[2019 Reel Infatuation Blogathon] But Baby Think of Me Once in Awhile: On Andy Travis as Television’s Best (and Hunkiest) Boss

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! 

                                                                

Clara thanks you, too.

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?

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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. 

Bailey Quarters (Jan Smithers)

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:

Starring Gary Sandy*

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. 

Andy (Gary Sandy)*

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.

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HOW TO BE A FINE BOSS (AND HUMAN BEING) ANDY TRAVIS-STYLE:

  1. Kindness matters. Pass it on. 
  2. Be patient.
  3. Everyone is the new kid on the block at some point, even you. Fitting in can take time.
  4. Know that fair play is for everyone.
  5. Don’t micromanage. Believe in your employees, even if they don’t believe in themselves. Trust them to do their jobs.
  6. If you think someone is capable of taking on more or different work, give them the chance to shine. Confidence is contagious.
  7. Sometimes being the person in charge means that you have to make tough decisions. 
  8. Sometimes being the person in charge means that you have to be brave, physically or mentally. 
  9. Have a sense of humor, and let it shine. 
  10. 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.
  11. Friendship is as important as success. Know when to be a boss, know when to be a friend. Always be nice.
  12. Take vacation, even if it’s just a quick getaway to a nearby city. (Columbus likes you, too, Andy.) Me-time is healthy.
  13. If you know you are right about a decision, stay the course. 
  14. A relaxed attitude carries you a long way.
  15. Be open-minded.
  16. Ambition + a grounded perspective is a winning combination.
  17. Develop a distinctive personal style.
  18. If your hair is your crowning glory, let it shine.
  19. Teamwork is dreamwork. Things are easier if you all band together.
  20. People are weird. Just go with it. Life, and bosshood, is easier that way.
  21. You can be professional and in charge without being a soulless automaton.
  22. 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.  

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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.

Andy Travis*

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.

Andy (Gary Sandy)*

 

Resident hunk? Double-check.

Andy Travis (Gary Sandy)*

 

BOSS RATING (TELEVISION DIVISION): A+++

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WKRP IN CINCINNATI (1978-1982):

WKRP in Cincinnati Cast

CREDITS:

  • 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

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TRIVIA:

The More You Know

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.

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This post is part of the 2019 Reel Infatuation Blogathon,  hosted by yours truly and Ruth of Silver Screenings. See you next year!

*Sorry for the horrible quality screenshots. Sometimes tech doesn’t cooperate, and time is finite.

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The Reel Infatuation Blogathon Starts in Five Days!

Yes, it’s almost time for another round of crush-sharing! We hope you’re as excited as we are, which is to say we kind of feel like this right now…

Clara shares our enthusiasm

We have to go work on our RI post now (oh, Artie Gordon!), but we’ll see you on the 8th!

2018 RI Banner (To Catch a Thief)

Thanks to Ruth of Silver Screenings for being our fab co-host!

Announcing the 2018 Reel Infatuation Blogathon!

You’re pardoned if you thought that this year’s Reel Infatuation Blogathon was a no-go. Never fear! The announcement is late, but our enthusiasm for #charactercrushes is as strong as ever!

It’s time, once again, to dust off ye olde pens/pencils/keyboards, and get to crackin’ explaining why you love the fictional character(s) you do!

 I’ll lead off this year’s confession fest by naming my pick for the blogathon. It’s none other than…

Artemus Gordon

Mr. Artemus Gordon!

(But, more on that later…)

Ruth’s choice remains a mystery, probably because she’s been working overtime designing this year’s blogathon banners. She has really gone several steps above and beyond. Check ’em out!

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Aren’t they just the best?

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Whether you’re new to the RI Blogathon, or need a refresher, here is a primer.

When you’re ready to sign up, just leave a comment on this post or over on Silver Screenings.

We can’t wait to see your choices!

Mary Pickford (1919)

(Mary says, “Don’t keep ’em in suspense for too long! Sign up today.”)

Check back here for any pertinent updates. Other than that, we’ll see you in June.

Reel Infatuation Blogathon 2017-Day 3

Another Reel Infatuation Blogathon has come and gone! The sharing of fictional crushes was, as always, almost too much fun. Thanks to all of the readers and bloggers who joined us this year.

See you next time!

Before you go, please check out these awesome entries from Day 3! If you participated and don’t see your entry here, or if you finish it after this post goes live, just let us know and we’ll add it!

LEMON SHARK: Spike (James Marsters) in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike

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PURE ENTERTAINMENT PRESERVATION SOCIETY: Jerry Flynn (Lew Ayres) in King of the Newsboys

Jerry

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REALWEEGIEMIDGET REVIEWS: Hank Moody (David Duchovny) in Californication

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THE MIDNITE DRIVE-IN: Jessica Rabbit in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

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THE FLAPPER DAME: Paul Verrall (William Holden) in Born Yesterday

Paul

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OLD HOLLYWOOD FILMS: Wally (Jack Carson) in Mildred Pierce

Wally and Mildred

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4 STAR FILMS: Christine Doinel (Claude Jade) in Stolen Kisses, Bed & Board, and Love on the Run

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FILM MUSIC CENTRAL: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in The Avengers and Thor

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CARY GRANT WON’T EAT YOU: Doug (D.B. Sweeney) in The Cutting Edge

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF CINEMA: Fred Derry (Dana Andrews) in The Best Years of Our Lives

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LIFESDAILYLESSONSBLOG:  Jamie and Claire Fraser–The Outlander book series

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KM SCOTT’S THE CRAZY BACON SHOW: Rose (Lili Taylor) in Dogfight

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FONT AND FROCK: Hamilton Burger (William Talman) in Perry Mason

Perry and Hamilton

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Thanks so much to my co-hostest with the mostest, Ruth of Silver Screenings.

[Reel Infatuation Blogathon] Not Incompetent, Irrelevant, and Immaterial: The Case of the Crush-Worthy DA

Integrity is not considered an aphrodisiac. It is usually given a place-setting at the moral banquet, but rarely makes an appearance during discussions of sex-appeal. 

Rebels dominate this conversation. Six-pack abs and an air of danger are optional; attitude isn’t. But rebels, like all culturally celebrated things, don’t need my words in order to shine. They are ubiquitous in the American pop culture landscape. Finding them attractive and charming is not only acceptable, but, by this point, to be expected. It is, dare I say, the norm.

This brief post is my attempt at adding a faint notch in the other, largely overlooked column.

Here are ten bullet-pointed reasons why I have a crush on Hamilton Burger (William Talman), the beleaguered District Attorney on Perry Mason, who is the embodiment of the phrase I’m just doing my job. And his job–that of putting away criminals–is a worthy one. He’s not a hitman or kitten killer. He doesn’t whack old ladies on their kneecaps or push toddlers off of swings. He prosecutes suspected murderers.

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  • Hamilton Burger is a consummate professional. He never enters a courtroom less than fully prepared. His demeanor, although occasionally tetchy, is always proper. He follows the rules. Facing off against California’s most gifted defense attorney is difficult, but he holds his own. Only H.B. can approach Perry Mason in lawyerly skill. When he loses a case to P.M., he does so graciously…and is relieved by the fact that an innocent person is now free. Why? Because…
  • His only goal is for justice to be served. Even when it is at the expense of his own prosecutorial record (which, let’s be real, must be perfect when he is not facing P.M., or he wouldn’t have a job). Which brings me to…
  • He controls his ego, his ego doesn’t control him. Or he wouldn’t survive in an environment where P.M. constantly has the winning hand.
  • His self-esteem is healthy. Losing to P.M. does not make him neurotic or doubtful. He maintains his self-worth regardless of what happens on the job, but is never arrogant.
  • He is flexible and open-minded. H.B. changes his opinion as new facts are presented. He moves where the flow of information takes him, even when it is against his professional interests.
  • He’s smart, and smart is sexy.
  • He’s witty. H.B. has the perfect voice for, and a nice way with, sarcasm, which he uses often.
  • He’s honest and upstanding. No one ever seriously doubts his integrity (including P.M.). He’s scrupulously ethical, and everyone knows it. True decency is a turn-on.
  • There are no hard feelings. Burger and Mason are more-or-less friendly acquaintances outside of work. They respect each other and occasionally have post-case drinks together.
  • He has a nice smile, and more lawyers should have smiles like his.

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Perry Mason (1957-1966)-Starring: Raymond Burr, Barbara Hale, William Hopper, Ray Collins, and William Talman.

Lawyers Perry Mason and Hamilton Burger, January 1958

This is my final post for the 2017 Reel Infatuation Blogathon, which I am co-hosting with Ruth of Silver Screenings.

Gloria Swanson Reel Infatuation Banner

Reel Infatuation Blogathon 2017 – Day 2

Here’s the Day 2 Recap! Enjoy.

Silver Screenings

It’s been a fabulous Day 2 here at the Reel Infatuation Blogathon! We’ve been swooning all day.

Bloggers: Font and Frock will be hosting Day 3 tomorrow, so if you post after this tonight’s recap, we’ll be sure to include you on Sunday.

Enjoy today’s entries!

Font and Frock
Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) in The Night Stalker (1974-75)

Sister Celluloid
Mike Mitchell (Rod Taylor) in Sunday in New York (1963)

Silver Screenings
Lucky Garnett (Fred Astaire) in Shall We Dance (1937)

Superfluous Film Commentary
Princess Aura (Ornella Muti) in Flash Gordon (1980)

Crítica Retrô
Eight Reasons to Admire Anthony Perkins

Champagne for Lunch
Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack) in The Bad Seed (1956)

Join Maedez at Font and Frock for the Day 3 recap tomorrow!

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[Reel Infatuation Blogathon] Dear Mr. Kolchak

Dear Mr. Kolchak,

You don’t know who I am, but I’ve been following your career. Not the public side of it, although the articles that make it to print in newspapers across the country are fine. You’re a talented newsman, no matter what you write about. I know that your editor at the INS forces your hand. It’s understandable why he wants to play it safe. I don’t really blame him. Or, at least I wouldn’t if you weren’t so good at the other thing. You’ve really a natural calling, and, well, thank god. Thank god, because there are so few people willing to do what you do, and fewer still who do it as well.

You’re probably wondering how I know about this shadow vocation of yours. I can’t say, of course. I’m confident that you’ll appreciate my need for circumspection. I also hope you will accept my word of honor that I’m not only aware of all you’ve done, but am sincerely thankful and much relieved at your continuing success as a vanquisher of the highest order. This is the truth.

 And I’m not alone.

I’ve been tasked by the others with writing this letter. I’m not sure why they chose me, other than I’m decent with a turn of phrase. The reason behind this missive is clear enough: we’re all afraid–terribly afraid–that you’ll burn out. It always happens. Please don’t worry, though. If anyone is capable of overcoming the risks associated with this way of life, it’s you. How do we know this? Why, you’re the best we’ve ever seen. Here’s why.

  1. You’ve got style. Not sartorially speaking (although I dig your seersucker suit and that hat, which is a controversial opinion in my circle), but, well, in the way that you do things. You have aplomb. It sets you apart. If you were more reputable, it might even be called charm.
  2. You have the kind of bravado that opens doors. Too many of those thresholds lead to dangerous places. Oh, well! One cannot find vampires and zombies by staying in the office counting column inches.
  3. You’re tenacious, sometimes to the point of foolhardiness. When it comes to hunting the supernatural, there’s a fast-moving line between being stubborn and being dead. But you walk it well, my friend. Keep up the good work.
  4. You know that resources are for the resourceful. If anyone fully uses his contacts, both to and beyond the law, it is Carl Kolchak.
  5. You understand that research is your best life-line. Killing the undead requires study, dedication, practice, and fidelity to certain strange or mystical laws. Straying beyond a certain point is lethal. Which brings me to…
  6. The need to think on one’s feet, while staying more-or-less on course. You know when to take seemingly ridiculous chances, and when to adhere to the plan at hand. Smart, ballsy choices save lives.
  7. You’re a regular habitué of some pretty shady, scary places. The pursuit of werewolves and ghosts doesn’t exactly take you into the light. You spend considerable chunks of time in dark, closed-in, fetid spaces, following and fending off depraved, insatiable, murderous creatures.
  8. Hunting evil comes first for you. You’ve no personal life to speak of, and we are sorry about that. Life is a series of choices. Thank you for constantly making the correct ones, Carl Kolchak.
  9. You’re perfectly ordinary. Are you a superhero? An Olympian? A world-renowned expert on anything? No, no, no. Your actions are proof that anyone can make a positive difference in the world.
  10. Other people’s opinions don’t matter to you. Law enforcement and government officials think you are, at worst, insane, a murderer, or both. The best you come off is as a charlatan. I won’t mention how your co-workers feel…You persist.
  11. You persist. Through everything. You trudge past your own ignorance and unbelief only to meet up with that of others (who, unlike you, rarely change their minds), live with a sketchy reputation, are willing to look foolish and misunderstood, and put your life at risk for the greater good of humanity. All for little to no thanks.

We hope this letter stands as proof that your courage and selflessness have not gone unnoticed. You are appreciated, Carl Kolchak. You are necessary. You are the nightstalker. For the love of all that is good, please stay true to your principles. Don’t stray from the light. We need you. Desperately.

M.

This post is part of the 2017 Reel Infatuation Blogathon, which I’m co-hosting with Ruth of Silver Screenings.

Darren McGavin Reel Infatuation Banner

  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974-1975)-Starring: Darren McGavin, Simon Oakland, Jack Grinnage, Ruth McDevitt.

Reel Infatuation Blogathon 2017 – Day 1

Here’s the Day One Recap!

Silver Screenings

What a beautiful day it’s been!

It’s a pleasure to read bloggers’ secret (and not-so-secret) character crushes. In a world where it’s easy to get caught up deriding folks, it’s refreshing to spend the day extolling the wonderful qualities of others.

Bloggers: If we missed your post today, fear not – we shall include you in tomorrow’s recap.

Until then, please enjoy today’s Reel Infatuation entries.

A Small Press Life
Archie Goodwin from the Nero Wolfe mystery series

Wide Screen World
Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) in Fargo (1996)

Love Letters to Old Hollywood
Simon Dermott (Peter O’Toole) in How to Steal a Million (1966)

Caftan Woman
Gilbert (Michael Redgrave) in The Lady Vanishes (1938)

Superfluous Film Commentary
Jennifer Mack (Ally Sheedy) in Wargames (1983)

The Midnite Drive-In
Penelope in The Odyssey

The Story Enthusiast
Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) in Harvey (1950)

Coffee…

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#ReelInfatuation Blogathon Round-Up

Thanks to all who participated in, read, shared, or otherwise engaged in the inaugural #ReelInfatuation Blogathon!

Reel Infatuation Jagger Banner

Reel Infatuation Jagger Banner

You know who you are, and you’re ALL the best (especially our co-hostest with the mostest).

Here’s a round-up of all five fabulous days:

Although we plan on doing a second Reel Infatuation Blogathon, you don’t have to wait that long to join in the fun. The character crush conversation will continue on our website, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Stay tuned for more info.

Until then…

Cheers!

Cheers!