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Over the Shoulder/Seen from Behind

THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW/CBS/1961-66 (Alan Brady) - The classic sitcom THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW/CBS/1961-66 featured a loudmouthed, pushy superstar known as Alan Brady who hosted his own comedy variety series. However, for the first two seasons of the program the TV viewing audience only saw the back of his head. The most common shots of this balding tyrant (who wore a toupee on his show) were from behind his large office desk or barber chair when he was talking to his bumbling brother-in-law producer, Melvin Cooley (Richard Deacon) or his three top comedy writers Rob Petrie (Dick Van Dyke), Sally Rogers (Rose Marie) and Buddy Sorrell (Morey Amsterdam). Two years after the series debuted, Alan Brady was finally revealed on the episode entitled "The Alan Brady Show." It was none other than the series creator himself, Carl Reiner. Another faceless favorite on the show was the never seen but often spoken to Marge, Alan Brady's secretary.

GUNSMOKE/CBS/1955-75 (Gunfighter) - During the first eight seasons of GUNSMOKE, the longest running western series on television, Dodge City Marshal Matt Dillon (James Arness) would face down an unidentified gunfighter during the opening scenes of each episode. Over the years, three different people played the part of this main street marauder. They was: Arvo Ojala, for the first eight years; followed by Fred McDougall and Ted Jordon when the original film footage wore out. Fred McDougall also played the role of a bartender in the Long Branch Saloon.

THE MILLIONAIRE/CBS/1955-60 (John Beresford Tipton) - Probably the most famous television character never to be seen on the tube was that of millionaire John Beresford Tipton whose hobby was to give away one million dollars (tax-free) to total strangers. His love of chess inspired him to give away fortunes and then observe the results of his intervention. With the assistance of his personal male secretary, Michael Anthony (Marvin Miller), he dispensed his money with but one stipulation...that no attempt be made to find out who their benefactor was or the remaining money would be forfeited. During the life of the series, the "Millionaire" gave away more than seventy million dollars .The most anyone ever saw of this eccentric character was the back of his head or a waving arm or two. His deep, rich voice which weekly said, "our next millionaire" was supplied by Paul Frees.

THE PATTY DUKE SHOW/ABC/1963-66 (Stand-in double) - Brooklyn Heights, New York was the setting for this teenage comedy about two identical female cousins, Cathy and Patty Lane whose personalities were as different as night and day. Patty Duke successfully played both parts first dressing as her soft spoken Scottish cousin, Cathy Lane (who adored the minuet, the Ballet Russe, and crêpes suzettes) and then switching into the character Patty Lane, a rock and roll crazed American counterpart who supposedly lost control at the site of a hot dog. Split screen camera techniques (later used on the series BEWITCHED and I DREAM OF JEANNIE to simulate twin sisters) were used to sandwich both Patty and Cathy together on the same screen. However, when the scene called for a back shot (shooting over the shoulder of one actress while the other faced the camera) actress Rita McLaughlin was used as a stand-in double completing the illusion of one talking to the other. Though we never really saw your face, Rita, here's to you for a job well done.

SEINFELD/NBC/1990-98 (George Steinbrenner) - The actual owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner was lampooned on the sitcom SEINFELD as a never seen but always befuddled baseball executive (the camera filmed him from behind as he sat in a chair). He often interacted with George Costanza (Jason Alexander), a loser of an executive with extremely poor work ethic. Larry David provided the voice for the Steinbrenner role which was introduced on episode No. 82 "The Opposite" (5/19/94). Actors Larry David or Lee Bear provided the 'back' of his head.

THE TRIALS OF ROSIE O'NEILL/CBS/1990-92 (Rosie's Psychiatrist) - At the beginning of each episode of this legal drama, the camera focused on the face of Rosie O'Neill (Sharon Gless), a Beverly Hills lawyer turned public defender who sat in the high-back leather chair of her psychiatrist's office. Usually dressed in yellow, she carried on an almost one-way conversation with Dr. Gordon Kenderson, her unseen psychiatrist (except for the top of his balding head). Rosie brought all of her personal concerns to his office. Her topics of discussion included: her job stress, her relationship with her mother and sister, her dating and single situation, her regrets at never having a child, her divorce, her smoking habit, etc. (Ad nausem). On the first episode Rosie was heard saying "I'm thinking maybe of having my tits done. I may not want them any bigger; they're a nice size already. I just thought maybe I'd have them fluffed up a bit..." Rosie's unseen doctor was actually the show's producer, Barney Rosenzweig.


 

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