memories of the ’70s – The Shaggy D.A.

For kids of the 1970s, it wasn’t just Walt Disney animation that captured their interest – it was feature films with funny premises like The Shaggy D.A.

Based on the 1959 film The Shaggy Dog and the out of print novel The Hound of Florence by Felix Salten, The Shaggy D.A. presented a problem when a man becomes imprisoned within a sheepdog due to a magic spell.

Starring Dean Jones as Wilby Daniels and Suzanne Pleshette as his wife Betty Daniels, The Shaggy D.A. focuses on Wilby’s run to become the new district attorney after he’s robbed twice.

Two thieves who have been robbing the Daniels and other families decide to steal an ancient ring from the local museum. When someone reads aloud the inscription of the ring on television, Wilby starts transforming into a sheepdog, revealing his secret to his wife and son Brian.

As the sheepdog, Wilby is chased by the dog catcher and tossed in the pound, meanwhile trying to solve the thefts and figure out a way to return to being a man and get elected as district attorney.

The humour and odd situations were a funny side effect of the transposing of a man and dog, as the man can now understand all the dogs, and still understands the humans around him – who of course, just see a big white sheepdog.

Released in December 1976 for the holiday season, this film was the last of 19 films directed by Robert Stevenson, set in the fictional Medfield, used for many Disney films.

A box office hit, the movie was a success for Disney, using one of their fave go-to actors Dean Jones, as well as well-known actors like Tim Conway, Vic Tayback, Dick Van Patten and Jo Anne Worley.

For this kid, this silly film was a favourite – because the premise was ridiculous and the laughs were not subtle and for kids under 12, this was awesome to see dogs banding together to get back at the bad guy.

memories of the ’70s – Quincy M.E.

File:Quincy ME.jpgLong before CSI glamourized the world of forensic sciences, in the mid 1970s it was all about one coroner – Quincy M.E.

Starring Jack Klugman as the smart-witted and irascible Dr. Quincy, the show debuted on NBC in October 1976, as a one hour drama, produced by Glen A. Larson Productions.

Quincy was always referred to by his last name, and his character’s first name was a mystery – eventually it was known to begin with the letter R, but never revealed during the series.

In each episode, Quincy as the forensic pathologist for the city of Los Angeles would investigate suspicious deaths, and determine the cause of death, usually due to murder.

Working with his assistant Sam Fujiyama, Quincy was often in conflict with his boss Dr. Asten and LAPD homicide detective, Lt. Frank Monahan, as he pursued the evidence to solve the case.

Quincy was also a lady’s man and lived on a sailboat – adding to his character’s unique allure.

In consequent years, Quincy’s storylines included commentary on plastic surgery, drunk driving laws, punk rock, airline safety, hazardous waste, handguns, orphan drugs and poverty.

A popular show with viewers, Quincy ME was the first to show in-depth forensic evidence and research, two decades before the creation of CSI, Crossing Jordan or NCIS. It was shown in the UK, Canada and Australia and dubbed to be shown in Germany and Japan.

I regularly watched the showing, liking the independence of Quincy from authority as well as his dedication to science revealing the answers of what had happened.

The series was on air for eight seasons, until it was cancelled in the early 1980s, but was another success for Glen A. Larson, who created a show that was a definite influence on the way to solve a crime.

memories of the ’70s – Slime

Were you the kid of the 1970s that absolutely, positively, had to have SLIME? I was.

Debuting on store shelves in 1976 from Mattel, Slime was a slightly sticky, green, goopy and viscous – found in its own matching green trashcan. As the tagline said: it’s gooey, drippy, oozy, cold ‘n’ clammy!

Mainly made from guar gum, Slime was the perfect thing to toss onto a friend, play with in your hands to make rude noises and toss in small toys to look like they were drowning in the slime.

Next generation concoctions of the toy included rubber insects, worms and eyeballs. Perfect for the kid who wanted something that looked horrible, disgusting, creepy and felt oh so wierd.

And yes, I owned Slime. I loved it. My Mum kept it in the fridge so it felt even colder than normal, but soon it disappeared as I lost interest and my parents thankfully could get rid of that toy.

memories of the ’70s – More More More by Andrea True Connection

File:More, More, More.jpgA disco hit in 1976, this one hit wonder has become a classic for the clubs to this day: More More More by Andrea True Connection.

Written by Gregg Diamond, the song was performed by Andrea True, a porn actress.

True, who became well-known in certain circles after appearing in numerous adult films, was hired by a Jamaican businessman to appear in real estate television commercials.

After spending time on the island to complete the commercials, a political crisis in 1975 prevented True from leaving the island with her earnings. She invited producer/writer Diamond to come to the island, where she financed the recording of her first album.

True, who wanted to move into a recording career, recorded More More More, with Buddah Records releasing the song as a dance single to disco clubs in winter 1975, and by February 1976, was released as a radio single.

Although a solo artist, she named herself Andrea True Connection to differentiate herself from her porn career to a singing career.

The song became even more popular with its release to the mass market, hitting #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and charting top 10 in Canada, UK, Germany and Ireland.

True continued her recording career, with follow up hits You Got Me Dancing and What’s Your Name, What’s Your Number, both on her second album White Witch.

But for the hardcore disco fans, More More More became a popular song of the nightly soundtrack, a popular inclusion in future period movies and was covered by Bananarama, Rachel Fox, Dannii Minogue and Samantha Fox.

memories of the ’70s – The Trammps

This Philadelphia disco/soul group is credited with being one of the first disco bands – The Trammps.

Coming out the 1960s bands such as The Volcanos and The Moods, The Trammps was initially Jimmy Ellis, Norman Harris, Earl Young, Robert Upchurch and Stanley Wade.

The band’s first hot single was a cover of a 1934 song – Zing! Went the Strings of the my Heart – which charted on the Billboard R&B list in 1972. Two other popular singles by the band were Hold Back the Night and That’s Where the Happy People Go.

But it was in 1976 that the band hit the A levels with their song Disco Inferno the title track of their fourth album, which became a hot song in every dance club across America, and was then included in the soundtrack for the film Saturday Night Fever.

The soundtrack was awarded a Grammy for best soundtrack, and The Trammps song was a disco anthem.

Although the band continued to release songs and albums, Disco Inferno became their signature song – and as the band members changed, the song stayed the same.

But for a decade obsessed with its dance music, this band’s song is still a dance favourite in the 21st century.

memories of the ’70s – Alice

A successful film was transported to the small screen a few years later to bring the blue-collar world of Mel’s Diner to viewers with the show Alice.

Based on the film Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, the tv series debuted two years after the movie on CBS in August 1976, starring Linda Lavin as the title character of a waitress working at Mel’s Diner in Phoenix.

Vic Tayback reprised his role as the diner’s owner, with Polly Holiday playing the smart-ass Florence Jean, Beth Howland as the neurotic Vera and Philip McKeon as Alice’s son Tommy. The tv show’s theme song “There’s a New Girl in Town” was performed by Lavin, who was an established Broadway performer.

Each episode was mainly set in the diner, with occasional scenes at Alice & Tommy’s small apartment, while a few regulars added to the mix, including Earl, Tommy’s basketball coach, Henry, a telephone repairman and several guests stars including George Burns, Robert Goulet and Desi Arnaz.

Each episode focused on the personalities of the characters, drawing viewers in with the antics, fights, commentary and occasional social commentary. Flo’s catchphrases “Kiss my grits!” and “When donkeys fly” became infamous phrases in pop culture. Despite many pot shots at Mel’s cooking, his famous chili were the focus of several episodes, including one where he was invited to The Dinah Shore Show.

Although the original film was focused on the survival of a single Mom, this show also added to the on-screen depiction of blue collar people, just trying to make an honest dollar.

I used to watch this show regularly, not because I was such a huge fan, but it seemed like real people to me as a young kid.

Like so many series, this tv series lasted longer than perhaps it should, with nine seasons. But the lasting impact of a group of waitresses and a cook was one that showed how real people really lived.

memories of the ’70s – Stretch Armstrong

For kids looking for ideas to put on their list for Santa Claus, in 1976 it was all about Stretch Armstrong.

Created by toy manufacturer Kenner, Stretch Armstrong was a blonde muscle man doll, which originally is 15 inches, but could  have his arms or legs stretch up to five feet.

So what it the secret of the stretch?

The doll is made from latex rubber, filled with a corn syrup gel to be able to stretch and then go back to its original size.

Stretch Armstrong was such a hit, there were over 60 versions made for the international market, including Germany, Australia, France and Italy. In Mexico, Stretch Armstrong became El Hombre Elastic while in Japan, he became Tsukuda Mr. X.

The success of the “stretch technology” led to the creation of  monsters, super stretch masks as well as Mego Elastic creatures.

But for those lucky kids of the mid-1970s, the toy was endless hours of fun, until Stretch got too stretched. And even then there was a way to fix him.

As a young child, I remember my neighbour getting Stretch Armstrong, who used to get pulled to his maximum every night as they watched television.

In this century, Stretch Armstrong made a resurgence and in this coming decade will soon become a movie star.