Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tammy Grimes in The Tammy Grimes Show (1966)

Obscurity factor: 9

While not exactly Shakespeare, this show which was pulled off the air after only 4 episodes has gained some luster with age. There's no debating that the situations were daft, but Ms. Grime's presence is charming, particularly because of her phoney persona that has been called "so ridiculously artificial that she just has to be for real," and the sight gags are deftly handled, making for some delightful giggles. Tamantha Ward (Grimes) is an heiress who likes nothing more than spending her inheritance. She has a long suffering uncle who does his best to keep her on a short leash and a twin brother (Dick Sargent, billed as Richard Sargent) who, in the episode below goes on reserve duty with the US Navy. There's a lot of irony to be had in the circumstances surrounding the show without even going into the "gays in the military" thing. Grimes and Sargent were the original choices to play Samantha and Darrin Stephens in Bewitched.

Needless to say this show hasn't made it to DVD. It was shot in color, but the only presence it has on the web now is in black and white. The episode above is uploaded to YouTube by dentelTV1.

Obscurity factor: 9 (only really remembered as one of the shortest runs in TV series history)


  1. I do wonder what made the network pull the plug after airing only four episodes. That was absolutely unheard of back then. Even the biggest ratings bombs lasted their 13 weeks. I recall seeing a newspaper ad that promoted this show, "Bewitched," and "That Girl" as "Dollhouse 90." There was a cartoon-like drawing of a house with three female figures leaning out the windows, and photos of the heads of Tammy Grimes, Marlo Thomas, and Elizabeth Montgomery superimposed.

    This is the only episode I have ever seen. It is available at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York, which is where I watched it. I cannot recall if their copy was in color or black and white. There were a few more episodes in the can at the time of cancellation, but the never saw the light of day.

  2. It's too bad the other episodes aren't around. Would be fun to see them. I bet the color was beautiful too.

  3. It is ironic that Tammy turned down "Bewitched," which turned out to be one of the biggest TV hits of the '60s, as well as ABC's biggest hit up to that time, and said yes to this, which was one of the biggest TV flops of the '60s (and also on ABC). Of course, hindsight is 20/20, so if the success and failure were reversed, we would be talking about how lucky Tammy was to have not done "Bewitched."

    I read that one of the reasons (or maybe the reason) she did not do "Bewitched" is that she thought the magic aspect would overpower characterization. Of course, that did not turn out to be true, as the show had such memorable characters and in the first couple seasons there were episodes where the magic was very minimal. However, over time the magic aspect did become more of the focus, and by the last couple years they started recycling old scripts from the early seasons.

    I also read that James Aubrey, the "smiling cobra" who was head of programming at CBS at the time, sensed that "Bewitched" was going to be a major success and tried to get it away from ABC before it premiered. Quaker Oats, which was one of the two sponsors at the time (along with Chevrolet), blocked any attempt to have it moved to CBS.

  4. I meant to also write in my previous comment that "Bewitched" with Tammy would have been a very different show than "Bewitched" with Elizabeth. That could have affected the ratings. Elizabeth had an extremely different personality and acting style than Tammy. Samantha was as much an idealized suburban housewife of the time as Laura Petrie on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Tammy might have seemed too exotic for viewers to believe her at little league games and PTA meetings and dealing with babysitters.

  5. It's interesting that CBS wanted to lure Bewitched away from ABC. I didn't know that. I agree that Bewitched with Tammy Grimes would have been very different, and might not have survived. Television is all about identifying with the people on the screen, and Grimes would not have been as easy to identify with as Montgomery.

  6. Yes, if Tammy played the role it would have had a quirky and ethereal quality. Samantha might have been more like Endora or Serena (but nicer, of course). Aside from "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," Tammy never really starred in anything with mainstream appeal. I really like her two Columbia albums from the early-'60s, which were released on CD a few years ago. They are definitely quirky but she does some great things with some great old songs (and some songs that were new at the time but are old now). I recommend the CD, if you do not already have it.

  7. I like the more seasoned Tammy in Can't Stop the Music (1978). I'll look for the albums!