Timeless TV Classic          

Gidget – Introducing Sally Field

by Guy Belleranti

In 1965 an 18 year-old Sally Field made her national acting debut with the ABC television comedy Gidget. Based upon the character from a 1957 novel and then made more famous by Sandra Dee in a 1959 film, the series followed an impulsive and melodramatic high school girl who loves to surf.

The girl’s real name is Frances (Francine) Lawrence. However, her surfer friends give her a nickname by combining the words girl and midget. Thus the name Gidget.

Gidget lives on the sunny southern California coast with her widowed father, Professor Russel “Russ” Lawrence (played by Don Porter).

Field’s character has this to say about her life: “For 15 ½ years my life was a complete and total ick. But then on the 23rd of June two things happened. I fell in love with two things: Jeff, my Moondoggie, and surfing.”

In the film version James Darren had a big co-starring role as Jeffrey Matthews, Gidget’s Moondoggie. However, in the television series Moondoggie (played by Stephen Mines) only appears in a couple of episodes, with his character spending most of his time away at college at Princeton University.

Other important characters in the television series included:

Betty Conner as Anne Cooper, Gidget’s motherly and overly-protective older sister

Pete Duel as Anne’s husband John, a psychology student who considers Gidget a perfect study specimen

Lynette Winter as Larue, Gidget’s best friend.

Gidget only lasted one season and 32 color episodes. However, it became more popular as it ran, and the series gathered a cult following which grew over subsequent years when it was syndicated.

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