Monday, January 3, 2022

Joan Huntington - Writer - Oscar Nominated 1973 Robert Hendrickson Manson Documentary


I went chasing rabbits instead of Omicron over New Year's weekend. My constant and faithful companion was chocolate in obscene amounts. Self-loathing accompanied the binges and was drowned in endless eggnog coffees. My beloved Buckeyes won the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, against a bunch of state school Mormons from Utah. Indoor bike races everyone claimed to win happened here and Monopoly games I escaped took place in the evenings. 

I hope your weekend was smashing. 

The road to Joan Huntington was a big circle. Inside the Manson Gang (2007) was the first stop. Manson from 1973 came next, out of order like Matthew and Mark, after I found myself unable to stop asking why the girls would say some of the things they said. Both films could be alt titled: How To Ensure You & Your Friends Remain Proper F*cked Forever.

There's a moment early on in Inside where one of the girls says something like I've been thinking about letting someone believe they're making one movie but it's actually another movie. Outside of that single line as a possible motivator, I was baffled. Knives? Davey Crockett rifles? The Neverland outfits?  

Dudes. Ya gotta know they're playing you. And Nancy stop digging in your ear. 

The girls did not realize what they were up against. Too much naive faith in their mojo maybe and steep prices were paid for sure. Just an all-around terrible idea. Their parents must've thought they lost their minds. 

A double shot of Hendrickson drove home how important the filmmaker is to the foundation of this study. I'd prefer a comedy voiceover on the 2007 edit but then I'm cynical. Either way, his footage and interviews remain huge in this community five years after Hendrickson's death. 

Some in our community agree with Hendrickson's take on the Family and others are offended. The offended folks always mention the film had a script and the girls read from them. Again, why? And who wrote the script? 

Hendrickson says in the 2007 film that financier Laurence Merrick and his people joined when the project was half completed. Merrick was older and from Israel. That might be him doing the weird Charlie voiceover sounding like an Israeli who watches Cheech and Chong movies. Hendrickson was twenty-seven or twenty-eight and the Spahn's Ranch kids confused him even though Mary and Gypsy were contemporaries, and he does not have a writing credit anyway. 

Enter Joan Huntington. Only her and Merrick are listed as writers on Manson. 


Huntington passed last June. She was nine years older than Sharon Tate but did the same beautiful women spots in Los Angeles sitcoms and tv shows. Beverly Hillbillies and so on. 

Huntington's husband, Laurence Merrick was mortally wounded in the parking lot of his business by a crazy man who believed Merrick and others performed a black magic ritual on him during a class held inside the building. Because Merrick ran an acting school, everyone assumed he was acting when he crashed through the door announcing he was shot. 

Some of Huntington's one liners in Hendrickson are as good as any top action film. She was a smart lady who might've helped the victims get a bit of long-term revenge. Please enjoy this screen cap of Huntington's tail right after she changed from a cat to a human on Season 3 Episode 7 of tv's Bewitched. I thought the tail would disappear with the rest of her cat parts but it did not and no explanation was offered. 


Nosy Gladys Kravitz across the street sees the cat change into Huntington's character, Eva, and calls in two city council members to investigate. Links to the full version and a shortened version are below. Here is thirty-two year old Huntington at the feet of Paul Lynde (OHIO!), Dick York, and Elizabeth Montgomery. 


The Say Hey Kid Willie Mays is in this episode too. Turns out he's a warlock or whatever male witches are called in the tv show. Mays zaps himself away from a Halloween Party at just before midnight to "the ballpark." Elizabeth Montgomery tells Dick York that's the reason Mays hits so many home runs. The scene is edited out of the shorter version below. 


 Honorable Dick York resisting the advances of Huntington. What a guy. 


Big problem. Just like Cinderella, Huntington turns back into a cat at midnight, and Elizabeth Montgomery keeps her marriage. 

This episode aired the week of Halloween, 1966. America remains number one although internal discontent bubbles and burps. The draft lottery is three years in the future but almost half a million Americans are in Vietnam and offshore. Six thousand Americans will die in Vietnam in 1966, and the US government will claim sixty-one thousand Vietcong deaths. 

Charlie strums his guitar at Terminal Island. Mary shelves books while Squeaky avoids her father while Dennis avoids his father. Bewitched finishes in a three way tie for seventh highest rated tv show of the year along with two other programs Huntington guest stars on, Daktari and Beverly Hillbillies. 

Bigger picture, Huntington is half a decade away from a writing credit on an Oscar nominated documentary that will help shape American history. Wild. 
+ggw

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Bewitched S3E7 edited but better player on IMDBtv. 

Bewitched S3E7 full episode but small player on Youtube.

Episode fan page with continuity errors. Did you notice Boris was inside the party before arriving at the party? 

Episode page on Rotten Tomatoes.

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The Manson Family Blog is now in its twelfth year. Thanks to all the readers, writers, and commenters who got us here. 

13 comments:

GreenWhite said...

Pretty pretty gurrrllll.

Chris B said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
orwhut said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
orwhut said...

orwhut said..

GreenWhite said:
Some in our community agree with Hendrickson's take on the Family and others are offended. The offended folks always mention the film had a script and the girls read from them. Again, why? And who wrote the script?

There were several times, while Robert Hendrickson was with with this group, that I wanted to ask him if the girls' comments were scripted. Nancy even looked away from the camera a couple of times as if she was checking her notes or even cue cards.
I never asked Hendrickson my question because, I liked the guy and didn't want to put him on the spot.
After more thought, I believe it's more likely that the girls were given their question and topics for comment in advance. Hendrickson had a limited amount of film and I doubt he wanted to risk wasting it on spot of the moment content.

orwhut said...

Good post, Green. I'm bound to have seen that episode of Bewitched more than once, but had completely forgotten it.

starviego said...

Sharon was supposed to have been a student in Merrick's acting school. Does anybody have a source for this assertion?

GreenWhite said...

Thanks, whut. I was laughing during the episode. Those "old" tv shows were filled with top actors. The guy who plays Mr. Kravitz is a hoot!

GreenWhite said...

Hi, Star. I've heard that several times too but ever since I stopped trying to crack the case(s), I more or less stay in my own lane. The unverified reports in the crazy kooky world will drive a fella crackers.

Day One at Merrick's Bev Hillbillies class for young women: Here put this wig on and stick your boobs out, Dollface.

GreenWhite said...

Sorry. I typo'd again. "This crazy kooky world..."

orwhut said...

Green,
You might be interested in the link on Alice Pearce/Gladys Kravitz that follows. Apparently she knew she had terminal cancer while she was turning in all of those great performances.
https://news.amomama.com/231025-alice-pearce-life-final-years-iconic-gla.html

whut

orwhut said...

Green,
I see now that the Kravitz you mentioned was Abner. I liked him too and hated Gladys, when the series was in production. It was only when I realized what a good actress Alice Pierce was to make that nutty character so believable and found out she did it knowing her death was close that I've grown to respect and admire her.
Whut

tobiasragg said...

Hm. Now I need to go back and rewatch the second Hendrickson film. I did a first viewing late last winter and loved it, but I do not remember a female v.o. being in the mix.

This was a fun read, thank you.

GreenWhite said...

Thank you, Tobias. Apologies if I wrote something dumb and didn't notice. I think the 2007 voiceover is Hendrickson.