Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Loretta Young Show

(The Loretta Young Show)

Yesterday morning, I woke up in a start when I heard someone making a ruckus in my bedroom after 8 a.m.  "Honey, go back to bed ... the schools are closed.  We've got a snow day," my teacher husband said, grinning from ear-to-ear.  He's already been up for a few hours taking care of our household. 


My work day starts after I open my laptop at my home office in the corner of my living room.  But since I had company today, things would go a little differently.  I took advantage of the few extra winks and started my day a little later than usual.

Later, I jumped on my rebounder (mini trampoline) and grabbed the television remote for an hour of exercise.  I tipped in on the Barefoot Contessa just as she was pulling a Baba au Rhum from the oven.  

 (Baba au Rhum)

I increased the speed of my bounce and jumped to the higher numbers on the remote landing on a black and white television show on Channel 243.  

A Caucasian woman, who reminded me of a Japanese Geisha girl, was catering to an authentic Japanese man she called Mr. Kiyoshi.  He was her husband, but she only referred to him as Mr. Kiyoshi and waited on his every need.  I had stumbled on a classic, "The Loretta Young Show," circa:  1953-1960.

What intrigued me was her narration of the story as if she was reading from a novel.  It sounded like a book on tape re-enacted on the television screen before my eyes.  It was amazing.  I couldn't turn away.  I've never seen anything like this before.  I vaguely remember my Mom talking about watching The Loretta Young Show, and I've seen pictures of her, so her face struck a familiar bell. 
The show ran in the usual three acts with the act listed on the screen before the opening scene.  Each scene conveyed her thoughts and back story laced with a strong message that would feel at home in today's drama or reality television show. 

It went like this.  I don't remember her name, so I’ll call her Chiyoko.  Chiyoko's narration was different from “The Middle’s” Frankie whining about the antics of her upper blue collar life. 

I tuned into the beginning of Act II where Chiyoko sensed Mr. Kiyoshi was up to no good.  While she was giving him a bath … yes, hands-on scrubbing … he began discussing their need to look toward the future. 
Without any children of their own, they wouldn't have anyone to care for them in their old age.  He had a solution.   Adopt a child whom she could train to help with the chores.  Not born yesterday, Chiyoko reminded him that a child would, at first, create more work for her.  

What he really had in mind was adopting a 20-year-old girl, he knew was up for adoption in Tokyo.  Can you imagine?  Of course, it was for the sole purpose of lessening his wife's domestic load.  Of course.  That was his story and he stuck with it.  Ah… the plot thickened. 
Chiyoko's calm demeanor and respectful tone never changed.  She suggested adopting a boy instead.  A boy could help him with his fishing business, she reasoned.  She’s a clever one.  He drops the adoption topic like a hot potato.  From the gleam in her eye, she knew he would.  Bowing at intervals, she offers to clean his fishing boat.  An alarmed Mr. Kiyoshi sputters, “no,the boat doesn’t need cleaning," and leaves the room.

Chiyoko narrates:  “Hmm… after three days at sea and the fishing boat does not need cleaning?  Well, it is clear my husband does not want me to see something on the boat and that’s exactly what I intend to do.  So I will wait for him to go to sleep for the night before I steal away to the boat to see what my husband has been up to.”

She watches him smile in his sleep, before taking off for the dilapidated boat.  Her search does not come up empty.  She finds a huge pearl hidden away in a tea kettle.  She tells us that her husband has made his plans, so she will now make hers. 

The next day, an elated Mr. Kiyoshi makes up an excuse about needing to go to Tokyo for the day.  But first, he has to pick up something from his fishing boat before he leaves.  She goes with him to the boat despite his protests.  With her there, he won’t examine the pearl, he’ll just put it in his pocket fast so she doesn’t see it.

Off to Tokyo he goes and meets up with a 20-year-old waitress.  He narrates how he wants to make the 20-year-old smile and she will when she sees what he has for her.  He opens the napkin where he hid the pearl and there’s now a small rock in it.  He can't figure out what happened.

A disheartened Mr. Kiyoshi returns home to his doting wife.  Chiyoko goes about her subservient duties offering him food, which he declines, a bath … he also declines, and Sake, he takes.  She insists that he goes outside with her.  

“Where are you taking me,” he cries out.  She points to his brand new boat and tells him it was paid in full.  He looks into her eyes and then at the beautiful boat.  In that powerful, wordless moment they both face what the other had done and was planning to do.  

He cups her face in his hands and says, “Mrs. Kiyoshi … you are a very wise woman and a very good wife."

(The Loretta Young Show)

Lesson learned.  She stopped him from making a fool of himself and ending the life that was hers to keep.   At the end of the story, Lorretta Young appears as herself in a living room dressed in a flowing gown and speaks to her viewers.  She quotes what sounds like scripture from the Bible to reveal the lesson in the story, and then says goodbye.  "Tune in next week … same time … same place."

This wife played her hand well to keep her marriage intact.  Don't you just love  vintage television.  We think times have changed since we’ve entered the Electronic Age.  Not so much .... life travels in circles with the same stories but different characters and clothes.

Here's what I found out from The Museum of Broadcast Communications about The Loretta Young Show.
(The Loretta Young Show)

The Loretta Young Show, airing on NBC from 1953 to 1961, was the first and longest-running anthology drama series to feature a female star as host and actress. Film star Loretta Young played a variety of characters in well over half of the episodes, but her glamorous, fashion-show entrances as host became one of the most memorable features of this prime-time series.



  1. My husband is a teacher too and loves snow days....but I'm glad I skip the winter this year because right now I'm in the Phils.
    Thanks for sharing this story of this movie...I didn't know anything about this movie.

  2. Good for you and thank you for your comment. The Loretta Young Show was a syndicated television series that ran weekly. It's amazing how life's issues haven't changed that much in 50 years.