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What’s New?Vintage Press InformationAn ’Ironside’ Title and Airdate ListingOriginal NBC Stills ArchiveVintage Magazine Features’Ironside’ CollectablesEditorials and Analytical FeaturesLinks
What’s New?Vintage Press InformationAn ’Ironside’ Title and Airdate ListingOriginal NBC Stills ArchiveVintage Magazine FeaturesIronside’ CollectablesEditorials and Analytical FeaturesLinks
 TV NEWSDecember 11, 1971  •  pages 8 - 10 
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Of cattle calls and hair-‘a’-do’s
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The new girl in town and other stories from ‘Ironside’
On a recent variety special, “Festival At Ford’s,” Raymond Burr was narrating a tribute to the music of Henry Mancini, to the accompaniment of the composer’s music. There came a point in the proceedings when Burr aluded to Peter Gunn, the hit private eye series of the late 1950’s, for which Mancini wrote the famous jazz theme.
The narrative called for Burr to remark on the show’s popularity, which he did, adding, “Now it’s Ironside.”
Elizabeth Baur
Elizabeth Baur
And it’s true. Old popular TV shows may die, or just fade away, and new ones come to take their places. Burr has bridged both eras. He had his own popular detective series, Perry Mason, during the Peter Gunn era. Now, in the early 1970’s, the burly Canadian is still riding the crest of video popularity as Robert T. Ironside, a former chief of detectives of the San Francisco police, who has been consigned permanently to a wheelchair by a sniper’s bullet and now acts as a “special consultant” to the police commissioner.
On Perry Mason he had his own family—regulars as familiar as himself—and in Ironside, again, he has his own crew. Don Galloway and Don Mitchell, as Ed Brown and Mark Sanger, have been with him from the beginning. Barbara Anderson was the original girl in the picture, but she departed at the end of last season, and Elizabeth Baur, as officer Fran Belding, joined the force at the start of this shift.
Elizabeth Baur: An old story
It’s an old Hollywood story that a star’s career is often precipitated by accident. An individual, not seeing success on the screen, visits a studio with a friend to lend moral support during a screen test. The friend flops, but the individual is chosen.
It’s an old story. But it’s very often true.
And so it happened with Elizabeth Baur.
In Elizabeth’s case, a friend auditioned for a talent program at 20th-Fox. The friend didn’t make it. But Elizabeth did.
About three months later, E.B. (as she is often called), heard about the new part of Teresa O’Brien on Lancer and decided to try for it. She won out over 10 other girls in what she describes as a “cattle call.”
The breeches and riding dresses she wore as Teresa O’Brien, “a tomboy becoming more of a woman,” were vastly different from those she wore in her television debut, as a mini-skirted policewoman in an episode of Batman. This was followed by a role in the picture, “The Boston Strangler.”
But Elizabeth’s first real appearance on television was in 1964 when she co-starred in a breakfast cereal commercial with Jimmy Durante.
Chewing corn flakes in front of a hundred million people isn’t what made her decide on an acting career. Elizabeth suddenly made her decision during her second year at Los Angeles Valley Junior College. She then changed her major from education to theater arts and began studying for an acting career. She also has studied with famous drama coach Estelle Harmon.
The daughter of a casting director at 20th Century-Fox, Elizabeth fought the usual battle about becoming an actress—one complicated by her father’s close association with what he felt could be a heart-breaking profession for a girl. When she persisted, “he did a twenty-minute number of saying ‘no’,” but was overruled by several studio officials who thought the slender girl had talent.
Then the friend got the screen test call and Elizabeth went along to lend her courage.
She prefers comedy to drama because “it has energy and is exciting and fun. It gives you a chance to really work more with actors and directors and requires sharp timing.”
Paradoxically, her favourite role was that of Lizzie in the drama, “The Rainmaker,” in which she starred at Estelle Harmon’s school.
“Lizzie was a pretty mountain girl,” she explained, “a regular tomboy. Then she learns she is really pretty and the transition from tomboy to woman is just beautiful.”
Elizabeth is a very fine painter whose works were exhibited at a special showing in Mexico City when she was 10 years old. Her parents did not want her to sell any of the paintings, but she was allowed to accept payment for doing murals in several homes.
“I like to paint landscapes and people,” Elizabeth said, “I always put people into my landscapes. My paintings can’t be classified in a particular ‘ism’. They’re just a mixture of realism and impressionism. Color and form is what I love. And I’ve done mosaics and papier maches.”
E.B.’s athletic diversions include diving, swimming, volleyball and golf at the Wilshire Country Club.
“My handicap hasn’t been tabulated,” she laughed, “I do nine holes and I’m through.”
She had to learn horseback riding for Lancer.
“During the pilot I was so afraid of horses I couldn’t go near one,” she admitted, “So when ‘Lancer’ was picked up I HAD to learn to ride. I went out to Malibu Canyon every day for four or five months and learned to ride.”
Elizabeth admits to having an abhorrence for cooking.
“I get sick on my own food,” she confessed.
Her favourite hobby is sewing—crewel work, flowers meticulously stitched on coarse cloth with bright colored yarn.
Elizabeth lives at home with her parents.
After the demise of Lancer, she did guest roles as a student on such shows as The Young Rebels, Room 222 and Nanny And The Professor.
The role of Officer Fran Belding is the first chance Elizabeth has had on TV of portraying a woman her own age—24.
Much Ado About Hair-do’s
Elizabeth shot early episodes of Ironside with her luxuriant brown hair just above shoulder length, until the order came from above: “Cut her hair in a Greek boy style. It’s more the look we want.”
Don Mitchell commiserated with Elizabeth about the loss of her crowning glory: “I know how you feel. My mustache was a thing of beauty!”
Television viewers may have wondered if their eyes were deceiving them from week to week during the new season of the show. The length of Mitchell’s hair varied from episode to episode.
Raymond Burr, the boss
Raymond Burr, the boss
Prior to the series’ hiatus, nine episodes were shot when Mitchell had his usual close-cropped hair. During his vacation, the actor let his hair grow into a modified “Afro” and eventually a soup-strainer mustache. The mustache turned out to be a “no-no” for Producer Cy Chermak, but the longer hair was acceptable.
Says Chermak, “It’s concievable that a man’s hair might change from time to time without the length being an intrusive note in an episode. But people don’t go around changing from clean-shaven to wearing a mustache from week to week.”
Asked why he agrees to the longer hair, Chermak shrugs: “An actor or actress should feel comfortable and attractive in a series. I have no say-so about the way they wear their hair in private life, and I hesitate to impose my will on the show if it doesn’t make that much difference.”
All of which might come as a surprise to Elizabeth.
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