Saturday, October 29, 2016

What Might've Been: Meet The Family (1954)

Arthur Lake, best remembered for his radio & movie role as comic strip icon Dagwood Bumstead in the Blondie series, tried to copy Ozzie Nelson's family-centric Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet by developing his own pilot, Meet The Family, in 1954. Yes, that really is Lake's wife & children appearing with him, a son & a daughter as opposed to the Nelsons having two sons.

Unfortunately, the pilot went unsold, and has found its way to public domain. It's easy to see why this failed.

Hans Conreid, of course, is better known for his supporting role opposite Danny Thomas on Make Room For Daddy, but there was just no way he could be of any help here. Lake wanted to be Ozzie Nelson, but he was too easily identifiable as Dagwood to make this work. There would subsequently be a Blondie series, the first of two (the 2nd was in 1968 with Will Hutchins) such sitcoms, but the iconic strip suffered from a bit of camera fatigue, if you will. We'll look at the 50's Blondie another day.

Rating: C.


Mike Doran said...

According to the credits, the story for this was co-written by Marion Davies, the longtime mistress of William Randolph Hearst - and the aunt of Patricia Lake (Arthur's wife/co-star).
... or so they say.

For years, there have been rumors that Patricia Lake was in fact Marion Davies's daughter by Hearst.
Several years back, a magazine (I want to say Vanity Fair, but I'm not sure) ran a story about the Lake family, concentrating on Arthur and Patricia Lake's adult grandchildren, who are still well-wired into the Hearst estate.
The eldest grandson, also named Arthur, is said to bear a close physical resemblance to a young William Randolph Hearst.

Anyway, that's the story ...

hobbyfan said...

I read a Wikipedia bio on Arthur Lake, and, yeah, they reference the speculation that Patricia was Marion Davies' child by W. R. Hearst. After his "Blondie" series, I don't think Arthur Lake landed another series.

Mike Doran said...

Do you suppose that Arthur Lake was really looking for another series?

According to that article I referenced above, the Hearst family fortune took very good care of the whole Lake family, unto all future generations ... and apparently still does (correction, if any, welcomed).

hobbyfan said...

Well, the article I read said he'd embraced his role as Dagwood, rather than avoid typecasting. However, it's that sort of typecasting that hurt him in the pilot, and probably ended his TV career.