Original 1953 Columbia Pictures theatrical trailer for “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.”
The original screenplay was co-written by iconic children’s author Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and veteran screenwriter Allan Scott. The Seuss (Geisel)-Scott fantasy musical was produced by critically acclaimed film producer Stanley Kramer. Roy Rowland directed “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.”
Who was in “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” (1953)?
The players who appeared in the Seuss/Kramer feature were Hans Conried (as Dr. Terwilliker), Tommy Rettig (as Bartholomew Collins), Mary Healy (as Heloise Collins), Peter Lind Hayes (as August Zabladowski), Jack Heasley (as Uncle Whitney), Robert Heasley (as Uncle Judson), Noel Cravat (as Sgt. Lunk) and a young George Chakiris (as a dancer, Chakiris was credited in the film as “George Kerris”).
Hans Conreid would also be known for his guest role of Uncle Tonoose in Danny Thomas’ series, “Make Room For Daddy”/”The Danny Thomas Show” (from 1956-64). Conreid was also the original voice of cartoon villain Snidley Whiplash in the “Dudley Do-Right” segments from 1960-62 for Jay Ward’s “The Bullwinkle Show”/ “Rocky and his Friends” and the spin-off series, “The Dudley Do-Right Show” (1969-70).
Tommy Rettig was also known for his role of Jeff Miller in the “Lassie” TV series (1954-57, the Miller family episodes were re-syndicated under the title of “Jeff’s Collie”).
Alongside their appearances in film and television, Mary Healy and Peter Lind Hayes were a real-life husband-and-wife comedic duo who performed at various nightclub venues in Las Vegas throughout early 1960s (according to Elaine Woo’s 2015 New York Times obituary piece on Healy).
Eight years after “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.,” George Chakiris went on to greater fame in the role of Bernardo (leader of the “Sharks”) in Jerome Robbins and Robert Wise’s landmark screen adaptation of the Broadway musical, “West Side Story” (1961).
According to Eleanor Quin’s article on “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” for Turner Classic Movies, the screenplay of the film was originally 1,200 pages and was later re-written. 500 young boys were originally cast for the large piano sequence, but the studio would only allow Stanley Kramer to cast 150 boys for the scene due to budgetary concerns (according to IMDB).
Dr. T.’s “large piano” (and chaos on the set)
According to additional details from IMDB, a large piano was constructed for the film, which contained 480,000 keys. During filming, one of the 150 boys vomited on the large piano after eating his lunch, which prompted a “domino theory” effect for entire group of boys to vomit on the piano.
Nominated for an Academy Award
“The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” (1953) was nominated for the 1954 Academy Award for Best Music Scoring of a Motion Picture (for composers Friedrich Hollaender and veteran Columbia Pictures music director Morris Stoloff). Hollaender and Stoloff lost to veteran composer Alfred Newman for “Call Me Madam” (1953).
“The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” was not a box office success
The live-action Seuss (Geisel) feature did not do well at the box office and was panned by critics during the general release, which caused Seuss to abandon future live-action motion picture productions (according to additional details in Quin’s article for TCM). Columbia re-issued the film to theaters in 1958, under the title of “Crazy Music’ (according to Suzanne Gargiulo’s 2002 book, “Hans Conried: A Biography; With a Filmography and a Listing of Radio, Television, Stage and Voice Work”). In later years, “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” would become a cult film favorite.
Be sure to watch Svengoolie’s premiere of “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” (1953), this Sat. on Me-TV!
Don’t miss out on Svengoolie’s upcoming premiere of the Suess (Geisel)-Kramer-Rowland production of “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” (1953), on Me-TV this Sat.! With Sven’s extended fun facts, maestro Doug Graves’ song and Kerwyn’s “mail call,” you will not be disappointed! Fun for all ages (and all fellow SvenPals)!
In the Frederick, Maryland/Washington, D.C. area: WTTG-5.3/Cable 196/FiOS 489/Antietam Cable 194 (also on QAM digital 68.6 for Antietam cable subscribers)*
In the Baltimore, Maryland area: WBAL-TV 11.2/Cable 208
In the Hanover/Gettysburg/York, Pennsylvania area: WGAL-TV 8.2/Cable 248
Live-tweet and have fun with all fellow SvenPals during #Svengoolie’s premiere of “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” (1953) this Sat. on Me-TV (via Twitter)!
Fellow Berwyn/Chicago SvenPals who are attending C2E2: According to Sven’s official Twitter page, Svengoolie will be having an official panel discussion about his career at this year’s Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (C2E2) on Sat., April 7, 2018 (from 1:45-2:45 p.m.)! Sven will also be singing autographs on Fri. (April 6) and Sat. (April 7, according to his Twitter post)! C2E2 will be held at the South Building at McCormick Palace (2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616)!
“Berwyn’s Very Own and Chicago’s Very Own!” Svengoolie’s alter-ego, Rich Koz recently made an appearance on WGN Radio with WGN personalities Bill Leff and Wendy Synder during the Feb. 28 edition of “The Bill and Wendy Show” (from the Museum of Broadcast Communications’ “Saturday Night Live: The Experience”/”Weekend Update” set exhibit)!
Help out one of our fellow SvenPals’ friends (including those in the Chicago/Berwyn region): The momentum has been growing since fellow super SvenPal Jamie Lee announced (during the Svengoolie live-tweeting sessions on Twitter and her Sat. morning “Jammin’ With Jamie” radio program via WNUR /Northwestern University radio) that one of her friends (from the PM&L Players’ production of “Young Frankenstein”) has been facing serious medical-related issues. Since the “GoFundMe” page was established for Jamie’s friend, the goal has almost been met (many fellow SvenPals have taken the cause)! Again, be sure to give generously to Jamie’s friend’s fund (any amount helps)! -C.H.
In relation to “The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” (1953):
“The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T.” (1953) is also available on Blu-Ray disc from Mill Creek Entertainment (by arrangement with Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc./Sony Pictures Entertainment/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment). The film is also on DVD and through digital streaming services (through select providers, via Sony).