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As seen in Pop Culture Collecting Magazine

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- Published March, 2001 -

by Bill D. Morgan

Many pop culture enthusiasts fondly remember Friday’s prime-time line up on ABC TV during the 1970-71 season as one of the best.   Those lucky enough to tune in during this period witnessed classic TV history in the making.  Many beloved favorites joined forces for that magical night, which included The Brady Bunch, That Girl, Love American Style, This Is Tom Jones and the premiere of The Partridge Family.  If for some reason you did miss the ultimate in classic TV scheduling, you would have also missed out on the original run of one other captivating sitcom.  Sandwiched between the time slots that provided home to two families, the Bradys and Partridges, was the Everett family that made up the cast of the short-lived series Nanny and the Professor.

 Nanny and the Professor originally aired as a mid-season replacement when The Flying Nun was permanently grounded early in 1970.  The show had plenty of support from the network, including a healthy budget that peaked over half a million dollars for filming two completely different pilot episodes.  Interestingly, the first pilot included Dawn Lyn, fresh from her stint as Dodie in My Three Sons, in the role of Prudence.  Despite the many efforts and talents of cast and crew, the show only made it officially through one full season.   The demise of the show came in December of 1971.  Nanny and the Professor did, however, manage to roll out 54 relentlessly cute episodes during its 24-month run.  The show had a formula that was fresh and unique when compared to the other contenders of the Friday night line up.  Instead of spotlighting sibling rivalry like that on The Brady Bunch or musical numbers and teen stress that transpired on The Partridge Family, Nanny and the Professor portrayed a softer side of family virtues with “a little bit of faith and lots of love. “

The driving force behind the show was the magic provided by Miss Phoebe Figalilly, better known as Nanny, played by Juliet Mills.  As seen in the first episode, Nanny arrived unannounced from England and accepted the job as housekeeper and governess to the family’s three children, Hal (David Doremus), Butch (Trent Lehman), and Prudence (Kim Richards), and their widowed father, Professor Harold Everett (Richard Long).  She instantly warmed the hearts of everyone, including millions of faithful viewers.  Gifted with mysterious abilities, Nanny became the focal point of each episode by displaying her amazing abilities to communicate with animals, change the weather, read people’s minds, and perform other physic phenomenon at will – each proceeded by the sound effect of a harp being gently struck.  The gimmick, as well as network ratings, eventually wore off, leaving behind only a small trail of collectibles for fans to remember the show by.

With only fourteen different items made, finding any of them can be challenging.  A great item to start a collection with is the Cartoon Kit made by Colorforms in 1970.  The box lid sports a unique illustration of the cast, including the family pet dog Waldo, and guinea pig Myrtle.  The box contents include a backdrop featuring the house den and backyard, instruction booklet, and 36 small figural plastic pieces, which stick to the backdrop assembling the complete cast with a few accessories.  Don’t hesitate picking one up if it is missing pieces.  The toy kit is rarely found complete.  A boxed set in average condition will sell for about $40 to $50.  

One of the rarest items to locate in the hard cover book made in Germany by Schneider-Buch.  Titled, 'Nanny und der Profesoor, this 5 x 7 1/2 inch book includes 107 pages of story and 8 glossy pages of black and white photos of the TV show cast.  Although the book's text is German, it's not to difficult to tell that the story is the same as the first American paperback credited with the same author, William Johnston.

Collectors might have an easier time locating one of the three different coloring books made by Saalfield in 1971.   The contents of each book contain distinctive illustrations of the cast with captions that place them in similar situations as the TV series.  Two of the books have cast photo covers which are always more desirable to collectors than illustrated versions.  The third book has an illustrated cover and pictures Nanny in front of the Everett house with the three children peering out the window.  This book varies with both a green house and blue lettering or a yellow house with red lettering.  Dealers will usually note if the book contains all the pages and the amount of coloring it contains.  These conditions can greatly change the value of the book.  A mint book can run double the cost of one marked with crayons or missing pages.  A mint Nanny and the Professor coloring book will sell in the $35 to $45 range.

Paper dolls are another class of collectibles that can be found in a variety of conditions.  Some may be cut or punched out from the original sheets while other remain untouched.  If the dolls and clothes are complete and not torn or ripped, both the cut and uncut sets can still be considered in excellent condition.  The value, however, is twice as high for uncut sets than those that are cut.  Nanny and the Professor paper dolls come in three differently styled booklets.  Two of the booklets are approximately 9 x 12 inches and include a doll for each character as well as one for their dog Waldo.  The third book is slightly wider than the other two, but contains the same dolls and six pages of clothing featured in all of the sets.  An unpunched set will go as high as $50.

William Johnston was a master at writing TV tie-ins.  He has written hundred of original novels based on TV series from the 1960s and 1970s.  Some of his highlights include The Brady Bunch, The Munsters, The Flying Nun, Get Smart, Happy Days, and three titles for Nanny and the Professor.  Although each book contains the caption “based on the delightful ABC-TV series,” these books are far from delightful and have little to do with the series other than the characters placed in the stories.  The stories are beyond fantasy and included storylines that deal with spies stealing secret formulas for rocket fuel and a magical blue box that controls household appliances and causes havoc to department store computer systems.  The issues get scarcer by number, causing the value for the first book to start at $10 and number three to jump to a value of $25.

Some of the last items to check off your Nanny list are two comic books and view-master reels.  The comic book stories are far more similar to the TV series than the paperback books and are more entertaining to read, since they are accompanied by a slew of hilarious illustrations.  The view-master reels are based on an actual episode entitled “Nanny on Wheels.”  Because the comic books can very greatly in condition, their values will range from $15-$35 while the view-master set always seems to sell near $40.  

to see Nanny Collectibles for sale!

From the publication Collecting Magazine

Greg Davis and Bill D. Morgan are the authors of
Collector’s Guide to TV Toys and Memorabilia — 2nd Edition Website: TVTOYS.com  
Copyright (c) TVTOYS.com, Odyssey Publications.  All Rights Reserved.


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