Tuesday, January 18, 2005


Three actors passed away in the last two weeks that made their mark in Toobworld......

First, comic Gene Baylos died at the age of 98. He was known at the Friar's Club as the comic's comic, but was never able to translate that to major success or recognition from the public.

He appeared in a few movies and on several TV variety shows of the sixties, but he is remembered here for being one of the first people to whom I applied the "By Any Other Name" theory.

In 1961 and 1963, Baylos played "Backdoor" Benny Harper on 'Car 54, Where Are You?'. He was a bookie and an ex-con and never seemed to remain on the straight and narrow. On his last appearance on the sitcom, Toody and Muldoon tried to help Benny by setting him up with a candy store. But he soon lapsed into old habits and used the place as a front for illicit activities.

In 1965, Gene Baylos made an appearance on 'The Dick Van Dyke Show' as the hobo who found the script for the next week's episode of 'The Alan Brady Show' at Grand Central Terminal. But instead of returning it for a small reward, he decided to hold it for ransom in exchange for 2500 dollars.

The character had no name; he's just referred to as "The First Hobo" or as "The Bum".

When I was first poring over episode guides in search of such mundane trivialities, it occurred to me that there was nothing really preventing me from saying both the Bum and Benny the Bookie were the same character.

It's not hard to believe that in 1963, Benny Harper was sent back to prison for a year or so because of his criminal activities at the candy store. And after a short sentence, he might have been returned to the outside world where he soon fell on hard times and had to live on the street.

I made such a notation in my first Tubeworld notebook and didn't do anything else with it at the time. But I did go on to apply that same kind of thinking to other shows in which I wanted to make connections, most notably with characters played by Michael Dunn so that in actuality they ALL were Dr. Miguelito Loveless.

For those movie fans who are rabid in their love for the silver screen, "Citizen Kane" is the film which reduces them to the fervor of Trekkies. Ruth Warrick was the last surviving member of the main cast (she played Emily Norton, the President's niece and Kane's first wife) and she passed away Saturday at the age of 88.

But as Phoebe English Tyler Wallingford Matthews Wallingford on 'All My Children', Ruth Warrick gained her greatest acclaim and renown from TV fans. She was with the show from the very beginning in 1970 and was still relatively active with it. (Only two weeks ago, she taped a special appearance for the show's upcoming anniversary.)

She also crossed over and took the character to 'Loving' for a time.

Now, if it turned out that she had any scenes with characters from either 'One Life To Live' or 'General Hospital' who might have appeared on either of her two soap operas, then I'd say Phoebe Tyler Wallinford deserves an eventual place of honor in the Crossover Hall of Fame. But we'll see.

She also played Hannah Cord, the Mrs. Danvers-like housekeeper for Martin on 'Peyton Place'. She returned to the role in the 1985 TV movie reunion. Again, she falls short of the minimum requirements for entry into the Hall, but she does have a distinction of playing two different roles in two different sets of shows.

So who knows? Maybe one day she'll be inducted in the birthday honors.....

A classic beauty from Hollywood's Golden Age, Ms. Mayo passed away at the age of 84. She starred in one of my favorite Bob Hope flicks, "The Princess And The Pirate" - now THERE'S a movie that would make a fine B'way musical!

On the soap opera 'Santa Barbara', she played a character named "Peaches DeLight". Man, how can you resist a great name like that? For me, that's right up there with "Pinky Likewise" from an episode of 'Burke's Law'.

But she made her mark in the framework of Toobworld more for playing herself. She did so twice in fictional settings: once on 'The Naked Truth' and then a few years earlier in 'Remington Steele'.

Teaming with Lloyd Nolan and Dorothy Lamour, who were also playing themselves, Ms. Mayo hired Remington and Laura to find out who was threatening them with bizarre fan mail. And when Nora Wilde's ex-husband announced that he was getting remarried, Ms. Mayo somehow got involved because Nora was convinced she had seen the future bride's face before.....

Thanks to her membership in the League of Themselves, 'Remington Steele' thus has a firm connection to the TV Universe. ('The Naked Truth' had plenty of connections to lock them both in.)

On a technicality, she also appeared as herself on the forerunner of 'The Ed Sullivan Show' - 'The Toast Of The Town'. More than likely she would have been one of those celebs who would be sitting in the audience and saluted by Ed from the stage.

Still, as 'The Ed Sullivan Show' served as an inspiration for many a plot point or joke in plenty of sixties sitcoms, I think the original should then be included as a legit thread in the Toobworld fabric.

They all played their parts on the world's stage, and now that they have made their exits, we salute them.

Be seeing you.


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