The Happy Soap Company is owned and managed by the Fraleigh family. Although he is more of a company figurehead than an active participant in the company’s day-to-day business, anything that family patriarch Tom Fraleigh (Reginald Owen) wants for the company he usually gets.
What he wants is Beverly Boyer (Doris Day) – the perky stay-at-home wife of his daughter-in-law’s obstetrician, Dr Gerald Boyer (James Garner) – to appear as the company spokesperson when Beverly, who he meets at a dinner party, mentions a personal and true story about how Happy Soap saved her life.
She is to appear in a live commercial spot during a Happy Soap sponsored television show telling her story just as she told Tom. Despite Beverly’s performance going poorly in her own mind, Tom loved it and how refreshing and honest Beverly came across to the viewer.
So Tom signs her to a one year, $80,000 contract to continue doing the same.
This move is questioned by Happy Soap’s own managers and its advertising company. But it is questioned even more by husband Gerald, who is none too happy about his wife’s new career, new-found celebrity, and the strain the neglect of her wifely duties is putting on their marriage (ah, those 1960s values).
Yes, it’s outdated and sexist viewed through modern eyes, but this really is the archetypal “screwball comedy”. The two screenwriters – Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbart – were responsible for two of the most popular American TV comedies: The Dick Van Dyke Show (Reiner) and M*A*S*H (Gelbart).
Zasu Pitts (Olivia) died on 7 June 1963, six weeks prior to the film’s release.
Dr Gerald Boyer
Old Tom Fraleigh