Hello! Deborah from Basket of Kisses back for another movie-free week of Mad Men at the Movies. In this week's Mad Men, actors and television figure prominently, so we'll have lots to talk about.
Episode 6.04, To Have and To Hold takes us (among other places) backstage of the soap opera where Megan has a growing role. The episode itself has a frothy, soapy sensibility, full of illicit goings-on and secrets revealed.
Soap opera trivia and Broadway Joe Namath after the jump.
To Have and To Hold, Megan’s soap, is fictional. Daytime soaps in March of 1968, when this episode takes place, were General Hospital and Dark Shadows on ABC, a total of six soaps on CBS, including As the World Turns, and NBC’s Days of Our Lives, The Doctors, and Another World. (True story: Another World is the only soap I ever watched regularly, starting in high school when a bad bout of tonsilitis left me home alone with a television.) As the World Turns was #1 in the Nielsen ratings from the 1958-59 season, for the entire decade of the 1960s, and for most of the 1970s, until All My Children showed up in 1978-79.
Arlene, the star of Megan’s soap, refers to Don as “James Garner.” Garner started in TV and films in the 1950s. He had (has) a deft comedic hand but also did the leading-man-handsome thing in dramas like The Children’s Hour (1961). In 1968 he was probably still most famous as Bret Maverick. The show Maverick ran from 1957 to 1962, but Maverick himself was previously a character on Cheyenne. By 1968, Garner had an active movie career.
Garner starred as Wyatt Earp in 1967’s Hour of the Gun. An attempt to modernize and darken the Wyatt Earp story, it co-starred Jason Robards as Doc Holliday. It was a gloomy affair and dispensed with most of the homoeroticism that makes the Earp-Holliday relationship so engaging in other movies (think how much fun Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas had in Gunfight at the O.K. Corral just ten years earlier). Garner had two movies released in 1968, The Pink Jungle and How Sweet It Is, but neither was out by March.
Harry Crane, the head of SCDP's television division, brings Pierre Cosette into a meeting with Dow Chemical. They want to fix Dow’s publicity problems (due to being the manufacturers of Napalm) by having Dow sponsor a musical special, starring Joe Namath, singing Broadway hits ("Broadway Joe does Broadway"). The meeting envisioning this spectacle is hilarious. Among the suggestions are John Wayne doing a scene from Camelot (a 1967 movie as well as a Broadway hit and 1961 Tony Award winner). Wayne’s most recent movie in March 1968 was The War Wagon; The Green Berets would be released on July 4 of that year.
Joey Heatherton is also slated to appear in the TV special; apparently, Ken’s father-in-law, Dow exec Ed Baxter, has a crush on her. Heatherton was primarily a television actress, and had recently (January 1968) appeared in a television production of Of Mice and Men.
HitFix’s Alan Sepinwall has discovered that Cossete, most famous for producing the Grammys on TV, actually did produce a 1968 televsions musical special starring Joe Namath. Who’d have guessed?
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