By Ray Shasho
This is another “Classic Rock Meets Classic TV” segment:
... "I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king."
Marty Ingels longevity in show business may be depicted by Dean Kay and Kelly Gordon’s unfeigned lyrics popularized by the "Chairman of the Board" Frank Sinatra.
The multi-talented Marty Ingels has contributed to the entertainment world in various manners. Gumption, perseverance, and a chance encounter with legends Carl Reiner and Sheldon Leonard, landed the kid from Brooklyn a big break on television. And it was Marty Ingels recurring and animated performances as Sol Pomeroy, Rob Petrie’s loud-mouth Army buddy on The Dick Van Dyke Show that sparked a costarring opportunity with John Astin(Gomez -Addams Family) on the critically-acclaimed sitcom, ‘I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster.’ Unfortunately the sitcom, created by the legendary Leonard Stern (“The Honeymooners,” “Sergeant Bilko,” “The Steve Allen Show,” “Get Smart,” “McMillan and Wife.”) was cancelled after just one season and 32- episodes.
‘I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster’ 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD Set of the 1960s TV sitcom is available to purchase for the first time ever. ‘Volume One’ includes three -discs with the first 16- episodes and never-before-seen extras and collectable bonuses. The show is about two blue-collar carpenter buddies and their day-to-day antics. Marty Ingels played bachelor Arch Fenster, and John Astin portrayed Harry Dickens, a married man who sometimes relished Fenster’s bachelorism. Harry’s wife Kate Dickens was played by Emmaline Henry (Amanda Bellows of “I Dream of Jeannie.”)
Marty Ingels has appeared in over 100 TV shows and feature films. Some of the classic TV shows he’s appeared on are, “The Addams Family,” “Bewitched,” “Adam-12,” “Police Story,” “Chips,” “The Love Boat,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Baywatch,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” and “ CSI.” He’s also had a successful career performing voiceovers on various cartoon series including, “Motormouse and Autocat,” “The New Tom & Jerry Show,” “The Great Grape Ape Show,” and was the voice of “Pac-Man.”
Marty’s latest projects include, “Laid Off” and “A Strange Brand of Happy.”
Ingels married Academy Award winning actress and singer Shirley Jones in 1977. Jones appeared in classic musicals such as, “Oklahoma!” “Carousel” and “The Music Man.” She also became commonplace on television as Shirley Partridge, the widowed-mom of five children who then became a successful pop group.
Jones and Ingels wrote an autobiography based on their oddball relationship called, Shirley & Marty: “An Unlikely Love Story.”
Here’s my interview with comedian/ actor/ cartoon character/ voiceover artist/ theatrical agent/ Marty Ingels.
Ray Shasho: Marty, you’re one of those characters that I’ve always remembered from childhood and being from Brooklyn, you truly remind me of one of my Uncle’s from Bensonhurst.
Marty Ingels: “Then go to your room!”
Ray Shasho: (Laughing!) How did you first get into show business?
Marty Ingels: “My first few months in Hollywood, no sign of work. But I had a sweet old agent who just loved me ... and was increasingly more embarrassed with the zero prospects he came up with. One day (as he tells it) he called a friend of his, who was then producing a daily show dramatizing recorded criminal trials. He said, “Randy, you gotta’ get me a gig for Marty … anything!” Randy said, Just happens our show next week is about a murder that happens in a traveling circus troupe … and there’s a part for a clown.” My agent said, “Say no more …when do you want to see Marty?”
The next day… I had my circus clown reading. Nobody told me that the part for the clown had been written for a Midget. Anyway, the audition room was packed with little people when I got there … and I stammered and stuttered when they asked me what part I was reading for. Well… I got the part and those nice little people were dumfounded by a peculiar statistic… once every six years, a good role comes up for a dwarf, and a 6 foot 1 inch Bozo gets it.” (Laughing)
Ray Shasho: What was your big break in television?
Marty Ingels: “Guesting on the Dick Van Dyke Show as his loud-mouth Army buddy. It was my first TV shot in LA. My other break came after crawling into Jerry Lewis' office at Paramount. I was aggressive!”
Ray Shasho: One of my favorite Dick Van Dyke episodes was 'Sol and the Sponsor.' How did you get that role on the Dick Van Dyke Show?
Marty Ingels: “1961-ish it's about 2:30 a.m., and I'm sitting with a weary date in the all-night Pancake House. I'm in my mid-20s and mostly jobless. Then I look up and see two couples entering the restaurant and being seated. The two couples are Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard and their wives. It's a miracle mirage… I can't believe it. I say to my date, “Do you know who those men are?” She says, “Who?” And I said, "Only Hollywood’s entire sitcom industry in one place.”
“I asked my date if she's got four dollars that she can lend me (I've got six dollars in my pocket). So, she gives the four dollars to me and I race to the kitchen and ask who handles their table. I tell the waitress, “Look… I'll give you ten dollars if you let me serve the dessert.” I could say… “the rest is history” but not quite yet.”
“The dessert came and I jumped in and raced over there with the pie and the Shortcake … then I turned it on … Gleason, Berle, Skelton… I did it all. The wives loved me, Carl and Sheldon crunched up their mouths’ and squinted their eyes.... they knew exactly what was happening, but it was Carl who saved everybody's day. He whipped out a business card and said, “I'll give you this if you please get us our real waitress.”
“And it still wasn’t the rest is history yet because God still had his move to make. The next day… when I called Reiner and made an appointment to see him, he could’ve vanished without a sound, but he didn’t. He made the appointment and when I got there, he was quick to tell me that they were introducing a new character the next week and they hadn't cast yet. It was for an old New York Jewish Army Buddy of Dick’s called Sol Pomeroy …and now the rest of that is history! When I watch it now… this pushy kid fresh from Brooklyn High School, balancing all that comic traffic and doing it so beautifully …my therapist would say… "It's about time you broke down and gave yourself some credit … I was good! Now I gotta’ take a Prozac.”
Ray Shasho: What was it like to work on the set with those hilarious characters, and under the great Carl Reiner?
Marty Ingels: “They’re all heroes of mine. Carl has an over-the-top presence. His genius for comedy of simple life was the magic ... and still is.”
Ray Shasho: Do you still keep tabs with anyone from the Dick Van Dyke Show?
Marty Ingels: “Dick’s a close friend … Carl too.”
Ray Shasho: (Laughing) ‘I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster’ lasted one season / 32 episodes. When the show came out you had some pretty stiff competition, but I'm still surprised it was cancelled after only one season, especially being created by the legendary Leonard Stern. And I wasn't aware that the show launched the careers of so many great actors. (Harvey Korman, Lee Meriwether, Yvonne Craig, Jim Nabors, and Ellen Burstyn to name just a few)
Marty Ingels: “The show was an instant smash with the critics. They said it was a refreshing throw-back to the slapstick comedy era, even Stan Laurel was a fan. The show got cancelled by mistake before the ratings came out showing us beating our competition.”
Ray Shasho: Of course… your costar on that hilarious sitcom was John Astin. (He also played Gomez on ‘The Addams Family’) Do you still keep in contact with John?
Marty Ingels: “I’ve tried … John’s a college professor now. He’s a nice guy, but I always overwhelmed him.”
Ray Shasho: You did a lot of voiceovers throughout your career, what was your favorite role?
Marty Ingels: “The voice of Pac-Man, which everybody thought would take over the world, but it didn’t …the Smurfs buried us. Voiceovers saved my carcass.”
Ray Shasho: Is there anything else you’d like to add Marty?
Marty Ingels: “Shirley and I administer Southern California’s only 911 Memorial Park, across Big Bear Lake in a little town called Fawnskin. It has a genuine piece of the Twin Towers in the center of the park in tribute to the thousands of sainted souls that left us. The park can only survive on outside donations. Go see it!”
Ray Shasho: Thank you so much for spending time with me today …Uncle Marty. (Laughing)
Marty Ingels: “You can come out of your room now.”
‘I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster’ 50th Anniversary Collector’s Edition DVD Set of 1960s TV sitcom is available to purchase at Amazon.com.
‘I’m Dickens, He’s Fenster’ official website www.imdickenshesfenster.com
Marty Ingels IMDb www.imdb.com/name/nm0408733/
Marty Ingels TV.com www.tv.com/people/marty-ingels/
Shirley Jones official website www.shirleyjones.com
Special thanks to the great Billy James of Glass Onyon PR for this interview.
Official website http://glassonyonpublicity.wordpress.com/
Contact columnist/author Ray Shasho at email@example.com
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