Often she was a Donna Quixote tilting at windmills, but occasionally her advocacy did bear fruit; after she sat at an intersection down the road from her house and kept a log of traffic light changes and cars backed up behind people waiting to make a left turn, the village actually installed a left-turn lane.
Partly because I myself had, as a teenager, done the same thing (see my blog post about it here), and gotten responses from people like Michael Palin of Monty Python [left] and John Belushi, en route to becoming a professional celebrity pursuer at Rolling Stone.
But I was also surprised because she'd framed some letters she'd gotten when she was younger from the likes of Adlai Stevenson, but these writers shoved into a folder deep in the recesses of her house -- Kurt Vonnegut and George C. Scott -- were pretty impressive "gets."
I had never heard of, "East Side West Side." Scott, then 36, had mostly been a stage actor; he had already been in The Hustler but had not yet been seen in Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. (It should be noted that when she wrote him, she was 26, with a 2-year-old -- me -- and was soon to be pregnant with her second kid.)
I looked up East Side West Side just now [photo up top] and discovered it's exactly the kind of show I would (hopelessly) want to watch or write for, nearly a half century later. It aired on CBS in 1963-4. Scott played a social worker; the supporting cast included Cicely Tyson, Elizabeth Wilson and Richard Dysart. Amazingly for the era, the subject matter included prostitution and statutory rape.
According to Wikipedia, although the show got eight Emmy nominations (and won one for directing, for an episode with guest star James Earl Jones), advertisers didn't support it, and several stations in the South refused to air it. Eventually Tyson's character was replaced with Barbara Feldon, but it still got cancelled. It's not available on DVD.
Scott's letter to my mother is an amazing artifact. Not just because he hand typed it, not just because he included his home address (albeit mistyped), but because he predicts the TV universe decades later.
We can only hope the future of commercial television will be freer and more mature. Failing this, perhaps pay television will give the more selective viewer the representation on public airways which is presently denied him. With little faith in the former improbability, I intend to support the latter eventuality.According to IMDB, Scott tried episodic TV a few more times late in his career: playing the title role in the 1987 sitcom Mr. President. created by the impressive triumverate of Johnny Carson, Gene Reynolds and Ed. Weinberger and co-starring Madeline Kahn, more than a decade before The West Wing. He also played a retired cop in 1994's Traps, and the following year was in a failed Mary Tyler Moore newspaper drama called New York News (which boasts an amazing roster of writers, and directors including Michael Apted and Lost's Jack Bender).
Boris Kuester von Jurgens-Rateniczon on USA Network's Royal Pains [right].
Still, I'd like to see those episodes of East Side, West Side.