Denny and Juliet in "Mona McCluskey"
Legs are good. Well, some legs are. I like legs. Chicken
legs are up there on my list, right next to turkey legs. I'm not much interested
in any other animal legs. Horse legs seem too skinny for all that weight
and speed. You can tell I'm not a real cowboy. Dogs' legs are usually too
hairy to get a good look at. Turtle legs are special. Retractable, that's
Human legs get my full attention. I look with envy at
a trackman's legs -- muscular, limber, well formed from ankle to hip, built
for speed and jumping and vaulting. I've accused God of putting my legs
on backwards. How can I be bow-legged, knock-kneed and have knobby knees
all at the same time and not have my legs on backwards? On top of that,
or I should say on he bottom of that, my feet are three sizes too big for
my body and I'm pigeon-toed. People have told me I walk around with my
nose in the air. It's just to avoid looking down.
Ladies' legs, gams, stems, wheels -- long, shapely dancers'
legs can be a distraction. They have caused me much pain. I've walked into
lampposts, walls, other people, almost everything you can name while ogling
at a pair of beautiful legs.
Juliet Prowse. Does that name bring the vision of the
Olympics of legs? I had to play her husband in a TV series called "Mona
McCluskey" created by writer, producer, actor, and director Don McGuire.
He also wrote the classic film about prejudice, "Bad Day at Black Rock"
and the original script for "Tootsie."
I know playing Juliet's husband in a sitcom for twenty-six
weeks was a dirty job but somebody . . . Anyway, the first day of rehearsal
for the pilot arrived. The cast was there; Juliet and me and Elena Verdugo
and Robert Strauss who played "Animal" in Stalag 17", and Herb Rudly.
The cameraman was there with his assistants. Roy Stork
from make-up was there. Interesting guy, he had been on the "Dolittle Raid"
in WWII. The prop department was well represented along with the sound
department and the grips.
We were seated at a long table in the middle of a large
sound stage. Two rather harsh lights provided enough light for everyone
to read their scripts and take notes. Two rather harsh lights provided
enough light for everyone to read their scripts and take notes. This oval
of bright light dropped off in all directions so the group was surrounded
No Mr. Don McGuire, our director/producer and lead. Five
minutes went by, ten minutes -- he was ten minutes late. People began to
fidget in their seats.
The stage door opened off in the darkness and let a streak
of light slice the black in two. We could see Don's silhouette in the doorway.
The door closed behind him and he disappeared. We could hear his footsteps.
He was in no hurry. He walked into our light and everyone sat up to greet
him and begin.
He walked right by us. No hello, no nod. It was as if
we didn't exist. And he walked into the dark beyond, We heard him stop
and out of the silence., . . "Fudge!!!!!!!!!!!!" It bounced off the walls
Don appeared out of the darkness with a big smile on his
"Now we can get started."
Don was like that. He used humour, which is based on surprise,
to break the tensions in life. I miss him very much.
For twenty-six weeks it was a joy to come to work. George
Burns. Right, the one and only George Burns, took over as producer. Richard
Whorf, of the Orson Wells Actors' Group, directed every show. And Robert
Strauss, "Animal," kept us laughing from morning till morning.
The show was up against "Thursday Night At The Movies."
What a time slot. On our opening night , we were up against "Manchurian
Candidate." We could sense the TV audience out there. "What will we watch
tonight, Frank Sinatra in a classic film or an $80,000 episode of an unknown
We were ranked sixty-seventh out of sixty-four shows that
night and never got any higher. Mom and Dad watched and my brother stood
in for me. But everybody in the show had a great time.
We even broke the twin bed barrier for sitcoms. Up until
then, even married couples were filmed ONLY in twin beds. I guess when
you know your show is going to be canceled -- what the heck, bring on the
Legs? Juliet danced all over Europe on hers. She danced
in Vegas in her own show. She danced in musicals and summer stock all over
the U.S. She even danced in the pilot episode for "Mona McCluskey." When
old guys sit around and praise ladies' legs and no one mentions Juliet
Prowse, you know you're with a bunch of amateur leg watchers or old geezers
in need of guide dogs.