Nostalgia Vision convention channels interest in classic TV

February 27, 1993|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

OK, examination time:

How many readers can still sing the lyrics to "Gilligan's Island?"

Do you remember when Fred MacMurray finally got married on "My Three Sons," and to whom, and the circumstances of their meeting?

And do you know the link between the Saturday morning series "Circus Boy" and the prime-time comedy, "The Monkees?"

If any of these trivia tests stir the slightest memory currents, you may be suffering from Nostalgia Vision.

The area's first fan gathering devoted to a broad range of television began last night at the Towson Sheraton Inn and continues today and tomorrow. Old shows (predominantly from the 1950s and '60s) are on view in both video and film formats; panel discussions tackle such topics as "TV Dads," "Animal Stars" and "Shows So Bad They're Good"; and more than 50 dealers offer nostalgic tapes and other memorabilia.

The guest list is headed by "The Professor" -- known in real life as actor Russell Johnson ("Gilligan's Island") -- and Barbara Harper Douglas, a k a Beverly Garland ("My Three Sons").

And now, let's answer the trivia questions.

* The theme from "Gilligan's Island" began, "Now sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship . . ."

* In the fall of 1969 on "My Three Sons," Ms. Garland first appeared as schoolteacher Barbara Harper. The widow met widower Steve Douglas (MacMurray) in a parent-teacher conference about adopted son Ernie (Barry Livingston), they married and she brought daughter Dodie (Dawn Lyn) into the family. (The 1960-'72 series ranks as the second-longest comedy series in TV history, behind "Ozzie and Harriet.")

* Kid actor Mickey Braddock of "Circus Boy" (1956-'58), who played the orphaned son of a wire-walker killed in a fall, grew up and used his real name, Mickey Dolenz, as the wacky drummer in "The Monkees" (1966-'68).

"People want to see their past," says co-chairman Steve Rifkin, explaining the appeal of Nostalgia Vision -- even if the past represents the non-reality of the tube.

"Viewing these old shows says that our past is still here, that we can forget everything that's going on in the present," says this 28-year-old computer systems administrator from Randallstown, whose passion is collecting Saturday morning children's shows.

"The past always looks better than the present," agrees co-chair Susan Svehla, 37, an office worker from Perry Hall who has a fondness for movie musicals.

Nostalgia Vision grew out of the 6-year-old Fanex convention series. Fanex, however, focuses on fantasy, horror and science fiction movies. It was organized in 1986 by Mrs. Svehla and her husband, Gary, and sponsored by the Horror & Fantasy Film Society of Baltimore, which they also helped found.

Mr. Svehla, 42, publishes Midnight Marquee, a "fanzine" devoted to the horror/fantasy genre that is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. He brought out issue No. 1 on ditto paper when he was a 13-year-old movie buff growing up in the Overlea area.

"You know, at my age I can remember who had the first TV on the block. All of a sudden, what was once very modern and ahead of its time is becoming quaint and ancient," he says.

Planners hope for up to 1,000 participants and envision making the event an annual winter affair.

"We're not in it to make money, we just want to have some fun," says Mrs. Svehla.

A look at the schedule today and tomorrow shows an appealing range of programming and panels.

"Circus Boy" and "Sky King" (1951-'52) are on view from long-ago Saturday mornings, for example. You can visit "The Twilight Zone" (1959-'64) or spend some time in "Cheyenne" (1955-'63) and "The Wild, Wild, West" (1965-'69).

Guests from local television expected to be on hand include George Lewis (formerly Captain Chesapeake of WBFF-Channel 45) and Dick Dyzel (Count Gore De Vol of Washington's WDCA-Channel 20).


What: A convention devoted to "classic television."

When: 9 a.m. to past midnight today; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Where: Towson Sheraton Inn, 903 Dulaney Valley Road.

Admission: $20 both days; $15 single day; children 6 to 12, $10.

Information: (410) 665-1198.

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