|My Living Doll|
|Genre||Science fiction sitcom|
|Created by||Bill Kelsay|
|Written by||Bill Kelsay|
|Directed by||Lawrence Dobkin|
|Starring||Bob Cummings (Episodes 1–21)|
Doris Dowling (Episodes 1–21)
|Theme music composer||George Greeley|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||26 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer||Jack Chertok|
|Running time||24–25 min|
|Production companies||Jack Chertok Television Productions|
CBS Television Network (filmed at the studios of Desilu)
|Release||September 27, 1964 –|
March 17, 1965
My Living Doll is an American science-fiction sitcom that aired for 26 episodes on CBS from September 27, 1964, to March 17, 1965. It was produced by Jack Chertok and filmed at Desilu studios by Jack Chertok Television Productions, in association with the CBS Television Network.
The series was unusual in that it was bought by the network without a formal pilot, at the request of CBS's president James T. Aubrey, due to the success of Chertok's previous series, My Favorite Martian.
The series starred Bob Cummings as Dr. Bob McDonald, a psychiatrist who is given care of Rhoda Miller, a lifelike android (played by Julie Newmar) in the form of a sexy, Amazonian female, by her creator, a scientist who did not want her to fall into the hands of the military.
Rhoda's real name is AF 709, and she is a prototype robot that Dr. Carl Miller (Henry Beckman) built for the U.S. Air Force. Through a series of mishaps, she ends up in the care of Dr. Miller's friend, Air Force psychiatrist Bob McDonald, when Miller is transferred to Pakistan. Bob is initially reluctant, but soon becomes intrigued by the experiment of educating this sophisticated but naive robot. Bob's initial goal is to teach Rhoda how to be a perfect woman, which he defines as one who "does what she's told" and "doesn't talk back." He also strives to keep her identity secret.
Many episodes deal with Rhoda learning how human society works. She also begins showing (or at least emulating) rudimentary emotions as the series progresses. For example, in the episode "The Kleptomaniac", she displays a childlike, playful attitude. At one point McDonald notices this and utters, "What a goofy robot!", to which Rhoda replies, beaming, "The goofiest!" At the conclusion of this episode, Rhoda giggles without prompting after pulling a plot-resolving prank on another character. Another episode, "The Pool Shark", has Rhoda displaying apparent enjoyment in playing pool. The series does not explore whether these are truly learned behaviors or the result of programming, or if, in the fantasy context of the series, Rhoda is truly learning human emotion. (The concept of a robot gaining human emotion is a frequently visited topic in science-fiction television, with characters such as Data in Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the android leads in Holmes & Yo-Yo, Mann & Machine, and Future Cop.)
Other regular cast members included:
- Jack Mullaney as Peter Robinson, a lecherous colleague and neighbor of Bob's who decides that Rhoda is the girl of his dreams. A regular supporting character in episodes 1-20, he learns the truth in the fifth-to-last episode, after Bob is transferred to Pakistan. As of episode 21, he becomes Rhoda's guardian (and series co-lead).
- Doris Dowling as Irene Adams, Bob's sister, whom he asks to move in as his housekeeper and chaperone to keep his neighbors from thinking that something inappropriate is going on between Rhoda and him. She was dropped from the cast when Bob was transferred to Pakistan.
- Nora Marlowe as Mrs. Moffat, Peter's housekeeper; added to the cast when Bob was transferred to Pakistan
The show was created by Jack Chertok based on the Pygmalion–Galatea myth. CBS had been looking for a vehicle for Julie Newmar for two years and this was felt to be ideal. The show was announced in April 1964.
Filming started July 1964.
Julie Newmar later said CBS:
...were looking for a series for Bob Cummings, but Doll wasn't the proper vehicle, as it turned out. It needed a different type of actor. They originally wanted Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. It was not a flip part — it needed a straight actor who could play opposite this bizarre creature so the comedy would come off. That quality was lost when they hired Bob. The show could have been wonderful. I think it would have run for many seasons had they hired Efrem because he had the right qualities.
The New York Times, reviewing the show in September, said it:
...very probably has the makings of a popular novelty hit... with Miss Newmar giving a light and amusing performance as the automated dish, the premise could work out... Bob Cummings, an old hand at chaperoning pretty girls, again is cast in his familiar assignment.
Despite good reviews, early ratings were poor. The show was initially scheduled opposite NBC's Bonanza on Sunday nights, but was shifted to Wednesdays in December in an attempt to improve ratings. This did not work, and in January, Cummings asked to be written out of the show after 21 episodes. CBS did not announce a replacement for him, indicating that they did not want to continue the series.
At the time, reportedly Cummings and Newmar were not getting along during production, with Newmar stating in a 1965 interview that Cummings had tried to teach her how to act, was unhappy that she appeared to be getting more press attention than he was, and was "trying too desperately to hold on to his long-gone youth". However, this is denied by Newmar and show producer Howard Leeds in The Living Doll Story, a featurette included in the 2012 DVD release.
In later years, Newmar said the trouble was Cummings' addiction to methamphetamine. She says this contributed to his erratic behavior on set, as well as his increasing depression and insecurity. He demanded that the show focus more on his character. CBS refused and Cummings left.
Cumming's last appearance was in "The Witness", the show's 21st episode, which aired on 10 February 1965. The following week's episode explained that his character had been transferred to Pakistan; the Peter character learns Rhoda's secret and takes over the position of watching over her. This was the plot device for the last five episodes of the season, and the series was not renewed for a second season.
Although My Living Doll was somewhat popular during its short run, it did not rank in the top 30, as it was scheduled against highly rated shows such as Bonanza, The Virginian, and The Patty Duke Show. As a result, it did not deliver the ratings for which network executives had hoped and was cancelled. In March 1966, Newmar made her first of 13 appearances in the recurring role of Catwoman, over the first two seasons of Batman.
Two versions of the opening credits were created. The first version had Rhoda wearing short lingerie similar to a teddy; according to an interview with Newmar included on the DVD release, this version was rejected as being too risque, so a new version with Rhoda wearing a long dress (though a little suggestive of lingerie) was filmed. This latter version is the one used on the versions of the episodes that were broadcast and released to DVD; however, the unofficial circulation of several episodes used the teddy version of the credits.
|No.||Title||Original air date||Prod.|
|1||"Boy Meets Girl?"||September 27, 1964||6255-01|
|When Space Agency psychiatrist Bob McDonald finds a top secret prototype female robot, her creator, Dr. Miller, asks Bob to take over her care and training when Miller is reassigned to Pakistan.|
|2||"Rhoda's First Date"||October 4, 1964||6255-02|
|Bob purchases some new clothes for Rhoda. While Bob's out, she accepts neighbour Peter's request to go out for dinner. At the restaurant, her OFF button accidentally gets pushed. Believing that she had fainted, she is taken to the hospital.|
|3||"Uninvited Guest"||October 11, 1964||6255-03|
|Having Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" read to her by a young girl has had a peculiar effect on poor Rhoda. She's afflicted with spells of vertigo, as well as difficulty distinguishing fantasy from reality. The situation is complicated by an unexpected visit from Bob's boss, who isn't supposed to know about Rhoda.|
|4†||"Lesson in Love"||October 18, 1964||TBA|
|Bob's sister Irene programs Rhoda to act as if she is in love, and Rhoda takes the information to her transistorized heart, causing much confusion.|
"Rhoda and the V.I.P."
|October 25, 1964||6255-05|
|Bob is escorting a general's daughter to a V.I.P. reception and gives strict orders that Rhoda is not to leave the apartment, but, of course, that doesn't happen.|
|6||"Something Borrowed, Something Blew"||November 1, 1964||TBA|
|Bob is chairman of a psychiatric clinic's fund-raising drive, and he and Rhoda call on the donor with the greatest potential: millionaire playboy Walter J. Armbruster; the playboy takes a great liking to her and decides he wishes to marry her.|
|7||"The Love Machine"||November 8, 1964||6255-07|
|It would take a computer to find the right girl for Peter, and Bob has just the tool, Rhoda. He furnishes Rhoda with information on 250 girls working at the space lab, trying to find a match for Peter.|
|8||"The Beauty Contest"||November 15, 1964||6255-10|
|Irene sneaks Rhoda into a beauty contest for which Bob is a judge.|
|9†||"Leave 'Em Laughing"|
"Not So Comic, Comic"
|November 22, 1964||TBA|
|Bob's friend, Herbert, would rather be a comic than a pharmacist, but he's not a very good comedian, so Bob has been asked to persuade the young man to stick to filling prescriptions.|
|10||"My Robot, The Warden"||November 29, 1964||6255-09|
|Bob's working extremely hard on a magazine article, and he instructs Rhoda to make certain that he finishes on time.|
|11†||"The Rhoda Gamble"|
"Just Lucky, I Guess"
|December 6, 1964||TBA|
|Trying to cure a compulsive gambler, Bob gets Rhoda to use her mathematical skill to predict the fall of the dice.|
|12†||"The Language Barrier"||December 13, 1964||TBA|
|Dr. McDonald's scheduled meeting with a colleague from the Far East is not going well. Rhoda goofed and instructed the interpreter not to show up.|
|13†||"Little White Lie"|
"The Doctor Is In"
|December 16, 1964||TBA|
|When Bob gets the opportunity to have lunch with an attractive lady therapist, he asks Rhoda to cancel his luncheon with the chief of police.|
|14||"I'll Leave It to You"||December 23, 1964||TBA|
|Meek millionaire Jonas Clay intends on leaving his fortune to a charity, and not his domineering sister & her son, but Clay needs Bob to certify that he's of sound mind and fit to control his own money.|
|15†||"Mechanical Perfection"||December 30, 1964||TBA|
|After comparing herself to the flawless Rhoda, depressed and discouraged Irene feels very inadequate.|
|16||"Pool Shark"||January 6, 1965||6255-16|
|Peter owes a small fortune to a pool shark, but he very cleverly signed Bob's name to the IOU. They send in Rhoda to play the pool shark, and, with her abilities, she beats the shark and repays the debt.|
|17†||"Color Me Trouble"||January 13, 1965||6255-18|
|Rhoda copies a Picasso so accurately that an art dealer believes it to be the real thing right down to the signature. Bob tries in vain to convince the dealer that the painting is a forgery.|
|18||"The Kleptomaniac"||January 20, 1965||6255-19|
|Rhoda, unaware that department stores are places where people purchase things, helps herself to gems from a jewellery counter, as a gift for Bob's sister.|
|19†||"Sky Divers"||January 27, 1965||6255-16|
|Peter follows Bob's advice about facing up to his fears by taking a giant step: Peter tells everyone that he's an accomplished sky diver. The only problem is that Peter has lied!|
|20†||"The Robotic Astronaut"||February 3, 1965||TBA|
|Bob takes Rhoda along when he goes out of town to interview a group of women applying for the astronaut program, and Rhoda applies.|
|21||"The Witness"||February 10, 1965||6255-21|
Bob gets off to an inauspicious start as chairman of a road-safety committee when his car is crashed into by his neighbor's car, and then Rhoda testifies in court about the entire incident.Note: This episode features Cummings' final appearance.
|22†||"Rhoda Meets Dr. Robinson"|
"Boy Gets Robot"
|February 17, 1965||6255-24|
|Bob has been called to Pakistan to assist Dr. Miller, and Rhoda's government supervisor, Dr. Foster, agrees to put her in the care of Bob's neighbor Peter, who is alarmed to find that the girl of his dreams is really a computer wonder.|
|23†||"Dancing Doll"||February 24, 1965||6255-25|
|Peter and Rhoda perform in a ballet, after their escorting ballerina Angela Carruthers to a TV interview goes very wrong.|
"A Paris Original"
|March 3, 1965||6255-26|
|When a fashion photographer finds Rhoda's almost perfect ability to take commands in robotic perfection, this causes Peter no end of trouble as his date, who he was meeting at the fashion house, had the original assignment.|
|25†||"Murder, He Says"|
|March 10, 1965||6255-27|
|Rhoda's day at the beach over-charges her solar batteries. Peter must place her in the apartment's closet wrapped in a carpet to prevent any more exposure. As a result, the apartment's handy man thinks Peter is hiding a body and calls in the cops.|
|March 17, 1965||6255-28|
|Mrs Moffit's brother, a failed nightclub comedian, causes problems when he moves into Peter's apartment. He tries to teach Rhoda the finer points of stand up comedy and timing & also the right time to laugh.|
^† Episode is missing.
Only 11 of the 26 episodes are currently known to survive. Amongst the missing episodes are all five episodes produced after Cummings left the show.
On March 20, 2012, MPI Home Video released My Living Doll—The Official Collection, Volume 1 on DVD in Region 1. The 2-disc set features 11 episodes of the series. The episodes featured on the DVD collection were created from 16mm prints of the show held by collectors, as the one known set of original 35mm negatives were destroyed in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. It is unknown if the remaining 15 episodes exist.
In popular culture
According to The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, My Living Doll is the source of the science fiction phrase "Does not compute" in popular culture.
My Living Doll producer Howard Leeds went on to create Small Wonder, a 1980s sitcom featuring a young girl robot named Vicki. He also employed composer George Greeley, who wrote the music for My Living Doll.
Leeds, when in the employ of Reg Grundy Productions Australia producing Chopper Squad, proposed and produced a new My Living Doll presentation pilot, "Billion Dollar Baby", using an all-Australian cast.
In 2018, Jack Chertok Television Productions producer Peter Greenwood apparently had posts on his LinkedIn account stating that he had begun active development of a new My Living Doll limited series; his account also featured a bound set of the original series scripts as part of the post. The posts may also have stated that the reboot "would be more in tune with present-day morals and would change a great deal of the format to highlight the character, based on the current need for positive, intelligent and meaningful female role models."[better source needed]
- Upperco, Jackson (December 30, 2020). "Well, That *Almost* Computes: A Look at MY LIVING DOLL". jacksonupperco.com.
- Smith, C. (Sep 6, 1964). "Julie the robot: Wind her up--please". Los Angeles Times.
- P. G. (Apr 20, 1964). "Channel 13 festival starts may 1 with a ballet film from sweden". New York Times. ProQuest 115585935.
- Korman, S. (Nov 21, 1964). "IS SHE A PROJECT, OR A GIRL?". Chicago Tribune. ProQuest 179681823.
- Smith, C. (Jul 29, 1964). "THE TV SCENE". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 168645466.
- Counts, Kyle (November 1989). "The Many Lives of Cat Woman". Starlog. No. 148. p. 26.
- J. G. (Sep 28, 1964). "TV: Networks cover warren report thoroughly". New York Times. ProQuest 115891337.
- Lyon, H. (Jan 6, 1965). "TOWER TICKER". Chicago Tribune. ProQuest 179772012.
- V. A. (Feb 6, 1965). "COMEDIANS PLAN TV SERIES IN FALL". New York Times. ProQuest 116738337.
- V. A. (Jan 5, 1965). "CUMMINGS QUITS 'MY LIVING DOLL'". New York Times. ProQuest 116730163.
- Daily Variety, January 11, 1964
- Bradford-Hunter, J (June 9, 1965). "My Living Doll On The Rocks". TV Times. 7 (49): 6.
- "My Living Doll in MyLivingColor". Pop Colorture. 2018-11-02.
I think [Cummings] tried to make the show more in his image," remembers producer Howard Leeds, "but it was Julie's show.
- Wolters, L. (Jan 27, 1965). "Peyton place sets pace for new shows". Chicago Tribune. ProQuest 179697199.
- Wolters, L. (Jan 7, 1965). "Burgess meredith to boss mr. novak". Chicago Tribune. ProQuest 179805282.
- Lertzman, Richard A; Birnes, William J (2013). Dr. Feelgood : the shocking story of the doctor who may have changed history by treating and drugging JFK, Marilyn, Elvis, and other prominent figures. Skyhorse Publishing. pp. 84–86.
- Lertzman, Richard A.; Birnes, William J. (2019-08-30). Dr. Feelgood: The Shocking Story of the Doctor Who May Have Changed History ... ISBN 9781626363359.
- "Television Obscurities – My Living Doll". tvobscurities.com. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
- "My Living Doll in MyLivingColor". Pop Colorture. 2018-11-02.
Below are the complete, unheard lyrics to My Living Doll ... [and] the colorized sequence ... [and] the alternate opening sequence ...
- Lambert, David. "My Living Doll – Julie Newmar in 'The Official Collection, Vol. 1' Announced: Finalized Date, Box Art, More!". 2011-12-27. Archived from the original on 4 January 2012. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
- King, Susan (2012-04-04). "The 'Perfect' '60s Woman". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- Sheidlower, Jesse (2001-09-15). "Re: Does not compute". American Dialect Society. The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang. Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2005-10-23.
- Peter Greenwood LinkedIn account, retrieved (?) 2018-08-18