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Television Q&A: Trying to remember name of old sitcom

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Q: I recall a sitcom that hit the airwaves during the late 1950s. The main character was a man named Tom. He was the only male in his home. His wife's TV name was Fran, her mother was Irene and his daughters were Carol, Debbie and Sissie. Tom was also the owner of a lady dog and bird. Do you remember the name of the show and how long it ran?

A: That was “The Tom Ewell Show,” which aired on CBS for a single season in 1960-61. You may remember Ewell for his movie roles in “The Seven Year Itch” (which he had also starred in on Broadway) and “The Girl Can’t Help It,” as well as a recurring role on the TV series “Baretta.” He passed away in 1994. On the sitcom, he played a real estate agent dealing with all the women in his life: Fran (played by Marilyn Erskine), Irene (Mabel Albertson), Carol {Cindy Robbins), Debbie (Sherry Alberoni) and Sissie (Eileen Chesis).

Q: While watching an old episode of “The Rat Patrol” I noticed one of the actors was Eric Braeden of “The Young & The Restless” but the name given in the credits was Hans Gudegast. Are Gudegast and Braeden one in the same? If so, what prompted the name change?

A: Hans Gudegast is the given name of the German-born actor Braeden, and he performed under the Gudegast name for several years. As he told it in an interview for the Archive of American Television, he was offered a role in the movie “Colossus: The Forbin Project” (1970) but was asked to change his name. He was unwilling, he said, until his wife reminded him that actors with German names were often typecast as Nazis. He took his new last name from the village where he was born (Bredenbek) and chose a first name he considered vaguely "northern European ... could be British, could be anything." You can see more of that interview on YouTube.

Q: Do you know when "Better Call Saul" is returning? I know COVID messed up the making of many shows, so I didn't know if that was what delayed it or if there are other issues delaying its return.

A: Yes, the pandemic stalled production on “Better Call Saul’s” sixth and final season. Shooting finally began in March of this year, with 13 episodes planned for wrapping up the marvelous series. I do not know of a return date, but most of the published speculation points to 2022.

Q: I’ve been watching the early “Wagon Train” episodes. Is Robert Horton still with us? What about Ward Bond?

A: Fans of the 1957-1965 Western series will remember Horton as scout Flint McCullough for most of the show’s run. While also pursuing work as a singer and musical theater star, he departed the series in 1962 – and the following year was on Broadway in the musical “110 in the Shade.” Other stage and screen work followed; he died in 2016 at the age of 91.

Ward Bond was a veteran character actor who had often worked with director John Ford when he began playing wagon-master Seth Adams on the TV series. He died of a heart attack in 1960; the series then added a new wagon-master, played by John McIntire.

Q: I am an ardent fan of “Midsomer Murders.” On the show is a cute little dog named Sykes. I would like to know how he got the name of Sykes and what is its significance to the Barnaby family.

A: The dog’s real name was Sykes. Originally found as a stray in 2004 and trained by Gill Raddings, the terrier had performed under other names in a career that included movies and TV, but he kept his given name for “Midsomer.” He was much admired on the show. When Sykes retired in 2016, Neil Dudgeon, who played John Barnaby, called the dog a “consummate professional and like most actors will do anything for a sausage.” Sykes passed away in 2019.

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