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Saturday, July 13, 2013

Richard Erdman On The OTN.

I don't think I've told this story before, but I know that I've discussed the concept of the advantages of having a last name that is towards the beginning of the alphabet if you're trying to be a working actor.
There's this book called "The Academy Players Directory"
It is broken down to several categories: Leading Men, Leading Women, Juveniles and Ingenues, and Characters and Comedians (both male and female).
These books consists of pictures of all of these actors, and how to find their representation.
All the names are listed alphabetically.
Anybody doing any casting immediately starts with "A", and proceeds through the alphabet until he or she finds someone acceptable.
I had mentioned that I had to go all the way to "G" until I found Dick Gautier when I was left to fend for myself to cast a guest star part on "She's The Sheriff"
I was often left to fend for myself when it came to casting on "She's The Sheriff"
That's because I was given someone as my casting person who had just graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Secretarial Pool.
As a result, she had virtually no knowledge of the Los Angeles Talent Pool.
This all came to a head one day when we were trying to cast a romantic interest for Pat Carroll, who played Suzanne Somers' mother.
The other producers, studio execs, and the Head of Casting, the late Barbara Miller, who was the one who foisted this neophyte upon me, were all assembled in Barbara's office, when our young neophyte waltzed into the room with an 8x10 photo in her hand.
Her precise words were "I've got him! I've got the actor! Perfect for Pat Carroll's love interest!"
We all waited with baited breath to see this photo.
She revealed it to us.
It was a photo of a fairly well-known character actor named Edward Andrews.
Well, she certainly followed the standard procedure of approaching the Academy Players Directory alphabetically.
But it must have been a somewhat less than new edition of the directory.
Because, as I had to point out to her, Edward Andrews had died two years previously.
I once again had to take matters into my own hands and wade through the Academy Players Directory myself.
Alphabetically, of course.
Fortunately, I only had to get up to the "E"s before I found the wonderful Richard Erdman.
Unlike the young neophyte, I was quite familiar with the L.A. talent pool, and Richard Erdman's work.
Work which has never been less than wonderful.
I hired him on the spot, and he was indeed nothing less than wonderful.
He had also appeared in the great "Stalag 17", where he added to the greatness.
Catch him on the episode of "The Dick Van Dyke Show", where he played the flaming costume designer, Buck Brown, for the play that Alan Brady got Rob Petrie to "doctor", getting Rob to pretend he was a tailor.
Later, Rob complains to Laura about the way he was treated by Buck Brown.
Laura asks "The cowboy star?" Rob replies contemptuously, "Hardly."
Erdman was also a regular on two series which were less than wonderful, but were made more than tolerable by his presence.
For that reason,, they both deserve a place on the OTN.
I'll talk about those shows, and Richard Erdman's contributions to them next time.

Mark Rothman, CEO of the OTN.


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.
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If you'd like one, contact me at
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  1. Thanks for writing that. I wholeheartedly agree. I've been a fan of Mr. Erdman for years.

    I'm sure you know about the Twilight Zone episode where he's the loudmouth with the stopwatch that can stop time. I also believe he directed a Van Dyke episode.

    He did a few Perry Masons, too.

    More recently I was delighted to see him in the cast of "Community," a show I don't really like. But in his too-short scenes he was usually funnier than the rest of the cast.

    He also goes back to Warner Bros. movies of the 1940s, in juvenile roles.

    Someone like Leonard Maltin ought to do an in-depth interview with him. I don't know that there are any other characters actors around with his longevity and quality of work.

    And I'm also happy to hear that you found him easy to work with. Somehow doesn't surprise me, though.

    Looking forward to your next post.

  2. Wasn't he the star of THE ERDMAN OF ALCATRAZ?

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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."