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Jamie Farr on Lucy: a Lucy Lounge exclusive!


Brock
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I had an opportunity to talk to Jamie Farr for a little bit this afternoon and, of course, I asked him about working with Lucy on "Lucy, The Rain Goddess." First, Jamie confirmed that Harry Morgan is still doing well, although he is forced to use a walker now. I took a screen capture of his appearance in the show which he signed. On seeing the photo of himself in Rain Goddess, the first thing he said was, "Oh, for God's Sake!" In talking briefly about the episode he had nothing but enthusiastic praise for Douglas Fowley (and his false teeth), who played his father in the episode. Then he started talking to me about Lucy. Here are the highlights of what he said:

 

"Lucy was the greatest, I have to tell you, but tough. SHE WAS TOUGH. If you got on her show and you didn’t deliver you were out of there very fast. She liked me. She really liked me and we became very, very good friends.

 

"When I was doing a revival of the musical Oklahoma! playing Ali Hakim and we opened at the Pantages theatre in Los Angeles, Lucy came to see me and gave me a big hug with her second husband, the comedian Gary Morton. Gary and I were good buddies.

 

"I have to tell you this story: Marvin Davis, who bought 20th Century Fox – Marvin has since passed on and, of course, it was sold to Rupert Murdoch, the Australian magnate who owns practically everything – but when Marvin had it, he used to have a big show in Denver, Colorado called the Carousel Ball and he would have everybody who were celebrities fly in a private airplane to go to Denver. He invited and I said, ‘Well, Mr. Davis, I never fly on private airplanes, I like commercial.” He said, “No, you’ll like this airplane, I’ll send a limousine for you, and it goes out of Santa Monica Airport. Believe me it is very, very safe.” So, I said, ‘Okay’, and the car picks me up and it drives me to Santa Monica Airport, I get on the airplane and who is on the airplane? Sammy Davis, Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Peck, Mr. and Mrs. Cary Grant, and Lucille Ball. I get in there and Cary Grant is sitting back there with his wife, Gregory Peck was with his wife, and Sammy was back with Altovise.

 

"Lucy calls me up, she’s sitting in the cockpit area and at that time you could smoke cigarettes on the plane. She said, “Don’t go back there! Don’t go back there! Those are a bunch of snobs back there. Don’t even talk to them, you stay up here with me!” So I stayed up there with Lucy and we chatted and talked and told stories. She did a lot of movies and stuff with Red Skelton, who was my mentor, so when the plane lands, Mr. Davis came up to me and said, “Well, how did you like the flight? Wasn’t it great?”and I said, “Mr. Davis, don’t you ever do this to me again. He said, “Why? What was the matter with the flight?” and I said, “There was nothing wrong with the flight, but do you realise that if the airplane had crashed I would have got last billing in the obituaries!”

 

"Lucy was the best. She was great. Just before she passed away NBC had a big show – I used to do a lot of game shows and I did about five game shows with Bert Convy and I think it was Super Password – and they were doing this big special and Lucy got up there and she was 80 years old [sic] and she was in this chorus girl’s outfit with the legs. Her legs looked like some young kid’s gorgeous legs. She still looked great at that time. Shortly after that Lucy passed away, but she was a grand lady, but it just was that she was tough. You had to be good or else you didn’t stick around her very long!"

 

 

I assume he was referring to the Happy Birthday, Bob! special and the Comedy Is A Serious Business Number. I also asked him about his bit parts on The Dick Van Dyke Show. More on that later.

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Great stuff!

How did you get your audience with Jamie?

It's too bad he wasn't in a better episode so you could pile on 'heap big praise' for the show.

 

 

I told him it was "a very intriguing episode". LOL

 

He's appearing in the title role in a production of Tuesdays With Morrie at the Stage West Theatre in Mississauga, Ontario and he had an appearance this afternoon signing copies of the book at a local store. Since there were, unfortunately, very few people there, he had a lot of time to shoot the breeze with everyone before the signing began.

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Here's what he told me about getting cast on The Dick Van Dyke Show:

 

"That was great! Actually, I had just gotten out of the army and I was resurrecting my career and it was hard because I had been away for two years. I was doing the Red Skelton Show before I left and was offered all kinds of television shows. I actually almost played Maynard on Dobie Gillis. Bob Denver did it. Then I got drafted. I finished a movie with Andy Griffith and Nick Adams called No Time For Sergeants and I played Lt. Gardelli in that and then I went into the real army as a private! I was stationed in Louisville, Kentucky, I was stationed in Arizona and then wound up in Japan and Korea and I was there for two years.

 

"When I got back it was hard starting up and several of my friends – Clint had Rawhide at that time when I got back. (Clint and I were in acting classes together. He was a great guy and he’s still a wonderful guy. He hasn’t changed at all. When he sees you he still gives you a big hug and talks about the old days) He and Bob Donner were good friends and it was Carl Reiner who got me a job as Snappy Service on The Dick Van Dyke Show. I thank Carl very, very, very much for that because it was hard. If you didn’t have any current credits they didn’t want to take a chance on putting someone on a show and being embarrassed by somebody who is a bad actor.

 

"The irony of it is Dick Van Dyke was from Danville, Illinois and my wife is from Danville, Illinois, population 44,000 people and my wife lived around the corner from the Van Dykes. Dick’s brother Jerry married my wife’s first cousin, so when I was doing the show and my wife came down there they just talked about Danville, Illinois...which is still about 44,000 people in that place."

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Bonus story on the M*A*S*H wardrobe, courtesy of eavesdropping on another person's conversation with him:

 

"The costume person used to be a scout for the Dodgers and he had terrible taste, so he’d take me into the 20th Century Fox’s wardrobe department and he picked out a lot of that stuff. I wound up wearing the clothes of lot of the old stars’ like Alice Faye, Betty Grable, Dame May Whitty and stuff like that. Oh! I’ve gotta tell you this story – I had done a show and I had an outfit that the great Ginger Rogers had worn in one of her movies and, anyway, I’m in the commissary the very next day the show aired and Ginger Rogers is shooting a Love Boat and she’s sitting there and she says, 'Jamie! I saw the show last night and you had one of my old outfits on. You know, it looked a heck of a lot better on you than me!'"

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Bonus story on the M*A*S*H wardrobe, courtesy of eavesdropping on another person's conversation with him:

 

"The costume person used to be a scout for the Dodgers and he had terrible taste, so he’d take me into the 20th Century Fox’s wardrobe department and he picked out a lot of that stuff. I wound up wearing the clothes of lot of the old stars’ like Alice Faye, Betty Grable, Dame May Whitty and stuff like that. Oh! I’ve gotta tell you this story – I had done a show and I had an outfit that the great Ginger Rogers had worn in one of her movies and, anyway, I’m in the commissary the very next day the show aired and Ginger Rogers is shooting a Love Boat and she’s sitting there and she says, 'Jamie! I saw the show last night and you had one of my old outfits on. You know, it looked a heck of a lot better on you than me!'"

Great stories Brockie, thanks for meeting him, and getting all that great material from him, just terrific to read.

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What fun that you got to meet him in person, Brock! Great stories :lucy1: ; thanks for posting them for us :D .

 

I'll bet you were one of the only (maybe THE only) person to ever ask him about his Lucy Show appearance B) . Probably a refreshing change of pace for him as he probably gets asked about M*A*S*H* most of the time. :professor:

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What fun that you got to meet him in person, Brock! Great stories :lucy1: ; thanks for posting them for us :D .

 

I'll bet you were one of the only (maybe THE only) person to ever ask him about his Lucy Show appearance B) . Probably a refreshing change of pace for him as he probably gets asked about M*A*S*H* most of the time. :professor:

And his cross dressing wardrobe i bet.

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