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Dick York, The Seesaw Girl and Me

This is reposted from my blog the-deblog.com.

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Currently reading: Dick York, The Seesaw Girl and Me
Pages read: 22 | total for day: 22
Time spent reading: 22 minutes | total for day: 22 minutes

Comments: On November 17th I launched yet another blog, this one about the 60s sitcom Bewitched. I'm going to watch the series straight through, from beginning to end, and blog about the episodes as I go. In the process of working on the site I discovered that Dick York--the first Darrin Stevens--had written an autobiography. Dick York died in 1992. I was vaguely aware from having seen something about it on TV that he'd had a difficult life after leaving Bewitched. He left because of chronic back problems, and--as I remembered it--he'd been close to bedridden in later years, not looking very good, but doing a lot of charity work via phone.

So I bought the autobiography. It arrived quickly, with a nice note inside from, as it happened, the publisher, Claudia Kuehl, who also wrote the book's afterword. Kuehl once wrote an article about York and subsequently challenged him to write his story, which is how this book came to be.

It is an unusual book. Apparently, York didn't actually sit down and write anything: he turned on a tape recorder and recorded himself. I don't know whether there was much editing after the fact, but what's on the page sometimes preserves his pauses (parenthetically noted). If there wasn't a lot of editing, then the product is quite amazing, because some of the stories he tells are remarkably crisp.

The book's format is odd. Mostly it's a collection of vignettes from his life. These are all very good, and as I say, some of them are stunningly good. (I'm thinking in particular of York's story, on page 33, of a boy in fifth grade defending another boy from bullies. The story will make you catch your breath.) But there are also strange parts in which the author talks to himself, or addresses the reader, or writes about things in the form of a play. Some of this makes no sense, to me at least.

In a few deft sentences York also tells the story of how he first hurt his back--the injury that would claim his health and his career. What caused the injury was such a small event--a man grabbing something York was lifting, so the weight was increased--that you feel as if you could just reach back and alter it, so the injury never occurred, so York's career wasn't ruined, so Darrin Stephens wasn't eventually reduced to this:

"You are Dick York, you are fifty years old and you weigh three hundred and six pounds, and through faulty nutrition, through lack of calcium in your bones or God knows what, or neglect or just plain good luck, you've lost most of your teeth. They've broken off, except for maybe two on the right hand side: one on the bottom and one on the top. And one day you're sitting in the apartment out in Covina and she says to you one of those, what, meaningless questions? She says, 'Would you like to go out for pizza tonight?'

"And he, all three hundred and six pounds of him and only two teeth at his disposal, provided a lopsided crazy grin that allowed just those two teeth to show and in a voice loaded with excitement, anticipation, and joy he said, 'Maybe.'"



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About the blogger: The mother of two preternaturally attractive girls, Debra manages her online universe from her subterranean lair.... Read more.