User ReviewsReview this title
A couple of interesting facts: The exteriors for the show, were Balboa Naval Hospital, and 32nd St. Naval Station. In the late 50's, there was a specific section of the station that all or most all of the Pacific Fleet Destroyers tied up. Before the actual piers, was the Pacific Mine Warfare Admin Building. This long shot included an overhead view, of the access road to the piers, and the roof & grounds of the Admin building.
As I recall I used to watch it every Monday evening. Another interesting fact: Both Jackie Cooper, and Glenn Ford retired as Admirals in the Naval Reserve.
Details escape me, now, but I think Larry Storch was one of the bizarros in that episode.
I echo the sentiment express above, put that out one DVD, and I'd buy it.
"Hennesey" was one of the very first examples of a now-common practice: a TV series in which the leading actor is also the executive producer. Former child actor Jackie Cooper was active for many years in the Naval Reserve as a pilot, and he put his real-life experience to work in this series. Cooper starred as Lieutenant Charles Hennesey, a Navy doctor stationed at an onshore Naval base in California. "Hennesey" was nominally a comedy, but all of the situations and characters were realistic ... unlike the supposedly realistic "M*A*S*H", "Hennesey" never introduced an implausible situation for the sake of a cheap laugh. Much attention was devoted to character delineation and interaction in a realistic (peacetime) military setting. The biggest problem with this series was that it took place in a U.S. military base in the early 1960s yet managed to avoid any mention of Vietnam.
Although Cooper was the star and central character, this was an ensemble show. Arte Johnson (pre-"Laugh-In") had a good role as a wise-cracking, cynical "squid" (seaman first-class). James Komack played the least plausible character: a noncom who came from a wealthy family, and who therefore felt he didn't have to follow the same rules as everyone else. (So why didn't he buy his way out of military service?) I accept that people like this exist, but they're not normally found in the military. Komack's acting career never took off, but he later became immensely successful as a TV director and producer.
"Hennesey" was also innovative in its use of screen time. Each episode's dialogue typically began over the opening credits for that episode: this is commonplace nowadays, but "Hennesey" was the first TV series to do this.
And now for that great, great, GREAT theme tune: In keeping with this show's naval theme, composer Sonny Burke wrote a jaunty ragtime hornpipe tune for tuba and piccolo (interesting combination!) to a syncopated jazz beat, with an entire Marine Band coming in after the first 16 bars. The tune had no lyrics, but it's extremely whistle-worthy. I can't understand why the "Hennesey" theme is never included in those compilations of all-time great TV theme songs. The "Hennesey" hornpipe is infinitely better than the overrated "Hawaii Five-O" theme which so many people make too much fuss over.
"Hennesey" is a good show that deserves to be revived, and its theme tune deserves to be much better known. It's an unusual series -- a comedy without belly laughs, a drama without serious crises; always intelligent -- and I can understand why it has been forgotten. Most people would rather watch endless repeats of "Gilligan's Island" or "The Brady Bunch", or some other piece of mindless stupidity.
Jackie Cooper played Chick Hennesey, naval doctor who reported to his Sherman Potter, Admiral Roscoe Karns. Playing the sex symbol of the show was Abby Dalton who was Cooper's nurse and girl Friday. It took three seasons for Cooper to slowly realize that Abby thought he was hot stuff. In matters of the heart Dr. Hennesey was a bit dense. Dalton could have given Hot Lips Houlihan a run for her money.
It was a nice show and one of the first to have a climax of sort. At least we know Cooper got the girl who was chasing him.
Mr. Jackie Cooper has done all types of film acting. From the very heights at MGM, to the less than elite days in such productions as the Serial SCOUTS TO THE RESCUE (Universal,1939) or his early 1950's portrayal of Socrates 'Soc' Miller on his Sitcom "THE PEOPLES CHOICE"(Norden Productions/NBC, 1955-58), Jackie did his job well in acting in all, with no apologies.
THE work that we have the fondest memories of Mr. Cooper is his latter-day television Dramatic Series "HENNESSEY" (1959-62). It was low-key, every day life and hence, very realistic. Once again, it is listed as a Sitcom; but is much more of a dramatic outing.* IT is set in the then contemporary U.S. Navy and concerns itself with the life of Ship's Doctor, Lt. Chic Hennesey (Jackie Cooper). Others characters in the cast were: Martha Hale (Abby Dalton Woo, woo, woo, woo!), Captain Walter Shafer (Roscoe Karns in perhaps his most subdued role, ever!), Chief Petty Officer Max Bronsky (Pro Wrestler Henry Kulky), Harvey Spencer Blair III (James Komack) and a host of others.
In addition, "HENNESEY" was the proud exponent of a slough of top flight actors and soon to be Stars in guest spots. We were treated to the likes of folks like: Charles Bronson, Ross Ford, Frank Gorshin (Impressionist Extraordinaire & future Riddler on BATMAN), Arte Johnson (LAUGH-IN'S Funnyman), Marty Ingels (not Frederick Engels, Schultz!), Alan Reed, Jr. (Son of Fred Flintstone's voice. "Yabba-dabba-do!"), Jolene Brand (the Fox from ZORRO and Ernie Kovacs' TAKE A GOOD LOOK. Woo,woo,woo,woo!), Stafford Repp (Chief O'Hara on BATMAN), William Schallert (Patty's Father & Cathy's Uncle on PATTY DUKE SHOW!), old time Burlesque Comedian Milton Frome (we saw him with Ann Miller and Mickey Rooney in the Broadway Musical Revue SUGAR BABIES) and a cast of thousands.
AS we said before, "HENNESSEY" is difficult to classify. It's listed as a Sitcom, but never "went for the laughs." It was a sort of Service "Comedy", but it had no hard Military or Naval scenes. It was definitely a Drama, with something to say; yet was never heavy-handed or preachy a la Norman Lear.
ONE particular episode sticks out in our mind after all these nearly 50 years. Never having seen this in re-runs, it surely made an impression on me little pre-adolescent pea brain. In it a group of veteran Seamen was mercilessly making fun of a speech impediment of a new Sailor. The young guy stuttered badly.
TO complicate matters, he was found to be smitten by Miss Hale (Abby Dalton). Hell, who wouldn't? There were many solutions tried; all being strictly by the book, but to no avail.
ENTER the veteran intermediate authority in the person of Chief Petty Officer Max Bronsky (Henry Kulky); who "requested" that the instigating bullies meet him in the gymnasium in order to assist in "demonstrating" some judo maneuvers. Once there, Max meted out some nasty throws to the smart asses and when asked why, he asked them why the psychological punishment to the new Kid Sailor. Max had drawn a distinct analogy between their hassling of the stuttering raw recruit and his physically manhandling them; while he was an obvious Master in the Martial Arts.
The show finished up with the Kid doing a sort of Romantic Reading to the Abby Dalton Character. It was very moving and subtly reminded all of us to "Be Kind to One Another!"**
NOTE: * Once again, we'll call this a "Comedy" in the Classic and Shakespearian sense of any story that turns out alright in THE END!
NOTE: ** This was Garry Moore's parting wish on his weekly Variety Show. It's sure some sentiment we sure could use now; as well as some decent Comedy & Musical Variety Shows! OH LORD! PLEASE, SEND US SOME GOOD OLD WEEKLY SHOWS! Whatever happened to the likes of Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Burns & Allen, Sid Caesar, Jackie Gleason, Danny Kaye or even Tom & Dick Smothers? POODLE SCHNITZ!!
There's also a plug for Hennesey on the CBS Fall Preview posted at:
"If you ever go looking for gloomy thoughts, you're not likely to find them on Hennesey"
But still, no whole episodes...
If anyone knows of a pier to pier file-sharing network sharing Hennesey episodes, or of any way at all to access episodes, please post this information. CBS.com does not even recognise the series name name in the search engine on its homepage, so it seems there's no hope there.
YouTube is devoid of Hennesey. Perhaps someone with the DVDs mentioned above could put them up there? There's a complete list of all episodes with plot synopses at http://ctva.biz/US/Comedy/Hennesey.htm
The only other source of information about potential release on DVD that I've been able to find is at http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/shows/Hennesey/1610#Links
I remember very little specifically about the program. I do remember that I enjoyed it and that the characters were very believable. It was a very good program with good story lines. I remember the character played by Jackie Cooper. I thought Jackie Cooper did a very good job with his role.
HENNESEY was one of my favorite TV shows from that time period ... even though I was only 6 or 7 years old at that time!
I can still whistle the refrain from the show's tune.
The episode I remember (and I can't recall all the details) is the one that featured Bobby Darin. I just recently re-discovered that it was titled "Hennesey Meets Honeboy Jones". What I recall from that episode is Bobby Darin singing MACK THE KNIFE ... just great!
I wish I had a copy of that episode on DVD.
Does anyone have a copy? Please contact me at email@example.com if you do.
One commenter says there was no laugh track in the original show. I have no memory of that at all, but I've watched the pilot and the first two regular episodes, and they have laugh tracks. In principle they could have been overdubbed for rebroadcast, of course. Or it may have been dropped in later episodes.
The DVDs are acceptable in quality for bootlegs. Nobody's ever going to restore this stuff like it was Citizen Kane, you know. They're a little contrasty at times, the audio level can be low, but it's the same show you remember.
Well-turned programs like "Hennesey" entertain because they invite viewers to join the compelling mind-set of the creative team that put the program together. With the "Hennesey" package, that participation (even for we passive couch potatoes) was never boring and always intriguing. Similarly, about a decade later, the short-lived James Garner revisionist western series "Nichols" accomplished the same in a hardscrable southwest during the World War I era.
Although both series are stylistically different, each was blessed with a team of writers, producers and actors who told themselves: "We CAN do it this way" and "Millions WILL love it." Luckily, for a while, enough network suits agreed. And back then each series succeeded without injections of robotic laff tracks, gratuitous sex, violence and cadavers and, with all due respect, to Larry David, profanity.
As a kid, I predicted that the adult world would be filled with the kinds of characters populating "Hennesey," "The Tonight Show With "Jack Paar" and "Omnibus." My high school steady looked not unlike Abby Dalton but none of my dentists over the past half century could match the one on "Hennesey" invented by Mr. Komack.