'THE ROCKFORD FILES'
"THE TROUBLE WITH WARREN"
At the end of the episode, when Jim was bailed out - yet again! - by Beth Davenport, several arrested working girls were shepherded past him. One of them took an interest in him and he picked up on her attention:
No dialogue was exchanged, so the actress got no credit for the appearance. But I can't help thinking that I'm seeing Nita Talbot there. And here is a good picture of this fun character actress:
Ms. Talbot is best known for so many guest appearances on shows like 'Hogan's Heroes', 'Columbo', 'Fantasy Island', 'Bewitched', 'McCloud', and regular or recurring roles in 'Starting From Scratch', 'Here We Go Again', 'The Jim Backus Show', 'Hogan's Heroes', 'Soap', 'General Hospital', and 'Bourbon Street Beat'.
One of my favorites of her roles was as Beatrice Collins, better known by the nickname of "Blondie", in four episodes of 'The Thin Man'. Blondie was a really good bad girl.
Nita Talbot did appear in 'The Rockford Files', in the two-hour pilot movie "Backlash Of The Hunter". (Still not exactly sure what that title was supposed to mean.) She played Mrs. Mildred Elias [née Doyle] and she was a very naughty girl indeed!
So if this was Nita Talbot, Mrs. Elias could have still been in prison by the time of this episode. But then why was she in regular clothes rather than in a prison uniform? And why was she in the jail and not in prison?
Mrs. Elias - now back to her maiden name of Mildred Doyle - may have already been released from prison, even if she was charged in California on a felony fraud conviction.
"The Trouble With Warren" was in the third season, and there's no guarantee of the time-span between it and the pilot episode. It may have been over three years. As for a charge of complicity in the murder of Harry Butler, a really good lawyer would have negotiated a lesser plea deal overall and perhaps immunity as an accomplice in the murder if she testified against the actual murderer, Jerry Grimes. And considering how he treated her, I think Mildred would have been more than happy to testify.
So then maybe we don't have to worry about the timeline after all. Maybe she never saw the inside of a prison and instead was given a new identity and place to live in exchange for her testimony against Grimes. And perhaps he had been able to swing a re-trial, so Mildred (under her new name) had to come back to Los Angeles to testify again. That's why she was in the jail - for her own protection during the trial.
My go-to lawyer Perry Mason wouldn't take the case; he was too high-principled to handle it. But hot-shot, jet-setting Texas lawyer Milton Porter (heir to the Porter Automobile family fortune) would have seen the lucrative value in the case even if he lost, just from the publicity alone.
One last theory:
She could have been out of prison, at least on parole. And there's the splainin as to why she was back in jail again - somehow she violated her parole. Struggling to earn a living now that she had been stripped of the Elias fortune, Mildred Doyle might have been caught dealing with unsavory types in violation of the terms of her parole. She may even have been turning tricks to earn a few bucks.
So there she was - back in the slammer and she recognized Rockford right away as the man responsible for her predicament. (At least, that would be her perspective.) Jimbo, on the other hand, would have taken a little while longer to remember her.
I don't think I'll ever find out who the actress was in that scene if it wasn't Nita Talbot. But it doesn't really matter anyhoo. I like my splainin and I'm sticking to it.
OTHER SHOWS CITED:
- 'Murder, She Wrote'
- 'Perry Mason'
- 'My Mother, The Car'