Judy. It’s Judy Garland. Judy.
November 12, 2011 5:37 AM   Subscribe

By the time he was 13, John was living in Los Angeles and appearing in “Hello, Larry,” a short-lived television situation comedy with McLean Stevenson, and a few years later, he was being featured in “Square Pegs,” a one-season high school sitcom that starred, among others, Sarah Jessica Parker. He was Marshall Blechtman, the class clown, who talked fast and often.

I always wondered what happened to that guy. (I was one of the few fans of Hello Larry).
posted by jonmc at 5:50 AM on November 12, 2011

I too was a fan of Hello Larry. ( I suspect all the fans of Hello Larry might be MeFites... )
posted by mikelieman at 6:01 AM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Well, I had a crush on the girl who played Ruthie plus my MASH fandom for McLean Stevenson carried over.
Anyways, nice to see the dude came from an interesting family.
posted by jonmc at 6:17 AM on November 12, 2011

I suspect all the fans of Hello Larry might be MeFites...

Well, there's you and there's jonmc...so, yes ALL the fans of "Hello Larry" have been accounted for.
posted by briank at 6:50 AM on November 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

I loved Hello Larry, and I loved Square Pegs.

I have a long history of loving television shows which get cancelled quickly.
posted by hippybear at 7:06 AM on November 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

The hurt went both ways. “It was difficult; it was difficult,” Mrs. Femia recalls. “But I did some reading. I spoke to some professional people. And I came to understand it was God’s will. He was born that way.”

Three months after Tommy left the family apartment in Dyker Heights, three months in which mother and middle son never spoke to each other, Mrs. Femia broke her silence. “She invited me over for dinner,” Tommy says. “And it was like it never happened.”

No discussion. No analysis. Just — eat.

This made me cry. More than it should.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 7:11 AM on November 12, 2011 [9 favorites]

Yeah, this was a surprisingly moving piece.
posted by nev at 8:50 AM on November 12, 2011

I too loved Hello, Larry.
posted by cropshy at 9:08 AM on November 12, 2011

Wait, so the one who became Judy Garland (Tommy) and the one who was on Square Pegs (John) aren't the same person--they're brothers. I was confused.
posted by ocherdraco at 9:23 AM on November 12, 2011

Well, I had a crush on the girl who played Ruthie

Me too! Escape to Witch Mountain* pretty much ate my brain as a kid. It's made The Soup unusually difficult to watch the last few weeks.

* Hey, it had a "misunderstood psychic alien kids on the run" plot and I was an eight-year-old nerd. If they wanted to make a movie that resonated more with me they would have had to wire it directly to my hypothalamus.
posted by Lazlo at 11:59 AM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Speaking of brains, a touching article about the coming of age of an interesting gay man (there's something about an older brother secretly driving the younger to gay bars that's a very poignant detail to me), Judy Garland, Square Pegs, and comments that both love and mock Hello, Larry and a youth spent loving Escape From Witch Mountain feels like it has sprung directly from my favorite parts of my brain.

(This actually happens often here.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:33 PM on November 12, 2011

I know this person. There have been half a dozen or so in every city I have ever lived in. And this story has all the classic elements of every drag queen's biography: the mother, Steisand, Garland, the family member that cares despite it all. Even the "It was a long struggle but I finally made it" theme that is in all the classic drag songs.

But despite how rubber stamp it seems to me it is still a story most people don't hear. In popular culture drag queens are clowns. Clown gets hit in the face with a pie, we laugh. Clown gets disowned by a parent, we laugh. They are camp caricatures we don't feel sorry for (think of Nathan Lane in the birdcage who was treated like shit for the entirety of the movie as a comedic foil to Robin Williams' respectable queer character). So this is still an excellent story to hear; to understand that these are actual human beings and not the persona we see on stage or a creature to be laughed at and pitied in fiction.
posted by munchingzombie at 2:23 PM on November 12, 2011 [6 favorites]

MeFi has "Hello Larry" fans?

Oh, I love this place more than ever.
posted by xingcat at 5:35 PM on November 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

And people sneer at links from the NYT. Pffft!

Seriously, I know the NYT can have, er, issues, but this was good. And I supposed I should out myself as another Hello, Larry fan. And Profit and Firefly. Stupid early cancellations.
posted by deborah at 6:47 PM on November 12, 2011

Warning: only slightly relevant story below.

I was in my early 40s, working at a large polytechnic and trade school. The food court was managed by Richard, a drag queen of considerable renown and talent who raised over $10,000 for AIDS research in one night at an Amsterdam club. He did a spot-on Loretta Lynn. We never really got to know each other -- never even knew each other's last names -- but while I'd be waiting for my sandwich or fries, he showed me photos of buying trips to Europe where he could buy dresses in his size covered in Swarovski crystals, and his commitment ceremony (no gay marriage back then). "Bill wanted to move in, but I told him, 'Oh no, honey! I'm an old-fashioned boy, and I'm not putting out without a ring on my finger.'"

I was diagnosed with breast cancer, went through the whole slash/burn/poison treatment and continued to work throughout a lot of it. The day after all my hair fell out (the particular chemo I was on made it happen all at once on Day 14) I was at work, in the food court trying to see if there was something that I could keep down. Richard came running over, asked what was going on, and then exclaimed, "Oh honey! Don't you want to wear a wig?"

"Nah," I said. "They're hot, and only the natural ones look okay, and they're really expensive. And it's not like this place is Vogue Magazine. It's a trade school for heaven's sake."

"I'll give you one of mine. Do what you like with it, get it cut, styled, whatever," Richard said, immediately. "I only wear real. They're fabulous."

I was immensely touched by his very genuine offer. He barely knew me, and was offering me a wig worth over $5,000. It was one of the kindest things anyone has ever said to me.
posted by angiep at 7:14 PM on November 12, 2011 [15 favorites]

I liked Hello Larry & Square Pegs, which reminded me of my own school life.
posted by mike3k at 7:21 PM on November 12, 2011

Hello, Larry was great. What's not to love about a show that had McLean Stevenson, Meadowlark Lemon and Diff'rent Strokes crossovers? (It's funny/sad that Hello, Larry was such a failure at mining territory that Frasier would mine interminably.)
posted by octobersurprise at 8:34 AM on November 13, 2011

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