Ray Heatherton was a tall, talented, handsome song-and-dance man who never quite got the career he deserved. As a young man in the 1930s, he starred on Broadway in Rodgers and Hart's 'Babes in Arms'. He failed to parlay this into anything better. In the 1960s, whilst living in Rockville Centre, Long Island, he starred on TV in a local-market kiddy-show as 'The Merry Mailman', introducing cartoons while dressed in a postman's uniform. (Some of my Yank friends have fondly recalled this programme for me, but it doesn't sound impressive.) Ray Heatherton is now remembered only as the father of Joey Heatherton, one of the most incredibly sexy women ever to work in show business ... and talented with it. He also sired a son, Dick Heatherton, who for many years disc-jockeyed for an oldies radio station in New York City. Although Dick Heatherton did not appear with his sister and father in 'Joey & Dad', he was just occasionally mentioned. In one episode, after an (obviously scripted) argument with his daughter Joey, Ray Heatherton turned towards the camera and announced: 'Next week I'll be back with my son Dick!'
'Joey & Dad' was a lightweight summer replacement series, teaming the (then) well-known sexpot Joey with her (by this time) obscure father. Any given episode of this brief series is pleasant fluff, but a screening of two or more episodes reveals that all of them had exactly the same format. Joey would do a sexy number. Joey and Dad would do some implausible banter about their father-daughter relationship. Dad would do a solo number with a nostalgic theme, such as 'Those Were the Days, My Friend' or 'The Men in My Little Girl's Life'. Ray Heatherton was still vital at this time, so it's annoying that this series only ever gave him musical material with a September-song theme. (In fact, 'September Song' was one of the numbers he performed on this series.)
Each episode of 'Joey and Dad' had an indifferent guest star, always somebody who just seemed to be available, lacking any real rapport with the two Heathertons. Among the guest stars were Henny Youngman (doing his usual bad-joke routine), Pat Paulsen and Sherman Hemsley. Each episode featured an unfunny skit in which Ray Heatherton was a shopkeeper, interacting with the guest-star as his customer. Heatherton would always end the skit by turning the sign on the shop's door from 'OPEN' to 'CLOSED' ... but this sequence was always shot from the wrong side of the door, so the sign read 'OPEN' as the shop was closed. Oo-er!
Now get this, please. One episode of 'Joey & Dad' featured a skit that was a blatant rip-off of Monty Python's dead parrot sketch! When 'Joey & Dad' aired on American TV in the summer of 1975, the Monty Python crew were almost totally unknown in the States ... unknown except to a few cognoscenti, one of whom ripped off the Pythons' classic routine for 'Joey & Dad'. Guest-star Sherman Hemsley walked into Ray Heatherton's pet shop with a birdcage containing a dead parrot, and what followed was nearly a word-for-word copy of the Python's sketch, except that Hemsley's dead parrot was brown rather than blue. Also, Hemsley and Heatherton simply couldn't match the comic timing of Palin and Cleese in the original.
'Joey & Dad' is utterly unworth reviving, although I shouldn't mind watching Joey Heatherton's dance routines one more time. I well and truly regret how this talented and sexy woman threw away her career.
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