With a Sandy Koufax episode of Mister Ed making the rounds today, this seemed like a good time to celebrate the Dodgers for their doings on the sound stages of Hollywood rather than just their triumphs on the diamond of Chavez Ravine, a couple of miles down the road.
The World Series is one thing, after all; Dennis the Menace, Gilligan's Island and Get Smart are something else indeed.
Since the Dodgers have been acting and appearing in talk shows going back to their days in Brooklyn — with Magic Johnson, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Tommy Lasorda active on that front today — and since we'd need a veritable Library of Congress to detail more than half a century of their film and television credits appropriately, we'll just focus on the Koufax and Don Drysdale era for today.
“Leo Durocher Meets Mister Ed,” with Koufax pitching to the talking (and sliding-into-home) horse, aired September 29, 1963. You have to see it to believe it, and Molly Fitzpatrick provides the link at MLB.com. Other Dodgers appearing in the episode include Willie Davis, John Roseboro, Vin Scully, and obvioulsy, Durocher.
Koufax also pitched to Mr. Wilson, with Wilson taking him deep, in a Dennis the Menace episode called “Dennis and the Dodger” in 1962. Koufax played himself several times during his career, appearing in “The Hollywood Palace” with Don Drysdale and the Mommas and the Papas in 1966, and acted as characters in four TV shows, including 77 Sunset Strip in 1960 and Shotgun Slade in 1959.
Drysdale played himself many times, perhaps most famously with Greg Brady in “The Dropout” on September 25, 1970, making similar appearances in The Donna Reed Show and Leave it to Beaver, and played a pitcher in Blake Edwards' Experiment in Terror, starring Glenn Ford and Lee Remick.
While the “sorry, Herman” Vitalis commercial is clearly not Big D's best work, it's still worth viewing at least once if you've never seen it before. Drysdale also acted as characters in Then Came Bronson, The Flying Nun and The Rifleman, among others.
Walter O'Malley appeared with Rifleman star and fellow former Dodger Chuck Connors in Branded in 1965, but for some reason, it does not show up on his IMDB page.
In addition to his turn on Mister Ed, Willie Davis acted in The Love Machine, Jerry Lewis' Which Way to the Front and The Flying Nun.
John Roseboro appeared in Dragnet 1966, Burke's Law, Kraft Suspense Theater, Lewis' The Geisha Boy, and the aforementioned episode of Mister Ed and Experiment in Terror.
Maury Wills guest-starred as a Control agent who receives a sinister banana delivery in “The Apes of Wrath” for Get Smart in 1969, appeared in Adam's Rib with Ken Howard and in a movie called The Black 6 in 1973, which featured NFL stars Gene Washingon, Carl Eller, Lem Barney, Mercury Morris, Willie Lanier and Joe Greene. Wills also played a coach in the 1993 picture The Sandlot, which was just screened at Dodger Stadium this past Sunday.
Like Drysdale, Wes Parker played himself in The Brady Bunch and acted as characters in television shows, appearing in Simon and Simon, Emergency, McMillan and Wife, Matt Helm and Police Story.
1965 Rookie of the Year Jim Lefebvre and Al Ferrara appear unrecognizable as headhunters in a Gilligan's Island episode called “High Man on the Totem Pole,” airing February 27, 1967, each with additional credits of his own. Lefevbre acted in Knight Rider, St. Elsewhere, Alice, M*A*S*H and Batman.
Ferrara appeared in eight titles, including Batman, Baretta, Broken Arrow in 1957 and, interestingly, as an uncredited gas station attendant in Hitch-Hiker in 1953, at the age of 13.
Durocher was hugely famous, both in New York and in Los Angeles, his filmography going as far back as 1940, when he played “Manager-Player” in a short called RKO Pathe Sportscope: Pennant Chasers. He co-hosted a series called Double Play with his wife, Laraine Day in 1953, and appeared later in The Munsters, The Donna Reed Show, The Beverly Hillbillies, What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret, to name just a few.
And last but never least, the great Vin Scully, who appeared either as himself or as a seen or unseen broadcaster in countless movies and television shows. Film credits include The Bucket List, Love of the Game and Wake Me When It's Over, starring Ernie Kovacs and directed by Mervyn Leroy, with TV highlights as diverse as The Fugitive, Fireball 500, Highway to Heaven, The X-Files, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In and of course, the Mister Ed episode, along with the rest of his Dodger mates.
Scully also hosted a celebrity couples TV game show called It Takes Two, which aired from March, 1969 to January, 1970. Though it's not listed in IMDB, one segment stands out distinctly in my mind.
The guest was Gary Conway, who at the time was starring in a sci-fi show known as Land of the Giants. Ever the Dodger and because of it a hero to millions, Scully didn't miss his chance.
Smiling, oozing that fair-haired charm and wit we know and love so well, Vin suggested with emphasis a much better name for Conway's series. You guessed it, the Land of the Dodgers.