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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Richard Erdman On The OTN. Part Two.

What Richard Erdman added to whatever he appeared in was a light, sophisticated, interesting, humor-filled, grounded, believable presence.
He did this on good shows, like "Lou Grant" and "The Burns and Allen Show", both of which he appeared only intermittently, and on mediocre shows, where he appeared regularly.
Those mediocre shows needed him more than the good shows.
Because they were mediocre, and he was still good.
His presence was needed much more on those mediocre shows.
It definitely raised the level of those shows.
The two shows that I'm offering up for the OTN today were definitely mediocre.
I remember enjoying both of them when they were first on in the late 50s-early 60's.
And the only reason I am considering them is because of Richard Erdman.

The first is "The Tab Hunter Show", a sitcom that Tab Hunter was supposed to carry the load on.
He couldn't.
But Richard Erdman, playing a grownup, more realistic version of Chatsworth Osborne Jr., single-handedly carried the load ably.
I saw an episode of "The Tab Hunter Show" recently, and from what I had remembered previously, it was disconcertingly bad.
Tab Hunter added nothing to it, and the storytelling was abysmal.
But the dialogue was pretty good.
Mainly because most of it was handled by Richard Erdman with aplomb.
"Aplomb" is THE word that defines Richard Erdman.
Defines, because Richard Erdman is alive, in his nineties.
I'm sure he's handling that with aplomb as well.

The other show I'm submitting is a one-season wonder called "The Saints and Sinners"
It was a drama about a crusading newspaper reporter played by Nick Adams.
And boy, did he crusade.
I don't think he got any bonuses in his reporter salary for crusading, but that didn't stop him.
He overactingly crusaded all over the place.
The tone of "Saints and Sinners" was relentlessly high pressure, tense and melodramatic.
I think one of the producers thought that what it needed was a light, sophisticated, interesting, humor-filled, grounded, believable, non-crusading presence.
So they quite intelligently cast Richard Erdman as the wryly funny photographer for the newspaper.
He more than once played the equivalent of what Oscar Levant played in the movies.
The wryly commenting best friend to Robert Alda in the Gershwin biopic, or John Garfield in "Humoresque" or Gene Kelly in "An American In Paris", or Fred Astaire in "The Barkeleys of Broadway"
After Oscar Levant stopped playing those parts, someone had to step into the breach.
And Richard Erdman did some great breach-stepping.


My books ,"Show Runner" and it's sequel, "Show Runner Two", can be found at the Amazon Kindle Store.
Along with the newer ones, "The Man Is Dead", and "Report Cards".
You can search by typing in my name, Cindy Williams, Laverne & Shirley, The Odd Couple, or Happy Days.
Check them out.
You don't need a Kindle machine to download them.
Just get the free app from Kindle, and they can be downloaded to an IPhone, IPad, or Blackberry.
The paperbacks, "Mark Rothman's Essays", and my new novel, "I'm Not Garbo" are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings remaining, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne & Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube.



  1. "Saints And Sinners" was a Four Star series.
    The pilot was shown on Dick Powell's anthology, which has been mentioned here a time or three.
    We know that during Powell's lifetime, he was very much hands-on with the company's TV projects.
    Thus, since he'd worked with Richard Erdman several times over the years, using him in S&S was likely his idea.

    One of the films Dick Powell did with Richard Erdman was a noir thriller called "Cry Danger!"
    Powell was an ex-con who everybody was chasing because they all thought that he had a stash of loot hidden.
    Erdman was his old war buddy, an amputee and full-time drunk (who was after the money himself.
    Erdman got this part through the screenwriter, William Bowers, of whom he later said fondly, "He was a drunk, so was I ... still am, by the way ..."

    Bowers gave ERdman on of the greatest noir lines of all time - this exchange with his barmaid/pickpocket girlfriend, Jean Porter:

    Porter: "Isn't it early for you to start drinking?"
    Erdman: "Listen, doll-girl, when you drink as much as I do, you got to start early!"

    At YouTube, you can find Richard Erdman's appearance (alongside femme fatale Rhonda Fleming) at one of Eddie Muller's Noir City events, answering audience questions and telling stories about this and other experiences.(The quote about Bill Bowers above is from this event.)

    Alos, if you have the special edition DVD of "Stalag 17" (my all-time favorite Christmas movie), Erdman does the commentary track, along with Gil Stratton Jr. and Donald Bevan (one of the playwrights).

    By the way, Richard Erdman was born in 1925, so he doesn't break 90 for another two years yet.
    Here's hoping that at the very least, the producers of "Community" finally recognize the major talent they've been wasting all this time, and actually give him some real stuff to do.
    (If it had been up to me,I'd have given him an upgrade just as soon as Chevy Chase started behaving like an asshole - but that's just me ...)

  2. Thanks for the heads-up on Erdman's YouTube interview with Muller. I'll be sure to look it up.

    I'd forgotten Erdman was on Lou Grant, but your mention reminded me of my favorite Lou Grant episode. Lou, for a change, ahs to work on the Trib's night desk, and Erdman plays Hal, one of the members of the night crew. That night (as I recall) there's some kind of disaster on a ship that's carrying a lot of society people. Lou somewhat reluctantly sends the society reporter because she knows the people. She comes back and writes the story. She has all the facts, but as Lou looks at the story on the computer, he sees that her opening paragraphs are awful -- written in society-reporter speak. Lou, after grimacing, says, "Hal..."

    "I've already fixed it," Hal says.

    Wonderful moment, Having spent literally decades doing nighttime newspaper work, I can tell you that this sort of thing rings very true, and Erdman's character (and Erdman's performance) help make it that way.

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."