A Look Back at Betty White’s Date with the Angels TV Series

Guest blogger Melanie Simone writes in with this look back at Betty White‘s 1958 TV series, Date with the Angels:

Plot summary: Vicki and Gus Angel’s first year of marriage. She’s a housewife. He’s an insurance salesman. They both live in the L.A. area and master their lives with strange neighbors, funny friends, awkward family members and everyday challenges after having said “I do”.

Review: There are several reasons to start watching a show that’s been off the air for over 50 years, provided the show is available on DVD. Date with the Angels offers a very obvious reason if you consider the well-deserved relaunch of Betty White’s impressive career, although relaunch may be a misleading term since she never really stopped working since her first television appearance in 1949. After her most recent successes on Saturday Night Live, Hot in Cleveland and alongside Sandra Bullock on the silver screen, most viewers probably best remember her as naive Rose Nylund from The Golden Girls or iconic Sue Ann Nivens from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. A frequent guest star over the years, she also appeared on shows like Boston Legal, That ’70s Show and The Bold and the Beautiful and was a regular on a variety of game shows such as Match Game and Password (the latter hosted by her husband Allen Ludden). Also starring on the Betty White Show and Mama’s Family in the 1970s and ’80s, she received numerous Emmy awards for her work, including one for 1952′s Life with Elizabeth. Date with the Angels, an attempt to follow her first Emmy succes, unfortunately did not live up to its expectations, although today it is a perfect addition to any Betty White collection.

As a beautiful example for a comedy from the 1950s, the show is funny and diverting with a simple setting and beautiful wardrobe, decent scripts and a wonderful cast of actors. White’s chemistry with her co-star, Bill Williams, helped build the structure of a show that focused on the lives of Gus and Vicki Angel, their love, quarrels and homey likes, sometimes a little too good to be true. But that’s the fun of it, after all, Date with the Angels introduced the audience to a newlywed couple: they are bound to be a little too in love, a little too cotton candy. They may see the world through rose-colored glasses, that’s what makes them charming, sweet and likeable.

For anyone who enjoyes those kinds of classic shows, Date with the Angels is pure entertainment, hilarious yet silly at times. And although it may not have met the quality of I Love Lucy, the cast held it all together for 33 episodes, made them smooth and carried even the weakest storyline. Bill Williams is such a delight to watch and so are the supporting guest stars, among them Nancy Kulp and Jimmy Boyd. Even though Betty introduced every episode and was the featured star, her on-screen husband was equally memorable, showing his romantic talents and comedic timing after The Adventures of Kit Carson went off the air in 1955, something he rarely got a chance to practice in other projects. It’s a pity this show didn’t last longer than a season, especially for the sometimes underestimated work of Mr. Williams, but also for the undeniable talents of America’s sweetheart Betty White. Today, selected episodes of Date with the Angels are available on DVD – a worthy investment for anyone who likes the style and humor of a bygone time.

Melanie Simone is a writer with a degree in American Studies and English. On Talking Classics, she savors her love for vintage Hollywood.

 

 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713983697 Gordon S. Jackson

    I’m wondering how “Meet Millie” from the mid fifties would hold up.  Starring Florence Halop, Marvin Kaplan, Elena Verdugo, Ross Ford and Roland Winters (the last Charlie Chan), it was a Tuesday night at 9:00 on CBS must see, airing a half hour before the delightful “Red Skelton Show.”

    My other fifties comedy choice, if it is still around would be “The George Gobel Show” with ‘Lonesome George’, Jeff Donnell as his long suffering wife Alice and singer Peggy King.  It came on Saturday night at 10:00 on NBC every week except one when it, and the 9-10 programs were pre-empted for a “Max Liebman Spectacular”, usually an operetta like “Dearest Enemy”, “The Chocolate Soldier” or “The Merry Widow.”  (Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys, who were regulars on the classic CBS sitcom “Topper” often headlined those operetta ‘spectaculars.’)

    Ah, the good, old days!
     

  • FalmouthBill

    What about her earlier T.V. series “Life with Elizabeth”, with Del Moore, she was riotous long before Lucy was on the scene !

    • Maxfabien

      I agree. “I was just a kid then, but I remember “Life with Elizabth”. I thought it was so funny how every show ended the same. A group of people would all argueing with each other over something, all yapping at the same time. Then the announcer would say, “Hey, aren’t you going to say ‘goodnight’ to the people?”. The group would then get silent, all look at the camera, smile, and say “Goodnight”. Then they immediately went back to argueing.

  • Terry Peters

    I used to LOVE watching that tv series when I was a youngster.

  • Tellterry

    I am a Betty White fan,but I don’t remember actually watching either of her early offerings in the 50′s.  In our area we only had one TV network back then.  My taking note of her beauty and talents first came watching Password, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and of course, Golden Girls.  I liked her character in the movie “Bringing Down The House” and was delighted to hear she was coming back to TV with “Hot In Cleveland”.  I also enjoy seeing her in those TV commericals she did in between, and I have much respect for her and her love of animals.  I smile when I think of her and I’m so glad she’s able to keep-a-goin’.