Saturday, February 6, 2010


"Danny Thomas?
WHAT is a Danny Thomas
'The Dick Van Dyke Show'

I always like finding TV characters reading actual magazines from the real world because it helps lock in the time period for that episode. (Unless of course the scene takes place in the dentist's office - who knows how long those magazines have been there?)

Anyway, I was watching an old episode of 'Make Room For Daddy' and there was Danny Williams reading "Look" magazine, so I sprang into action. ("Sprang" being a matter of perspective for one so sedentary.)

Learning first that "The Visiting Englishman" was broadcast in 1953, I googled for 1953 "Look" covers. (What also helped in the search of course was the subject of the cover. Who couldn't recognize Marilyn Monroe?)

So it turned out to be easy enough to find, but that's when the real Toobworld fun began.

Check out the cover: One of the other stories in that issue was a profile of Danny Thomas, the comic who plays Danny Williams.

This is a classic in-joke that I'll be sending along to David Bianculli, who collects them. But for the televisiology of Toobworld, it's something more.

As with a lot of real life actors, we know their televersions exist in Toobworld alongside the characters they play. Their appearances on talk shows and game shows guarantee that. (Although we don't like to rely on those for Toobworld purposes unless the game show or talk show figures into a fictional plot. Like when George Wendt and Corbin Bernsen did the 'Tonight' show on an episode of 'Seinfeld', or when Betty White and Allen Ludden played 'Password' with 'The Odd Couple'.) We know that Danny Thomas has a bona-fide televersion without the crutch of game shows and talk shows (despite my fondness for his final appearance on the 'Tonight' show, doing the spit take with fellow guest Macauley Culkin), because of his appearances as himself in several shows:

"That Girl"
- Those Friars (1971)

"The Lucy Show"
- Lucy Helps Danny Thomas (1965)

"The Joey Bishop Show"
- Weekend in the Mountains (1964)

"The Jack Benny Program"
- Jack Goes to Nightclub (1959)
- Johnnie Ray Show (1953)
In "It May Look Like A Walnut!", an episode of 'The Dick Van Dyke Show', Danny Thomas appeared in Rob Petrie's dream as Kolac, leader of the Twiloites. Everyone remarked on the similarity of appearance between Kolac and Danny Thomas, so even Rob's sub-conscious acknowledged that Danny Thomas existed in the TV Universe.

Sometimes the TV characters got to meet the actors who played them: Mork and Robin Williams, Moesha and Brandy Norwood, and Lucille Carter and Lucille Ball. But in this case, Danny Williams only got to read about Danny Thomas. (He was probably checking out the competition. After all, how many big-nosed Lebanese comics named Danny were playing the clubs at that time?)


I started writing up this piece because I stumbled on a cache of 'Make Room For Daddy' episodes at VintageTV4U. It wasn't until I was finishing it up on Friday morning that I found out that today, February 6, marks the 19th anniversary of his death.

So in the end, this became a Hat Squad memorial to a very funny and a very good man......


Ray O' Sunshine said...

I wouldn't oonyoomph anybody!

Ray O' Sunshine said...

Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton met Jackie Gleason and Art Carney on one of the Honeymooners hour shows from the mid 60s

Ray O' Sunshine said...

oh, and the first appearance of Andy Taylor when the Williams family got stopped down south. I think so anyway. Or was that the Ricardos?

Toby O'B said...

Andy Griffith Show was a spin-off from 'The Danny Thomas Show'. With Frank Cady as the town drunk and Frances Bavier as a different character than Aunt Bea.

As for that 'Honeymooners' episode, I considered it, but in actuality, Ralph met Art Carney and Norton met Jackie Gleason. (Obviously because of staging).

If I remember correctly, one nice thing about that episode was that the encounter took place in the hotel where the show was filmed. Nice plug.....