Good Morning World…and Joby Baker Too

Perhaps you remember a 1960s television show with Executive Producers Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard. No, not The Dick Van Dyke Show. The one created by Bill Persky and Sam Denoff. No, not That Girl. I’m talking about Good Morning World. It starred Joby Baker, Ronnie Schell (Gomer Pyle, USMC), Billy DeWolfe, Julie Parrish and a pre-Laugh-In Goldie Hawn.

Don’t feel out of it if the show doesn’t ring a bell. In the vagaries of the television business, it was a one-season wonder, a “can’t miss” show…that did. But if you want to experience that glorious lone season again (or for the first time), you can, because it is currently available in a 4-DVD set.

Good Morning World

I won’t waste this space to question why any single-season show is on DVD, while Route 66 (for one glaring example*) is conspicuously absent from shelves and web-stores, because I’m very glad Good Morning World can be enjoyed again in all of it’s 1967 glory.

It’s a fun show, and actually ages well, with the exception of a couple episodes (especially the one where the plot turns on a blacked-out on local VHF-TV football game and the afternoon paper). The humor is both situational and relational, with Baker and Schell in fine form playing LA drive-time DJs (David) Lewis and (Larry) Clarke, the marvelously acidic Billy DeWolfe their Station Manager, and Parrish (who played Mrs. Lewis) and Hawn (the Lewis’ ditsy neighbor who began to date “swinging bachelor” Clarke after a few episodes) their respective significant others. I was honestly bummed when episode 26 concluded, knowing that it was Good Night World…and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest…

I never saw the show on network television. I’d sought out GMW, quite simply, because I’m a Joby Baker fan. Why? Maybe it’s because his name was Joby and had such great hair, or because he’s one of two performers (the other being James Darren as Jeffrey “Moondoggie” Matthews) to appear in all three Gidget movies (first as Stinky, and then as Judge Hamilton), or that he always seemed to be having a good time, or that he kept showing up in many of my 1960s film favorites, such as The Wackiest Ship in the Army (with Ricky Nelson and Jack Lemmon), Blackbeard’s Ghost, The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, and (I may be alone here) Hootenanny Hoot. Add in featured guest shots on some top TV shows of the day AND a 1965 gig as an Elvis sidekick (Wilbur) in Girl Happy, and…OK…I’ll admit it…

There was a period in my life when I wanted to be Joby Baker.

Julie Parrish and Joby Baker

Julie Parrish and Joby Baker looking well-coiffed on Good Morning World

When GMW was canceled in 1968, Ronnie Schell — who’d previously toured with and opened for The Kingston Trio while billing himself as America’s Slowest-Rising Young Comedian — simply re-enlisted with Gomer Pyle (with a promotion to Corporal, no less), and Billy DeWolfe took his acerbic wit to (and out on) Marlo Thomas, Doris Day and Debbie Reynolds. Julie Parrish continued performing on TV and film until her untimely death in 2003 of ovarian cancer, and Goldie Hawn’s post-GMW career is, of course, a matter of public record. Baker also kept acting, appearing in one final Disney goofball flick (as “Klutch” in Superdad) and a regular diet of roles on episodic television.

Then, after marrying Dory Previn in 1984, Baker (who’d already established himself as an artist of some renown by the 1970s) took up paint and palette full time. Internet rumor has it that he lives in Southfield, Massachusetts, and continues to sell his art (he’s a figurative expressionist) to collectors all over the world.

Although I’ve mostly outgrown my case of Joby Baker envy, he’s still on my short list of “People I’d Like To Meet Someday.” Of course, if I ever did, I’d probably just stare down nervously at my feet, mumble a “thank-you” for the hours of fun entertainment, and wish him all the best.

Fortunately, I can do all that with this post, and without the mumbling, nervous looking-at-the-feet thing.

craig hodgkins

* The complete run (4 seasons) of Route 66 is now available on DVD. I’m sure this post had absolutely nothing to do with it.

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~ by Craig Hodgkins on August 9, 2007.

5 Responses to “Good Morning World…and Joby Baker Too”

  1. Bullwhip Griffin, I remember loving that film and walking to the pizzeria after the show to get a huge pie with those bubbles in the dough, the kind of pizza you could only find in New York and New Jersey back then. Thanks for the memory. I linked hear while trying to remember the face of the actor who played the villian in Blackbeard’s Ghost. IMDB gave me his name but no photo. I does amaze me how many obscure shows can end up on DVD while some of the greats are still nowhere to be seen.

  2. Tom: Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you located the photo of Joby Baker (with Julie Parrish) here. I bought it on eBay the night I wrote the post.

    It seems the biggest factor with old TV shows and their respective DVD availability is licensing issues, and who owns the masters. Sometimes it’s the networks, and sometimes it’s the producers or or other private parties. Funny…I’d mentioned “Route 66” in this post last August, and it finally came out (Season 1, at least) a few months ago.

  3. Hi Craig…It’s great to know these shows are available. I also love knowing I wasn’t the only goofy kid who sat in front of the tv and dreamed…I was so goofy that, even though I had started to watch the show because I, too, liked Joby Baker (and Gidget movies), I developed an adolescent crush on Burt Taylor…who played Vinny in the control room. His total time on air was about 3 seconds!!! Go figure! I did write him a “fan letter” and he sent me copies of his new records as they came out…I remember there being two, although I just saw one on Ebay that I don’t have, so maybe he had put out three. I still have the records and the notes and…the coup de gras…the 8×10 autographed picture somewhere…ah, the good old days…last I remember, he quit singing and acting to be a talent agent. He stopped writing soon after that. Either I was his only fan or he figured out that I was about 11 years old!
    Thanks for the memory!

  4. Thanks for the comment, Diane, and for the fun story about Burt Taylor. His final screen credit seems to be in one episode of the 1973-74 TV series “Lotsa Luck,” which starred Dom Deluise, and, like “Good Morning, World,” was created by Persky-Denoff and is available on a single (and only) season DVD.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Thank you for the update on the immensely talented Joby Baker. I always watched GMW. As with most of my 60’s TV viewing, it was a nice & needed break from the violence in my home. I often noticed his appearances in others shows & movies. I wondered what happened to him. I am pleased to hear he’s in a settled, and apparently happy marriage with Dory Previn, who, herself, deserves some happiness after the injustice done to her. I’m glad to hear that he’s been pursuing a successful career as a painter all these years. BEST WISHES TO BOTH JOBY & DORY!!

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