Tuesday, October 3, 2017


Gabe Kotter would yammer on and on so often about the various wacky members of his family that his wife Julie hardly ever got a chance to talk about her own family.  Not that doing so would have brought many happy memories.....

Julie's maiden name was Hansen and she grew up in Nebraska.  (She had come to New York for college and that's where she met Gabe.)  She was the middle of three daughters, a ranking determined by only a few minutes as she was the younger of twins.

The Trueniverse audience met Julie's younger sister, Jenny Hansen, when she came to visit and Jullie was afraid that Jenny would end up running off with Juan Epstein.  But neither of the siblings mentioned Julie's twin sister, Samantha, during that visit.  Even after nearly a decade, the subject was still too painful….  

Samantha Dian Hansen was a strong-willed, independent young girl all her life, always taking the lead in whatever childhood adventures she would embark on with the more reserved Julie by her side (and eventually with Jenny tagging along behind them.)  As she got older, she found a deeper form of escape in music, setting the poems she wrote to music and playing them at weekend campfires with her friends.

By the time she turned 18, as the Vietnam War and the counterculture began to widen the generation gap, Samantha was chafing to be free from the confines of Nebraska and the restrictions imposed upon her by her parents.  She wanted to "find herself" and felt the allure of San Francisco, with its growing communes of like-minded young people, beckoning her.

Samantha Dian Hansen left home and was never seen again in the Cornhusker State.

She shed her old inhibitions and her identity as well, changing her name to Samantha Dain.  One evening she walked barefoot into a small cafe in the North Beach area with her guitar slung over her shoulder, and without even asking permission from the owner Harry Brancusi, she commandeered a stool on their small stage and began to play.

Brancusi, as was the case with everyone in the cafe that night, was captivated by her sound, as well as by her looks and her personality, and so he allowed her to keep playing her songs.  

Also in the audience that night was Ray Harrison, a small-time manager on the lookout for fresh new talent.  (His full name was Raymond Harrison Spangler, the son of Albert Spangler - a New York attorney working for the Daily Examiner newspaper.)  The business had hardened Harrison, who had not seen much success with his clientele.  But when he heard Samantha sing from the depths of her soul, he knew he had finally found his ticket to the Big Time.

Harrison signed her that night and made arrangements with Brancusi that she should continue playing in his club in order to build her reputation.  The name of the cafĂ© was changed to “The Psychedelic Daffodil” to better reflect the ambience being established each night with Samantha’s music.

Hoping to capitalize on her talent as quickly as possible, Harrison urged Samantha to record her “poem-songs” for an album.  At first the sales were anemic, so Harrison decided to take a gamble: he arranged an overseas tour for Samantha to enhance her reputation.  A vocal and very appreciative European audience transformed her into a barefoot sensation and Samantha returned to her home country a star with “Even When You Cry” as her big hit.

But it was short-lived.  She discovered during the trip home that one of the people whom she had trusted had betrayed her, had used her for their own criminal activities.  And she began to chafe from the isolation created by those same people around her who were isolating her from the outside world.

Not long after she had returned from Europe, and too soon in Life, Samantha Dain – the former Samantha Dian Hansen of Sweetwater, Nebraska, - perished from a fall off the Golden Gate Bridge, her veins full of heroin. 

(Although he couldn’t save her life, a consultant for the SFPD, Chief Robert T. Ironside, was able to rescue her reputation.  When he had be recuperating from the bullet which had crippled him, the Chief received a letter from France.  Samantha had heard about the assassination attempt and reached out to him in an effort to buoy his spirits for the months of rehabilitation which lay ahead of him.  From her words of encouragement, Ironside felt as if he knew the type of young woman was.  When no one else was willing to see beyond the “facts”, he believed in who Samantha Dain really was.  And so he was able to finally probe that she did not commit suicide, but that she was murdered.)

It has been fifty years since Samantha Dain died.  I’d like to think that her twin sister Julie Kotter still lives in Toobworld, but unfortunate events in the Trueniverse might have had influence on her fate.

Samantha’s fame has been eclipsed; basically remembered now as a one-hit wonder from the flower-power generation.  Twice a year on radio station KJCM, former SFPD officer Jack Killian would play Samantha’s one album on his late-night talk show as a tribute.  On her birthday he would spin the entire album, but then on the anniversary of her death Killian would only play “Even When You Cry” without comment.  (I think he had been infatuated with her when he was a teenager.)

In my next post, I’ll share with you the lyrics of Samantha Dain’s hit song “Even When You Cry”…..

  • ‘Ironside’ – “The Man Who Believed”
  • ‘Welcome Back, Kotter’ – “Sweathog, Nebraska Style”
  • ‘Ellery Queen’ – “The Adventure Of The 12th Floor Express”
  • ‘Midnight Caller’
  • ‘The Young Riders’ 


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