E.S. Putt

Filmed August 1970

On Thursday, August 13, the day after I wrapped BACK TO NATURE, I was back on Stage 11 at the 20th Century Fox studio filming the Professor putting around on E.S. Putt.

As with the earlier NANNY’s I directed, we had a four-day shooting schedule: the first two days at the studio, the third day on location at a golf club and the final day back at the studio. But to continue with our first day’s filming, let’s establish the incident that would drive (pun intended) our current story.

Writing posts for this website has unexpected bonuses. It’s amazing the things I learn from Comments left by viewers. The following was left on my last post for THE INDIA QUEEN:

Ralph, did you know that you were the only director on Nanny to shoot from inside the closet? Not once but twice.

I was impressed forty-five years ago with the professionalism of the three youngsters, David Doremus, Trent Lehman and Kim Richards. They always knew their lines, always stayed in character and always LISTENED. That was a major accomplishment for children their age. David was 12 years old; Trent was 9, and Kim was 5, but a high bar of professional behavior had been set for them many years before. Robert Osborne on a recent screening on Turner Classic Movies of the film, NOW AND FOREVER, related a great story. The film, directed by Henry Hathaway, was the second time he directed Shirley Temple. A year earlier she had played a bit part in a film he directed, a Randolph Scott western, TO THE LAST MAN. Osborne talked about the shooting of a scene in that film involving Shirley and a horse. In that scene the horse was supposed to beg Shirley for a lump of sugar, but the horse took things a bit too far, and at one point while cameras rolled he reared up on two legs and tried to kick Shirley. Well Shirley never missed a beat. When the horse stopped bucking, she scolded it to never do that again. Hathaway then called, “Cut,” and asked Shirley if the horse had scared her. She said that it had. Hathaway then asked, “Well, why didn’t you stop the scene?” Shirley responded, “Oh, I would never do that.” At the time Shirley was 4 years old.

I wonder if NANNY had been produced by someone other than Charles FitzSimons, what would have been the chances of the story line not having a romantic relationship develop between Nanny and her Professor! My guess would be slim!

There was an explanation for the professionalism of the three pre-teenagers: Juliet Mills and Richard Long. Not that the two coached the youngsters, because if they did, I never saw it. Just the example they set by their own professional on-set behavior and the high excellence of their performances. The previous scene of the Professor’s rage is a perfect example. To play anger comedically (I know there is no such adverb, but I prefer it to comically) takes great skill, which Richard exhibited matched by Juliet’s. And it would have been even funnier without the laugh track!

Our third day of filming was on location at a golf course. I don’t have the call sheets for this episode, so I have to rely on my memory, and as I recall, we filmed at the Hillcrest Country Club located south of Pico Boulevard across the street from the 20th Century Fox Studio. Hillcrest opened in 1920 and was the first Los Angeles country club for the city’s Jewish community. It was established because in the early days of the movie industry in Hollywood, Jews were not permitted to join non-Jewish country clubs. Keenan Wynn told me a wonderful story relating to that period. Keenan’s father, the great star Ed Wynn, was allowed to be a member of one of those restricted clubs. One time he took his young son Keenan with him, and there was an objection raised when Keenan prepared to go into the swimming pool. Ed Wynn spoke up and said Keenan would only go in the water up to his waist, which would be okay because he was only half Jewish.

That was hardly a strong enough ending for the episode, and it wasn’t. The final tag scene that aired on ABC during the series’ network run was eliminated when NANNY went into syndication. Here’s the script for that scene:

tag1

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The journey continues

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6 Responses to E.S. Putt

  1. John Dayton says:

    I remember David Doremus as G.W. Haines on The Waltons – what a pro he was, a real gentleman and a pleasure to work with, David always had a smile. Too bad his character was drafted and killed in the war. When we read the script we were pretty sure David wouldn’t be back. Btw this full episode is on Hulu – including the final scene in the Study – fun to watch – dialogue is identical to your script Ralph, all except for the phone call – Nannie says “… definitely white gardenias” (not Boddington Petroleum) then explains to the Professor that Dr. Englund’s ESP told him to buy white gardenias for his date. Fun. Do you recall this change, Ralph? Thanks for re-introducing me to the series, all the episodes are there on Hulu, wish the prints were restored.

    • Ralph says:

      I don’t recall the change. I’m sure it was just one of those times when Juliet (as most actors did) just made the change — and it was always for the better.

  2. Phil says:

    I wonder if Charles FitzSimons considered getting sis Maureen O’Hara as a guest star. This series had a lot of “vintage Hollywood” guest stars, including Van Johnson, Cesar Romero, Ida Lupino, Elsa Lanchester, Cecil Kellaway, John Mills, etc. It also had your ill-fated Prof. Robey (Don Beddoe) from ‘The Wild Wild West’ as the mailman for a few eps.

    Ralph, regarding exec. producer David Gerber, did you ever meet his wife Laraine Stephens? She acted in many of DG’s shows, but it doesn’t look like she was in any of your projects. She did a 3rd-season episode of ‘NATP’, but hulu.com does not have it.

    It’s a shame this show got chopped up in syndication. In the 3rd video, they deleted Mr. McDonald’s tongue twister recollection of Bobby Jones winning the British Open in 1930. In the 4th video, they took out Everett asking Englund on the phone to up their bet to $20.

    You are so right about the anger scene in the 4th video…a continuous 96 seconds of superb acting, writing, and directing! Even the F/X channel had the good sense not to mar it in the editing room.

    I, too, echo the call for ‘NATP’ to come out on DVD un-cut. It didn’t have a long run, but 54 episodes is a pretty good amount. A family could watch it today without having to cover the kids’ ears or eyes every five seconds.

    I think Richard Long was a golf nut in real life, so he must have loved this ep. Did you need multiple takes to get a putt that touched the edge of the hole (6th video, 4:47)?

    • Ralph says:

      I’ll try to answer or comment in the order they were fired! I don’t know if Charles ever considered Maureen as a guest star on NOTP. As far as I know the only time they worked together as producer and actress was when he produced THE DEADLY COMPANIONS in 1961. Charles was an actor in THE QUIET MAN. Incidentally THE DEADLY COMPANIONS was Sam Peckinpah’s first feature film direction after three years directing television. I’m afraid if it had been up to Charlie, it would have been Sam’s last directing assignment.

      I never met (as far as I remember) Laraine Stephens. And interesting you ask about that putt shot. I don’t remember how or how long it took to get it. I can see we froze the frame of the ball sitting on the edge of the hole. I didn’t know Richard was a golf “nut”, but his body language certainly confirms he must have been. Good because my last NANNY coming up soon was another golf show. And I was NOT a golf nut. I played ONE round of golf in my life and that’s was it. Who knew I would end up living in an area where golf courses are one of the premier attractions! I can see some of the holes at Pebble Beach when I walk on the beach.

  3. rich says:

    Ralph,

    I am a friend of Marlyn Mason and I was talking with her yesterday and we spoke about you. I just want to say how impressed I am with you and your website. I want to tell you that I have Web-Mastered sites before, but have never seen an entertainment site with this much detail and input. It is a TV and Movie buff’s dream! Marlyn has told me about your collection. I think you would like my collection as well. I have documentaries for many of the studios, including Republic. I also have the Thames series “Hollywood” with narrator James Mason. You would like my theater. Any way, you were involved in so many great early TV shows and tell you us about the details. That is great. By the way I am the guy who sent you a post about the coincidence in seeing you on an interview about a Fugitive episode and then seeing that same episode the same evening on ME TV. Thanks, so much for you and your site, Ralph.
    Rich- 954-328-9959

  4. Phil says:

    Finding any videos from this series is more difficult than ever, now that hulu.com has become a subscription-only service. Even before that, they had nothing from the truncated 3rd season. Youtube has almost nothing from any season. However, I recently stumbled over a 2-minute clip of Howard Cosell interviewing Richard Long during intermission of a pre-season Monday Night Football game (8/30/1971) in Kansas City…it starts at 9:54. HC was a guest star on a future episode.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0nuecGXlpQ

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