Thursday, January 5, 2017


One year ago this Saturday, Richard Libertini passed away.  He was a great character actor, a trade i fear is fast disappearing in the new millennium.  He provided so many great roles to the citizenry of Toobworld, but I'm not certain that any of them could provide links to other TV series.

Among my favorites:
  • Big Chicken - 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'
  • The Godfather - 'Soap'
  • Sheik Yarami - 'Columbo'
  • Joe Sutommi - 'Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman'
  • Fingers Wachevsky - 'Bret Maverick'
  • Lt. Phil Corelli - 'Murder, She Wrote'
Got a Super Six List out of that......

But as I said, nothing that jumps out for connections in other shows.

However he did contribute three characters to one series which I think I can link together, using plot devices from two other shows.

'Barney Miller' is one of the top five sitcoms from the 1970s.  I'm watching it on a daily basis again (on COZI-TV) because it feeds my nostalgia and longing for the City That Never Sleeps At Night, which I made my home for 40 years.  It may take place in a police station - future TVXOHOF member the 12th Precinct - but it suggests the life I led the last 36 years working the overnight shift at a Times Square hotel (which in itself was a member of the TV Crossover Hall of Fame.)

Besides boasting a top notch starring cast, 'Barney Miller' had a rich stable of guest actors drawn from Hollywood and the New York theatre scene, each of them feeling like they really belonged in the Big Apple.  And many of those actors appeared many times over - some in recurring roles (like Ralph Manza as blind Mr. Roth and Stanley Brock as Mr. Binder) and others as multiple characters (the recently deceased Don Calfa in seven different roles, for example.)

Richard Libertini appeared as three different men who were arrested and brought in to the 12th Precinct:

Mr. 1223 aka Ira Grubb

Harris arrests a numerologist who will only give his name as "1223," after causing an altercation while trying to open a bank account. Harris learns that the man's given name is 'Ira Grubb,' pronouncing him 'a lousy stinking 5'. ("I've been called worse numbers than that!")

"Middle Age" 
Richard Perito
Richard Libertini plays a 43 year old Olympic trainee who nearly hits an elderly woman with his javelin.

"The Child Stealers"
Adam Boyer

A call about a suicidal jumper turns out to be Adam Boyer (Richard Libertini, last of three), claiming to be a time traveler from the year 2037 AD, a historian doing research into the late 1900s.

[All descriptions by Kevin Olzak for the IMDb]

The connections are sort of a triangle.  Not all three are linked to each other: I have a theory of relateeveety between Mr. 1223 and Richard Perlito and a Wild Card for Perlito and Adam Boyer, that cultural historian from Columbia University in 2037.

We'll start with the theory of relateeveety......

One of the TV shows that I consider an "essential" is 'The Patty Duke Show', because of the concept of identical cousins.  And that's the situation we have here: 1223 and Perlito were first cousins who looked exactly alike.  They laughed alike; they walked alike; and at times they even talked alike.  With Patty and Cathy Lane, their fathers were also identical twins.  That could be the case here.  Maybe Perlito's mother was a Grubb by birth.  Or it could be that either Grubb Senior or Perlito Senior catted around.  (I won't be so crass as to suggest that the Grubbs and Perlitos engaged in some wife-swapping back in the 1930s, but then again, I guess I just did.)

Here's another theory of relateeveety for Ira Grubb - he could be cousins - or even the younger brother! - of Eva Grubb.  Eva was a drab, moousy woman who proved to have her own look-alike.  With the right application of make-up, a new wardrobe, and a boost of self-confidence, she resembled glamorous movie star Ginger Grant, who was trapped on 'Gilligan's Island'.

Anyhoo, Perlito and 1223 were related by blood.  The relationship between Perlito and Dr. Boyer was one of occupancy.

Boyer claimed to be a time traveler from the future of 2037.  By the end of the episode he was being taken by Sgt, Harris to Bellevue Hospital for observation.  As Boyer claimed his co-workers would soon be retrieving him, I was hoping the episode would end with Harris reporting back to Barney and the other detectives that Boyer had vanished.  He may have escaped, but what if...?

Since that episode aired thirty seven years ago this month, a show debuted which can provide a splainin for Boyer's claim of being a time traveler - 'Quantum Leap'.

Dr. Sam Beckett was making his jumps at random and out of his control beginning around 1997.  Forty years on, the technology would have improved and there would more than likely be competitors in the market.  We know as much that there were Leapers in Sam's future from the 'Quantum Leap' series itself.  So Boyer may have been such a leaper, using the quantum tech to conduct his research into the late 1900s.

Now, Dr. Boyer was found sitting on the top of the Washington Arch down in the Village.  This would mean that the body he was occupying, allegedly Richard Perlito, was already up there on top of the arch.  Not exactly the conduct to be expected from an Olympian javelin aspirant.
But his wife seemingly convinced him to give up on his crazy dream of making the Olympic team at his age by the end of the episode.  That doesn't mean he had to give up his fitness regimen.  Perhaps he refocused his training to include rock climbing.  Nowadays plenty of fitness centers have artificial facades with which to practice, but it's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that Perlito went looking for a bigger challenge to climb.  And that's why he was on top of the Washington Arch when Dr. Boyer leapt into his personal space.

As I said earlier, the Quantum Leap technology would have improved in the forty years since the government's Star Bright project began.  It had reached the point where even though the Leaper would look like the person he or she had replaced, they would now have the ability to carry forms of iD so that their associates in the Future could keep tabs on them in the past - like bank cards which would leave a cyber trail.  These forms of ID would also be encrypted with the return trip programming in case of emergency retrievals.

So instead of just vanishing, I think Harris would have "lost" Adam Broyer on the way to Bellevue and found himself escorting Richard Perlito to "the enchanted kingdom".  (Rarely did the detective actually call Bellevue by its true name.)  

Not that it mattered - when Perlito started ranting that there had to be some kind of mistake, Harris would have just shrugged it off as the rantings of a madman.

There's also the question of why none of the detectives back in the squad room recognize Dr. Boyer as Perlito when he was first brought in by Harris and Wojo.  When it comes to that, how come nobody noticed the resemblance between Perlito and Mr. 1223?  The splainin for that is simple: as seen in the episode "People's Court", it is inferred that due to the volume of people that visit the squad room they just don't register as long-term memory candidates (unless it's somebody like Bruno Binder.)  Even a frequent visitor like Mr. Roth, with as distinctive a memory trigger as being blind, didn't register with Captain Miller until prodded with the details of his previous visits.

So there you have it, three guest characters from 'Barney Miller' played by the same actor who can be considered linked - and thanks to other TV shows.  This theory, although conjecture, serves as good a reason as any for connections between 'Barney Miller', 'Quantum Leap', and 'The Patty Duke Show'.  I should just make this trio of "Libertinians" honorary members of the Television Crossover Hall of Fame.....

So that's my tribute to the memory of Richard Libertini, one year after his passing.  

Good night and may God bless......

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