Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Betty White: Date With the Angels (1957)

Betty White at her 90th birthday celebration broadcast on NBC, Monday, Jan. 16th
Happy Birthday Betty White!  Today is Betty's 90th birthday and I've been inspired to write several blog posts as a tribute to her wonderful legacy on television.

This black-and-white sitcom only lasted one season, 1957-58.
Betty White starred in a short-lived domestic sitcom Date With the Angels as Vickie, the wife of insurance salesman, Gus Angel.

Bill Williams and Betty White play newlyweds Gus and Vickie Angel
The 1957 yuletide episode "Santa's Helper" is also known by the title "The Christmas Show."  Vickie's elderly neighbor, Mr. Finley, feels useless at home, spending each day alone.  Vickie decides to help by getting him a job at Martindale's Department Store working as their Santa Claus.  Mr. Finley's generosity as Santa brightens many children's Christmas spirits.  Unfortunately, he accomplishes this by giving away the store's toys for free.  Making matters worse, the well-intentioned Vickie is criticized by Mr. Finley's son for getting his father a job when he believes his father should be staying at home.  Of course, this is a Christmas episode, so you can rest assured there will be a happy ending. 

The funniest moment arrives at the start of the episode.  The elderly character Mr. Finley, played by the perpetually aged Burt Mustin, sings the popular Christmas carol “The First Noel” with only one lyric: the single word ‘noel.’  I love this moment so much, I frequently find myself at holiday time singing "The First Noel" exactly as Mr. Finley does!

Actress Nancy Kulp as Dolly, the department store employee who hires Mr. Finley.
I also love this episode because it not only includes veteran TV actor Burt Mustin but character actors Nancy Kulp and Richard Deacon as well.  Culp is better known for her comedic role as Miss Jane Hathaway on The Beverly Hillbillies and Deacon, among many outstanding roles, is well remembered as Mel Cooley on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

Richard Deacon plays Mr. Finley's son on Date With the Angels
I just love these old black-and-white sitcoms from television's past.  This Christmas episode can be found on discount DVD sets as well as online.  You can also watch it here:

3 comments:

  1. This is on the Christmasflix channel on the Roku so I might check it out tonight. I agree with these old Christmas specials they have much more heart to them. The one I have to watch every year would be Jack Benny's Christmas Shopping. I work retail so it sums it up nicely.

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    1. I hope you don't see many customers like Jack Benny in that episode! Poor Mel Blanc--no wonder he shoots himself in the end :(

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