Search This Blog


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Y&R Report (June 20, 2015): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet. Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance.

Well, my goodness, didn't Ashley Abbott recover from brain surgery rather quickly? Immediately after surgery (due to an aneurysm), she appeared at work looking as spry and perfectly groomed as ever.  Even though Stitch and Abby told her to relax, she was raring to go. I must say, those Genoa City doctors can work miracles.  Yet I wonder how that aneurysm episode fits into the plot.  What purpose did it serve regarding the storyline?  Was it just thrown in for no reason?

So now Joe Clark is trying to use his dubious charm on a bitter, vulnerable Lily. What a scoundrel he is!  However, I think Lily is too intelligent to fall for Joe's phony flattery, drunk or sober.  The whole Lauren/Michael,/Cane/Lilly storyline is contrived.  It seems the writers are just trying to create conflict for the two happiest couples on the show. Perhaps soaps should hire special writers to create good stories for happy couples, if that's possible.

In a recent interview with Soap Central, Tracey Bregman, who plays Lauren Fenmore, addressed the problem and acknowleged that the current Michael/ Lauren storyline is not popular.  Here is what she told Kambra Clifford when asked about the direction of the plot and fan reaction to Michael's (Christian LeBlanc) cancer and his rejection of Lauren.

I know. It's been a very, very hard story. But I think the actor in me and the actor in Christian, we just want the scenes to be emotionally rich and [we want] something to play, so we were excited for the possibility, even though I know it hasn't been a fan favorite story. It's so hard for our fans to think that anything could come between us, but as actors, we sort of look forward to something that interesting and different to do. But in saying that, we are very protective of our characters, and we want the story to have a good outcome.


Some fans are very disenchanted with the direction the show has taken since Charles Pratt became head writer.  Regular viewer Carly from Barrhaven, Ontario, who is one of them, sent me the following comments.

You are not kidding about the Y&R head writer being off the wall...TOTALLY.  I wish he could be replaced.  I keep wondering why I still watch it.  I can tell you that I do a lot of fast forwarding.  Kyle & Summer are getting on my nerves as well.  The Jack storyline is so stupid & Victor will never be brought down.  It's too bad about Avery .  They will probably kill her off.  Such stupid storylines.  I still miss the old Adam but not for the reason that the present actor isn't playing the part well.  I just miss Michael Muhney & since his firing the show has gone downhill.

Yes Carly, I agree that Charles Pratt's style is not to everyone's taste.  I think we all keep watching, though, because we still enjoy talking about Y&R and always hope the writing will improve or that a new character we like will join the cast.  It can be difficult to give up watching a show you've watch for years.  I also concur with you about Kyle and Summer.  I don't particularly like them as a couple.

I hope Victor will be brought down, but I'm not counting on it either.  He's been arrested but I think he will probably come out smelling like a rose again.  He does have a stronger rival in Marco, the Peruvian drug lord, though.

It is too bad about Avery.  Jessica Collins will be missed on the show.  The results of my last Y&R Report Reader's Poll confirm that Jessica is very well liked by viewers.  As of this writing, 88 per cent of those who responded to poll will miss her and are disappointed she is leaving.  I hope the writers don't kill her off because I would like the door to remain open for the possibility of her return. I wouldn't be surprised, though, if she became the third murder victim after after Austin and Courtney.

I too miss Michael Muhney.  However, Justin Hartley is a good replacement.


Is Billy Miller returning to The Young and the Restless? - Not if General Hospital can do something about it!

Recasts are hit and miss.  Y&R has found out the hard way that an actor like Billy Miller cannot be replaced.  They want him back!  Problem is he has done a fantastic job of taking over Steve Burton’s role of Jason on General Hospital.  Can you say bidding war?

- Carol Boorom

The Internet is awash with speculation about Billy Miller's return to his Y&R role as Billy Abbott. First of all, let me state my bias.  As a Y&R fan, I truly hope he comes back to Genoa City.  Yes, I can understand how General Hospital fans feel.  I have consistently stated that Y&R never should have let such a fine actor leave in the first place.  His departure was undoubtedly Y&R's loss and General Hospital's gain. In fact, I don't blame GH fans for arguing that Y&R doesn't deserve to get him back.  However, why should we Y&R fans pay for a mistake we had no part in?   Is it our fault that Y&R couldn't persuade him to sign a new contract?

From the perspective of a die-hard Y&R fan, nothing could be sweeter than the prospect of Billy Miller's return to the fold.  So far, there have been two replacements for Miller.  David Tom and Burgess Jenkins.  Neither seems to have connected with fans.  Neither has had the chemistry that Miller had with Amelia Heinle (Victoria).

Having said all that, is Billy Miller's return to Y&R just wishful thinking on the part of Y&R partisans or is it plausible?  Here are the facts.  According websites such as Soap Confidential, it is "confirmed" that Billy Miller will resume the role of Billy Abbott.  Burgesss Jenkins took over the part in June of 2014 and according to SoapHub, he "has kept very quiet regarding the length of his contract and if after this year is up he’ll be staying on the show."  Also, according to SoapHub, Billy Miller is only under contract with General Hospital until October of 2015.

The General Hospital Blog, of course, has attempted to quash the rumours, or at least make light of them.  That's understandable because General Hospital has more at stake if it loses Miller.  The departure of of Miller would be a terrible blow to GH and a boon to Y&R, already the top-rated U.S. soap.  Here is how the situation looks from a GH perspective.

From the General Hospital Blog:

The latest rumor circulating social media claims that Billy Miller is leaving General Hospital and going back to Y&R to reprise his role as Billy Abbot. These rumors have even gone as far as claiming that Steve Burton will be leaving his role as Dylan McAvoy on Y&R, and returning to GH as Jason Morgan. Some sites even claim that this news has been CONFIRMED in their title, yet there is absolutely no source to back up these claims.

General Hospital Blog would like to set this huge rumor straight, hopefully being able to clear things up for fans once and for all. The RUMORS that Billy Miller is leaving GH is JUST a RUMOR. As for Steve Burton leaving Y&R to return to GH as Jason Morgan, that alleged confirmation is also falsified.

Billy Miller is still under contract with General Hospital, as is Steve Burton with The Young and the Restless. Please keep checking back with us to find out more about the never ending drama. Let us know what you think regarding this Billy Miller/Steve Burton frenzy, leave your comments below. Please do daytime fans a service, and share this article to clear the air and inform them that the claims regarding these two actors are false.

The Billy Miller situation is an intriguing development.  Stay tuned!  The rivalry between Y&R and GH continues.


Kelly Sullivan (Sage) on contract

There is some good news for fans of Kelly Sullivan (Sage Warner).  The actress is now on contract for her role.  That means we will be seeing her on a regular basis.


What is the best storyline on Y&R right now?

The "two Jacks" saga
The murder mystery involving Abby, Summer, Kyle, Noah etc.
The Lauren/ Michael/Cane/Lily storyline
The Adam/Gabriel Bingham storyline
None of the above
I don't know
Poll Maker

That's all for now.  The next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, July 4, 2015.  Don't miss it!

- Joanne

TV Trivia For You #5

Here is the fifth installment of  TV Triva For You from TV Banter .  The first installment appeared on this blog  on June 14, 2012.  The second installment appeared on February 6, 2013, the third appeared on June 30, 2014 and the fourth on November 14, 2014.


DID YOU KNOW that Bryan Cranston based his portrayal of Breaking Bad's Walter White on his own father, Joseph Louis "Joe" Cranston (born July 29, 1924).  In a May 26, 2014 article in GQ magazine by Stuart McGurk, the actor revealed that his dad provided the model for Walter White's slumped shoulders and hunched posture.  "I gave him the weight of the world," he told the magazine."

Of his Breaking Bad character, a chemistry teacher turned drug lord, Cranston stated that the early Walter was depressed and that he was a man "much older than his years, who had missed opportunities in life."  Joe Cranston, as characterized by his son in the GQ piece, seems to fit that description perfectly.

Joe was a boxer in his younger years and served as a Navy pilot in World War II. He later became an actor, appearing in some television shows during the 1950s and 1960s.  His television credits include Highway Patrol (1956), Father Knows Best (1956)), Dragnet (four episodes between 1953 and 1957) and My Three Sons (1961). Work was sporadic, however, and he often found himself unemployed.

A young Joe Cranston

When Bryan Cranston was about 11 or 12, Joe left the family.  It wan't  until he was 22 years old that he and his brother, Kyle, tracked their father down.  In a June 10, 2015 USA Today article by Bryan Alexander, Bryan is quoted as saying, "It's quite interesting, when he left I was a boy. When I reacquainted with him, I was a man. The entire chunk of my teenage years were gone.  There was a tremendous amount of contrition on his part and then forgiveness. It ran the whole gamut of emotions."

According to the USA Today piece, Joe Cranston died in October of 2014 at the age of 90.


DID YOU KNOW that in the 1980s, a young Bryan Cranston pitched Preparation H, a treatment for hemorrhoids, in a television ad?  As you can see, he was bespectacled and dressed in a suit.


Sammy with Clarence Williams and Peggy Lipton in an episode of Mod Squad

DID YOU KNOW that Sammy Davis, Jr. appeared on three episodes of Mod Squad? His first appearance was during the show's first season in 1969.  He played the role of a militant priest, Father John Banks, in "Keep the Faith, Baby" (Season 1, Episode 23, Air Date (March 25, 1969).  The episode finds Father Banks in conflict with his diocese and is suspended by the Church due to his ghetto activities.  When a youth receives a bullet intended for the priest, the Mod Squad is immediately called into action.

It is interesting to note that an up-and-coming actor by the name of Robert Duvall also had a role in "Keep the Faith, Baby."  Duvall, who was 38 at the time, played the part of Matt Jenkins, a murderer who threatens the life of Father Banks because he fears the priest will break his seal of confession.

Sammy's second appearance on The Mod Squad occurred in 1970, during the second season of the series.  In an episode entitled "Survival House" (Season 2, Episode 19 Air Date: February 10, 1970). Davis portrayed a recovered drug addict, Billy Lee Watson, who becomes the director of a halfway house.  Watson is accused of statutory rape by the father of a girl who is drug-addicted and pregnant.

Sammy's final guest appearance on the series was during its third season.  In the fall of 1970, Davis played the title character, Willie Rush, an episode called "The Song of Willie" (Season 3, Episode 5, October 20, 1970).  The Squad is asked to investigate when Rush, an actor and old friend of Lincoln Hayes (Clarence Williams III), seemingly becomes the recipient of death threats.


In the course of my research on Sammy Davis, Jr.'s television credits, I came across a few interesting tidbits.

* In 1963, Sammy appeared as Eddie Phillips on the soap opera General Hospital. Also in 1963, he was a guest star on the television medical drama Ben Casey.  He played Allie Burns in an episode of the series entitled "Allie" (Season 3, Episode 4, Air Date: October 2, 1963).

Sammy Davis with Vince Edwards as Dr. Ben Casey in 1963

* In 1965, Sammy appeared as himself in an episode of The Patty Duke Show entitled "Will the Real Sammy Davis Please Hang Up?" (Season 2, Episode 25, Air Date: March 3, 1965).  In the episode, Patty attempts to get Sammy to appear at her high school prom.

In 1967, Sammy portrayed himself in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie with Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden.  In the episode, entitled "The Greatest Entertainer in the World" (Season 2, Episode 23, Air Date: February 27, 1967), Jeannie works her magic so that a duplicate of Sammy can appear at a birthday celebration.

Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden with Sammy in I Dream of Jeannie episode

What is the most memorable Sammy Davis, Jr. television moment?  It is is undoubtedly the kiss Sammy planted on the bigoted Archie Bunker during an appearance on All in the Family in 1972. In the episode, entitled "Sammy's Visit" (Season 2, Episode 21, Air Date: February 19, 1972), Archie is moonlighting as a taxi driver.  When Sammy leaves his briefcase in the cab, he visits the Bunker house to retrieve it.  When the two are photographed, Sammy plants the kiss, much to Archie's shock and disbelief.  Now that's classic television!

- Joanne

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Y&R Report (June 6, 2015): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet. Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance.

Well, I have to say that I enjoyed the Nikki intervention episode.  Her alcoholism storyline finally came to a head.  Once in awhile, it's interesting to have an episode that focuses on one character. We all know that there will be more trials and tribulation for Nikki when she leaves rehab because, my friends, that is the essence of soaps.

Are you glad that Detective Mark Harding is back in town?  Although he's never been one on my favourite characters, he seems to have acquired some wisdom and intelligence during his absence from Genoa City. He actually enlightened his boss, clueless police chief, Paul Williams, when The Clueless One declared that Tobias was the killer, case closed. Although Harding is no friend to Kevin, he argued that the computer whiz had a point when he warned that the murders had been solved too easily and that Tobias had been set up. Of course, Clueless Paul ended up arresting Kevin.

The writers have turned Neil into a really vengeful man for the purposes of a storyline.  There is no doubt that Neil was terribly wronged by Devon and Hilary. Now, however, he is hungering for payback and fantasizing about revenge.

The saga of the two Jacks continues, although we don't have to watch those loathsome scenes between Jack and Kelly anymore.  Peter Bergman seems to be enjoying himself immensely.  I think he likes playing Marco because he can let loose and be a lot tougher on Victor.  However, Bergman can't play a dual role permanently.  Sooner or later, one of the "Jacks" is going to have to go - and I don't think it's going to be the real Jack Abbott.  It's obvious that Marco will either die or go to prison.

Marco is supposed to be South American, but Peter Bergman doesn't look Latin at all.  The fake moustache doesn't really help.  As for Marco's girlfriend, the mysterious Marisa, wouldn't she speak to Marco in Spanish?  If she did  she'd discover that the real Jack can't speak Spanish and she'd realize that he isn't Marco. Then there would be no storyline.  That's why soaps aren't realistic, fans.

The Great Victor Newman is certainly finding it much more difficult to deal with a drug lord than with Jack Abbott.  Could this be the storyline that finally brings Victor down?.  I hope so.  It's about time that Victor loses.  It's about time he has his comeuppance.  The Black Knight never accepts any responsibility for his actions. He always blames someone else, especially Jack Abbott.  Now he's blaming Neil for Nikki's decision to live apart from him when she leaves the rehab facility.  Boo! Hiss!

So Ashley is popping prescription pills.  I hope she doesn't have a serious illness or an addiction, but what else could it be?   Haven't we had enough of that on the show with Michael's cancer and Nikki and Neil's alcoholism?


Regular reader, Fifi from Collingwood, Ontario, made a point to me regarding Avery and the scene where she slapped Joe in the face when she discovered his deceit about being able to walk.  Fifi contends that there is a double standard.  She says it shouldn't be any more acceptable for a woman to slap a man in the face than it is for a man to strike a woman.  On soaps, it is a common occurrence for a woman to hit a man.  What do you think, viewers?  Do you agree with Fifi?


Who is Nikki's "Angel?"

Frank Runyeon

A reader wants to know about the actor who played "Angel," the doctor at the rehab facility where Nikki is being treated for alcoholism.  His name is Frank Runyeon and he is no stranger to soaps.
From 1980 to 1987, he played Steve Andropoulos on As the World Turns.  He then starred as Michael Donnelly on Santa Barbara from 1988 until 1991, Simon Romero on General Hospital in 1992 and Ed McClain on Another World in 1994.

Frank received a Masters degree from the General Theological Seminary in New York and performs one-man biblical plays throughout the United States.  With that flowing beard, he certainly resembles a biblical prophet or apostle.

Jessica Collins leaving Y&R

Soap Opera Digest and Daytime Confidential have reported that Jessica Collins, who plays legal eagle Avery Bailey Clark, has been let go from The Young and the Restless. The popular actress will apparently exit the show this summer amid rumours that the departure head writer Charles Pratt originally planned for her was so controversial that it had to be rewritten.  If true, that doesn't surprise me at all. It's Pratt's style.  It's exactly how he operates.

Jessica's leaving is surprising news and it is disappointing to many Y&R viewers. Collins has been a member of the cast since 2011.  Some fans really liked the pairing of her character with Dylan and are unhappy that he is now with Sharon.

When Avery goes, what will happen to the deceitful Joe Clark (Scott Elrod)?  Joe really can walk and Avery was appalled when she learned that he has been lying to her.  That shocking revelation will undoubtedly lead to her departure. After Jessica leaves, I think Elrod will most likely remain on the show. His Joe character may become involved with Ashley or Phyllis or maybe even Sharon.  As for Jessica, perhaps she will join the cast of General Hospital along with former Y&R stars Michelle Stafford and Billy Miller.


How do you feel about Jessica Collins (Avery) leaving the show?

I'm disappointed. I really like her and I will miss her when she goes.
I don't care one way or another.
I'm glad. I don't think she's a good actress and the show will be better off without her.
I don't know.
Poll Maker

That's all for now.  Don't forget that the newt edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, June 20, 2015.

- Joanne

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Whatever happened to Erin Murphy (Tabitha on Bewitched)?

People still recognize me all the time! Bewitched is one of the few television shows that has never been off the air. We filmed in the 60s and 70s and we’ve been on TV ever since. I think the small amount of fame that I have is definitely a blessing. I’ve had wonderful travel and work opportunities because of being an actress on a popular TV show and people love the show, so they’re always pleasant when they approach.

- Erin Murphy
Interview with Douglas Cobb
In The Guardian Liberty Voice, May 6, 2014

Can you believe that Erin Murphy, who portrayed little Tabitha Stephens on Bewitched, is 50 years old now?  It's true.  Unlike many former child stars, however, the actress does not look upon her years on Bewitched as a negative experience.  In a November 15, 1999 article in People magazine, she is quoted as saying, "Being a child star was a positive thing.  I have such good memories from doing the show."

Erin Margaret Murphy was born on June 17, 1964 in Encino, California, an affluent neigbourhood in the Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.  She is the daughter of Dan Murphy, a financial investor who died in 1992, and his wife Stephanie, a homemaker.

Not long after her first birthday, Erin was featured in a detergent commercial with none other than former U.S. president Ronald Reagan. As a child, she appeared in numerous ads, sometimes competing with the likes of Jodie Foster and Helen Hunt for a part.  In 1966, prior to her second birthday, she began portraying baby Tabitha on the hit television comedy Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery as the loveable nose-twitching witch, Samantha, and Dick York as her befuddled advertising executive husband, Darrin Stephens.

Bewitched debuted in 1964, but Tabitha was born during the show's second season in an episode entitled "And Then There Were Three."  The episode aired on January 13, 1966.  Baby Tabitha was originally played by Cynthia Black, Heidi and Laura Gentry, and Tamar and Julie Young.

At the beginning of third season of Bewitched, Erin Murphy and her fraternal twin sister, Diane, began sharing the role of Tabitha.  They first appeared in an episode entitled "Nobody's Perfect," which aired on September 15, 1966.  As time passed, the twins began to resemble each other less.  As a result, Erin eventually took over the role of the irrepressible child witch.  In that 1999 article in People, Diane denied that there was any sibling rivalry between her and her twin sister because "they had a lot of structure at home."

Erin Murphy (left) and sister Diane 

Erin is one of the few regular Bewitched cast member still alive  Her TV mother, Elizabeth Montgomery, died of colon cancer on May 18, 1995 at the age of 62.  The first Darrin, Dick York, died on February 20, 1992 of complications from emphysema.  He left Bewitched after season five due to severe back pain and addiction to painkillers.  From season six until the show went off the air in 1972, Dick Sargent played the role of Darrin Stephens. Sargent died of prostate cancer on July 8, 1994 at the age of 64.

Erin had a close relationship with Agnes Moorehead, who played Endora, Samantha's mother and Tabitha's grandmother.  Agnes died of uterine cancer in Rochester, Minnesota on April 30, 1974.  She was 74 at the time of her passing.

Erin as Tabitha with Agnes Moorehead as Endora

In an interview with Carl Amari on the website Reminisce, here is how Erin replied when asked to name her favourite actor on Bewitched:

I loved them all, but my favourite was Agnes Moorehead.  She was nothing like people may think. Everyone thought she was scary, but she wasn't scary at all.  To me, she was like a grandma.  I loved visiting her dressing room, which was all purple.  She was smart and funny and would draw me little cartoons.  I just loved her so much.  She was such a colourful and amazing person.

Paul Lynde, who portrayed Endora's brother,Uncle Arthur, passed away on January 10, 1982.  He was found dead at his home in Beverly Hills, California, and the coroner ruled the death a heart attack.  Lynde was 55 years old.

Maurice Evans, the English actor who played Samantha's father Maurice, died of heart failure on March 12, 1989.  He was 87.

Marion Lorne, who played sweet, confused Aunt Clara, Lorne died of a heart attack on May 9, 1968 at the age of 84.  Her death, at the age of 84, came just before production of the show's fifth season.

Aunt Clara with Tabitha

David White, who portrayed Darrin's boss, Larry Tate, died of a heart attack on November 27, 1990. He was 74.

Alice Pearce, who played nosy neighbour Gladys Kravitz, died of ovarian cancer on March 3, 1966, towards the end of the show's second season.  Pearce was diagnosed with cancer before the show began and was only 48 when she passed away.  Her replacement on the show, Sandra Gould, died of a stroke at the age of 82, on July 20, 1999.

George Tobias, who portrayed Gladys' long-suffering husband, Abner Kravitz, died of bladder cancer on February 27, 1980.  He was 78 years old.

Bernard Fox, the British actor who played Dr. Bombay from 1967 to 1972 is still living at the age of 87.

Alice Ghostley, who appeared in 15 episodes as the nanny/maid Esmeralda between 1969 and 1972, passed away on September 21, 2007 at the age of 84.

Mabel Albertson, who played Darrin's mother, Phyllis Stephens, died of Alzheimer's disease on September 28, 1982.  She was 81.

Twins Greg and David Lawrence portrayed Tabitha's younger brother, Adam Stephens, from 1970 to 1972.  Adam, who did not have magical powers, was born on an episode that aired on October 16, 1969.  The episode was entitled "And Something Makes Four."  He was only shown as an infant that season, and the baby who portrayed him was uncredited.

The twins who played Adam Stephens

Below is a picture of the brothers as they appeared on a talk show hosted by Vicki Lawrence.  David (left) is now known as David Mandal-Bloch.and Greg is now Greg Mandal.  They claim to be the sons of the late actor Tony Curtis, but Curtis never acknowledged them.  "Mandal" is their adoptive family's name.

In her interview with Carl Amari, Erin explained why she believes Bewitched has remained so popular after all these years.  She made the following comment:

If something is done well, whether it’s television, music or radio, it holds up over time. The show was well-written, we had a really great cast and director, and it was a high-quality production. I think it’s still funny today, and people still love it.

Although a mere eight years old when Bewitched ended, Erin Murphy took a hiatus from acting and lived a life away from show business.  She busied herself with such activities as being a Girl Scout and a cheerleader.  Then she attended San Diego State University for two years.

Erin Murphy's Facebook photo

In 1994, Erin attempted to revive her career by doing the talk show circuit with other child stars such as Danny Bonaduce of The Partridge Family and Gary Coleman of Diff'rent Strokes.  However. as she told People magazine, it was not a good experience.  In comparison to the troubled Bonaduce and Coleman, Erin was highlighted as the child star who managed to avoid their problems.  She soon discovered that she "didn't want to be the poster child for good child stars."

Erin Murrhy has been married three times, divorced twice, and is the mother of six sons.  She wed her first husband, Terry Rogers, on November 4, 1984, when she was just 20 years old.  Rogers, 40, owned a wood-flooring compnay.  The couple left California and moved to Tucson, Ariizona.  In Arizona, Erin worked as a stunt double, a karaoke club hostess and a makeup artist.  She and Rogers had two sons: Jason (born 1985) and Grant (born 1988).  Their marriage, however. did not last, and they divorced in 1989.

After her divorce, Erin returned to California with her two young boys.  In 1993, she married her second husband, Eric Eden, a rock musician, and the pair settled in Newark, Delaware. That marriage lasted until 1998 and produced one son, Clark (born 1995).

Erin has been married to her third husband, Darren Dunckel, since May of 1998. They met in a bar on St. Patrick's Day and tied the knot two months later. Coincidentally, he has the same first name (although spelled differently) as her television father, Darrin Stephens. Strangely enough, Dunckel told People magazine that his sister teased him when he was a kid by calling him "Durwood," the name Endora used to put down her son-in-law, Darrin,

Darren Dunckel

Darren and Erin

Dunckel, a financial executive, has been CEO at Atomic Paintball Inc. since 2012. He and Erin are the parents of three sons: Dylan (born 1999), Parker and Carson. Their son Parker has autism and Erin is devoted to autism-related charities.


Erin has her own company, Erin Murphy Knits, which offers handknit Eco friendly alpaca wear. The alpacas are raised on her 10 acre (4.04 heactare) Tranquil Veranda (TV) Ranch in Santa Clarita, California.  Since becoming Erin's home, TV Ranch has hosted made-for-TV movies. television commercials and photo shoots.

Erin never planned to become an alpaca rancher.  She acquired alpacas as "pet therapy" to help her son, Parker, develop language skills.  “My son is autistic, and the alpaca is the perfect animal for him,” Erin declared in an August, 2013 article in the Santa Clarita Valley Signal.
The alpaca is a calm and docile, she told the Signal.  

Erin also pointed out the benefits of alpaca fibre. “It’s soft, fireproof, waterproof and doesn’t contain lanolin like wool - so people aren’t allergic,” she stated.

It is interesting to note that Erin's TV, grandmother, Agnes Moorhead, enjoyed knitting.  In the Signal article, Erin reminisced about how Agnes would knit on the set.of Bewitched.  "I thought it was only a hobby for grandmothers," she remarked.  “But it’s become really popular to knit on set, even with the young actors.”

Alpaca ranching suits Erin's needs.  She was looking for, a business that utilizes 100 percent renewable resources and supports the local economy. Her alpaca knitwear is also used to raise funds to promote autism awareness.

Erin and her alpacas

- Joanne

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Y&R Report (May 23, 2015): The Latest on The Young and the Restless

Hey Y&R fans, every second Saturday TV Banter discusses the latest happenings and provides commentary on your favourite daytime drama. Note to U.S. readers - SPOILER ALERT: Here in Canada, I watch the show on Global TV which is one episode ahead of CBS.  I will inevitably refer to incidents you haven't seen yet. Read at your own risk.  If you are the curious type, though, you may prefer to discover some things in advance.

Phew!  It's finally over!  There will be no more scenes of Kelly kidnapping, drugging, torturing and brainwashing Jack Abbott.  In all my years of watching Y&R, those were some of the most sickening and distasteful scenes I've ever seen on the show.

I have already ranted and expressed my dislike of the "two Jacks" storyline.  I find it too far-fetched. How can a South American drug lord look exactly like Jack Abbott and have Jack's mannerisms and Jack's voice?  Not only that, but wouldn't he have a Spanish accent?  I realize soaps are not expected to be realistic, but give me a break!  Oh yes, and why would a South American drug lord become involved in Fen Baldwin's problems with his grades at university?

The fake Jack did give himself away when he referred to his brother Billy as "Billy Boy."  The real Jack would never do that.  That's pure Victor.  Yet no one picked up on it.

Victor's nerdy spy, Tobias, had his big moment in the spotlight before dying in a car crash.  The drunken ex-Jabot employee showed up at the Newman-Abbott merger party with some bitter threats and accusations. We learned that he was heavily involved in the Austin/Courtney murders. Could he have been a double agent, working for both the murderer and Victor?  We don't know yet because Tobias died before he could reveal the truth. However, before he expired, he tried to say Austin's name.

So Ashley Abbott has come clean and admitted to Dr. Stitch that she has developed feelings for him. Of course, we viewers knew that all along.  It's not surprising to us. However, Stitch 'em Up didn't have any idea how A.A. felt.  Either he's not very perceptive or he's been too smitten with her daughter Abby to pay much attention to anything else.  At any rate, Ashley's feelings for Stitch are not reciprocated. Maybe she'll eventually set her sights on Joe Clark instead.  Then she'll have to contend with Nurse Avery, Attorney at Law.

I really didn't think we'd see any more of Gwen.  However, she has returned and she and Neil appear to be forming a relationship.  Neil denies that he is using Gwen to get back at Devon and Hilary.  He claims to genuinely like her.  These days, however, I strongly question Neil's integrity.  After all, hasn't he aided and abetted Vile Victor in his scheme to forge Jack's signature?  Yet I don't think the Neil we've always known would get involved in such a criminal activity.  Despite his faults and shortcomings, I doubt he would stoop to something that blatantly illegal.  It seems contrived for storyline purposes.

Somehow Neil's pairing with Gwen also seems very contrived.  I can't detect any real warmth between them at all. Actually, he has more in common (and I don't mean just alcoholism) and better chemistry with Nikki.  If those two ever became involved, wouldn't Victor blow a gasket?  Would Neil have the nerve to betray The Big Man so brazenly?  It doesn't seem that way.

As for Nikki, her nightmare continues.  She was so relieved that son Nick did not remarry Sharon. The grand matriarch of the Newman dynasty has always been very clear about her opinion of Sharon. In Nikki's eyes, Sharon is nothing more than a gold digger.  She is low class and not worthy of the Newman name.  Now to Nikki's utter dismay, her other son, Dylan, has become close to the troubled blonde.  It's just another thing that's driving her to drink.

What is it with Sharon and the Newman clan?  She can't stay away from Victor and Nikki's offspring. Although Nick Newman has always been the love of her life, she has been involved Adam Newman, The Big Man himself (Ugh!!!!) and now Dylan. Dylan was right about one thing.  He certainly has the White Knight Syndrome.  He just revelled in rescuing Sharon, the eternal damsel in distress. Now that she's been rescued, what's next?

Where is Ian Ward?  I'm still holding out hope that he will reappear.  Ray Wise plays the part so well that I am eager for him to return.  He is outstanding in the role of the sleazy cult leader.


Regular correspondent, CC from Etobicoke, has a beef with the show. She says that Y&R characters have too many public arguments at parties and restaurants. She also thinks there are fewer scenes at Genoa City homes than there used to be. I haven't thought about that but it seems to be true.  There are plenty of embarrassing public altercations, obviously for dramatic effect.  However, when those scenes occur too often, they lose some of their impact.

As for homes, I've noticed that the Chancellor residence is rarely shown now.   Esther has virtually disappeared since Mrs. Chancellor died and Chloe left town. I've also noticed that there doesn't seem to be a storyline for Jill and Colin.  Since Charles Pratt became the head writer, they've appeared sparingly.  Chelsea's apartment is shown quite often as is Sharon's house.


Well fans, Nikki Newman is about to hit rock bottom.  There is going to be a special episode that will focus solely on an intervention by the alcoholic Nikki's family and friends.  Melody Thomas Scott, the woman who portrays the wealthy Genoa City socialite, told TV Guide that "Nikki hits the skids in a way that neither the fans or (sic) anyone in Genoa City has ever seen."  "It's bad, it's low," she declared emphatically."

The intense stand-alone intervention episode will air on Thursday, May 28, 2015 on CBS and Wednesday, May 27 on Global TV in Canada.  I'm looking forward to it.


Although Kelly appears to be dead (you never know for sure with Y&R), there is no certainty that Cady McClain, the actress who portrays her, has left the show. According to, McClain did change her Facebook status to indicate that she was no longer employed by the show.  However, when CBS Soaps in Depth tweeted the news, Cady's response was that it may have been a "technical error." Is she sending out mixed messages or just weighing her options?  Perhaps she's waiting to see if Y&R has anything else to offer her.  Maybe Kelly has a twin too  Oops!  I don't want to give the writers any ideas.

Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher) had a beachside wedding ceremony with his partner Robert Sudduth, a writer and actor.  The ceremony took place in Maui, Hawaii.

Greg Rikkart


Everyone in Genoa City, except Victor, believed Kelly to be dead. Now she really has left this mortal coil.

Who killed Kelly?

Jack Abbott
The killer of Austin and Courtney
The ghost of John Abbott
She killed herself.
I don't know but Victor is involved somehow.
I don't know. It's a mystery to me.

Poll Maker

That's all for now.  Don't forget that The next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, June 6, 2015.

- Joanne

Monday, May 18, 2015

Dwayne Hickman: Whatever happened to Dobie Gillis?

The Dobie Gillis show was the first show that I’m aware of that was not about the family. It was about the teenagers, the kids, life from a teenager’s point of view. All the other shows - Father Knows Best, The Donna Reed Show, Ozzie and Harriet - were about the family. But The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis was not. Parents were part of the show, but they weren’t the driving force.

- Dwayne Bernard Hickman
From an interview in LMU, the magazine of Loyola Marymount University, November 17, 2011

Dobie was so well written and so ahead of its time. The spinning frames, the short clipped scenes, the rapid-fire delivery - it was the MTV of its time. Breaking the fourth wall and having Dobie talk to the audience was ground-breaking.

- Dwayne Bernard Hickman
From July 20, 2000 article by Sharyn Peacocke (

Those who remember The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis probably think of the show's star, Dwayne Hickman, as a girl-crazy teenager.  Dwayne, however, is celebrating his 81st birthday today.  He was born in Los Angeles, California on May 18, 1934 and made his acting debut when he was about six years old, following in the footsteps of his older bother, Darryl Hickman.  Dwayne was an extra in John Ford's classic 1940 film, The Grapes of Wrath, in which Darryl played the part of Winfield Joad.  His first role of any consequence was in 1945's Captain Eddie, starring Fred MacMurray. Both he and his brother appeared in the film.

In the early days of television, Dwayne appeared in a 1951 episode of The Lone Ranger entitled "Two Gold Lockets" (Season 2, Episode 23, Air Date: February 15, 1951).  He also appeared in a second episode of The Lone Ranger in 1955 called "Sunsstroke Mesa" (Season 4, Episode 28, Air Date: March 17, 1955).

In the fall of 1952, Dwayne Hickman began his freshman year at Loyola University, a Catholic college in Los Angeles (he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics). While a student at Loyola, he accepted minor roles in such TV shows as Public Defender (1954) and Loretta Young's Letters to Loretta (1954). His big break came, however, when he was given his first regular television role alongside comedian Robert Cummings.  From 1955 to 1959, Dwayne appeared on The Bob Cummings Show (also know as Love that Bob). The series starred Cummings as a womanizing Hollywood photographer with Dwayne his teenage nephew, Chuck MacDonald.

Bob Cummings, left, with Dwayne Hickman as nephew Chuck

Dwayne attracted a fan following while on The Bob Cummings Show.  It wasn't long before he became the star of his own series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, which premiered on September 29, 1959 on CBS.  Although 25 years old at the time, Dwayne played the title role of Dobie Gillis, a teenage high school student, Dobie, the son of a grocer, lived in the fictional town of Central City, U.S.A.  His primary interests were girls, cars and money.

The show was based on a 1953 book of campus stories by Max Shulman.  Shulman also served as the main scriptwriter for the series.  It was he who created the character of Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) specifically for the show.  Krebs, a pre-hippie era beatnik, was Dobie's best friend.  He had a strong aversion to the concept of work and avoided gainful employment like the plague.  His primary interests were playing the bongos and hanging out in coffee houses.

During Dobie's first season, a young, unknown Warren Beatty was a member of the cast.  He played a handsome, rich kid named Milton Armitage.  Milton was Dobie's nemesis and his rival for the affections of the lovely but money-grubbing Thalia Menninger (Tuesday Weld).  In the Sean Peacocke article, Dwayne is quoted as saying, "Warren Beatty has always acted like a Movie Star even even when no one knew who he was.  I think he denies being on the show because he doesn't want anyone to think he began on TV."

Beatty on Dobbie Gillis

Each episode of Dobie Gillis began and ended with Dobie contemplating his life beside a reproduction of Auguste Rodin's statue, The Thinker. in the Central City park.  It was in these scenes that he directly addressed the audience and broke the fourth wall.

Dwayne Hickman as Dobie Gillis beside The Thinker statue 

Bob Denver passed away on Friday, September 2, 2005 at the age of 70.  He died in a North Carolina hospital of complications from cancer treatment.  Below is an excerpt from a personal tribute to Bob from Dwayne Hickman.  It appears on Dwayne's website.

Dwayne and Bob as Dobie and Maynard

Bob and I have been friends for over fifty years.  We both attended Loyola University in Los Angeles.  I knew him briefly from his work with the Del Rey Players, the college theatre group.  In 1958 he came in to audition for the role of Maynard G. Krebbs, opposite my chraacter, Dobie Gillis.  I had already been cast and the producers asked me to test on film with all the actors they were interested in for the role of Maynard.  I must have tested with twenty actors, some good, most not.  It was the end of the day and as I was leaving the studio the producer called me back to test with one more actor.  It was a favor to a secretary on the lot - it was her brother. When I returned to the set I was amazed to see that the secretary's brother was Bob Denver.  From the moment we began to read the lines all the other actors who had auditioned for the role just evaporated.  Bob and I had rhythm and timing that was instant and a new comedy duo was born.

For the next four seasons I had the privilege of being Bob's straight man. My favorite line? "Maynard, go home and feed your iguana.  Maynard's reply?  "He don't need me, Dobie.  He can open the refrigerator himself."

Dobie Gillis
achieved cult status among teenagers of its era.  After the series finished its run in 1963, Hickman returned to feature films.  Unfortunately, he found him typecast as a teenager found it difficult to find desirable roles.  Bob Denver, of course, later starred as Gilligan on the popular sitcom Gilligan's Island from 1964 until 1967.

Meanwhile, Dwayne went on to appear in Cat Ballou, a 1965 comedy Western film with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin.  In 1966, he played the role of  Private Corey in an episode of the CBS drama series Combat!. The episode is entitled "Run, Sheep, Run!" (Season 4, Episode 30, Air Date: April 5, 1966) and Dwayne's character is grief-stricken when he causes the death of another GI.

In 1969, Dwayne  guest-starred in an episode of The Flying Nun called "The Boyfriend" (Season 2, Episode 18, Air Date: February 13, 1969).  He played the role of Randy Putman, an old boyfriend of Sister Bertrille (Sally Field).  Dwayne also appeared in a 1969 episode of The Mod Squad entitled "The Healer" (Season 2, Episode 11, Air Date: December 9, 1969).                                                                                                                            

In 1970, Dwayne went to work for Howard Hughes' company, Hughes Tool Co.  His job was to book entertainment for the now-defunct Landmark Hotel in Las Veagas. In an interview with Gary James for, he described the experience as a "a nice get-away for a year or two" and that he booked a lot of Country-Western performers.  "I introduced Country-Western music to the Strip," he told James.  "It was very successful. I enjoyed that. It was a good departure from my career. I’d always been acting and it was fun to book and promote talent."

During the late 1970s, Hickman became a programming executive for CBS.  For a decade he supervised such hit TV series such as Maude, M*A*S*H and Designing Women. In 1990, he was a guest star in an episode of the crime series Murder, She Wrote entitled "Murder: According to Maggie" (Season 6, Episode 17, Air Date: March 4, 1990).  It's not surprising that he played an actor-turned-network executive whose murder coincides with the cancellation of a television show.

Dwayne Hickman has been married three times and divorced twice.  His first wife was actress and model Carol Christensen.  Christensen played Carol Danforth, daughter of eccentric Professor Danforth (Emil Sitka), in the 1962 feature film The Three Stooges in Orbit.  Her  television credits include one episode of Ensign O'Toole ("Operation Casanova," Season 1, Episode 21, Air Date: February 10, 1963) and two episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis ("Back to Nature Boy," Season 3, Episode 32, Air Date: May 22, 1962); ("Vocal Boy Makes Good," Season 4, Episode 16, Air Date: January 16, 1963).  She and Dwayne HIckman wed on May 7, 1963 and had one child, a son named John Francis Hickman (born 1964).  The couple divorced in 1972.

Carol Christensen died of cancer in Rancho Mirage, California on June 4, 2005.  She was 67 years old at the time of her passing.

Wedding of Dwayne and Carol Christensen

Dwayne Hickman married Joanne Papile on March 3, 1977.  The marriage, however, ended in divorce in 1981.  That same year, Dwayne met Joan Roberts (born February 19, 1952), an actress writer and voice over artist.  The pair became acquainted when Joan was cast in an episode of the CBS series Private Benjamin entitled "Jungle Swamp Survival" (Season 1, Episode 2, Air Date: April 13, 1981). At the time, Dwayne was the CBS executive assigned to the series.

Joan and Dwayne wed on April 16, 1983.  On November 23, 1992, the couple's son, Albert Thomas Hickman, was born.  In the aforementioned mentioned interview with Gary James, Hickman stated that he and Joan never wanted their son to be a child actor.  "We both feel that it takes away their childhood and puts untold pressure on children," he said.

After Dwayne left CBS, he began directing half hour comedies.  He also pursued his interest in oil painting, especially landscape art and pastoral scenes.  By 1999, his hobby had developed into a successful business.  Joan launched his artwork all across the United States.  Of his relationship with his wife, Dwayne told Sharyn Peacocke the following: "Some couples could not work together but we enjoy working on our projects and building our art business."

Dwayne and Joan at art gallery


* Tuesday Weld, born Susan Ker Weld on August 27, 1943, is now 71 years old.  She was only a member of the Dobie Gillis cast during the first season of the show.

* Florida Friebus, who played Dobie's mother, Winnifred "Winie" Gillis, died of cancer on May 27, 1988.  She was 78 at the time of her passing.  After The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, Friebus went on to play the role of Mrs. Lillian Bakerman on The Bob Newhart Show.

* Character actor Frank Faylen, who portrayed Dobie's grocer father, Herbert T. Gillis, passed away on August 2, 1985.  He died of respiratory ailment and pneumonia at the age of 79.      

* Sheila James Kuehl, who played Zelda Gilroy, Dobie's lovestruck wannabe girlfriend, served as a Democratic member of the California State Senate from 2000 to 2008.  Now 71 years old, she is currently a member of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, a non-partisan governing body for Los Angeles County.  Below is a photo of a Dobie Gillis scene with Bob Denver, Dwayne Hickman and Sheila James Kuehl.

*  For the role of Dobie Gillis, CBS required Dwayne Hickman to dye his dark brown hair a blond colour.  The network wanted him to distance himself from the teenage character he played in his previous role on The Bob Cummings Show.

* In his November, 2011 interview with LMU magazine, Dwayne revealed that for a brief time in 1952 he planned on becoming a Passionate priest.  He went to a seminary in St. Louis but "felt uncomfortable" with the strictness there and realized that he had done "something rash."  He left after only two weeks and enrolled at Loyola University instead.

* Dwayne Hickman's 1994 autobiography is entitled Forever Dobie: The Many Lives of Dwayne Hickman.  It was co-authored by his wife, Joan.

* Dwayne appeared in a 1977 TV short (an unsold pilot) entitled Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis?. The story reunites the cast of the original series and provides an update on Dobie's life. Viewers learn that he married Zelda and they have a teenage son.  He works with his father in an expanded Gillis Grocery.

Hickman again reprised his role as Dobie Gillis in a 1988 television movie called Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis.  Here is the plot: A middle-aged, Dobie, as head of the town council, must deal with a crisis in which some the town's major industries have shut down and people are unemployed. During this bleak crisis, his old friend, Maynard G. Krebs, makes an appearance.

- Joanne