Friday, June 14, 2013


If Art Donovan, an editor at the Los Angeles Tribune, ever traced his family tree back, he might have found that one of his ancestors was Corporal Smythe, a Redcoat soldier in Philadelphia in the 1770s.

Like his commanding officer, Captain Thurlow, Smythe also left a local girl (probably a barmaid) with child.  It's only conjecture, but I think Smythe survived the coming Revolution and returned home to England, leaving his illegitimate child behind.

Smythe wasn't back on the "sceptre'd isle" for very long, as he was posted overseas once more.  This time he was deployed as part of the Ambassador's retinue at the Court of St. Petersburg in Russia.

Once again, Corporal Smythe couldn't keep it in his pants and was soon dallying with a peasant woman.  Like the Philadelphia barmaid, she gave birth to a child whom Smythe most likely never acknowledged publicly.

This child continued Smythe's bloodline in Russia, just as his love child in Philadelphia did, until each branch of his family tree produced children in 1940 who not only resembled their ancestor but also each other.

The first of course would be the aforementioned Art Donovan.  And over in the Soviet Union, Smythe's heir would be Chief Inspector Bernicker.  Bernicker was one of the police detectives assigned to investigate a homicide which entangled American novelist Jessica Fletcher.

From Redcoat to Red Square......

The Smythe family tree in America seems to have proven more fruitful than the one in Russia (and it looks as though there have been no issue in Great Britain from his legally established family ties - at least none who bore a resemblance to Corporal Smythe.)  In the United States there are many Toobworld characters who bear a resemblance to Art Donovan, so they could also be related.  And there's even at least one up in Canada.

This theory of relateeveety is to mark the 73rd birthday of actor Jack Bannon today, who played all three of these roles and many others.  He's also the son of Bea Benadaret from 'Petticoat Junction' (on which he made a guest appearance once as Roger Budd - another "Identical Cousin" to Art Donovan.)


  • 'Lou Grant'
  • 'Daniel Boone' - "The Printing Press"
  • 'Murder, She Wrote' - "From Russia With Blood"

* The title of this post comes from a 1993 movie in which Bannon appeared.....

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