Well, I rented the Doris Day Special (1971) hoping for a little light-hearted nostalgic bliss, but instead it got me thinking about horrible things like Charles Manson and AIDS.
I know you're probably thinking Gilligan has finally lost his grip on reality. On the contrary, I assure you that I am in full control of my senses. Bear with me as I walk you through it...
First of all, I should've known things were a bit "off" from the very beginning. The Doris Mary Anne Kapplehoff Special? WTF? Why did she use her real name? I listened to the director's commentary and the question was never answered satisfactorily. Something about Doris being tired of bland titles for specials. Yeah, right. I think it had something to do with the controversy and tragedy surrounding Doris and her son at this time.
Two years prior to taping this special, Doris' husband had died and she found that all of her vast fortune had been squandered. The legal proceedings would last for years, and it was never really resolved whether her husband (and her crook bastard attorney) had orchestrated the whole thing, or whether he was just naive. Either way, Doris was flat broke in 1968.
The 1971 special was a contractual obligation set up by her late husband which Doris still had to honor (maybe that's why she chose the funky title). The special itself is pretty boring and lame with an intro involving Doris pedaling a bike to the tune of a "Feelin' Groovy"/"Ob la di, Ob la da" montage. She also works in her animal rights interest with a skit involving a bunch of puppies. How adorable.
And of course, there's Perry Como...
Before I get back to the disturbing stuff, let's get one thing straight that I've been meaning to bring up: the 1970s were not all Six Million Dollar Man, Foghat and Evil Knievel - there was lots of Lawrence Welk and Perry Como to go around too. TV and radio weren't exclusively centered around hippie Baby Boomers and their slacker children - there was a big market for the older generation as well. For every dirty hippy there was a guy in white golf shoes with an ascot. Case in point: "My Love Is Blue" by Paul Mauriat was a #1 hit right before the Doors' "Hello, I Love You" hit #1 in '68. What a contrast!
Anyway, also in 1968, Doris Day's son hooked up with Charles Manson...
That's Doris' son Terry in the picture above. He was quite the talented producer and musician who worked with hot bands like The Byrds and Paul Revere and the Raiders. Around this time, Melcher was auditioning an up-and-coming musician named Charles Manson.
When Melcher declined to sign him, Manson continued to visit Melcher's home -which he shared with his girlfriend Candice Bergen...
Melcher had leased his home to Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate. Manson family member, Susan Atkins, stated before a Grand Jury that the house was chosen as the scene for the murders:
"... to instill fear into Terry Melcher because Terry had given us his word on a few things and never came through with them".
Melcher went into seclusion following the murders and resurfaced in 1970 to completely ruin a Byrds album (often referred to as "Melcher's Folly"). Around this time, Melcher produced several of his mother's specials including this one in 1971.
In this special we get a look at one of Doris' good friends, the still-in-the-closet Rock Hudson...
Around this time, Hudson was starring as a depraved gym teacher in Pretty Maids All In a Row (I told you I can't stop coming back to this insanely intriguing movie -see post ). About 15 years later, Hudson would once again join Doris on a TV special, but by this time AIDS was showing its signs (from Wikipedia):
His gaunt appearance, and his nearly incoherent speech, were so shocking it was broadcast again all over the national news shows that night and for weeks to come. Day herself stared at him throughout their appearance.
And so there you have it - a seemingly innocent little TV special is turned upside down in the hands of your humble blogger. Oh well. Did I mention this was my 200th post? Hooray!