The Tammy Grimes Show
In early 1963, producer William Dozier, then an executive at Screen Gems (the TV arm of Columbia Pictures), helped initiate the development of a pilot tentatively called The Witch of Westport, recruiting playwright George Axelrod to write a script. Due to a contractual conflict with United Artists, Axelrod soon left the project and Sol Saks stepped in. Dozier sent Saks’ script, now called Bewitched, to New York–based actress Tammy Grimes (star of The Unsinkable Molly Brown on Broadway), who was under contract to both Screen Gems and Columbia.
Grimes suggested changes (wondering why a witch wouldn’t use her powers to stop wars or cure traffic woes) and ultimately turned down the project in favor of Noël Coward’s stage musical High Spirits. Screen Gems offered the part of Samantha Stephens to Elizabeth Montgomery, who went on to create one of the television’s iconic characters. When Bewitched premiered in September 1964, Grimes realized her error: “For a couple of weeks after that was on the air, I put my head in my hands and I thought, ‘What terrible mistake have I made now?’ ”
Dozier, who had left Screen Gems before Bewitched reached the air, went on to produce Batman under his Greenway Productions banner in association with 20th Century-Fox Television. Before Batman debuted on ABC to tremendous ratings in January 1966, Dozier was already working on several other projects, including a sitcom showcasing Tammy Grimes — tentatively titled My Twin Sister — with a script by George Axelrod. In July 1965 the Young & Rubicam advertising agency (on behalf of sponsor General Foods) gave Dozier the go-ahead to produce the pilot, for which he signed Don Talyor to direct and Karl Tunberg to produce.
After the pilot wrapped in mid-January 1966, General Foods bailed on the show, but Bristol-Meyers stepped in, pressuring ABC to schedule the sitcom at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays between F Troop and Bewitched. Under producers Richard Whorf and Alex Gottlieb, The Tammy Grimes Show commenced production on June 16, initially sharing a crew with The Green Hornet (another Greenway show set to debut on ABC in September).
TTGS concerned zany heiress Tamantha Ward (Grimes) and her straight-laced twin brother Terence (Richard Sargent, who had been forced to turn down the role of Darrin Stephens on Bewitched). The twins work — Terence diligently, Tamantha barely at all — at First Perpetual Savings Association, run by their uncle, Simon Grimsley (Hiram Sherman), who controls the purse strings of Tamantha’s trust fund. Dozier professed the show would let Grimes display “her wonderfully kooky ways,” while Whorf asserted: “It will be real farce, broad comedy — as low as we can get.”
When ABC opted to unveil its new programs a week earlier than usual as an “advance premiere,” NBC responded in kind. So it was that The Tammy Grimes Show debuted on Thursday, September 8, 1966, opposite the first-ever broadcast of Star Trek (“The Man Trap”). “Officer’s Mess” (the fourth TTGS episode filmed, but first aired) barely edged out a CBS repeat of My Three Sons in the ratings, losing handily to Star Trek. Representative of the critical reaction to TTGS, UPI’s Rick DuBrow wrote:
The makers of The Tammy Grimes Show had a million-dollar baby, but they put her in a 10-cent script. In the opener, she got stuck on a Navy cruise while trying to give her brother a present. The whole banal mess was reminiscent of the Smothers brothers in their CBS-TV series last season. Wrong format, wrong everything. What is really sad is that Miss Grimes has enough charm, talent and comedic ability for any dozen performers. It is incredible how so many important people could have mishandled such talent. Just terrible.
After ratings declined over the next two weeks, ABC decide to pull the plug on TTGS, airing the fourth and final episode on September 29, then quickly filling the time slot with a nighttime version of The Dating Game — even though six additional TTGS episodes had been filmed, with at least two of them ready for broadcast.
“I knew there was a danger point at the beginning,” Grimes admitted shortly after learning about the cancellation. “If one is an heiress, it must be made more real more time must be taken to prove she has as many problems as people who don’t have this much money.” She pinned part of the blame on the decision to debut the show with “Officer’s Mess”: “It was a Mack Sennett type of thing. I enjoyed it, but it didn’t establish who I was.” Dozier confessed the concept failed to match Grimes’ personality: “Tammy has enormous talent but was just in the wrong vehicle. Maybe TV isn’t her medium she may be difficult to understand by the mass audience. She’s a great comedienne, but she was just not in the right place at the right time.”
On October 27, 1965, Variety announced that Dozier had signed a composer to provide music for the Tammy Grimes Show pilot (which would never be broadcast):
DeVol Tunes Tammy
Exec producer William Dozier has set Frank DeVol to score pilot of Tammy Grimes Show, a Greenway production in association with 20th-Fox.
In the summer of 1966, TGS producers and Fox music director Lionel Newman turned to Johnny Williams to create a series theme and score the first episode produced, “How to Steal a Girl, Even if It’s Only Me.” (Around this time Williams performed the same duties for Fox’s The Time Tunnel.)
Williams’ cheerful Tammy Grimes Show theme, featuring a “yeah-yeah” female chorus, resembles the zany comedic music he composed shortly thereafter for the Natalie Wood feature film Penelope. In addition to a 55-second main title and a slightly shorter end title with a more definitive ending, he recorded format music for the show — brief “bumpers” based on the theme for use coming in and out of commercial breaks.
“How to Steal a Girl ” involves Tamantha being kidnapped by three hoodlums. Uncle Simon, suspecting it to be a ruse devised by Tammy to get $50,000 out of her trust fund for one of her favorite charities, declines to pay the ransom and the crooks finally give up.
Williams leans on variations of the main theme in the episode underscore, as well as his trademark woodwind runs, demonstrating the sitcom-scoring skills he honed working for a year and a half on Bachelor Father. Most cues are brief, covering scene transitions or quick comic bits. Two of the (slightly) more extensive cues involve lumbering music (voiced on tuba, then bassoon) for the kidnappers, while the longest musical segment underscores a visit by Terence to the Connecticut summer house where Tammy and her captors are hiding.
After “How to Steal a Girl ,” Warren Barker — who scored Bewitched during the bulk of its eight-season run — took over composing duties for the remaining TTGS episodes that made it through post-production.
No music from The Tammy Grimes Show has ever been released.
No episodes of The Tammy Grimes Show have been released in any format.
- “DeVol Tunes Tammy”
Variety, October 27 1965
- “Marlo Thomas Proves She’s a Chip off the Old Block,” Rick Du Brow
United Press International, September 2 1966
- “Tammy Grimes, Delightful Kook,” Margaret McManus
All Florida Magazine, September 25 1966
- “Tammy Grimes Show First Casualty,” Dean Gysel
Chicago Daily News, September 28 1966
- “Post-Mortem on an ‘Organized Disaster’,” Neil Hickey and Joe Finnigan
TV Guide, December 31 1966
- “The Natural,” Herbie J. Pilato
Emmy Magazine, April 2013
- “The Tammy Grimes Show”
TV Obscurities, November 24 2015
- “About Those Unaired Tammy Grimes Show Episodes”
TV Obscurities, December 9 2015