Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday, on a Tuesday! I am currently putting the finishing touches on our opening Roseanne post, which will debut tomorrow. So, in the meantime, since March is Spring Break Heaven down in my home state of Florida, and seeing as this blog’s last few weeks have been treasure-filled, I thought we’d celebrate the remaining moments of this month with a bit of sunny gold — a clip from a rare ABC-TV special that aired just once (June 06, 1973) — The Wacky Weeki Wachee And Silver Springs Singing And Comedy Thing!
Hosted by Tony Randall, on hiatus from the network’s The Odd Couple, this one-off variety program was essentially an advertisement for two classic Central Florida tourist attractions then-owned by ABC — and, no, neither were Disney World. The first is Weeki Wachee Springs, famous for its mermaids and manatees, with shows that remain today a kitschy taste of mid-century Florida, and the second is Silver Springs, which is known for its beautiful glass-bottom boat rides and has long touted itself as one of the state’s earliest — and most natural — theme parks. I went to both during my childhood, so I was delighted to find this silly televisual tribute to them, featuring Randall, alongside Jerry Stiller & Anne Meara (the latter was just about to join The Corner Bar), sports announcer Howard Cosell, funnyman Charlie Callas, The Electric Company’s Judy Graubart, and singers John Gary and Lynn Anderson.
Unfortunately, my copy of this special is incomplete. It’s missing the opening and has several cuts before it abruptly ends in the middle of a scene, wrapping up at around 34 minutes total (with a few commercials). However, it includes glimpses of all the stars mentioned above, and provides fun looks at both Central Florida’s Silver Springs and Weeki Wachee. So, for subscribers who comment below to alert me of their private, non-commercial interest, I would be glad to send this footage. Fans of nostalgia-bent camp will love it, and as an excerpt, here’s Gary and Anderson with a specialty song in honor of Weeki Wachee. Enjoy!
Come back next week for a new Wildcard! And stay tuned tomorrow for Roseanne!