Gidget

By | Sep 4, 2007

Gidget – Short for Girl Midget first came to life as a book written by Frederick Kohner and based on the personal experiences of Kathy Kohner (Zuckerman) his daughter. Kohner was a Hollywood scriptwriter and his work of fiction is a charming, novel about a girl who eagerly paddled into the waves.

Gidget was turned into a movie in 1959 with Sandra Dee playing the 16 year old Francis Lawrence (Gidget), James Darren as Moondoggie and Cliff Robertson as the Big Kahuna. It was followed by Gidget goes Hawaiian with Deborah Walley as Gidget and Gidget Goes to Rome with Cindy Carol. James Darren played Moondoggie in all three movies.

In 1965 the character was adapted to become a television sitcom with Sally Fields as Gidget. Between the first movie and the TV series Gidget’s hair color went from blond, both Dee and Carol were the blonds, to redhead, Walley and finally to brunette, Fields hair color. Gidget has been a brunette mostly since. The series was only on for one year, but launched Sally Fields’ career.

A television movie followed in 1969, Gidget Grows Up, with Karen Valentine in the tile role.

Gidget Gets Married was the name of a 1972 television movie. Monie Ellis, a blonde, played Gidget.

In 1985 a second series based on an older Gidget was made, The New Gidget. It started with a television movie, Gidget’s Summer Reunion. Both the movie and the series starred Caryn Richman playing a 30 year old wife, married to Moondoggie. The series lasted for two seasons, 44 episodes, as a syndicated series.


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2 Comments so far
  1. Lawrence Rowswell March 22, 2009 6:24 pm

    I was in first grade when Sally field was Gidget, so perhaps I remember a few things you don’t. for one thing, she hasn’t remained ‘a brunette ever since.” Monie Ellis played her as a blonde in “Gidget Gets Married” (1972).

    Also it was never “the Big Kahuna,” if anything it was “the great Kahuna,” but more often simply “the Kahuna.” He appeared in only one episode of the 60’s sitcom, but he was a principal charcter in the first two novels and the first movie, and a recurring character in “The New Gidget.” He also appearred in “Gidget’s Summer Reunion.”

    Hair color was the least of Gidget’s discontinuities. In the first novel her name is “Franzie, short for Franziska,” after her Grandmother, but no last name is offered. In that same novel her father is addressed as Paul. In all the subsequent novels she is Franzie Hofer, the daughter of Gottefried and Louise Hofer. In the films she is Frances Lawrence, daughter of Russ and Dorothy Lawrence. The name Lawrence stuck for the television work.

    In the novels Moondoggie’s name is Geoffrey H. Griffin. In the films and 60’s sitcom he is Jeffrey Matthews. In “Gidget Grows Up” his name changes back to Griffin, then to Stevens in “Gidget Gets Married,” then back to Griffin for all the subsequent television work. The Kahuna’s name is Cassius Jason in the novels, Burt Vail in the Movie and Cassius Kopp in the 60’s sitcom.

  2. Steven G. Atkinson March 22, 2009 7:01 pm

    Thanks for the comment and the added information.

    I am mistaken about Gidget’s hair color after Sally Fields, Monte Ellis was a blonde Gidget. Corrections made.

    As to “the Big Kahuna”, that information came from the the movie’s entry at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0052847/.

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