Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Of Harrises and Kings

[Candace Hilligoss (“Mrs. Harris”) and Sanford Meisner (Kip Harris). From the Naked City episode “Hold for Gloria Christmas,” September 19, 1962. Click for a larger view.]

A bar owner points the police to a friend and patron of a dead poet: “You know, Kip Harris, the writer. He’s always on television with his young wife.”

In 1962 those lines would have unmistakably suggested Alexander King (1899–1965) and Margie King (1932–2018). Between 1959 and 1961, Alex and Margie made five joint appearances on The Tonight Show with Jack Paar. Alex made many more solo appearances. In 1959 Alex and Margie had a show of their own, Alex in Wonderland, on New York City’s Channel 13 (public television). And in 1959 Margie made a brief appearance in an episode of Naked City.

Elaine and I knew Margie as Margie King Barab. We visited Margie and her husband Seymour Barab in New York every summer for many years. On one visit we watched an episode of Alex in Wonderland on Margie’s MacBook: Margie raised questions and posed topics, and Alex expounded. It was Ask Me Anything, pre-Reddit. At one point Margie played a solo on a snare drum.

From a New York Times article, “Man of Many Words: Alexander King Appears to Have Rich Source of Material for TV Show” (April 12, 1959):

Mr. King talks frequently, on and off the air, about his wife, a young man from Chadron, Neb., whom he married six years ago. Mrs. King has appeared on the musical stage in summer stock. She obtained some of her musical training as an exchange student in France. She played a snare drum in high school and occaionally does a drum solo on the TV program. “We thought it would be fun,” she says.
O mid-century world, that had such people in’t!

As for the actors in that screenshot: you may recognize Candace Hilligloss from Carnival of Souls (dir. Herk Harvey, 1962). Hilligoss studied with the actor and acting teacher Sanford Meisner.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)

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