Created by potboiler author Sidney Sheldon—who also masterminded I Dream of Jeannie and Hart to Hart (this show, by the way, is why Sheldon occupies a special circle of Hell)—Duke remains one of the wildest situation comedies of the 1960s…and in a group that included Mister Ed, My Favorite Martian, My Mother the Car, Bewitched, Gilligan’s Island, The Flying Nun and others too numerous to mention, this is indeed a prestigious honor. Child actress Patty Duke—who was just coming off an Oscar win for her role in The Miracle Worker (1962)—was the titular star, playing wacky teenager
I’ve always been a big fan of this series despite the fact that it had all the nutritional value of cotton candy—particularly because the show also starred The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis alumni William “Leander Pomfritt” Schallert and Jean “Imogene Burkhart” Byron. (Byron was one of the sexiest moms in the history of family sitcoms, and anyone who disagrees with me is more than welcome to step outside…while I remain here, laughing and poking merciless fun at you.) The series was rerun for many years on the late, lamented Nick at Nite and was “Must See TV” during my exile in
Timeless Media Group is also working away in the DVD mines with a new release of Red Skelton telecasts—Red Skelton, America’s Clown Prince will be released on July 14th and will contain thirty shows sanctioned by the Red Skelton estate. TMG will also repackage their earlier The Guns of Will Sonnett releases into one big collection on that same date—I sold my earlier Sonnetts on eBay some time ago in order to generate some fast cash and shore up some needed bedroom space but if the price is right on this collection (the SRP is $69.99, which might come down a bit depending on where you shop online) I may pick it up again. I got a big kick out of this underrated series, as evidenced by a review that can be located here as part of TDOY’s voluminous Salon Blog archives.