Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Linda Purl

#23 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

This season, television's once reigning queen returned to prime time as Pam Beasley's mother on NBC's The Office -- breathtakingly lovely, still dewy, fondly staring into Michael Scott's eyes with a look she never gave The Fonz.

I gasped.  For a second I thought it was actually Diane Lane.  But then Miss Purl had that effect on us even then.  She was our affordable Diane Lane, our family-friendly Linda Blair.  In the way that Helen Hunt stepped in to work Jodie Foster couldn't take, Linda managed to appear in an average of 3 movies, TV shows, or TV movies a year until the last gasps of The Seventies, before we started growing our hair up instead of down.

One needs to appreciate that TV had stars in the 70s.  To be a Big Name, you had to be able to do period drama (Young Pioneers), sit-dramedy (Happy Days), charm on talk shows, sing on variety shows, dazzle on Circus of the Stars.  The occasional Afterschool Special (or something that looked like one, like Having Babies or Black market Baby) wouldn't hurt either.

Linda's introduction to Happy Days was an attempt to get The Fonz into manhood as the girlfriend we thought might stick... if we had still cared about the show after 10 seasons.  And lord knows we didn't.  The line up that year, like Fonz, had hung around too long at the malt shoppe, and the younger siblings could not fill their origins' shoes: Little House New Beginning, Father Murphy, Joanie Loves Chachi, Archie Buncker's Place, Gloria (someone must have lost that in a bet), Benson, The New Odd Couple... oh make it stop.  Square Pegs was on the scene Monday nights and something new was in the air.

But Happy Days is hardly a repressed memory.  More of a sheepish embarrassment, really, but let's not pretend we didn't fall hard for that show.  The Linda Purl experience that marked me much deeper is 1974's (turn the lights on right now if you are reading in the dark)

Bad Ronald.
Shout out to Scott Jacoby while we're at it, who also used to be in the Made for TV stable, drunk driving or on angel dust.  But let's also remember he was the  good guy opposite Jodie's Rynn in Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.

Plot summary from IMDB:
"Scott Jacoby, a nerdy high school youth, accidently kills a neighbor's young daughter. Panicking mother, Kim Hunter, fears the police will not believe that it was an accident. She moves her son into a bathroom that she turned into a secret hiding place. After her death, a new family moves in. In the mean time, Ronald has gotten lost in a fantasy world created in his own head from being hidden away for so long."

Oh, the call is coming from inside the house, all right....
Linda has a pivotal role, but is not in it for very long (spoiler hint); it is actually Lisa Eilbacher's picture (remember herSugar Britches)  One can not accuse Ronald of going on a "spree" -- he's just clumsy.  And...unlucky.  But it's a pretty high death count for a Sunday night, Prince Norbert.

Bad Ronald was recently re-released, though not yet available on Netflix.  Let this be your call to action.

1 comment:

  1. I loved The Little Girl Who Lived Down the Lane. And Happy Days. Until Fonzie jumped the shark. Ahh--the 70's.


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