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Deal A Blow (25 August 1955)

Appearing as Hal Ditmar

Broadcast live 25 August 1955 on the CBS television network, this teleplay marked James MacArthur's 'real' acting debut (he had previously performed in theatrical productions, but not as a 'professional actor'). This teleplay would later be the basis for the theatrical release The Young Stranger.

A teenage boy gets into a dispute with an abusive movie theater manager Mr. Grubbs (Whit Bissell). The boy's father Tom Ditmar (MacDonald Carey) accepts the manager's somewhat twisted version of the incident and doesn't give his son a chance to explain his side of the matter. Hosted by Art Gilmore. Also featuring Edward Arnold as Lt. Shipley, Jeff Silver as Jerry, Byron Foulger as Man in Theatre, Steve Terrell as Lynn Spears, Gil Frye as Police Clerk, and William Hughes as Doorman.

From the introduction: "Tonight's story begins in a dark motion picture theatre as simple as this: 'Shhhh.' Yet for 16-year-old Hal Ditmar, this sound was to become a milestone in his life, subjecting him to the pressures of suspicion, distrust, and brutality."

James MacArthur remembers:

"The night we performed Deal A Blow is one I'll always remember. Going before the cameras was like going to the electric chair! I was so young, a junior in high school, and I was quite alone. The production was broadcast from the CBS studios in Hollywood. My parents and friends were all back East. I had come out three weeks before and was staying in a local hotel. We rehearsed every day until the night of the broadcast. For the first few days of rehearsal they had another young actor standing by in case I wasn't up to the role, but he never rehearsed with the rest of the cast. On the night of the performance, I was on my own. I was so relieved when it was over and that I'd made it through the ordeal in one piece. Once the broadcast finished, everybody congratulated everybody else; there was a lot of backslapping and handshaking, but I don't remember that part very clearly. I was anxious to get back to my hotel so I could get some dinner and a good night's sleep. The next morning, I got up early, flew home, and a week later I was back at school, embarking on my senior year. The whole thing was like a dream; like it happened to somebody else. I didn't know at the time it was the start of my life's career; for me, it had just been a lark, something to do during my summer off from school. It's remarkable to look back now and realize how oblivious I was to such an important milestone."

To view a full gallery of screen captures from this episode click here.

Click to view video clip

James MacArthur, MacDonald Carey

James MacArthur

James MacArthur, Jeff Silver

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

Edward Arnold, James MacArthur

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