully to locate the three African American writers who briefly joined Peyton Place‘s writing staff in 1968. Gene Boland, Sam Washington, and Wharton Jones, if you happen to come across this post, I’d love to interview you.)

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