There are two kinds of servants on tv.
1. The world-weary, laconic observer of the lunacy (Hazel, Beulah, Geoffrey on Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Florence on The Jeffersons, Benson on Soap).
2. The "breath of fresh air" whose joie de vivre revitalizes a failing family (Mr. Belvedere, Charles on Charles in Charge, Tony on Who's the Boss, Fran on The Nanny).
Nanny and the Professor (1970-71), which became a must-see when I was in fifth grade because it aired between The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family, was an early example of the "breath of fresh air" type.
Phoebe Figalilly (Juliet Mills), a proper British nanny, complete with deerstalker cap and Inverness cape, sweeps in like Mary Poppins to take control of the household of stuffy English professor Everett (Richard Long of The Big Valley, top photo, shown working out with gay icon Rock Hudson).
1.Intellectual teen Hal (David Doremus), seen here trying to meditate.
2. Athletic preteen Butch (Trent Lehman)
3. Baby of the family Prudence (Kim Richards).
Nanny draws from the "I've got a secret" genre by teasing at having magical powers, though nothing is ever stated openly.
For instance, in "Spring, Sweet Spring," Nanny thinks a family picnic would foster togetherness, but everyone has other plans. Then a series of humorous accidents and coincidences push them, one by one, to the park, where the picnic is set out for them.
When Nanny and the Professor first aired, I was in fifth gradedrawn to Nanny's independence, courage, and penchant for deflating masculine egos. But there were several points of interest for gay boys.
From the title, one expects a romance between Phoebe and Professor Everett, but that is never even hinted at. In fact, the Professor fled from several girls anxious to snare him. He could easily be read as gay.
2. Hal was a shy, intellectual, gay-vague outsider, like Peter on The Brady Bunch.
Van Williams and Vincent Van Patten.
4. Richard Long (1927-1974) was rumored to be gay or bi (married to women twice).
Trent Lehman committed suicide in 1982, at the age of 20. No info on whether he was gay.
See also: Maxwell Caulfield