Wednesday, December 27, 2006
"Dead from Rancho Mirage, it's Gerald Ford!"
We were waiting for the third shoe to drop in the They Die in Threes curse, but after Lionel from The Jeffersons and James Brown, Gerald Ford seems to come out of left field-- even though he's been waiting in the wings for weeks now. But like Mike Evans and The Godfather of Soul, the former president does have an impressive TV resume that goes beyond his September 8, 1974 pardon of Richard Nixon. If you received the Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season DVD box set for Christmas or Chanukkah, you’ll see that Ford, who was president during that 1975-1976 season, was the butt of many jokes and instrumental in making Chevy Chase the show's first breakout star.
Chevy Chase portrayed President Ford as a bumbling, accident-prone idiot in many an opening sketch that ended in an elaborate, painful pratfall (stunts that would cause injuries that led to Chase's painkiller addiction and eventual loss of his funnybone-- though it should noted that his Vegas Vacation is among Tabloid Baby's Top 50 movies of all time).
Good sport Jerry Ford also holds the distinction of being the only US President to open the show with the deathless "Live from New York, it's Saturday Night" intro-- also in that first season, when his press secretary Ron Nessen hosted.
Ford's moviewatching habits and tastes were documented and recalled by his son Steve in the Bravo documentary series, All The Presidents' Movies, which was narrated by The West Wing president Martin Sheen, and will be out on DVD in early 2007.