Tuesday, April 8, 2008

TVXOHOF APRIL '08: JOSE, CAN YOU SEE?

In our hardened society, the sweetly gentle and innocent must look like fools. Time and again, they are always proven to be wiser. And so it is that it's a wise fool whom we induct this month into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. He has his requisite three shows in Earth Prime-Time to his credit, but he has made his mark in so many of the alternate dimensions as well - the Tooniverse, Skitlandia, the Cineverse, and even in a fictional universe born from the creative spark of long-playing records.....

His name... Jose Jimenez.

Here are the basic facts about Bill Dana's most famous and enduring character from Wikipedia:

José Jiménez was a fictional character created and performed by comedian Bill Dana on the Steve Allen Show in 1959 and who became increasingly popular during the 1960s. This character introduced himself with the memorable line: "My name...José Jiménez".
During the course of his José Jiménez acts, Bill Dana (who is of Hungarian-Jewish ancestry unlike the Hispanic character he played) took his character through various roles including elevator operator, sailor, and submariner until settling into the most famous occupation that José would hold: astronaut.

Perhaps surprisingly, the character of José Jiménez caught on amongst the seven Mercury astronauts and Dana became good friends with the astronauts. "Okay, José, you're on your way!" Deke Slayton quipped as Alan Shepard's famous first flight launched, in reference to the astronaut parody.

For his role as José the Astronaut, Dana was officially made an honorary Mercury astronaut.

As time passed, Dana realized that such ethnic humor by a person not of that ethnic group was becoming offensive. In 1970 he announced that he would no longer affect the José Jiménez character. In 1997 Dana received an image award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Jose Jimenez proved to be very popular in many sketch comedy shows of the late fifties, early sixties - 'The Steve Allen Show', 'The Spike Jones Show' and 'Hollywood Palace', among others. And because of that, Jose Jimenez is a resident of the Toobworld off-shoot, "Skitlandia". He also appeared in a cartoon version and so he also resides in the Tooniverse as well. And on a comedy album by Joey Forman (as the Mashuganishi Yogi) which spoofed the Indian mystic movement popular in the psychedelic sixties, Jose Jimenez made a cameo appearance as well as appeared in the album art.

So Jose Jimenez really gets around in the Multiverse!

His "life" in the main Toobworld, Earth Prime-Time, has not been neglected, and it is for his appearances in three different TV series that he's being inducted into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.

'The Bill Dana Show'
'Make Room For Daddy'
'Batman'
On 'The Bill Dana Show', Jose was a bellman at a New York City hotel where he worked with the cousin of Maxwell Smart, Byron Glick the hotel dick. Many sites say that the sitcom was a spin-off of 'Make Room For Daddy' and I vaguely remember Bill Dana playing Jose as the elevator operator on that show which starred Danny Thomas. However, my Westphallian counterparts (See Tommy Westphall's Mind in the links to the left.) have been disputing this.

But I'm going to allow it, based on the remembrance of an impeccable source. According to Marjorie Lord's website, it looks like Bill Dana was appearing as Jose Jimenez on 'Make Room For Daddy'.

Here's an entry from her episode guide for the show, ninth season:

Season 9251.
"For Every Man There's a Woman"
guest stars: Bill Dana (Jose Jimenez)
Tonight, comedian Bill Dana appears as his own character creation Jose Jimenez.
aired: 02-Oct-1961

That's good enough for me!

And then there was his "Bat-Climb Cameo" on 'Batman'. When the camp superhero show was at its peak in popularity, all of the stars wanted the chance to lean out a window and meet the Dynamic Duo, from Jerry Lewis and Edward G. Robinson to Santa Claus and the Carpet King.


Jose popped out of a Gotham City high-rise window in the episode "The Yegg Foes Of Gotham" and told Batman and Robin he was watching some crazy people on TV.

Why was he in Gotham City? Don't know; don't care. That small bit is enough to fulfill the requirements for entry into the Hall.

So here's to you, Jose Jimenez. Maybe you're no longer politically correct in the real world, but in Toobworld you are still remembered fondly in references on such shows as 'Seinfeld' and 'Farscape'.

BCnU!
Toby OB

1 comment:

Mercurie said...

I seem to remember Jose appearing in episodes of Make Room Daddy myself, although my memory could be a little foggy.