Excerpt from Actor’s Devo Nov 21

Posted: November 21, 2011 in Devotionals

November 21

 

Most of the women who have serious jobs today in film and TV owe a debt of gratitude to Margaret.  She refused to play the ditzy, dippy, empty-headed beauty so en vogue in most of the shows she was a part of…and there were a lot of them.  Her father was already an actor of some note by the time she arrived on the thespian scene.  She, of course, put in her obligatory time at college (she graduated from USC with a degree in teaching) and from there the local LA scene…bit parts in commercials and episodic TV.  However, in 1961 she had a breakthrough role on the Joey Bishop Show, and quickly followed that success up with a recurring role on The Dobie Gillis Show.  More roles followed quickly, almost always recurring, Doctor Ben Casey, My Favorite Martian, and even Bonanza.  Even though her quick rise was impressive, her real accomplishment was the work she devoted herself early on to…that of empowering women.  It became obvious in her next role.  Margaret played (what else) an actress (Ann Marie) who has move to NY City to make it in the acting business.  This may seem unremarkable as you read this, but in the year that it was made (1966) it was quite unique.  It marked the first time ever in American TV where a young single girl’s struggle to make it, as opposed to one living at home or as a domestic for a family, was being portrayed as a viable lifestyle.  Up until then women were mostly cast in the sidelight of men, and when they weren’t they would be married to the main character of the show.  However Margaret’s devotion to women’s equality did not stop merely at the foot of the stage.  She also put in to practice the very things she was acting out in front of the camera.  Ostensibly created by the much-lauded team of Persky & Denoff  (The Dick Van Dyke Show), Margaret was widely known to be its real creator. It was in fact the reason she created her own production company (“Daisy Productions”), a thing unheard of at the time.  Daisy Prod was even credited with being the production company.  As believers, we want our women to be respectable…that does not necessarily preclude them from being present and active and even leading, in the marketplace of ideas, or indeed any marketplace they may choose.  A close reading of the dictates of Proverbs 31, often quoted to demonstrate true womanhood from God’s perspective, shows a woman who is involved in the daily operation of her home, but also in the market making sure her husband and family are getting the most bang for their buck.  In other words she is a production company of sorts…jus of a different order.  Margaret took her skill as an actress, and coupled it with he belief that women deserved the same recognition and chances as men did to develop creative ideas, and bring them to TV.  After all, half of the American audience was women.  Because she was unafraid of losing her job or losing a part, Margaret became a stepping-stone on which many women after her, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, Bea Arthur, were able to build careers and production empires of their own.  In fact, any woman in comedy who had a TV show after 1970 owes their career and a debt of gratitude to this extraordinary woman.  It was on this day in 1937 Margaret Thomas a.k.a. Marlo Thomas a.k.a. “That Girl” was born to veteran actor Danny Thomas, and opened a whole world of possibilities for the “Other Girl”.

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