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Old 11-13-2001, 04:30 PM   #1
Commander Steel
 
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Post Hennesey

HENNESEY (and that is the correct spelling)was one of the best--and IS one of the most undersung--situation comedies in television history.

The show ran for three years, from 1959 to 1962; and revolved around the events occurring to a new Navy doctor assigned to the San Diego Naval Base.

Lieutenant Charles W. "Chick" Hennesey, Medical Corps, USN (Jackie Cooper) reported to San Diego immediately after graduating from medical school. His commanding officer was the base's Senior Medical Officer, Captain Wallace A. Shafer (Roscoe Karns). Nurse (Lieutenant junior grade) Martha Hale (Abby Dalton) served as CAPT Shafer's administrative assistant and eventually became Hennesey's love interest. Assisting Dr. Hennesey in the dispensary was Hospital Corpsman First Class Max Bronsky (Henry Kulky). Other members of the staff who appeared in semi-regular roles were dentist Lieutenant Harvey Blair Spencer III (James Komack), nurse Ensign Hale (Lonie Blackman), and physician Lieutenant Dan Wagner (Herb Ellis).

The show relied on gentle humour growing out of situations (as opposed to "whacky characters")in the fashion of FATHER KNOWS BEST; and like that show, there was usually a poignent moment that left a lump in the viewer's throat at the end of the episode. The key was that Chick Hennesey was a genuinely nice guy. He was not naive--he had a number of life's experiences which gave him a balance of common sense (Hennesey had served in the South Pacific as a soldier during World War II). However, he was heir to the same occasional mistakes and misjudgements that we all are. The end of the episode might show Hennesey learning a lesson, although more often, he was the one setting the lesson simply by doing what was right.

The show took some liberties by avoiding a laugh track and relying upon overlapping dialogue--two techniques which were rare in those days. Also, having a military and a medical milieu, there were occasional moments of genuine drama.

The show progressed with some superficial developments over the years--CAPT Shafer was promoted to rear admiral, Max to chief petty officer, and Hennesey himself to lieutenant commander during the course of the show--yet the basic relationship of the characters did not change over the series. The romance between Chick and Martha evolved naturally; the final episode of the series featured their long-awaited wedding.

HENNESEY was my first inspiration for becoming a Naval officer. A few years ago, I wrote Jackie Cooper (himself, a retired captain in the Naval Reserve) to tell him how the quality and entertainment of his show (he produced it, as well as starred in it) guided me on my career in the Navy. He responded by saying that of all the things he did as an actor, producer, or director, HENNESEY was the effort of which he was proudest.

I have spent many years trying to acquire video tapes of the episodes. I have about thirty, a little less than half the run. The show holds up as well to-day as it did forty years ago. I don't have the vocabulary to express accurately what makes this show so good. But if you ever have a chance to see it, do so--you won't be disappointed.

Hope this helps.

Steel
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Old 11-13-2001, 05:41 PM   #2
Commander Steel
 
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Post

My brain must be on the fritz to-day.

One erratum: the name of the character portrayed by James Komack in HENNESEY was "Harvey Spencer Blair III"--not Harvey Blair Spencer III, as I erroneously stated.

Steel
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Old 11-25-2001, 09:36 PM   #3
Baileyjs
 
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I have a nugget of information about Hennesey for you, that I found while looking through stuff about my father's tour of duty in the Navy. According to a newspaper article I have, the USS McGinty (DE-365) was to be used for the filming of a sequence of "Hennessey". The filming was to take place in Oct. 1961. The article indicated the episode was "probably to appear" in January, 1962. To the best of my knowledge, the ship was docked in Long Beach, CA, when the filming was to occur. Any chance your tapes include my father's ship?
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Old 08-04-2002, 12:54 AM   #4
arthurb
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Question HENNESEY

COMMAMDER STEEL: DO YOU HAVE THE EPISODE THAT HAS THE SALESMAN SAYING THE PHRASE, "BELIEVE IN YOUR FELLOW MAN, BECAUSE IN HIM LIES ALL OF US"?

WHERE DID YOU GET THOSE 30 EPISODES? i'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR MONTHS NOW!
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Old 09-15-2002, 08:13 AM   #5
Commander Benson
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Default Hennesey Episodes

arthurb,

This is "Commander Steel" (I switched screen names after experiencing difficulty with the old "Steel" one).

No, I do not have the episode with the quote you mentioned. I do vaguely remember it from either the original airing or a repeat during the show's run.

I'd love to point you toward my source for those episodes; unfortunately, he was a dealer in old movies, serials, and television shows in St. Louis who died a few years back. Since then, it has been impossible for me to find any other episodes on tape.

On visits to Los Angeles, I have made sporadic (but not extensive or exhaustive) searches of shops dealing in old video. I am a personal friend of the actress who played Ensign Lane (Lonie Blackman) on the show, and she has no copies (except for the ones I provided her). For that matter, I was contacted a few years back by Abby Dalton, asking me if I could provide her copies of my tapes. (Of course, I did--nothing is too good for the star of The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent .)

The frustrating thing is, I'd bet my pension that someone, somewhere, has copies of more episodes. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anyone on line who advertises them--at least not more than just a handful of ones which I already have.

As you are no doubt aware, this show is a hidden gem. My wife, the Good Mrs. Benson, is too young to remember the show, so several years ago, I insisted that she watch my tapes of it, and she was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the show and knows it now as well as I do. In all of the television shows relating to the U.S. Navy that I have come across, up to and including the often deplorable J.A.G. , Hennesey was the only one in which I found no errors in its depiction of the Navy. Nor was there any episode--at least in the taped ones I have--in which the plot extended beyond what could reasonably happen in the Navy.

The show was rooted squarely in reality. Many of the characters had their quirks, but never at the sacrifice of reality. For example, the character of CAPT/RADM Shafer: he had his moods and his idiosyncracies, but he was never a "scatterbrained" or "wacky" character--the type who in real life would never, ever, be put in such a position of authority. There was never any doubt that Shafer was a qualified physician and leader.

Of the episodes I have, there are a handful that don't quite measure up; but there is no such thing as a bad episode of Hennesey .

Sorry. I wish I could have been of more help, especially to a fellow Hennesey fan.

Commander Benson
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Old 04-26-2005, 01:17 PM   #6
dave cahill
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Default looking for McGinty episode

I am also looking for the episode using the McGinty ...for the same reasons. My father was on the ship and I would like to surprise him with a copy. Please email. cahilldesign@hotmail.com. Thank you. Dave Cahill
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Old 10-17-2005, 08:37 AM   #7
abbyfan
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commander Benson
arthurb,

This is "Commander Steel" (I switched screen names after experiencing difficulty with the old "Steel" one).

No, I do not have the episode with the quote you mentioned. I do vaguely remember it from either the original airing or a repeat during the show's run.

I'd love to point you toward my source for those episodes; unfortunately, he was a dealer in old movies, serials, and television shows in St. Louis who died a few years back. Since then, it has been impossible for me to find any other episodes on tape.

On visits to Los Angeles, I have made sporadic (but not extensive or exhaustive) searches of shops dealing in old video. I am a personal friend of the actress who played Ensign Lane (Lonie Blackman) on the show, and she has no copies (except for the ones I provided her). For that matter, I was contacted a few years back by Abby Dalton, asking me if I could provide her copies of my tapes. (Of course, I did--nothing is too good for the star of The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent .)

The frustrating thing is, I'd bet my pension that someone, somewhere, has copies of more episodes. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find anyone on line who advertises them--at least not more than just a handful of ones which I already have.

As you are no doubt aware, this show is a hidden gem. My wife, the Good Mrs. Benson, is too young to remember the show, so several years ago, I insisted that she watch my tapes of it, and she was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the show and knows it now as well as I do. In all of the television shows relating to the U.S. Navy that I have come across, up to and including the often deplorable J.A.G. , Hennesey was the only one in which I found no errors in its depiction of the Navy. Nor was there any episode--at least in the taped ones I have--in which the plot extended beyond what could reasonably happen in the Navy.

The show was rooted squarely in reality. Many of the characters had their quirks, but never at the sacrifice of reality. For example, the character of CAPT/RADM Shafer: he had his moods and his idiosyncracies, but he was never a "scatterbrained" or "wacky" character--the type who in real life would never, ever, be put in such a position of authority. There was never any doubt that Shafer was a qualified physician and leader.

Of the episodes I have, there are a handful that don't quite measure up; but there is no such thing as a bad episode of Hennesey .

Sorry. I wish I could have been of more help, especially to a fellow Hennesey fan.

Commander Benson
Commander Benson,
I have been looking for tapes of my favorite TV show "Hennesey" for some time now. I ran across your postings and was delighted that you have some tapes of the show. Can you help me acquire some of these episodes?
Thanks,
Abbyfan
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