Welcome to the 2019 Reel Infatuation Blogathon!
Baby, If You’ve Ever Wondered:
It still seems like yesterday that the idea for RI popped in my head. It was actually in December 2015, while in a hotel room getting ready for a holiday party, when it occurred to me that there was a gap in the classic film blogathon world. White Christmas (1954) was playing in the background. Dean Jagger, as The General, was onscreen. Until that moment, I’d long since forgotten my teenage crush on this unlikely character. Character. Boom. There it was: A blogathon focused on specific fictional characters, rather than their dreamy performers. The following day, I recruited Ruth (best decision ever!). It was a go!
And here we are, in 2019.
The Reel Infatuation Blogathon is in its fourth edition. Stronger than ever, thanks to you. Yay you!
Speaking of thanks, I owe my co-hostess with the mostest, Ruth of Silver Screenings, a shout-out for being the best. This year’s banners are remarkable, aren’t they?
A WEE NOTE:
Andy Travis is the sixth character crush I’ve written about, across the span of four RI blogathons. You can read up on the others here:
Aside from the literary Archie Goodwin (of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series), all of these characters have one major thing in common: the actors who portrayed them are all dead.
- ROSS MARTIN (1981)
- WILLIAM TALMAN (1968)
- DARREN MCGAVIN (2006)
- DEAN JAGGER (1991)
Gary Sandy is very much alive, making this my first #charactercrush subject whose actor is still with us. That’s a bit awkward, no? (If you’re reading this, Mr. Sandy: Hey! Let’s feel awkward together. Whether or not that halves or doubles the cringe factor, depends on your viewpoint…) Since awkwardness is a currency I’m familiar with (obviously), and writing about living people is an extremely foreign concept, it’s easy to see which way the wind is starting to blow here…Or, to put it in WKRP terms: You couldn’t take early-series Bailey out of this gal if you tried.
I also wouldn’t let you, but that is a conversation for another essay.
Moving on to why we’re here: Andy Travis.
BUT BABY THINK OF ME ONCE IN AWHILE:
With more than a century under its belt, modern pop culture is full of fictional bosses who cover the spectrum from bad to absurd to good. See: Dabney Coleman as Franklin Hart, Jr. in 9 to 5 (1980), Ford Sterling as a chief of police in various silent Keystone productions, and Gary Sandy as Andy Travis on WKRP in Cincinnati (1978-1982). Surrounded by domineering, colorful figures like the former two, it can be hard for a decent authority figure to gain attention or respect. In a universe where most bosses are either hell-hounds or Dada-inspired clowns, there is scant room for down-to-earth mentors to ply their trade(s) and make a positive difference in the lives of their employees. Among the few who have met and surpassed the challenge is a laid-back son of Santa Fe, New Mexico: radio program director Andy Travis.
For the uninitiated, WKRP in Cincinnati is a workplace comedy which follows the antics of the employees of a second-tier radio station set, of course, in the title city. . In the first episode, new program director Andy Travis rolls into town. Although young, he is a veteran at turning around failing stations. He brings in new on-air talent, changes the format to rock and roll, and begins the gargantuan task of pushing WKRP up the ratings ladder. In management, someone has to know what they’re doing. At WKRP, that person is Andy. Naturally, this being a sitcom, his ability, ego, and professionalism are about to be challenged and vexed at almost every turn in a host of unexpected, laugh-inducing ways.
Four seasons follow.
HOW TO BE A FINE BOSS (AND HUMAN BEING) ANDY TRAVIS-STYLE:
- Kindness matters. Pass it on.
- Be patient.
- Everyone is the new kid on the block at some point, even you. Fitting in can take time.
- Know that fair play is for everyone.
- Don’t micromanage. Believe in your employees, even if they don’t believe in themselves. Trust them to do their jobs.
- If you think someone is capable of taking on more or different work, give them the chance to shine. Confidence is contagious.
- Sometimes being the person in charge means that you have to make tough decisions.
- Sometimes being the person in charge means that you have to be brave, physically or mentally.
- Have a sense of humor, and let it shine.
- Know your job. Do your job. Never be your job. That last one can be hard, especially if you move from town to town and up and down the dial, but is worth working through.
- Friendship is as important as success. Know when to be a boss, know when to be a friend. Always be nice.
- Take vacation, even if it’s just a quick getaway to a nearby city. (Columbus likes you, too, Andy.) Me-time is healthy.
- If you know you are right about a decision, stay the course.
- A relaxed attitude carries you a long way.
- Be open-minded.
- Ambition + a grounded perspective is a winning combination.
- Develop a distinctive personal style.
- If your hair is your crowning glory, let it shine.
- Teamwork is dreamwork. Things are easier if you all band together.
- People are weird. Just go with it. Life, and bosshood, is easier that way.
- You can be professional and in charge without being a soulless automaton.
- Be supportive.
If you do these things, you just might end up being the kind of person people want to work for and/or befriend.
This is where things get murky, y’all. Although Reel Infatuation emphasizes the character over the actor, the former obviously could not exist without the latter. Cue: Gary Sandy.
As embodied by the charmingly skillful Gary Sandy, Andy Travis is a warm, human, funny, likable, guy-next-door, albeit one with better-than-average hair and a mania for exceedingly tight jeans and shirts. (File under: if you’ve got it, flaunt it.) Unlike his workmates, Andy rarely gets into weird situations of his own making. When your character is the one extricating others from plot point shenanigans, the spotlight doesn’t always shine in quite as direct a way. Fortunately for viewers of WKRP in Cincinnati, Gary Sandy is just really damn talented at reacting to what is happening around his character. A good thing, that, as Andy is often chilling in the background while his co-workers are doing odd shit in front of him. By reacting, I don’t mean old school, theatrical scenery-chewing, but, rather, the natural expressions of a person engaged in living. This quiet finesse grounds his scenes in both the moment and reality.
Functioning as the warm, moral center of a workplace (and straight man on a sitcom) is obviously an easier-said-than-done, arduous task. It’s a position often decried as weak, unimportant, or forgettable. Uh-huh. Businesses and shows can’t survive without the ideal people in those roles. Andy Travis is the just-right grease that keeps the station running, as sure as Gary Sandy is the center of the television show WKRP in Cincinnati. You can’t have one without the other, and why would you want to?
Leading man? Check.
Resident hunk? Double-check.
BOSS RATING (TELEVISION DIVISION): A+++
WKRP IN CINCINNATI (1978-1982):
- CREATED BY: HUGH WILSON
- CAST: GARY SANDY (Andy Travis: Program Director), GORDON JUMP (Arthur “The Big Guy” Carlson: General Manager), LONI ANDERSON (Jennifer Marlowe: Receptionist), HOWARD HESSEMAN (Dr. Johnny Fever: Disc Jockey), RICHARD SANDERS (Les Nessman: News Director), FRANK BONNER (Herb Tarlek: Sales Manager), TIM REID (Venus Flytrap: Disc Jockey), JAN SMITHERS (Bailey Quarters: News, etc.), CAROL BRUCE (Lillian “Mama” Carlson: Station Owner)
- EPISODE COUNT: 90
- SEASONS: 4
- FIRST EPISODE: PILOT PART 1, 18 SEPTEMBER 1978
- LAST EPISODE: UP AND DOWN THE DIAL, 21 APRIL 1982
Gary Sandy was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio (as was older WKRP castmate Gordon Jump), and attended college in nearby Wilmington.
1930s movie star Sylvia Sidney played Lillian Carlson in the pilot only.
The show was nominated for ten Emmy awards, winning one for videotape editor Andy Ackerman.
*Sorry for the horrible quality screenshots. Sometimes tech doesn’t cooperate, and time is finite.
This is one of my favorite events of the year, and not just because I’m the co-hostess. It’s simply that good. And fun. Oh, so much fun!
Here’s my original announcement.
I hope you’ll join us!
Rest in Peace to the extraordinary, gifted Tab Hunter (11 July 1931-8 July 2018).
The 2018 Reel Infatuation Blogathon was such a blast! Thanks to all who participated in any way., especially my co-hostess Ruth of Silver Screenings.
Image: The Vintage Glitter Box
The Reel Infatuation Blogathon is terrific fun. Discovering people’s character crushes is an enjoyable experience, but it’s also uplifting.
Essays that praise the good in others are refreshing. We could use a little more of that, wouldn’t you say?
Thanks to Maedez of Font and Frock and A Small Press Life for her ideas and for asking me to join the party. Thanks also to all participants for your enthusiasm, and for giving us some “new” films to watch.
Today is the last day of the blogathon, but if you post an entry later this evening (or tomorrow), we’ll add you to the list. Just leave a comment below.
Now, sit back and enjoy today’s Reel Infatuations.
Font and Frock
Artemus Gordon from The Wild, Wild West (1965-1969)
Pure Entertainment Preservation Society
Dennis Mulvy from Luxury Liner (1948)
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At this time last year I was super busy writing about not one, not two, but three of my biggest character crushes! Narrowing it down to a single fictional person was too hard, so I went large with ambition.
First up was the irrepressible Archie Goodwin from the Nero Wolfe series of books by Rex Stout. (Read the original post here.) Archie is witty, sly, highly intelligent, and almost too charming for his own good.
Then it was The Night Stalker‘s Carl Kolchak’s turn to be honored. (Read the original post here.) Carl is an irreverent, sarcastic every-man who always manages to do the right thing, even when the right thing requires an almost super-human amount of courage.
Last, and in no way least, was Hamilton Burger from Perry Mason. Hamilton gets an immense amount of flack for doing the very things which make him such an honorable man. He is a dedicated public servant whose sense of fair-mindedness and justice never wavers. (Read the original post here.)
Why this trip down memory lane? It’s neither for kicks nor clicks, rest assured. No, it’s simply because my choice of character crush for this year’s Reel Infatuation Blogathon embodies ALL of the above-mentioned characteristics. In one merely human man, you ask? In one merely human man, I reiterate.
Here’s why Artemus Gordon (Ross Martin) ticks off as many boxes as three extraordinary people.
ARTEMUS GORDON, THE SECRET SERVICE AGENT OF MY DREAMS:
Being a Secret Service Agent in a steampunky version of the Old West is quite demanding. In addition to dealing with all of the usual hazards (assassins and villains of every stripe and motive), they must face, outsmart, and defeat countless other challenges, as they work to shield the president and ordinary folks alike, including: magic/magicians, mad scientists, the supernatural, and impressive weapons the likes of which have never been seen. Fortunately for the sleepy citizens of the burgeoning United States of America, James T. West and Artemus Gordon are at the top of their field. There isn’t a scary or violent situation they won’t run into, head-first, with a first class plan. Sometimes they emerge beaten or broken, but emerge they always do. Thanks, guys!
Jim is serious (and seriously handsome), dedicated, smart, fearless, and quick-thinking. He even has a sense of humor, making him pretty fine character crush material in his own right. I won’t be upset if you prefer him. After all, the show’s title refers to both a place and a person. This person:
Of course, a team requires at least two people. Jim couldn’t do what he does so well, without the help of another, even more impressive agent. That agent is, of course, Artie. Or, “Gordon, Artie Gordon,” if you prefer. (Series creator, Michael Garrison, called the show “James Bond on horseback.”)
Agent Gordon is, well, remarkable. By any metric. Seriously remarkable. He meets and exceeds all of the standard Secret Service requirements as well as Jim does, but Artie is an overachiever of the highest caliber. Jim doesn’t do anything that Artie couldn’t, but Artie does things that Jim couldn’t master given a time frame of one hundred years.
Artie is basically the Lon Chaney of the 19th century. His impersonation skills are legendary. If a disguise is necessary, he creates one…no matter how complex. He doesn’t stop with the visual, but completes the package with a believable characterization and appropriate accent (taking advantage of star Ross Martin’s fluency in a half-dozen languages). Not one to master a task or two and call it a career, he is also the inventor of cool high-tech gadgets which serve to get our heroes out of any jam, no matter how fraught.
In or out of costume (his repertoire consists of 100+ people), Artie is quick with a quip or put-down. He’s defused many a potentially deadly situation with well-timed sarcasm or clowning, and isn’t above cunning and conning. The man IS a government agent, after all.
What he does, and however he gets there, is always for the greater good of both individuals and collective humanity. He’s there to see evil vanquished and justice prevail, fairly, in a wonky world composed of every shade of grey.
Perhaps his most shining asset is, however, a fully developed ability to charm. No matter the situation, he’s equipped with a winning smile and what can best be stated as a little something extra, or: that amorphous, elusive thing known as magnetism. Ya have it or ya don’t. Jim wears that fine blue suit to match his sparkling eyes and perfect physique, but Artie has it. And for that, we should all be thankful.
THE WILD WILD WEST (1965-1969):
(Thanks MeTV for the screenshots. That’s the wonderful Victor Buono in the bottom right corner.)
- 4 Seasons
- 104 Episodes
- Starring Robert Conrad and Ross Martin
Image: The Vintage Glitter Box
It’s been another fabulous day here at the Real Infatuation blogathon. We’re feeling the character crush love!
Bloggers: If we missed your post today, fear not – we’ll include you in tomorrow’s recap.
Haven’t signed up, but still want to join the fun? You bet! Just leave a comment below.
Meanwhile, please enjoy today’s Reel Infatuation entries.
Moondoggie from Gidget (1959)
I Found it at the Movies
Constant Doyle from Perry Mason (Season 6, Episode 16, 1963)
Thoughts All Sorts
Mr. Nobley from Austenland (2013)
Hendley the Scrounger from The Great Escape (1963)
Join us tomorrow for Day 3 of the Reel Infatuation Blogathon!
Image: Reaction Gifs
It’s difficult to think of anything more fabulous than a day at the spa, unless you’re talking about the Reel Infatuation Blogathon.
We’ve just spent a glorious day reading about characters who are admired, and why they are special. It’s joyful and refreshing, and it helps restore a little faith in humanity. Thanks to Maedez, of Font and Frock and A Small Press Life, for asking us to co-host this wonderful blogathon. This is her brainchild.
Bloggers: If we missed your post today, fear not – we shall include you in tomorrow’s recap.
Until then, please indulge in today’s Reel Infatuation entries.
The Story Enthusiast
Kathleen Kelly from You’ve Got Mail (1998)
Movie Movie Blog Blog
Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988)
Words Seem Out of Place
Angela from Married to the Mob (1988)
Lee Chan from the Charlie…
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Hey there, readers! The 2018 Reel Infatuation Blogathon is officially here.
Remember: once your post is up, please link it in the comments section here or on the re-blogs on Silver Screenings or A Small Press Life. We’re so excited to read your contributions. Thanks a million!
PS-It’s not too late to join us. Read the details here.