The Great Saturday Morning Experience

Actor Spotlight: Pamelyn Ferdin

Pamelyn Ferdin

Now this week you may notice that I am not using the term voice artist spotlight but actor instead. Not that the others aren’t actors and not that Pamelyn wasn’t a voice artist. She definitely was, and in fact, one of her main claims to fame was being the voice for Fern Arable in the feature film version of “Charlotte’s Web” by Hanna-Barbera back in 1973. Had she won the part of Regan in “The Exorcist” that of course would have been an entirely different story, and career probably for that matter. Once you hear her voice though you may also be reminded of Lucy Van Pelt from Peanuts, as she portrayed that character not once, but three times, in the TV shorts, “It Was a Short Summer, Charlie Brown” from 1969 and “Play it Again, Charlie Brown” from 1971, as well as the feature film “A Boy Named Charlie Brown” in 1969. Aside from those and some other roles I’ll get to in this blog, I think we’ll remember her more for her  live action roles from Saturday mornings at least as much if not more than her voice acting.

As usual though, we’ll start off with highlights from her roles in front of the camera that were not a part of Saturday mornings. She was one of those baby boomers that was near the end of the generation so I’m sure a lot of you grew up with her just as a lot more of us were only a few years behind her. She had a fairly lengthy career as a child actor in the 1960s and 1970s. Some of her appearances in the 1960s were on such shows as “Bewitched”, “The Andy Griffith Show”, “My Three Sons”, “Daniel Boone”, “Green Acres”, “Star Trek”, “Gunsmoke”, “The Flying Nun”, “The High Chaparral”, and of course she was the Bumstead’s young daughter Cookie, on “Blondie”.

The 1970s was perhaps the busiest decade for the young Miss Ferdin as she filled up our Saturday mornings as well as prime time on such shows as “Night Gallery”, “The Brady Bunch”, “Family Affair”, “The Cat in the Hat” (a prime time animated special), “The Odd Couple”, “Love American Style”, “The Paul Lynde Show”, ”Lassie”, “CHiPs”, and “Vega$”.

Now as it comes to Saturday mornings, the first and last times we see her were in live-action. She first popped up in 1971 on “The Curiosity Shop”. If you remember, this show had a similar format to Sesame Street with a bunch of puppets, some skits, and cartoons all designed to be informative and educational. The show was hosted by two boys and a girl, Pam of course being the girl. She actually wasn’t on every episode however as there was another girl who appeared on different episodes. Besides the puppets and some other odd human characters they also had a seal, and a chimp named Darwin. The famous animation director Chuck Jones served as Executive Producer of the show. The next year, 1972, was quite a busy one for Pamelyn. She got back into gear as a voice actor as Sally Murphy on the Hanna-Barbera show “Sealab 2020”.  On “The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie” she performed as Louisa and Lilibit in Hanna-Barbera’s animated version of “Oliver and the Artful Dodger”. I can remember watching that and thinking that it seemed a little more sophisticated, at least in story, than the typical Saturday morning fare. Also in 1972 she was the voice of Precocia on “The Roman Holidays” which was sort of an ancient Rome version of the Flintstones, both made by Hanna-Barbera. 1973 saw her back in live action as she became Peggy on the Sid & Marty Krofft show “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters”. Then in 1974 she voiced Kathy Day on Hanna-Barbera’s animated show “These Are The Days”.  Much like the “Oliver and the Artful Dodger” show this seemed a little more sophisticated as it was about a family around the turn of the century. “The Waltons” were big on prime time and I guess Hanna-Barbera thought it would be a hit, but kids thought differently. Later that same year Pam showed up as Lynn Colby on an episode of “Shazam!”. You may remember the episode; it’s the one where the girl tries to keep an owner from putting down his own horse. Morals are learned all around as usual on “Shazam!” and all ends as well as can be expected. Finally in 1977 she plays another memorable part on a live-action show, Filmation’s “Space Academy” in which she played Laura and got to work with Jonathan Harris from “Lost in Space” fame. Harris played the commander of a group of space cadets of which Laura was one. Another notable space cadet from this show was Tee Gar played by Brian Tochi, also known for “Revenge of the Nerds” and like Pam, has had a long career in acting. I met him at a convention once and we spoke of the show. He had nothing but good things to say about working on the show and the folks at Filmation.

Pam left acting in the 1980s and became a nurse as well as an outspoken animal activist. The acting bug however was not completely dead in her as she came back to show business in 1999 and provided the voice for the character Shelley Kelley on the TV series “Detention”. She was also Christmas The Horse in the animated TV movie “Elf Sparkle Meets Christmas the Horse” in 2009, whatever that was. Anyway I’m sure for us she’ll always bring back memories of that little girl who grew up in front of us (or just ahead of us) on Saturday mornings.

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