Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Have you ever asked yourself what is unique about your life?

In the late 1950's, an accomplished , but unemployed comedy powerhouse was vacationing with his family on New York's Fire Island, and was searching for his next creative project.

A simple question helped to focus his formidable talents:

On what ground do I stand, that no other person occupies?

That thought, and the striking answer, became a comedy credo for the versatile and voluble Carl Reiner.

He knew that only a handful of people on Earth could claim to have been both a witness to, and a collaborator with, a true comedy genius. Reiner cherished the memories of his years as a performer and writer(without portfolio)working with Sid Caesar on NBC-TV's YOUR SHOW OF SHOWS and CAESAR'S HOUR.

From recollections of his kinetic experiences with comic comrades in the writers room at NYC's City Center to the respite he found with his family in his New Rochelle, NY home, came the stuff of which the vaunted DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was concocted. It was an Emmy Award winning, CBS-TV sitcom that turned the stories of Reiner's life, with help from some of televisions most agile writers, like Gary Marshall, Jerry Belson, Bill Persky & Sam Denoff, into a classic television show.

But, long before Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Rose Marie, Morey Amsterdam, Richard Deacon, Larry Matthews and ,yes, Carl Reiner, stepped before the film cameras on Stage 8 at Desilu Cauhengua Studios, there was a pilot for a sort of Dick Van Dyke Show, but without Dick Van Dyke.

The 30 minute test episode , commissioned by the Tiffany Network, was called HEAD OF THE FAMILY and it starred Carl Reiner as Rob Petrie , commercial spokeswoman/actress Barbara Britton as Laura, NY actress Sylvia Miles as Sally,comedian Morty Gunty as Buddy Sorrell and Gary Morgan as Ritchie.

In this B&W , single camera pilot, Reiner's Rob contended with a son who claimed not to like his Dad, a condescending wife and immature co-workers at the fictional Alan Sturdy Show.

Network executives and test audiences didn't think that Reiner was the right actor to play the lead in comic tales of Reiner's own life.

The show, which was produced in 1959 sat on the shelf, until it was played off,in 1960, by CBS-TV, as part of a comedy-anthology series calledTHE COMEDY SPOT, that served as a summer replacement for the RED SKELTON SHOW.

About a year later, Uber-producer Sheldon Leonard was asked to review the failed program. He re-envisioned ,recast and remounted the show.

Leonard, who was the creative force behind the top-rated,DANNY THOMAS SHOW and it's hit spin-off THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW, elected to produce the pilot at Desilu, to leverage their pioneering work with multi-camera, filmed shows that were staged in front of a LIVE, studio audience.

While it struggled in its debut season with a bad time slot, powerful competition, sponsor defection and character development, THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW was a critical success that recruited a large and loyal audience.

It ran from 1961 to 1966 on CBS and can still be seen in syndication, today.

Reiner was lauded as a genius for the substance and the style of a series that retained the ring of comic truth in most human terms. His work set the course for situation comedy that endures.

Here from the QUICKDOWNLOAD YOU TUBE site, here are two clips that constitute the pilot for HEAD OF THE FAMILY. Enjoy!!!!



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