The Real McCoys, produced by Danny Thomas, aired on ABC Television from 1957 to 1963. The show, one of the most successful early sitcoms, starred Walter Brennan as Grampa, Richard Crenna as his son, Luke, and Kathy Nolan as Luke's wife, Kate. They had two kids, Hassie and Little Luke and a handyman named Pepino.
Many of the scripts for The Real McCoys were written by my friend, the late Everett Greenbaum and his partner Jim Fritzell. In his delightful autobiography The Goldenberg Who Couldn't Dance (Harcourt Brace Janovich 1980), Ev wrote this passage which, I think, sums up the ephemeral quality of success in Hollywood:
The audience watching a successful TV show in one evening is larger than the total audience for the entire run of most movies. An actor appearing weekly in a series receives overwhelming fame and adulation. If he appears in a public place, mobbing is possible. New friends come out of the woodwork. Hangers-on tell him that he alone is responsible for the popularity of the show; never mind the writers, the other actors, the director, producer and film editors.
Now, since he is well known, he gets offers to appear in motion pictures and plays, the things he has always wanted to do. But instead, he is a prisoner in a dark, drafty TV sound stage for 60 hours a week.His agents and business managers step in. The actor is unhappy. More money is demanded and granted. The unhappiness persists. New demands! A lush dressing room. More time off. And so forth. This is the injustice syndrome.
On The Real McCoys, Kathy Nolan, who played Kate, had it bad. After several years on the show, she refused to renew her contract unless she got even more money, script approval, and the opportunity to direct. Irving Pincus [the Pincus brothers, Norman and Irving, produced the show] called us in.“
"Boys," he said, "at the opening of the next show, Grampa and Luke have just returned from Kate's funeral. Go home and write it as fast as you can."”As we went out the door, he stopped us. “As long as you're at it, let's drop the kids. Little Luke can be away in the Army and Hassie's off to college."
I'll never forget the opening line we wrote for the next script. Grampa and Luke come in the front door. “"I just don't understand it, Grampa," Luke says. "It all happened so fast!”
The Laugh Makers is now available on Amazon.com and Barnes & Nobel.com! Please post a review, if you would, at both sites. Apparently, reviews help potential purchasers (who aren't as familiar with my writing style as you folks are) to commit. Thanks!
And, if you haven't visited the sample chapter (the historic 1979 visit of the Hope show to China in 1979 as well as my return there in 2007) take a look. Some new photos have been posted!
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