Saturday, March 31, 2007

"That Merle"

Happy Birthday, Merle Sneed!

(Photo: Merle Sneed playing the zither at his church in 2006 )

Some of you might know Merle best as the star of a popular sixties sitcom.

Plot summary for
"That Merle" (1964)
Merle Sneed is a struggling zither player living in New York City. In between trying to find jobs and practicing the zither he finds time for his girlfriend, Donna Hollinger, and his parents, Steed and Samantha Sneed.

My favorite "That Merle" episode is the one where Merle takes a job as a catering assistant. He ends up serving little pies at a tension-filled mob luncheon. Merle eats one of the Nesselrode pies, so there are not enough to go around. One of the mob bosses takes offense, and a gang war begins.

Remember the "That Merle" theme song?

"Diamonds, daisies, snowflakes, that Merle!
Zen koans, raindrops, springtime... is that Merle...
He's tinsel on a tree! He's everything that every guy should be!
Fables, popcorn, draft beer, that Merle!
Cowboys, bluejeans, "his way."... is that Merle,
He's not flyin' alone but luckily for you--
If you find a great guy like Merle, one who knows
how to treat a girl, then you'll have your Merle too!
"That Merle!"

Of course, Merle was totally ripped off when his show was replaced with "That Girl" in 1966. they even stole his theme song, replacing lyrics like "draft beer" with "white wine" and other little changes. Many of the episode plotlines and main character's mannerisms and gestures were shockingly similar, too. (This is why Merle does not care very much for Marlo Thomas.) Merle did not let the lousy turn of events get him down though, he went on to make a pilot for a new show in 1967 called "The Ghost and Mrs. Merle." Finally, Merle found himself fully embracing the zither, and he said he'd found complete happiness once he began living "Outside of the Squawk Box."

Happy Birthday and a big slice of Nesselrode Pie to Merle Sneed!