Sally Field picked a pretty good show to start her television career thanks to an albeit brief run as Gidget. Field, who was in her late teens when the series ran in the 1965-66 season, plays “Gidget” Lawrence. She’s a boy-crazy 15-year-old in high school who lives at home. Her father is Russ Lawrence, played by Don Porter.
Gidget focuses a lot of the episodes around her adventures in school. Then, there are the boys in school that interest her. Oh, she had a main squeeze in “Moondoggie,” but he is away in college at Princeton University. Gidget loves the beach and numerous scenes have her interacting with fellow beach lovers, too.
Betty Conner stars as Gidget’s married sister Anne Cooper, while Pete Duel plays her husband John Cooper. This series also is notable when it comes to other actors making appearances. Some of them went on to great success in their series. For instance, Martin Milner, before Adam-12, played Kahuna.
Daniel J. Travanti, a bit before Hill Street Blues, played Tom Brighton. And a young Richard Dreyfuss, still waiting on the script for Close Encounters of the Third Kind, appears as Durf the Dog.
‘Gidget’ Had Main Character Talk To Viewers
Gidget also embraced a technique where Sally Field, in character, would talk right to the TV audience. This is called breaking “the fourth wall” and Sally Field did it often. At the end of an episode, she might say something and punch it up by saying “Toodles!”
ABC placed the show on Wednesday nights but faced stiff competition in The Beverly Hillbillies and The Virginian. Between those two shows, they ate up most of the audience share. Gidget only lasted one season, yet the show has been in syndication for many years. Summer reruns also picked up some viewers, too.
As an aside, its theme song, sung by Johnny Tillotson, is pretty cool. Field would soon go and find television success on The Flying Nun.
OK, let’s check out the top-ranked episodes according to IMDb.
‘Take A Lesson’
In this episode, Gidget goes on a car-buying trip to Pasadena. Oh, she’s only in her pajamas and the trip is an entire surprise. Still, she wants to let Russ know what’s going on here. Gidget stops at phone booths to call her Dad. She gives him a play-by-play of what is going on here. If you see this episode, then keep your eyes open for a Paul Lynde guest appearance.
‘A Hard Night’s Night’
Russ heads out of town, but he offers a place for his friend Stew, played by actor-music composer Frank De Vol. Now Gidget is supposed to be staying with Larue but ends up back at her home. She thinks she’s hearing a ghost but it is Stew. At the same time, Stew thinks he hears a ghost…when it’s Gidget. Don Porter directed this episode, for your information.
‘My Ever Faithful Friend’
Larue suffers the indignation of having another girl at the beach put her down. Gidget isn’t about to put up with that mess. In her mind, she believes Larue, played by Lynette Winter, should get a makeover. But Larue has something else on her mind: an old horse. She wants to buy it. Russ gets involved and chats with Larue.
At some point, Gidget gets the crazy idea that Larue and Russ are a hot item. Only Gidget, at 15, could come up with that thought. Gene Reynolds directs this episode. He, of course, would later go on and be involved with M*A*S*H.
‘Independence: Gidget Style’
Is Gidget working at a hoochie-coochie bar? That’s what Russ thinks when he finds an application for a job at the Tomcat Club. Gidget wants to make some money to buy Russ a camera for his birthday. She gets a job at a teenage club, though. Russ decides to go and see if Gidget is at this racy club. Let the laughs ensue.
‘In and Out with the In-Laws’
In this episode, Gidget is set to meet Jeff’s parents over lunch. This would be her first time meeting them. She’s a little freaked out about it. Gidget thinks this might lead to marriage. Meanwhile, Russ has to deal with one of his students getting a little too close to him. Love may be in the air but not where Russ is concerned.
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