When mistakes happen on a set, it often it leads to hilarious and insightful moments that we never get to see in the final, homogenized product.
Technical problems can cause delays and frustration when you're filming - and lead to disaster when you're on the air live. In 1969, NBC Newsman Frank Blair lived the ultimate nightmare for a news anchor - he was live on the air introducing stories, but the crew couldn't get the films to run.
With today's sophisticated digital systems, this could never happen - but back then, if the projector or the film broke, you were screwed. Note that this professional broadcaster lost his patience but not his cool.
There are times when a member of the technical crew accidentally walks into the frame, halting filming - like in this outake from M*A*S*H*.
A stop like this can be quite a nuisance - with all the time needed to set up a scene, the bright lights bearing down (and the air conditioner off because it makes too much noise) any stop in filming can mean another fifteen or twenty minutes added to the day, at least. Think how you'd feel! Maybe that's why the F and S words are used so commonly when a mistake happens.
Aside from technical flubs, it's usually the actor that messes up. Even future President of the United States Ronald Reagan let the expletives fly when he blew a scene, like in these examples from his days as a motion picture actor. As the leader of the 'free' world proudly flying the American flag, Reagan evoked God's name often in his speeches - but not in the way he does here!
Just forgetting or transposing a word or two can cause for some embarrassing dialogue - like in this scene from Burke's Law where the actress is SUPPOSED to say: "You know, you remind me of a trumpet player who used to blow here." Funny how messing up just one word gives that sentence a whole different meaning!
MORE MESS UPS
Looking for an extreme example of an actor flubbing lines would lead us to Elizabeth Taylor's appearance on General Hospital in 1981. Normally, daytime soap operas didn't stop and do retakes when a mistake occurred, they just kept plowing ahead - but that was impossible when Ms. Taylor was on the set. She was just having toooo much fun. It's been said that the Diva was a bit loose on pills and/or booze - that might explain her behavior - or was she just the happiest person on Earth!?! Her co-stars seemed none too happy.
Mistakes can also happen when props get misplaced - like the tissue Penny Marshall needs to get out of Cindy Williams' cleavage in this lost sequence from Laverne and Shirley. She pulls out Cindy's falsies instead. The Alan you hear Cindy Williams refer to in the clip is the legendary, recently deceased Alan Rafkin, one of the greatest sitcom directors of all time.
Some production companies liked to splice together reels collecting mistakes and foul-ups for showing at the end of the season wrap party. The most famous of these edits are the legendary Star Trek blooper reels, a collection of cast cut-ups and blown scenes that made their way around the Star Trek Conventions in the Seventies.
The guys who edited Laugh-In put together a wild string of flubs that gives us a behind the scenes look at just how fun filming this show must have been. It's no wonder Laugh-In was such a monster ratings hit - the brilliant cast's spontaneity heightened the improvisational feeling of the show's inane skits and blackouts. This film features guests stars like Richard Nixon, Jack Benny and Don Rickles in scenes not used for broadcast - for obvious reasons!
In some outake reels you can see behind the scenes tension - like this angry exchange between McHale's Navy costars Ernest Borgnine and Joe Flynn. Flynn would frequently cut up on the set and it wasn't always appreciated. It might be like that at your job - some people are all business, some like to play.
Occasionally, the cast and crew of a show get punchy and go wildly off script just for the fun of it.
Robin Williams was infamous for off the cuff comments during the taping of Mork and Mindy, he once even stripped naked and chased co-star Pam Dawber around the set while the audience shrieked. William's untamed improvisational nature was part of what made his character so popular. Unfortunately, there was no place in a 70's sitcom for clowning like this - but the studio audiences sure got a kick out of it. Suppose the producers of 'Mork and Mindy' kept all of the raw film - and re-released the shows newly edited...
Maybe the most outlandish outake ever filmed - from The New Zoo Revue, a fondly remembered 1972 syndicated children's educational show with Freddy the Frog, Henrietta the Hippo, and Charley the Owl. Charley and Freddy had a secret life, evidently!
In the nineties, sitcoms like 'Home Improvement,' 'Roseanne' and 'The Drew Carey Show' began to incorporate their mis-takes into the closings of the shows. Others productions sold their blunders, often faking them for broadcast on Dick Clark specials. The public became used to - and bored with - seeing these safe, rehearsed, fake bloopers.
Outtakes from a rehearsal of Richard Nixon's resignation speech. Yes, really!
Barbra Streisand bloopers from the new introductions that were filmed for the 1980's video release of her acclaimed TV specials.
Outtakes from season 2 of Star Trek Enterprise.
Frasier's 200th episode special featured outtakes with that cute little dog, 'Eddie.'
Elvis during the filming of his 1968 comeback special.
One of the funniest outtakes ever from The Carol Burnett Show with Tim Conway cracking up the cast during a 'Family' sketch. What's Dick Van Dyke doing there in that sketch? He replaced Harvey Korman during the first part of the show's last season.
Another funny outtake with Tim Conway from the Burnett show, I think this was the first Mr. Tudball sketch.
CLASSIC TV OUTTAKES!
It wasn't as easy to preserve outtakes in the days when television was shot on film. The film had to be processed and that cost money.
WARNING: We didn't bleep a single word from these clips - so don't play them if you don't want to hear lots of profanity!
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