Living in the Valley is like stepping into TV Land. Here, you never know who you might run into from the world of retro television.
I grew up watching shows like Lost in Space, Brady Bunch, Happy Days and Family Affair, to name a few. The shows' characters entered my living room through that little rabbit-eared box. I watched these people sitting around family dinner tables and lost on strange planets; I watched them getting into all kinds of situations that were resolved in just minutes.
Each time I've bumped into one of these actors from the shows I watched as a kid, it's sort of an odd experience.
Here are my TV Land moments:
I loved Lost in Space. There was so much to like: The robot, the assorted goofy aliens, the antics of that annoying Dr. Smith and his sissified whining...but, oh! I had a huge crush on Billy Mumy. That red hair. Those freckles. That smile. Wow!...I tuned in every chance I got, completely lost in space.
Mark Goddard, Don West from Lost in Space, convinced me when I was young, stupid and new to LA to join some new-agey EST-like group called Summit. He told me it would be great for acting. I left after the first day. Thanks, Major West!
Henry Winkler, the Fonz on Happy Days. But I didn't see him in the Valley. It was at the UCLA book festival.
And then there was my Jump the Shark moment. Way back around 1977, I was body surfing at Paradise Cove in Malibu as Happy Days filmed some of the scenes from that show where Fonzie jumped over a shark. That episode gave birth to the phrase "Jump the Shark."
Johnny Whitaker, Jody on Family Affair. We both reached for the same blueberry muffin at the Vons Bakery. The minute I saw his red hair and smiling dimpled face (older but still very recognizable), I smiled back. I think he let me have the muffin.
Kirk Cameron, from Growing Pains. I was too old to watch this show, but I recognized him. Again, at an ATM machine.
Robbie Rist, Cousin Oliver from the Brady Bunch. We almost had jury duty together, but he got out of it. I have a kid, help run a business and had only one car working. Robbie Rist gets out of jury duty at the Van Nuys court, but I don't. He told the judge, "I have acting obligations." The lawyer I sat next to elbowed me and whispered "Bullshit" in my ear.
Phillip McKeon, Tommy from Alice. He came to a party my roommate and I threw when we lived in Studio City.
Marcia Wallace, Carol from the Bob Newhart Show. That was one of my favorite shows. So I was thrilled to meet Marcia at the UCLA Festival of Books. What a nice woman! Oops...that wasn't a Valley TV Land moment. Oh, well.
David Carradine, the guy from Kung-Fu. I guess I should mention him, since he sometimes played (I can't remember what instrument) in a band for our neighborhood block party. I just get a little queazy when I think of that show. My friend's brother watched it and would try to karate kick me in the head.
Anyway, that's why I think living in the Valley is like switching the channel to the TV Land station and climbing right in. You just never know who you might bump into while running errands.