Gidget – Short for Girl Midget first came to life as a book written by Frederick Kohner and was based on the personal experiences of Kathy Kohner (Zuckerman) his daughter. Kohner was a Hollywood scriptwriter and his work of fiction is a charming, novel about a girl who eagerly paddled into the waves.
Gidget was turned into a movie in 1959 with Sandra Dee playing the 16 year old Francis Lawrence (Gidget), James Darren as Moondoggie and Cliff Robertson as the Big Kahuna. It was followed by Gidget goes Hawaiian with Deborah Walley as Gidget and Gidget Goes to Rome with Cindy Carol. James Darren played Moondoggie in all three movies.
In 1965 the character was adapted to become a television sitcom with Sally Fields as Gidget. Between the first movie and the TV series Gidget’s hair color went from blond, both Dee and Carol were the blonds, to redhead, Walley and finally to brunette, Fields hair color. Gidget has been a brunette mostly since. The series was only on for one year, but launched Sally Fields’ career.
A television movie followed in 1969, Gidget Grows Up, with Karen Valentine in the tile role.
Gidget Gets Married was the name of a 1972 television movie. Monie Ellis, a blonde, played Gidget.
In 1985 a second series based on an older Gidget was made, The New Gidget. It started with a television movie, Gidget’s Summer Reunion. Both the movie and the series starred Caryn Richman playing a 30 year old wife, married to Moondoggie. The series lasted for two seasons, 44 episodes, as a syndicated series.