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At times, Hazel could be confused but the love that she shared for the people that she worked for was memorable. Remember how she was always watching the weight of her employer, played by Don De Fore. Whitney Blake had just what it took to be the wife of DeFore. Bobby Buntrock was adorable as their son. Too bad that he was killed tragically at such a young age.
Remember DeFore's boss? He could be a crusty old codger, but eventually he would come around due to Hazel Burke. She often reminded him of his mother.
Remember that snotty sister of DeFore? She was always planning the social event of the season.
A great show highlighting wonderful interpersonal relationships.
As portrayed in the popular "Saturday Evening Post" cartoon by Ted Key, Hazel was almost a little too brash. But Miss Booth took some of the harshness out of the cartoon character and replaced it with the warmth and love she brought to her award-winning movie, Broadway and radio roles ("Come Back, Little Sheba," "Duffy's Tavern"). In its debut season of 1961-62, "Hazel" was #2 among all TV programs in the Nielsen ratings.
Hazel never met a person she didn't like--much to the chagrin of her employer, corporate attorney George Baxter (Don DeFore). Even a simple meeting with Frank Gifford (then of the New York Giants), in the 1963 episode "Hazel and the Halfback", goes delightfully awry as Hazel tries to inject her thoughts about football, bowling, and the risks of investing in a bowling alley for which George is negotiating a deal with Gifford.
When George married his wife Dorothy, Hazel came along. As the maid for Dorothy's family, Hazel had raised "Missy" virtually from childhood. While she was supposedly a free-lance interior decorator, Whitney Blake's Dorothy was cast as a typical 1960's TV sitcom housewife--a role at which she chafed until DeFore and she left the series at the end of the 1964-65 season. In one 1964 episode, however, Dorothy joins forces with Hazel to have George break down and remodel their kitchen with side-splitting results.
Hazel was pal and confidante to their son Harold (Bobby Buntrock), and many episodes focused on her helping and motivating "Sport" to be the best he could be, often with unexpected results. In fact, when DeFore and Blake left the series, CBS felt transplanting Hazel and Harold to live with George's real-estate brother Steve (Ray Fulmer), his wife Barbara (Lynn Borden) and their daughter Susie (Julia Benjamin) could keep the continuity going. (Ironically, "Mr. Steve" never appeared in any NBC episode; George's sister Deirdre Thompson, played by Cathy Lewis, was virtually a semi-regular.)
While changing characters, settings and networks often weakened existing series, "Hazel"'s ratings were fairly strong during its CBS run despite being up against the new Monday night episodes of "Peyton Place" on ABC. Miss Booth, herself, was not. As far back as 1964, DeFore was concerned about jeopardizing her health and worked to reduce her load in fourth-season episodes. Indeed, other than a few guest appearances and the short-lived series "For the Love of Grace" in the 1970s, Shirley Booth's TV career ended when "Hazel" left the air in 1966.
Other shows tried to copy "Hazel's" magic, from "Our Man Higgins" with Sterling Holloway in 1962-63 to Fran Drescher as "The Nanny" in the 1990s. No one has come close, and probably no one ever well. To quote Shirley Booth's favorite catchphrase, "Hazel" continues to be "a doozy" half a century later!
George Baxter (Don Defore who already had a following from his years as Thorny on "Ozzie and Harriet") was a successful and wrapped a little too tight attorney who had married Dorothy (Whitney Blake) a woman with her own lifelong nanny/housekeeper (Shirley Booth in the title role). They had a young son Harold (Bobby Buntrock). George is a klutz around the house and most of the conflict revolves around his frustration when he is routinely shown-up by the much more competent Hazel. Dorothy Baxter ranked #1 on the list of most erotic 1960's television wives, with the tightest skirts, highest heels, and a fantasy level bust to waist ratio.
Hazel pretty much runs the family, sorting out the Baxter's weekly problems and keeping the frustrated blustering George in line. Living with Hazel was a lot worse than living with Amos McCoy because she was rarely (if ever) wrong or repentant as she incessantly meddled in everyone's life.
In its last season the producers shake things up and ship George and Dorothy off to Saudi Arabia. Hazel and Harold move in with George's younger brother Steve (Ray Fulmer), his wife Barbara (Lynn Borden), and his daughter Susie (Julia Benjamin); 1960's television was notorious for finding creative ways to back fill with younger children when the original ones grew too old to appeal to their intended demographic.
Steve, Barbara, and Susie constitute the most physically attractive family in television history, but Hazel soon took over their household as well; although Steve and Barbara do stand up to her better than their predecessors. The popular theory at the time was than George and Dorothy just made up the Saudi story so they could escape Hazel's domination and live out their lives somewhere else with some degree of independence.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
"Hazel",marks the very first time for me seeing a series,exclusively,on DVD. I completed watching in January (2014) just 2 weeks after Season 5 came out.
I will say,I was only a bit disappointed that the shows weren't "cleaned up" like newer shows are,to broadcast day perfection.
That said,it did not distract me from what a very good series is. The Oscar winning Shirley Booth (Come Back Little Sheba)came to TV and made this her signature role and career apex.
Her role is a woman with the mind to say exactly what she means, even if someone doesn't like it. She's honest without being insulting or (too) obnoxious about it. She always has the best in mind. If she feels something is wrong,she goes out of her way to correct it.
Shirley demonstrated a unique balance between comedy and (mild for) TV drama. The comedy at first comes from she and "Missy" sort of pulling the wool over George's eyes to make something happen when he is reluctant (always for a good reason or cause,not to make him look foolish.) Usually,when it comes to George's business dealings with Mr. Harvey Griffin.
On the serious,I point to the very first show with George's sister Deidre (Cathy Lewis). In "George's Niece" Hazel brings together Barb's daughter and her Nephew. Deidre,who grew up around the ideal that "the classes should not mix" & who has a bad habit of alienating her daughter,is very angry with Hazel.
The scene near the end between Booth & Lewis has a great tension and the very real problem of a mother who doesn't understand her teenage daughter's ways. Unusual for a show that's supposed to be a sitcom in 1961. In her own way,Hazel tells her that she needs to try to listen to o and understand her daughter.
Another shocker,in one episode,George gets fed up with her meddling and says (best recall) "Hazel Burke,you are an interfering,meddlesome busy body and I'm sick of it!" Which instantly hurts her feelings and makes everyone mad at him. They make up later of course.
A "novelty" episode is the only one shot in color that first year. In "What'll We Watch Tonight?" Both Hazel and later the Baxters,get the first color TV's on their block. The novelty is that it's shot in color. (There were color TV's but networks wouldn't broadcast in color,full time,until the fall of '66. Seasons 2 through 5 were all filmed in color.
The chemistry between the main players is just right. Missy and George are "lovey-dovey" (but not to the level of say Rob & Laura Petrie) and you have to love Hazel & little Harold's relationship. (Bobby Buntrock doesn;t seem to age much in 5 years.)
For 4 years,the show followed it's charted course in it's story lines,it kept the comedy on a smooth course and every now and then tugged at people's hearts.
Then in the final season,things got shook up. The show was cancelled by NBC but picked up by CBS. Don DaFoe & Whitney Blake were gone. Their characters,off on business for a year in the middle east. Leaving, Harold in the care of George's real-estate selling brother Steve & his wife Barbara )who have a cute little daughter. Hazel gets mixed up in their affairs as well but the shows don't seem as strong as the first 4 years.
Still,overall,I will rate this 10 stars because it really is a series worth watching. For a look at the kind of shows that could not possibly survive today and maybe just to watch a program that doesn't rely on lower standards of comedy or trumped up dramatics. Perfect picture or not,Hazel is a classic! (END)
Also adding to the show's success was Don DeFore as George (Mr. B) Baxter, Whitney Blake, who later went on to co-create the hit CBS sitcom One Day at a Time as his wife Dorothy aka "Missy" and Bobby Buntrock as their young son Harold. Sadly, Buntrock was killed in a car accident at the age of 21.
Not only was Hazel an outstanding maid, she was also a really good bowler. I remember the episode where she competed in a bowling tournament.
Unfortunately, I don't remember any of the fifth season episodes, where DeFore and Blake were replaced by Ray Fulmer as Steve and Lynn Borden as Barbara. Those two have rarely been heard from in years.
Coming from Screen Gems, who had a hit with another sitcom based on the comic strip Dennis the Menace, Hazel ran for five years and ended its run, not because of declining ratings but because Booth was tiring of the role. The show was in reruns for years and later disappeared. But fear not, thanks to the new digital broadcast network Antenna TV, viewers can finally see this lost gem of the 60s.
As the theme song stated early in the run "Who's the gal that's everybody's pal? It's Hazel."
In an era where moms like Elizabeth Montgomery and Mary Tyler Moore always looked chic because they never did any house work at least you could understand it in Whitney Blake's case, she had Shirley Booth there. She could be a full time mother to Bobby Buntrock although Hazel helped there too.
Don DeFore was Mr. Baxter known as Mr. B by Hazel. He may have thought he was head of the household like a general in charge of the army. But we know it is non-coms that run an army and Hazel was a great platoon sergeant. If they disagreed on a matter it was Hazel who eventually won out.
DeFore and Blake left the show a year before it was concluded and his TV brother and his wife Ray Fulmer and Lynn Borden took over. Although some might not see the parallels the relationship between Shirley Booth and Bobby Buntrock was something along the lines of Debby Ryan and her charges in Disney Channel's Jessie. Sadly Buntrock was killed in a car crash shortly after the series ended.
Shirley Booth as Hazel was a wise woman. We all envied the Baxters back in the day.
Based on the popular single-panel comic strip by cartoonist Ted Key which appeared in the "Saturday Evening Post",the producers(James Fonda along with executive producers Harry Ackerman and William D. Russell for Screen Gems) took some of the harshness out of the cartoon character and replaced it with the warmth and wholesome family values that made "Hazel" a huge television hit for the early-1960's.
"Hazel" ran for five seasons on two major television networks running from 1961 to 1965 producing 154 episodes. The show aired during the first four seasons on NBC's Thursday night Prime-Time lineup from September 28,1961 until March 25,1965 for 125 episodes with the first season episodes in black and white producing 35 episodes(with the exception of "What'll We Watch Tonight",from Season 1,Episode 6 that was the only episode in its first season in color)airing from September 28,1961 until June 7,1962. The next three seasons of the series were "Brought To You In Living Color" for 90 episodes airing from September 20,1962 until March 25,1965(Seasons 2 thru 4). The fifth and final season saw the series moved from NBC to CBS for 29 color episodes airing from September 13,1965 until the final episode of the series on April 11,1966. The broadcast history of the series aired on NBC's Thursday night schedule for the first four seasons of the show's run at the 9:30 eastern/8:30 central time slot where it preceded "Dr. Kildare" from 1961-1965. After the series was canceled by NBC in the Spring of 1965 saw the series moved to CBS in its final season from Thursday nights to Monday nights at the 9:30 eastern/8:30 central time slot preceding "The Andy Griffith Show" in its prime time slot until April 11,1966.
Interesting point about the cast here only actors Shirley Booth and Bobby Buntrock were the only cast members of the series that stayed throughout its entire run and appeared in all 154 episodes. Actors Don De-Fore and Whitney Blake were the only cast members that appeared in 125 episodes in Seasons 1 thru 4 when the series aired on NBC from 1961- 1965. Both De-Fore and Blake left the series after the end of Season 4. In the final season of "Hazel" actors Ray Fulmer, Lynn Borden, and Julia Benjamin appeared in all 29 episodes in color when the series was on CBS from 1965-1966. During the first four seasons, "Hazel" was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company and during Season 4(the show's final season at NBC)was sponsored by The Bristol-Myers Corporation. In the show's final season the sponsors were The Proctor & Gamble Company and Philip Morris.
The show's first season placed fourth in the 1961-1962 Nielsen ratings. Actress Shirley Booth won two Prime-Time Emmys in 1962 and 1963 for Best Actress in a Series and was nominated for her third season in 1964. Booth also received a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actress in a Television Series in 1964. Out of the 154 episodes that were produced William D. Russell directed 136 episodes of the series. Charles Barton directed 10 episodes while E.W. Swackhamer directed 7 episodes. Veteran director Hal Cooper was behind one episode. Outstanding writers for "Hazel" consisted of Ted Key(the show's creator for 153 episodes) along with Peggy Chantler Dick, Robert Riley Crutcher, Norm Liebmann, James Fonda, Dorothy Cooper, Phil Leslie, Keith Fowler, Louella MacFarlane, and R.S. Allen.
The notable guest stars that appeared on "Hazel" were Frank Gifford, Howard Smith, Cathy Lewis, Mala Powers, Alan Hale Junior, Ellen Corby, John Astin, Leif Erickson, Dick Sargent, Lee Meriwether, Claude Akins, Harvey Korman, Ken Berry, Parley Baer, William Schallert, Virginia Gregg, Malcolm Atterbury, James Doohan, Leo G. Carroll, to Sterling Holloway, Jack Dodson, Luciana Paluzzi, Gloria Henry, Eleanor Audley, Alan Hewitt, Jamie Farr, Hugh Marlowe, Dub Taylor, Harold Gould, and Oskar Homolka and Bonnie Franklin just to name a few of the guest stars that were on the show.
The first four seasons of "Hazel" saw huge ratings but when the series when to CBS in its final season it had fallen out of the top 30 programs and this is when the producers made numerous cast changes when lead to its abrupt cancellation in the Spring of 1966(the series was replaced in the fall of 1966 when CBS replaced it with the Don Fedderson produced series "Family Affair")
Hazel was smarter than any of them but she spent her life raising the Baxter's son, living in the maid's quarters and never having enough money to even have an apartment of her own. Mrs. Baxter was young enough to be her daughter but she always had to take an inferior role.
Things have changed since then to some extent, but that is the message that I got (and still get) from Hazel.
My question is in reality, why did Don DeFore and Whitney Blake leave the show? Was ther some sort of salary dispute? Did they leave when the show changed networks?
Shirley Booth is a great character actress. Who can forget her memorable performances. She and her husband were involved in "Duffy's Tavern".
Although reliably funny and entertaining, "Hazel" tends to be one of the less remembered American sitcoms from the 1960's. Most of the reason for this is that the series was usually never shown in syndicated reruns, probably due to the fact that it ran for only four seasons with the original cast. The relative popularity or quality of a television series often has little bearing on how well the series is remembered decades later.
The characters played by Don DeFore and Whitney Blake were replaced when "Hazel" was moved from NBC to CBS. Afterwards, the series did not survive beyond that final season. This was another example of a television show's longevity being cut short by significant retooling.
Overall, "Hazel" is a very entertaining show. Shirley Booth is perfectly cast as Hazel. All of the show's characters are likable. Since the sitcom was rarely shown in syndication, most of it is probably entirely new to modern TV viewers. "Hazel" is definitely well worth watching.
The first time I saw it I nearly turned it off, the main character Hazel has a rather 'distinctive' voice but I stuck with it. After viewing a few more episodes I came to love the character because of the nutty predicaments she gets herself and the family in and the fact that she's got a heart of gold. Things always turn out Okey-Dokey by the end of the 30 minute show as would be expected in a 50's sit-com. The best analogy I can make is if The Brady Bunch gave Alice the maid a spin-off with good writers and an affable supporting cast. Overall it's really tame TV, but fun to watch.
I'm not sure which annoys me most about this show. Is it Shirley Booth's incredibly annoying nasal voice, the vocal equivalent of nails on a chalkboard? Is it how she walks in what looks like a slow run, head pointed down, swinging her arms as if she has a large metal object in her nether regions? Or is it the fact her character is a condescending, interfering, obnoxious control freak.
Every episode is the same. The main character assumes everyone, including her employer, is below her. In her mind, she has all the wisdom in the world, and everyone else is a moron. Hence, condescending. Then she always comes up with some sneaky plot to right all the wrongs the morons around her are making. Hence, interfering. This plan is always underhanded, conniving, never involves honesty and always causes a problem. Hence, obnoxious. But in the end, she always wins and gets her way. Hence, control freak.
Possibly the most annoying TV show ever to disgrace the airwaves. All in all, it only stayed on the air because it was basically a 30 minute commercial for Ford automobiles. Which still suck. It reminds me of when my ex mother-in-law lived with us for almost a decade. She was just like Hazel, a condescending, interfering, obnoxious control freak. Her antics and sneaky plots ended up destroying a marriage. Only difference was she didn't cook or wear a little paper maid hat. But that goes without saying.