Please Don't Eat The Daisies
Please Don't Eat the Daisies was a television show running for two seasons in the late 1960's (1965-67) which was based upon a Doris Day movie, which in turn was based upon a bestselling collection of humorous essays by Jean Kerr. Ms. Kerr wrote about the foibles of being a wife and mother in the modern world.
Similarly, the TV show took on such topics. PDETD centered around the life and writing career of Joan Nash (Patricia Crowley), wife of a college drama professor and mother of four boys, the youngest two being twins; they also herded around a large sheepdog, which appeared in the animated opening sequence and was the fulcrum around which many of the show's plots revolved. The final 'character' in the show had to have been the Nashes' house, a fantastic old Victorian mansion complete with a conical spire, and which held more rooms than the owners could comfortably count. In the first episode (the pilot? - it was the only one in black and white) Mrs. Nash is shown to be a somewhat unconventional housewife - she sleeps late, is less than perfectly careful about housekeeping, and has her own career - writing humorous articles about her family.
The show quickly dropped the unconventional-wife bit and Joan became pretty much like every other mother in television at that time - i.e., she tended the house and large family perfectly well, and always looked gorgeous doing it. The boys - especially the young twins - often provided the show's plots, although many stories also grew from the misunderstandings between husband and wife. Unlike many shows of that era, however, PDETD seemed to have a sense of continuity: events that had transpired in previous episodes are mentioned in later ones, or even cause new stories to unfold. In any case, it was a lovely little show and does not deserve to be forgotten, especially in light of many inferior contemporary shows about which much has been written, and which have seen deluxe DVD releases.
I vaguely remember watching the show as a very small boy; I think it was a family favorite at the time, which had to have been a few years later, as I was just being born as the show was originally airing. And although I could never remember any details, I always harbored a real sense of familiarity and love for the show. Seeing it now on DVD (thank you, internet and underground economy) allows me to see why I enjoyed it so much as a child.
Firstly, being a small boy with four much older siblings, I think I longed to be part of a gang, like the Nash boys. I wanted three other guys to pal around with like they all had; I wanted us to live in a nice, big old house in a friendly 60's sitcom neighborhood and all the rest of that daydream. Not that I didn't have pals and schoolchums in real life - but I kind of daydreamed about having my gang at home around me... or so I interpret it, years later.
Secondly, I think I had fallen in love with Patricia Crowley, who played Joan Nash. Crowley was (and is!) a stunningly beautiful woman, with an angel face, perfect skin, perfect teeth, etc. She also had a nice, trim figure, which was accentuated by the fashions she wore on the show, mainly consisting of pantsuits that tapered to show her slender legs. (In one episode, Ms. Crowley got to play a second, additional character, ostensibly a Russian-accented nude model; she's shown wearing the hippie-ish, low-riding hip-hugger pants of the time, and may I say - yowza!) Maybe as a small boy I looked to Joan Nash as an ideal mother, which is the Freudian explanation and certainly a valid idea; but I'm pretty sure I had been taken in by Crowley's beauty and vitality for purely romantic reasons. Even today, as a grown man, I find myself just staring at her image on the screen, entranced. I wrote last week about how Juliet Mills in Nanny and the Professor outshown even Carol Brady and Shirley Partridge; well, Ms. Mills and Ms. Crowley (I was watching both shows about the same time, one in first-run and one in rerun) both epitomized my dream woman, the perfect wife and mother.
Thirdly, there was the house. As an adult, I realize intellectually that the house never really existed - that the interiors were simply a decorated studio set, the stone walls merely painted on; the exterior shot which provided the background for each episode's title card was either a photograph of a real house or - as I suspect - a matte painting. It doesn't matter - as Joan Nash was my dream wife, the Nash house was my dream house. From earliest memory I have harbored a love of big, old Victorian mansions. Of course, this type of house is a pop-culture staple, usually being haunted or otherwise holding dark, Gothic secrets. But I have always loved the look of such places and want to go in and rummage around in them - to poke around their attics, climb their tower stairs, search for hidden passageways. PDETD wasn't the only source from my childhood - every episode of Scooby Doo featured one in the proper setting, for example. Dark Shadows also took place in the magnificent mansion of Collinwood, and although I don't remember seeing it as a child, I'm pretty sure my mother watched that show. Also, and perhaps most importantly, by the age of seven, I had seen the Don Knotts comedy The Ghost and Mr. Chicken seven times (I counted); I loved that movie's scary/funny atmosphere even when, as a kid, I was kind of frightened by the ghostly intimations. The old Victorian mansions are disappearing more from our nation year by year, and I fear it may be a pop-culture reference which will be lost on future generations. To their great loss.
Please Don't Eat the Daisies
premiered September 14, 1965
Joan Nash - Patricia Crowley
Jim Nash - Mark Miller
Kyle - Kim Tyler
Joel - Brian Nash
Tracey - Joe Fithian
Trevor - Jeff Fithian
Marge Thornton - Shirley Mitchell
Herb Thornton - Harry Hickox (later King Donovan)
Ed Hewley - Dub Taylor
Please Don't Eat the Trivia:
- Mark Miller, who played dad Jim, was the father of actress Penelope Ann Miller.
- Ed Hewley, the handyman played by character-actor-stalwart Dub Taylor, was called upon so often to patch up the Nashes' old house that he was pretty much a recurring character.
- The dog's name was Ladadog, but everyone called him Lad, so in later shows he was simply called this all the time, even in the opening credits.
- Dom DeLuise appeared in one episode as the kids' favorite superhero, the Purple Avenger.
- Bonnie Franklin played Jim's receptionist; she would later star as the mother in One Day At A Time.
- Patricia Crowley had bloomed briefly as a glamorous young movie starlet; she had appeared the previous decade as a paper doll, and was also featured on the cover of Life magazine, on March 29, 1954.