As a card-carrying member of the “baby boomers,” I am part of the first generation for whom holiday memories involve television programs. While specials like Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas were just that, special, many series included holiday episodes that linger in boomer memories and on the Internet.
Hazel: “Everybody’s Thankful But Us Turkeys”
One of the most memorable Thanksgiving episodes from a television series, from Hazel, is available online for your viewing pleasure in three parts on Youtube. The three parts run less than a half-hour, since Hazel was a half-hour series, but you do not have to deal with commercials:
Part 1 of 3 – Watch it.
Part 2 of 3 – Watch it.
Part 3 of 3 – Watch it.
Based on a one-panel cartoon series in The Saturday Evening Post, Hazel ran for over 150 episodes from 1961-1966. Hazel ranked number four in its first season, and stayed in the top twenty-five most popular series for its first three years.
According to Michael Musto of The Village Voice (here), Hazel is in line for the ultimate recognition in popular culture: there are plans for a Broadway musical based on it.
Shirley Booth, the actress behind Hazel
Shirley Booth (1898-1992) won many accolades for her acting: a Tony Award (theater), Academy and Golden Globe Awards (motion pictures), and two Emmy awards (television), for her role in Hazel. She was in her mid-fifties when she made her first film, and made only five films altogether, preferring to work on stage, performing in some 600 plays in stock companies and some 40 on Broadway. Although we do not think of acting on radio anymore, she starred two years on Duffy’s Tavern, a popular series on OTR (old time radio) . You can listen for free to some episodes of Duffy’s Tavern here.
Where’s my servant?
As I think back on television series past, I sometimes feel that my family and I were deprived, because we did not have a live-in servant. The ones that come to mind for me, in addition to the title character of Hazel, are Rochester on The Jack Benny Show, the Asian “houseboy” Peter on Bachelor Father (the one from the 1950s, not the more recent one), Mr. French from Family Affair, Hop Sing on Bonanza, and Daphne (a live-in physical therapist who did the housework?) on Frazier .
At the entry on Hazel from the Museum of Broadcast Communications (below), there are some sociological speculations on this phenomenon as well as references to a number of other television servants that I am not familiar with.
Celebrate Thanksgiving with me
I have several articles on Internet freebies – books, old time radio, films, and music – for which I have an index page, “How to Find Free Online Stuffing for Thanksgiving – No Money, No Calories!” here.
As I lamented in a recent article on my most unpopular articles on Associated Content from Yahoo! (here), it has consistently been one of my lowest-ranking articles.
So, please check it out. You’ll be thankful for free Thanksgiving goodies online, and I’ll be thankful for some page views.
Shirley Booth’s obituary – Read it.
Shirley Booth on Internet Movie Database – Read it.
Hazel on Internet Movie Database – Read it.
Hazel at the Museum of Broadcast Communications – Read it.