Ralph’s Trek

November 20, 2009

Just in case you were wondering, the invaluable, exhaustive series of Italian neorealist films currently playing at New York’s Lincoln Center is the primary culprit behind the dearth of posts here lately.  Unfortunately, the drought may continue until after Thanksgiving.  A few long pieces have encountered last-minute delays, but I’m confident that I’ll get those untangled and have plenty of new content to offer in December.

In the meantime, if you’re starved for a classic TV fix, allow me to point you in the direction of Ralph’s Trek.  That may sound like a trip to the supermarket.  But Ralph is actually Ralph Senensky, one of the top episodic television directors working between the early sixties and the late eighties, and his “trek” is a lovingly crafted new blog that chronicles his adventures in Hollywood, one episode at a time.

Ralph has been a personal friend for over a decade.  He is also the rarest of treasures for a journalist: an impeccable source with an eye for detail and an encyclopedic memory.  There’s really no way I can exaggerate the extent of Ralph’s recall; out of hundreds of interviews with his contemporaries, I’ve only spoken with one other person who could come close to matching the depth of his recollections.  The first time I interviewed Ralph, it was by phone for a 1998 story about Arrest and Trial.  Ralph began an anecdote by telling me the exact date, in May of 1963, on which a particular scene from one of his episodes was filmed.  Usually I’m skeptical about details that specific when they emerge in the context of an oral history.  But, as it happened, I had copies of Arrest and Trial’s daily production reports piled on my desk that afternoon.  I thumbed through them as we were talking and, of course, Ralph had the date right.  That taught me to never question the factual accuracy of anything Ralph told me, unless I had overwhelmingly contradictory evidence at hand.

Ralph is now eighty-six years old and yet for the last couple of months he’s been outpacing me in his blog output by a sizeable margin.  Ralph’s Trek now contains a solid afternoon’s reading about series including Dr. Kildare, Route 66, Breaking Point, The Twilight Zone, 12 O’Clock High, and The Waltons, plus clips and even the occasional document from Ralph’s archives.  Enjoy.


3 Responses to “Ralph’s Trek”

  1. detectiverom Says:

    During the late 60’s and early 70’s Ralph Senensky directed several episodes of the series “Insight.” To those who forgot, or nevev viewed the series, it was produced by the Paulist Fathers and focused on many social aspects of the day.

    The series featured an array of up and coming, and well known, stars of the day. One episode directed by Mr. Senensky, which featured Robert Redford, was one of the best shows I have ever viewed in my life. I saw it in sophomore yearof high school and to this day I still remember it well.

    Another episode he directed involved a group of well, ,losers, playing poker. If memory serves me correctly it featured Billy Bathy (sp?).

  2. Thanks for the compliment but I never directed Robert Redford. The closest I came to doing that you can find out about by going to my blog (listed above) and reading the posting on THE BULL ROARER. I did direct 15 other INSIGHTS with a slew of Hollywood stars including Jane Wyman, GeneRaymond, Richard Jaeckel, Martin Sheen, Jack Albertson, Barbara Hershey, Elisha Cook.

    Billy Barty was in the episode OLD KING COLE.

    The episode about poker was THE POKER GAME. It didn’t have Billy in it but it did have Bill Bixby, Beau Bridges, Ed Asner, Don Dubbins, Jeffrey Hunter. At our first reading one of the actors, I forget which one , looked around and said ,”There’s not another show on television that could afford this cast.”

    And aren’t you one of my “FOLLOWERS”? If you are on my listing, you are detectivetom

  3. detectiverom Says:

    Thats me. I have tried to post on your site through a WordPpress ID, but I keep get kicked off.

    Sorry for the mix-up, on the episodes and I do not know how i got Billy Barty into that poker game LOLLOL.

    Throught the years I have tried to locate DVDs or other videos of “Insight” to no success. The Paulist Fathers have a limited number for sale, but none which were my favorites.

    Anyways, the point was “Insight” was a great program and even after all these years I remember it well. I shall read you post The Bull Roarer.


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