Sharkey winds up in a Tijuana jail after trying to bail out his men.
Richard X. Slattery
|Country of origin||USA|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||37|
|Running time||approx. 0:30 (per episode)|
|Original run||December 1, 1976 – July 28, 1978|
The series starred Don Rickles as a Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy. C.P.O. Otto Sharkey was an abrasive, sharp-tongued veteran in charge of a company of new Seaman Recruits on a San Diego naval base. Rickles is famous for his jokes about various ethnicities and this show provided him with a vehicle for his politically incorrect humor. The young company consisted of Daniels, a black American, Kowalski, a Polish-American; Skolnick, a Jewish-American, Mignone, an Italian-American and Rodriguez, an Hispanic-American. Sharkey's best friend on the base was Chief Robinson (Harrison Page) who was black. C.P.O. Sharkey was not Rickles' first role in that navy position; he had played C.P.O. Ernie Schmidt in the 1961 episode "Professional Sailor" of the CBS military sitcom/drama, Hennesey, starring Jackie Cooper.
Rickles as Sharkey put his insult humor to good use with the other characters. Sharkey's assistant, Seaman Lester Pruitt (Peter Isacksen), was 6' 7" and simple-minded. His immediate superior was the smug and buck-toothed Lt. Whipple. The base commander was the female Capt. Quinlan (Elizabeth Allen), whom Sharkey never insulted to her face. In season 2, Capt. Quinlan left and was replaced by Capt. Buck Buckner (Richard X. Slattery), a by-the-book Captain whom Sharkey feels is a man's Captain, until he socks it to Sharkey "loud and clear", then he gets second thoughts on Buckner. But Sharkey was really a nice guy beneath his harsh exterior and often went to extreme measures to help his recruits with their problems.
In the first season, Sharkey's first name was never revealed until in one episode, he referred to himself as "Seymour". In the second season, he was named Otto.
- The 6' 7" Pruitt would often stand right next to the 5' 6" Sharkey to speak to him. Sharkey would find it difficult to speak to Pruitt this way and would make a snide remark about Pruitt's height.
- Lt. Whipple would often lecture Sharkey about something. When he left the room, Sharkey would look in the camera and imitate Whipple's buck-teeth.
- In the second season, Sharkey had a new commander, the tough Capt. Buckner (Richard X. Slattery). Buckner would yell orders in a tirade directly in Sharkey's face making the usually verbose Sharkey speechless.
The cigarette box incident
The series is often remembered for an incident that occurred on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson during December 1976. Rickles appeared on The Tonight Show, speaking with guest host Bob Newhart. During the segment, Rickles slammed down the cigarette box Carson kept on his desk while joking with Newhart, and accidentally broke the box. When Carson returned the following night to the show and discovered the broken box, he took a camera crew to the adjacent studio where Sharkey was being taped. Carson disrupted the taping in order to tease Rickles about it, to the delight of the studio audiences of both shows. Carson imitated Rickles' insult comedy style by calling him a "big dummy" and teasing Harrison Page by speaking to him in an exaggerated jive accent. As Carson prepared to exit the stage, Rickles looked at the audience and said, "Ladies and gentleman, Johnny Carson!" With mock disdain Carson glared at Rickles and said, "They know who I am!"
The incident was often replayed in Tonight Show retrospectives and was considered a highlight of the 1970s era of the show, and the incident was also featured in the documentary Mr. Warmth: The Don Rickles Project.
- "Punk Pix, 1976-1980 & New Wave, Power Pop & Rock Classic Archive, Rare Photos: Dickies". JennyLens.com. Archived from the original on August 22, 2006.
Brooks, Tim; Earl Marsh (2003). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows. Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-45542-8.