1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 4 (USA)
113 x 30 minute episodes
Life at Walt Whitman High School – an integrated high school in Los Angeles – as seen through the eyes of Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes), a dedicated black American History instructor whose classes were held in Room 222.
An optimistic idealist, Pete instilled his students with gentle lessons in tolerance and understanding.
The students loved him for his easygoing manner and willingness to side with them when he knew they were being short-changed by the system.
Seymour Kaufman (Michael Constantine) was the cool, slightly sarcastic principal, Liz McIntyre (Denise Nicholas) was Pete’s girlfriend and school counsellor, and Alice Johnson (Karen Valentine) was an exuberant student teacher.
These characters and a handful of other teachers would spend each episode arguing among themselves about the way in which to go about both educating their students and acting as surrogate parents.
Many of the plotlines were based on the politics of the day, while most of the episodes were timeless tales of teenage angst. During its five seasons on the air, the show included episodes that dealt with topics such as racism, sexism, homophobia, shoplifting, drug use (among both teachers and students), illiteracy, cops in school, guns in school, Vietnam veterans, venereal disease and teenage pregnancy.
But even though Room 222 was grounded in the era of peace and love, it wasn’t all hippy-dippy jive. A lot of fundraising and authority-questioning went on at the fictional Southern California campus, and there was always a lesson learned with little or no preaching attached.
There was a cast of regular players in the multi-racial student body; frizzy-haired Bernie (David Jolliffe), jive-talking Jason (Heshimu Cumbuka), girl-next-door Helen (Judy Strangis) and several others that were residents of Pete Dixon’s homeroom.
Guest students and staffers would join on a one-off basis to add to the drama and keep the storylines fresh.
Some of the faces who passed through the hallowed halls of Walt Whitman High were Cindy Williams, Teri Garr, Jamie Farr, Rob Reiner, Richard Dreyfus, Chuck Norris, Kurt Russell, and Mark Hamill.
Principal Seymour Kaufman