The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966)

Attaboy, Luther!

I watched Universal Pictures 1966 comedy/horror film “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” (for the umpteenth time) on Svengoolie. This movie stars Barney,  I mean Don Knotts, as Luther Heggs, the typesetter at the local newspaper. He spends a night in a haunted house, where there had been a murder-suicide, and on this 20th anniversary of the event, witnesses a series of horrifying events. When his story is published by the paper, Luther is a hero but the homeowner, Simmons, sues the newspaper and Luther for liable.

The movie was written by James Fritzell (a writer with Greenbaum on episodes of The Real McCoys, The Andy Griffith Show, and the CBS TV series M*A*S*H), Everett Greenbaum (“Attaboy, Luther!” voice), and Andy Griffith (uncredited ).

Andy Griffith suggested expanding on an episode from his television series involving the old Rimshaw house in the episode “Haunted House” which had aired in October 1963. Opie and his friend had thrown a ball through a window of this spooky deserted house and Barney, Gomer, and Andy go in to retrieve it.


Cast
  • Knotts, Don as Luther Heggs – (July 21, 1924 – February 24, 2006) No Time For Sergeants, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Love God?, How To Frame a Fig, The Apple Dumpling Gang, Cannonball Run II, Pleasantville, TV episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, The Red Skelton Show, Three’s Company, Matlock
  • Staley, Joan as Alma Parker – (May 20, 1940 – November 24, 2019) Ocean’s Eleven, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Ladies Man, Valley of the Dragons, Cape Fear, Kissin’ Cousins, Roustabout, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Gunpoint, TV episodes of Laramie, Maverick, The Tab Hunter Show, The Lawless Years, Bonanza, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Untouchables, Hawaiian Eye, The Lively Ones, Perry Mason, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Real McCoys, Wagon Train, 77 Sunset Strip, Broadside, Burke’s Law, The Munsters, Batman (Okie Annie), Mission: Impossible, Ironside, Adam-12
  • Redmond, Liam as Kelsey – (July 27, 1913 – October 28, 1989) Curse of the Demon, The Valiant, The Phantom of the Opera, Kid Galahad, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin, Till Death Us Do Part, TV episodes of Rheingold Theatre, BBC Sunday-Night Theatre, Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Swizzlewick, Festival, ITV Play of the Week, The Avengers, You’re Only Young Twice, Armchair Theatre
  • Gould, Sandra as Loretta Pine – (July 23, 1916 – July 20, 1999) Honeymoon Hotel, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Airport, The Barefoot Executive, Chatterbox, The Nutt House TV episodes of I Married Joan, Our Miss Brooks, I Love Lucy, The Danny Thomas Show, The Loretta Young Show, The Flintstones, The Jack Benny Program, The Twilight Zone, My Three Sons, The Bill Dana Show, Mister Ed, I Dream of Jeannie, The Red Skelton Hour, Gilligan’s Island, Bewitched (Gladys Kravitz), Columbo, Love, American Style, The Brady Bunch, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Marcus Welby, M.D., Tabitha, Punky Brewster, Friends, Boy Meets World
  • Sargent, Dick as George Beckett – (April 19, 1930 – July 8, 1994) The Beast with a Million Eyes, The Great Locomotive Chase, Love Me Tender, Bernardine, Mardi Gras, Operation Petticoat, The Great Impostor, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Teen Witch, TV episodes of I Dream of Jeannie, Adam-12, Bewitched (Darrin Stephens), Here’s Lucy, The Love Boat, Three’s Company, Charlie’s Angels, Family Ties, Benson
  • Homeier, Skip as Ollie Weaver – (October 5, 1930 – June 25, 2017) At Gunpoint, Day of the Badman, Comanche Station, Bullet for a Badman, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Helter Skelter, TV episodes of The Rifleman, The Virginian, Combat!, The Outer Limits
  • Ober, Philip as Nicholas Simmons – (March 23, 1902 – September 13, 1982) The Clown, The Girls of Pleasure Island, From Here to Eternity, Broken Lance, Torpedo Run, North by Northwest, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, TV episodes of I Love Lucy, Studio 57, Whirlybirds, Bat Masterson, Cain’s Hundred, Death Valley Days, The Real McCoys, The Danny Thomas Show, Bonanza, Ripcord, Perry Mason, McHale’s Navy, The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie, Hazel, The Monkees
  • Tuttle, Lurene as Mrs. Natalie Miller – (August 29, 1907 – May 28, 1986) Don’t Bother to Knock, Psycho, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, Walking Tall, Walking Tall Part 2, Walking Tall: Final Chapter, Parts: The Clonus Horror, Human Experiments, TV episodes of Life with Father, The Adventures of Jim Bowie, The Millionaire, Have Gun – Will Travel, The Californians, The Real McCoys, Johnny Midnight, Colt .45, Dennis the Menace, Father of the Bride, Leave It to Beaver, Hazel, The Danny Thomas Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Munsters, My Favorite Martian, I Dream of Jeannie, Perry Mason, The Beverly Hillbillies, Petticoat Junction, Julia, The Partridge Family, Gunsmoke, Adam-12, Mannix, Little House on the Prairie, Fantasy Island, Dynasty, Trapper John, M.D.
  • Hickox, Harry as Police Chief Art Fuller – (October 22, 1910 – June 3, 1994) The Music Man, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Hold On!, Speedway, The Towering Inferno, TV episodes of Cowboy G-Men, The Adventures of Kit Carson, The Roy Rogers Show, Waterfront, Father Knows Best, Circus Boy, State Trooper, The Rifleman, The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin, Dragnet, No Time for Sergeants, Gomer Pyle: USMC, The Invaders, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, The Partridge Family, Alias Smith and Jones, Bonanza, Here’s Lucy, Columbo, Adam-12
  • Chandler, George as Judge Harley Nast – (June 30, 1898 – June 10, 1985) Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Escape to Witch Mountain, Every Which Way But Loose, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, TV episodes of The Abbott and Costello Show, The Adventures of Kit Carson, Waterfront, Lux Video Theatre, Adventures of Superman, Circus Boy, Robert Montgomery Presents, Wagon Train, Lassie, Ichabod and Me, Rawhide, Petticoat Junction, Batman, Mannix, Love, American Style, Lou Grant
  • Lane, Charles as Lawyer Whitlow – (January 26, 1905 – July 9, 2007) Career spanned 72 years, The Cat and the Canary, The Invisible Woman, Arsenic and Old Lace, It’s a Wonderful Life, Mighty Joe Young, Francis Joins the WACS, The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Ugly Dachshund, The Gnome-Mobile, Strange Invaders, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, TV episodes of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, Dear Phoebe, I Love Lucy, Surfside 6, Dennis the Menace, The Lucy Show, The Real McCoys, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, The Munsters, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Phyllis Diller Show, Gomer Pyle: USMC, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, Karen, Soap, Dark Shadows (1991)
  • Westman, Nydia as Mrs. Cobb – (February 19, 1902 – May 23, 1970) The Invisible Ray, The Cat and the Canary, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, TV episodes of Mary Kay and Johnny, Ponds Theater, Studio One, The Jim Backus Show, Going My Way, The Addams Family, The Munsters, F-Troop, My Favorite Martian, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, Dragnet 1967, Bewitched
  • Shaw, Reta as Mrs. Halcyon Maxwell – (September 13, 1912 – January 8, 1982) Mary Poppins, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Escape to Witch Mountain, TV episodes of Johnny Jupiter, Mister Peepers, The Betty White Show, The Ann Sothern Show, The Tab Hunter Show, The Real McCoys, Father of the Bride, Oh! Those Bells, The Andy Griffith Show, Wagon Train, My Three Sons, The Cara Williams Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Lost in Space, The Lucy Show, The Patty Duke Show, The Monkees, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., I Dream of Jeannie, The Red Skelton Hour, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Bewitched, Here’s Lucy, Happy Days
  • Millhollin, James as Mr. Milo Maxwell – (August 23, 1915 – May 23, 1993) No Time for Sergeants, Everything’s Ducky, Bon Voyage!, Under the Yum Yum Tree, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Frankie and Johnny, The Cool Ones, Never a Dull Moment, How to Frame a Figg, TV episodes of Omnibus, Robert Montgomery Presents, The World of Mr. Sweeney, Modern Romances, Wagon Train, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, The Twilight Zone, Dennis the Menace, Grindl, My Favorite Martian, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, Green Acres, Batman, Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., The Man from U.N.C.L.E., That Girl, Lost in Space, The Brady Bunch, The Red Skelton Hour, Love, American Style, McCloud, The Odd Couple, Happy Days
  • Cornthwaite, Robert as Springer – (April 28, 1917 – July 20, 2006) The Thing from Another World, Monkey Business, The War of the Worlds, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Futureworld, Who’s That Girl, The Naked Monster, TV episodes of Cavalcade of America, Schlitz Playhouse, The Adventures of Jim Bowie, The Californians, Zane Grey Theatre, Rescue 8, The Rifleman, Maverick, The Untouchables, Tales of Wells Fargo, Wagon Train, Rawhide, Perry Mason, The Munsters, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Get Smart, Batman, Death Valley Days, The Monkees, Gomer Pyle: USMC, Daniel Boone, Mayberry R.F.D., The F.B.I., Kung Fu, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Dynasty, Picket Fences, The Pretender
  • Norton, Cliff as Charlie, the Bailiff – (March 21, 1918 – January 25, 2003) It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Munster, Go Home!, TV episodes of Studio One, Pete and Gladys, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Jack Benny Program, McHale’s Navy, The Munsters, The Joey Bishop Show, My Favorite Martian, The Farmer’s Daughter, The Andy Griffith Show, Hogan’s Heroes, It’s About Time, The Monkees, Death Valley Days, That Girl, I Dream of Jeannie, Get Smart, Bewitched, The Beverly Hillbillies, Where’s Huddles, Green Acres, Love American Style, The Paul Lynde Show, Here’s Lucy, The Odd Couple, The Bob Newhart Show, Maude, Tabitha, Eight Is Enough, One Day at a Time, Too Close For Comfort, Private Benjamin, Alice, The Facts of Life, Gimme a Break!, Dear John, Dream On
  • Boles, Jim as Billy Ray Fox – (February 28, 1914 – May 26, 1977) Fluffy, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Trouble with Angels, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Shakiest Gun in the West, With Six You Get Eggroll, Angel in My Pocket, The Love God?, Skin Game, The Apple Dumpling Gang, TV episodes of One Man’s Family, Inner Sanctum, The Jackie Gleason Show, The United States Steel Hour, Car 54, Where Are You?, Cheyenne, The Lucy Show, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Perry Mason, Peyton Place, Lost in Space, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Bonanza, The Monkees, Get Smart, The Virginian, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Love, American Style, Night Gallery, Mannix, The Odd Couple, The Streets of San Francisco, Little House on the Prairie
  • Begg, James as Herky – (March 2, 1938 – February 15, 2008) Village of the Giants, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, It’s a Bikini World, The Love God?, The Cat from Outer Space, Death Wish II, TV episodes of The Patty Duke Show, The Farmer’s Daughter, Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, The Mothers-In-Law, Gomer Pyle: USMC, I Dream of Jeannie, Petticoat Junction, Cattanooga Cats (voice of Scoots), Love, American Style, Bailey’s Comets
  • Cabot, Ceil as Bit/club woman – (March 8, 1927 – January 24, 2000) The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Love God?, Freaky Friday, The Nude Bomb, Herbie Goes Bananas, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls TV episodes of The Addams Family, The Farmer’s Daughter, The Monkees, The Andy Griffith Show, The Flying Nun, Mod Squad, The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, Mayberry R.F.D., The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Love, American Style, The Doris Day Show, Too Close for Comfort, Happy Days
  • Corby, Ellen as Miss Neva Tremaine, the grade school teacher – (June 3, 1911 – April 14, 1999) It’s a Wonderful Life, Mighty Joe Young, Sabrina, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, Angel in My Pocket, TV episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Revlon Mirror Theater, Dragnet, The Millionaire, Lux Video Theatre, The People’s Choice, Trackdown, The Restless Gun, Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wagon Train, Laramie, General Electric Theater, Saints and Sinners, Bonanza, The Andy Griffith Show, The Lucy Show, The Addams Family, Hazel, Get Smart, The Fugitive, The Invaders, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Batman, Lassie, Gomer Pyle: USMC, The F.B.I., Adam-12, Love, American Style, The Waltons (Esther)
  • Greenbaum, Everett (uncredited) as the male voice shouting “Attaboy, Luther!” – (December 20, 1919 – July 11, 1999) The Ghost and Mr. Chicken – TV writer of Mister Peepers, The George Gobel Show, The Gertrude Berg Show, The Real McCoys, The Andy Griffith Show, Sanford and Son, M*A*S*H
  • Mustin, Burt (uncredited) as Mr. Deligondo – (February 8, 1884 – January 28, 1977) Son of Flubber, Sex and the Single Girl, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, Speedway, The Shakiest Gun in the West, The Great Bank Robbery, Skin Game, Now You See Him, Now You Don’t, Herbie Rides Again, TV episodes of Date with the Angels, Leave It to Beaver, My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, Get Smart, Batman, Bewitched, Monkees, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E., Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Adam-12, Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, The Brady Bunch, Phyllis
  • Smith, Hal (uncredited) as Calver Weems – (August 24, 1916 – January 28, 1994) Francis Covers the Big Town, The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, Son of Flubber, Critic’s Choice, The Great Race, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Million Dollar Duck, TV episodes of Death Valley Days, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, Have Gun – Will Travel, Peter Gunn, The Andy Griffith Show (Otis), The Addams Family, Petticoat Junction, Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Hogan’s Heroes, Green Acres, Mod Squad, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Adam 12, The Brady Bunch
  • Summers, Hope (uncredited) as Susanna Blush – (June 7, 1902 – June 22, 1979) The Couch, Spencer’s Mountain, Rosemary’s Baby, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Shakiest Gun in the West, Foul Play, TV episodes of The Rifleman, The Andy Griffith Show (Clara), Petticoat Junction, Mayberry R.F.D., Bewitched, M*A*S*H, Welcome Back, Kotter
  • McKinley, J. Edward (uncredited) as Mayor Carlyle Preston – (October 11, 1917 – July 30, 2004) – The Angry Red Planet, How the West Was Won, The Time Travelers, The Great Race, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Ballad of Josie, Airport 1975, TV episodes of The Thin Man, Tales of Wells Fargo, One Step Beyond, Dennis the Menace, Sugarfoot, Stagecoach West, Lawman, Outlaws, Maverick 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, My Favorite Martian, Bonanza, Hazel, The Andy Griffith Show, The Munsters, The Green Hornet, Batman, Gunsmoke, The Magical World of Disney, Bewitched, Little House on the Prairie

The “Simmons Mansion”, a three-story Second-Empire Victorian house, stands on Colonial Street on the Universal Studios lot in California. Luther Heggs drives an Edsel Corsair in the movie, a short-lived marque of the Ford Corporation named after Henry Ford’s son, Edsel Ford.

In the original movie cut, the killer explains how the portrait stabbing was done. He had printed a copy of the portrait and placed it on the back side of the one on the landing of the staircase. When pressing a secret button, the portrait turned to reveal the shears stuck in the throat with red paint.

This film inspired a short-lived craze for yelling out “Attaboy, (name)” during speeches and other situations. This came from a running gag used in this film. The Farrelly Brothers used the same gag in “Kingpin” (1996). The defective elevator was used again as a running gag in How to Frame a Figg (1971), which also starred Don Knotts. Charles Lane was a good friend of Lucille Ball, and his specialty in playing scowling, short-tempered, no-nonsense professionals provided the perfect comic foil for Ball’s scatterbrained television character.

Prior to doing this film, Joan Staley had posed nude as a Playboy Playmate (Miss November 1958). The producers felt that as a blonde she was too sexy, so they had her wear a brunette wig for this movie. The phonograph in the coal cellar is playing “Happy Heine” by J. Boadwalt Lampe. The depiction of a self-playing “haunted” organ was previously seen in the original version of House on Haunted Hill (1959).

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken was directed by Alan Rafkin (The Shakiest Gun in the West, How to Frame a Figg, Director of TV episodes of The Tim Conway Show, Sanford and Son, One Day at a Time, Laverne & Shirley).

The music is by Vic Mizzy (who wrote themes for Green Acres, Addams Family, The Don Rickles Show, and scored several William Castle films, I did a post on his music for The Ghost and Mr. Chicken). I love this movie, it is hilarious every time I watch it, and never gets old. I have to give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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Sources

Svengoolie
Wikipedia
IMDB
Rotten Tomatoes.

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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