After her long and lauded big screen career Eleanor Parker was open to appearing on the small screen, leading to guest-starring roles in many of the top series of the time including The Eleventh Hour (Emmy nomination), Breaking Point, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Circle of Fear and many more. What we at The Flaming Nose most love in Parker's TV oeuvre is the Hollywood-set drama from 1969 called Bracken's World, a behind-the-scenes, star-filled and completely fascinating melodrama about the goings-on at fictitious Century Pictures.
Filmed on the actual 20th Century-Fox studio lot and featuring cameos by real movie stars of the time and guest-starring many up-and-coming television actors and actresses, Bracken's World was a rare glimpse at a glamorous profession which while maintaining the glamour also managed to at least appear like a peek into the actual working life of a movie production studio. Worked for me! Co-starring with Parker were Peter Haskell as a hip director, Dennis Cole as a stuntman, actresses Linda Harrison (who had starred as Nova in the original Planet of the Apes), Laraine Stephens, Karen Jensen and Madlyn Rhue as a neurotic show biz wife.
Bracken was a coup for the series, though her role ultimately didn't grow into the fully-realized character Parker had hoped. She left after half a season but that doesn't diminish the allure of Bracken's World. It's a series which continues to exert a very real appeal and was in fact mentioned in this past season of Mad Men (Don's wife Megan was up for a role in it.)
Here is a long preview promo introducing the series to potential 10pm Friday night NBC viewers (it replaced the cancelled Star Trek in that time slot):
In terms of Parker's other tremendous work, we offer up the trailer to her women's prison movie Caged, the gold standard to which all women's prison movies and TV shows must be compared. I'm sure many of recall the oh-so-memorable Charlie's Angels episode "Angels in Chains" -- that series' homage of the genre -- in which the angels opened their towels and were sprayed for lice while the lady guards looked on. We owe it all to Eleanor Parker and Caged!
You'll also really enjoy Steve Hayes as The Tired Old Queen at the Movies with his hilarious and well-reasoned appreciation of The Naked Jungle:
Like all of TCM's memorial salutes this short tribute to Eleanor Parker is a real downer, but worth looking at for her vast screen work: