Today is the birthday of popular actor Richard Long (1927-1974). While I was to discover a lot of his early work later in reruns of The Big Valley and The Twilight Zone and his entertaining turn in Williams Castle’s House on Haunted Hill, ironically I was to come to know some of his last work first.
In Nanny and the Professor (1970-1971), Long played one of those struggling but glamorous single dads in the subgenre I mentioned in this earlier post, in which the hard-working parent is helped with child-rearing by a lovable servant, in this case a magical English nanny (Juliet Mills) who wears a cape and a deerstalker cap. When I say “‘magical”, I mean literally, in the approved Bewitched/ I Dream of Jeannie fashion.
The show had strong Disney connections. In addition to being pretty obviously inspired by Mary Poppins, star Juliet Mills was (and is) the sister of Hayley Mills (Pollyanna, The Parent Trap), and the littlest child on the show Kim Richards would later star in such Disney fare as the Whiz Kid and Witch Mountain series. The cast reassembled for a couple of Nanny and the Professor animated tv films in 1972 and 1973, and may well have done more if not for the fact that Long died of a heart attack at age 47 in 1974.
At any rate, the show is on the fringes of my memory as some of my earliest tv viewing. Here’s the groovy post-psychedelic theme song (sans picture):
Elsa Lanchester played Nanny’s magical auntie:
To learn more about show business history, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.
And don’t miss my new book Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, just released by Bear Manor Media, also available from amazon.com etc etc etc