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World in White

Pilot Episode (unaired)

Appearing as Ted Victor

Unaired pilot for one-hour television series developed for the CBS network's 1959-60 season.

Series Premise: A hospital drama based on Sidney Kingsley's Pulitzer prize winning 1933 play Men in White. Having been disappointed by the 1934 movie version which starred Clark Gable, this was Kingsley's second attempt to turn his play into a television series; an earlier attempt in 1957 failed as well. In this iteration, the series was to have starred Darryl Hickman, Dick York, and Robert Keith as the three main protagonist physicians.

Synopsis by curator@jamesmacarthur.com:

Ted Victor (James MacArthur), a rugged, 17-year-old high school football player, sits half-dressed on a bench in the locker room, looking weak and ill. He massages his chest repeatedly and appears to be having trouble with his breathing.

As his teammate, Chuck, walks by, Ted rises unsteadily to his feet. Chuck follows Ted to the shower room, already filled with other team members. Ted begins to shower, then suddenly grimaces in agony, grabs at his chest with both hands, and collapses to the floor. His teammates crowd around him while Chuck shouts for help.

Ted is quickly bundled into an ambulance and rushed off to the hospital. In the emergency room, Dr. Gentile (Dick York) begins his examination. Unsure of the exact problem, he gives Ted some medication and orders him to be admitted.

Later, Drs. Gentile and Welch (Darryl Hickman), along with Nurse Evans, stand around Ted’s bed, where the boy is hooked up to an electrocardiograph and oxygen. He looks weak and frightened as the doctors discuss his symptoms. The boy quizzes the doctors mercilessly, trying to elicit something to explain his alarming chest pains, but it’s too soon for them to tell him anything definitive. Dr. Gentile tells Ted his symptoms are probably nothing more than severe indigestion. After giving Ted a sedative, the doctor leaves to go talk with the boy’s mother.

Speaking calmly and reassuringly, Dr. Gentile now explains to Mrs. Victor (Fay Wray) that her son has suffered a heart attack. She is stunned. He’s only seventeen and has always been the picture of good health, robust and athletic. How could someone like that suffer a heart attack? Numb with shock, she subsides onto a nearly sofa, murmuring despondently that her husband died three years previously of a heart attack.

Two weeks later, Ted is still in the hospital. He’s undergone a thorough battery of tests and examinations. As the length of his stay increases, he becomes more and more worried, too intelligent to accept the bland reassurance that he’s only suffering acute stomach illness.

Outside his room, the doctors hold a conference, now certain of their diagnosis. Ted has a congenital heart lesion, likely the same thing that killed his father, and has, at best, two more years to live. They decide that surgery is their only alternative, and gently explain all this to Ted. It’s important that he remain confident, with a strong will to survive, or all will be for naught.

Ted is livid. He takes his anger out on Dr. Gentile, who had decided to keep Ted in the dark about his condition until such time as the doctors knew precisely what was wrong. Now that they do, however, Ted doesn’t believe that he’ll survive the surgery or that anything the doctors say is true. His faith in medical science has been severely damaged by Dr. Gentile’s decision to withhold the truth until now.

Gentile decides to withdraw from the case, thinking that Ted will trust the other doctors and allow the surgery to proceed, but Dr. Adams (Robert Keith) won’t let Gentile withdraw. He convinces the other man to stay with Ted’s case, to earn his trust all over again, and ultimately save the patient.

Taking Adams’ advice, Gentile pays a midnight visit to his patient. He finds Ted asleep, tossing and turning in the grip of a vivid nightmare. Carefully waking the boy, Gentile slowly gets Ted to admit that his dream was about dying and that he’s worried he’ll be following his father to the grave in the very near future.

Deciding to be brutally honest, Gentile admits that Ted just might die very soon. For the first time, he’s completely upfront with his patient, admitting there’s a very real possibility that things won’t turn out well. Grudgingly, Ted begins to trust Gentile again, realizing that the doctor’s earlier unwillingness to tell Ted the truth was borne not out of arrogance, but a genuine desire to protect him.

Gentile convinces Ted to have the risky surgery and promises he’ll do all he can to see that Ted has a decent chance at a long and fruitful life.

The next morning, as Ted is wheeled into the operating room, he sees Gentile waiting in the corridor and the two exchange a confident look. Everything really will work out.

Admission Ticket

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James MacArthur

James MacArthur

Daryl Hickman, Dick York, Fay Wray

James MacArthur

Robert Keith, Dick York

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

James MacArthur

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