Friday, June 24, 2016

What Might've Been: The Bill Dana Show (1963)

Bill Dana was known for one thing. Dana created the persona of Latino everyman Jose Jiminez in his comedy act. As Jimenez, Dana appeared on Make Room For Daddy with Danny Thomas, and that ultimately led to Dana getting his own self-titled series.

While Jose operated an elevator in Danny Williams' (Thomas) apartment building, he landed a new job on The Bill Dana Show, which lasted 16 months on NBC (September 1963-January 1965) before being cancelled. In it, Jose now was a hotel bellhop, just another variation on a familiar trope in these sitcoms. Two of Dana's co-stars, though, would go on to much bigger successes.

Don Adams was cast as hotel detective Byron Glick, who morphed into secret agent Maxwell Smart later in 1965 when Get Smart premiered, also on NBC. Jonathan Harris resurfaced as Dr. Zachary Smith in Irwin Allen's Lost In Space, which lasted 3 seasons (1965-8) on CBS. Harris kept his comic timing intact, thankfully, but that was one of the few things about 1975's Uncle Croc's Block, a satire of children's shows that aired as part of ABC's Saturday block.

Dana, as Jose, was one of a number of stars who made window cameos on Batman, but otherwise, Jose remained part of Dana's standup act, and appeared on Comic Relief when HBO launched its standup answer to Live Aid.

Here's a sample clip with Dana, Adams, and Harris.

Dana, of course, would guest on Get Smart, but not as Jose.

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