The 1966 Universal ghost comedy masterpiece was directed by veteran TV director Alan Rafkin. The screenplay for Rafkin’s 1966 production of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” was written by veteran television writers Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum. The orchestral source music score for Rafkin’s Universal production of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” was composed by veteran composer Vic Mizzy, who also composed the theme for the popular 1964-66 Filmways/ABC live-action television sitcom adaptation of Charles Addams’ “The Addams Family” and the score for William Castle’s Universal macabre thriller with Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor; “The Night Walker” (1964).
This will mark Sven’s seventh big broadcast of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966) on Me-TV. He previously showcased Rafkin’s Universal ghoulish comedy masterpiece back in Nov. 2011*, July 2012*, Nov. 2014, April 2015, Oct. 2017 and July 2018.
Who was in Rafkin’s Universal production of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966)?
The players who appeared in Rafkin’s Universal feature production of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966) were Don Knotts (as Luther Heggs), Joan Staley (as Alma Parker), Dick Sargent (as George Beckett), Hal Smith (in an uncredited role as Calver Weems), Reta Shaw (as Mrs. Halcyon Maxwell), Dick Wilson (in an uncredited role as a bandleader/bandmaster), Skip Homeier (as Ollie Weaver), Robert Cornthwaite (as lawyer Springer), Liam Redmond (as Kelsey), Lurene Tuttle (as Mrs. Natalie Miller), Philip Ober (as Nicholas Simmons), Jesslyn Fax (as Mrs. Hutchinson), James Millhollin (as Mr. Milo Maxwell), Harry Hickox (as police chief Art Fuller), Charles Lane (as lawyer Whitlow), Nydia Westman (as Mrs. Cobb), George Chandler (as Judge Harley Nast), Sandra Gould (as Loretta Pine), Ellen Corby (as Ms. Neva Tremaine) and Cliff Norton (as Charlie, the bailiff).
Don Knotts previously played the role of Mayberry Dep. Barney Fife on Andy Griffith’s hit CBS television series, “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1960–65 with latter cameo guest appearances in 1966, 1967 and 1968 (near the conclusion of the series). This was Knotts’ first post-“Andy Griffith Show” feature role, according to IMDB. Knotts signed a five-year film contract with Universal/MCA after studio chairman Lew Wasserman felt that the actor’s earlier appearance in Arthur Lubin’s Warner Bros. live-action/animated feature comedy, “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” (1964) did not receive adequate promotion; according to John M. Miller’s article on “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” for Turner Classic Movies’ website. Joan Staley previously appeared in Edward Bernds’ Columbia prehistoric fantasy/sci-fi production with Cesare Danova and Sean McClory, “Valley of the Dragons” (1961). Staley also appeared as the villain Annie Okie with Cliff Robertson as the villain “Shame” in two episodes of the Adam West–Burt Ward live-action TV series adaptation of “Batman” in 1966.
Dick Sargent later played the role of the second “Darren Stephens” with Elizabeth Montgomery in the fantasy sitcom “Bewitched” from 1969 until the conclusion of the series in 1972 (Sargent took over Dick York’s role of Darrin after York left “Bewitched” due to York’s health complications in 1969). Hal Smith played the role of Mayberry town drunk Otis Campbell on “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1960-66 and did numerous cartoon voice-overs for Hanna-Barbera and Disney animated productions throughout his career. Dick Wilson was best known for his role of “Mr. Whipple” in TV commercials for Procter & Gamble’s “Charmin” toilet paper line from 1964-85 with a cameo finale as Whipple in 1999.
Original working title for “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966)
According to the American Film Institute’s article on Alan Rafkin’s 1966 Don Knotts-Universal ghoul comedy, the original working title for “The Ghost and Mr.Chicken” was “Running Scared.” The title was hanged to “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” as it was reported that Universal executives were inspired by Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s Twentieth Century Fox feature adaptation of R.A. Dick’s novel with Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison, “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir” (1947).
Inspired by a 1963 episode of “The Andy Griffith Show”
According to Me-TV’s article on “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken,” James Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum were both inspired by a 1963 episode of “The Andy Griffith Show,” titled “The Haunted House;” which was written by veteran television writer Harvey Bullock. Both Fritzell and Greenbaum also wrote episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
It was also reported that Andy Griffith was hired as an uncredited screenwriter to help write the plot with Fritzell and Greenbraum’s for the screenplay of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” at the suggestion of Don Knotts, according to additional details from John M. Miller’s TCM article.
Verbal product placement for a household cleaning product
Universal executives were unsure about the reference to “Bon Ami” cleaner in Rafkin’s production of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966), according to additional information from John M. Miller’s article for Turner Classic Movies. Three days before filming, Don Knotts decided to call the president of Bon Ami’s parent company (at the time, the Standard Household Products Corporation) to receive permission for the brand name to be mentioned in the production for the dialogue Nydia Westman’s characterization of Mrs. Cobb.. The Bon Ami/Standard executive was flattered and encouraged Knotts, Fritzell and Greenbaum to keep the line for Westman’s character in the feature.
“Attaboy, Luther!” Be sure to watch/record Svengoolie’s big broadcast of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966) with Don Knotts and Joan Staley, this Sat. on Me-TV!
Original 1966 Universal Studios TV advertisement/trailer for the theatrical release of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” with Don Knotts and Joan Staley. Note: Around the 0:54 mark, you might recognize the “Universal City Studios” end bumper that was featured (and modified) after the end credits of two latter Universal cult feature comedies!
With Don Knotts, Joan Staley, Dick Sargent, Hal Smith, Reta Shaw, Dick Wilson, Skip Homeier, Robert Cornthwaite, Liam Redmond, Lurene Tuttle, Philip Ober,, Jesslyn Fax, James Millhollin, Harry Hickox, Charles Lane, Nydia Westman, George Chandler, Sandra Gould, Ellen Corby and Cliff Norton; you will not want to miss out on Svengoolie’s big broadcast of “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966), this Sat. on Me-TV! A wonderful cinematic treat for all fellow super SvenPals and classic comedy aficionados everywhere with Sven’s extra fun facts, Doug Graves’ evening parody song, Kerwyn’s “mail call” segment and more! A perfect treat to start the month of Feb.! Be sure to watch the return of one of Sven’s most-requested feature film classic masterpieces! Fun for all ages and all generations! Highly recommended!
*Before Me-TV came into the Washington/Frederick area (Me-TV came into the Washington/Frederick broadcast region in early 2013; originally on WJLA-TV and then moved to Fox-owned WTTG-5 in March 2017). -C.H.
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/FiOS 460
In the Hanover/Gettysburg/York, Pennsylvania area: WGAL-TV 8.2/Cable 248/FiOS 460
Live-tweet with all fellow super #Svengoolie SvenPals from coast-to-coast via Twitter during Sven and his big broadcast of Don Knotts and Joan Staley in “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966), this Sat. on Me-TV!
In connection to Don Knotts:
Watch/record Don Knotts as Mayberry Dep. Barney Fife in two back-to-back episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show,” weeknights at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central on most Me-TV stations (check local listings)!
A 1977 ad from (future Me-TV affiliate) WTTG Channel 5 in Washington, D.C. (from the Metromedia/”Setting the Pace of the City” station campaign of the era) and their weeknight syndicated re-runs of “The Andy Griffith Show” at the time, using Don Knotts’ and Andy Griffith’s song for Barney Fife (from the 1961 “Andy Griffith Show” episode, “Crime-Free Mayberry”)! Note: The audio is warbled due to tape deterioration.
Select classic “Andy Griffith Show” commercials for Post Cereals (originally showcased during the original CBS telecasts) with Don Knotts and Andy Griffith via Duke University AdViews/Internet Archive
In connection to Dick Wilson:
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals of Berwyn/Chicago and beyond!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Svengoolie’s first 2020 in-person meet-and-greet appearance will be held at the Pet Supplies Plus location in his hometown of Berwyn, Illinois at Harlem and Cermak Plaza (7133 Cermak Rd., Berwyn, Illinois; 60402)! Sven’s Berwyn Pet Supplies Plus appearance will take place this Sat., Feb. 1 from 1 p.m.-3 p.m. (local time)! Sven will have a meet-and-greet autograph and photo session during the event! Purchase your supplies/treats/toys for your favorite pet(s) and meet Sven in-person during his Pet Supplies Plus meet-and-greet autograph/photo appearance in his hometown of Berwyn this Sat.!
Extra! Extra! Extra! There’s more! Svengoolie will be returning to the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) festival for his upcoming appearance at the C2E2 2020 festival! According to Sven’s official Twitter site and the official C2E2 Twitter site, Svengoolie’s appearance at the 2020 Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (C2E2) festival on Sat., Feb. 29 at 12:30 p.m. (local time) in room S504 (at the South Building at McCormick Place; 2301 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60601)! Additional details and ticket information are available on the official website of the C2E2 exposition.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Wait! Wait! There’s more! Tickets are still available for the upcoming May 2, 2020 WDCB “Those Were the Days” 50th anniversary big Chicago vintage radio broadcast celebration with appearances by Sven’s alter-ego, Mr. Rich Koz; current “Those Were the Days” host/ Nostalgia Digest” publisher Steve Darnall, original host of “Those Were The Days” Chuck Schaden, Trace Beaulieu of MST3K and “The Mads!” fame, Kevin Murphy of MST3K and “RiffTrax” fame, actress Patty McCormack of “The Bad Seed” fame; “Those Were the Days” announcer Ken Alexander, actor/writer Scott Lowell of Binge Networks’ “Adoptable” fame, Tim Kazurinsky of “Saturday Night Live” fame (1981-85) plus live music by the Dooley Brothers and the West End Jazz Band! Remaining tickets are still available for purchase through WDCB’s official website via the official Eventbrite platform! Purchase your tickets today! Note: Ticket prices for the event are $50. The 50th anniversary celebration of “Those Were the Days” will take place on Sat., May 2, 2020 at the Irish American Heritage Center (4626 N. Knox Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60630) from 1 p.m.-5 p.m. (local time)! Again, to all fellow super Svengoolie SvenPals in the greater Berwyn/Chicago region and beyond, have fun seeing Sven during his in-person meet-and-greet/autograph appearance at Berwyn’s Pet Supplies Plus this Sat., Sven’s upcoming Feb. Chicago C2E2 2020 event and Sven/Mr. Rich Koz’s May appearance for the 50th anniversary of “Those Were the Days!” –C.H.
Extra! Extra! Extra! Cameo mention of a fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal!
Extra! Extra! Extra! Fellow super jammers and fellow super SvenPals from coast-to-coast will be jumping for joy this upcoming Sat. morning for the big broadcast cavalcade return of fellow super Svengoolie SvenPal Jamie Lee and her WNUR/Northwestern University Radio show, “Jammin’ with Jamie!” Jam along with Jamie’s upcoming live big broadcast serenade/cavalcade return of “Jammin’ with Jamie” this Sat. morning, Feb. 1 at 6 a.m. Central/7 a.m. Eastern on the airlanes of WNUR 89.3 FM/WNUR 89.3-HD1 in the greater Evanston/Berwyn/Chicago listening region, WNUR.org and/or WNUR’s live feed on the TuneIn platform from coast-to-coast, around the world and throughout the universe! Stay tuned to Jamie’s official Twitter site and Jamie’s official website for more details this week’s theme for the big broadcast serenade/cavalcade return of “Jammin’ with Jamie!” And if you have a favorite tune request for Jamie’s portfolio of jams for her upcoming “Jammin’ with Jamie” big broadcast jam session cavalcade/serenade for Sat., Feb. 1; be sure to send in your song request/nomination to Jamie’s official Twitter site or Jamie’s official website before this Sat., Feb. 8!
The entire crowd of fellow super jammers and fellow super SvenPals are jumping for joy and looking forward to the big broadcast cavalcade/serenade return of “Jammin’ with Jamie” on the airlanes of WNUR.org this Sat., Jamie! We’re all proud of you! Again, keep up the wonderful and excellent work! Three cheers, congrats, peace, kudos, “Hi-Keeba” and two thumbs up to Jamie from all of us fellow super jammers and fellow super SvenPals everywhere! –C.H.
Also be sure to give generously/spread the word to help one of Jamie’s friends from the PM&L players troupe through her friend’s official “GoFundMe” site (to help offset expensive health costs)! –C.H.
In connection to “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966):
“The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (1966) is also available from Universal on Blu-Ray disc and DVD. The feature is also available in Universal’s multi-film DVD compilation set of Don Knotts’ Universal feature comedies, “Don Knotts: Reluctant Hero Pack” and the complete DVD collection of Don Knotts’ Universal features, “Universal Presents: Don Knotts Comedy Collection.” “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” is also available for streaming from Universal through participating streaming/video-on-demand service providers.
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