Sunday, January 19, 2014

DAVE MADDEN : from "Camp Runamuck" to "Reuben Kincaid"

For most people, Dave Madden (December 17, 1931–– January 16, 2014) was "Reuben Kincaid," the manager of "The Partridge Family." To borrow a phrase from Piers Morgan, "if I'm going to be honest," I must admit that I have never, EVER watched an episode of that show. I've had pleasant dealings with Shirley Jones (and Marty Ingels) but that still couldn't get me to watch it. Or "The Brady Bunch." Or "Laverne and Shirley." Or "Happy Days." To name a few beloved 70's sitcoms.

That's why the download is Homer & Jethro's version of the "Camp Runamuck" theme. That was Dave Madden's first sitcom as a regular ("Alice" was his last…another show I never watched.) After "Camp Runamuck," Dave joined the cast of the fading "Laugh In," which did give him a chance to do the kind of gags that were part of his formative years as a stand-up comic and magician. There are probably existing episodes of "The Ed Sullivan Show," "Hollywood Palace" and "The Merv Griffin Show" featuring the blond-haired goofball doing his harmless and zany antics.

Madden was one of many actors who played harmless, slightly goofy average guys…Jerry Van Dyke and Tom Poston were two more, and with a little slow-burn edge, there was Dave Ketchum and Allan Melvin. Madden did have a more complex role on "The Partridge Family" than he did as just another simpleton at the "Camp Runamuck" summer camp. As Shirley Jones said the other day, "“His relationship with Danny Bonaduce is what made the show work; this strange, mad little boy and the grown man who was even worse as a father figure.”

Dave had a hint of the rube about him, but was not from America's South; he was born in Canada, and raised in Terre Haute, Indiana. Indiana, of course, gave America the original all-American Hoosier comic, Herb Shriner, and later on, David Letterman. Madden left Indiana State Teachers College to join the Air Force in 1951, and as part of a Special Services unit, entertained the troops as an mc and comic. Over the years, Madden's brand of All-American nice-if-off personality made him welcome in guest-star roles in a number of classic stupid TV shows, including "Happy Days," "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island." For more on Madden, there's his autobiography, with a pun title reflecting his most famous role and a particular type of deli sandwich (featuring sauerkraut, corned beef, Swiss cheese and Russian dressing), "Reuben on Wry."

The twice-married actor spent his last months at a Jacksonville, Florida hospice, dealing with myelodysplasia, a blood disease…the same problem that eventually took the lives of actors Larry Hagman and Pat Hingle, and writers Roald Dahl and Nora Ephron.


CAMP RUNAMUCK - sung by Homer and Jethro

No comments: