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Carol Channing Special (1966)
by Billy Ingram with video contributions from Dan Wingate, Jeff Vilencia and Wesley Hyatt

In the early days of television, a show couldn't get on the air if there was no sponsor signed on. The advertiser (alone or in partnership with the network) paid the cost of production in exchange for commercials and product plugs throughout the program.

Carol Channing ShowAdvertisers were also anxious to bankroll high profile network specials with big name stars. A unique example of this would be The Carol Channing Special from 1966.

This musical hour was sponsored by General Foods and the commercials featured Carol dropping in on the CBS sitcoms that GF was sponsoring that year. Cast members, in their familiar settings, were called into service to sing the praises for GF's fine products. Surprisingly, every one of these shows is still popular today in reruns!


THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW

Well, Andy sure is glad to see Carol drop by. He's apparently hanging around the office kind of late at night...

Uh, by the way Andy, where's your girlfriend Helen Crump?!? You think she'd mind that a Broadway star dressed like a ski bunny Jezebel is dropping in on her small town man for a late-night drink? And Helen was worried about the Fun Girls...

'Course it's all innocent 'cause Andy just loves talkin' 'bout Sanka Coffee, a fine product of General Foods. (Say, wasn't he the General that burned all the crops during the war between the states? Or was that General Mills?)

Andy then happily tells us he even used a hidden camera to record the reactions of some Yankees from up north enjoyin' Sanka Coffee. Who knew Mayberry was so high-tech? Or that they cared what Yankees thought about anything...


GOMER PYLE, USMC

Next, birdlike Carol Channing is flitting off to see former Mayberry resident Gomer Pyle as he enters his third year as a private in the Marine Corps.

As usual, he's doing KP duty - but it's no bother to feed the troops at all thanks to new Post Corn Flakes & Strawberries cereal.

Despite the oversized dark glasses, Gomer seems to recognize the New York actress right away, calling her 'Miss Carol' - wasn't that Gomer's nickname for Carol Burnett also? What'd he call EVERYONE Miss Carol?!?

Corn Flakes & Strawberries cereal was a fine product, but after you poured on the milk, you had a very small window of enjoyment between the time the freeze-dried strawberries softened up and the corn flakes got soggy.


GREEN ACRES

It's morning in Hooterville and Oliver and Lisa hear a knock at the door - guess who it is?

It's Carol and she's just in time for breakfast with a glass of Awake Orange Drink powder product stuff.

Oliver wants only fresh squeezed orange juice, but it turns out he can't tell the difference anyway, so what the hell? In fact, no one can tell which glass has the fresh squeezed juice or which has the powdered drink. Must be some farm...


HOGAN'S HEROES

Then it's back in time and half way around the world as the spasmatic Miss Channing pops in on Colonel Hogan and his zany gang of Nazi prison camp survivors.

When Carol arrives, Corporal LeBeau has just served up a gourmet meal with some JELLO for desert - topped with Dream Whip, the rich topping that has more than just the flavor of whipped cream. Exactly WHAT more, they never say - but I've had it and it's very tasty.

When Col. Klink and Sgt. Shultz join their American prisoners for dessert, fun is had by all. Of course, Col. Klink wasn't too thrilled about his spiked helmet being used as the Jello mold...

A sign that times have changed: I bet you'll never again see a JELLO commercial set in a Nazi prison camp or with Nazi memorabilia featured prominently in the product shot.

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"Loved those commercials with Carol Channing and the rest of the General Foods family (I told my friends to check out the HOGAN'S HEROES spot). But the Gomer Pyle one is something I would have loved to see being filmed.

"I read something about how at that time Carol also made a sitcom pilot for GF which included a spot for Corn Flakes & Strawberries, done by her and her on-screen son (played by Jimmy Garrett, after Lucille Ball dumped him into military school and forgot he and his sister even existed). Anyhow, the point is that Carol is allergic to strawberries, and the story described how for take after take, she would spoon some cereal into her mouth...then when the director yelled "CUT", spit it out before she could have a reaction."
- Paul Duca


Dear Billy,
A friend sent me the address to your webpage about "when stars did the commercials." There is a note by Mr. Paul Duca tagged at the end of the article. There are a couple of errors in Mr. Duca's note I thought I could set straight for you.

" First, while Carol Channing did do a pilot for General Foods ("The Carol Channing Show"), she did not have a son in the pilot and in fact played a single woman. I did a very cute scene where Miss Channing, who was broke and hungry, tried to steal an unnamed boy's candy while sitting on a park bench.

"The most interesting thing about the pilot was that it was produced and directed by Desi Arnaz on the same stage that was being used for "The Lucy Show" while it was on hiatus. Secondly, I am not aware of any cereal commercials being shot during the pilot. Usually commercials were not made by sitcom stars until the pilot sold. But, if a commercial was shot, I did not appear in it. Mr. Duca also might find it interesting that I did a few more episodes of "The Lucy Show" after I was "dumped" into military school.

"Hope this helps."

Best, Jimmy Garrett
( aka Jerry Carmichael of "The Lucy Show"
)

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