By the early 1970s, TV was beginning to lose some of its magic. In 1970, I Dream of Jeanie ended its five-year run and just a couple of years later in 1972 Bewitched also wrapped up its run after eight years of being on the air. In a way, a final effort made to hold on to the spirit of classic television in 1970 with the program Nanny and the Professor.
The series, which ran for three seasons, starred Juliet Millis – the sister of the Parent Trap’s Hayley Millis – as Phoebe Figalilly who preferred to referred to as simply ‘Nanny’. She showed up at the home of widower Professor Harold Everett, played by Richard Long, to serve as a caretaker for his three children.
Those kids were the intellectual tinkerer Hal, played by David Doremus, his brother Butch, played by Trent Lehman, and their sister Prudence, portrayed by the future Real Housewives of Beverly Hills reality star Kim Richards. Taking a card from Mary Poppins, there was just something a bit off about Nanny, who possessed something akin to a sixth sense. She truly was a unique individual, to say the least.
Author and host of Amazon’s classic TV talk show, Herbie J. Pilato, described Nanny and the Professor as a ‘charming half-hour [program] that was somewhere between Bewitched and I Dream of Jeanie.
Juliet Mills was always delightful, but the audience never really quite knew what Nanny really was. Samantha from Bewitched was obviously a witch and Jeannie was, well, a genie, but Nanny was somewhat of an enigma. The concept wasn’t all fleshed out like those other two shows were and because of that, it confused people. But even so. Kids found Nanny and the Professor and its catchy theme song to be nothing short of charming.
The series ran on Friday night. For its first season. It aired between The Brady Bunch which aired at 7:30 and the Partridge Family which aired at 8:30. As such, those three shows made for a nice little block of family-friendly programming on Friday evenings.
In 1971, however, the FCC changed the public access rules and the networks forced to give up half an hour of airtime to make room for the new policy. The night programming no longer started at 7:30, it now had to begin at 8pm. Because of that little change-up, Nanny and the Professor moved to Monday night and that had a devastating effect on the show’s viewership.
It was a lighthearted, wholesome comedy in the same vein as Family Affair, but suddenly half the target audience was no longer able to watch it.
If you’re at all curious about what happened to the cast of Nanny and the Professor Cast untold tragedies or if you just want to learn a little more about the short-lived series, keep watching. We’re huge classic television fans over here at Facts Verse and we’ve got the inside scoop on this underrated yet thoroughly enjoyable comedy.
Too Much Magic
By the time Nanny and the Professor hit the air, Elizabeth Montgomery was pretty much done with Bewitched and ABC was looking for something different to fill its timeslot. For a bit more perspective, It’s helpful to look back on what eventually happened with Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman. After producing a Wonder Woman TV movie with Cathy Lee Crosby that pretty much no one even watched or remembered, they then remade it with Lynda Carter and tapped back into the original mythology. Just like that, The New Original Wonder Woman TV Movie hit the airwaves and viewers everywhere ate it right up.
At the same time, Lindsay Wagner casually introduced on The Six Million Dollar Man and she ended up scoring her own series out of the deal. Seemingly overnight, ABC had themselves two superhero women’s TV shows and what did they end up doing about that? They canceled both of them without batting an eye because they simply couldn’t decide which one of the shows they wanted. The end result that both shows got sent off to different networks.
Pretty much the same story unfolded with Nanny and the Professor. Nanny supposed to be stand-in if Elizabeth Montgomery decided that she no longer wanted to do her show but then suddenly All in the Family hit the air and that’s all anyone could talk about. Then there was Petticoat Junction, a series that viewers seemed to have lost interest in. Before anybody knew it, shows started getting canceled left and right.
Hey, real quick, if you’re enjoying this video so far, make sure you give it a like and subscribe to Facts Verse. And don’t go anywhere just yet. Stay tuned to learn all about Kim Richards of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills role in the series as well as her shocking and wild personal life years later.
Juliet Mills – Nanny Phoebe Figalilly
Star of the show British-American Actress Juliet Mills, born on November 21, 1941, in London, England to a family that already immersed in show business. Her father, Sir John Mills, mother, Mary Haley Mills, and sister, Hayley Mills were all actors while her brother, Jonathan Mills, was a director.
Juliet’s acting career began when she was still a child. In 1960, she nominated for a Tony Award for her role in Five Finger Exercise. Before and after starring in Nanny, Juliet appeared in several films and television programs, although her longest role was appearing in 990 episodes of the daytime soap opera Passions between 1998 and 2008 as the character Tabitha Lenox.
In the 1960s, Juliet upstaged by her sister, Hayley, but once Nanny hit the airwaves, that all started to change seeing as how Hayley was getting older and Juliet was continuing to come to into her own while developing her acting chops. She was always a decent actress and she has enjoyed a respectable career on stage and on television. After doing Nanny, she went on to do a lot of guest roles and bit parts. Her career never really stalled or lost its momentum. She merely adapted to the changing times and the natural effects of aging. Speaking of, she’s aged quite gracefully over the decades. At 79, she still has it going on.
Since 1980, Mills has married to Grease 2’s Maxwell Caulfield. She is slated to provide the voice for the character Chava in the upcoming animated series Ark which is expected to premiere in 2022.
Richard Long – Professor Harold Everett
The Professor was a widower and mathematics teacher at Collier University. He was also the father of three children – two sons and one daughter. He reluctantly hired Nanny and found himself befuddled by the things she often did. Many of her actions made little-to-no logical sense to him. There was also this ever-growing affection between him and her as the show progressed that added to the series appeal.
Richard Long, born in Chicago on December 17, 1927, discovered by a Universal Pictures casting director while he was performing in a college theatrical production. Richard then made his movie debut in 1946’s Tomorrow is Forever. He went on to appear in a handful of films throughout the 40s and 50s including a stint in the series Ma and Pa Kettle Adventures.
Richard’s television career would ultimately be his greatest professional success. Between 1958 and 1963, Long appeared in 31 episodes of 77 Sunset Strip as the character Rex Randolph. He later reprised that role in the 1959 spinoff, Bourbon Street Beat. His next big credit was in The Big Valley, a series in which he appeared in 112 episodes between 1965 and 1969.
After Big Valley, Richard did Nanny, and it was a nice change of pace for him. That series allowed him to show off more of his real-life personality. He was actually a remarkably funny individual but you would have never known that if you had only ever seen him in 77 Sunset Strip.
Long and Mills also had quite a bit of on-screen chemistry. If the show had perhaps gone on for another year or so, their relationship might even have blossomed into a romantic one.
Sadly, Richard’s life cut short when he was only 47 years old. Since he had experienced a fairly debilitating case of pneumonia as a child, he lived with a weakened heart. Of course, it didn’t help that he was a drinker a smoker. In the late 50s, he suffered a heart attack. Then in the days and weeks before his death, he experienced a flurry of heart attacks. He ended up passing away on December 21, 1971, just four days after celebrating his 47th birthday.
David Doremus – Harold ‘Hal’ Everett Jr
The professor’s oldest son, Hal, was a child with an above-average IQ and he followed in the path his father laid out in terms of the practical way that he viewed the world. Doremus was born in Palmdale, California on December 23, 1957.
Besides his turn on Nanny, Doremus spent five years on The Waltons portraying the character George G. W. Haines, boyfriend of Mary Ellen Walton. Although eventually his character killed off during an ill-fated training exercise at the start of World War II.
Some other notable credits of Doremus included an episode of Bonanza in 1972 and the 1981 made-for-TV film Rivals. Since 1980, Doremus has taken a step away from Hollywood and has been working in the mobile electronics industry.
Trent Lehman – Bentley ‘Butch’ Everett
Butch was the middle child on the series and obviously had some issues. For one thing, he was always jealous of Hal. His character also hated his real name and often depicted as being a mischievous prankster. He ever-determined to spook Nanny although it never quite worked out that way.
Unfortunately, Trent Lehman troubled in real life as well. He was born in Los Angeles on February 23, 1961. And before he did Nanny, he had appeared in an episode of Gunsmoke. And had a role in the 1970 film The Christine Jorgensen Story. After appearing on Nanny for three seasons. He went on to land a small role in a 1972 episode of Emergency. In 1982, after being unable to score any acting gigs. Breaking up with his girlfriend, and losing all of his money and valuables to a burglary. Lehman hung himself on the fence outside of Vena Avenue Elementary School in Pacoima, a neighborhood in LA.
Kim Richards – Prudence Everett
Of the three children to be featured in the series, Prudence was the only one who instantly took a liking to Nanny when she showed up. She was portrayed by Kim Richards, who later starred in the reality show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
In addition to appearing on Nanny, Richards did a lot of TV work including a part in the cast of Hello, Larry. Her personal issues have been fairly well documented. But despite that, she has enjoyed a fairly successful career in show business.
Richards was born in Mineola, New York on September 19, 1964. One of her sisters is Kathy Hilton
and her younger sister, Kyle Richards, is still a member of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills cast. Nicky Hilton and Paris Hilton are her nieces. Needless to say, Richards comes from a star-studded family.
Before Nanny, Richards did a handful of commercials. Afterward, she appeared in the Disney films Escape to Witch Mountain, No Deposit No Return, and Return to Witch Mountain. She has also appeared in quite a few different television series. Including 13 episodes of Here We Go Again, 21 episodes of James at 15/16, and three episodes of Diff’rent Strokes.
Kim’s adult personal life hasn’t quite gone as smoothly as her youthful acting life. She’s been married twice and was once engaged to a man who was allegedly tied to a criminal scheme. That ultimately got him killed when he was brutally murdered outside a deli in Northridge, California.
In 2015, Richards was arrested and charged with public intoxication, trespassing, resisting an officer, and battery on a police officer at a Beverly Hills Hotel. A few months later she was apprehended once again for shoplifting at a Target in the San Fernando Valley.
Nowadays Richards seems to be enjoying the simpler things in life. Not only is she finally off probation. But she’s also a grandma now and is working through her problems with her sister Kyle. She’s also taking her sobriety seriously and is regularly attending AA meetings. All things considered, Richards seems to be successfully turning her troubled life around.
Alright, well that’s about all the time we’ve got left for this one. But we bet you won’t ever look at Nanny and the Professor the same way again.
Quick question, between I Dream of Jeanie, Bewitched, and Nanny, which magical sitcom did you enjoy the most? Let us know in the comments section below.
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