July 17, 2011


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Viva Las Vegas
Another musical clip, from one of the collection’s two Elvis films. (Girl Happy is the other.) My Google-fu is usually reasonably sharp but I’m not having much success determining who wrote the song. I think it’s Marvin Moore and Bernie Wayne, but not completely sure. In any case, it’s a pretty funny lyric that rhymes Vassar, and it’s performed by a great’60s icon, Ann-Margret. The song is about how her rival for her boyfriend’s attention is his race car.

Thanks to E. Kanner for the tip.

The Munsters
A sitcom to cash in on the popularity of The Addams Family, this family of movie monsters had a horny grandfather. It’s the same joke, basically, as The Road to Bali, about ogling women at Vassar.

Girl Happy
The King himself sings about Vassar in a tune by Lenore Rosenblatt and Victor Millrose. For another Elvis-movie entry (though Elvis isn’t in the scene), see Viva Las Vegas.

The Star Wagon
A filmed play from 1966 with Dustin Hoffman in a very early role. Orson Bean is a corporate inventor who’s created a time machine as a side project; his boss doesn’t like him working on personal projects and fires him before he can use it. Bean hires Richard Castellano (of later “Leave the gun; take the cannoli”-Godfather fame) to help him move it out of his lab, but the thug has other plans. And a sense of humor, apparently, in the men-at-Vassar vein.

The Addams Family
Another classic '60s sitcom and another Vassar joke. The Addams are a wealthy and high-class family of assorted monsters (vampires, Frankensteins, disembodied hands, etc.). But their wealth and privilege drives the joke here.

Thanks to Bennett Cohen '83 for the tip to the show, and Richard Dorn '82 for pointing out the particular episode.

How can you not love this one? A campy, self-knowing show, the villains were often played for comic effect. These villains weren’t regulars, but as Vassar-as-character-point references go, this is definitely the most outlandish. And interesting as it’s about Vassar faculty rather than students, and ACDC gets a reference to boot.

The Sand Pebbles
This drama is set in early 20th-century China. Here a number of sailors are visiting the local bar/whorehouse, and the new girl—who’s uncommonly pretty and has better English than most—occasions comment.

Gilligan’s Island (2 episodes)
What’s a major ’60s sitcom without a reference? Drawn from two episodes, both scenes of course involve the wealthy, stuffy Howells. The jokes don’t really make a lot of sense.

Thanks to Noriko Ellen Okamoto for the tip.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
The classic Frank Loesser musical has a fairly funny Vassar joke...but it didn’t make it into the movie version. Happily, the current Broadway season has a revival, so with a bootleg recording from the theater, I can finally present it here, edited into the movie. Apologies for video quality and distance at the end here—I was in the back row of the theater balcony. In the scene, Robert Morse is hoodwinking his boss into thinking that he too went to the boss’s alma mater, Old Ivy. He also pretends to be an experienced knitter, knowing that the boss is passionate about it. In the stage version, after the leads exit, two janitors hear the end of their song about Old Ivy, and then they find the knitting. A gender-role joke ensues.

Thanks to Rachel Milligan ’96 for the tip.

The Phyllis Diller Show
A comedy icon of the 60s, the conceit of this show was a Beverly Hillbillies in reverse (sort of) -- they're an eccentric wealthy family but the IRS came after them for back taxes. The government decides to allow to them continue living in the mansion while paying because the nation looks up to them and it would cause a depression if they had to give up everything. So the series was a bunch of wacky schemes for raising money and staving off the government. Anyway, it's just a costume point but pegs Phyllis as a Vassar graduate.

Thanks to Richard Dorn '82 for the catch.

The Monkees
More ’60s icons, the Monkees on this episode of their TV show won a contest and are posing for a high-fashion mag. The various models in the scene are introduced as coming from the Seven Sisters and similar high-end colleges. Vassar as character point: well-bred, beautiful, and elite.

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