This is the twenty-first in a series of examinations of legends about television and the people involved in TV and whether they are true or false.
Click here to view an archive of the previous TV urban legends.
TV LEGEND: An actor’s refusal to take of his wedding ring caused creative filming during the run of the TV series Hogan’s Heroes.
Hogan’s Heroes was about a group of soldiers during World War II (Americans and other nationalities) who were in for an extended stay in a German prison. However, they still managed to help the war effort from behind bars through various schemes.
One of the prisoners was American Sergeant Andrew J. Carter, played by Larry Hovis.
Carter was a good mimic, so he was always helpful to Colonel Hogan on whatever enterprise he was up to that particular week.
In any event, there was a bit of a problem with how Hovis played Carter. You see, Hovis was married but the character of Carter was single. No problem, right? That’s why they call it acting, no?
The problem was, however, that Hovis refused to take off his wedding ring while filming scenes.
This led to some interesting filming of the series (the directors got their money’s worth out of their film schools, I guess).
Here is an example of how they would try to disguise Hovis’ wedding ring in a scene.
In this episode, Hovis has to impersonate Der Fuehrer to get some important documents out of the camp.
When we first meet him, his left hand is off camera…
Next, his left hand is covered by another actor…
Here, we actually get to see the ring in the background (I circled it, in case you can’t see it)…
Next, Hovis actually just covers up his hand entirely!!
Finally, in full disguise, he is wearing gloves to cover up his hand…
It’s impressive that Hovis was that devoted to the symbol for his marriage, and it’s equally impressive that the show went out of its way to cover up for him.
TV LEGEND: Life Goes On changed their opening credits for the series finale to give some justice to their dog.
Life Goes On was an ABC hour-long drama that ran from 1989-1993. It was a family drama most noted for its having as a major cast member a character (and actor) with Down’s Syndrome.
The show was often quirky, most notably with its opening theme song, the cast (mostly noted Broadway musical star Patti LuPone, who played the mother on the show) singing the Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” while the opening credits show the various cast members waking up in the morning (the show opens with the paper boy delivering the paper).
The recurring joke throughout the opening credits is, as the various family members get ready for the day, the family dog is being ignored.
Here Arnold is waiting to be fed with his dish in his mouth…
A close-up as his frustration continues…
Arnold actually gets a credit in the cast listings…
Finally, as the credits end, we see that no one has fed Arnold, and as he realizes it, he resigns himself to his fate, letting the dish drop out of his mouth…
So it went for four seasons and 82 episodes, and a recurring “complaint” (I’m using the quote because I doubt anyone really cared THAT much) was that Arnold kept getting ignored (and they re-did the opening as the show went on and new cast members came and went, but while other opening gags changed – like Bill Smitrovich, the father, having different reactions as to what to do with his morning fitness routine – Arnold not getting fed stayed the same).
That is, until the 83rd and very LAST episode of the series!
Everything in the credits is the same as normal until we get to the end, where Arnold drops his bowl in frustration, like he always does…
Only THIS time, a bag of dog food falls out of the cabinet and spills on the floor, giving Arnold access to all the dog food he wants!
Isn’t that hilariously awesome?
Well done, Life Goes On producers!
TV LEGEND: Ron Howard was hired for Happy Days based on his performance in American Graffiti.
People often get caught up in how chronology appears like on the surface.
You can’t even count how many times whatever project comes out first automatically gets the credit for being “first,” and that if something comes out later, it is always perceived as being inspired by the first project, no matter if that is the case or not.
A notable example of this is Ron Howard’s performance in American Graffiti.
The movie, which was set in the very beginning of the 1960s (early enough to effectively be a “50s” movie), came out in 1973 and was a smash hit.
The next year, Howard was the lead in Happy Days, an ABC sitcom set in the 1950s.
So naturally, people assumed that Howard got the Happy Days role (and heck, that the entire reason for Happy Days EXISTING) was because of the success of American Graffiti.
That is, of course, not the case.
Howard appeared as Richie Cunningham in the pilot for a TV sitcom called “New Family In Town”….in 1971!!
The new pilot went unsold, and eventually, in 1972, it aired as an episode of the anthology series Love, American Style (where unsold pilots went to die), titled “Love and the Happy Days”…
However, even before the pilot aired on Love, American Style, George Lucas asked series creator Garry Marshall if he could look at the pilot to see if Howard would work well for the Graffiti role (apparently he did).
So really, it was Graffiti that owed a debt to Happy Days, but then again, the popularity of Graffiti (and the similar success of the Broadway musical, Grease, which was also set in the 1950s) helped get Happy Days started, so I guess the debt is even.
By the by, interestingly enough, due to the three-year break between the first pilot and the second, Howard was now 20 years old, which was obviously a bit of a stretch for a high school sophomore (or were they freshmen in Season 1? They graduated from high school at the end of Season 4, which suggests that they were freshmen in Season 1, but that seems hard to believe, which leads me to think that there was a bit of a time consolidation between Seasons 1 and 2), and he had reservations of taking the role because of his age (also partially because, at age 20, he was already looking forward to a post-acting career).
Okay, that’s it for this week!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org