The Odd Couple vs. Charlie Brown

Published 8:44 pm Wednesday, November 13, 2013

By Frank Roberts

A quick look at some showbiz brushes in Suffolk.

A little theater group did well years ago with “The Odd Couple” at the old King’s Fork Elementary School — well enough for a one-night holdover.

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Another play — the one about Charlie Brown — was scheduled to be presented at the movie theater downtown, but a “mysterious” fire destroyed the building and, as far as I know, it went unsolved. Snoopy never got to bark in Suffolk.

Remember “Hee-Haw?” You can still see reruns on RFD-TV. One of the men who slapped himself silly, rhythmically, came from somewhere around Windsor. Cathy Baker, the pert, chirpy young thing who was mostly used for introductions, visited the Louise Obici Memorial Hospital.

I can’t remember the reason, but I believe she was promoting something. She was an enjoyable young lady who came from the western part of the state.

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, around Smithfield, there used to be many outdoor concerts, mostly bluegrass. Grandpa Jones, also of “Hee Haw” fame, was a guest at one time. On screen, he was a funny character. At the concert he was given a ham, but griped because he thought it should have been bigger. Headline: “Ham puts down ham.”

His wife, Ramona, who often performed with him, ran a gift shop somewhere in the mountains. She was a sweet, affable lady.

Mel Tillis was a guest at one point. He was friendly enough. Later, I met his hit-making daughter, Pam, and found her to be outgoing, sweet, friendly.

I spent some time visiting with her on her bus and also talking to a famous author, Callie Khouri, who was traveling with her. They were college friends. Khouri wrote “Thelma and Louise,” which was a good-sized hit movie.

I wonder what John Bright is doing now. In the picture accompanying this column, you see him in the uniform of a highway patrolman. He was a very nice young man who sought movie success but wound up in supporting roles in low, low-budget movies.

John Bright

John Bright

As I understand it, he finally gave up films to enter the ministry.

Speaking of ministers, I spent several hours, several years ago, with Pat Robertson for a story I was doing for a religious magazine. He spent a great deal of time grousing about Jim Bakker, who had recently started his own ministry with wife Tammy.

Pat’s complaint was that he taught his “protégé” about religious broadcasting, and now, said “protégé” was using all that knowledge in competition. My story included those complaints, but they were edited out. When I got the magazine, I realized why. The next page was a profile of Mr. B.

Finally, this from the late comedian/philosopher, Dave Barry: “People who want to share their religious views with you almost never want you to share yours with them.” Do I hear an amen?

During a 60-year career spanning newspapers, radio and television, Frank Roberts has been there and done that. Today, he’s doing it in retirement from North Carolina, but he continues to keep an eye set on Suffolk and an ear cocked on country music. Email him at