Speaking on the telephone with '60s child actor Kellie Flanagan several weeks after an equally terrific conversation with her "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" brother Harlen Carraher provided good proof that some kids who grew up in front of the camera became happy well-adjusted adults with whom one would enjoy having a backyard barbecue.
Additionally, the current mutual regard and affection that Flanagan and Carraher express demonstrates that their on-screen compatibility and adorable publicity photos from the "Muir" era are genuine. In fact, an unprompted desire by Carraher to reconnect with Flanagan is largely behind Unreal TV reaching out to her.
Both the wonderful vibe that Flanagan emits, her current life, and the wacky circumstances surrounding our chat scream out for basing a cable show on her. She is one of the nicest people anyone could ever hope to meet and lives in the beautiful rural community of Coarsegold California near Yosemite with husband of 20 years landscape architect David Briley and their certified brilliant 17 year-old daughter Clara.
When not graciously enduring conversations with fanboys about her 45 year-old series and other acting work, Flanagan writes for a local newspaper and cares for the chickens and numerous other animals with whom her human family shares their five-acre home. All of this screams for including "The Life of Briley" on the September 2015 Hallmark Channel lineup.
The "sit" element related to the "com" regarding the interview was a massive storm coinciding with our talk. Flanagan politely kept the conversation going while waiting for her Internet service to come back up so that she could submit her story on the tempest. Flanagan further kindly laughed in response to a joke that the storm resulted from the titular spirit Captain Daniel Gregg from "Muir" expressing outrage at her speaking with me.
On top of that, Flanagan's dog regularly barked to express anger at Flanagan speaking with me at a time that that pampered pooch wanted attention.
When asked if she has ever considered stepping in front of the cameras again, Flanagan stated "I think about it once in awhile."
"Star Trek"/ Grace Lee Whitney
Knowing that the first television series role of commercials veteran Flanagan was "Blonde Girl" in the "Star Trek" OS first season episode "Miri" prompted asking if she had attended any "Trek" conventions. She replied that she has not done so but occasionally considered making an appearance.
Flanagan added that her one line, which was "Call the police!," in "Miri" earned her her SAG card.
The discussion of "Trek" also included Flanagan sharing that she learned soon after the May 1 2015 death of "Trek" actress Grace Lee Whitney, who portrayed Kirk aide Janice Rand in a handful of first season OS episodes and went on to play an older version of Rand in "Voyager" and other "Trek" projects, had been living in Coarsegold. A publicity photo from "Miri" shows that Whitney appeared in that episode despite her IMDb.com credits not listing it.
"Wild in the Streets"
Flanagan also discussed her role as the young daughter of a California U.S. Senator that Hal Halbrook played in the far-out groovy 1968 film with an important message "Wild in the Streets."
Flanagan rightly described this movie about a youthful rebellion that sought to lower the voting age to 14 as "a really interesting movie" that attracted many prominent people to the premiere related to the producer and the press presenting that seemingly B-movie as a very important one that addressed significant issues that America faced in 1968.
That premiere occurring more than 45 years ago and Flanagan being nine at the time were factors regarding her memory of the event, but she had a recollection the attendees including Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. widow Coretta Scott King.
A recent DVD viewing of "Wild" confirmed that it was a wonderfully entertaining blend of satire, substantial social commentary, and rocking tunes such as "14 or Fight."
The following video, courtesy of YouTube, of "14" includes scenes of Flanagan rocking out (and having fun, living like she's just begun) and singing along.
The element of a generation gap continued into discussing a guest appearance by Flanagan in an episode of "The Andy Griffith Show." A casual reference to "Ron Howard" caused Flanagan to share that she always thought of Howard the actor as Ronny and as Howard the adult who directed films as Ron.
The amusing part of this is that Flanagan being not so many years older than your scribe had her closely associate with the Howard of "Griffith" compared to children of the '70s growing up with him on "Happy Days."
A related discussion centered on thinking of actor Rick Schroeder as "Ricky" from his '80s sitcom"Silver Spoons."
Flanagn having a few sitcom guest roles under her belt when "Muir" came along prompted asking if the producers recruited her for the role; she replied that she was not wooed but added that she was "not the most unknown" actor up for the part of Candy Muir.
A follow-up question regarding whether less experienced series actor Carraher was jealous regarding the more extensive experience of Flanagan elicited the immediate response "not at all."
Flanagan further shared that she and Carraher were "little scoundrels together." The shared adventures included exploring the below-set area where the electrical wires ran and swimming in a pool at a park across the street from the set. Flanagan furthered stated that the on-set teacher Mrs. Bone "was sweet and funny."
Flanagan added that "that was a happy set; if there were problems, I was unaware of it."
Asking about any bond with Reta Shaw, who played "Muir" housekeeper/surrogate parent Martha, prompted bittersweet memories for Flanagan. These related to Shaw bonding with Flanagan's mother, who was roughly the same age as the elder Flanagan.
Kellie shared that her mother passed away just before her 11th birthday, which also was when "Muir" was wrapping up production for good. She added that Shaw, whom Flanagan described as "a real sweetheart," sent her a very nice sympathy note and continued sending Christmas cards and other correspondence for a few years after "Muir"ended.
The timing of these memories coincided with a recent event that reminded an exceptionally compassionate Flanagan of losing her mother.
Resurrection of "Muir" From Death/Mark Lester Visits Schooner Bay
Asking Flanagan about the lore change that had Captain Gregg allowing Candy to see him beginning with the second-season premiere episode after keeping himself invisible to her during the entire first season prompted a fond memory of her mother.
Flanagan clarified that the switch from NBC to ABC for the second season of "Muir" was not a case of NBC deciding to not renew the series and ABC picking it up. She explained that NBC had cancelled the show, and that the cast had every reason to believe that the series never would have had a second season.
Flanagan further shared a vivid memory of her mother visiting her at the Saint Monica's catholic school in Santa Monica after that cancellation and asking her to guess the best thing that could happen. Flanagan stated that she knew that that news was that "Muir" was going back on the air.
Returning to the topic of the lore change, Flanagan speculated that that was the result of the new creative team making its mark on the show.
That in turn led to discussing the elation of Flanagan regarding her "favorite" episode of the entire series. That one, which was titled "Puppy Love," had Candy falling in love with a new student played by British child actor Mark Lester of the film version of "Oliver."
The impact of that especially cute and charming episode included shouting "boo" and calling Lester a name that never should be hurled at any 11 year-old boy on recently watching the scene in which Lester's character initially thought that a love struck Candy was a boy.
Another (uncorrected) bummer regarding "Puppy" is that the DVD version of the episode does not include a memorable dream sequence from that offering. Flanagan explained that Disney (a.k.a. 'The Mouse') owned the rights to the at least 215 year-old song "Lavender Blue" that was sung in that scene and would not grant Madman Entertainment the right to use it.
The better news regarding that omission is that Flanagan confirmed that recollections of that scene were accurate. It provided further certainty that the DVD episodes otherwise were the original broadcast versions.
Art Imitates Art
Flanagan making an ideal statement regarding the essence of "Muir" required highlighting it in a short but important section of this article.
The success of mid-60s fantasycoms, such as "Bewitched" and "I Dream of Jeannie," made a series based on the overall friendly interaction between a ghost and a living individual of the opposite sex an almost certainty. However basing it on a 1947 film, which was based on a novel, was less certain.
The perfect answer of Flanagan when asked why the fantasycom producers based the show on the "Muir" story, rather than a more generic tale of a woman moving into a modern haunted house, was "there are only so many stories out there; why not tell a good one again."
Lasting Impact of "Muir"
Flanagan and I further nicely bonded regarding the overall impact of "Muir"on our lives. My strong love of the style and layout of Gull Cottage, which was the shared residence of the Muir clan and Captain Gregg, has fueled a decades long dream to have a replica of that house built and live there. If that not entirely impossible dream becomes a reality, one fatal lesson from the original house is to not kick the blasted heater with my blasted foot even if it goes out.
The imprint on a very ungothlike Flanagan includes a nearly lifelong hobby of collecting antiques; neglecting to ask if her collection included an especially valuable barometer or piece of scrimshaw was am inexcusable omission.
Flanagan further shared that she had a great love of Halloween and owned an extensive wardrobe of costumes.
All this aptly wrapped up with Flanagan sharing that an annual migration of tarantulas through Coarsegold inspired holding a tarantula festival. She added that she loved tarantulas and that you could regularly see them walking along during their annual visit to the community.
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