William Schallert's one shot at stardom was this shelved animated Sixties sitcom

The early TV attempt at mixing live-action and animation had help from The Pink Panther cartoonists.

William Schallert rose to fame playing the dad Martin Lane on The Patty Duke Show from 1963 to 1966.

When that sitcom ended, Schallert knew exactly what he wanted his next move to be.

The actor felt he had put his time in as the second lead on popular shows, and now he was ready to move into the spotlight by starring in his own show.

"The success or failure of [The Patty Duke Show] never depended on me," Schallert told the Los Angeles Times in 1966. "The guys on Bonanza all have an equal load to pull. On our series, Patty played both the first and second lead (her lookalike cousin)."

He viewed not pulling an "equal load" onscreen as a setback in his career that he fully intended to overcome.

"You become disappointed at times," Schallert said. "I’ve always had it in the back of my mind to do better, of course. It would be of no value to me to do another series as a second lead."

Naturally, then, he jumped at the chance to star in the first show he was offered, which happened to be one of the Sixties’ most innovative pilots.

Schallert filmed the pilot for this wild new sitcom and everything, but the show was unfortunately not meant to be, and Schallert said in the end, it was because he wasn’t a big enough star.

"There was a pilot I made for a series called Philbert," Schallert said. "I played a cartoonist whose little character comes to life and sort of takes over guiding my destinies. The people who created that great animation for The Pink Panther were behind the idea."

Philbert was positioned to be one of the first hit TV shows that mixed live action with animation, and it had a lot of heavyweights involved.

To direct the pilot, one of the biggest brains behind action blockbusters Richard Donner paired up with top animators including Academy Award-winning Looney Tunes cartoonist Friz Freleng.

For Schallert, this was a major production, and the studio agreed, dumping thousands into the pilot before realizing that building a big-budget TV show might not be sustainable with just Schallert pulling the load onscreen.

"When they figured production costs would be $75,000 per episode, they decided a top name was needed in the lead to assure success," Schallert said. "So they gave up the project. For me, it was a hard pill to swallow."

Eventually it was decided to air the pilot in movie theaters as an animated short, so you may have been among the very few who ever saw Schallert’s true star potential on display, if you happened to catch it in theaters.

But Schallert’s career didn’t flounder after this disappointment.

He never joined another TV cast, but he did soldier on with acting as a cherished guest star.

Through the Sixties, he became a dependable character actor who appeared on hit shows like Star Trek, Gunsmoke, Get Smart and The Carol Burnett Show. He also became one of the few actors to appear in both the movie and TV versions of In the Heat of the Night.

In the Seventies and Eighties, Schallert continued to be a major presence on TV, cast in both live action and animated shows, with a recurring role on The Waltons and even doing voice work on the new Pink Panther and Sons. That surely reminded him of his starring role that never was meant to be, but Schallert had long written off the disappointment of Philbert.

Meanwhile in the Sixties, there was another unsuccessful attempt to launch a live action-animated series called My World and Welcome to It.

That series starred another lesser-known actor William Windom, who won an Emmy for portraying a cartoonist based on real-life animator James Thurber.

Even critical acclaim didn’t keep that show on air, though, seeming to prove that huge production budgets at that time just couldn’t be sustained for a show without real star power.

Although Schallert never got to be the leading man he always hoped to be, he did end up leading other actors in a different way, becoming the president of the Screen Actors Guild.

He acted on TV until 2014, then passed away in 2016, just a few weeks after we lost Patty Duke.

Schallert may have been wrong about what would happen when The Patty Duke Show ended, never becoming the star he intended, but he said that being wrong was in his nature, and he could admit when he was wrong.

Of his most famous character Martin Lane, he told the New York Daily News in 1964, "I find it easy to identify myself with the role."

"Dad is not an idiot," Schallert said. "However, he is not always right. Sometimes he is wrong and makes mistakes. But he’s able and willing to admit it."

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tvnutt 26 months ago
Sorry, but William Windom was NOT a lesser known actor. He is very much like Schallert and their paths crossed at autograph conventions. Also Windom was a guest speaker at Harvard set up by Schallert's son who was editor at The Harvard Law Review. Mind you Windom was a last thought as the school wanted Walter Matthau who had to bow out. Windom said most of the people didn't know who he was. Windom had one of the most memorable Star Trek appearances ever, outshining Shatner which Windom did a few years later in a CBS tv movie. Mention William Windom and more people will remember him over Schallert. BTW I'm Windom's biographer and working on his documentary.
Jon tvnutt 25 months ago
In a way, Windom took over a role from Schallert in Disney's Dexter Riley movies that starred Kurt Russell. Schallert played Prof. Quigley in "The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes" and "The Strongest Man in the World", but he wasn't in the middle movie of that trilogy, "Now You See Him, Now You Don't". Instead Windom played Prof. Lufkin in this movie. It may have been a measure of Windom's greater stardom that he was given a star credit (the last of 5 in the movie) while Schallert received just a costar credit in both of his movies here.
CaptainDunsel 26 months ago
Watching the "Philbert" pilot, at the very beginning the Philbert character sort of reminded me (visually) of a young David Wayne. In his later career he was known for playing gruff older characters (such as Inspector Richard Queen). But as a younger man he was a bit of a dandy.

One small quibble about the article. It seemed to me (as written) to imply that "Philbert" was William Schallert's next project after "The Patty Duke Show". Actually, according to IMDB, "Philbert" was shown in 1963 the same year that TPDS premiered. So it was probably filmed *before* TPDS.
RichLorn 26 months ago

Big William Schallert fan over here. I've always envied what I call "the working actors". Character actors who show up for work on a different show each week. Faces immediately recognizable, but names not so much.
Carltonsdoor 26 months ago
Thurber wasn't an animator.
LoveMETV22 will tell you that that inaccuracy doesn't matter because the "story" isn't about Thurber.
LoveMETV22 top_cat_james_1 26 months ago
No actually I wouldn't.
Inferencing, implied obscurities, things of that nature are what matters.
LoveMETV22 top_cat_james_1 26 months ago
Also I don't need to reference other commenters in order to refute what has already been established.
top_cat_james_1 LoveMETV22 26 months ago
Only thing you've "established" is that you're a pretentious windbag who can't admit they've been bested. Helpful hint: Next time you're presented with irrefutable facts that aren't to your liking, don't respond with double-talk and conjectures--It makes you appear to be even more of an imbecile. I'll continue to criticize the writing and research here if I feel its warranted, with or without your kind permission. Toodles.
LoveMETV22 top_cat_james_1 26 months ago
I haven't established anything beside your erroneous information. If you're going to present facts that you amusingly refer to irrefutable do some research before presenting them. No response to your other comments as you have already shown your intent to discredit MeTV's articles as your purpose for visiting their website repeatedly. You might try expanding your vocabulary and terminology as your negative terms only further weaken your viewpoint.
Adanor 26 months ago
I HAVE LEARNED and I would like to stress that often when one is a supporter, whether as an actor on a sitcom or in real life, that it is really the BEST THING TO DO is to accept that you are in that role and to enjoy it. Robert Reed was VERY UNHAPPY as Papa Brady. He was a Shakespeare-trained actor and doing a mere sitcom was beneath him. It is rumored that Frances Bavier thought that her role on AG was not really her cup of tea. There are many people who in real life espouse the same unhappiness. And there's really no point. The most significant thing to do is to accept. That's just it, to accept.
SteveThames 26 months ago
Disappointed in his reaction to PD Show; some aren’t destined to be above the cast, the star; he was in virtually every 60’s snowy; no shame in being the 2nd banana 🍌
My favorite appearance was him on Star Trek dealing with Kirk, Klingons, and tribbles
Coldnorth SteveThames 26 months ago
He also was on The Torkelsons as a boarder who gave good advice to the family that owned it
SusanWilkinson 26 months ago
Was playing the father of Nancy Drew too short of a series to be part of a cast?
top_cat_james_1 26 months ago
Another poorly-researched article from the hacks at MeTV. There was another prime-time live-action/animated series that debuted the year before "My World..." ,"The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", which was produced by Hanna-Barbera for NBC. Also, the "Philbert" pilot has long been available for viewing on the third volume of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD back in 2005.
LoveMETV22 top_cat_james_1 26 months ago
The story was making a comparison between William Schallert (Philbert,)
and William Windom (My World and Welcome to It). and it's similarities.
Not a timeline as you appear to be reading it. ( The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn).
The airing in theaters was for historical purposes, not it's availability today or in 2005 on DVD or any other media. Doesn't appear MeTV's information was poorly researched.
top_cat_james_1 LoveMETV22 26 months ago
The article states, "...[T]here was another unsuccessful attempt to launch a live action-animated series called My World and Welcome to It." 'Series', not 'sitcom', so there was no comparison attempted here. Just someone's faulty memory at work.
"Historical purposes"? That's hilarious--Warner Bros. was trying to recoup their losses, not be an archivist. The writer also claims the pilot is some sort of rarely-seen obscurity unless it was seen in theaters, when it has been available on DVD and online for over a decade. But you keep on making excuses, MeTV lover.

LoveMETV22 top_cat_james_1 26 months ago
Comparison (1) (Sentences as they are written)
"There was a pilot I made for a "series" called "Philbert," Schallert said.
"Meanwhile in the Sixties, there was another unsuccessful attempt to launch a live action-animated "series".
" it was decided to air the pilot in movie theaters as an animated short." ( not rarely seen or obscurity) simply it was decided to air it in theatres.
The story is not about Warner Bros attempts to recoup losses or Warner Bros in general, or the availability of the pilot on media (DVD or online).
Not making excuses, it is your reading style and use of inferences ( to substantiate your views of the story) that appears to be an issue for you with terms such as, "Another poorly researched", "hack", " someone's faulty memory".
So read the stories as you wish. However your interpretation may not always be correct.
top_cat_james_1 LoveMETV22 26 months ago
If anyone has reading comprehension issues, it's YOU. The AUTHOR implied the pilot was an obscurity, not me ("...so you may have been among THE VERY FEW who EVER saw Schallert’s true star potential on display, if you happened to catch it in theaters."). This is why I brought up its current availability, because the writer failed to do so. I don't need the likes of you to explain the "story" to me, thanks. And, yes, you are an apologist for the drivel that passes for entertainment journalism around here.
LoveMETV22 top_cat_james_1 26 months ago
No comprehension issues here. Read the articles as you wish, make your "inferences" implied or not. Your comments only validate your opinion and viewpoint of MeTV's articles and staff writers, not the article(s) itself. Don't worry about explanations as it would be ambiguous to clarify your doubtful and obscure statements.
MarkSpeck 26 months ago
Hard to find a show that William Schallert did not appear on...he was in everything from I Love Lucy to How I Met Your Mother. Not many actors can say that!
Andy MarkSpeck 26 months ago
Seriously. He's one of those actors where it's easier to list what he DIDN'T appear in!
Debra 26 months ago
I don't remember Philbert, but I do remember My World and Welcome to it. I liked it. It was cute and I wish you would air it. Not sure how many episodes there were.
tvnutt Debra 26 months ago
Hi I'm William Windom's biographer. There were only 26 of My World. All available on my Windom YouTube channel.
JHP 26 months ago
so he didn't get rich raising marijuana?
Lantern 26 months ago
Schallert was in the cast of the 90's series "The Torkelsons".
Runeshaper 26 months ago
William Schallert was a talented actor. Plus, being the president of the Screen Actors Guild is also something to be proud of.
Barry22 26 months ago
This is the kind of material Me Tv could show on Sunday nights. Call it From the Vault, Lost Treasures etc. Don't need Love Boat, or another night of MASH or TAGS. Every week show a block of different shows, that only lasted a season or two. Even have a host introduce it and give some background info.
MrsPhilHarris Barry22 26 months ago
I couldn’t agree more. Sunday is the perfect night to run different shows. METV runs Matthew Star which only has 22 episodes, so surely they can air other shows with a small number of episodes. I would thinks lots of people would tune in to see something fresh. I haven’t watched METV on Sundays for I don’t know how long.
KJExpress 26 months ago
I always like seeing him in things. He seemed like he'd have been a pleasant person to know. I think he and his real-life wife played a couple on The Dick Van Dyke show, which was kind of fun.
MrsPhilHarris 26 months ago
I think I’ll see if that show is available to watch. I’m curious.
LoveMETV22 MrsPhilHarris 26 months ago
There is a Youtube video for the pilot mentioned in the story.
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 26 months ago
I watched this last night. I would have loved that show when I was a kid. Thanks for the link. 😁
Andybandit 26 months ago
He was in a lot of different shows. He was a good actor.
Big3Fan 26 months ago
He'll always be a star in my eyes.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 26 months ago
I Seen William Schallert In A Rat Patrol Episode.
Kelley1 26 months ago
Yes but never forget he played Rose's love interest on The Waltons. No cast -especially not an ensemble cast- functions with a missing character. Someone was needed for Rose because Rose needed someone. Enter William Schallert, and he was great in the role. I don't like The Waltons but his episodes draw me in. He was great no matter who he played.
ETristanBooth Kelley1 25 months ago
Rose and Mr. Perkins are among my favorite characters on The Waltons.
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