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My World and Welcome to It

My World and Welcome to It was a US-made half-hour sitcom based on the humor and cartoons of James Thurber (1894-1961). It starred William Windom as John Monroe, a Thurber-like writer and cartoonist who works for a magazine that closely resembles The New Yorker, called The Manhattanite. Wry, fanciful and curmudgeonly, Monroe observes and comments on life, to the bemusement of his rather sensible wife Ellen (Joan Hotchkis) and intelligent, questioning daughter Lydia (Lisa Gerritsen). Monroe's frequent daydreams and fantasies are usually based on Thurber material. My World — And Welcome To It (note slight variation from television title) is the name of a book of illustrated stories and essays, also by James Thurber.

The television series ran just one season, 1969-1970. It was created by Melville Shavelson, who wrote and directed the pilot episode and was one of the show's principal writers. Sheldon Leonard was executive producer. Another of the show's producers, Danny Arnold, co-wrote or directed numerous episodes, and even appeared as Santa Claus in "Rally Round the Flag."

Sources

Most episodes open with Monroe arriving in front of the house from the Thurber cartoon "Home," which in the original cartoon has a woman's face on one side of it. In the show the house is initially house-shaped. The woman's face is often animated to appear, as Ellen says something to John. The "Home" house, without the face, is used as an establishing shot throughout the episodes. Other Thurber cartoons are similarly animated over the course of the series, sometimes in the opening sequence, sometimes later in the episode. The episode "Cristabel" begins with Monroe lying on top of a cartoon doghouse, a reference to the non-Thurber cartoon character Snoopy. The animation for the series was by DePatie-Freleng Enterprises.

Live action adaptations of Thurber's writing are another show staple. For example, "Rally Round the Flag," in which Monroe purchases a very large flag as a gift, is loosely based on a Thurber piece called "There's a Time for Flags." An incident with a policeman in "Christabel" is an almost verbatim transcription of the Thurber story "The Topaz Cufflinks Mystery". Fables for Our Time is another source, as when John Monroe sees a unicorn in the back yard, a reference to "The Unicorn in the Garden." Many of the episode titles are taken from Thurber's Fables for Our Time (e.g., "The Shrike and the Chipmunks") and other writings ("Rules for a Happy Marriage" and many more).

Aside from his obvious resemblance to Thurber himself, John Monroe is based on one of Thurber's characters, who appeared in several short stories including "Mr. Monroe Holds the Fort" and "The Monroes Find a Terminal." Monroe and his family first came to television in a 1959 Alcoa Theatre/Goodyear Theatre production called "Cristabel (The Secret Life of John Monroe)", also written by Melville Shavelson. The dog Cristabel was named after a dog Thurber gave to his daughter.

Despite the liberal use of "drawings, stories, inspirational pieces and things that go bump in the night by James Thurber" (as stated in the opening credits), the show also contains character and story elements that owe little or nothing to Thurber's work. For example, there is no Thurber basis for Monroe and daughter Lydia playing chess throughout "Little Girls Are Sugar & Spice - And Not Always Nice!" Although Thurber material is woven around it, the episode's storyline itself is fairly conventional situation comedy.

Awards

My World and Welcome to It won two Emmy Awards in 1970:

  • Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series (William Windom)
  • Outstanding Comedy Series

Also nominated for:

  • Outstanding Achievement in any area of Creative Arts ("Rally 'Round the Flag Boys" - special photographic effects).

Book

The similarly-titled book by James Thurber, My World — And Welcome to It, was published in 1942 by Harcourt, Brace and Company. The current edition is ISBN 0-89190-269-4. Part One of this collection contains 22 assorted Thurber short stories and humorous essays, many of them illustrated with his cartoons. Part Two consists of an eight part comic memoir about France, written in 1937 and 1938, about twenty years after Thurber first arrived there near the conclusion of World War I.

The tone of these pieces ranges from lighthearted wordplay and dialect ("What Do You Mean It Was Brillig?") to literary satire ("The Macbeth Murder Mystery") to psychological horror ("The Whip-Poor-Will" and "A Friend to Alexander"). The most famous story is "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty", which bears little resemblance to the film starring Danny Kaye.

None of the stories in the book are about the Monroe family, as seen in the television series.

References

External links

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