1 9 7 7 (USA)
13 x 30 minute episodes
Garry Marshall may not be a familiar name to every television viewer, but it’s highly likely that most viewers have seen one of his creations at least once.
He had massive success in the late 70s with many of the sitcoms he developed, including Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy. The short-lived ABC series Blansky’s Beauties was one of his lesser-known creations.
Nancy Walker, who most viewers remember as Rhoda Morgenstern’s mother, starred as Nancy Blansky, manager and “den mother” to a group of ten gorgeous Las Vegas showgirls.
The troupe consisted of Sunshine (Lynda Goodfriend), Bambi (Caren Kaye), Arkansas (Rhonda Bates), Hillary (Taaffe O’Connell), Lovely (Bond Gideon), Jackie (Gerri Reddick), Bridget (Elaine Bolton), Misty (Jill Owens), Cochise (Shirley Kirkes) and Sylvia (Antoinette Yuskis).
Joey DeLuca (Eddie Mekka) was Nancy’s nephew and the choreographer to the girls, and his little brother Anthony (Scott Baio) was always trying to make time with the beauties, despite the fact that he was only 12.
Arnold (Pat Morita) ran the coffee shop at the Oasis Hotel, the casino where the girls performed, and Horace ‘Stubs’ Wilmington (George Pentecost) managed the place.
The show had several casting connections to other Garry Marshall shows: Eddie Mekka played Carmine on Laverne and Shirley, Scott Baio played Chachi on Happy Days, and Pat Morita played the identically-named Arnold on Happy Days (both characters were also restaurateurs). Roz Kelly even guested, reprising her Happy Days role of Fonzie’s-ex, Pinky Tuscadero.
Walker starred in this show immediately after her previous vehicle, The Nancy Walker Show, was cancelled in December of 1976.
Blansky’s Beauties was cancelled in June of 1977 after only 13 episodes, thus giving her the unusual distinction of two cancelled shows within one season.
Even stranger is the fact that the same thing happened with her co-star Morita: he had starred in Mr T and Tina, a sitcom that was cancelled in late 1976 after one month on the air. Apparently, beauty isn’t everything.
The production team behind Blanksy’s Beauties developed a new pilot called Legs, keeping the setting and a few of the cast members – Caren Kaye, Lynda Goodfriend and Scott Baio.
In the new storyline, Kaye and Goodfriend were Las Vegas showgirls again (with different character names). The pilot did well, leading to a series with the additional element that the girls had to look after younger siblings.
This new series ended up on NBC with a new title – Who’s Watching The Kids?
Ethel “Sunshine” Akalino
Horace “Stubbs” Wilmington
Hillary S. Prentiss
Gladys “Cochise” Littlefeather