Sunday, January 31, 2010


Yesterday in Facebook I made the rather full-of-myself statement that JD Salinger wouldn't be showing up in the 2010 Hat Squad list of people who contributed to Toobworld. He never wrote for TV, never appeared as himself in any TV show (unlike Thomas Pynchon, another reclusive writer), was never portrayed in a docu-drama.

But he was the inspiration for a couple of characters in TV shows. One was Jack Skowron, played by Anthony Zerbe in an episode of 'The Rockford Files'. Jack was a combination of Salinger, Jack Kerouac, and Hunter S. Thompson.

Here's the description of the episode "The Gang At Don's Drive-In":

Jack Skowron, author of the bestseller “Freefall to Ecstasy” hires his old friend Jim Rockford to assist him with research for his second book. He and Jack are investigating some prominent community members who are connected by the restaurant they used to frequent and the death of a student on a yacht in 1962.

The other writer modelled on Salinger was T.H. Houghton, played by Robert Prosky in 'Frasier'. (The "T" stood for Theodore").

Here's the IMDb description of the episode "A Crane Critique":

Frasier and Niles are thrilled to catch sight of T.H. Houghton, a reclusive author from their youth. They are aggravated, however, when Martin forms a friendship with the man but they are consistently unable to meet him.

Here's the last third of that episode. It pretty much sums it all up as far as it being a mirror image of Salinger:

That clip also has a nice bit of serendipiteevee with that mention of 'Bonanza', since Pernell Roberts - who played Adam Cartwright - passed away the other day as well.

If I had been Frasier and Niles, I would have dashed out to the street to collect as many of those pages as I could. Maybe Houghton never planned to publish them, but there's not much he could have done once he was dead - and he did proclaim those pages to be trash and threw them away. So they'd be worth some pocket change on eBay or the like after his death.....


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