Off-Camera on Stage 10 and Beyond
Some backstage glimpses of the cast of My Favorite Martian
"Walston’s Gym" area on Sound Stage 10 at Desilu Gower during filming of "Uncle Martin’s Night Life" Fall 1964
The gym was a regular fixture on the sound stage where the cast and crew could take a break during filming .
RAY WALSTON: "A person owes it to himself to keep in top physical condition. Most actors just sit around during a lull in shooting and by the end of the week they become sluggish. I maintain that when you become sluggish physically, it affects you mentally and you cannot give your best performance. All it takes is a small amount of effort and a little more willpower."……………………………………………………………………..........……Atlanta Journal Feb 27, 1965 (added 9/2/02)
BILL BIXBY: "As soon as I got on the Martian show, Ray got me interested in physical fitness. Now I’m really hooked on this daily workout routine."
PAMELA BRITTON: "That’s our form of coffee break. We used to get a lot of kidding but not any more. In fact, other members of the cast and crew now come over to use the equipment."
Chicago Tribune TV magazine May 16, 1964
…Candid 1963 on location of "How to Be a Hero" episode (added 8/4/12)
… (photo added 5/28/10)
2 photographs © Jack Chertok Productions, Inc.
Ray Walston regularly rode his bicycle around the Desilu lot. "It’s relaxing. I get here about 7 in the morning and ride around. It gets the blood bubbling." He gave Bill Bixby a bicycle for Christmas,1963.
Source: Atlanta Constitution Apr. 27, 1964; STARLOG magazine, Aug 1990 #157
Playing bicycle polo on the streets of Desilu Studios, (SW corner) early 1965(color photo© Gene Trindl, for TV GUIDE 5/8/65)
Here is an account of an anecdote that Mr. Walston told at a 1991 Buena Park California convention:
Mr. Walston explained to the audience that he was in the habit of using his bicycle to get around the lot, and always parked it in the same place. One day during a break in filming he went to get his bike. When he got there he noticed it was missing. He searched all over the sound stage and questioned everyone. But nobody knew where it was. As the search continued he became more and more upset and was starting to get angry, demanding to know what happened. It was at this point that Bill Bixby approached him and said "Ray, could that be your bike up there?" He was pointing up into the rafters of the sound stage and there suspended from one of the rafters was his bike. It seemed that Bill had decided to play a practical joke and had it hauled up there. Although relieved about finding his bike, Mr. Walston confessed to the convention audience that he didn't appreciate the humor until after his initial frustration had passed.
Sincerest Thanks to William Petersen who was in the audience and recounted Mr. Walston’s remarks for this page.
Bill Bixby and Pamela Britton, both enthusiastic golfers, clown for the camera……… TV Channels, Aug 23,1965
A skilled horseback rider, Ray Walston would play polo on Sundays at the Polo Grounds in Pacific Palisades Park during the MFM spring hiatus. On one occasion Pamela Britton and her family and Bill Bixby sat with the spectators to view the match.*
*(Special Thanks to Sylvia Stoddard)
Jean Udko, hair stylist for the series, adjusts the antennaed wig for Mr.Walston.
Early in the series production, back in his dressing room, Bill Bixby liked to play the ukulele.
………………. 3 photos© Jack Chertok Productions,Inc.
In a photo taken at the beginning of the first season, Bill Bixby clowns with his stand-in,
former major league baseball umpire Art Pessarella, who would take Bill’s place while the crew set up the lighting for a scene.
Source: The Pittsburgh Press Oct. 13, 1963…photo© Jack Chertok Productions, Inc.
Knowing that the network frowned on its TV series actors engaging in potentially hazardous activities, Bill Bixby said he once deliberately skateboarded past the producer’s office at MGM during contract negotiation time. He got his desired contract…in exchange for giving up the skateboarding. But that wasn’t the first time he had to deal with certain restrictions. ("…I started to sky-dive—and then, the insurance company for the show found out about it…" said Bill. "It was the day that I was to go make my first jump. I’d gone through school, I was ready to go and they just literally came out and picked me up and said absolutely not.") Bill said they took away his surfing privileges, too.
Source: The Mike Douglas Show, May 1972
..Bill Bixby took this photo of Alan Hewitt as Marshall Brennan on the MGM lot during the filming of "Go West Young Martian, Part I".
Photo Courtesy of THE TV COLLECTOR magazine, interview with Alan Hewitt. See "Magazines" under Bibliography.
(photo added 3/14/10)
The wheels of a dolly can be seen in the background of this photo taken on the set of "Go West Young Martian, Pt.II"
© estate of Ray Walston
(photo added 2/12/10 with appreciation to Peter Greenwood)
Bill Bixby took this photo of Ray Walston while they were on location on the MGM lot shooting the episode, "Pay The Man The $24."
Ray Walston’s visit to NASA at Mission Control in Houston: November, 1965
photo © estate of Ray Walston
Behind the scenes, during the filming of the medieval "Time Out For Martian".
(added 10/27/10 with special thanks to Peter Greenwood)
Mr. Walston in his dressing room trailer on the MGM lot. (1965)
For the 65-66 TV season, "Martian" filmed at the Culver City MGM Studios in sound stage 14 on the west side of the lot that was next to the stage used by The Man from UNCLE TV series. In January 1966, Hollywood Columnist Marilyn Beck wrote that Bill Bixby would jokingly greet the MGM tourist buses by welcoming them to "Universal" and introducing himself as either Robert Vaughn or David McCallum of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV show.
The fans knew who Bill was, but apparently the same could not be said for some of the staff at MGM: Bill Bixby told this anecdote about reporting to work at MGM studios in July 1965. ‘Martian’ had just relocated to MGM from Desilu and Bill drove onto the MGM parking lot where all the actors had their names posted on their parking spaces.
Bill said, "My name was spelled Bixbley. I told them my name was misspelled and the next day they corrected it—to Bixley. So then I said I don’t think they understood, and they apologized and fixed it-to Bixbey. Once again I complained and they found another way of spelling my name. This time it was Bixly.
"Then, one day, a new policeman at the gate didn’t want to let me in. But there were some fans hanging around the gate and THEY recognized me. So I got to work that day. It’s just that, for a while, I had a parking space with a sign with an awful lot of scratched out names."
((photo added 10/10/08)
Source: The Intelligencer, Edwardsville, Illinois, July 11, 1966 (added8/26/07)
…………………………………. (photo added 4/2/11)
Bill Bixby and Kathy Kersh (the actress who played Jennifer in "How to be a Hero"), outside CBS Televison Cityin Hollywood, Sept. 1963. They were invited to be in the audience for a taping of "The Judy Garland Show".
… ….On a flight to a CBS charity event for station KIRO-TV in Seattle, 1964
In a 1965 interview with the Philadelphia Inquirer, Mr.Walston said, "More adults than kids come up and say, ‘Let me see your antennae’ or ‘Let me see you disappear,’ or, ‘Read my mind.’ It happens all the time—at bars, supermarkets, railroad stations. I try to explain to older kids, if they sound intelligent, that it’s just a television show. If they’re very young, I kid a little without trying to cause any disenchantment."
Source:Philadelphia Inquirer Aug 1,1965
One such encounter happened during a lunchtime interview, where a line of children came up to his table to get autographs from Mr.Walston. A little 8 year old boy with a New England accent asked for an autograph. Ray said to him,"Where are you from, sonny? I’d say you came from Boston." Amazed, the child dropped his pencil. "How did you know?" "You forget," replied Mr.Walston, "We Martians can read your mind." The boy went away with the autograph, suitably impressed. "Man, he is something!"
Source: GRIT newspaper, Pennsylvania March 7, 1965
Youngsters also had questions for Bill Bixby, who told of a time in December 1963 when he did a question and answer session with children in St. Paul, Minnesota. "After I introduced an invisible Uncle Martin, they asked the darnedest questions about atmosphere and pressure on Mars…I just make up things as I go along. Like when they ask how long it takes to get to Mars, I just quip, ‘It depends on what year and what model spaceship you’re driving…’"
Source:TV STAR PARADE May 1964
Bill Bixby related this anecdote in an interview for TV Picture Life (July 1966) . He had gone to Orlando, Florida to film a local TV promo for the show. "CBS had sent a mobile unit along with me so we could record tapes to use later in plugging the show. I talked to a bunch of kids on the air and they were wonderful, crowding around me to have a chance before the mike. Then, when we were ready to wrap it up, I said to the crowd, ‘Okay, gang, what’s your favorite show?’ Of course they all started screaming, My Favorite Martian. All of them, that is, except one little tow-headed guy who stood right in front on the microphone and yelled, Combat! And to CBS’s credit, they were good enough sports about it that they put that tape on the air—complete!"
Source:TV Picture Life ,July 1966
……photo added 8/12/03
His first encounter with public recognition came from being on the series. Bill Bixby told TV STAR Parade magazine that he had gone to buy candy in the lobby of a movie theatre and the lady who worked at the counter reacted with a cry of surprise. Bill asked her "What’s the matter?" to which she said, "You!" Bill recalled, "It just didn’t occur to me it was a simple case of her recognizing me. I thought I had a bug crawling on me until she said real fast, running it all together, ’myfavoritemartian!’ Then I got it and smiled weakly in relief." After the movie Bill signed autographs for fans.
Source: TV STAR PARADE ,May 1964
Reflecting about going on weekend promotional tours, Bill Bixby said, "There are many questions on how we make objects fly through space, but what people like most about the series is the teamwork between Ray and myself. The chemistry between us is right and it shows."
Source:San Francisco Examiner June 15, 1965
photograph © Jack Chertok Productions, Inc.
Here are links to 5 stills from a behind the scenes home movie on the MFM set. (Two screen captures are from the "Go West" episode.) They have been posted on a thread on the "sit-com on line" message board.
Page 3 scroll to the bottom
Magazine Photo credits:SUNDAY NEWS TV Week, Dec. 20, 1964; Sept. 26, 1965 Lancaster,PA.; CHICAGO TRIBUNE May 16, 1964; TV GUIDE May 8, 1965, Gene Trindl; TV CHANNELS Aug 23,1965; BOSTON SUNDAY ADVERTISER Nov.17,1963; Jack Chertok Productions; THE PITTSBURGH PRESS Oct. 13,1963;**Alan Hewitt: Courtesy of THE TV COLLECTOR magazine, interview with Alan Hewitt.( See "Magazines" under Bibliography.) TV RADIO Mirror, Dec. 1964, TV STAR PARADE, April 1974
**(added Aug 25,2004)
STARLOG magazine, Sept. 1981 #50and Aug. 1990 #157 Both issues contain interviews with Ray Walston.
text© 2002-2012 by JH Harison
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