R.I.P. Bill Daily, of "I Dream of Jeannie," "The Bob Newhart Show"

One of the best of TV's second bananas, Bill Daily, passed on Sept. 4.

From TV Line: "I Dream of Jeannie Star Bill Daily Dead at 91; Barbara Eden Pays Tribute"

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...:-( Did Jeannie sometimes blinknhim from USAF duds in Florida to a 70s business outfit with Dr. Bob in Chicago? Did Bob and Dr. Bellows ever meet? 

He was always a joy to watch on both Jeannie and Newhart.

Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...:-( Did Jeannie sometimes blinknhim from USAF duds in Florida to a 70s business outfit with Dr. Bob in Chicago? Did Bob and Dr. Bellows ever meet? 

From the Department of Small-But-Significant Details, it would have been U.S. Army "duds in Florida", not Air Force.

It was odd that his character was in the Army Engineer Corps. All of the early astronauts were pilots, which is why they were all Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force.

Richard Willis said:

It was odd that his character was in the Army Engineer Corps. All of the early astronauts were pilots, which is why they were all Navy, Marine Corps or Air Force.

Captain/Major Healey did wear the wings of an Army aviator, so he was a pilot.  However, despite there bring no specific prohibition against the Army, none of N.A.S.A.'s early astronauts, as you said, were from the Army.

The original concept, as seen in the pilot episode, was that Captain Nelson was part of a three-man team, echoing the Apollo programme's use of three astronauts.  Captain Healey, of the Army, and Lieutenant Conway, of the Navy.  Thematically, the original idea was that Healey and Conway would be the persons from whom Nelson would have to conceal the existence of Jeannie (i.e., what would become Dr. Bellows' function).

Almost immediately, Sidney Sheldon realised that there only had to be one person to get suspicious of the strange things occurring around Captain Nelson---and cheaper on the show's budget---so Captain Healey was kept on and Lieutenant Conway got the boot.

That's the reason why for the first dozen episodes or so, Captain Healey is portrayed as noticeably more serious than the second-banana comic character he would become.  It's also, I believe, why Healey was an Army officer, rather than what a disinterested observer would think to be more logical---that he would be an Air Force officer like Nelson, Bellows, and the various generals to appear on the show.

I think Sheldon caught on to Bill Daily's comedic talents.  As Dr. Bellows eventually grew into the position as the One Who Gets Suspicious of the Weird Things Going On, Sheldon moved the Healey character into the position of Nelson's cohort (as of episode 17, "The Richest Astronaut in the Whole Wide World").

Commander Benson said:

Captain/Major Healey did wear the wings of an Army aviator, so he was a pilot. 

Looking closely as possible at images of his wings badge, I can't identify it specifically as matching any Army, Army Air Corps or Air Force badge. If he was an Army pilot in 1965 he would have been a helicopter pilot and unlikely to be selected as an astronaut. If he was in the Army Air Corps and changed his branch to Engineer Corps within the Army he would have had to do it no later than 1947, when all fixed-wing planes and pilots formed the new Air Force. I think I'm giving it more thought than the show's creators did. Hindsight being 20/20, they should have made Healey Air Force or Navy instead of Army.

I took a look at several stills of Bill Daily as Healey in his service dress uniform, and his wings sure appear to be the basic Army aviation badge, which was created after the Air Force was established as its own service in 1947.  The Army still had enough of an aviation presence to warrant an insignia for aviators, and the basic aviator badge was approved in 1950.

After the establishment of the U.S. Air Force, the Army did---and still does---retain fixed-wing air assets.  For intelligence gathering, electronic warfare, and logistical support.  But no combat fixed-wing assets.  The Air Force inherited all of those in '47, and the Army lost a DoD challenge to provide combat fixed-wing air power.  But even to-day, the Army maintains a sizable fixed-wing fleet for the other missions I described above.

That means that, certainly, Healey could have qualified as an Army aviator of fixed-wing platforms plausibly within the time-frame of the show.  However, your central point is still cogent.  As a pilot of non-combat fixed-wing assets, that wouldn't have set him up very well for selection as an astronaut.

Commander Benson said:

That means that, certainly, Healey could have qualified as an Army aviator of fixed-wing platforms plausibly within the time-frame of the show.  However, your central point is still cogent.  As a pilot of non-combat fixed-wing assets, that wouldn't have set him up very well for selection as an astronaut.

Okay. Richard Willis and Commander Benson, you are the experts here, but: Why would being a pilot of non-combat fixed-wing assets mean Major Healy wouldn't be a suitable astronaut?

I gather that back in those relatively early days of space flight, they probably wanted everyone aboard a spacecraft to have some experience as a pilot. But spacecraft are for exploration and aren't for combat. So why should experience as a non-combat flier be an impediment to being chosen for the astronaut corps?



ClarkKent_DC said:

Okay. Richard Willis and Commander Benson, you are the experts here, but: Why would being a pilot of non-combat fixed-wing assets mean Major Healy wouldn't be a suitable astronaut?

I gather that back in those relatively early days of space flight, they probably wanted everyone aboard a spacecraft to have some experience as a pilot. But spacecraft are for exploration and aren't for combat. So why should experience as a non-combat flier be an impediment to being chosen for the astronaut corps?

Quite simply---and I think Mr. Willis will agree with me here---the pilots who served as astronauts were supposed to be the Best of the Best, and the prevailing opinion was that the best pilots were combat pilots.  The thinking further went that, if an aviator wasn't a combat pilot, rather he flew supply or surveillance aircraft, then he wasn't quite as good as a combat pilot.

There is some truth to that.  Generally, the best-rated aviators are the ones chosen to fly combat aircraft---because flight-ratings are based on more than just proficiency in piloting.  Ratings are also based on the individual's coolness under pressure, his ability to swiftly and properly react to rapidly changing conditions, and his ability to anticipate the next developments---all things which, obviously, are going to be especially required when flying in combat.  Therefore, the aviators with the best of those qualities are going to be tapped to fly combat aircraft.

I would point out that what I said above is not necessarily so.  A top-rated aviator may decide that he'd rather fly an Orion P-3 than a jet fighter.  But on the whole, the best fliers are the combat pilots.

With that belief fixated in the minds of those making the astronaut selections, it would have been very difficult for a non-combat aviator to impress sufficiently to rate with the jet jockeys.

I think that was the prevailing prejudice in astronaut selection until the Space Shuttles. At that point, with a larger crew, non-pilots joined the astronaut ranks.

Richard Willis said:

I think that was the prevailing prejudice in astronaut selection until the Space Shuttles. At that point, with a larger crew, non-pilots joined the astronaut ranks.

Concur. In fact, the question of whether pilots were truly necessary was raised even in the earliest days of America's space programme.  Guys like Alan Shepard and John Glenn and Gus Grissom complained that they did very little actual piloting during their space flights.  They felt more like passengers---or test subjects---and they resented it.

I haven't read the book, but the movie adaptation of The Right Stuff (which should be required viewing!) had the astronauts campaigning to have a viewing window in the early capsules. Supposedly they were just going to be inside this tin can and not be able to see anything.

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