Another round of Celebrity Butterfly Effect

I love to watch old movies, especially on TCM. One of my favourite parts about watching movies on TCM is the introduction given by Robert Osborne, complete with trivia about the actors, director and film technology. The other night I saw the 1940 movie Too Many Girls, starring Lucille Ball, Ann Miller, Richard Carlson, Eddie Bracken and, making his film debut, Desi Arnaz.

A publicity still for the movie Too Many Girls- 1940

In his introduction for the film, Robert Osborne mentioned that Too Many Girls was originally a Broadway musical, Desi was one of the cast members reprising his role from the play and Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz met on the set of this movie and married later that same year.

Too Many Girls was produced by RKO Pictures, the studio that Lucy was under contract to, and directed by George Abbott. Abbott had an extensive theatre background and was known for hiring Broadway actors to recreate their roles on screen.

Lucy and Desi went on to create and star in one of TV’s most enduring sitcoms, I Love Lucy and start their own production company, Desilu Productions, which, ironically, filmed on a 40 acre lot that they purchased from RKO Pictures.

Lucy and Desi’s union also produced two children, Lucy Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr.

Famous TV Guide cover with first photo of Desi Arnaz Jr.

A budding musician and actor,Desi Jr. was quite the teen heart-throb and landed quite a few acting roles, notably his guest appearance as Marcia Brady’s celebrity crush on The Brady Bunch in 1970.

Desi Arnaz Jr. kisses Marcia Brady

Arnaz Jr. loved the girls as much as they loved him. When he was 15, he got an unknown 15-year-old  girl pregnant. She gave birth to a baby named Julia Arnaz. The child was kept secret for decades and was later confirmed by a court ordered DNA test that she was Arnaz Jr.’s child. Two years later, when Desi Jr. was just 17, he began dating Patty Duke, who was then 23. A few months after they broke up, Patty gave birth to Sean Patrick Duke (now known as Sean Astin), who has gone on to become a star in his own right.

Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings

For the first 13 years of Sean’s life, both  Arnaz Jr. and Patty Duke believed that Desi Arnaz Jr. was the child’s father. This apparently, didn’t sit too well with Desi’s mother.

It was not until a DNA test was performed when Sean was 13, that it was revealed that Arnaz Jr. was not the father. (why do I have visions of Maury Povich announcing that?)

So, if director George Abbott hadn’t given Desi Arnaz Sr. his first role in a movie, Lucy and Desi would likely never have met, the landscape of 1950’s sitcoms would have looked very different, Desi Jr. would not have been born, Marcia Brady would have had a crush on an entirely different teen idol and Sean Astin might have been born knowing who his real father was.

Celebrity Butterfly Effect

Doris Day

Last night I was talking with my Mum about some of the odd searches that lead people to my blog. For instance, ever since I put up a photo of a man wearing sock suspenders, not a day goes by without someone finding my blog by searching for old men’s socks, men’s sock suspenders, or 1950’s men’s socks etc. I never thought that item would be such a  popular search term. Yesterday the odd search term we fixated on was ‘Doris Day slutty’. We laughed a bit because Doris Day’s image was anything but slutty. Then my Mum wondered if she was still alive. So I checked Wikipedia, and yes, she is very much alive at 88 years of age. As I was reading her entry, it mentioned she had a son at the age of 17. He was her only child and his name was Terry Melcher. That name was ringing a major bell with me, so clicked on his name and realized why.

Terry Melcher and his, then, girlfriend, Candice Bergen

Terry Melcher was a well-known record producer for bands including the Byrds and The Beach Boys… but that’s not why he was familiar to me. In 1968, he was introduced by Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys to an aspiring musician by the name of Charles Manson.

Charles Manson

Melcher was living at 10050 Cielo Drive with his girlfriend Candice Bergen at this time. He befriended Manson and had plans to produce Manson’s songs as well as film a documentary about him and the Manson ‘family’. Melcher later decided against both projects and severed all ties with Manson, a decision which angered Manson. Fortuitously, Melcher and Bergen moved from their house on Cielo Drive shortly after this incident. Unfortunately, the house was then rented to Roman Polanski and his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate. There is some speculation to this day as to whether or not Melcher was the intended victim that fateful night, or perhaps the murders were a way of sending a message to Melcher.

Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate

After reading all of this, my Mum and I went back to the fact that Doris Day had a son at the age of 17. “So I guess she was a little slutty,” joked Mum. This began a game of Celebrity Butterfly Effect.

If Doris Day had kept her legs closed in her teens (no judgement), she would not have given birth to Terry Melcher, who would not have been introduced to, given hope to and subsequently rejected Charles Manson, setting Manson on a path that culminated in his ordering a murderous rampage in Benedict Canyon that night (though it’s likely something would have eventually set him off). Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate would have become parents, would possibly still be married and Polanski would likely still be living and working in America , having never been arrested for sexual abuse of a minor (though the tone of his films might have been slightly less dark).

Celebrity Butterfly Effect, a new game created by windupmyskirt (and her Mum), fun for all ages. Soon to be sweeping the nation.