During the first season of The Dick Van Dyke Show there was an episode called “The Twizzle,” where Sally discovers Randy “Twizzle” Eisenbauer, a singing and dancing sensation (played by Jerry Lanning) in a bowling alley in Connecticut, and convinces Rob and Mel to go see him perform, and later book him on “The Alan Brady Show.”
The song and dance that Randy performs is called “The Twizzle.” And what is that, you ask? We’ll let the lyrics speak for themselves:
You twist a little, then you twist a lot,
And when you really get hot, then you Twizzle
Jerry Lanning was the son of Roberta Sherwood, a popular vocalist in the late 1950s. Already making a name for himself on television for his appearances on As The World Turns and The Donna Reed Show (where he appeared with his mother in the episode “Donna Meets Roberta,” which actually served as a possible spin-off for a never launched “The Roberta Sherwood Show”), Lanning would go on to appear on other TV shows as well as perform in Mame on Broadway, alongside Angela Landsbury and Bea Arthur.
The Official Dick Van Dyke Show Book by Vince Waldron it’s been noted that season 1, episode 24, “The Twizzle,” was most of the cast’s (and Carl Reiner’s) collectively least-liked episodes. (As a side note, Van Dyke’s personal choice for worst episode would come only a few air dates later: season 1, episode 28’s aptly titled “The Bad Old Days.”) Reiner, who wrote the script for “The Twizzle”, even admitted that the storyline was mainly written to showcase the entertaining abilities of Jerry Lanning, (being the son of popular singer Sherwood), and help serve as a vehicle for his career.
That line of thinking makes sense seeing how, as the episode progresses, Lanning’s character insists on performing two songs on “The Alan Brady Show” (so as to not get pigeonholed as a novelty singer), the second of which, “This Nearly Was Mine” from South Pacific, he performs in the Rob and Laura’s living room.
To top things off, the episode is end-capped with yet another great discovery by Sally: a take on the Twizzle called The Twassle, which is a combination of “twisting and wrassling,” and something that she witnessed at a wrestling match. And then, surprisingly, enter stage left: wrestling legend “Classy” Freddie Blassie, who proceeds to demonstrate his Twazzle moves on poor Rob.
Personally, I loved this episode; I think it’s really fun to watch, in a surf movie/Beach Blanket Bingo sort of way. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy some good old-fashioned singing and dancing at the local bowling alley?
Fun fact: “The Twizzle” was written by songwriters Mack David and Jerry Livingston, the same men who wrote the song “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” for Disney’s Cinderella.
-DJ Darko, Your Pop Culture Mixologist
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