Gidget

Gidget is an American situation comedy about a surfing, boy-crazy teenager called “Gidget” and her widowed father Russ Lawrence, a UCLA professor.  Sally Field stars as Gidget with Don Porter as father Russell Lawrence.  The series was first broadcast on ABC from September 15th, 1965 to April 21st, 1966.

The television series was based upon concepts and characters created by Frederick Kohner in his 1957 novel Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas, which Kohner based upon the adventures of his teenage daughter Kathy.  The novel was adapted into a 1959 movie starring Sandra Dee, James Darren and Cliff Robertson.  The 1965 weekly, half-hour television series is seen by some as a sequel to the 1959 film, despite numerous discontinuities in plot, time frame and other details.  It can also be seen as an independent incarnation, related to but distinct from either the novels or the films. Kohner served as a script consultant on the show.

The series reintroduced Gidget’s friend Larue and married sister Anne Cooper, both of whom appear in Kohner’s original novel, but are absent from the motion picture series.  Gidget’s brother-in-law, who appears in the novels as the intelligent but condescending child psychiatrist Larry Cooper is reinvented in the television series as John Cooper, an obtuse but lovable psychology student.
Gidget is about the father-daughter relationship between Frances “Gidget” Lawrence and her widowed father Russell Lawrence.  Episodes follow Gidget’s adventures in school, at home, and at nearby beaches.  Russell Lawrence guides his daughter through her fifteenth year, while married sister Anne and husband John offer often unsolicited child-rearing tips.  Gidget’s friend Larue sometimes takes part in her escapades.  More often than not, Gidget receives moral instruction from her father and gains wisdom from her experiences.
Each episode is narrated by Gidget; on occasion, she breaks the Fourth wall and directly addresses her audience, usually reflecting on what she has learned from the evening’s story, sometimes ending with “Toodles!” (an expression Field improvised during production).

Gidget was filmed at the Columbia/Warner Bros. Ranch in Burbank, California, with the exterior and kitchen set borrowed from the Hazel series, which was filming its final season at the time.  The house situated next door to the Lawrence residence is the principal residence on Bewitched series, which was in production simultaneously.
The show launched the career of 18-year-old Sally Field, who defeated 75 other teenage girls for the title role.  Field exaggerated her surfing experience to the show’s casting directors during her audition (she had none); she later took lessons from Phil Sauers just to be able to pretend to surf for the cameras.  Sauers served as the series’ “Surfing Technical Consultant” and provided the surfboards used during filming of the series.  While the Gidget of the novel and the original film are both blondes, the Gidget of the television series is a brunette.

The lyrics of the theme song “”(Wait ‘Til You See) My Gidget” were written by Howard Greenfield, with music by Jack Keller.  The song was performed in the pilot by The Four Freshmen, and in the series by Johnny Tillotson.
Gidget faced stiff competition during its initial run.  The show originally aired on Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m., opposite The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS) and The Virginian (NBC), two established shows with strong ratings.  The series was moved to Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. starting with Episode 18 (“Like Voodoo”) where it performed poorly opposite CBS’s Gilligan’s Island, despite airing after the Top 5-rated Batman.
ABC cancelled Gidget in April 1966 — just as the show began to find a large teen audience.  Summer reruns launched the show into the Top 10 as viewers looked for programs they had not seen during their original fall/winter broadcasts.  ABC had a belated hit on their hands, but refused to renew the show because they would have to admit they were premature in its cancellation.  In addition, industry practice at the time rarely allowed for cancelled shows to be resurrected.
Rather than squander their newly found audience which ABC was hurting for at the time, the network scrambled to find a new starring vehicle for Field.  The result was The Flying Nun (1967–70), where Field reluctantly portrayed Sister Bertrille for three seasons.  Field later commented that she has great affection for her young persona and was proud of her work on Gidget but was embarrassed with The Flying Nun.
Top