Today is the birthday of popular character actor Barnard Hughes (1915-2006). Theatre lovers know him from his long running Broadway hit Da (1978-1980, with many ensuing tours and revivals). But I knew him originally from his 1975-1976 CBS sit-com Doc.
In Doc Hughes played a lovable small town doctor with a bunch of kooky patients. The equally lovable Elizabeth Wilson (who’s still with us, BTW) played his wife, and the ubiquitious Mary Wickes played a smart-mouthed nurse. If I recall correctly, the energy was kind of like The Bob Newhart Show. One of my best, most distinctive memories of this show: it was one of the first places I ever saw Steve Martin, whom I think played Doc’s banjo playing son.
Doc was quite popular in its first season but for the second they changed the format, adding cast members Audra Lindley, David Ogden Stiers (pre-M*A*S*H), Professor Irwin Corey and Herbie Faye. Despite that awesome line-up, the public didn’t go for the new format and the show was cancelled just a few episodes into its second season.
To find out more about the history of show business, 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