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Operation Petticoat

1 9 7 7 – 1 9 7 8 (USA)
33 x 30 minute episodes

With a cast of 18 regulars, this wacky tale set in World War II was based (loosely) on the 1959 movie of the same name.

Lieutenant Commander Matthew Sherman (John Astin of The Addams Family fame) – the son of an admiral and a man who was longing to see action at sea – received orders to report to the commander of submarine forces, Adriatic Fleet, Manila, to command the USS Sea Tiger.

Just 45 minutes before Sherman arrived to take command, the Sea Tiger was attacked by Japanese planes and sunk.

Figuring that he may never get another chance to live his dream, Sherman convinced the base admiral (Jackie Cooper) to let him save the Sea Tiger and make her seaworthy again. With the help of his crew, the 2,000-ton submarine (identification number 393) was made seaworthy – barely.

Golf clubs operated the Kingston valves and there was a Jeep wheel on the trim control . . . but the greatest trial for the captain and a continuing source of embarrassment for everyone aboard was the ship’s colour: pink.

The Sea Tiger was docked at the island of Marquis for a paint job, but shortly after an undercoat of shocking pink paint was applied to the sub, an enemy plane attacked the base and destroyed the supply of grey paint.

For reasons that were never really explained (other than that the sub was always on patrol and couldn’t get into a port for repainting), the vessel remained pink.

There were 13 regular officers and crewmen aboard the submarine USS Sea Tiger, but the main attraction was five shapely Army nurses who were passengers on the old wreck after the sub found them stranded on an island and picked them up.

The nurses were another thorn in the captain’s side. They were apparently going to be on the sub for the duration of the war, and while Major Edna Howard (Yvonne Wilder) was watching her four subordinates, the men of the crew were watching them too.

Major Howard measured 35-25-36 and could work wonders by substituting clothes for scarce items (for instance, a girdle became a much-needed valve spring).

Lieutenant Dolores Crandall (Melinda Naud) was the sexiest of the army girls and measured 38-24-36. She was a health nut and always nagging Commander Sherman to take his vitamins. Sweet and a bit clumsy, she always meant well and tried so hard to do her best, but things just didn’t ever work out her way.

Lieutenant Barbara Duran (Jamie Lee Curtis) was the most sophisticated of the nurses. She measured 36-24-34 and was fascinated with Supply Officer Lieutenant Nick Holden (Richard Gilliland). His wheeling and dealings impressed her greatly.

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Lieutenant Ruth Colfax (Dorrie Thomson) who measured 36-24-35 and Lieutenant Claire Reid (Bond Gideon) – 36-24-36 – were the remaining ladies who Sherman believed were distractions to his crew.

Chief Herbert Molumphrey (Wayne Long) was the sub’s mechanic who could work miracles when it came to jerry-rigging.

Alvin Hunkle (Richard Brestoff) was the overeager Yeoman; Seaman Broom (James Varney) was called “Doom and Gloom” for his negative outlook on everything; Ensign Stovall (Christopher J. Brown) was the navigator and Seaman Williams (Richard Marion) was the radio technician

The show underwent massive changes in 1978 when ABC cancelled the show and renewed the title. Gone from the cast were John Astin, Richard Gilliland and Yvonne Wilder (the three principal characters).

Gone, in fact, were 15 of the 18 performers who had regular roles in the 1977 season – with only Melinda Naud, Richard Brestoff and James Varney surviving in their respective parts as Nurse Crandall, Yeoman Hunkle and Seaman Broom.

Gone, too, were the original season’s writers and producers.

And gone with all of them was the original premise of the show – and of the 1959 movie on which it was based. Suddenly the Sea Tiger was now a lifeguard vessel, rushing to the aid of downed pilots and sailors, and the nurses aboard were Navy personnel actually assigned to the sub.

The new crew included Randolph Mantooth (who starred as paramedic John Gage in Emergency!) as the executive officer, Robert Hogan as the captain, Warren Berlinger as the chief engineer, and Jo Ann Pflug and Hilary Thompson as nurses.

At the end of the second year, the show sank without a trace.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Sherman
John Astin
Lt. Nick Holden
Richard Gilliland
Major Edna Howard
Yvonne Wilder
Lt. Dolores Crandall

Melinda Naud
Seaman ‘Doom & Gloom’ Broom 
James Varney
Yeoman Alvin Hunkle
Richard Brestoff
Lt. Barbara Duran
Jamie Lee Curtis
Lt. Ruth Colfax
Dorrie Thomson
Lt. Claire Reid
Bond Gideon
Ensign Stovall
Christopher J. Brown
Seaman Dooley
Kraig Cassity
Chief Herbert Molumphrey
Wayne Long
Seaman Williams
Richard Marion
Radioman Gossett
Michael Mazes
Chief Machinist’s Mate Tostin
Jack Murdock
Ramon Gallardo
Jesse Dizon
Seaman Horwich
Peter Schuck
Lt. Watson
Raymond Singer
Lt. Mike Bender
Randolph Mantooth
Lt. Cmdr. Haller
Robert Hogan
Chief Engineer Dobritch
Warren Berlinger
Lt. Katherine O’Hara
Jo Ann Pflug
Lt. Betty Wheeler
Hilary Thompson
Doplos
Fred Kareman
Seaman Horner
Don Sparks
Seaman Dixon
Scott McGinnis

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