Gidget (TV series)

Gidget is an American sitcom television series by Screen Gems about a surfing, boy-crazy teenager called "Gidget" and her widowed father Russ Lawrence, a UCLA professor. Sally Field stars as Gidget with Don Porter as father Russell Lawrence. The series was first broadcast on ABC from September 15, 1965, to April 21, 1966. Reruns were aired until September 1, 1966.[1]

Gid Title.JPG
Original title screen
Created byFrederick Kohner (novel)
StarringSally Field
Don Porter
Betty Conner
Pete Duel
Lynette Winter
Theme music composerJack Keller
Opening theme"(Wait 'Til You See) My Gidget", performed by Johnny Tillotson
ComposersDave Grusin
Stu Phillips
Charles Albertine
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes32 (list of episodes)
Executive producerHarry Ackerman
ProducersBob Claver (pilot episode)
William Sackheim
Running time25 minutes (per episode)
Production companyScreen Gems
Original networkABC
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 15, 1965 (1965-09-015) –
April 21, 1966 (1966-04-21)

Gidget was among the first regularly scheduled color programs on ABC. With a Wednesday-night time slot that put it in direct competition with The Beverly Hillbillies and The Virginian, it did poorly in the Nielsen ratings and was cancelled at the end of its first season.


The television series was based upon concepts and characters created by Frederick Kohner in his 1957 novel Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas,[2] which Kohner based upon the adventures of his teenaged daughter Kathy. The novel was adapted into a 1959 movie starring Sandra Dee, James Darren, and Cliff Robertson. The 1965 weekly half-hour television series is seen by some as a sequel to the 1959 film, despite numerous discontinuities in plot, time frame, and other details. It can also be seen as an independent incarnation, related to, but distinct from either the novels or the films. Kohner served as a script consultant on the show.

The series reintroduced Gidget's friend Larue and married sister Anne Cooper, both of whom appear in Kohner's original novel, but are absent from the motion-picture series. Gidget's brother-in-law, who appears in the novels as the intelligent but condescending child psychiatrist Larry Cooper, is reinvented in the television series as John Cooper, an obtuse but lovable psychology student.


Gidget centers on the father-daughter relationship between Frances "Gidget" Lawrence and her widowed father Russell Lawrence. Episodes follow Gidget's adventures in school, at home, and at nearby beaches. Russell Lawrence guides his 15-year-old daughter, while married sister Anne and husband John offer often unsolicited child-rearing tips. Gidget's friend Larue sometimes takes part in her escapades. More often than not, Gidget receives moral instruction from her father and gains wisdom from her experiences.

Each episode is narrated by Gidget; on occasion, she breaks the "fourth wall" and directly addresses her audience, usually reflecting on what she has learned from the evening's story, and sometimes ending with "Toodles!" (an expression Field improvised during production).[3] The explained pilot that her boyfriend called her Gidget because of her demure, petite build and short stature: girl midget, gidget!


Don Porter with Sally Field and Betty Conner, 1965
  • Frances Elizabeth "Gidget" Lawrence (Sally Field) is the prototypical southern California beach bunny free spirited and frequently barefooted.
  • Russell Lawrence (Don Porter) is Gidget's widowed father and an English professor at UCLA.
  • Anne Cooper (Betty Conner) is Gidget's older, married sister.
  • John Cooper (Pete Duel) is Anne's husband, a psychology student.
  • Larue Wilson (Lynette Winter) is Gidget's best friend.
  • Jeff "Moondoggie" Matthews (Stephen Mines) is Gidget's boyfriend, who is away at Princeton University.
  • Siddo (Michael Nader) is Gidget's schoolmate.
  • Randy (Rickie Sorensen) is Gidget's schoolmate.

While Jeff was Gidget's true love (she regularly wore his high-school ring around her neck), she regularly dated — or more accurately, pursued — other boys while he was away at college.

  • Kahuna (Martin Milner) - "The Great Kahuna"
  • Jack Collins (James Davidson) - "A Hearse, a Hearse, My Kingdom for a Hearse"
  • Roger Haimes (James M. Crawford) - "Image Scrimmage"
  • Mark (Robert Random) - "Chivalry Isn't Dead", "Gidget's Foreign Policy"
  • Bret (Randy Kirby) - "The War Between Men, Women and Gidget"
  • Tom Brighton (Daniel J. Travanti) - "Now There's a Face"
  • Corky Cook (Peter Brooks), Tate Cook (Larry Merrill) - "Too Many Cooks"
  • Baxter Stevenson (Tom Gilleran) - "I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I Think"
  • Durf the Drag (Richard Dreyfuss) - "Ego-a-Go-Go"
  • Scott (Carl Reindel), Richie Ryan (David Macklin) - "Love and the Single Gidget"
  • Toby (Robert Beach) - "I Have This Friend Who..."


The show launched the career of 18-year-old Sally Field, who defeated 75 other teenaged girls for the title role.[3] Field exaggerated her surfing experience to the show's casting directors during her audition (she had none); she later took lessons from Phil Sauers just to be able to pretend to surf for the cameras. Sauers served as the series' "surfing technical consultant" and provided the surfboards used during filming of the series.

Don Porter had portrayed Gidget's father, Russell Lawrence, two years prior in the film Gidget Goes to Rome and was asked to reprise the role for the series.

While the Gidget of the novel and the original film are both blondes, the Gidget of the television series is a brunette.

The lyrics of the theme song "(Wait 'Til You See) My Gidget" were written by Howard Greenfield, with music by Jack Keller. The song was performed in the pilot by The Four Freshmen, and in the series by Johnny Tillotson.

In the credits for the pilot episode, John Cooper is listed as "Larry".

The show ranked 68th out of 108 shows airing that season with a 26.8% audience share.[4]


No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
1"Dear Diary-et al"William AsherRuth Brooks FlippenSeptember 15, 1965 (1965-09-15)
The 1512-year-old Gidget falls in love with a surfer and with surfing, discovering a new sport and a new lifestyle along with it; Anne reads Gidget's fanciful diary and assumes that all of her sister's outlandish entries ("...and I sink into nothingness") are true.
2"In God, and Nobody Else, We Trust"William AsherRuth Brooks FlippenSeptember 22, 1965 (1965-09-22)
Anne is worried when Gidget asks her husband John to be her date to a luau; John, wanting to fit in with the surfing crowd, tries so hard to be hip that Gidget's friends immediately pin him as a poseur.
3"The Great Kahuna"William AsherStory by : Frederick Kohner
Teleplay by : Albert Mannheimer
September 29, 1965 (1965-09-29)
Gidget becomes infatuated with a rootless surfer bum called Kahuna (Martin Milner) and wants nothing more than to accompany him around the world to the greatest surfing sites. She changes her mind after inviting him home for dinner and discovering he has middle-class aspirations.
4"Daddy Come Home"William AsherRuth Brooks FlippenOctober 6, 1965 (1965-10-06)

Gidget encourages her widowed father Russell to start dating again. His first date goes well, but worries Gidget when he stays out late without calling.

Guest star: Harvey Korman as Joe Hanley
5"Gidget Gadget"E. W. SwackhamerStephen KandelOctober 13, 1965 (1965-10-13)
Gidget plays marriage counselor for John and Anne.
6"A Hearse, a Hearse, My Kingdom for a Hearse"William AsherStory by : Louella MacFarlane
Teleplay by : John McGreevey
October 20, 1965 (1965-10-20)
Gidget decides she needs her own transportation and puts a down payment on an old hearse with 99,000 miles; she then enrolls in auto-shop classes at school.
7"Gidget is a Proper Noun"Oscar RudolphAustin Kalish & Irma KalishOctober 27, 1965 (1965-10-27)

Gidget is convinced that her English teacher expects more of her than his other students because she is the daughter of his former English professor, Russell.

Guest star: Noam Pitlik as Donald Hardy
8"Image Scrimmage"William AsherBarbara AvedonNovember 3, 1965 (1965-11-03)
Gidget has a crush on Larue's cousin Roger from New York, and goes to extremes in hopes of being invited to his "kidnap" party.
9"Is It Love or Symbiosis?"E. W. SwackhamerStory by : A. J. Mady & Frederick Kohner
Teleplay by : A.J. Mady
November 10, 1965 (1965-11-10)
Anne and John convince Russell that he has become too dependent on Gidget, and suggest he send her to a private school in Paris.
10"All the Best Diseases Are Taken"E. W. SwackhamerTony WilsonNovember 17, 1965 (1965-11-17)
Gidget leads a protest over rising movie-ticket prices by getting protest singer Billy Roy Soames (Henry Jaglom) to perform.
11"My Ever Faithful Friend"Gene ReynoldsRuth Brooks FlippenNovember 24, 1965 (1965-11-24)
Gidget gives Larue a makeover, but becomes alarmed when she thinks Russell has become attracted to her.
12"Chivalry Isn't Dead"E. W. SwackhamerStory by : Martin A. Ragaway
Teleplay by : John McGreevey
December 1, 1965 (1965-12-01)
Gidget and her friends hold a slumber party to teach their boyfriends some chivalry.
13"The War Between Men, Women and Gidget"E. W. SwackhamerStory by : Pauline and Leo Townsend
Teleplay by : Stephen Kandel
December 8, 1965 (1965-12-08)

An isolated beach cove becomes the object of a battle between the boys, Gidget, and the girls.

Guest star: Linda Gaye Scott as Patty Cromwell
14"Gidget's Foreign Policy"Jerrold BernsteinStephen KandelDecember 15, 1965 (1965-12-15)

Gidget educates Swedish college student and bride-to-be in the "American way", resulting in a transformation from meek to man-chaser.

Guest stars: Walter Koenig as Gunnar and Brooke Bundy as Inge
15"Now There's a Face"E. W. SwackhamerDorothy CooperDecember 22, 1965 (1965-12-22)
Gidget falls for a photographer who believes she is the face of her generation, not realizing he is engaged.
16"Too Many Cooks"Oscar RudolphAlbert MannheimerDecember 29, 1965 (1965-12-29)
Gidget unintentionally makes a dance date with the dueling Cook cousin, unaware that Moondoggie will also be in town the same weekend.
17"I Love You, I Love You, I Love You, I Think"William AsherRuth Brooks FlippenJanuary 5, 1966 (1966-01-05)
Gidget develops a crush on a surfer over the summer, only to discover in the fall that he is her new math teacher.
18"Like Voodoo"E. W. SwackhamerAlbert MannheimerJanuary 13, 1966 (1966-01-13)
When Gidget becomes accident-prone, she believes a fortune-telling gypsy who stole her surfboard has put a curse on her.
19"Gidget's Career"E. W. SwackhamerJoanna LeeJanuary 20, 1966 (1966-01-20)
Gidget accompanies a shy Larue to her guitar class, and ends up joining a band that gets a shot on television—provided Larue is removed.
20"Ego a-Go-Go"Jerrold BernsteinBarbara AvedonJanuary 27, 1966 (1966-01-27)

Gidget decides to date the class nerd and invites him to the Spinster Hop, where his ego balloons.

Guest star: Richard Dreyfuss as Durf the Drag
21"In and Out with the In-Laws"Bruce BilsonRuth Brooks FlippenFebruary 3, 1966 (1966-02-03)

A nervous Gidget has a luncheon date to meet Jeff's parents, but causes confusion when she switches sweaters with friend Della Mae, who accompanies her to the meeting.

Guest star: Hal March as Jim
22"We Got Each Other"Bruce BilsonJohn McGreeveyFebruary 10, 1966 (1966-02-10)
Russell begins to date again, causing Gidget to become jealous, despite her best efforts to prove she is not.
23"Operation Shaggy Dog"Hal CooperDorothy CooperFebruary 17, 1966 (1966-02-17)
Gidget mounts a public-relations campaign to save her favorite restaurant, The Shaggy Dog, from being demolished to build a new museum, while unaware that Russell is on the museum committee.
24"Ring-a-Ding Dingbat"Hal CooperBarbara AvedonFebruary 24, 1966 (1966-02-24)
Gidget and Larue scheme to meet the popular British rock group the Dingbats.
25"Love and the Single Gidget"Hal CooperStory by : Lee Karson
Teleplay by : John McGreevey and Stephen Kandel
March 3, 1966 (1966-03-03)
While Russell is out of town, Gidget attends a surfing tournament in Oceanside with Anne and John's blessing,unaware that they have hired a college student to look after her.
26"Take a Lesson"Jerrold BernsteinRuth Brooks FlippenMarch 10, 1966 (1966-03-10)
Gidget is lured out of her house—in her pajamas—to join a friend on a surprise car-buying trip in Pasadena, which is complicated by her repeated attempts at contacting Russell to keep him informed of her whereabouts.
Guest star: Paul Lynde as Herman Marshall.
27"Independence — Gidget Style"Bruce BilsonJoanna LeeMarch 17, 1966 (1966-03-17)
When Gidget gets a job at a local diner for teenagers to buy Russell a birthday present, the family mistakenly believes she is actually working at the Tomcat Club, a local gentlemen's club.
28"One More for the Road"Bruce BilsonAustin Kalish & Irma KalishMarch 24, 1966 (1966-03-24)
Gidget gets a job driving a floral delivery truck, except she does not have a driver's license.
29"Ask Helpful Hannah"Lee PhilipsStory by : Don Richman and Janet Carlson
Teleplay by : Austin Kalish & Irma Kalish
March 31, 1966 (1966-03-31)
Gidget gets involved with bringing two lovebirds together after taking over the "Helpful Hannah" teen-advice column on the school newspaper.
30"A Hard Night's Night"Don PorterBarbara AvedonApril 7, 1966 (1966-04-07)
Gidget and Larue find themselves spooked, while unknowingly sharing the house with a friend of Russell's, with whom he had chance meeting at the airport—all during a raging thunderstorm.
Guest star: Frank DeVol as Stu
31"I Have This Friend Who . . ."Christopher CaryStory by : Gary Flaum
Teleplay by : John McGreevey
April 14, 1966 (1966-04-14)
The father of Gidget's latest boyfriend insists on coming along on their date as a chaperone, so they scheme to find a way to be alone.
32"Don't Defrost the Alligator"Jerrold BernsteinRuth Brooks FlippenApril 21, 1966 (1966-04-21)
Gidget places a deceased frozen alligator in the freezer without mentioning it to anybody, causing chaos when it is discovered.

Home mediaEdit

On March 21, 2006, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released Gidget: The Complete Series featuring all 32 episodes of the series, on DVD in Region 1. The release included the original pilot episode and a short interview with Field.

On August 27, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment announced it had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library, including Gidget.[5] They subsequently re-released the complete series on DVD on May 20, 2014.[6]

DVD name Ep # Release date
The Complete Series 32 March 21, 2006
May 20, 2014 (re-release)


Gidget faced stiff competition during its initial run. The show originally aired on Wednesdays at 8:30 pm, opposite The Beverly Hillbillies (CBS) and The Virginian (NBC), two established shows with strong ratings. The series was moved to Thursdays at 8:00 pm starting with episode 18 ("Like Voodoo"), where it performed poorly opposite CBS's Gilligan's Island,[7] despite airing after the top-five rated Batman.

ABC cancelled Gidget in April 1966, just as the show began to find a large teen audience. Summer reruns launched the show into the top 10 as viewers looked for programs they had not seen during their original fall/winter broadcasts. ABC had a belated hit on its hands, but refused to renew the show because it would have to admit its cancellation was premature.[citation needed] In addition, industry practice at the time rarely allowed for cancelled shows to be resurrected.[7]

Rather than squander the newly found audience for which ABC was hurting at the time, the network scrambled to find a new starring vehicle for Field. The result was The Flying Nun (1967–70), where Field reluctantly portrayed Sister Bertrille for three seasons.[8] Field later commented that she has great affection for her young persona and was proud of her work on Gidget, but was embarrassed with The Flying Nun.[3]

The May 28 – June 3, 1966, issue of TV Guide featured Sally Field


Milton Bradley Company manufactured a "Gidget Fortune Teller" game, which used Field's image on the box, the playing board, and several game cards.[9]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Woolery, George W. (1985). Children's Television: The First Thirty-Five Years, 1946-1981, Part II: Live, Film, and Tape Series. The Scarecrow Press. pp. 197–198. ISBN 0-8108-1651-2.
  2. ^ Gidget by Frederick Kohner [1] (2001) Berkley Publishing Group.
  3. ^ a b c Sally Field (2006). Gidget: The Complete Series (DVD). Hollywood, California: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
  4. ^ "The TV Ratings Guide: 1965-66 TV Ratings".
  5. ^ "Mill Creek Entertainment Signs Deals With Sony Pictures Home Entertainment To Expand Their Distribution Partnership". August 27, 2013. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  6. ^ "Hold the Phone! Sally Field Covers the Box for Mill Creek's Re-Release". April 15, 2014. Archived from the original on April 3, 2018. Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Gidget: The Complete Series". Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  8. ^ Holland, Lila (March 18, 2006). "". Retrieved April 2, 2018.
  9. ^ Board Games of the 50s, 60s, and 70s: With Prices by David Dilley (October 1994) L-W Promotions ISBN 0-89538-068-4

External linksEdit