Gidget's Field Days


Quick--what does Gidget stand for?

Give up?

It's a combination of "girl" and "midget."

Think hard--what's Gidget's real name?


What phrase did Gidget use to say goodby?


"Gidget" is based on a real person--the daughter of Frederick Kohner, who wrote the 1957 novel. The perky Southern California surf bunny has been a part of American culture for more than 32 years, starting with a number of Gidget films.

In 1959, Sandra Dee starred in the first, which was a box-office hit. Deborah Walley took over for 1961's "Gidget Goes Hawaiian." Cindy Carol was Gidge in 1963's "Gidget Goes to Rome." Karen Valentine starred in the 1970 TV movie "Gidget Grows Up." Monie Ellis appeared in the 1972 TV flick 'Gidget Gets Married." And Caryn Richmond played a more mature but still spunky Gidge in the 1985 TV movie "Gidget's Summer Reunion."

The most famous Gidget, however, is two-time Oscar-winning actress Sally Field, who starred in the 1965-66 ABC comedy series. The show may have only lasted a season--it was up against "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "The Virginian"--but it has been going strong in syndication ever since. "Gidget" aficionados can catch two hours of the series every Saturday and Sunday on KTLA.

In the series, Gidget is a boy-crazy 15-year-old who lives with her widowed father, Prof. Russell Lawrence (the very charming Don Porter). Gidget is doted over by her older sister Anne (Betty Conner), who is married to the stuffy John Cooper (the late Peter Deuel, who went on to TV fame in "Alias Smith and Jones"). Gidget always is confiding and conspiring with her best friend Larue (Lynette Winter).

Field was an 18-year-old unknown when she won the plum role. She had been spotted at a Columbia Pictures actors' workshop, which Field had enrolled in as a lark after completing high school and before she started college. A year after "Gidget" was canceled, Field starred as Sister Betrille in ABC's "The Flying Nun" for two seasons. She played a wife with E.S.P. in the NBC 1973 comedy "The Girl with Something Extra."

It took her several years, though, to lose her goody TV image and be taken seriously as an actress. Field finally got her break in 1976 when she starred opposite Jeff Bridges in Bob Rafelson's film "Stay Hungry" and gave an Emmy-winning performance as a woman with multiple personalities in the NBC miniseries "Sybil."

She won her first Oscar for 1979's "Norma Rae" and her second for 1983's "Places in the Heart."

"Gidget" was a training ground for several other young actors also. Michael Nader (Dex Dexter on "Dynasty") is Siddio, one of Gidget's classmates. Bonnie Franklin, Barbara Hershey, Daniel J. Travanti and Richard Dreyfuss are among the now-famous performers who guested on the series.

Twenty-one years after "Gidget" premiered, Caryn Richmond starred in the short-lived syndicated series "The New Gidget."

"Gidget" airs Saturday-Sunday at 2 p.m. on KTLA (two 30-minute episodes each day) .

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