Thursday, April 30, 2020

Keeping up with Richard Thomas (John-Boy of "The Waltons")

Although Richard Thomas is an accomplished actor of the stage and screen, he will always be remembered for his role as John Walton Jr. (better known as John-Boy) on The Waltons.  Yet Richard is a Shakespearean-trained thespian who has played a wide variety of roles, including some unsavoury characters such as murderer Kenneth Kinsolving in the 1972 movie You'll Like My Mother, opposite Patty Duke.  He has also appeared in television adaptations of Stephen King horror stories.

Being recognized as John-Boy doesn't seem to faze Richard, though.  In a 2014 interview with Closer Weekly,  he was asked if he ever tired of hearing his Waltons catch phrase, "Good night, John-Boy!"  He replied, "It made me a star.  It gave me the leverage that allowed me to work steadily all my life.  It will be 'John-Boy Dies' when I'm gone.  That's fine with me.  There are worse ways to be remembered."

Richard Earl Thomas was born June 13, 1951 in Manhattan, New York City.  His parents, Barbara (née Fallis) and Richard S. Thomas, were dancers with the New York City Ballet.  They also owned the New York School of Ballet.  Their son, Richard, meanwhile, attended the Allen-Stevenson School, a private school for boys (Grades kindergarden to 9), and the McBurney School, a now-defunct private college preparatory school, both located in Manhattan.

Richard made his Broadway debut in 1958 at the age of seven in a production of Sunrise at Campobello, portraying John A. Roosevelt, the son of President Franklin Roosevelt.  In 1959, he had a role in the Hallmark Hall of Fame's NBC television presentation of Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, along with such luminaries as Christopher Plummer, Julie Harris and Hume Cronyn.

Richard Thomas' initial television appearances include Great Ghost Tales, a half-hour live dramatic series  (1961) and 1,2,3-Go, a children's educational show (also 1961).  Early in his career, Richard also appeared in three soap operas.  In 1961, he played Ben Shultz, Jr. on The Edge of Night.  From 1964 to 1965, he played Chris Austen in A Flame in the Wind (renamed A Time for Us in 1965).. From 1966 to 1967, he portrayed Tom "Tommy" Hughes on As the World Turns.

Below is a photo of Richard at age 10 in 1,2,3-Go.

In the early 1970s, Richard was a guest actor on such TV series as Bonanza (1970), Medical Center (1970) and The F.B.I. (1971)  and Night Gallery (1972).  In 1971, Richard appeared in a television movie called The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, in which he played John-Boy Walton for the first time.  This led to his role as John-Boy in the hugely popular TV series The Waltons, which aired on CBS from 1972 until 1981.

The Waltons was created by author Earl Hamner, Jr., and is based on memories of his childhood in Schuyler, Virginia.  Hamner also served as the show's narrator.  Richard's character, John-Boy, is the oldest of the seven children of John and Olivia Walton and everything is seen through his eyes.  The Waltons live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of rural Jefferson County, Virginia and John-Boy is a cerebral would-be journalist who keeps a diary of the happenings on Walton's Mountain.

Richard left The Waltons, in 1977, after the show's fifth season.  He had completed his five-year contract and he wanted to pursue other acting interests.  In a 2014 interview with Smashing Interviews Magazine, he stated, "I never intended to do more than the first five years.  When I left in year five, I didn't think the show had lost much.  I thought it was still going strong and dong well."  Richard did come back "for a couple of episodes in the sixth season for visits and all that, and that was fun too."

Below is a 1973 photo of Richard on the set of The Waltons.

One particular episode of The Waltons stands out for me.  It's a 1974 episode entitled "The Marathon" (Season 3, Episode 9, Air Date: November 7, 1974) in which John-Boy defies his mother's wishes and enters a 7-day dance marathon with Daisy Garner, a girl he recently met in a bookshop during his college break.  After a gruelling three day of marathon dancing, however, John-Boy has had enough and leaves Daisy to compete in the contest with someone else.

Robert Wightman took over the role of John- Boy in 1979 and remained until the series was cancelled by CBS in 1981.  For me, the show was never the same without Richard Thomas.  Fortunately, Richard returned to portray John-Boy in three made-for TV movie on NBC from 1993 to 1997.  The first is A Walton Thanksgiving Reunion, which aired on November 21, 1993.  In that movie, The Walton siblings and their families gather for Thanksgiving on Walton's Mountain, including John-Boy and his new fiancée Janet Gilchrist.  It is November 1963 and they are shocked to hear the news that President John F. Kennedy had been assassinated.

The second TV reunion is A Walton Wedding, which aired on February 12, 1995.  It is set in 1964 as John-Boy and Janet, a New York fashion magazine editor, are planning their wedding.  The third and final Waltons TV movie is A Walton Easter, which aired on on March 30, 1997.  It is set in 1969 and John-Boy is a TV news anchor in New York.  He and a pregnant Janet make plans to return to Walton's Mountain for John and Olivia's 40th wedding anniversary.  The longer John-Boy stays on the mountain, the more he becomes convinced that he would like to settle down there and raise a family.  The problem is that Janet prefers to live in New York.

In 1979, Richard played the role of Jim Warner in the TV miniseries Roots: he Next Generation.  He had roles in two other made-for-television movies that year: No Other Love and All Quiet on the Western Front.  In the 1980s, Richard appeared in a number of TV movies such as To Find My Son (1980), Berlin Tunnel (1981), and Barefoot in the Park (1982). Final Jeopardy (1985),  In 1983, he played country singer Hank Williams, Jr. in Living Proof: The Hank Williams, Jr Story.  In 1985, he and Linda Hamilton starred in Go Toward the Light, as a young couple facing the challenge of living with their AIDS-diagnosed child, played by Joshua Harris..

Richard Thomas portrayed Bill Denbrough in the 1990 two-part miniseries It, based on Stephen King's 1986 horror novel of the same name.  Richard's character, Denbrough, is the founder of the Losers Club whose objective is to kill Pennywise, a murderous clown.

From 1998 to 2002, Richard hosted a television documentary series called It's A Miracle. It explored case studies of people claimed to have experienced miracles.  He  played the role of David Robinson on The Adventures of Swiss Family Robinson from 1998 to 1999.  From 1999 to 2002, he portrayed Robert Hunter in the mystery series Bloodhounds Inc.

In the 21st century, Richard Thomas has made a number of guest appearances in episodes of television shows and he has taken on regular roles in various series.  From 2002 to 2003, he had a starring role as Hamilton Whitney III in the short-lived drama Just Cause.  He guest-starred in episodes of Law & Order (3009), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2001, 2013), The Good Wife (2014) and Chicago P.D. (2016).  He also appeared in a miniseries called Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King (2006) and TV movies such as Annie's Point (2005), Time after Time (2011), The Music Teacher (2012) and Incident at Vichy (2016).

From 2013 to 2016.  Richard played FBI Special Agent Frank Gaad in 48 episodes of The Americans, an FX spy series about undercover Russian agents in the United States.  Of his role in the Cold War drama, Richard stated the following to Closer Weekly in 2014: "It's not the kind of role I'd normally be cast in, but I thought it would be great fun."

Richard Thomas shows no signs of slowing down.  Most recently, he appeared as Deputy Director Van Cleef in two episodes of the crime drama NCIS: New Orleans, starring Scott Bakula.  The episodes are "Judgement Call" (Episode 1, Season 6, Episode 1, Air Date: September 24, 2019) and "Predators" (Season 6, Episode 20, Air Date: April 19, 2020).  In 2019, he also guest-starred on Showtime's Billions and NBC's The Blacklist.  He is set to appear as Chuck Rosenberg in an upcoming TV miniseries called A Higher Loyalty, adapted from former F.B.I. director James Comey's book A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership.  

Richard will also be featured in an upcoming Netflix thriller, along with Viola Davis, Sandra Bullock, Vincent D'Onofrio and John Bernthal.  The film, directed by Nora Fingscheidt, is still unnamed, but it is based on the 2009 British television series Unforgiven, about a woman seeking personal redemption after committing a violent crime as a teen.

Richard Thomas has been married twice.  On February 14, 1975, he married Alma Gonzales, a former teacher and welfare worker.  They had a son, Richard Scott Earl Francis "Francisco" Thomas III, born in 1976 and triplet daughters, Barbara Ayala Thomas, Gwyneth Gonzales Thomas and Pilar Alma Thomas, born on August 26,1981.  However, the couple divorced in 1993.

Richard and first wife, Alma

Below is a photo of Richard with son Francisco and triplet daughters.

On November 20, 1994, Richard Thomas, 43, wed Georgiana Bischoff, 34, a Santa Fe, New Mexico art dealer. The wedding took place against the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles.  50 guests witnessed the ceremony, although none of the old Waltons TV family was in attendance.   Richard's 18-year-old son, Francisco, was the best man, while his triplet daughters, Barbara, Pilar and Gwyneth,13, served as bridesmaids.  The triplets were accompanied by Georgiana's two daughters from her two previous marriages, Brooke Murphy, 14, and Kendra Kneisel, 9.  Georgiana and Richard had a son, Montana James Thomas, born on  July 28, 1996.

Around 2008, I saw Richard Thomas on stage in a performance of Reginald Rose's play, 12 Angry Men, a courtroom drama in which a jury had to decide whether a young man should be found guilty of first degree murder and face a death sentence.  Richard played Juror #8, the role made famous by Henry Fonda in the 1957 film version.  Beginning in 2006, Richard toured with 12 Angry Men through 19 different cities and I feel fortunate that I saw him live on stage.

Richard lives in Manhattan with his second wife, Georgiana and is a grandfather.

Richard Thomas in more recent photo


* Richard has a sister named Bronwyn Thomas (born December 7, 1959) in New York City.  Bronwyn is also an actor, known for dancing on the TV show Fame and in a 1985 appearance on an episode of Family Ties.  Bronwyn was trained as a ballerina.  She began performing in major roles at the age of 13, when she appeared as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Eglevsky Ballet's Nutcracker.

* Richard has suffered hearing loss.  In his early 30s, he was diagnosed with a condition called cochlear otosclerosis and it almost jeopardized his career.  He was diagnosed with the condition after he had lost approximately 50 per cent of his hearing.  Fortunately the diagnosis occurred early enough to halt the progression of the disease, although a great deal of damage had been done  As a result, Richard wears hearing aids in both ears.  The experience inspired him to became a strong advocate for hearing health and he became a spokesperson and nations chairperson for the Better Hearing Institute.

* By the end of the 1960s, Richard was cast in his first major film roles.  He appeared in 1969's Winning, an auto racing film starring Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Robert Wagner.  He also had a role in another 1969 movie called Last Summer, another 1969 movie, a a coming-of-age film featuring Bruce Davison and Barbara Hershey.

* Richard attended New York's Columbia University in 1969, where he majored in English and comparative literature.  He studied Chinese as an elective and later changed his major to Asian studies.

*  In the mid-1980s, all four of Richard's children from his first marriage to Alma appeared with him in a series of television commercials for Minute Maid orange juice.

* In 1972, Richard won an Emmy for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series for his portrayal of John-Boy Walton.

* Richard has a mole, a birthmark on his left cheek. In his 2014 interview with Closer Weekly, he said he was originally turned down for roles because of it.  "When I was a boy," he told Closer, I auditioned for a Greyhound bus commercial and they took my dad aside and said, 'He's a nice boy, but unless you get that thing taken off his face, his chance for a career is very slim.'"

It mole evident in the photo below.

SOURCES: People magazine, "Mountains of Love," by People staff, December 05, 1994, Healthy (, June 23, 2008; People, "Actor Richard Thomas Says 'we' Were Relieved' When Ballerina Sis Browyn Came Down with TB, by Gail Lumet, June 5, 1978;    Smashing Interviews Magazine, "Richard Thomas Interview: Television Icon on His Career and the Long-Lasting Impact of  'The Waltons'," by Marc Parker and Melissa Parker, November 24, 2014; Closer Weekly, "'The Waltons' Richard Thomas on Early Fame, 'I Don't Know How Young Stars Survive Today,'"  by Closer Staff, April 10, 2014;" Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (IMDb)

- Joanne

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Y&R Report (April 25, 2020) 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 fans, The Young and the Restless has run out of new episodes to air during this horrific pandemic.  We have no idea when the show will be able to resume production.  However, the safety of the actors has to be the primary consideration.  Two members of the cast have already tested positive for the COVID-19  virus - Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher) and Jordi Vilasuso (Rey Rosales).  So, for the time being, we viewers will have to be satisfied with watching throwback episodes from yesteryear.

Y&R will be launching "theme weeks."  The first one will focus on Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) and is called "Katherine the Great."  Some of the Genoa City matriarch's most classic episodes will  be shown, most dating back to 1990s. The episodes will feature other Y&R legends such as Eric Braeden (Victor), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), Peter Bergman (Jack) and other.  The Katherine Chancellor began yesterday on Global-TV in Canada.  It will commence on Monday, April 27th on CBS.

Now, to the current Y&R storylines: It was quite amusing to hear Adam lecture Victoria.  He lectured her about how easy it is to delude oneself and act superior.  What a hypocrite!  Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!  Adam is the one who is smug and arrogant.  I'm glad his attempted takeover of Newman Enterprises has backfired on him, although I don't think he will every stop scheming against Victor and the other Newmans.

It's interesting that Adam still doesn't know about Sharon's cancer.  There must be a reason for that.  It will probably tie into the storyline some way.  We won't know for a while, though, because Y&R's storylines will be left hanging until new episodes are finally produced.

It seems likely that Victor is telling the truth about what happened in Kansas all those years ago.  It appears that an 11-year-old Adam killed loan shark A.J. Montalvo in order to protect his mother, Hope.  Adam has apparently blocked the traumatic event out of his mind.  However, I wonder if there's more to the story, some kind of a twist.

I enjoyed watching the baby shower for Chloe.  It was light and breezy.  After Sharon's cancer battle and Dina's Alzheimer, we needed some relief from all the despair.  We certainly don't need any more depressing storylines during a global pandemic.  It was also good to see Lauren and Michael and Esther because they aren't involved in any major storylines and we seldom see them anymore.

So, Chloe asked Chelsea to be her baby's godmother.  The child will have a con woman for a godmother and shady parents.  Who will be the baby's godfather?  Adam?  Again, since production of Y&R has been halted indefinitely, we will have to wait to watch the episodes about the birth of Chloe's baby.

Kyle Abbott has fired Theo Vanderway from his job at Jabot.  However, Theo is an opportunist and he's a survivor.  He'll find some other employment.  He may even land a job at Chancellor's new media division, headed by Billy Abbott and Lily Winters.  I don't think Theo has given up on getting a piece of the Abbott pie either.  He is still Dina's grandson and will probably be left something in her will. 

According to an online spoiler, Snowflake ends her relationship with  Kyle until he settles things with Lola, with whom he is still legally married.  That means that Kyle will likely find himself competing with Theo for Lola's affections.  We will have to wait for new episodes to see how that plays out.

Maria Di Domenico plays journalist Alyssa Montalvo

Maria DiDomenico has been portraying journalist Alyssa Montalvo, Adam's childhood friend.  Maria hails from New York and she is of Dominican heritage. Maria was a student at the People's Improv Theater in New York and she holds a B.A. in Performing Arts from the State University of New York (SUNY) in New Paltz, New York.

In 2017, Maria played the role of Fran on Days of our Lives.  She has also appeared on ABC's Mistresses, Law & Order: Special Vicrims Unit (SVU) and Tru TV's comedy series Those Who Can't.

It appears that Maria's stay on Y&R was only temporary.  She seems to have left town and its unlikely that we'll see her again when the show resumes production with new episodes.

Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe) appears on Entertainment Tonight with her new baby

Y&R's Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe) appeared on Entertainment Tonight from her home in an interview with host Matt Cohen (Dr. Griffin Monroe, General Hospital).  She introduced her new baby, Josephine James, and revealed that they call the child "JJ" or JoJo.  She also provided viewers with a tour of the nursery and a glimpse of her daughter's crib and baby clothes.

As Y&R fans know, Elizabeth's pregnancy was written into the show.  In her interview. Elizabeth discussed the scary aspect of appearing  in Chloe's baby shower scenes with co-star Greg Rikaart, who later tested positive for COVID-19.  The scenes were filmed prior to her giving birth.


There are hours for soaps to fill during this pandemic.  Y&R has chosen to launch "theme weeks," beginning with episodes featuring Katherine Chancellor.  Since I watch the show on Global TV, I've already viewed Monday's CBS episode, the first of the Mrs. Chancellor's classic.  The episode was introduced by Doug Davidson (Paul Williams), who plays a prominent role in it.  It was so good to see Doug again.  Frankly, I was surprised to see him since he has not appeared on any of the current episodes for a long time.

Jeanne Cooper plays two roles in the episode - Mrs. Chancellor and her look-alike, Marge, a waitress at Joe's Diner.  Marge and her accomplices try to kidnap Mrs. Chancellor, take over her life and gain control of her enormous wealth.  It's interesting to note that Marge's henchman is portrayed by Morey Amsterdam (Buddy on the old Dick Van Dyke Show.  The episode also features Heather Tom as Victoria and Tricia Cast as Nina Webster.  Jack and Victor are still at each other's throats and a young Cricket (Lauralee Bell) has quite a crush on rock star Danny Romalotti, played by Michael Damian.  It would be fun to see an an episode with one of Danny's concerts in which Lauren (Tracey E. Bregman) sings with him.

It is uncertain when Y&R will resume production, so the powers-that-be are going to have to be very creative.  They can only have "theme" weeks" for so long.  They are eventually going to have to come up with new ideas.  So far, episodes prior to the 1990s have not been aired.  Some Y&R fans, especially longtime viewers, would really enjoy episodes from the 1970s and 1980s.  Others could do without those episodes.  They have very  little interest in them and they aren't familiar with many of the characters.  The earliest episodes are only a half-hour, so two episodes would have to be shown at time.

So fans, what do you think Y&R should do during this pandemic?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.  If you have more detailed ideas about what you would like the show to do during this time, please email me and I will be more than pleased to publish your letters.

What would you like to see on Y&R during the pandemic?

I am content with the "theme weeks" and classic episodes from the 1990s.
I'd like to see earlier episodes from the 1970s and 1980s.
I'm not really interested in previous episodes. I will wait it out until there are new episodes.
I don't know.
Please Specify:
Created with Poll Maker


If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 

My email address:

That's all for now.  Stay safe during this pandemic and don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on May 9, 2020.

- Joanne

Monday, April 20, 2020

Whatever happened to Sue Randall (Miss Landers on "Leave it to Beaver")?

Do you remember Miss Landers, Beaver's elementary school teacher on Leaver it to Beaver?  Oh yes, Miss Landers had a first name.  It was Alice . . . Alice Landers.  The late Sue Randall portrayed Miss Landers in 28 episodes of the show, from 1958 until 1962.

Sue Randall was born Marion Burnside Randall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on October 8, 1935.  Her father was a well-known real estate consultant.  At the age of ten, Sue began acting on stage in a production of Dear Ruth by the Alden Park Players, a theatre group based in the historic Germantown area of Philadelphia.  In 1953, she finished her early education at the Lankenau School for girls in Germantown.  Then it was on to New York, where she graduated with honours from the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts.
In the mid-1950s, Sue launched a television career that included appearances on Playhouse 90 (1957), General Electric Theater (1959) and Kraft Suspense Theater (1965).  Sue's primary roles were on television rather than the silver screen.  Her only feature film appearance was as Ruthie Saylor, a reference desk librarian in Desk Set (1957), starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

In 1959, Sue Randall guest-starred in two episodes of the hit television crime drama 77 Sunset Strip, starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Roger Smith.  She appeared in "Hit and Run"" (Season 1, Episode 13, Air Date January 2, 1959)  and 'Strange Girl in Town "(Season 1, Episode 34), Air Date (May 29, 1959.  Sue was also a guest star in a 1960 episode, "The Affairs of Adam Gallante" (Season 3, Episode 13, Air Date: December 9, 1960), in which she portrayed Alice Smith Gallante, a newlywed who life is threatened after her new husband disappears.

In 1959 and again in 1964, Sue appeared in episodes of Rod Serlings's The Twilight Zone.  The 1959 episode is entitled "And When the Sky Was Opened" (Season 1, Episode 11, Air Date: December 11, 1959.  Sue played a nurse in this episode is about three astronauts who return to Earth after an encounter that apparently dooms them.

Below is a photo of Sue Randall and Jim Hutton in the 1959 episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "And When he Sky was Opened."

Sue guest-starred in a 1964 episode of The Twilight Zone entitled "From Agnes - With Love" (Season 5, Episode 20, Air Date: February 14, 1964).  Wally Cox starred as James Elwood in this episode about a shy computer technician (Cox) who listens to a meddling supercomputer named "Agnes" for advice on his love life.  Sue played Millie, Elwood's co-worker who finally agrees to go on a date with him.

Below is a photo of Sue as Millie in "Fom Agnes - With Love" with Wally Cox (right)/

Sue Randall is best remembered for her portrayal of Miss Landers, an elementary school teacher at Grant Avenue Grammar School on Leave it to Beaver.  Alice Landers was sympathetic and understanding, everything an ideal teacher should be.  She was just about perfect.  She even had the patience to put up with the shenanigans of Beaver and his friend, Larry Mondello.(Robert "Rusty" Stevens).

Miss Landers first appeared during the second season of Leave it to Beaver in an episode entitled "Ward's Problem" (Season 2, Episode 3, Air Date: October 16, 1958).  She replaced Miss Canfield (Diane Brewster) as Beaver's teacher.  Miss Canfield had only been seen in four episodes of the show's first season.

Sue Randall and Jerry Mathers

Leave it to Beaver didn't reveal much about Alice Landners' personal life except for one memorable 1960 episode entitled "Miss Landers Fiance" (Season 4, Episode 7, Air Date November 12, 1960).  In the episode Beaver Cleaver is upset when he learns that Miss Landers is engaged to a man named Tom Brittingham, played by Jack Powers.  Beaver sees his teacher dressed in her  tennis outfit when her fiance arrives at her home to pick her up.  He is  heartbroken because he has crush on Miss Landers.

Below is a picture of Beaver raking the leaves at Miss Landers' house as he sees favourite teacher and her fiance on their way to play tennis.

Sue's final appearance on Leave it to Beaver was in an episode called "Nobody Loves Me" (Season 5, Episode 20, Air Date: February 17, 1962).  In the episode, Beaver finds himself at an awkward age when he thinks he's ugly and feels rejected.

During the 1960s, Sue Randall guest-starred in a number of other popular television series such as Sea Hunt (1961), Pete and Gladys (1962), Dr. Kildare (1963), Ripcord (1963). Perry Mason (1960, 1964), My Favorite Martian (1965), The Fugitive (1963, 1964, 1965), I Spy (1965) and The F.B.I. (1965).

Sue appeared in a 1961 episode of Surfside 6, a drama about three hip private detectives living and working out of a houseboat in Miami, Florida (Hmmm . . . Sounds like an earlier version of Mod Squad).  Sue had role in an episode of the series entitled "Spinout at Sebring" (Season 1, Episode 32, Air Date: May 8, 1961).

Below is a 1961 Surfside 6 press photo with Sue Randall, and heartthrob Troy Donahue at the wheel. of the car.  Donahue was a cast member of Surfside 6.  He played Sandy Winfield II in 47 of the show's 74 episodes, but he was not one of the three hip private detectives.

Sue also appeared in many episodes of TV Westerns such as The Rifleman (1960), The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (1960), Have Gun - Will Travel (1959, 1960), (Gunsmoke (1960, 1961), Bonanza (1961, 1965), The Virginian (1965) and six episodes of Death Valley Days (1959, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1964, 1966).

Below is a photo of Sue Randall in a one of her Western roles, a 1959 episode of The Rifleman entitled "The Mind Reader" (Season 1, Episode 40, Air Date: June 30, 1959).

Sue Randall never became a big TV star and she never played a lead role in a television series.  In the late 1950s, she was set to co-star with Theodora Davitt in a proposed sitcom called Up on Cloud Nine, about the wacky misadventure of two flight attendants.  A pilot for the show was filmed, but no potential sponsor came forward to buy or underwrite the series.

Sue retired from TV acting at a young age in 1967.  She was only in her early 30s at the time. Sue's last credit is an appearance on an episode of Vacation Playhouse, a summer replacement show that featured pilot projects that had not been sold.  She played Ruth in an episode entitled "Heaven Help Us" (Season 5, Episode 4, Air Date August 14, 1967), about a woman who returns from the dead to help her widowed husband find an appropriate new wife.

Sue eventually returned to Philadelphia and took a position as an administrator for professional associations.  She was actively involved in several charitable benefits such as the Multiple Sclerosis Telethon, Joey Bishop's Telethon for Handicapped Children, and the Arthritis Fund.

Sue Randall was a heavy smoker.  In the 1960s, she appeared in a TV commercial for Newport cigarettes.  To watch the commercial on YouTube, click on the link below.

Sadly, Sue was diagnosed with lung and larynx cancer in 1982.  She was given treatments and her larynx was removed.  She passed away on October 26, 1984 at Pennsylvania Hospital in her hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  At the time of he death, she was 49 years old.  In agreement with her wishes, Sue's body was donated to the Humanity Gifts Registry in Philadelphia for medical science research  She had lived in Philadelphia for several years, working with community groups until her illness compelled her to retire.


* Sue Randall was married twice. In 1957, she wed Peter Blake Powell.  The couple had two sons, Blake and Kenneth, but the marriage ended in divorce.  Sue's second husband was James J. McSparron with whom she remained until her death in 1984.

* Sue Randall was a liberal Democrat her whole life.  She actively lent her support to a number of charitable organizations and social welfare programs.

* Diane Brewster, who portrayed Miss Canfield, died of heart failure on November 12, 1991.  She was 60 years old at the time of her passing.  It is interesting to note that from 1983 until 1988, Diane reprised  her role as Miss Canfield in five episodes of The New Leave it to Beaver (originally titled Still the Beaver).

Diane Brewster as Miss Canfiedl

* Character actress Doris Packer,played Mrs. Cornelia Rayburn, the principal of Grant Avenue Grammar School on Leave it to Beaver.  She died on March 31, 1979 at the the age of 74.  Doris appeared in 17 episodes of the series From 1957 to 1963,

Doris Packer

SOURCES:  Tyrone Daily Herald, "Miss Landers, 49, Of  'Leave it to Beaver' Dies Of Cancer, by United Press International (UPI), October, 1984; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (; Find A Grave website

- Joanne

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Y&R Report (April 11, 2020): 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. 

Due to the COVID-19 virus, production of new Y&R episodes has ceased.  There will soon be no new episodes.  The original plan was to suspend production for two weeks, beginning on March 17th.  Nothing has been confirmed yet, but it certainly appears as if the break will have to be extended.  If that's the case, we will have to watch a lot of old or classic episodes.  With people in isolation at home, this is a great opportunity to attract more viewers.  Indeed, Soap Central reports that soap rating have been surging during the quarantine.  This week, Y&R aired a flashback episode from the time when Nikki was married to Jack, and Jill was married to John Abbott.  There will be more to come.

If production of Y&R is halted for much longer than originally anticipated, viewers will have to watch a lot of old episodes.  It might be fun to rerun some of the episodes from the show's beginning in the 1970s.  When the production of new episodes resumes, will Y&R address the pandemic?  Will some citizens of Genoa City say that they have recovered from the virus?

I think that the new storyline with Billy and Lily has potential.  Unfortunately, Billy's old storyline with Amanda Sinclair went nowhere.  Too much time was wasted on a dead end plot.  Viewers became tired and bored of scene after scene of the two of them chatting in cheap, dumpy bars.  This new Chancellor Media story seems fresher and more invigorating.  I also like the fact that Billy and Lily have asked Traci to join their team.  She hasn't accepted yet, but I think she will.

Billy's character has been in a rut and its about time the writers dug him out of it.  We'll have to see if this new storyline will do the trick for him.  Let's hope so or his talents as an actor will have been wasted yet again. It will be interesting to see if a romance develops between Billy and Lily and if they have any chemistry.  Of course, that remains to be seen.  Remember, though, that they were once involved in a love rectangle with Cane and Chloe. Their names even rhyme.  Lily and Billy?  Maybe.

As for Amanda, she appears to have moved on from Billy to Dr. Nate.  He's romancing her right now and she seems to be opening up about her past.  We know that Amanda was raised in foster homes.  So, why hasn't Nate or Devon or Elena picked up on that?  Why doesn't her background make them wonder if she's Hilary's identical twin sister and that they were separated at birth?   Why aren't they more curious about why she is the spitting image of Hilary?  For that matter, why hasn't Amanda looked into the matter herself.  Maybe she has and she's been hiding it for some reason.  After all, isn't it more than just a coincidence that she showed up at Devon's door?  Stay tuned.

If you think Adam Newman has returned to the dark side, I say he's never really come into the light.  He hasn't changed.  He's the same old Adam he's always been.  He behaved himself for a while and now he's back to his true self - a schemer, a blackmailer, a user and a liar.  His mother, Hope, would be ashamed of him.  He's like a leopard that can't change its spots.  Chelsea is another leopard.  She hasn't changed either.  She's the same con woman she's always been, a true daughter of Anita Lawson.  Adam and Chelsea are two peas in a pod, cut from the same cloth.

This time, I'm on Princess Victoria's side.  She's no angel and she's made plenty of mistakes, but she is an astute businesswoman and has earned the right to run Newman Enterprises.  Adam is too smug.  He thinks he's won, but he hasn't.  Victor and Victoria will put him in his place.  Adam may have taken down that portrait of Victor, but it won't stay down.  It will be back up on that wall again because Victor Newman always wins.  He's very sly and he must have something up his sleeve that will thwart Adam.  He's seems to be just toying with his son.  He's allowing Adam to think it's game over, but Victor doesn't surrender that easily.  He may know about Adam and Chance's Las Vegas secret and will use that to his advantage.

Nicholas Newman hasn't changed either.  He's still not the sharpest knife in the drawer.  His latest go-round with Phyllis can only end in disaster.  The red-head is nothing but trouble and deep down, Nick knows it.  He's just deluding himself that their relationship will work this time.  He is weak-willed and undisciplined.  He's been warned about Phyllis but he thinks he knows better than anyone else..  He'll soon find out what a mistake he's made.


Jordi Vilasuso (Rey Rosales) and his family have coronavirus

On Y&R, Jordi Vilasuso plays Rey Rosales, a man whose girlfriend, Sharon, is battling breast cancer.  In real life, Jordi and his wife and two children have contracted the coronavirus.  Jodi is the second Y&R cast member to come down with the virus,  The first was Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher).

Jordi's wife, Kaitlin Vilassuso, posted the following message on social media: "So it happened, friends.  Our family got covid-19.  We debated sharing this, but finally decided to in the hope of possibly being a source of information or comfort to someone who might be in a similar situation."

Jordi, a Cuban American from Miami, married Kaitlin Riley on August 25, 2012.  They have two young daughters, Riley and Everly.  According to, the family of four became ill after being exposed to a carrier.  Kaitlin began exhibiting the symptoms of the virus first, with Jordi a day behind in experiencing a high temperature and fatigue.  The children followed.  Fortunately, Jordi and his family haven't been out of their house since they were exposed.


Christel Khalil (Lily)

Jason Thompson (Billy)

Y&R has introduced a new stoyline involving Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson) and Lily Winters (Christel Khalil).  The two are launching a new media division for Chancellor Industries.  They may also have a romance.  What do you think about this storyline, fans?  Does it have potential?  Do Billy and Lily have chemistry?  Respond to the poll below and let me know.

Do you like the new storyline with Billy and Lily?

Yes. It has great possibilties for intrigue and romance.
No. I'm not interested in it at all.
Maybe. I need to see how it develops.
Please Specify:


If you have any comments on Y&R, please email them to me with "Viewer Forum" in the subject line. I will be happy to publish your comments and reply to them  You do not have to use your real name. 

My email address:

That's all for now.  Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, April 25, 2020.

Happy Easter and Happy Passover to all who celebrate.  During these difficult times, we need celebrations of hope and freedom more than ever.

- Joanne

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Life and Times of Richard Dawson

Richard Dawson is best known as the witty, wisecracking host of Family Feud and for his role as a British corporal in Hogan's Heroes.  Tom Shales of The Washington Post once described Richard as "the fastest, brightest and most beguiling interlocutor since the late great Groucho Marx bantered and parried on You Bet Your Life..  During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Family Feud was so popular that there was a daytime and syndicated prime time edition of the show, both hosted by Richard Dawson.

However, there was a more controversial side to the brash game show host.  In a 2016 Yahoo News article about Family Feud, Kristen Baldwin wrote, "And then there was the original host Richard Dawson, who had no qualms about fondling, grabbing, and kissing any female contestant who caught his eye.  Yeah, people didn't start taking sexual harassment seriously until the mid-'80s."

Richard Dawson was born Colin Lionel Emm on November 20, 1932 in Gosport, Hamshire, England.  His father, Arthur Emm, a furniture mover, was born in the United States.  His mother, Josephine (Lindsay) Emm, was a native of England and she worked in a munitions factory during World War II.  Richard and his older brother, John Leslie "Jack" Emm, were evacuated as children to escape the wartime bombing in southern England's major port cities.

At 14, Richard left home, lied about his age and joined the British Merchant Navy.  He remained in the Merchant Marine for three years  While in the service, he earned some extra money by competing in shipboard boxing matches.  After his discharge at the age if 17, Richard travelled the globe aboard a Cunard passenger liner.  When he returned to England, he launched a career as a stand-up comedian, performing in the clubs of London's West End.  In those days, he billed himself as "Dickie Dawson."  He later changed his moniker to "Richard Dawson," a name he would adopt legally.

By the mid-1950s, Dawson was playing London's famed Paladium Theatre.  His eventual goal was to make a name for himself in the United States.  In the early 1960s, he began to establish himself on American television, appearing on comedy and variety programs such as The Jack Benny Progam and The Dick Van Dyke Show

Richard appeared in a January 8, 1963 episode of The Jack Benny Program as an annoyed Englishman sitting beside Jack in the audience.  He then guest-starred in a 1963 episode of the Van Dyke show entitled "Racy Tracy Rattigan" (Season 2, Episode 27,  Air Date: April 3, 1963).  In the episode, Richard portrayed "Racy Tracy" Rattigan, an English music hall comic who is hired as a substitute host for Alan Brady during Brady's summer vacation.  "Racy Tracy" lives up to his nickname by flirting with every woman in sight, including Laura Petrie (Mary Tyler Moore), the wife of Alan Brady's head writer, Rob Petrie, (Dick Van Dyke).

According to the Internet Movie Database (, here's how Richard Dawson related the story of his audition for the "Racy Tracy" role: Producer Sheldon Leonard asked him how he would make an entrance as this character.  Dawson replied, "Oh hello luvvies," using an upper-class British accent.  Leonard immediately handed him the job.

Richard as "Racy Tracy" on Dick Van Dyke Show

From 1965 to 1971, Richard played British Corporal Peter Newkirk in all 168 episodes of Hogan's Heroes, starring Bob Crane.  Hogan's Heroes was a hit CBS comedy series about a World War II prison-of-war-camp run by a group of bumbling Nazis. Richard's  performance as a military prisoner in the 1965 war film King Rat helped him win the role of Corporal Newkirk of the Royal Air Force. Newkirk, a Cockney, was a skilled tailor who altered uniforms, civilian clothes and other disguises when required for missions or to aid prisoners in escaping.  Newark was also a con man.  He was an expert safecracker and lock picker, a master at picking pockets and a card shark.  His proficiency in those areas was useful in outwitting the Nazis.

Richard as Corporal Peter Newkirk

With the success of Hogan's Heroes, Richard Dawson had achieved stardom on American television., but the show was abruptly cancelled in 1971.  After its cancellation, Richard Dawson became a regular performer on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.  After the 1970-71 season of Laugh-In, Arte Johnson and Henry Gibson left the show.  They were replaced by Richard and another former Hogan's Heroes star, Larry Hovis, both of whom had already made previous sporadic appearances on the show.  Dawson remained with Laugh-In until it ended in 1973.

From 1973 to 1974, Richard played the role of Richard Richardson on seven episodes of The New Dick Van Dyke Show, starring Van Dyke and Hope Lange as a married couple who have comic misadventures while raising their teenage daughter.  The series was created by Carl Reiner, the creator of the original Dick Van Dyke Show.  

During the 1970s, Richard made guest appearances on such TV series as McMillan & Wife (1975), The Love Boat (1978) and Angie (1979).  It was in 1976, however, that he made the biggest breakthrough of his career.  Richard Dawson will always be remembered best as the host of the popular television game show Family Feud, which debuted on ABC on July 12, 1976.  Richard was the original host of the show during its first run, from 1976 until 1985.  On Family Feud, two families competed to guess the most popular response to survey questions.  Richard's catchphrase was "survey says."  He wore three-piece suits with a flower on his lapel.

When Richard began hosting Family Feud, he was well recognized because he had been a frequent panelist on Match Game since 1973 (He continued to be a panelist on Match Game until 1978).  Family Feud  viewers enjoyed Richard's flippant sense of humour, but it was his unconventional way of greeting female contestants that attracted attention.  Within the first few weeks of Family Feud, he began kissing female contestants on the cheeks, hands and lips.  It all started when a woman was so anxious that she was unable to name a green vegetable.

In his 2010 interview with the Archive of American Television, Richard described the incident from his perspective: "I said, 'I'm gonna do something that my mom would do to me whenever I had a problem of any kind . . . and I kissed her on the cheek, and I said, 'That's for luck.'  And she said 'Asparagus' . . . They went on to win."

Richard's penchant for kissing women did not meet with everyone's approval and his flirtatious touchy-feely behaviour seems out of place in the Me Too era.  Television executives back then tried to convince him to put an end to all that kissing and touching.  According to Richard in his Archive of American Television interview, the executives claimed that advertisers frowned upon such behaviour.  He was told that sponsors did not approve of randomly kissing women without regard to their consent or the marital status.  It was unsightly and ill-mannered, they contended.  In his interview, however, Richard hinted that their opposition may have had something to do with him kissing non-white woman.  He stated, "It's very important to me that on Family Feud I could kiss all people . . . I kissed black women daily and nightly on Family Feud for 11 years and the world didn't come to an end, did it?"

Richard apparently asked viewers to write in with their opinion on the kissing issue.  According to the book Hogan's Heroes: The Unofficial Companion, by Brenda Scott Royce, the majority favoured kissing (14,000 to 704).  Royce's book also claims that contestants filled out a questionnaire before each game and they were asked, "Do you mind if Richard Dawson greets you with a kiss?"

In 1988, Family Feud was revived by CBS.  The new version was hosted by Ray Combs.  Two months later, a new nighttime syndicated version of the show was launched, also hosted by Combs. CBS cancelled the daytime version in early 1993, but Combs continued to host the prime time edition.  In September of 1994, Richard Dawson returned to the syndicated version, replacing Combs, who had been fired because the shows ratings had plummeted.  Dawson completed the final season of the show's second run. 

During the 1994-1995 revival of Family Feud, Richard did not kiss female contestants, due to a promise he had made to his daughter, Shannon.  He made it clear to the very first female contestant that that there would be no more of his signature greeting.  He declared, "I can't kiss any of the ladies because I promised my daughter I would only kiss Mom."

Although Family Feud's ratings initially improved upon Richard return, those higher rating could not be sustained.  As a result, the final episode was aired on May 25, 1995.  Family Feud went out of production for the next four years.  In 1999, Richard was asked to appear on the current version of The Feud, but declined.the offer.

Richard Dawson was married twice.  His first wife was English film actress Diana Dors.  In the 1950s, Diana was billed as a "blonde bombshell," Britain's answer to Marilyn Monroe. She was the queen of B-movies and the second highest paid actress in the United Kingdom after Vivien Leigh.
Richard met her through actor Victor Mature's stuntman.  They wed on April 12, 1959 while in New York for an appearance on The Steve Allen Plymouth Show.  The ceremony took place in singer Fran Warren's apartment and was attended by friends such as Allen.

Richard and Diana soon after their wedding

Richard and Diana had two sons: Mark Dawson (born in London, England on February 4, 1960) and Gary Dawson (born in Los Angeles on June 27, 1962).  In 1958,  RKO studios had cancelled her contract due to her offscreen exploits.  Diana never really caught on in the United States and Americans dismissed her as talentless blonde, trying to cash in by jumping on the Monroe bandwagon.  During her marriage to Dawson, she spent much of her time performing in low-brow cabarets and British working-class clubs. 

In 1967, Diana walked out on Richard.  The couple divorced and Richard obtained custody of both sons.  In 1968, Diana married British actor Alan Lake, an actor nine years her junior, who was battling alcoholism.

In 1977, Richard told People magazine that he "went into a 14-month funk" after Diana left.  "I absolutely wallowed in self pity.  People looked down their noses at Diana for leaving me with two young boys," he said.  "But it was an act of sheer kindness.  I don't know what would have happened to me without them."

Richard met his second wife, Gretchen Johnson (born September 22 1955), when she and her family were  contestants on Family Feud in 1981.  In his interview with the Archive of American Television, Richard discussed meeting Gretchen on the show.  "I knew there was just something special about this young lady and myself," he stated.  He later asked for permission to call her.  They married in 1991.   Their daughter, Shannon Nicole Dawson, was born in 1990.

Richard and Gretchen on Family Feud

Richard Dawson died on June 2, 2012 of complications from esophageal cancer at the age of 79.  He passed away at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical in Los Angeles, California.  He was survived by his wife, Gretchen, three children, and four grandchildren.


* On June 7, 1978, Richard Dawson hosted the Daytime Emmy Awards and he also won the award for best game show host for Family Feud.

* Richard once broke out into an almost uncontrollable fit of laughter after asking a female contestant on Family Feud, "During which month of pregnancy does a woman start to look pregnant?"  Her response was "September."

* Richard was a heavy smoker for most of his life.

* Richard was a self-described bleeding-heart liberal who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965.

* Richard played himself  as host of Family Feud in a 1973 episode of Angie entitled "Family Feud" (Season 2, Episode 9, Air Date (November 20, 1979).  He also portrayed himself as host of Family Feud in a 1983 episode of Mama's Family, starring Vicki Lawrence of The Carol Burnett Show.  The episode is entitled "Family Feud" (Season 1, Episode 5, Air Date: February 19, 1983).

* Richard's first wife, Diana Dors, died in Windsor, Berkshire, England on May 4, 1984, after a recurrence of ovarian cancer.  She was 52 years old at the time of her death.  On October 10, 1984, Alan Lake, Diana's third husband, committed suicide.  He was 43 years old.

* Richard Dawson became a U.S. citizen in 1984 and showed off his passport during the introduction to a Family Feud episode.

* Richard was a frequent guest host for Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show and he filled in for Johnny several times in 1979 and 1980.

* Comedian Bill Murray did a satirical parody of Richard on Saturday Night Live in which the Family Feud host was portrayed as leering, nasty character who even slapped a contestant (John Belushi) for getting too fresh.

* Richard parodied his own image in the 1987 dystopian film The Running Man, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.  In the film, he portrayed Damon Killian, the host of a deadly TV show. set in a totalitarian future.

* Richard resided in Beverly Hills, California until his death.

Below is a photo of Richard Dawson during his Archive of American Television interview.  The interview was conducted in Beverly Hills California on December 1, 2010.

SOURCES:  People, "Richard Dawson Lost His Own Family Feud with Diana Dors, but His Show Is Hot Comfort,"  by Sue Reilly, Novermber 21, 1977; People, "Her Days as a Sexpot Done, Diana Dors Now Hopes to Become the Next Big Fitness Guru," by Roger Wolmuch, December 12, 1983; People, "Top of His Game, by Mark Goodman, November 14, 1994;, "Former 'Family Feud' host Richard Dawson dies;" by CNN Wire Staff, 2012; Good Housekeeping, "Here's why Richard Dawson Started Kissing Female Contestants on 'Family Feud,'" by the editors of Good Housekeeping, September 22, 2017; Yahoo News; All Hail 'Family Feud" Host Richard Dawson, Pioneering Game Show Perv, by Kristen Baldwin, September 23, 2016; Archive of American Television interview with Richard Dawson, December 1, 1910; Wikipedia; Internet Movie Database (

- Joanne