I’ve long wanted to write about Willy, believed to be the first prime time series to feature a female lawyer, and the death of star June Havoc back in March finally pushed me to actually get it done. Havoc played Willa “Willy” Dodger, a newly minted lawyer in a small town in New Hampshire who later moved to New York City. The sitcom ran for 39 episodes on CBS from 1954-1955 and, after being repeated in syndication for a few years, seems to have been completely forgotten.
Unfortunately, that has led to some confusion about the series. For example, sources vary on who played Willy’s father. As I mention in my article, Wheaton Chamber is credited in the first episode, but Lloyd Corrigan seems to have taken over the role at a later date. Or maybe he didn’t. I don’t really know. I’ve also come across conflicting information about the name of the company Willy worked for in New York City.
Admittedly, these are minor issues, but they’re the sort of thing that I find frustrating. I’ve only seen the premiere episode of the series and to be honest it wasn’t very good. I doubt it got any better. None of the episodes are held by any of the big museums/archives, as far as I can tell, but are likely gathering dust in a warehouse somewhere. Will they ever see the light of day again? Again, I doubt it. Here’s the summary:
June Havoc starred in this CBS sitcom about a small town lawyer. It was the first prime time series to feature a female lawyer but didn’t catch on with viewers. Reworking the premise of the series–moving the action to New York City–in mid-season didn’t help, nor did shifting it to a new day and time. After a single low-rated season, the series was canceled. Repeats went into syndication right away and remained on the air for several years before the series faded away into obscurity.
Feel free to leave any comments at the article itself, which you can find here. If anyone has an old TV Guide or a newspaper that can shed some light on the question of who played Willy’s father, please let me know. I’ll rest easier having that mystery cleared up.