Jewish World Review Jan. 19, 2001 / 24 Teves, 5761
First came Saints, next came
Sinners, then came Bronson
THE REASON I was so excited to be hot on the trail
of the mother-daughter episode of "Then Came
Bronson" was . . .
Well, this will take a little explaining.
In yesterday's column, I related how -- 40 years
later -- I was able to at last find a copy of an old black-and-white television
program called "Saints and Sinners." This show -- which ran briefly as a
series in the early 1960s -- was about a newspaper office, and when I was a
kid it pushed me over the edge: "Saints and Sinners" made me want to work
After years of trying to find a copy of the show, with no success, the other
week I simply typed "Saints and Sinners" into an Internet search engine, and
within 30 seconds learned of a man in New Jersey -- Tom Kleinschmidt --
who as a hobby collected tapes of old TV shows, and who had "Saints and
Sinners." He sent me a tape -- this was the topic of Monday's column about
how the Internet is making possible things previously undreamed of.
But -- my "Saints and Sinners" dream sated -- I now wanted to move on: to
the mother-daughter episode of "Then Came Bronson."
"Then Came Bronson" was a one-season series [1969-1970] about a man on
a motorcycle. Michael Parks played Bronson, who mumbled and murmured
so that you could understand only about 10 percent of the dialogue, who
rode off to a different town every week, who had zero lasting relationships in
his life, and who had no visible means of support. Next to "Saints and
Sinners," it was the only television series I ever loved.
(Troubling things I don't want to think too much about: Bronson, in the series,
quit a newspaper job so he could ride off on his motorcycle and be alone and
unattached. Thus: The first TV show I loved, "Saints and Sinners," made me
yearn to be a newspaperman. Then I became a newspaperman -- and
immediately fell in love with "Then Came Bronson," about a man who runs
away from his newspaper. Also: At my first newspaper job (as a copy boy,
post-"Saints and Sinners," pre-"Then Came Bronson"), the theater critic, Ron
Pataky, told me I would never be able to work with people because I
muttered and murmured so that no one could understand me. "E-nun-ciate!"
Mr. Pataky commanded me, which I didn't.)
So here was Tom Kleinschmidt in New Jersey, who had provided me with
"Saints and Sinners," and instead of just saying, "Thank you," I went back to
the well. I asked him for the mother-daughter episode of "Then Came
Bronson," which involved Bronson riding into a town and having both a
middle-age mother and her young-adult daughter fall simultaneously in love
with him. At the time, I thought this sounded like the ideal form of courtship.
(I'll give away the ending: Bronson rode out of town. He mumbled so much
that I don't think either the mother or the daughter had any idea what he said.)
Mr. Kleinschmidt sent me the mother-daughter episode of "Then Came
Bronson." I was overjoyed to see it again, although even with the
pause-and-rewind features of VCRs (machines that did not exist when "Then
Came Bronson" first aired), I still can't understand most of the things Bronson
murmured to the mother and her daughter. Maybe that's why they adored him
so much -- they couldn't be bored with what he said, because they had no
idea what it was.
Anyway . . . as fascinating to you and chock-full of important information as
this undoubtedly is, I fear I may be trying your patience with the story of how
Tom Kleinschmidt and his TV show collection have brought me momentary
bliss. So I will sum up by saying it comes down to this: In stores all over the
world you are able to buy any kind of music you want, right up to and
including the best recording of a song ever made, which would be Dolly
Parton singing "Jolene." You can buy a videotape of virtually any movie you
want, up to and including the best motion picture ever made, which would be
But TV shows? The TV shows that changed your life? Most of the time, you
can't find them, and will never see them again. Which is why, after viewing the
mother-daughter episode of "Then Came Bronson," my first act was not to
thank Tom Kleinschmidt, but instead to beg him to start looking for three
specific episodes of "Shindig": the one on which the Beatles for the first time
sang "I'm a Loser," the one on which the Rolling Stones for the first time sang
"Satisfaction," and the one on which the Everly Brothers for the first time sang
"Gone, Gone, Gone."
He found 'em all. As Bronson would say:
JWR contributor Bob Greene is a novelist and columnist. Send your comments to him by clicking here.
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