High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lights....... Camera....... Action Kids! Part 2 of My Series, The Big Picture!

The Action Kids, the resident dance troupe on
Dick Clark's series Where The Action Is,
were the most exciting dancers on
television in the Sixties.

You're talkin' to the U.S. Male and
I admit that most of my attention was
focused on the female Action Kids -
so cute, so cool, so California casual chic!

Girls who watched Where The Action Is
loved the female dancers, too.

They practiced the Action girls' dance moves,
got tips on trendy clothing styles and
learned a valuable lesson. Girls who
project a wholesome, squeaky clean
image command admiration and respect.

The Action Kids performed their own custom
choreographed variations of the Pony, the Swim,
the Monkey, the Skate, the Mashed Potato,
the Boogaloo, the Watusi, the Temptation Walk,
the Locomotion, the Jerk and other popular dances.

The sequence you are about to watch is
challenging and covers a lot of real estate.
Essentially, The Action Kids become a dancing
flash mob. Watch this wonderful performance
and you'll understand why The Action Kids kept me
glued to my TV set every weekday for two years.

 "Summer in the City" - The Lovin' Spoonful 
 (August 1966, highest chart position #1) 

The Action Kids included:

Lesley Evans

Pete Menefee

Jill Gordon

Ted LePlatte

Mike Williams

Roberta Tennes

Roger Minami


Jerilyn Stapleton.

During season one of Action in 1965,
Steve Ciro, Joy Ciro and Jimmy Hibbard
were also members of the dance squad.

Steve Ciro

At that time they were known as
Steve Ciro and The Action Kids.

Steve and Joy Ciro can both be seen in the
picture above at the rear of the group in
front of Paul Revere and the Raiders.

For decades the only Action Kid
I knew by name was Jeri aka
Jeri Lyn aka Jerilyn Stapleton,
my favorite member of the
Where the Action Is cast.

Photo courtesy The Monterey County Herald

In my Holy Grail picture above, Jeri is the petite
brunette in yellow at the left end of the row.

I recently identified the blonde in the middle
as Roberta Tennes. The brunette in orange on
the right side is Lesley Evans who was also a
choreographer and did some singing on the show.

Roberta, a vivacious Barbara Eden look-alike, danced in the 1967 Elvis Presley movie Clambake and played a chorus girl in the 1970 film The Only Game in Town. Appearing with Roberta in both motion pictures was dancer and future acting star Teri Garr.

In 1964, Laura Petrie look-alike Lesley Evans danced
along with Teri Garr in the Elvis vehicle Kissin' Cousins.

After her stint on Action, Lesley landed an acting part in
a December 1969 episode of Here's Lucy. Lesley also appeared in three episodes of the TV series M.A.S.H. playing a different nurse each time.
In 1975 Lesley played a secretary in the Warren Beatty movie Shampoo.

According to the website, Action Kids dancer Jill Gordon was married
to drummer Jim Gordon who played on many Paul Revere
and the Raiders sessions.

Now let's enjoy a few more videos that show
off the def dance routines of The Action Kids.
Blondes Roberta and Jill, mainstays of the Kids'
classic lineup, are seen in the picture below.

Roberta and Jill get the bulk of camera time in
this video of a performance by the garage band
? (Question Mark) & the Mysterians.

 "I Need Somebody" - ? (Question Mark 
 & the Mysterians (December 1966, 
 highest chart position #22) 

The Action Kids' fab four, Jeri Lyn, Lesley,
Roberta and Jill, are featured prominently in
the next clip, a high energy workout backing
Count Five, the teen garage band from San Jose.

A stunning closeup of smiling Roberta and her
trademark French-cut bangs occurs at the  :30 
mark of the video. Dancing behind Roberta is her
blonde cohort Jill. Be sure to catch brunettes
Jeri Lyn and Lesley as they emerge from the pack
and get their groove on in front of the band
beginning at the  1:10  point of the clip!

 "Psychotic Reaction" - Count Five 
 (October 1966, highest chart position #5) 

Here's a beach performance by Captain Beefheart
and His Magic Band. Throughout the vid you'll catch
glimpses of Lesley and Roberta groovin' behind the
band while Jeri plays in the sand with children.

 "Diddy Wah Diddy" - Captain Beefheart 
 and His Magic Band (April 1966, uncharted) 

Please click at the  6:45  point of the next vid and enjoy
more great moves from The Action Kids as Tommy Boyce
sings a medley of hit songs that he wrote. Lesley and
and Jill are the featured dancers during Tommy's first
two songs. The team of Jeri and Roberta enter the
picture on the third song at  8:55. 

 Tommy Boyce 
 Medley: "Peaches and Cream," 
 "Come a Little Bit Closer" and "Action" 

"Searching for My Love" by Bobby Moore and the
Rhythm Aces was a big line dance hit at the Shady Dell.
The shuffle paced Chicago soul gem was also tailor made
for The Action Kids. Please click at the  5:00  mark and
behold Lesley on the left, Jeri Lyn on the right and
Roberta in the middle behind Bobby Moore. Lesley steals
the show in this video, doing what appears to be a
combination of the Skate and the Boogaloo and
looking like she's sliding on Teflon. Mesmerizing,
gravity defying moves like Lesley's must have
had young Michael Jackson taking notes.

 "Searching for My Love" - Bobby Moore 
 and the Rhythm Aces (August 1966, 
 highest chart position #27) 

 Shady's Official Findings: 

Jerry Blavat's Yon Teenagers 
defined cool dancing
on the East Coast. 
Big boss line and right on time!

Don Cornelius' Soul Train Gang 
defined cool dancing
in the Midwest. 
The hippest trip in television!

The Action Kids reigned as the  
coolest dancers on the West Coast. 
 Combining boy and girl next door 
physical attributes, warm, accessible, 
endearing personalities and clever, 
imaginative dance moves, theirs was
the ultimate expression of what it
meant to be young in the Sixties!

Sometimes a picture doesn't tell the whole story.
There are some disturbing facts not revealed in this
photo or in any of the other pictures in this series
or in any of The Action Kids' videos you'll see.
Learn a shocking truth next time in Part 3.

Have a Shady day!