Airdates: The Dapper Dans were regulars on approximately the last 8 episodes (see details in timeline below.) The series ran for 19 weeks (though some were pre-empted and postponed) from its debut on April 21, 1966 until September 1, 1966. (NBC - Thursdays 9:30pm - 10:00pm, in color.)
Cast regulars: Fred E. Finn, Mickie Finn, The Fred Finn Band (Tony "Spider" Marillo - drums, Stormy Gormley - tuba/cello, "Dimples" Bobby Jensen - left-handed trumpet, Owen Leinhard - trombone, "Cugar" Nelson - trombone), Don Van Paulta - "The Flying Dutchman" - banjo, The Mickie Finn Dancers, The Dapper Dans (Jim Schamp, Ron Browne, Fred Frank, Tom Knox), Harold "Hoot" Connors, Mickey Manners.
Mickie Finn's was a summer replacement series for the sitcom Mona McCluskey starring Juliette Prowse and Denny Miller. Mickie Finn's Nielson ratings were better than its predecessor, but would have been even better had it not been opposite ABC's Peyton Place.
This riotous half-hour musical variety series was cohosted by Fred Finn and his wife, Mickie Finn (a stage name). The music played by the band ranged from current hits to ragtime and Dixieland jazz. In addition to the guest stars, the regular cast included Fred, as the proprietor who played piano and led the band, and his wife, Mickie, who played banjo. Harold Connors and Mickey Manners were the bartenders and bouncers who often provided comic relief.
|The Dapper Dans got the job
because Fred Frank had watched Mickie Finn's and then called Alex Plasschaert
(choreographer for the show) and said, "Alex, you need us on the show."
Alex had previously worked with the Dappers as a choreographer and knew their
capabilities. So the quartet went up to Hollywood for the audition and when when
they arrived they found their names were already on an episode planning board.
Still, they auditioned and wowed the staff of Mickie Finn's and became series
Of all the TV shows the Dapper Dans have been on over the years, Mickie Finn's was probably the most important because the Dapper Dans became series regulars about half way through the run and often played a large role in the show's musical numbers and comedy bits. They would perform alone as a quartet or with the guest stars as well as do slapstick routines. In addition, when the show ended, the Dapper Dans went on the road as regulars with the Mickie Finn stage show, including performances at Caesar's Palace and The Cocoanut Grove.
The set on which this riproaring series was taped was a replica of the warehouse in San Diego that Fred and Mickie Finn had converted into a rambunctious "Gay 90s/Roaring 20s/Swinging 30s" nightclub.
Opened on October 28, 1960 on University Avenue in the Hillcrest section of San Diego, California, Mickie Finn's seated 600 people, but usually 1000 were crammed in. Red-haired piano player Fred Finn, 21 (one had to be 21 years old to get a liquor license), was a recent graduate of San Jose State College where his thesis to acquire a degree in business administration was "How to Start a Night Club With No Operating Capital." He went $70,000 in debt to open Mickie Finn's and had just sunk his last $1000 into paint, plumbing, lighting and fixtures to convert the cold, barnlike building into Mickie Finn's. The place grossed $250,000 the first year. Over the next 14 years, 4 million jolly customers consumed 250,000 gallons of beer. Fred and Mickie also later opened a second nightclub in Beverly Hills on Restaurant Row in the new Los Angeles Emporium.
|The Finn's were honored on November 30, 1965 by the San Diego Chamber of Commerce
for selecting San Diego as the base of operations for their "speakeasy" club,
which brought the city widespread publicity. In 1968 and 1969, Fred and Mickie Finn were
co-chairman of the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual fund drive in San Diego County.
Fred would also employ a 1927 Seagraves fire engine as a publicity gimmick for the
Start of the re-creation in NBC's studios at a cost of $50,000. A scenic designer made countless sketches and photos of the original club to be sure of faithful duplication. Long, narrow tables with red-checkered tablecloths were installed, as were details like moose heads on the wall and signs like "Keep Cool with Coolidge." The origin of the TV show came while Fred had been performing an outside show at a yacht club. Fred was approached by a TV executive who asked, "How would you like to do a TV show?" The same producers who had done The Andy Griffith Show later came with NBC executives to see Fred's act at his nightclub and decided to give Mickie Finn's mile-a-minute merriment a go!
Some memories of NBC's Mickie Finn's from Dapper Dan baritone Ron Browne.
"We had a fine time doing the shows. We had all these little vignettes and every guy had to be or do what the crazy guys who wrote the script came up with! Like: My putting on monkey suit and chasing the Can-Can gals around and goofing off! It was fun but it sure got hot in the costume! I was wringing wet when I made the quick change into our Dapper stuff, and then had to sing a solo and flirt with the ladies in the studio!
Each show had an opening theme like sports! I was a hammer thrower and as I swung the hammer around, I screwed myself into the ground. Jim Schamp was a swimmer and he made like he was swimming in old-fashioned swim suit and as the camera got into his face, you could see a goldfish swimming in his underwater mask. I remember how funny it was seeing him try to get that live goldfish into his mask! Ha! I think Tom Knox kicked a wax football that exploded into dust when he kicked it! They had tons of sound effects and drawn extras like bubbles, explosions, like Batman TV Show. Remember the "POW! Smack! Ba-Voom!" stuff? Also they would put thoughts over someone's head like they use in funny books, usually a band member. He'd be playing like mad and the "thought" would be something that had nothing to do with the song or what he was playing. It was all very fast and wild. It made a lot of folks nervous to watch! Remember, it was before Laugh-In!
We made 2 shows every 2 weeks and it took 3 or 4 days to do them. It was always fun the first day of the 2 show rehearsals. We each found out what crazy thing we would have to do in those 2 shows! We didn't have to learn new songs because we had plenty in our list of tunes we knew! We did some backup songs. We backed up Ed Ames of the Ames Brothers. That was exciting since the Ames Brothers were so famous when we were in high school."
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