Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Happy Days: How and why Chuck Cunningham vanished

1974 Happy Days cast photo of the Cunningham family - Back: Left to Right - Gavan Herlihy (Chuck), Tom Bosley (Howard), Front: Ron Howard (Richie), Marion Ross (Marion) and Erin Moran (Joanie)

Happy Days fans will remember that that there was a third Cunningham sibling named Chuck.  Chuck was the older brother of Richie (Ron Howard) and Joanie (Erin Moran).  He can be described as a basketball-dribbling, sandwich-eating jock.  Chuck" didn't have many speaking parts.  By the middle of the first season, he was written out of the script and sent off to college, never returning to the screen again. 


Two actors played Chuck Cunningham during the course of the show. The original Chuck was Gavan O'Herlihy.  According IMDb, Gavan played Chuck in seven episodes, from January to March, 19, 1974.

Gavan was born on April 29, 1954, in Dublin Ireland,.  He is the son of Irish actor Dan O'Herlihy and his wife Elsa Bennett, a native of Sandymount, Ireland.  Gavan split his childhood between Dublin and Los Angeles.  He was a skilled tennis player in his youth and became the Irish National Tennis Champion.  While attending Trinity College in Dublin. Gavin took up acting and relocated to Los Angles when he was cast as Chuck in 1973.

Gavan O'Herlihy in 1974.

It seems that Gavan O'Herlihy was not very happy on Happy Days and he asked to leave the show.  Here's how he explained his departure in an email interview with OnMilwaukee:  "I hung around for a half season, then asked out of the contract.  It wasn't my cup of tea.  It raised some eyebrows, but I'm glad I did."  Gavan has explained that Happy Days gave him his big break in acting, but his charater, Chuck, had a limited role, dropping in from college from time to time.  This did not satisfy him and he wanted to go on to other work.

After Happy Days, Gavan O'Herlihy played the role of Phil McGee in the acclaimed 1976 American miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man, starring Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte and Susan Blakely.  In the 1970s, he appeared in episodes of a number of American television series such as Lucas Tanner, (1975), Marcus Welby, M.D. (1975), The Six Million Dollar ManPolice Woman (1975), The Bionic Woman (1978).  

Gavan also portrayed a brutal killer named Dan Suggs in the 1989 TV mini-series Lonesome Dove, but he did not want to be stuck in television roles.  He preferred motion pictures.  He played the role of Airk Thaughbae, a warrior, in the 1988 George Lucas-produced film Willows.  Willows, a dark fantasy, was directed by Gavan's Happy Days kid brother, Ron Howard.       

In 1980, Gavan moved to England and was cast in the series We'll Meet Again.  It was a hit and Gavan bought a houseboat and lived along the Thames River.  In the 1990s, Gavan permanently relocated to the UK, where he worked in theatre and on television and for a time, he moved into a lighthouse in Wales.

Gava O'Herlihy eventually settled on a farm in the Cotswolds, a range of rolling hills in the English countryside, where he has resided for over 30 years.  He has two children, a daughter, Misty and a son, Rogan.  Gavan has had roles in British television series such as Sharpe (1993), Jonathan Creek (1998) and Midsomer Murders (2009).  He is known to British audience as the dashing Captain Leroy, the heroic British officer in Sharpe, a departure from his villainous or hostile screen roles in such films as Never Say Never Again (1983), a spy movie starring Sean Connery, Superman III (1983), in which he played Clark Kent's rival, and The Last Outlaw, a 1993 Western..

* In 2009, Gavan returned to motion pictures as Sheriff Vaines in Descent 2, the sequel to Neil Marshall cult horror film.  He plays the leading role of writer John Anderson in Queen of the Redwood Mountains, a Nic Saunders film set to be released this year.


After the exit of Gavan O'Herlihy, Randolph Roberts became the second actor to portray Chuck Cunningham.  He was brought in briefly until the producers decided to abandon the character, reportedly because he was never a major character and they noticed that Fonzie (Henry Winkler) had become a big brother to Richie.  

Randolph was born on October 5, 1947 in Fresno, California as William Randolph Roberts.  He only appeared as the eldest Cunningham sibling in two 1974 episodes - "Richie Moves Out" (Season 2, Episode 1, Air Date: September 10, 1974) and "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas" (Season 2, Episode 11, Air Date: December 17, 1974 ).  

In the episode "Richie Moves Out," Richie goes to live at Chuck's apartment, but the arrangement doesn't work out very well.  In the episode "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas," the Cunninghams are all prepared for Christmas, until Richie learns that Fonzie will be spending the holiday alone.  Randolph Roberts played Chuck in that episode.  However, the character never appeared again, although he was mentioned in a few other episodes, the last one being "Fish and the Fins." (Season 2, Episode 20, Air Date: March 11, 1975).  After that, Chuck was written entirely off the show, as if he never existed.  In later episodes, the Cunningham family was depicted aa having two siblings, with Richie being the eldest.  No explanation was given for Chuck's absence.  This led to the term "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome,"   

According to several websites, Happy Days creator, Gary Marshall, joked that Chuck won a basketball scholarship to Outer Mongolia.  On the website ShowBiz CheatSheet, Marshall is quoted as saying, "You gotta pay attention to what's happening.  It soon became obvious that Fonzie was the older brother and that was the relationship that was working."  Marshall's plan to get rid of Chuck was apparently to do nothing.  "So, I just said let's just have Chuck disappear and let's see how much mail we get.  We didn't get much."

Randolph Roberts

Below is a 1974 Happy Days publicity photo with Randolph Roberts (standing with Marion Ross) as Chuck Cunningham.from the episode "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas."

Prior to Happy Days, Randolph Roberts starred as Jason Grant in the 1973 horror thriller Wicked, Wicked, which is described on IMDb as a "tougue-in-cheek" psycho drrama."  He also appeared in two episodes of Gunsmoke - "The Widowmaker" (1973) and "The Colonel" (1974).  After his departure from Happy Days, he guest-starred on episodes of City of Angels (1976), Barnaby Jones (1978), Police Woman (1978), The A-Team (1984).  He also had roles in such TV movies as Who Is the Black Dahlia? (1975), The Return of Captain Nemo (1978), Samurai (1979) and Police Woman: Confessions of a Lady Cop (1980).  

Randolph played the 2nd Sanctuary Man in the 1976 full length film Logan's Run.  His last acting role on screen was minor role in Say Yes, a 1986 film comedy in which he portrayed a soldier on a bus.  Randolph Roberts retired from his acting career about 1986 and served as an education supervisor for ITT Technical Institute in San Diego, California.

An intriguing question is whether whether Happy Days would have gotten rid of the Chuck Cunningham character so hastily if Gavan O'Herlihy had remained in the role?  We'll never know the answer to that question for sure.  However, if Gavan had remained on Happy Days for the duration of the show, he wouldn't have had the stellar career that he's had.  Happy Days ran until 1984.


* There was actually a third Chuck Cunningham.  played by Ric Carrott.  Carrrott originated the role of Chuck in the pilot for Happy Days, which aired as a segment of Love American Style entitled "Love and the Happy Days" (Season 3, Episode 22, Air Date: February 25, 1972).  The segment was about a 1950s family that gets its first television.  Son Richie (Ron Howard) and his friend Potsie (Anson Williams) assume that the TV can be used to attract girls.  Marion Ross also appeared in the episode as Marion Cunningham.  

Ric Carrott auditioned for the part of Chuck Cunningham in the series, but it was given to Gavan O'Herlihy.

Ric Carrott

*  Gavan O'Herlihy appeared as Maje Jabin in "Caretaker," the 1995 pilot episode of Star Trek: Voyager

* Gavan's father, actor Dan O'Herlihy, passed away in California on February 17, 2005.

SOURCES:  OnMilwaukee, "What happened to Richie's brother" Chuck" from 'Happy Days?,'" by Molly Snyder, December 10, 2017 (article originally ran in 2013;  chimes freedom website (www.chimesfreedom.com), "The Long Lost Chuck Cunningham," January 11, 2014; ShowBiz CheatSheat, "'Happy Days': Why Chuck was Written Out of the Show Completely, by Nicole Weaver, January 6, 2021; Wikipedia; IMDb (Internet Movie Database)

- Joanne

EDITOR'S UPDATE (Saturday November 12, 2021):  Gavan O'Herlihy, the original Chuck Cunningham, has died at the age of 70.  According to Variety, Gavan's brother, Cormac O'Herlihy, stated that the actor passed away in Bath, England on September 15, 2021.  The cause of death was not disclosed, but Gavan's brother confirmed that it was not COVID-19.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Y&R Report (May 22, 2021): 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

Hi fans,

Sharon and Rey have reconciled, at least for now.  I can't see it lasting, though.  Adam is still very much in the picture and he continues to be a threat to their marriage.  It's just a matter of time before Sharon goes running to Adam again.  The two will never be able to break their connection, especially now that Adam has become a hero to Sharon by saving her daughter Faith's life twice, first by rescuing her from a car crash and second by donating his kidney to her.

Summer and Kyle's engagement party was a real fiasco.  A desperate Tara and her little son, Harrison, showed up just in time to put a damper on the whole affair.  If that's a harbinger of things to come for Summer and Kyle, they may never make it to the altar.  Kyle is getting pulled further and further into Tara and Harrison's orbit.  He plans to claim paternity of his son.

Now that Tara ad Harrison are living in the Abbott home, Kyle will never be able to tear himself away from the boy.  How can he resist the sweet, innocent curly-haired tyke who just happens to be his biological son?  Will there be room for Summer in all of this, or will Summer lose patience?  What's a Snowflake to do?  

It won't take Ashland long to locate Tara and Harrison in the Abbott estate.  He will also soon discover that Kyle is actually Harrison's biological daddy.  Then he will really blow a gasket and try to destroy the Abbott empire.

Isn't Ashland nasty?  Richard Locke plays the villain so well.  He's a fine actor and adds so much to the show.  That's why I am pleased that his character didn't die from his heart attack.  Ashland is a terrible bully and everyone seems so afraid of him, but not Victor, Victoria or Phyllis.  Kyle is deluding himself that he can handle a ruthless titan like Ashland.  Kyle and Billy are just not in the same league as Victor and Ashland.  They're also not in the same league as Phyllis.  

Why is Victoria being so friendly to Asland?  Well, I don't think it's because she has any romantic interest in him.  According to online spoilers, they share some common ground.  That can only mean they have a common enemy, a common personal interest or a common business interest.  Remember that Victoria does not want Victor and Adam to destroy Billy Boy Abbott's company.  That is a priority for the Newman Princess.


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:  jmadden16@yahoo.ca

Here is an email that I received from longtime Y&R viewer Carly in Barrhaven, Ontario.

As for Y&R, still loving "The Moustache.  Love his winks and his comments.  I am finding the Adam-Chelsea-Rey-Victor storyline the best.

I think the new Faith (Reylynn Caster) is good but so was the other actress (Alyvia Alyn Lind).  As for the Kyle-Summer wedding, I can t stand those  two, so I don t care what happens.  Yes, Sally Spectra is quite the interesting character.  I did notice that they are no longer social distancing so they must get tested daily and also probably received both doses of the vaccine.

Yes, Carly, I also love Eric Braeden s performance as Victor Newman.  He is remarkable.  I enjoy his winks and his comments too.  Whenever he want to dismiss someone, he tells them abruptly to "have a nice day."  As Mark Grossman (Adam) once described him, he is 'The Man."  The expressions on his face are priceless. 

I am not fond of Summer and Kyle in the sense that they are both spoiled and have a sense of entitlement.  However, I really like their current storyline with Tara and Ashland.  The chickens are coming home to roost for the hotshot co-CEO of Jabot.  He has Ashland coming after him.  Nick and  Victor will blame him for breaking Summer's heart.  Summer says she intends to stand by her man, but I think his connection with Tara and Harrison will eventually be too much for her to tolerate.

Sally Spectra certainly is quite the interesting character.  She is spunky and she's a troublemaker.  She's also a great rival for Summer.  I noticed in the previews and spoilers that Sally will also form an alliance with media mogul Ashton Locke.  It doesn't take a genius to figure out that she will use the alliance to damage Kyle and Summer's relationship.

Why can't Dr. Nate and Dr. Elena make a clean break with each other.  She's so wishy-washy.  Nate should move on with someone new.  He was getting chummy with Lola Rosales.  However, Lola has gone to Miami for a while.  She will be back and we will see what happens then.


Justin Hartley (ex-Adam Newman) has married Sofia Pernas (ex-Marisa Sierras)

Justin Hartley

Sofia Pernas

Justin Hartley, ex-Adam Newman on Y&R, and one of the stars of This is Us, has wed for the third time.  According to People magazine and US Weekly, Justin, married his former Y&R castmate Sofia Pernas, who played Marisa Sierras, the ex-girlfriend of a drug lord, on the show.  Sofia's character eventually became involved with Noah Newman, although the relationship did not last.

US reported that Justin and Sofia's ceremony was "super intimate" and took place "very, very recently"  Justin's teenage daughter, Isabella, from his first marriage, was there to witness the matrimonial proceedings.  

Justin, 44, was previously married to Passions co-star Lindsay Korman.  Their daughter, Isabella, was born in July, 2004.  They divorced in 2012 after eight years of marriage.  Justin went on to marry his Y&R castmate Chrishelle Stause in October 2017.  He filed for divorce in 2019 and his breakup with Chrishelle was not exactly amicable.  Chrishelle went on to star in the Netflix reality show Selling Sunset.

Justin Hartley is currently filming a movie.  The film is in production in Los Angeles.  It is a "dark comedy- thriller called A Lot of Nothing.  Justin portrays a morally compromised police officer.

After her stint on Y&R, Stause went on to star in the Netflix reality series Selling Sunset.

Sofia Pernas, 31, is a Los Angeles-based actress of Moroccan-Spanish descent.  She was born in Fes, Morocco in 1989, but moved to California when she was five years old.  Sofia speaks four languages - English, Spanish, German and Arabic.  She starred in the NBC series The Brave and currently portrays Lexi Vazini in the CBS series Blood & Treasure.  

Y&R will pay tribute to the late Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters)

Kristoff St. John

Two years after his sudden death, Kristoff St. John will be remembered in a poignant tribute episode on Y&R.  The episode will feature all the actors who played Neil's children - Lily (Christel Khalil), Devon (Bryton James) and Moses (Jacob Aaron Gaines) with their reminiscences of Kristoff and his character, Neil Winters. Of course, the episode will include flashbacks of the defining moments in Neil's life.

Also participating in this tribute episode will be actors who portrayed other members of Neil's family, as well his friends and associates, including Victor Newman (Eric Braeden), Nikki Newman (Melody Thomas Scott), Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman), Nick Newman (Joshua Morrow), Ashley Abbott (Eileen Davidson) and Sean Dominic (Dr. Nathan Hastings).

The Kristoff St. John tribute episode will be broadcast on CBS on Monday, May 31st on CBS and Friday, May 28 on Global TV.  I'm not going to miss it.


Joshua Morrow

Fans, we all know that Nick Newman would go to almost any lengths to protect his daughters, Summer and Faith.  Do you think he's too controlling and overprotective?  Reply to the poll below and let me know.

Is Nick Newman too overprotective of his daughters, Summer and Faith?
Yes, he does go overboard. He interferes too much and he is too controlling.
No, he's just protecting his daughters, as any good father would.
At times, he is, but his protectiveness is sometimes necessary.
I don't know.
Please Specify:
Created with PollMaker

That's all for now.  Don't forget that the next edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, June 5, 2021.  

Take care,


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Y&R Report (May 8, 2021): 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

Hi fans,

Faith Newman is experiencing another medical crisis. Doctors discovered that she needed a kidney  transplant.  Unfortunately, they also found that she has a rare blood type.  Surprise! Surprise! Her Uncle Adam, the black sheep of the family, turned out to be the only relative whose blood type matched hers.  Now she is about to have surgery.  She spoke to Adam beforehand and she seemed to reconcile with him,  He assured her that he regretted any pain he had caused her.  Yet, I can't help but wonder what Faith's reaction will be when Sharon and Adam hook up, as I am almost certain they will. 

So, Nikki and Sharon are getting along much better now.  We now know that Nikki prefers Sharon to Phyllis.  She told Sharon that she would much rather have her son Nick with Sharon than that wild and crazy hotel owner.  That says a lot about how much Nikki despises Phyllis.  Nikki was strongly opposed her son's marriage to Sharon, whom she considered to be a gold digger.  It's hard to forget the sour expression on her face at their wedding.  I guess she doesn't think anyone is good enough for her darling Nicholas.

Nikki and Sharon's, friendliness might not last because according to an online spoiler, Nikki will catch Sharon off guard.  The probably means that Sharon will accidently reveal her true feelings about Adam to her former mother-in-law.  It is so obvious that she would rather be with Adam and that she can't stay away from him.  The expression on her face when Adam said he would be leaving town once Faith's surgery said it all.  She looked very disappointed.  However, I don't expect that Adam will be going anywhere.  Victor has issued an ultimatum to Chelsea (Melissa Claire Egan) and she is scared out of her wits that he will take her son Connor away from her.  She appears ready to confess, but will she?  Is the jig up for the con woman?  Well, Melissa Claire Egan is having a baby in August and  she will be going on maternity leave soon.  That means that Chelsea will either be heading to prison or she will somehow escape and become a fugitive for a while.

It's ridiculous that Rey is investigating an attempted murder on himself.  It would never be allowed.  He is far too emotionally involved.  He is so biased against Adam that he can hardly wait to put the handcuffs on his adversary.  I know it's a soap, but don't insult our intelligence.  Furthermore, is Rey the only detective in the Genoa City Police Department?  How did he get assigned to the case, and where is Paul Williams (Doug Davidson)?  Why couldn't the writers give Paul a role in this storyline?  By the way, Doug has a real advocate in Eric Braeden (Victor Newman).  Eric has joined the legions of fans demanding that his fellow Emmy-winner be returned to centre stage.  Yesterday, Braeden tweeted, "I've been in Dougie Davidson's corner for years."  He added, "I think it is utterly wrong that he hasn't been involved in storylines.  He is one of the all-time favorites on our soap and should bloody well be an important part of it."  Davidson then replied, "Thank you, my friend.  You are so incredibly kind."

We know that Victor almost always gets his way.  He has been giving his total support for Adam.  So, I expect better days ahead the black sheep.

As for Nick Newman, he was involved in the best scene he's had for a long time when he had to persuade Adam to give himself up in order to donate a kidney to Faith.  It was fascinating to see Nick in a situation where he was forced to work together with his despised brother for the common cause of saving Faith's life.  Those scenes with Nick and Adam in Kansas were quite poignant as they faced a tornado and a collapsing roof together.  Kudos to Joshua Morrow (Nick) and Mark Grossman (Adam) for their performance in those scenes.

Could there be a romance in the offing between Dr. Nate and Lola?  The doc and the chef have been pretty chummy lately.  Lols tried to play matchmaker and smooth things over between Nate and Elena, but it didn't work.  Nate seems to be finished with Elena.  Elena can't stop dreaming of Devon, so I don't blame Nate for not wanting to be second choice.  However, if Lola and Nate become a couple, there will be complications since Elena is Lola's roommate.  Elena may feel that Lola is disloyal as  a friend, that she has betrayed her.

Well fans, there doesn't seem to be much COVID social distancing for couples on Y&R anymore.  Until now, only the real-life couples like Bryton James (Devon Hamilton) and Brytny Sarpy (Elena Dawson) and Sharon Case (Sharon Rosales) and Mark Grossman (Adam Newman).were seen kissing and hugging


How could Kyle not have known until recently that Tara had had a baby?  He couldn't have been that much out of the loop.  At the very least, Theo, as an internet influencer, would have found out three years ago, when Harrison was born.  Wouldn't Theo have mentioned it to Kyle then?  



Summer Newman, also know as "Snowflake" and heartbreaker Kyle Abbott, are planning a wedding.  They have survived Kyle's past philandering with Tara Locke, but can they survive the fact that he and Tara share a son?  Will they make it to the altar this time?  Fans, do you want them to stay together.  Respond to the poll below and let me know how you feel about "Skyle."

Do you think Kyle and Summer should stay together?
Yes, they were made for each other. They are both spoiled brats.
Yes, they have great chemistry and they are very romantic.
No, they aren't strong enough to last. Kyle's son with Tara will eventually break them up.
No, I don't like them together.
Please Specify:
Created with Poll Creator


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.  I really need your input.  I really need to hear your opinion.  I want to know if you agree or disagree with me. 

My email address:  jmadden16@yahoo.ca

That's all for now.  Please remember that the nest edition of Y&R Report will appear in this space on Saturday, May 22, 2021.  Enjoy the May sweeps.  I'm looking forward to watching Kyle and Summer's engagement party.

Take care.


Wednesday, May 5, 2021

A Look Back at The Jetsons: How accurate was its vision of the future?

"It’s easy for some people to dismiss “The Jetsons” as just a TV show, and a lowly cartoon at that. But this little show—for better and for worse—has had a profound impact on the way that Americans think and talk about the future."

- Matt Novk

Smithsonian.com, September 19, 2012

Those old Hanna-Barbera cartoons of the 1960s are quite enjoyable, even in today's world of computer-generated animation.  A case in point is The Jetsons, about a futuristic space age family.  The Jetsons was the flip side of The Flinstones, another Hanna-Barbera-produced animated series that took place in the "modern stone age."  Who can forget the catchy ditty that was The Jetsons' opening theme?  Remember . . .

"Meet George Jetson, his boy Elroy,, daughter Judy, Jane his wife . . ."

The Jetsons originally ran in prime time for just one season on ABC, from September 23, 1962 to March 17, 1963.  It lasted 24 episodes before it was cancelled.  After cancellation, its syndicated reruns were shown as part of the Saturday morning cartoon lineup.  The show gained a whole new audience on Saturday mornings and proved to be quite popular.  Fresh episodes were produced in 1985 and 1987, increasing the number of episodes to 75.

The Jetsons is set in an ultramodern world circa 2062 (one hundred years from its original broadcast date of 1962).  The Jetsons resided in the Skypad Apartments in Orbit city.  The family consisted of George Jetson, his wife, Jane, and their two children, Judy and Elroy.  They had a robot maid named Rosey, who handled menial household chores.  They also had a dog named Astro, who was George Jetson's beloved pet and Elroy's loyal companion.  Astro even had a catchphrase.  It was "Ruh-Roh, Reorge!" (Translation: "Uh-Oh, George!). 


George Jetson, originally voiced by actor George O'Hanlon, (1912-1989), was employed by Spacely's Sprokets Inc., owned by Cosmos Spacely (voiced by Mel Blanc in the TV series).  George commuted to work in an atomic-powered bubble.  His job title was "digital index operator."  He only worked about three hours a day for three days a week.  He literally pushed buttons on and off. Yet, in a 1980s episode, George complains about his heavy work load.

George Jetson

Cosmos G. Spacely, originally voiced by Mel Blanc (1908-1989), who provided the voice of Bugs Bunny.  Mr. Spacely was a stereotypically harsh boss, always screaming at George at the top of his lungs, complaining about George's work performance.  He often fired George in a fit of wrath, but always hired him back.  Spacely was a short, quick-tempered man with thinning hair and a toothbrush moustache.

Mr. Spacely

Jane Jetson, voiced by actress Penny Singleton (1908-2003) in the TV series, was George's wife.  Jane was a homemaker.  She shopped at Mooning Dales and she was interested in fashion and new gadgetry.  Jane was a member of the Galaxy Women Historical Society and was a fan of Leonardo de Venus and Picasso Pia.  Although she had a robot maid and automated apartment appliances, she sometimes tired from pushing buttons and needed to take a vacation.  Jane was not afraid to stand up to George's boss, Mr. Spacely, when he irritated George.

Jane Jetson

Judy Jetsonvoiced by Janet Waldo (1920-2016), in the TV series, was a typical futuristic teenage girl with futuristic tastes in clothes.  She enjoyed chatting on the phone and shopping.  She had a digital diary named Didi, which can be loosely compared to Facebook, although it was a private diary..  Judy attended Orbit High School.  She had platinum blonde hair, which she wore in a ponytail on top of her head. 

Judy Jetson

Elroy Jetson, voiced by Daws Butler (1916-1988) in the TV series, was an intelligent boy, very skilled 
in space sciences.  The youngest of the Jetsons, Elroy was a student at Little Dipper School.

Elroy Jetson

What is so intriguing about The Jetsons, especially the original 24 episodes,  is that the show provides a view of the latter half of the 21st century from an early 1960s perspective.  It is worth taking a look at the  gadgets and technology that The Jetsons envisioned for the future.  Much of it has actually come to pass.  In fact, The Jetsons was amazingly accurate in its predictions.  For example, George's work computer was called RUDI (Referential Universal Digital Indexer) in the 1980s episodes.  We now have Yahoo and Google.  We also have Siri and Alexa to answer our questions immediately.  

George was able to see and speak with his boss, Mr. Spacely, and his family from his computer screen.  In 2021, less than 60 years since The Jetsons premiered, we commonly view others and chat with them via Skype and Zoom video calls.  In his home, George kept up with the news on his computer screen, an unfamiliar concept in the 1960s.

Jane and Elroy having a video call with George

The Jetsons also envisioned Smart Watches or Iwatches.

In just over 40 years, we will reach 2062, the futuristic year of The Jetsons.  Our current world is not as space-oriented as the world of The Jetsons.  We do not wear space suits or travel in flying cars and spaceships every day.  We do not commonly fly around with jet packs.  The Jetsons featured moving walkways, which are common in today's airports, but not as widespread as in the world of  The Jetsons.  Our households do not commonly have domestic robot maids such as Rosey.  However, they certainly exist and may become more popular, especially in Japan.   By 2062, they may actually be commonplace.

Rosey, the robot maid, was voiced by Jean Vander Pyl (1919-1999), who also provided the voice of Wilma Flintstone.  The Jetsons' housekeeper wore a frilly apron and she often used a separate vacuum cleaner.  

Rosey, the robot maid

The Jetsons featured drones and holographs.  In the classic introduction to the show, the Jetson children are dropped off at school via flying pods.  Although we don't yet see drones delivering people to preferred locations, they are being used increasingly for transporting packages and taking aerial photographs.  The Jetson family also had a holographic Christmas tree to ring in the festive season, although not exactly the hologram versions of entertainers seen at the Billboard Music Awards.

To me, the 24 original 1962-63 episodes are far more significant than any Jestsons shows made in the 1980s or later.  The Jetsons certainly reflects more of an early 1960s social view than a 21st century one.  Jane Jetson did not work outside the home and there were no Blacks or Asians on the original series.  However, where technology is concerned, the series was very prescient.  Its view of the feature was quite remarkable from the vantage point of the early 1960s


* The Jetsons was the first show broadcast in colour by the ABC network.  However, the original ABC show was cancelled because of the "lack of colour."  In 1962 fewer than 3 per cent of American homes had colour televion.  Since they viewed The Jetsons in black and white, they missed out on the vibrant colours of the show.  

* The Jetsons has a Canadian connection.  George Jetson's boss, Mr. Spacely, founded Spacely Sprockets in Newfoundland in 1937 "where it prospered until massive surface pollution necessitated a move to elevated platforms in space."  Spacely Sprokets Inc.was relocated to Orbit City and Cogwell Cogs became its main business rival.  

* The catchy theme song from The Jetsons was written by American composer Hoyt Curtin (1922-2000).  Curtin composed TV commercials in the 1950s and he first met William Hanna and Joseph Barbera when he worked on a beer commercial they were producing for MGM.  Curtin became the primary musical director for the animation studio.  Over the years, he wrote the music to the most well known Hanna-Barbera series including Yogi Bear, The Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound, Quick-Draw McGraw, Top Cat , Scooby Doo and The Smurfs.  An August 28, 1986 story in the Los Angeles Times states: "The quirky, jazzy "Jetsons" theme has suddenly emerged as a pop hit . . . On a given day, the 1962 tune might play between Twisted Sister and Genesis on any one of several rock 'm' roll radio stations in Los Angeles.  George and the family have an animated video on MTV.  And "The Jetsons" theme, re-recorded in stereo, recently reached No. 9 on Billboard magazines retail sales charts."

Hoyt Curtin

* Morey Amsterdam and Pat Carroll both filed $12,000 lawsuits against Hanna-Barbera in 1963 for breach of contract.  They contended that they had signed for the roles of George and Jane Jetson respectively.  

* The original 24 1960s episodes of The Jetsons contained a laugh track, which was common practice at the time (The Flintstones also had a laugh track).  The 1980s version of The Jetsons did not have one.

* Hanna-Barbera produced a full length film based on the animated TV show.  It was called Jetsons: The Movie and was released in 1990.  Both George O'Hanlon and Mel Blanc died in 1989, during production of the film.  Jetsons: The Movie was distributed by Universal Pictures and did not receive positive reviews for its animation or its story.  It was the last official Jetsons production until 2017's The Jetsons & WWE: Robo Wrestlemania, a colaberation between Warner Brothers and WWE Studios.  This direct-to-video animated film had none of the original voice cast, as they had all passed away.

SOURCES: Smithsonian Magazine, "50 Years of the Jetsons: Why The Show Still Matters," by Matt Novak, September 19, 2012; TechCrunch (techcrunch.com), "It's 2012 Already: So Where Are All The Jetsons Flying Cars," by John Orlin, January 1, 2012; Entrepreneur, "8 Far-Out 'Jetsons' Contraptions That Actually Exist Today," by Nina Zipkin; April 17, 2015; Los Angeles Times "'Jetsons' Revival Brings Limelight to Composer," by David Wharton; August 28, 1986; Wikipedia

- Joanne