Courier-Post Newspaper Search for Butlers Finds Mortys TV
Posted 12 March 2006 - 08:57 AM
From The Courier-Post, Camden NJ - Sunday, March 5, 2006
Ever notice that nobody has a butler anymore? Even the Web's official manservant, Jeeves, no longer is available for questions.
An Internet pioneer, Ask Jeeves has morphed into merely Ask. While the site still allows searches in the form of a question, its design has streamlined, Google-style. There's a fill-in window and some bonus tools -- maps, images, the usual -- in a links bar on the side.
Ask.com continues to have a junior version and on Ask for Kids there's a quick explanation about the butler's departure.
Maybe he returned to England, the way the producers of Family Affair explained where Sebastian Cabot was (he had pneumonia during part of one season). Cabot's character, Mr. French, in the 1960s sitcom became a cultural icon, one the International Guild of Professional Butlers still describes as the ultimate gentleman's gentleman.
With a booming basso voice and a quizzical look whenever any of Buffy, Jody or Cissy's daily needs exceeded his lifetime of expertise, Cabot made the butler the must-have staff member at any household.
Cabot was not above the quirky career move. Like William Shatner, Cabot did a spoken-song album, performing Bob Dylan's lyrics as poetry. It's likely not a must for your playlist.
In the upper crust here and elsewhere, butlering remains a cherished profession, according to the Butlers Guild. The elegant site proudly reminds visitors that Paul Hogan, the butler in Joe Millionaire on television a few seasons ago, was recruited with the group's assistance.
In the 1980s, a sitcom titled Mr. Belvedere revived an old movie butler. The worldly Belvedere somehow wound up working in Pittsburgh for a sportswriter's rough-edged family.
The clash of cultures is documented at TV.com in a decent encyclopedic site and at Morty's TV, a resource site for this and a variety of other shows.
Men don't dominate the cool-servant category. In the story of the lovely lady, etc., and all its permutations, the maid Alice was indispensable to the Brady household and the plot line.
Decades before that, a New Yorker cartoon character came to life in an early sitcom, Hazel. Actress Shirley Booth set the standards for the meddling maid.
If butlers today are rare, maids are invisible. Mostly, domestic assistants zoom in on a scheduled basis, rid your house of accumulated filth and leave before you start dirtying the place again.
It seems only au pairs (www.iapa.org for the International Au Pair Association and www.aupairinamerica.com/ for Au Pair in America) get to interact with families regularly anymore.
"Au pair" loosely translates to "on the same level" as parents. Watching the skills and dignity of these professionals, real or fictional, I would aspire to be on their level.
Posted 12 March 2006 - 09:22 AM
Posted 26 March 2006 - 05:30 PM
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