Marty Feldman, Bel It Not!

By | Monday, March 27, 2023 1 comment
Last year, I wrote a bit about prop newspapers for TV and movies. I'm sure there were multiple companies that did this type of thing, but the Howard Anderson Company, which had been in business since 1927, created newspaper funny pages for 1952's Mr. and Mrs. North and 1982's Remington Steele using some of the exact same fake comic strips!

But I happened across this sketch featuring Dean Martin and Marty Feldman (I believe this is actually from Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers but I can't seem to 100% confirm that) which begins with Feldman hiding behind a newspaper. But to quickly present him as being perhaps a bit "simple" the part of the paper that he's reading is, of course, the funnies. It's an unfortunate trope, but that was the general belief at the time. More interesting to this post, though, is that Feldman is holding up an actual newspaper, not a prop. Furthmore, we get a close-up on it to see exactly what he's reading!
What is no doubt immediately noticeable is that the strips' names have been blacked out. However, the first one is only partially blacked so it's not hard to see the distinctive lettering for Believe It Or Not! The second strip has its name completely obliterated, but the iconic figures of Mickey and Minnie Mouse are a pretty dead giveaway as to what strip that is. And the final strip's name seems barely blocked at all, and it's clearly Little Iodine. That last one is probably the most confusing to modern audiences since it ended in 1983, and hasn't seen any reprints or collections since then; however, it was once popular enough to warrant a a 1946 film featuring Jo Ann Marlowe in the title role. (As an interesting aside, the character's mother was played by Irene Ryan -- better known as Granny from The Beverly Hillbillies!)

I'm not entirely sure why the strips' names would be blacked out. There may have been some legal concern there, I guess, but given how identifiable the strips still are -- we even see the actual strips well enough that it wouldn't be that hard to track down precisely when they origianlly ran -- that seems a little on the pointless side. That they're obviously blacked out, too, actually draws more attention to them than if they'd been left alone.

I don't have anything particularly insightful to add here, but I just find it a curious anecdote from half a century ago.
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Re the redacted strip titles, I looked up the show and found this on Wikipedia:

For the series' third summer outing (which launched in July 1970) it shifted locales to London, with the title modified to become Dean Martin Presents The Golddiggers In London. In addition to airing for an hour each week on NBC in the U.S., this edition of The Golddiggers' series was also seen in half-hour weekly form in England

If that's the case then the titles may have been blacked out to allow broadcast in Britain. Until very recently, branded items such as cornflakes had their manufacturer name blocked out in the UK for legal reasons regarding advertising, so this may have been done because the UK broadcast was planned in advance.