402: The Giant Gila Monster
by Wyn Hilty
Macy’s is a national chain of department stores. It is owned by Federated Department Stores, founded in 1929.
Only you can prevent forest fires.
Smokey the Bear is the longtime spokescreature for the U.S. Forest Service. He was created in 1944 to preach the message of fire prevention, with the slogan “Only you can prevent wildfires.”
Roasted. It’s God-roasted, for great taste.
Lucky Strike cigarettes began using the slogan “It’s Toasted” in 1917, promoting the fact that their tobacco was heat-cured rather than sun-dried, supposedly giving it superior flavor. In the series debut of the TV drama Mad Men (AMC, 2007-2015), about slick Madison Avenue advertising executives in the 1960s, “It’s Toasted” was appropriated into a storyline about using that slogan as a dodge around the then-new health concerns about smoking.
Barnabas Collins. [Whispered.] Dark Shadows!
Barnabas Collins was the vampiric lead on the campy supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows, which aired from 1966-1971. The role was played by Jonathan Frid.
Shelley Winters (1920-2006) was a hefty actress who appeared in such films as The Diary of Anne Frank (for which she won an Oscar) and The Poseidon Adventure.
[Sung.] Oranges, poranges, who cares, there ain’t no rhyme for oranges.
A paraphrase of the song “There Ain’t No Rhyme for Oranges,” which was performed on the Sid and Marty Krofft kids’ show H.R. Pufnstuf. Sample lyrics: “Oranges, poranges/Who says!/Oranges, poranges/There ain’t no rhyme for oranges!”
Richie! Potsie! Noooo!
Richie Cunningham and Warren “Potsie” Weber were characters on the TV sitcom Happy Days, which aired from 1974-1984. Richie was played by Ron Howard and Potsie was played by Anson Williams.
Oh, look! [Sung.] Rollin’, rollin, rollin’ …
A line from the theme song to the television show Rawhide, which aired from 1959-1966. Sample lyrics: “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’/Though the streams are swollen/Keep them dogies rollin’/Rawhide!”
Bad movie? You’re soaking in it!
“You’re soaking in it” was the slogan in a series of commercials for Palmolive dish soap that aired from 1966 to 1992, in which maternal beautician Madge the manicurist (played by Jan Miner) informs her shocked clients that they’re soaking their hands in Palmolive liquid soap.
[Sung.] Hava nagila, hava nagila, hava …
A rendition of the traditional Jewish song “Hava Nagila.” Sample lyrics: “Hava nagila, hava nagila/Hava nagila venis’mecha.”
You know what? This kind of looks like a modified I Dream of Jeannie Intercept font.
I Dream of Jeannie is a TV sitcom about an astronaut who stumbles on a bottle containing a female genie. It starred Larry Hagman and Barbara Eden. The show ran from 1965-1970.
No, no, no, no—it’s Bewitched sans serif.
Bewitched is a sitcom about a witch married to a normal man who uses her powers to solve the everyday problems her family faces. It starred Elizabeth Montgomery as witch Samantha Stephens. The show ran from 1964-1972.
I think you’re thinking of a Patty Duke Show bold condensed, actually.
The Patty Duke Show was a TV sitcom about “identical cousins” that aired from 1963-1966.
You know, if it was italicized, I’d swear it was Jack Webb.
Jack Webb (1920-1982) was an actor and producer best known for his portrayal of Sergeant Joe Friday on the crime drama series Dragnet, which aired on radio and TV off and on from 1949 to 1970.
It’s Dom Casual, actually.
Dom Casual, unlike the others, is actually the name of a real-life font. It was created in 1951 by designer Peter Dom.
Tonight: K-E-double L-O-double dead.
Both a riff on Kellogg cereals’ old jingle, which sang their name as “K-E-double L-O-double G,” and on a typical ‘70s TV mystery show announcer introducing the title of an episode, which tended to be a common phrase or title with a heavily emphasized word like “dead” or “murder” tacked onto the end.
Oh, Don …
An imitation of Jack Benny (1894-1974) calling out to his announcer Don Wilson on both the radio and television versions of The Jack Benny Program; Wilson was a frequent target of Benny’s jokes, usually about Wilson’s ample girth. Benny was an American vaudevillian, radio and television comedian, movie actor, and quite good violinist, though playing the violin wincingly badly was part of his shtick. His weekly radio show was one of the most popular of the radio era, and ran from 1932 to 1955. Benny was considered a master of comic timing and the “slow burn”: the gradual sliding scale of emotions on a person’s face as they went from neutral to extreme anger or disgust. The style and structure of The Jack Benny Program are considered a kind of early blueprint for the modern sitcom.
Hey, look: Wee Willie Risser. My favorite John Ford film.
Wee Willie Winkie is a 1937 film starring Shirley Temple as a little 19th-century girl who goes to live with her military grandfather. It was directed by John Ford, who is better known as a director of classic Westerns such as Rio Grande and The Searchers.
Oh, Ken Curtis—Festus from Gunsmoke. “Now, Matthew …”
Ken Curtis (1916-1991) played deputy Festus Haggen on the TV series Gunsmoke, which aired from 1955-1975. He worked under U.S. Marshal Matt Dillon, played by James Arness.
The best to you each morning.
“The best to you each morning” is an old advertising slogan for Kellogg’s cereals.
Oh, it’s a scene from Truth or Dare.
Possibly a reference to Madonna: Truth or Dare, a notorious 1991 documentary on the pop star that told viewers more about her sex life than they could possibly want to know.
Hey, it’s Katharine Hepburn’s son.
Katharine Hepburn (1907-2003) was an elegant actress known for high-class roles in such films as The Philadelphia Story and Adam’s Rib. She was only briefly married from 1928-1934 (although she carried on a long-term romance with actor Spencer Tracy until his death in 1967), and never had any children.
Hey, here comes Sabrina and the Groovy Goolies.
Sabrina and the Groovy Goolies was a short-lived 1970 animated series about a rock band made up of monsters. The group apparently drove around in a dune buggy. The show was a spinoff of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which itself was a spinoff of The Archie Show (CBS, 1968-1969).
[Sputtering car engine noises.]
An imitation of the engine noise created by virtuoso voice artist Mel Blanc, the voice of Bugs Bunny, Barney Rubble, and many others. Blanc created the sound for The Jack Benny Program radio show (see above note), and also used it quite a bit on the Warner Brothers Looney Tunes cartoons.
It’s the magnificent men in their jaunty jalopies!
Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines is a 1965 adventure/comedy about an international air race. Those Daring Young Men in Their Jaunty Jalopies is a 1969 film about a car race across Europe.
Oh, shut up, Pee-wee.
Possibly a reference to Pee-wee Herman, a child-adult persona adopted by comedian Paul Reubens. Pee-wee got two movies and his own children’s television show, which was canceled prematurely after Reubens was arrested for indecent exposure.
[Sung.] “The Munsters Theme.”
The Munsters was a television sitcom that aired on CBS from 1964 to 1966 about a wacky but good natured family of famous monster types (vampire, wolf man, Frankenstein's monster). The theme was composed by Jack Marshall, who, coincidentally, also did the music for The Giant Gila Monster. The Munsters’ automobiles were practically characters in themselves: the “Munster Koach” was a $20,000 hot rod built especially for the show on an extra-long 1926 Ford Model T chassis with a custom body resembling a hearse. It was 18 feet long. There was also a dragster built from a coffin known as the “DRAG-U-LA” that belonged to Grandpa Munster.
Hoiman, wait here in the car!
An imitation of Grandpa Munster, played by Al Lewis (1923-2006), on the TV sitcom The Munsters (see previous note). Grandpa’s thick Brooklyn accent (odd for a supposedly Transylvanian vampire) caused him to pronounce son-in-law Herman’s name as “Hoiman.”
It’s TV’s lovable Stringbean! Yayyyy!
Stringbean, a.k.a. David Akeman (1915-1973), was one of the original cast members of the TV variety show Hee Haw. He was also a star performer in the Grand Ole Opry for decades.
My little deuce coupe? You don’t know what I’ve got!
A line from the song “Little Deuce Coupe” by the Beach Boys. Sample lyrics: “Little deuce coupe/You don't know what I got/Well I'm not braggin' babe so don't put me down/But I've got the fastest set of wheels in town …”
New York City?! Get the rope.
In the 1980s, Pace picante sauce ran a series of advertisements featuring rough-and-tumble cowpokes who are horrified to discover that their camp cook is using a salsa that is (unlike Pace) made in New York City. “Get a rope,” one of them says, preparing to string up the hapless cook.
Again with the finger.
A paraphrase of a line in The Sunshine Boys, a play by Neil Simon that was made into a 1975 film starring Walter Matthau and George Burns as two feuding vaudevillians. The actual line: “The finger! You’re starting again with the finger!”
Oui. They play Jerry Lewis movies.
Jerry Lewis (1926-2017) was a comedian, actor, director and producer who got his start in the 1940s alongside Dean Martin in the Martin and Lewis comedy team. He made an enormously popular series of slapstick comedies in the 1950s and 1960s, including The Bellboy (1960) and The Nutty Professor (1963). Lewis was phenomenally popular in France in the 1960s; in 1984 he received France’s Legion of Honor. He later became associated with the Muscular Dystrophy Association's Labor Day Telethon, which he hosted for 44 years.
Who put sody-pop in my sody-pop?
A riff on a classic, and possibly even true, W.C. Fields quote: “What rascal has been putting pineapple juice in my pineapple juice?” The story goes that Fields claimed the flask he always carried at his side contained nothing more than pineapple juice. One day, someone actually put pineapple juice in his flask, and a quotable quote was born.
Let's go do some crimes, man.
A line from the 1984 film Repo Man, starring Emilio Estevez and Harry Dean Stanton. (Thanks to Michael Grutchfield for this reference.)
Oh, it’s Red Man juice!
Red Man is a brand of chewing tobacco; Red Man juice, therefore, would be the spittle of someone chewing it.
One-Adam 12, what are you doing in Wisconsin?
“One Adam-12” was how the police dispatcher opened her bulletins on the TV cop show Adam-12, which ran from 1968-1975. The part was played by Shaaron Claridge, who worked as an actual dispatcher for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Selznick International Pictures presents …
Selznick International Pictures was an independent movie production studio that specialized in high-prestige, big-budget pictures like Gone With the Wind. Its logo showed an elegant mansion, the headquarters of the studio.
I’m Sebastian Cabot, and this is Ghost Story.
An imitation of Sebastian Cabot. Ghost Story was a 1972 TV series starring Cabot as Winston Essex, the host of the anthology series, who would introduce each week’s story, which was generally a supernatural horror tale. Those introductions were filmed at the stately Hotel del Coronado near San Diego, California. In 1973 the series changed its name to Circle of Fear and the Essex character disappeared.
The Jack Benny Program!
See above note. (Thanks to Jason Harder for this reference.)
That Jerry Lee, he’s done it again!
Jerry Lee Lewis (1935-2022) was a musician known for such hits as “Great Balls of Fire,” and also for having married his 13-year-old cousin at the age of 22, a scandal that almost ruined his career.
Hooker’s a good cop.
One of the writers’ favorite phrases, this is a reference to the 1980s cop show T.J. Hooker, which aired from 1982-1986.
This is my world, and welcome to it.
My World and Welcome to It was a short-lived 1969 TV series based on the work of cartoonist and humorist James Thurber.
Go on home, they’re waiting for you.
A paraphrase of a line from the 1946 Christmas classic movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Actual line: “Why don’t you go on home? They’re waiting for you.”
What is this, The Misfits all of a sudden?
The Misfits was a 1961 film about a hunt for wild horses; it starred Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.
A Joe Namath netted slingshot.
Joe Namath is a football quarterback who played for the New York Jets from 1965 to 1976. He once did an infamous commercial for Hanes pantyhose, but I was unable to turn up any reference to Joe Namath brand briefs. I should point out that Tom Servo’s underwear collection contains “one pair of Joe Namath netted slingshot briefs.”
What do you dream about?
This is a line from the 1955 play Inherit the Wind, which took on McCarthyism by fictionalizing the 1925 Scopes “Monkey” Trial. The story has remained relevant through the decades, and has been adapted to film four times, the best known movie version being the 1960 one starring Spencer Tracy and Gene Kelly. (Thanks to “sambsonwayfinder” for this reference.)
Hec Ramsey was a TV series starring Richard Boone in the title role, a turn-of-the-century detective who relies on his wits rather than his guns. It aired from 1972-1974.
You know, like Warren Beatty and Annette Bening?
Warren Beatty and Annette Bening starred together in the 1991 film Bugsy, a biopic about the life of Las Vegas founder Bugsy Siegel. The two struck up a romance on set, and the following year, the notorious ladies’ man Beatty married Bening; the two have since had four children together.
Jeez, what is he, the Shell Answer Man?
The Shell Answer Man was the star of various commercials and educational pamphlets put out by Shell Oil, in which he gave solutions to common car problems.
“What bank does he use?” Hooterville Savings and Loan, why?
Hooterville is the name of the small rural town that was the setting for the TV sitcom Green Acres, which aired from 1965-1971, as well as for the sitcom Petticoat Junction (1963-1970). Hooterville is also mentioned in an early episode of The Beverly Hillbillies. The “bank” consisted of a cash box kept by the town storekeeper, Sam Drucker.
Looks like the garage of Doctor Caligari.
The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari is a 1920 silent film about a traveling fair with a strange hypnotist and his sidekick, Cesare, who can predict the future. It is filmed in a highly stylized manner, with long, strange shadows jumping out at you everywhere.
Dong, dong, dong. Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!
A reference to a scene in the 1939 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which the hunchback Quasimodo (Charles Laughton) carries the limp, unconscious body of the condemned Esmerelda (Maureen O'Hara) up into the bell tower and cries out to the crowd, “Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!”
Say, nice J. Crew barn jacket.
J. Crew is a clothing retailer known for simple, classic styles. Its barn jacket, introduced in the early 1980s, was a huge hit and continues to be a steady seller.
Meanwhile, at Grandma’s lake cottage in Frederic, Wisconsin …
Frederic, Wisconsin, is a tiny town in central Wisconsin, with a population of about 1,200. It is located on the shores of Coon Lake.
Hey, Mr. Douglas, I got those bodies buried just in time!
An imitation of Eb Dawson (played by Tom Lester), the earnest but dimwitted farmhand on the TV sitcom Green Acres (CBS, 1965-1971) addressing the show’s star, Oliver Douglas (played by Eddie Albert).
Junior Samples (1926-1983) was a cornball comedian/country singer/harmonica player known for his long run on Hee Haw, the country-western variety show that aired from 1969-1992; Samples appeared on the show until his death in 1983.
My God you’re ugly!
A line spoken by Monty Python alum John Cleese in his role as the eternally flustered innkeeper Basil Fawlty in the British sitcom Fawlty Towers, from the 1975 episode “The Germans.” (Thanks to Noah Kurland for this reference.)
Well, let’s just say I’m acquainted with the night.
A reference to the Robert Frost poem “Acquainted with the Night.” Sample lines: “I have been one acquainted with the night/I have walked out in rain—and back in rain/I have outwalked the furthest city light.”
We're just simple white trash folk.
Interesting side note for “white trash”: a journal entry by English actress Fanny Kemble in 1833 states that it was a term used by Black slaves in the South for white servants.
Crazy Amish folk.
The Amish are a conservative Christian sect found predominantly in North America; there is a large population of Amish in Pennsylvania. They are known for their plain, old-fashioned manner of dress and their rejection of much modern technology, including electricity and cars.
[Sung.] “The Munsters Theme.”
See above note.
[Sputtering car engine noises.]
See above note.
Will Rogers Follies will continue after this.
The Will Rogers Follies: A Life in Review is a Broadway musical about the folksy, down-home comedian Will Rogers (1879-1935). It was first performed in 1991 and ran for nearly a thousand performances.
Is it safe?
A line from the 1976 conspiracy/thriller film Marathon Man, starring Dustin Hoffman and Laurence Olivier and based on the 1974 novel of the same name by William Goldman. Olivier plays a Nazi war criminal in New York to retrieve diamonds he stole during World War II. Believing Hoffman’s character has information on the diamonds’ whereabouts, he kidnaps Hoffman and tortures him by drilling his teeth without anesthetic, calmly repeating the question “Is it safe?”, which Hoffman doesn’t understand. The line came in at #70 in the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest Movie Quotes of All Time, and has been referenced often in pop culture, especially in song and album titles.
Turn it off!
A line from the 1979 film Hardcore, starring George C. Scott as an American businessman who discovers that his daughter has been acting in porn films. The line is spoken by Scott while watching one of his daughter’s artistic efforts.
And we can clear away the wreckage of our sordid past.
This is an often quoted tenet of the Alcoholics Anonymous program of recovery and sober living. (Thanks to “sambsonwayfinder” for this reference.)
N.Y. P. D.
Probably a reference to the TV show N.Y.P.D., which aired from 1967-1969.
Hey, it sounds like Robert Klein’s around here.
One of comedian Robert Klein’s early standup routines involved repeated imitations of the spooky music heard in low-budget horror movies of the 1950s and ‘60s—specifically, the sounds made by the electronic instrument known as the theremin.
No, but I’ve got a Singapore Sling.
A Singapore Sling is a cocktail of immense complexity, consisting of gin, cherry brandy, pineapple juice, lime juice, Cointreau, Dom Benedictine, grenadine, and bitters. It was created at the Raffles Hotel around the turn of the century by a Chinese bartender.
It’s young Jimmy Morrison as the lizard king.
Jim Morrison (1943-1971) was the lead singer for The Doors. One of his nicknames was “The Lizard King,” taken from a line in his poem “Celebration of the Lizard.”
Here comes Fred Sanford.
Fred Sanford was the irascible father on the TV series Sanford and Son, which aired from 1972-1977. The role was played by Redd Foxx.
Uh, good evening, sir or madam. I’d like to show you the Encyclopedia Britannica if you’ll just take a—Damn, I thought selling door to door was hard.
For 60 years, Encyclopedia Britannica was marketed primarily through door-to-door sales. In 1996, citing the increased popularity of electronic reference works, the company laid off its entire sales force and concentrated on selling its CD-ROM version; in 2012 it announced it would no longer publish a print edition, instead offering subscriptions to its online version.
The road company of Death of a Salesman, ladies and gentlemen.
Death of a Salesman is a play by Arthur Miller about a professional salesman’s difficult relationship with his son.
A reference to the famous line from the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs: “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.”
C. Everett Koop—I’ve been meaning to quit!
C. Everett Koop (1916-2013) was the surgeon general under President Ronald Reagan, serving from 1981-1989. One of his chief policy objectives was to reduce smoking, and he became the first surgeon general to launch a very public campaign against cigarettes. In 1986, Koop authored a study that drew attention for the first time to the dangers of so-called “secondhand smoke.”
It’s a Montclair Moment!
Montclair is a brand of cigarettes; I believe the phrase “Montclair Moment” comes from their advertising, but I have as yet been unable to confirm this.
And for killing that salesman, you win this Samsonite luggage.
Samsonite is a brand of luggage first introduced in the 1940s. It is named after the biblical hero Samson, in an effort to emphasize the strength and durability of the luggage.
Insured by Allstate.
Allstate is an insurance company that offers auto, home, and life insurance, among other products and services.
I’m guessing a Northwest flight passed overhead.
Northwest Airlines was a passenger airline that merged with Delta in 2008. In January of 1990, a Northwest flight from Miami to Minneapolis had one of its three engines fall off. The flight crew was at first unaware that they'd lost an engine and continued flying for about half an hour, then made an emergency landing in Tampa.
Following the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s, which ultimately resulted in President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation, a tradition has developed of dubbing any political scandal with the suffix “gate.” Examples include Billygate, Travelgate, Whitewatergate, and Strippergate.
Looks like Edward R. Murrow’s been through here.
Edward R. Murrow (1908-1965) was a legendary radio and television broadcast newsman who had a profound influence on broadcast journalism. He also smoked very heavily, frequently lighting up while on the air, and eventually died of lung cancer.
1313 Mockingbird Lane.
1313 Mockingbird Lane was the address of the family home on the TV sitcom The Munsters, which aired from 1964-1966.
Oh, thank goodness the IHOP’s still open, you know?
The International House of Pancakes, better known as IHOP, is a chain of restaurants specializing in breakfasts. IHOP locations have distinctive high and angled roofs. The first location opened in Toluca Lake, California, in 1958; there are currently more than 1,550 outlets, the vast majority of which are independent franchises. Though there are locations outside of the U.S., the “International” in their name actually refers to the restaurant's original menu, which featured pancakes with different toppings vaguely inspired by various countries. (Thanks to Paul-Gabriel Wiener for the “International” reference.)
Ooh-la-la, Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity for me!
Rooty Tooty Fresh ‘N Fruity is one of IHOP’s signature breakfasts (see previous note), consisting of eggs, bacon, sausage, and buttermilk pancakes with fruit topping and whipped cream.
Hey, you’re getting Dippity-Do on my coat.
Dippity-Do is a brand of hair-styling products, including gels, mousse, and pomade.
Burt Ward is an actor who is best known for playing Dick Grayson/Robin on the campy TV series Batman, which aired from 1966-1968.
Yeah, maybe at a 7-Eleven.
7-Eleven is a national chain of convenience stores.
Here, let’s go rent The Errand Boy.
The Errand Boy is a 1961 film directed by, co-written by, and starring Jerry Lewis (see above note) as a corporate spy posing as a mailroom clerk.
Transportation services provided by Kennedy Limousine. We get you there safe or we don’t pay. In Hyannis Port and Palm Beach.
Ted Kennedy (1932-2009) was a senator from Massachusetts and one of the last old-school liberals in Congress until his death in 2009. In 1969, he drove his Oldsmobile off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, drowning his passenger, a young woman named Mary Jo Kopechne. The senator did not report the accident for hours, and although his family connections protected him from any criminal repercussions, the scandal came close to ending his political career. The Kennedy family maintains estates/compounds in both Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, and Palm Beach, Florida. In 1991, Ted Kennedy and his nephew William Kennedy Smith were caught up in allegations that Smith raped a woman at the Palm Beach estate, whom he had met earlier at a nightclub and driven with her back to the compound (in her car). Smith was eventually acquitted of all charges.
He’s an excellent driver. Definitely an excellent driver. He’s not wearing his underwear.
An imitation of Dustin Hoffman as Raymond Babbitt in the 1988 film Rain Man.
[Imitating.] We thought it would be funny to make a hopeless drunk try to drive a car while it's hooked to a tow truck. Let's watch.
An imitation of Alan Funt (1914-1999), producer and host of the television series Candid Camera, which aired in various incarnations between 1948 and 2014 on all three major U.S. television networks at one time or another, two cable outlets, and in syndication. The basic premise of the show was to place unsuspecting people in embarrassing or bizarre situations and then film their reactions. At the end of the ordeal, Funt would pop up with the cheery catchphrase “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!” On a revived version of the show that aired in 1998, Funt’s son Peter acted as host. (Thanks to Noah Kurland for this reference.)
“[Honk.] What is it?” It’s the State Farm insurance theme. You like it?
State Farm is an insurance company offering homeowners, auto, life, and other types of insurance. I assume this is in reference to an old advertising jingle for the company.
[Honk-honk.] “What is it now?” It’s the Aamco theme. That’s even better.
Aamco is a chain of auto service centers specializing in transmission repair. Their radio and TV ads featured a car horn honking twice, as the announcer intoned, “Aamco—Double A [Honk-honk] M C O.” (Thanks to Paul-Gabriel Wiener for the [Honk-honk] reference.)
[Sung.] State Farm insurance …
See previous note.
Get these spiders off me, ahhh!
Delirium tremens (DTs) are a very real, potentially deadly condition caused by withdrawal from severe alcohol addiction. Hallucinations of frightening animals, reptiles or insects are common, particularly visions of insects on, underneath or crawling out of one’s skin.
Here’s a Denny’s coupon, good any time after midnight. Enjoy.
Denny’s is a budget chain of restaurants found across the length and breadth of this fair land. They are open 24 hours a day.
Howie Mandel. What’s the appeal?
Howie Mandel is a standup comedian and actor who was a regular on the TV series St. Elsewhere and who performs regularly in concerts and TV specials.
Travolta in Blow Out.
Blow Out is a 1981 film starring John Travolta as a movie sound man who accidentally becomes witness to a murder.
[Sung.] “The Munsters Theme.”
See above note.
[Sputtering car engine noises.]
See above note.
Hello, I’m Larry Miller. How are you?
Standup comedian and character actor Larry Miller has appeared in such films as Pretty Woman and L.A. Story.
As long as I get to be Tige Andrews.
Tige Andrews (1920-2007) was an actor best known for portraying Captain Adam Greer on the TV series The Mod Squad, which aired from 1968-1973.
No, we’ve decided you’re already Larry Miller.
See previous note on Larry Miller.
I'm your boyfriend now.
A reference to a line in Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), when Freddy Krueger calls Heather Langenkamp on the phone to say, "I'm your boyfriend now, Nancy," and his grotesque tongue comes out of the receiver to lick her face. (Thanks to Michael Grutchfield for this reference.)
Oh, never mind. Say, honey, Spalding Gray’s performing Monster in a Box down here.
Spalding Gray (1941-2004) was a performance artist whose works consisted of him sitting at a table and telling a story in a long monologue. Monster in a Box was a performance piece Gray wrote in the early 1990s about the difficulties he encountered in writing his first novel; it was made into a movie in 1992.
Oh, I'm big! I'm really big! There's no way to describe just how enormous but thanks for your patronage. Enjoy this next upcoming event from Hunt-Wesson. Enjoy.
When Hunt Foods, Inc. merged with Wesson Oil in 1960 they became Hunt-Wesson. Another merger in 1968 and they became Norton Simon, Inc. ConAgra bought them in 1990, and the Hunt name went solo again. Mergers!
Taylor Branch is an American historian and author best known for his trilogy of books on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Thanks to Noah Kurland for this reference.)
I don’t make this noise myself, folks, it’s called Foley. I’ll be back later with another fun fact. Thanks! And enjoy.
Named for Universal Studios employee Jack Donovan Foley (1891-1967), who developed the basic techniques in the late 1920s, Foley artists are sound technicians who specialize in recording sounds created using physical objects, in sync with the action in a movie, to make the film seem more realistic. Typical effects include walking on various surfaces to simulate the sound of footsteps, and hitting or smashing various objects, such as melons or a cut of beef, to simulate the sound of blows in a fight scene.
Hey, he put on a little weight for the role, just like De Niro.
When actor Robert De Niro played Jake La Motta in the 1980 film Raging Bull, he famously gained 60 pounds to portray the boxer as an older man.
No, that is De Niro.
See previous note.
He’s doing a Gap commercial.
The Gap is a chain of retail casual clothing stores founded in 1969.
I like to watch.
“I like to watch” is a line from the 1979 movie Being There, starring Peter Sellers as a simple gardener.
Did I ever tell you about the six levels of drinking?
One of comedian/actor Larry Miller’s (see above note) early standup routines involves a detailed description of the Five Levels of Drinking Alcohol, which begin with attempting to call it a night after a couple of beers, and end with a solemn vow at 5 a.m. to never do this again.
Tell me, should I go left? –Right! –That’s what I’m asking! –Right! Go left! Ladies and gentlemen, join us next week for another edition of Abbott and Costello Playhouse.
(Bud) Abbott and (Lou) Costello were a comedy team from the 1930s through the 1950s. They got their start in vaudeville and soon made the leap to radio, TV, and film. They were known for snappy routines like their world-famous “Who’s on First?”, which these riffs are referencing.
[Sung.] “The Munsters Theme.”
See above note.
Looks like Tige Andrews in the middle there.
See note on Tige Andrews, above.
No, it’s Larry Miller.
See note on Larry Miller, above.
Larry Miller, ladies and gentlemen, Larry Miller.
See note on Larry Miller, above.
Oh, Rochester, will you dust the truck?
An imitation of Jack Benny (see above note), calling out to his long-suffering valet Rochester, played by Eddie Anderson (1905-1977) on both the radio and television versions of The Jack Benny Program. Anderson was the first Black performer to have a regular role on a national radio show, and his popularity on the program eventually rivaled that of Benny himself.
It’s The Wages of Fear.
The Wages of Fear is a 1953 French film about a group of men hired to transport a shipment of nitroglycerin under highly unsafe conditions.
Meanwhile, back at the Joad house …
The Joads are the poor farm family searching for a better life in the John Steinbeck novel The Grapes of Wrath.
That’s not right, picking up your mom and playing football with her! That’s wrong. Crazy people.
An imitation of comedian and actor Kevin Meaney (1956-2016), whose signature routine involved an imitation of his mother reprimanding him: “You’re not wearing those tight pants, mister. That’s not right! You’re like a crazy person. Go upstairs and put your big pants on. We’re big pants people!”
Oedipus, you put me down. You’ll poke your eyes out!
The story of Oedipus is a tale from Greek mythology, about a man who is fated to unknowingly kill his father and marry his mother. In the end, Oedipus puts out his own eyes and is driven into exile.
An imitation of Frankenstein’s monster. Frankenstein is an 1818 novel by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley about a scientist who transgresses the laws of God by bringing a dead man back to life. It has been adapted to film countless times, with the most famous being the 1931 version starring Boris Karloff. Although in the novel the monster is intelligent, sensitive, and articulate, in the movies he is usually portrayed as a lumbering brute who communicates with grunts and roars.
Okay, back in the case.
A riff on ventriloquism—Joel Hodgson’s youthful entry into show business—and the fact that ventriloquists would put their dummies back in a case after their act was finished. (Thanks to “sambsonwayfinder” for this reference.)
Raffi is a well-known singer-songwriter who specializes in entertaining children. He recorded his first albums in the 1970s and has remained consistently popular since then.
He really did come with a banjo on his knee.
A reference to the traditional song “Oh Susanna.” Sample lyrics: “Oh, Susanna/Oh don’t you cry for me/For I come from Alabama/With my banjo on my knee.”
[Sung.] Tiptoe through the tulips …
“Tiptoe Through the Tulips” is a song written by Al Dubin and Joe Burke in 1929. It was used in the first ever Looney Tunes short, “Sinkin’ in the Bathtub” (1930) and was famously covered by Tiny Tim, who turned it into a hit in 1968. Sample lyrics: “Tiptoe to the window, by the window that is where I'll be/Come tiptoe through the tulips with me!/Tiptoe from your pillow, to the shadow of a willow tree/And tiptoe through the tulips with me!”
She's trying to wish him into the cornfield right now.
In the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” the creepy kid (played by Billy Mumy) uses his supernatural powers on people who displease him to “wish them” into a mystical cornfield, never to return. Time Magazine and TV Guide both praised it as one of the best episodes of the series. A somewhat altered remake was featured in the 1983 anthology film Twilight Zone: The Movie. Joe Dante directed and Bill Mumy had a cameo role. (Thanks to Kurt Steidl for this reference.)
[Sung.] Jimmy crack corn, and I don’t care …
A line from the traditional song “Jimmy Crack Corn,” also known as “Blue-tail Fly.” Sample lyrics: “Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care/Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care/Jimmy crack corn, and I don't care/My master's gone away.”
Boy, you know, I just love Sammy Cahn.
Sammy Cahn (1913-1993) was a composer who worked with any number of performers over his lengthy career. He contributed many songs to movies, including “High Hopes” and “Thoroughly Modern Millie”; the latter was nominated for an Oscar, the former won one. In 1974 he got his own Broadway show, called Words and Music, which was hugely successful, touring for nearly two decades.
This is the Chapin brother they didn’t talk about.
Harry Chapin (of “Cat’s in the Cradle” fame) recorded his first album, Chapin Music, in 1966 with his brothers Tom and Steve.
Yep, smells like teen spirit, mm-hmm.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” is a song by the grunge rock group Nirvana. Sample lyrics: “With the lights out it’s less dangerous/Here we are now/Entertain us/I feel stupid and contagious/Here we are now/Entertain us …”
No, not the coda! No!
In music, a coda (Italian for “tail”) is the part that brings a piece of music, or a movement, to an end. They can sometimes be full of dramatic flourishes, in which case they are a “grand finale.”
An imitation of Ed McMahon (1923-2009), an American TV personality and game show host best known as the longtime sidekick of talk show legend Johnny Carson. Among the many catchphrases McMahon was known for on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson was a thunderous “Yes!” (Thanks to Noah Kurland for this reference.)
You don’t say. You don’t say? You don’t say! “Who was it?” He didn’t say.
This is taken from the Spike Jones song "Chloe (Song of the Swamp)," but it has been copied by virtually everyone on earth. (Thanks to Nick for this reference.)
Chinese fire drill, everybody out.
Chinese fire drills were a prank popular in the 1960s, in which all the occupants in a car stopped at a red light would get out and run around the car before diving back in, not necessarily in their original seats. (Thanks to Jacob for this reference.)
What’s on second.
A reference to an old Abbott and Costello routine, titled “Who’s on First?”
Just the facts, ma’am.
“Just the facts,’ ma’am” is the classic catchphrase associated with the TV series Dragnet, which aired from 1951-1959.
What’s on second.
See above note on “Who’s on First.”
[Sputtering car engine noises.]
See above note.
Oh, now here comes Zeppo.
Zeppo Marx was one of the four Marx Brothers, the straight man of the group.
I can’t stand that teen slang. Turn it to Paul Harvey.
Paul Harvey (1918-2009) was a radio broadcaster for ABC Radio Networks. His show, broadcast six days a week, consisted of news and commentary as well as his popular “The Rest of the Story” feature. He was on the air continuously from the 1940s until shortly before his death.
Was the Richard Speck a popular haircut back then?
Richard Speck (1941-1991) was convicted in 1967 of murdering eight student nurses in a townhouse on the south side of Chicago. He died in prison in 1991 of an apparent heart attack.
[Sputtering car engine noises.]
See above note.
Snuffy Smith is the star of the comic strip “Barney Google & Snuffy Smith.” He first appeared in 1934.
We now return to Three Jacks and a Jill.
Four Jacks and a Jill is a 1942 movie musical about four musicians searching for a new singer for their band. It starred Desi Arnaz and Ray Bolger.
He’s drinking Turtle Wax!
Turtle Wax is a line of car-care products, including waxes, polishes, and protectants.
Headed to Au Bar.
Au Bar is an upscale singles bar in Palm Beach, Florida. It was at Au Bar in 1991 that Kennedy scion William Kennedy Smith met the woman who later accused him of raping her (he was acquitted).
Grandpa Jones, ladies and gentlemen, Grandpa Jones.
Grandpa Jones (1913-1998) was a country musician, a banjo picker and folksy humorist who was a regular at the Grand Old Opry and on the country variety show Hee Haw.
(Sung – rhythmic vocalizations)
Tom is imitating the jug & washtub band that often accompanied Grandpa Jones on Hee Haw. (Thanks to “sambsonwayfinder” for this reference.)
I know you feel bad, Mr. Gower.
A line from the 1946 movie It's a Wonderful Life. Mr. Gower is the druggist for whom George Bailey works as a boy, and whom George saves from accidentally poisoning a patient when he drunkenly fills a prescription incorrectly. The part was played by H.B. Warner (1875-1958).
Stupidman! More powerful than an Okie-motive!
A riff on the opening narration of the TV series Adventures of Superman (syndication, 1952-1958). Adapted from the 1940s radio series of the same name and voiced by Bill Kennedy, it went, in part: “Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! (‘Look! Up in the sky!’ ‘It’s a bird!’ ‘It’s a plane!’ ‘It’s Superman!’)” “Okie” is a slang term for someone from the state of Oklahoma; the term was first used as a pejorative when thousands of Oklahomans fled the harsh dust-bowl conditions during the Great Depression and migrated west in search of jobs.
Oh, I’ve seen this. This is the last scene from Crazy Larry and Dirty Mary, remember?
Dirty Mary Crazy Larry is a 1974 movie about a couple who kidnap the daughter of a grocery store owner and spend the rest of the film getting chased by the cops. At the end of the movie (spoiler alert), the car carrying the main characters crashes head-on into a train.
Home Alone (1990) was a phenomenally successful film about a young boy accidentally left behind when his large family goes on a trip, and his various ploys in defeating a couple of burglars intent on ransacking the family home. It spawned two theatrical and one made-for-TV sequels. The shot of Macaulay Culkin with his hands on his face in horror was widely used in the advertising for the film and has become iconic.
Billy Goat, Billy Goat, get off my bridge.
A reference to the traditional fairy tale “The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” in which three goats in succession attempt to cross a bridge, beneath which lives a troll.
It’s the Soul Train!
Soul Train was a pop music television program focusing primarily on Black artists, featuring dancers wiggling away to the latest hits. It aired from 1971-2006 and was hosted for most of that time by producer Don Cornelius.
[Sung.] We’re traveling on the engine of the Happy Day express/The letters on the engine say J-E-S-U-S …
A line from the kids’ religious song “The Happy Day Express.”
I like butter. Look, my chin’s yellow. That means I like butter.
A reference to a children’s game in which holding dandelions (called buttercups in Great Britain) under someone's chin supposedly determines whether or not they like butter. (Thanks to “sambsonwayfinder” for this reference.)
Didn’t see it. Never saw it. Nope, nope. Don’t want to get involved. I’ll act like I’m in New York City. Turn around and get the heck out of here. Bye now. Nope, nope.
In 1964, a young woman named Kitty Genovese was raped and stabbed to death near her home in Queens. Multiple people witnessed parts of the attack from their apartment windows but did nothing to intervene until her attacker was gone; newspaper headlines blared “Thirty-Seven Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call The Police” (an exaggeration). The Genovese murder crystallized what many hated about New York City at the time: people’s apathy about crime and reluctance to get involved in others’ problems.
If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and dial again … [Whistled: three tones.]
This is the classic message used by the phone company when you fail to complete a call. The voice belongs to actress/singer Jane Barbe, who also recorded such classic messages as “We’re sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed” and “The number you have reached has been changed. The new number is …” The messages were preceded by three tones, known as the Special Information Tone, or SIT.
[Sung.] Well, the wreck of the old ’09 …
Paraphrasing a bit of the country music standard (with hotly debated origins) “The Wreck of the Old ’97,” which dramatizes a 1903 rail disaster in Virginia that claimed 11 lives. (Thanks to sambsonwayfinder for this reference.)
Out, baby, out, out, out!
A reference to the line in It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World: “Out, baby, out, baby, out!”
What do you mean, topsoil’s gone? What do you mean, it moved? –Well, ma …
References to John Steinbeck’s 1939 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, about a poor Oklahoma farm family who escape the Dust Bowl and go on a pilgrimage to California. It was adapted into a movie starring Henry Fonda in 1940.
Lisa! I’m home!
An imitation of Oliver Douglas (played by Eddie Albert) calling to his wife Lisa (Eva Gabor) in the TV sitcom Green Acres (CBS, 1965-1971), about a well-heeled New York lawyer and his glamorous wife who pull up stakes and move to a rural farm, complete with a dilapidated shack of a farmhouse. “Lucy, I’m home!” was an often heard phrase on the sitcom I Love Lucy (CBS, 1951-1957), starring Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball – so this riff may be a mash-up.
Hey, it’s Oedipus on wheels.
See note on Oedipus, above.
Norman Rockwell, sheriff.
“I paint life as I would like it to be,” artist Norman Rockwell once said, and the secret of his enduring success is that he painted life as a lot of other people wish it could be, too. Rockwell had a knack for painting nostalgic scenes that awakened the viewer’s longing for a mythical simpler, purer time. In his myriad illustrations for the Saturday Evening Post—he painted more than 300 of their covers over 50 years—he evoked a vision of small-town America that still resonates today.
What, you think I’m illiterate? I read the Enquirer.
The National Enquirer is a supermarket tabloid specializing in entertainment news and gossip. Unlike many of its tabloid brethren, journalistic accuracy at the Enquirer is generally considered to be pretty high.
Glenn is fifty feet tall!
A reference to Show 319, War of the Colossal Beast.
Loni Anderson’s bust?
Loni Anderson is a blond, busty actress best known for her role as Jennifer Marlowe on the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati, which aired from 1978-1982.
I’m in Shane.
Shane is a 1953 Western starring Alan Ladd as a retired gunfighter who unwillingly gets drawn into a range war.
Could be that peyote I handed out.
The peyote cactus is native to southern Texas and northern Mexico. It has hallucinogenic properties and is used in the religious ceremonies of some Native American tribes.
[Sung.] Doin' da butt … tow-truck driver got a big old butt … doin' da butt …
Riffing on the 1988 song “Da Butt,” written by Marcus Miller and performed by the band E.U., from the soundtrack of the Spike Lee movie School Daze. Sample lyrics: “She was doin' the butt, hey pretty, pretty/When you get that notion/Put your backfield in motion, hey/Doin' the butt, hey sexy, sexy/Tanya got a big ol' butt (Oh yeah)/Shirley got a big ol' butt (Oh yeah).” (Thanks to sambsonwayfinder for this reference.)
Yeah, we’re going to do a nutty wakeup call on Marty Ingels.
Marty Ingels is an actor and voiceover artist who has appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. He supplied the voice for Beegle Beagle on the old Tom & Jerry cartoons. (Thanks to Sampo for this reference.)
Sieg heil, everybody, sieg heil.
“Sieg heil” is German for “hail victory.” During World War II and the reign of Nazi Germany, “sieg heil” was said, or more often shouted, to accompany the Nazi salute: extending one’s right arm with a straightened hand.
When the Caddy’s rockin’, don’t bother knockin’.
A paraphrase of the song “If the House Is a-Rockin’” by Stevie Ray Vaughan (1954-1990). Actual lyrics: “Well - The house is a rockin' don't bother knockin'/Yeah - The house is a rockin' don't bother knockin'/Yeah - The house is a rockin' don't bother come on in …”
Conrad Bain (1923-2013) was an actor best known for playing Philip Drummond on the TV series Diff’rent Strokes, which aired from 1978-1986.
Wait a minute, Conrad—you wearing pants under that coat?
See previous note.
Because you’re Earl Warren.
Earl Warren (1891-1974) served as chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1953-1969, a turbulent period in the court’s history. Among his landmark decisions were Brown v. Board of Education, which overthrew racial segregation in public schools, and Miranda v. Arizona, which required police to notify suspected criminals of their legal rights. He also headed the Warren Commission, the government body that investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
There might be giants.
They Might Be Giants is an oddball rock group that had its first hits in the mid-1980s and has developed a small but loyal following since then. The band took its name from a 1971 movie starring George C. Scott and Joanne Woodward, based on a play, with the title itself alluding to the 1605/1615 two-part Spanish novel Don Quixote, whose excitable hero mistook windmills in the distance for ferocious giants.
Well, you’re high, Conrad.
See note on Conrad Bain, above.
This guy. He’s like a puppet made by Sid and Marty Krofft. He hardly moves!
Sid and Marty Krofft are brothers and television producers who created a string of children’s shows during the 1970s. H.R. Pufnstuf, The Bugaloos, and Land of the Lost were among their shows. Many of their shows featured their trademark large puppets.
Sounds like a slow version of “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”
A reference to Nancy Sinatra’s classic 1960s anthem “These Boots Are Made for Walking.” Sample lyrics: “These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do/One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.”
Are you ready to walk, boots?
A line from “These Boots Were Made for Walking” (see previous note).
Charo is playing!
Charo is a singer, actress, and flamenco guitarist originally from Spain. She was a regular on The Hollywood Squares during the 1970s and appeared frequently on The Love Boat. She now performs regularly in Las Vegas.
Charo in charge?
See previous note on Charo. Charles in Charge was a TV sitcom starring Scott Baio as a young man who works for a family as a housekeeper/nanny. It aired from 1984-1990.
Barnaby Jones. Epilogue.
Barnaby Jones was a TV series that aired from 1973-1980. It starred The Beverly Hillbillies’ Buddy Ebsen (1908-2003) as an elderly private eye.
Who invited King Curtis?
King Curtis (b. Curtis Ousley, 1934-1971) was an American saxophonist. Considered a virtuoso, he was known for his high-energy riffs and solos, like on the Coasters' 1958 novelty hit “Yakkity Yak,” which became the inspiration for the 1963 Boots Randolph song “Yakety Sax,” a.k.a. the theme from The Benny Hill Show. (Thanks to sambsonwayfinder for this reference.)
Must be related to producer Ken Curtis.
See above note.
It’s Dionne Warwick!
Dionne Warwick is a pop singer who enjoyed a string of hits from the mid-1960s through the mid-1980s, including the theme to Valley of the Dolls and “Heartbreaker.” She had a long and fruitful association with songwriter Burt Bacharach.
The Dead Kennedys?
The Dead Kennedys were a San Francisco punk rock band formed in 1978. Known for their subversive style as well as their political subject matter, the band also became a force in the music industry through lead singer Jello Biafra’s record label Alternative Tentacles.
No, it's the 1910 Fruitgum Company.
The 1910 Fruitgum Company was a bubble-gum pop band in the 1960s, with such hits as "Indian Giver" and "Goody, Goody Gumdrops." (Thanks to Joel Boutiere for this reference.)
Led Zeppelin is a wildly influential rock band known for such hits as “Stairway to Heaven” and “Dazed and Confused.” They rose to prominence in the 1970s and broke up in 1980, but their music is still played on the radio 25 years later.
Whoa! Tige Andrews, dancing up a storm.
See note on Tige Andrews, above.
No, that’s Larry Miller.
See note on Larry Miller, above.
Hey, there’s Jessica Tandy in the back there.
Jessica Tandy (1909-1994) was an actress who appeared with great success in theater in her early career and enjoyed a renaissance in film as an old woman with such movies as Driving Miss Daisy and Fried Green Tomatoes.
It's got a good beat and it's easy to dance to!
A reference to the Rate-a-Record segment of the teen-dance/music showcase TV program American Bandstand, which aired in various versions from 1952 to 1989. Longtime host and producer Dick Clark would ask audience members to rate a new song, giving both a numerical score and an opinion. Those opinions rarely strayed far from “It’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.” (Thanks to Noah Kurland for this reference.)
David Soul is an actor best known for playing Detective Kenneth Hutchinson on the TV series Starsky and Hutch. He is also a singer known for such hits as “Silver Lady” and “Don’t Give Up on Us, Baby.”
John Travolta is an actor who rocketed to fame in the late 1970s with his appearance as disco dancer Tony Manero in the 1977 film Saturday Night Fever. After his career became somewhat moribund in the 1980s, he enjoyed a comeback in the 1990s with appearances in such movies as Pulp Fiction and Face/Off.
Johnny Rivers was the main attraction for years at the L.A. club Whiskey A Go Go and recorded a number of live albums there. He is known for such hits as “Secret Agent Man” and “Poor Side of Town.”
Art Garfunkel is a musician, best known as half of the folk duo Simon and Garfunkel.
Terence Trent D’Arby!
Terence Trent D’Arby was a pop musician who emerged in the late 1980s with hits such as “Wishing Well” and “Sign Your Name.” None of his subsequent albums did as well as his debut, however. He later changed his name to Sananda Maitreya and released several albums under that name.
Johnny Thunders was a singer and guitarist who broke into the punk scene in the early 1970s with the glam band New York Dolls. He also fronted the punk band The Heartbreakers and had a successful solo career before his death in 1991.
Bobby Goldsboro is a pop singer who had a string of hits in the late 1960s, including “Honey” and “Watching Scotty Grow.”
Q’uest-que c’est Gary Lewis and the Playboys?
Gary Lewis and the Playboys were a pop group during the 1960s, fronted by Jerry Lewis’s son. Their hits included “The Diamond Ring” and “Count Me In.” The group lost its popularity when Lewis was drafted in 1967 and never really recovered, although they tried regrouping after Lewis finished his service the following year.
Oh, this is sweet, just like when Vicki Lawrence won the Grammy on The Carol Burnett Show.
Vicki Lawrence is an actress, comedian, and singer who was a regular on The Carol Burnett Show (CBS, 1967-1978), winning one Emmy Award and five more nominations during her eleven years on the show. She then got her own sitcom, Mama’s Family (NBC/Syndication, 1983-1990), became the first successful female game show host (Win, Lose, or Draw), and hosted her own talk show (Vicki!) in the early ‘90s. Her music career peaked in 1973 with a number one hit song, “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” which won her a RIAA Gold Record (500,000 copies sold). She did not win a Grammy Award -- Tom is referring to the last episode of The Carol Burnett Show’s sixth season, when Burnett surprised Lawrence with an on-air presentation of her Gold Record. (Thanks to Lynn Knott for helping clarify the whole awards thing.)
Thank you. Thank you very much.
An imitation of Elvis Presley (1935-1977), the King of Rock and Roll, one of the most popular musicians from the 1950s until his death in the late 1970s. He was a teen idol in the late 1950s, helped usher in the era of rock and roll, became a movie star, created an enormous and opulent home at Graceland in Memphis, developed problems with drug abuse, and finally died of a heart attack at the age of 42. “Thank you very much” was a phrase Elvis frequently used, usually at the end of a song while applause thundered. He often said it very quickly with the words all tumbled together. This, of course, led to it being used in impressions of him for decades.
It’s a personal pan banjo.
In 1983, Pizza Hut introduced the Personal Pan Pizza, with a guarantee that it would be ready five minutes after ordering. It was an immediate success and has remained a strong seller for the chain.
[Sung.] Tiptoe through the tulips …
See note on “Tiptoe Through the Tulips,” above.
[Imitating.] Tonight on Night Gallery: Lillian Hellman, Edward R. Murrow, and I will sneak a smoke behind the barn.
An imitation of Rod Serling as the host of Night Gallery, an anthology horror series created by Serling (of Twilight Zone fame); each episode was illustrated in a painting seen at the beginning of the show. It ran from 1970-1973. Lillian Hellman (1905-1984) was a playwright and screenwriter known for such works as The Children’s Hour and The Little Foxes. See also note on Edward R. Murrow, above. Serling, Hellman, and Murrow were all heavy smokers: Serling had a four-pack-a-day habit, Hellman was a chain smoker, and Murrow famously lit up on the air.
I’d say music hath charms to annoy a savage beast.
A reference to a line in William Congreve’s 1697 play The Mourning Bride: “Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast”—often misquoted as “beast.”
Matchbox. Save ‘em. Buy ‘em all.
Matchbox is a brand of die-cast miniature cars first manufactured in the early 1950s. The brand is now owned by Mattel.
They look like Hot Wheels.
Hot Wheels is another line of miniature die-cast cars, these introduced in 1968 by Mattel.
Corgi Cars are a brand of die-cast model cars produced by a company in Britain. They were introduced in 1956 and have sold millions of models since then. Two of the most famous, now highly sought after by collectors, are the James Bond Aston Martin and the Batmobile.
Sizzlers were rechargeable, battery-operated model cars produced in the 1970s by Mattel.
That’s why Deuteronomy is so long.
Deuteronomy is one of the books of the Old Testament. It consists mainly of several discourses made by Moses toward the end of his life.
It’s Jack Ruby!
Jack Ruby (c. 1911-1967) was a Dallas nightclub owner who catapulted to fame when he shot and killed Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. Ruby was convicted of the killing and sent to prison, where he died of cancer in 1967.
Margaux Hemingway in Lipstick.
Lipstick is a 1976 film starring Margaux Hemingway as a fashion model who is raped and takes revenge on her attacker.
Yeah, I’m going back to Jurassic Park.
Jurassic Park is a 1993 film about an amusement park where dinosaurs have been brought back to life through cloning. Naturally things go awry. There have been several sequels, but none came close to capturing the wondrous quality of the original.
[Sung.] Wild rebels … crunchy, chewy rebels …
A reference to Show 207, Wild Rebels.
We now return to Bearcats!, with Rod Taylor and Dennis Cole.
Bearcats! was a short-lived 1971 TV series about two mercenaries and their Stutz Bearcat in 1914. It starred Taylor and Cole as the two traveling tough guys.
[Sputtering car engine noises.]
See above note.
Oh, he’s using the other brand of nitro.
Prior to 1973, it was illegal for TV or radio commercials to say or show the name or logo of a competing brand. TV ads that compared their product to “the other leading brand” would often show the other brand’s label as “Brand X.” (Thanks to Paul-Gabriel Wiener for this reference.)
Hey, Joel, now he’s driving a nitro-burning Funny Car!
Nitro-burning Funny Cars were popular racecars during the 1970s.
So, how do you like Berkeley?
Berkeley is a city on the eastern side of San Francisco Bay, home to University of California, Berkeley, the oldest campus in the UC system and a free-speech and protest hotbed in the turbulent 1960s. It remains one of the most liberal cities in the United States.
[Chanted, with clapping.] This is gila country … you … beware!
An imitation of a typical “spirit cheer” used by cheerleaders at school football or basketball games.
Oh, no, it’s The Field. With Richard Harris.
The Field is a 1990 film starring Richard Harris as a man who has farmed a particular field all his life, when the woman who owns it puts it up for sale at a public auction.
Oh, this is the Escher house. He thinks he went all the way through.
Probably a reference to M.C. Escher’s famous drawing Relativity, featuring a house with stairs that change perspective violently from one level to another. (Thanks to Lynn Knott for correcting the wording of the riff.)
Mary, don’t you know me?
A line from the 1946 movie It’s a Wonderful Life.
Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.
A line from the 1950 movie All About Eve.
Whoa, it’s The Evil Dead all of a sudden.
The Evil Dead is a 1981 horror flick about a group of friends who unwittingly release a horde of demons during a trip to a cabin in the woods. It was followed by two sequels, a 2013.reboot, and a cable TV series titled Ash vs Evil Dead (Starz, 2015-present).
It sure is the ‘50s—duck and cover.
“Duck and Cover” was a widely viewed film during the 1950s in which an animated turtle named Bert purported to tell children how to survive a nuclear attack.
I will prevail. I’m a survivor, like Cher.
Cher (b. Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre) is a singer and actress who has appeared on various television shows and in films. She first rose to fame as the co-host of a series of TV variety shows with her then-husband, Sonny Bono.
The horror. The horror.
The famous last words of Mr. Kurtz in the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness, as well as the final words of Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War-based adaptation of the Conrad work.
I dub this spot Luggage World.
Probably a reference to the Minneapolis luggage store.
I love the smell of lizard in the morning. Smells like chicken.
A paraphrase of the famous line from the 1979 film Apocalypse Now: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like...victory.”
“Everybody all right?” Oh, we make a nice living. You?
A riff on an old joke: an elderly Jewish gentleman is injured in a car crash. As he’s being tended to by the paramedics, he’s asked, “Are you comfortable?” To which he replies, “I make a nice living.”
Oh, good, Adlai Stevenson is here.
Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) was the twice-unsuccessful Democratic presidential nominee during the 1950s. He later served as the U.S. delegate to the United Nations.
Good job, McCloud.
McCloud was a television series starring Dennis Weaver as a rural lawman who joins a big city police force. It ran from 1970-1977.
"You were really traveling..." Like Holly Golightly?
Holly Golightly is the devil-may-care heroine of the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany’s, based on the 1958 novella of the same name by Truman Capote; she was played by Audrey Hepburn. The name slot above her apartment's mailbox reads: "Miss Holiday Golightly - Travelling."
Next time on the ABC Movie of the Week, Clint Howard in Killdozer.
Clint Howard, brother of actor/director Ron Howard, is an actor who has appeared in such films as Apollo 13 (1995) and Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997). Killdozer is a 1974 TV movie about a construction crew building an airstrip during World War II who uncover an ancient evil spirit, which promptly takes control of their heavy equipment and begins to wreak havoc.
The sheriff will be back in Gila 2: The Revenge. This time it’s personal.
“This time ... it’s personal” was the tagline for the 1987 film Jaws: The Revenge.