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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Freakouts From TV That I Have Known.

The actor Don Keefer died the other day, at the age of 98.
Nice run.
He had a huge list of TV credits, usually playing a rather amiable weakling.
I first became aware of him on the early 60's sitcom "Angel", which starred a very amiable French starlet named Annie Farge.
Keefer played her very amiable next door neighbor.
Doris Singleton played his not so amiable wife.
Keefer knew his way around comedy, and was very good on "Angel".
I'm probably the only person who remembers Don Keefer from "Angel".
But he is remembered vividly, if not by name, but by his face, for one of his other TV roles.
In an episode of "The Twilight Zone", he was one of a handful of people who were subject to young Billy Mumy's whims, where he was capable of "wishing" for things to come true.
Usually it was a matter of "Wishing them to the cornfield", where their heads would be sticking out from a long corn stalk.
More unique, and more frightening, was what happened to Keefer.
Mumy "wished" Keefer would become a Jack-in-the Box.
And he did.
There was Keefer's frozen smiling face, sitting on top of the spring of a Jack-in-the Box.
It was one of the most frightening things I'd ever encountered in my young life.
A total freakout.
I can never watch that episode of "The Twilight Zone " again.
I once had a table at my local Comic-Con, where I sat right next to a now grown Billy Mumy.
I mentioned Keefer and the Jack-in-the-Box. And how it freaked me out.
He said "Yeah. I get that a lot."

At least this freakout was somewhat rational.
I mean, let's face it.
It was a really horrifying image.
But there have been a couple of others that have bordered on the truly irrational.
In the early 1930's, in the opening credits of many Warner Brothers' movies, even before the big "WB" would come lurching at you, it would be preceded by this forming atom, or proton, or something, where dots would be circling around round rings, with what sounded like a bongo drum accompaniment, forming, on the beat, with a cymbal, the letters "A---A---P", against a black background.
It stood for "Associated Artists Productions"
I haven't seen it since I was a teenager, but when I did, it made me run from the room.
I don't know why, but it just freaked me out.
It probably still would.
I hope I'm never in a position to be tested again.
I don't think I'd pass.

The third freakout was not mine, but my daughter's.
It was yet another tribute to my truly terrible fathering skills.
My only previous experience with little girls was as my sister's older brother.
And I treated her mercilessly.
Thus, I treated my daughter like I treated my sister.
I am not proud of this.
My daughter was a huge fan of "The Muppet Show".
On one episode, Harry Belafonte was the guest star.
During the course of the episode, he sang an African song called "We Come From De Fire"
He was surrounded by various Muppets, all wearing scary-looking African masks, and singing along with him.
This freaked my daughter out completely, and, this already being the age of the VCR, I had recorded it.
And showed it to her at every opportunity.

I suppose I thought "Why should I be the only one to suffer?"
And I suppose it's too late for an apology, since it's 29 years later, but I'm sorry, kid.


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 and 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 not e-books.
But they are available for people without Kindle.
I have many readings and signings lined up for those, and the thing about Kindle is you can't sign one.
If you'd like one of the paperbacks, personally autographed, contact me at
And now, we've got my reading of my "Laverne and Shirley Movie" screenplay on YouTube, and my 4-hour interview at the Television Academy's Emmy TV Legends Website.
Here's the link:



  1. I've summoned the authorities and the child protection people. You can expect a knock on your door at any time now.I
    attempted to contact your daughter, but was told she was actively tending to her cornfield at the moment.
    By the way, I do fondly recall Keefer from his Angel days. His character's name was George Carpenter.

  2. Yes, that jack-in-the-box is still one of the most terrifying images in horror history, to me. It's interesting that The Twilight Zone could cause such emotional disturbances with simple special effects and no gore. And to this day, I never put my bed next to the wall because of another TZ that bothered me as a kid: Little Girl Lost.

    On the other hand, as a kid I was frightened by an Outer Limits in which Warren Oates takes off his goggles and has gigantic eyeballs. That just seems silly now.

  3. You might be eligible to get a free $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

  4. You could be qualified for a complimentary Apple iPhone 7.



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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."