New Billboards in Old Shows? Yep

Dear Inman: On reruns of “How I Met Your Mother” there are ads in the background for the 2012 Toyota Prius V, but how is that possible when some of the episodes I’ve seen them in originally aired in 2008? – Teresa, via e-mail

Dear Teresa: Through digital magic, of course! Ever alert for new ways to cram commercial messages into TV shows, especially now that viewers can skim past commercials, advertisers are turning to product placement, in some cases even adding new messages to old shows. Does this mean that someday you’ll be watching “I Love Lucy” and see a billboard for a 2012 Prius in a 1954 show? Don’t put it past them – the bottom line rules in TV.

Did Billy Bob Thornton and John Wayne Play the Same Character?

Dear Incredible: A friend and I were talking about movie trivia the other day and he said that John Wayne and Billy Bob Thornton have played the same character in a movie. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it is! Can you help? – R.E., Las Vegas

Dear R.E.: Davy Crockett.

Thornton played Crockett in the 2004 film “The Alamo,” and Wayne played the same role in the 1960 film of the same name.

“Nytol Will Help You Get Your Zs”

Dear Incredible Inman: Please help settle a between between my wife and me. We both remember a TV commercial jingle about a product that will “help you get your Zs.” However, she believes it was Nyquil, and I say it was Nytol. Can you tell us which product used the jingle? – C.U., Louisville

Dear C.U.: Nytol.

The spot aired in the late 1980s, and the N in Nytol turned sideways into a little Z and then cloned itself in order to alphanumerically simulate restful slumber.

Is That Martin Scorsese’s Brother in That Sensodyne Commercial?

Dear David: The dentist in a commercial for Sensodyne toothpaste is named Dr. Frank Scorsese. He bears a strong resemblance to director Martin Scorsese. Are they related? – H.Z., Louisville

Dear H.Z.: They are indeed – Frank and Martin are brothers.

Imagine their childhood fights – Frank would always want to play dentist and Marty would always want to play let’s pull the civilized façade off of social institutions and show the greed and squalor underneath.

“Treasure Isle” Was a Florida-Based Game Show

Dear David Inman: It’s driving me crazy trying to remember the name of a daytime game show I watched in the 1960s. It took place outdoors and if the contestants answered correctly, they could paddle out in a raft to a sandy “island” and dig for treasure. What was the name and host of that game show? – R.M., via e-mail

Dear R.M.: To quote the show’s theme song:

It’s Treasure Isle from Florida!
On sunny Palm Beach shores!
You search for treasure on Treasure Isle
Find it – the treasure is yours!

Picture those lyrics sung to a tune by a knockoff of Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass and you’ve got the opening to “Treasure Isle,” which ran on ABC from 1967-68. The show was hosted by John Bartholomew Tucker and was taped at the Colonnades Beach Hotel in Palm Springs, with Treasure Isle in a lagoon.
Contestants got their chance to paddle out when they fit giant puzzle pieces together.

A Popeye Panorama

Dear David: I am a big fan of the Popeye cartoons that were produced in the 1930s-‘50s. Could you please tell me who did the voices of Popeye, Olive Oyl, and Bluto/Brutus during this time? – J.K., Salem, IN

Dear J.K.: The Popeye cartoons were produced from 1933-57, and here’s who did the voices.

Popeye’s voice was provided by William Costello from 1933-35, and then he was replaced by animator-writer Jack Mercer, who gave Popeye his voice up until 1980, including the 1978 Saturday morning series “The All-New Popeye Hour.” He died in 1984 at age 74.

Olive Oyl was originally voiced by Mae Questel, who also provided the voice of Betty Boop. She gave up the role in 1938, and Margie Hines took over from 1938-43, when Questel returned to the role.

Bluto/Brutus was voiced by Gus Wickie at the beginning but was succeeded by animator Pinto Colvig, who also provided the voice of Goofy for Disney cartoons as well as the voice of Mickey Mouse’s dog Pluto. This means that for a while he was the voice of Pluto and Bluto! He was succeeded by Jackson Beck in the mid-1940s.

Also, Hines and Mercer were married briefly, so for a while Popeye and Olive Oyl were voiced by husband and wife.

Remember Funny Face Drink Mixes?

Dear Inman: Back in the 1960s I remember TV commercials about talking fruit for some kind of drink mix a la Kool Aid. The phrase “Funny Face” comes to mind. What I’m really trying to find are the names of the characters (or flavors). Yes, I’m old. Yes, this is silly. But it must be done! Thanks. – Tim, Salt Lake City

Dear Tim: There, there. As we grow older, silly things sometimes must be done to remind us of when we were young and silly, you big silly man.

The flavor-characters were, in alphabetical order, Choo Choo Cherry, Freckle Face Strawberry, Jolly Olly Orange, Lefty Lemon, Loud Mouth Lime, Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry and the least successful flavor, Barney Brussels Sprout.

Nah, just kidding.

The rest of them were all Funny Face drink mixes, marketed through oodles of animated TV commercials in the 1960s. Here’s a commercial:

The Story of Carol Wayne and “Celebrity Sweepstakes”

Dear Inman: I remember a buxom actress from the 1970s named Carol Wayne. Seems like she used to appear on a game show. Can you tell me the title and what it was about? – S.O., Mansfield, OH

Dear S.O.: Carol Wayne was an actress best known as “The Matinee Lady” on “The Tonight Show,” accompanying host Johnny Carson whenever he did sketches dressed up as Art Fern, the sleazy host of “The Tea Time Movie.”

Then in 1974 there came “Celebrity Sweepstakes,” an NBC game show that featured Wayne as one of the regular contestants. Here’s how it worked: Host Jim McKrell would read a question and then the audience would vote on which celebrity on the panel would answer the question correctly. If the contestant picked a longshot (invariably, Carol Wayne was 99:1) and the celebrity answered correctly, the contestant’s money was multiplied by the odds. Other celebrities on the panel included Joey Bishop, Buddy Hackett, George Hamilton and Freddie Prinze.

“Celebrity Sweepstakes” went great guns until it went up against the newly expanded “The Price Is Right” on CBS, and it went off the air in 1976.

Carol Wayne died in 1985, of a drowning in Mexico. She was 42. Here’s a video on Wayne’s life from the E! show “Mysteries and Scandals”:

A Very Short History of Profanity on TV

Dear Incredible Inman: Some of us were talking the other night about how profanity on TV was unheard of in the 1950s. Then someone mentioned stars occasional letting a word slip out on the air. Do you know of any instances of this? – Curious, Cincinnati

Dear Curious: Well, Arthur Godfrey got into trouble for letting a mild curse word slip on his CBS show in 1949.

And then in 1956, Noel Coward’s play “Blithe Spirit” was presented on the CBS anthology series “Ford Star Jubilee.” The script included several utterances of “damn” and “hell,” and when viewers complained, Coward said, “People who object to the profanity in ‘Blithe Spirit’ are crackpots, and Mr. Ford should be happy if even one of them doesn’t buy his car. They would be a menace on the highway.”

And later that same year, during a live performance of a play called “Tragedy in a Temporary Town” on the NBC series “The Alcoa Hour,” star Lloyd Bridges got carried away during one scene and called a group of extras “g—d— stinking pigs.”

A Cigarette-Smoking Superhero? Yes

Dear David: Was there a cartoon on in the early to mid-1970s called “The Eight Man”? He was a robot that got rejuvenated by smoking cigarettes he had in his belt. I believe that is why it got canceled. My friends think I’m nuts. Can you help? – P.G., via e-mail

Dear P.G.: Actually, it was called “The Eighth Man,” and it was a syndicated series that aired in the mid-1960s. The hero, Tobor (Spell it backwards for a swell clue!) was a slain police officer who was rebuilt as a crime-fighting robot.

“The Eighth Man” was produced in Japan, and began life as a comic book. In the comic, the Eighth Man received a burst of energy by lighting a “power pill” that looked just like a, well, cigarette. But in the animated American version, a power pill was substituted.

Here’s the first episode: