Well, shucks, couldn’t you just die for the Southern-fried charm of that cornpone sweetheart Tammy? That l’il darlin’ had been meltin’ hearts since her 1957 movie debut, Tammy and the Bachelor, with Debbie Reynolds as the Bayou lass with the winning charm. Two movies with Sandra Dee as Tammy followed, and in 1965 Tammy came to television, this time starring Debbie Watson as the title eighteen-year-old.
The Tarleton clan had a pretty carefree life on a Bayou houseboat, what with the backwoods shenanigans of Uncle Lucius, Grandpa, Cousin Cletus and the rest. But young Tammy got an itchin’ to see how the other half lived, an itch that got scratched by wealthy plantation man John Brent. Brent took Tammy on as his personal secretary, and the girl’s down-home charm worked its magic on Brent, his Mrs., and son Steven.
But not all was sunshine and gourmet grits in the land of the wealthy. Local snob Lavinia Tate was none too pleased that Tammy had taken a job that might have gone to Lavinia’s daughter Gloria, and the snippy madam took advantage of any chance she could get to pour molasses in Tammy’s overalls (metaphorically, of course). Still, it was hard to resist the good-natured attitude of the show’s star, and Tammy usually got herself a plum happy ending by the time the half-hour was up.
Tammy’s journey to the small screen was short, lasting a single season, but her winsome smile and “y’all come back now” demeanor made one more trip to the movies in 1967’s Tammy and the Millionaire. The feature film was edited from the Tammy TV show, making Debbie Watson the third big-screen Tammy in only 10 years. Ain’t that just a hoot?
USA / ABC – Universal TV / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 17 September 1965 – 15 July 1966
Debbie Watson as Tammy Tarleton
Denver Pyle as Grandpa Mordecai Tarleton
Frank McGrath as Uncle Lucius
Donald Woods as John Brent
Jay Sheffield as Steven Brent
Dorothy Green as Lavinia Tate
Linda Marshall as Gloria Tate
David Macklin as Peter Tate
George Furth as Dwayne Whitt
Dennis Robertson as Cousin Cletus Tarleton
Doris Packer as Mrs. Brent