EVERYONE, IT SEEMS, WANTS TO know what the stars who charmed us and warmed us in decades past are up to these days. Our first Where Are They Now? issue last November was a solid-gold hit with readers. This year, executive editor Susan Toepfer and the Special Issues staff narrowed the nostalgic focus, concentrating on TV celebrities who have become pop-culture icons. The rich results (pages 34-59) are due to the enthusiasm and ingenuity of some very special staffers.
Los Angeles correspondent Johnny Dodd received his assignment—to track down and interview some 30 stars—with blistered feet. The Kings-port, Tenn., native had just returned from a 10-day trek in the Utah desert called the Eco-Challenge, in which his five-man band of journalists finished 14th among 50 teams. Still, he was eager to get to work. “Television taught me ethical dilemmas via Gilligan and Jeannie,” he says. “They were morality plays squeezed into 22 minutes—plus commercials.” Dodd supplied candid and entertaining interviews with the likes of One Day at a Time star Pat Harrington and the original “cuchi-cuchi” girl, Charo. “Charo was in town for 24 hours to do Leno’s show,” says Dodd. “I met her at the United Airlines sky lounge just before she flew back to Hawaii. She’s hilarious, but, man, what an accent!” Empathy is one reason for Dodd’s success at schmoozing. “Johnny connects with people,” says L.A. bureau chief Jack Kelley. “He’s genuinely interested in them.” Another reason may be his outdoorsy good looks. “I’ve seen grown women run to get on an elevator with him,” says Kelley. Whatever the reason, I Dream of Jeannie’s Barbara Eden tried to play matchmaker. “She wanted to introduce me to her niece,” says the unmarried Dodd.
Meanwhile, Special Issues senior editor Elizabeth Sporkin was busily bringing together, for the first time, eight prominent television doctors. Picture editor Maddy Miller and art director Phil Simone supervised the remarkable L.A. photo shoot (pages 52-54). Miller gathered more than $40,000 worth of medical equipment to outfit TV’s fabulous physicians past and present. Chad Everett, though, wore his own scrubs from Medical Center because, says Simone, “he insisted that they were authentic.” The big news of the day, however, came from a real doctor. Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman) arrived at the shoot direct from her obstetrician, who had recently informed the 44-year-old actress and mother of two that she was pregnant with twins.
“The men were still hunky,” says Miller, who had the actors pose behind a reclining Seymour. Hunky and precise: “Vince Edwards insisted on being at Jane’s head because Ben Casey was a neurosurgeon.” So many egos in one room could have been a prescription for high fevers. But, says Miller, “they joked and got into their roles again. They really respected each other.”