Saturday, December 17, 2016
If someone calls you a "ham and egger", should you smile with gratitude or punch 'em in the kisser?
I'm in the midst of a binge, watching a TV show that aired in 1961-1962. I was 4-5 years old back then, watching cartoons not quality drama. I missed out on this old show until now. One of the fun parts of hearing it is the dialogue, filled with hip slang from the Fifties and early-Sixties. A "ham and egger" is a common man of no significance, someone washed up like a boxer past his prime. The phrase is uttered in an episode co-starring Ed Asner (with hair!) and Al Lewis (Grandpa from "The Munsters").
The show is "Route 66," named after the iconic highway. In it, two guys in their twenties (Tod and Buz) ride around the country in a red Corvette, stopping for odd jobs. They stay in different places for short times, getting involved in local dramas. The theme of the show is their search for meaning in Sixties America. Each episode is shot in a different location (rare back then) with a new cast of co-stars. The dramas are engaging and well-written. And it's a treat to see faces familiar to you from later television shows in their youth.
You recognize the lead actor, Martin Milner, from his later role as a patrolman in the hit police show, "Adam-12." His partner here is George Maharis, a handsome guy who in real life later posed nude for a Playgirl magazine centerfold (1970).
I love learning trivia about entertainment. Here are two fascinating facts. In the casting of the lead character, Martin Milner beat out another then-unknown actor who was deemed less talented -- Robert Redford. The second fact is sadder. After a promising start to his career, George Maharis was caught in a "scandal." In 1974, a tabloid learned he was homosexual and published that as negative news. Immediately his acting jobs dried up and Maharis says casting agents no longer considered him for any roles. It's tragic that as recently as this a person could be punished simply for being gay.
Route 66 was not syndicated which is why it was not on TV after its original airing. The show is available now on DVD which is where I got it. Have you ever heard of this?