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.
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 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.
* The first three seasons of Route 66 are now available on DVD. I’m sure this post had absolutely nothing to do with it.