Source Documents
sally field : gidget, 1965. 

Sally Field : Gidget, 1965.
Sally Field : Gidget, 1965.
Excerpts from Field, Sally: In Pieces - a memoir
Simon and Schuster, London, New York, 2018.

In a frank and honest account of her life and career, after a difficult childhood Sally Field writes fondly of her time as Gidget; finding consolation with her television family and the real surfers, including one Mickey Dora.
The television series followed the success of a series of Gidget films in the early 1960s, themselves based on a series of books by Frederick Kohner about his teenager daughter Kathy's introduction to surfing culture at Malibu Point and
her feminist intention to participate in a male dominated sport.
First published in 1957, Kohner's coming-of-age novel was relatively mild and safe, certainly compared to
J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in The Rye (1951), also noted for its use of contemporary teenage slang.
As a Hollywood scriptwriter, Kohner was fascinated by the Malibu crew's use of a localised surfing slang; exemplified by the contraction of girl and midget into Kathy's nick-name, Gidget.
Coincidentally, around this time a diminutive Australian surfer
was re-christened by the Manly Beach crew as Midget, a name he proudly adopted for life.
Several commentators have noted that the approach to teenage sexuality was decidedly tame in both the novels and the films; on occasion noting a vast contrast to Vladimir Nabokov's 1955 masterpiece, Lolita.
By 1963, the cover of The Affairs of Gidget enticed readers with Under-sized girls have over-sized drives, says my analyst uncle -- well, there were those three terrific men last year at Cascadia College.
The success of the novel lead to seven sequels, with surfing playing only a minor role except for Kohner's adaptation of Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1960), starring Deborah Walley.

Gidget was not the first novel to feature California surfing, Philip Harkins' Young Skin Diver, published in 1956, tells of two young surfers who become enthusiastic skin-divers after their rescue by a staff member of California's Scripps Research Institute.
In 1970s, Kathy Lette and Gabrielle Carey recalled their experiences as surfer girls at Sydney's Cronulla Beach in Puberty Blues (1979), also later a film in 1981 and a television series in 2014.
The first Gidget film, released in 1959, starred Sandra Dee (Gidget), James Darren (Moondoggie), and Cliff Robertson as The Big Kahuna.
Not only were there two more Gidget films (... Hawaiian and to Rome), but 
their success spawned a plethora of Beach-Party films, after the 1963 movie of that name starring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello, famous for her role as a Disney Mouseketeer.
The stars were invariably seen surfing against a projected back-drop, famously Elvis Presley in Blue Hawaii.
The small sections of real surfing footage often featured some of Kohner's original Malibu Point crew, of which Mickey Dora was most identifiable.
He was the double for Fabin, the star of Ride the Wild Surf (1964), exceptional for its big wave footage shot on the North Shore over three weeks in the winter of 1963-1964.
Dora (Fabin) wore a pair of red and yellow shorts, his sponsor/adversary Greg Noll (surfing double for
James Mitchum) wore his trade-mark black & white jailhouse-stripe shorts.
Whereas Gidget had a father and mother in the novel and film, the mother was written out of the 1965 the television series (one season of 38 episodes);
other prime-time shows where a single parent raised a child included The Rifleman (1958-1963 ) and My Three Sons (1960-1973).

Other Gidget derivatives include a feature-length animated film in 1972 and, following
the television feature appearance in Gidget's Summer Reunion (1985), Caryn Richman starred in a 1986 television series, The New Gidget.

Page 144
(Following a termination) Six weeks later , in early November, three days before my eighteenth birthday, I began my career.
Wearing a dreadful swimsuit, I stood on a cold Malibu beach, looked directly into the camera, and said my first line of dialogue.
"You see before you, me. Gidget."

Page 121
Part Two

Approximately eight weeks and a handful of surfing lessons later, production began and I walked through the looking glass.
On one side was my life, my real life as it existed, and on the other side was a greatly altered world.
And my God, how I loved the girl on that side of the glass, loved her ease around people, her trust in them.
She was pure and untarnished.
My twin sister, who looked very much like me, was a part of me, and yet was not me.
For thirty-two episodes- and many more weeks than that- her house, her friends, her family, and her perfect pink-and-yellow bedroom were mine.

What Gidget did during the day, I did during the day; her life was my life and the pages of that life would come to me in advance so I could read where my life was going.
I knew next week I would have a crush on a handsome schoolteacher, or be thrust into auto shop at school, showing a group of adorable boys that I was as good as they were, while being appealingly inept.
Or I'd be caught in a misunderstanding with my family- her family, not mine.

Page 123

From the barely dawn morning, when I'd drive onto the Columbia lot, until long after the sun had set, I lived in Gidget's world.
Then I'd climb back into my newly purchased yellow MGB, carefully work the frighteningly unfamiliar stick shift, and drive back through the looking glass into Sally's world- where my feet hurt so bad I thought of putting them in a pan of hot water and Epsom salts, the way Aunt Gladys always did.

Page 127

The majority of the days off the lot were spent working at the Columbia Ranch, a huge parcel of land sitting in the heart of Burbank and filled with various faux neighborhoods and city streets.
It also had a dreadful fake beach called the Berm, consisting of a man-made lake filled with dark, stagnant water and surrounded by tons of coarse brown sand- not like the sand on a real Malibu beach, more like the stuff they use to make cement.
As we'd sit in the dirt with the cameras rolling, acting as though it were another happy day at the beach, it felt slightly ridiculous to be looking out at the flat, lifeless sludge and yelling "Surf's up," then grabbing our boards and
Page 128

running off camera where everyone would pile up out of view of the lens, desperately trying to keep from stepping into the water, which seriously did not smell right.

The reverse shots, the ones revealing where we were running- toward the ocean- were filmed during the few days when we actually went to one of the beaches in San Monica or Malibu where I'd spent so much of my life.
Or those days- as few as they might have been- I'd vibrate with the same excitement I felt when I was a kid, knowing we were going to spend the day frolicking in the ocean. But the ocean I'd always known in the Augusts of my childhood was very different from the one I met that November day when we first filmed on the beach.
It was freezing, both the water and the air.
Everyone was wearing gloves, ski hats, and heavy down jackets.
Everyone except for me, that is, and of course the handful of surfers- real surfers- who clustered around totally unfazed by the weather, the cold water, or the waves.
While I clung to the large terry-cloth robe that had been placed over my shoulders, most of the true surfers were so eager to jump in the water that they'd barely registered theirs, abandoning them immediately.
White terry-cloth piles ended up scattered around the sand.

I can't say the swell was especially big-three to five feet- but to me the waves looked huge.
Adding insult to injury, this was not a "point break" like the easy rolling waves of Mondos Beach above Oxnard, where I'd been taken many times by Darryl, the surfing coach. This was a "beach break," and Zuma, for God's sake.
Notoriously difficult to ride.
While I stood there shivering, hoping they'd decide to shoot something else, the assistant director held up his bullhorn and
Page 129

And since all other surfers were either paddling out or standing knee-deep already, he basically meant me.
Let's be honest: Even though I'd become a strong, confident swimmer and was hell of a boogie boarder, surfing was never going to be my sport, with or without Darryl's instructions.
I didn't even have a car before I began to work, and the huge board, which weighed more than I did, was the same size as my new MGB, so how would I have gotten the thing to the beach?
Just in case someone on earth had missed his last message, the assistant director blasted another "IN THE WATER!"
So off went the robe and into the icy water went the girl.
Since it supposed to look like a sunny summer day, no one wore wet suits of any kind, and the water was so cold the lower half of my body instantly went numb.
There I was in the water, sitting on a board the size of the PT-109, trying to power a stiff blue body that barely knew how to maneuver this craft under the best of circumstances.
I mean, really, what the hell were they thinking?
Were they just testing to see if I was serious about this whole acting thing?
Then again, was this acting or a study in humiliation?
Or is acting always walking on the edge, always flirting with the possibility of falling flat on your face, or of wiping out and losing the top of your bathing suit?
I know that the latter option was going through my head when I heard the faint but unmistakable bullhorn voice shriek, "TAKE THE NEXT WAVE!" and before I could even look to see if there was indeed a wave to take, I heard the stopping word: "ROLLING!"

Even now, as I remember this moment in the cold Pacific so long ago, it's not the sound of the waves I hear, or the

Page 130
screeching bullhorn; it's the sound of Jocko's mocking laugh when I'd fail to dive into the water or flip over the pole as he demanded.
I hear his repeated shouts, "Do it! Arms straight, toes pointed. Don't think! GO!"
And I'd stand there, with my toes gripping the pine platform, frozen, feeling worthless and afraid.
Though frozen for sure, I was no longer on that high dive, my toes gripping nothing but the edge of yesterday.

Without hesitation, I put my forehead on the board and began paddling furiously, pumping my legs up and down at the same time, trying to inch my big board forward, now aware of the wave forming behind me.
Just when I thought I'd failed, had missed the wave and the shot would continue on without me, Mickey Dora, the champion surfer who was by my side, pushed my gigantic board in front of the wave exactly where I needed to be.
When I tentatively started to stand, Mickey grabbed my hand as he expertly maneuvered his board beside me.
Small though it might have been, we rode the entire wave until finally we slid gently to the shore and the flabbergasted crew began to cheer.
I don't know how many more waves I caught, or Mickey tossed me into- it didn't matter.
I'd found something new.
I was terrified, yes, but instead of letting some other part of myself perform the task while the rest of me floated away, I had held the reins and fearlessly, without thinking, told myself to just go.

Mickey Dora
expertly manoeuvring his board beside Johnny Fain, Malibu Contest, 1965.

Page 183
My twenty-first birthday party, hosted by Screen Gems.
Davy Jones, Sally Field, Peter Tork.

 Mike Nesmith, Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork.
(The Monkees)
All MGBs from 1962 to 1967 used a four-speed manual gearbox with a non-synchromesh, straight-cut first gear.

PT-109 was the number of a patrol torpedo boat commanded by future US President, John F. Kennedy, in the Pacific in WW II, the movie PT 109  was released in 1963.
The role of JFK was played by  Cliff Robertson, following his appearance in 1959 as the Big Kahuna in the first Gidget film.

Mickey Dora, the champion surfer
On land, Dora was widely known to be highly critical of competitive surfing; in the water he was known as a highly aggressive competitor, at least by Johnny Fain.
However, despite competing in numerous events it appears that there is no record of Dora actually winning a contest.

Also see Mickey Dora

TV Gidget
1965-1966 Television Season 50th Anniversary Tribute: Gidget and Sally Field (2016?)

Gidget - Opening Titles

Episode 7: 1x07 - Gidget is a Proper Noun
Gidget is convinced that her English teacher expects more of her than his other students because she is the daughter of his former English professor, Russell Lawrence.

Episode 6 Sally Field - Gidget: A Hearse, A Hearse, My Kingdom For a Hearse (October 20, 1965), clip 1

Episode 13: 1x13 - The War Between Men, Women and Gidget
An isolated beach cove becomes the object of a battle between the boys, Gidget and the girls.
Episode 25: 1x25 - Love and the Single Gidget
While Russ is out of town, Gidget attends a surfing tournament in Oceanside with Anne and John’s blessing—unaware that they have hired a college student to look after her.
Unfortunately, there is no footage of surfing at Oceanside.

The New Gidget Season 1- Theme, 1988
Field, Sally: In Pieces - a memoir, Simon and Schuster, London, New York, 2018.

The Real Gidget
Kathy Kohner, 1956.

Sandra Dee and Kathy Kohner, 1959.

Gidget: The Book, 1957
Kohner, Frederick:
Gidget- The Little Girl with Big Ideas
G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York (1957)
Hard cover,
b&w illustrations,
Jacket by Ben Feder, Inc., Jacket photo by Ernest Lenart.
Made into a classic film in 1959; starring Sandra Dee (Gidget), James Darren (Moondoggie), and Cliff Robertson (The Big Kahuna).
Review by Nick Carroll
Gidget I wrote a little bit about this in support of my theory that in the area of fictional and/or literary endeavour, surfing usually only gives rise to cheese.
This is great cheese, appalling, epic cheese, and has undoubtedly represented the surfing milieu to a greater number of (oh dear) baby-boomers than any other surfing related cultural expression, including Endless Summer.
Gidget is massively and rightly ignored on the score of influence within the surfing hard core, but so what?
(Tim Winton's) Breath is probably the best piece of fiction anyone will ever write about surfing, but it'll never overtake Gidget in the public recognition stakes.
- realsurf forum, Sunday Sep 19, 2010.

Comet: Kathy Kohner Zuckerman Interview

Gidget, 1957.

Gidget, 1963.

Gidget Goes Hawaiian, 1963.

The Affairs of Gidget, 1963.

Gidget, 2001.
Gidget: The Film, 1959
From the novel by Fredrick Kohner, Gidget, the Little Girl with Big Ideas, and based on his own daughter, Kathy.
The first of a string of Hollywood surf movies, directed by Paul Wendkos and starring Sandra Dee, James Darren and Cliff Robertson.
Surfing by the Malibu crew including Mickey Dora (as Moondogie) and Mickey Munoz, reported as doubling as Gidget in a blond wig.
However, note that in the surfing footage below, Gidget is a goofy-footer.

Gidget - (Original Trailer)
Gidget (1959) A learning-to-surf sequence
Gidget (1959) - (Movie Clip) Before You Melt: Surfing Footage

Also see:
IMBd: Gidget (1959) Photo Gallery
Gidget Goes Hawaiian (1961) Tribute

Robertson-Sweet Surfboards
Around this time, Cliff Robertson went into partnership with Rodger Sweet, brother of Dave Sweet, in the short lived Robertson-Sweet Surfboards of Pacific Palisades, California.
Generally disparaged by surfers at the time, and latter by collectors, Robertson-Sweet boards were available from a large number of retailers including Surfboards Hawaii of Waikiki, who also sold boards from the mainland by Velzy and Greg Noll.
See: Matt Warshaw:
Encyclopedia (2005) page 617 and Surfer Blog (2017)

Quality in ANY language
- first edition of Surfer magazine, 1960.

Robertson-Sweet ... 4 Solid products
Skin-diving magazine ?, 1962?
(For or Four Solid Prducts?)
Made in one sold piece of polyurethane
rigid foam under 100,000 pounds pressure.
Lighter - Stronger - Unsinkable

A complete range of dive and surf equipment including spear-guns, wetsuits
surfboards and paddle-boards.
The Scubaboard, bottom, apparently has a see-though underwater window inserted through the board.
The sailboard (?) with centre-board and fin is only an illustration.

Moondoggie paddles Gidget back to the beach.

How not to carry a surfboard ...
Sandra Dee.

James Darren,
Sandra Dee and Cliff Robertson.

James Darren, Sandra Dee and Cliff Robertson.

Gidget's bedroom surfing lesson, from a book.

Moondoggie and Gidget tandem, back projection.

Gidget's bedroom surfing lesson.
Vogue, 1959.

Rose Marie Ried Juniors
Vogue, 1959
Sandra Dee and James Darren










da Cat/Moondoggie


Geoff Cater (2019) : Sally Field : Gidget, 1965.