Gidget Coming Back to Television and the Movies

Gidget, that lovable surfer girl created by Frederick Kohner in a 1959 novel entitled Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas, is coming back to television and the movies, according to If you can’t access that article, here’s one from One of those involved in this new incarnation is Mark Canton, producer of the 2007 blockbuster action film 300. Here’s an excerpt from the article, which explains why now is such a great time to revive the character:

As a lifestyle brand, Gidget has enjoyed something of a global revival in recent years, spanning apparel, accessories, sportswear, surfboards, bikes, skateboards and a Gidget Surf School.


“Gidget has always been such a strong symbol of girl power,” Canton said. “With female surfing exploding across the globe, the time is right to bring her back in a major way.”

Cohen says the new Gidget will tackle contemporary issues and will be aimed at teens, tweens and pre-tweens.

The character of Gidget first appeared on film in 1959, played by Sandra Dee, and that movie was followed by two others in 1961 and 1963, starring Deborah Walley and Cindy Carol, respectively. Sally Field played the character on television from 1965 to 1966 on ABC. A 1969 made-for-TV movie, Gidget Grows Up, saw Karen Valentine in the lead role. That was followed by another made-for-TV movie in 1972, Gidget Gets Married, starring Monie Ellis. Both were also aired on ABC.

In 1985, yet another made-for-TV movie, Gidget’s Summer Reunion, was aired on ABC, with Caryn Richman as Gidget; it was followed by a syndicated sitcom, The New Gidget, which aired in syndication from 1986 to 1988. The three theatrical films and the 1965-1966 television series are available on DVD.

Of all the decades-old properties to revive for the big and smalls screens, Gidget seems to be one of the worst. I can’t believe the 1980s television version managed to survive two seasons in syndication (actually, I’m surprised it even made it past the made-for-TV movie stage). The article states that the Gidget franchise is popular these days. Here‘s the website for Gidget Worldwide, Inc., which seems to have nothing at all to do with the Gidget character.

Let’s just hope they don’t change the name Moondoggie.

11 Replies to “Gidget Coming Back to Television and the Movies”

  1. There was no “official” fall preview special on ABC in September 1965; however, there WAS a special “fall presentation” film, produced for a special meeting of ad agency executives and ABC affiliate personnel just before the season began, with Liz and Dick [in character] as “hosts”.

    The spot featured here, however, WAS a “traditional promo” [originally in color], telecast for several weeks before the “GIDGET” premiere {this one was featured during an August 1965 Sunday morning “BEANY & CECIL” repeat, of which a 16mm film print has been widely circulated among collectors}.

    As noted, Columbia has “dusted off” ‘Gidget’ over the years in many forms…she’s a “cash cow” for them every time they revive her for another generation, successful or not. So why shouldn’t the new “edition” have a chance at making more money for them- especially when SONY doesn’t know how to generate an “original character” that could do the same, with a little imagination?

  2. With all those girls from MTV’s the Hills and Disney’s Hanna Montana and other cutesy tween stars I don’t think a new Gidget stands a chance.

  3. Everything old is new again…and again…and again…Do we really need yet another attempt to “modernize” a character that was created to reflect a more innocent period in history? I suppose Canton wants to add yet another flop to his resume.

    All these attempts to drag past film/television properties into current times continues to prove that most of today’s industry wunderkinds couldn’t produce an original idea if their lives depended on it.

    My rant is over. Now, tomorrow is trash pickup day in my neighborhood and I’ve still got to take to the curb my boxes filled with copies of The New Kojak; The New Night Stalker; The New Charlie’s Angels; The New Bionic Woman; The New Cupid; The New Parenthood; The New Starsky & Hutch; The New Monkees; The New My Favorite Martian….and on..and..on…

  4. Actually, Barry, Jeff is not wrong. There WAS another television version of ‘PARENTHOOD.’ Like the new series, it aired on NBC. But it was a half-hour comedy-drama, and came out just a year after the hit film. Ed Begley Junior and Jayne Atkinson played Gil and Karen Buckman in the TV version; others in the large cast included David Arquette, Ken Ober, William Windom and Sheila MacRae. (A younger Leonardo DiCaprio played 13-year-old Garry Buckman.) According to Brooks & Marsh, it took SIX executive producers–including Ron Howard–to come up with what the authors called a “complicated series.”
    After a sneak-peek hour-long preview on August 20th, 1990, NBC slotted the series on Saturday nights at 8:00 PM the following month. But it didn’t do well and the final episode aired November 10th. (The remaining original episodes were shown in mid-December and in August 1991.)
    At least the new version of ‘PARENTHOOD’ is doing better–relatively speaking–though I suspect in today’s fragmented TV universe, its total audience had to be close or even lower than the low-rated 1990 version.

  5. I’m sure Barry remembers the 1990s version of Parenthood. He may even have enjoyed it. I actually like the new version. I didn’t expect NBC to renew it, though.

    For the record, the original Parenthood ranked 83rd out of 90 shows for the 1990-1991 season with an 8.3 Nielsen rating, although that didn’t include the episode that was burned off in August. I’d be surprised if the new version is averaging half that. NBC would be over the moon if the new version could do as well as the 1990s one.

  6. Sure, I remember the 1990-’91 version. But I KNEW it was never going to be a success…especially when it was scheduled on Saturday nights, which were pretty bad for NBC (ratings-wise) during the 1990-’91 season. I’ll bet Jeff, like ‘RGJ’, thought the “revised” version of the series was going to be short-lived as well. As it turns out, there IS an audience watching “THE BIGGEST LOSER” {the latest version of “FEAR FACTOR”, as far as I’m concerned} that’s sticking around to see “PARENTHOOD {2010}”, so that’s why it’ll continue.

  7. I cannot for the life of me find the regular season ratings average for ‘Gidget’ in its 1965-66 season. However, I do remember it had an extraordinarily high T12-17 number that dwarfed all the other demos, but in those days, teens were not valued as much by ad-buyers, so ABC cancelled the series somewhat presumptively. They especially learned this when they encored the series the following summer, and it got very nice ratings, but by that point Miss Field was committed to ‘The Flying Nun’ (which was probably why ABC chose to run it that summer), and they couldn’t put the lightning back in the bottle, so to speak. And that summer encore run probably helped launch ‘The Flying Nun’ of to such a nice start for Miss Field who vaulted from one goody-two-shoes role to another.

    A few other ‘Gidget’-tidbits:
    -> When CBS aired GIDGET GOES HAWAIIN’ on ‘The CBS Thursday Night Movies’ on Thursday April 3rd, 1966, it got the highest ever non-WIZARD OF OZ rating for the Eye up until that time, an eye-popping 29.9HH. I can’t remember whether or not they tried to snatch the ‘Gidget’ series or development rights away from ABC (who were cancelling it anyways), but there may have been some development deals or exclusivity arrangements that got in the way of pinching ‘Gidget’ away from the Alphabet.
    -> CBS next hastily locked up the theatrical rights for the GIDGET films, and aired GIDGET GOES TO ROME on October 28, 1966 to a timeslot-winning 19.5HH/37% (encored on June 16, 1967 to a great-for-summer 15.7HH/35%).

    ABC must have had options on all the television rights, because the next time Gidget appeared was December 29th, 1970 as the backdoor starring Miss Karen Valentine, which garnered a very good 22.0HH/34%. I remember well Mr. Paul Lynde playing her landlord, and I think the only reason this wasn’t pursued further to series was that ABC already had Miss Valentine as a major star in ‘Room 222’ and probably didn’t want to weaken that series by shifting her over to a ‘Gidget’ series.

    That led to ABC greenlighting yet another backdoor pilot starring Miss Monie Ellis, GIDGET GETS MARRIED, which, interestingly carried over Mr. Paul Lynde in his role as the landlord…ABC did absolute backflips in the ’70s trying to find a post-‘Bewitched’ hit series for the enormous comedic talents of Mr. Lynde, yet they never succeeded. GIDGET GETS MARRIED aired as an ‘ABC Tuesday Movie of the Week’ and got an astounding 28.5HH/40% share. Given the rating, I cannot remember why this didn’t go to series, but the reason was probably the non-availability of Mr. Lynde, who became attached to another series and one in which he didn’t have to play second banana to a teenaged girl. For the fall of 1972, ABC gave Mr. Lynde his own series ‘The Paul Lynde Show’ on Wednesdays, which lasted a season before Mr. Lynde got shifted over to Tuesday’s struggling ‘Temperature’s Rising’ sitcom, which was re-titled to ‘The New Temperature’s Rising’ for the fall of 1973.

    Flash forward to the summer of 1985 when yet another backdoor pilot for a syndicated series, GIDGET’S SUMMER REUNION starring Miss Caryn Richman, which aired in summer season. I don’t have syndie data that far back, but I suspect it aired as part of a Columbia Pictures theatrical/telefilm package that June. And of course, as RGJ has pointed out in his story above, this pilot led to a 48-episode syndicated series ‘The New Gidget’ starring Miss Richman which aired over the 1986-88 seasons.

  8. For those of you who may not be aware, Miss Caryn Richman is also well-known among ‘Brady Bunch’ fans for playing Greg Brady’s wife, Nora, in the 1988 made-for-TV movie ‘A Very Brady Christmas’ and the short-lived 1990 dramatic series ‘The Bradys,’ both on CBS.

    Speaking of revivals, does anybody here remember when ‘The Bradys?’ was first on? That show, I think, is a lesson on how NOT to attempt a revival of a successful franchise. The show was an attempt by the producers to make a serious, hour-long drama featuring the Brady Bunch. It was a laughable premise, to be quite frank. At any rate, ‘The Bradys’ immediately tanked in the ratings and was cancelled after just six(!) episodes.

    And while we’re still on the subject, ABC, to me, always had a reputation of prematurely cancelling shows that either were doing very well ratings-wise or had a small but loyal cult following. In my opinion, the most blatant example of a premature cancellation is the one that happened to ‘Just the Ten of Us’ (1988-90). The network got rid of it all because it wanted to have every single TGIF sitcom be a Miller-Boyett production. As Robin would have said, “Holy network politics Batman!”


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