Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Joan and Elaine

My apologies to the actress Elaine Hendrix.
For a couple of years, I have thought she was someone else.
You'll know Hendrix as the science teacher on ''Joan of Arcadia,'' and if you've watched much, you know she's a lot of fun. I haven't seen a teacher this amusing in prime time since Diane Delano on ''Popular.''
But I kept wondering if Hendrix was Joan Prather, the actress from ''Eight Is Enough.'' There's just enough resemblance to make that plausible, and I only recently got around to looking it up.
Of course, I'm not alone in making these connections of actors across television. My mailbag columns have included a number of such inquiries, sometimes correct (yes, that was Madchen Amick on both ''Joey'' and ''ER'') and sometimes not. (The actress Sherry Jackson is not the mother of ''JAG's'' Catherine Bell, although in photographs you can see what some might consider a family resemblance.)
But I think we tangle all these images in our memories because TV is such a mix of images, old shows, new shows, movie blockbusters, forgotten films and commercials. If we see two unrelated people in close proximity on TV, we may think there's more of a relationship than scheduling coincidence. And sometimes we remember an actor more as a character, creating another kind of connection; when I saw Delano on ''Popular,'' my first thought was, ''Oh, it's that officer I liked on 'Northern Exposure.' '' (No, I didn't remember her name. I can't remember everything. That's why I keep reference books handy, and get shaky when I can't access the Internet.)
So, I'm sorry that I thought Elaine Hendrix was Joan Prather. And the next time I see Hendrix in something, I'll try to put the right name with the face.

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