A collection of nearly 150 shooting scripts used by character actor Allan John Melvin (1923–2008), who appeared in hundreds of television episodes from the 1950s to the early ‘90s, often in recurring roles on various series. He is best known for his recurring role as Alice's boyfriend, Sam the Butcher, on The Brady Bunch, and as Archie Bunker's friend, Barney Hefner, on both All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place. Melvin also portrayed various characters on The Andy Griffith Show, real estate salesman Pete Dudley in My Favorite Martian, Corporal Henshaw on The Phil Silvers Show, and Sergeant Hacker on Gomer Pyle.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, he attended Columbia University and did some stage work before he broke into television with the role of Corporal Steve Henshaw on the popular The Phil Silvers Show program. “He was proudest of that show. I think the camaraderie of all those guys made it such a pleasant way to work. They were so relaxed,” his wife Amalia told the Associated Press in 2008.
Melvin had a long and prosperous acting career but was often cast in the role of slightly loud and abrasive, but friendly supporting characters, and occasionally as the tough guy. In addition to television, he did voice over work, providing the voices of cartoon characters such as Magilla Gorilla. Some of his most prolific work was in television commercials, for products as diverse as Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes and Remington electric razors. Among the scripts in this collection are five for The Brady Bunch, including an episode which features Sam helping Alice solve the Brady family’s high telephone bill problem with the addition of a pay telephone like the one in his butcher shop.
The bulk of the scripts in this collection are for the popular television series All in the Family (1971-1979) and its reprisal, Archie Bunker’s Place (1979-1983). In both series, Melvin played Barney Hefner, Archie Bunker’s neighbor and best friend. According to Smithsonian Magazine, the top-rated sitcom represented “a turning point for its engagement with topical, controversial themes, such as race relations, homosexuality and feminism – an effort to reach baby boomer audiences – and for representing the kind of ordinary, working people who had thus far been invisible on screen.” Among the scripts in this collection is the episode for “The Family Next Door,” with Archie Bunker being forced to let go of old prejudices when he learns his wife Edith rented out the house next door to a black family. For an episode entitled “Archie’s Dog Day Afternoon”, five copies of the script are present from the table draft to the final draft, showing the process of television writing. A spring binder, imprinted with Melvin’s name and Archie’s Bunker’s Place, contains a confidential cast and crew list with addresses and telephone numbers.
The collection also includes copies of scripts Melvin considered and roles he lost. Among them is the March 1965 copy of the script for the stage production of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. There are pencil markings around the lines for the character Speed, the gruff and sarcastic poker buddy, which was ultimately played by Paul Dooley.
All of the scripts are three-hole punched. With the exception of the All in the Family and Archie Bunker’s Place scripts, most are bound with brads. The collection also includes more than 1,000 pages of multicolor script pages for episodes of Archie Bunker’s Place, likely script changes, which have not been paired with their scripts. Overall, the material is in very good condition. The collection is housed in five standard file boxes. A detailed Excel spreadsheet listing each of the scripts is available upon request. Item #73847