Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Top Five Phil Leeds Sitcom Performances
1. Blackie Sorrell on The Dick Van Dyke Show (the episode "Hustling the Hustler"): A stirring appearance as Buddy's black-sheep pool-hustling brother, who hustles Rob in his own basement just to make a big show of not taking the money from him. An Oscar-worthy performance, were this a movie.
2. J. Jackie Silver on Happy Days ("Goin' to Chicago): Leeds portrays the sleazy emcee at a burlesque show in Chicago which Richie, Ralph and Potsie are attending. Great character name, innit?
3. Salty on The Odd Couple ("And Leave the Greyhound to Us?"): A nice turn with Leeds typecast as a degenerate gambler, although the piece is generous enough toward him to show him both at the depths of his loserdom (when he loses his racing greyhound to Oscar after an all-night poker game) and, later, as a deep-pocketed winner at the dog track. Extra points for the long, stringy rat hair.
4. Lettier on Barney Miller ("The Photographer"): One of seven of Leeds' "Barney Miller" appearances; in this one he pretends to be a photographer to get up close to women in order to mug them. I don't remember if there was a joke on the term "mug shot."
5. Abe on The Jackie Thomas Show ("Strike"): Actually, I don't recall this appearance, but I wanted an excuse to point out that The Jackie Thomas Show - in case you've forgotten, it was Tom Arnold's sitcom that he got as sort of a reward for marrying Roseanne - was better than it had a right to be. And just about any show can be made better with a little Phil Leeds.