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SHADY DEL KNIGHT, ADMINISTRATOR

SHADY DEL KNIGHT, ADMINISTRATOR
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
HELLO STRANGER ... IT SEEMS LIKE A MIGHTY LONG TIME!

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Big Picture, Pt. 3: Jerilyn's Journey


Welcome back to the third and final part of
my series saluting The Action Kids, the talented
dance troupe that entertained us for two years
on Dick Clark's TV series Where The Action Is.


I spent years searching the net for pictures
from Where the Action Is, particularly
images of The Action Kids.


Pics like the one above courtesy marklindsay.com
are okay, but they're black and white and they
don't offer a clear view of my favorite member
of The Action Kids, Jerilyn Stapleton.

Photo courtesy The Monterey County Herald

Is it any wonder I'm in ecstasy now that I have
found this gorgeous, bright, sharp color image
of Jeri Lyn and the gang?


Jeri, the brunette in yellow on the far left,
was not only my favorite dancer on Action.
She was my favorite dancer on any of the
music variety TV shows of the 60s.


After finding that large color image I was
fortunate to locate more rare black and white
group shots and individual head shots of
The Action Kids and I am proud to
show them to you in this series.


Petite, diminutive (4' 11") energetic, exuberant
and sporting her trademark ponytail and white
hair bow, Jeri Lyn's likability quotient went
through the roof. She was the quintessential
girl next door, the personification of youth,
vitality, joy and fun. To thousands of
teenage guys like me, Jeri Lyn was
the embodiment of the ideal girlfriend.

I wasn't alone in my adoration of Jeri Lyn.
Here are a few of the comments about her
that I found on YouTube and elsewhere.

My favorite girl dancer was Jerilyn.
I wanted to be an Action Kid/dancer
so bad back in those days. I had long
hair like Jerilyn and was (and still am)
short and small like her.

The girl I tried to be was Jeri Lyn Stapleton,
my fav, and my mom bought me a fake ponytail
and go go boots and I was her and I danced
and danced and never missed the show.

Jerilyn of the Action Kids (Jerilyn Stapleton)
- Beyond awesome!

She was the girl of every guy's dreams
during those years - I was 15 at the time.

And every girl wanted to dance like her.
Great dancer, pretty and the rest is obvious.
Yep, 15 in 1966.

She was I think voted most popular dancer
on the show-I remember her for her hair!

Yep, she was always featured the most,
got all the fan mail, and was
the popular one.

She didn't look like the others...she had a
Mediterranean look about her and she
was shorter and cuter than the other
female dancers and I thought her
hair was cool looking.

Yep, she was my fave!!! I sent away
and got an autographed pic back then!!

Jeri Lyn was the prettiest and best dancer
in that group. I was always mesmerized
by her wonderful smile and charisma.
It would be nice to have a video
which featured her exclusively.
She added so much to that show.

Perhaps in response to that last comment,
one You/Tube fan was inspired to upload
this silent 12 second clip which provides
an isolated close-up look at Jeri Lyn, the
consensus favorite of The Action Kids.







My friend Ricky in
Saint Paul, MN, wrote
to me and shared fond
memories of Jeri Lyn.





 Ricky: Miss Lyn had an incredible amount of charm with 
 a beaming smile that was as wide as a football field. 
 Her dancing was the best of that show's troupe and 
 no matter how great a singer may have been, one's 
 attention was always drawn to her.  


Thanks, Ricky! Jeri Lyn grabs attention in this next video taken from season one of Action. I smile and shake my head in wonder every time I watch it.



In the first 40 seconds of this clip from
the August 18, 1965, episode of Action,
The Action Kids ladies take turns executing
a comical fly by as the Kinks sing their hit
"Who'll Be the Next in Line." Jeri Lyn was
the last in line but certainly not the least!

 "Who'll Be the Next in Line" - The Kinks 
 (August/Sept. 1965, highest chart position #34) 




Watch as the Fab Four - (left to right) Jill Gordon,
Lesley Evans, Roberta Tennes and Jerilyn Stapleton -
dance circles around Brian Hyland in this, one of
the clearest, sharpest Action videos in existence.

 "The Joker Went Wild" - Brian Hyland 
 (August 1966, highest chart position #20) 




Another unusually bright, clean, sharp Action clip
is this one, a performance of "Talk Talk," the hit by
Sean Bonniwell's garage band The Music Machine. 
Notice how the camera continues to single out the 
show's two popular brunettes, Lesley and Jeri Lyn.

 "Talk Talk" - The Music Machine 
 (December 1966, highest chart position #15) 




The videos you have watched in this series along
with the pictures you are viewing convey the
impression that Jerilyn Stapleton's life was all
fun and games. Pictures can be deceiving.
For the better part of fifty years I and
countless other fans remained oblivious
to what what going on beneath Jeri's
happy, carefree facade.


The truth is that by the time Jerilyn was
age nineteen she had been a victim of four
different types of domestic violence/abuse.
The show must go on and Jeri, always a
professional, kept her painful secret hidden
from the camera's probing eye. Day after day
she did her job and did it well, taping more than
450 episodes of Action in less than two years.
Jeri entertained and delighted us. All the while
we never knew about her troubled personal life.




My Minnesota friend Ricky
also revealed to me that
he and Jeri Lyn have
something in common.





 Ricky: I believe Miss Lyn was said to have been in an 
 abusive relationship. Unfortunately for me, I grew up 
 an abused child. Added to that, I grew up very poor 
 in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Miss Lyn's 
 lovely smile, and the good times which shows like 
 WTAI and others gave, helped me to smile and 
 have hope through the many bad times. 
 And these still keep me going! 


I'm happy to hear it, Ricky.
Thank you very much for
sharing your memories
with us, my friend!



Given the circumstances of Jeri's youth, no one would have been surprised or blamed her if she had spent the rest of her life crouched in the shadows. Unwilling to remain a victim, Jeri instead empowered herself and chose to become a survivor and a crusader. In the decades that followed her appearances on Action, Jerilyn dedicated her life to helping others in the same situation. She became actively

involved in the Women's Movement and assumed leadership positions
in organizations that work to bring about equality for women, end violence and promote a culture of peace. She became President of the Los Angeles Miracle Mile chapter of NOW and the Los Angeles regional

Co-Coordinator of
The Peace Alliance, a non-profit organization advocating a compre-
hensive, coordinated approach to preventing and resolving violent conflict in our homes, communities and on a global scale. Jerilyn campaigned for the Youth Promise Act and the proposed cabinet level Department of Peace. She was Project Director for the Campaign to End Human Trafficking in American Labor. In recent years Jerilyn has been working on Restorative Justice legislation in California. She has been elected and reelected to the advisory council of the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice and was a panelist at the NACRJ conference a few weeks ago. These are but a few of the important causes championed by this remarkable woman.

Jerilyn Stapleton refused to stay down.
She rose up and turned adversity into triumph.
Jeri's journey from target of abuse to empowered
peace and social justice activist is an inspiration to us all.


Yes, the old photo above, the one that inspired this series,
is worth a thousand memories, but now that I have
the big picture, it has changed forever the way
I think about Jeri Lyn, my favorite Action Kid.


I can see clearly now...
and I too have changed.

Have a Shady day!

75 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos and wonderful post, Shady! I sure wish they would air reruns of this on Retro TV, Decades, or the other Throwback stations. That would be so cool!

    Hmmm... you gave me an idea for a Halloween costume. I'm 4'10 and I have longish hair. Maybe I'll be Jerilyn for Halloween. I'm going to play around with that idea (I like dressing up to answer the door). Thank you!

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    1. Hi, dear Jessica Marie! Thank you for being the early bird again this week.I'm thrilled to know that you enjoyed the post.

      458 episodes of Where The Action Is were aired from 1965 to 1967. In recent years I have read many comments written by fans of the show, wondering when a VHS or DVD of the series will be released and why it is taking so long to bring it to market. I agree that it would be wonderful to watch reruns of WTAI on one of the nostalgia channels. Unfortunately none of the above is likely to happen because the original tapes of the series were erased many years ago. It appears that WTAI simply doesn't exist anymore. All that remains of the series is what you have seen in these posts, a handful of poor quality kinescopes.

      The following is possibly the best quality Action clip in existence. I just discovered it. It offers very good closeups of Jeri Lyn, Roberta and Lesley enjoying the garage band The 13th Floor Elevators at the same poolside location used in that Count Five clip that I showed you in Part 2:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=47SI1FddVqY

      Thank you again for your visit and kind comment, dear friend Jessica Marie. Have a great week and I'll see you soon!

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    2. Aww, that's really sad to hear that they seemed to erase that show. :(

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    3. It was a fairly common practice back then, Jessica Marie, and a tremendous amount of programming was destroyed. I hope you checked out that bright, sharp video of the 13th Floor Elevators because I just discovered it myself and it's the highest quality WTAI clip I've ever seen. Thanks for your return visit, dear friend Jessica Marie!

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  2. Kathryn AndersonJuly 13, 2015 at 3:56 AM

    Two things struck me when I read this story—and listened to the additional stories and interviews Shady researched while doing this piece –

    This is a truly great story of how an individual can overcome any adversity. We should all take a lesson from Jerilyn. Stop your constant complaining. Stop focusing so much energy on your “woe is me” tale and turn your attention to the trials and tribulations of the other people in this world. By helping them, you help yourself. Everywhere in the world, there are greater and lesser people than you. By helping those with less, you gain in stature and your personal problems become smaller. Somewhere along the line I have heard it said that the only true moral society is one that takes care of the members at the fringe.

    Additionally, I applaud the efforts Jerilyn and others have made to create an environment in which women have equal stature and respect in our society. I was coming of age when the 60’s were in full swing. Like Jeri—I did not buy into the female as bimbo eye candy/ chief cook and bottle washer. Thankfully I had a father who encouraged me to take my proper place in the world based on my intelligence and my drive to succeed. Thank GOD we have come to the point in our world when females such as Hillary Clinton can emerge as leaders and the presidency has become an option within reach.

    But the battle isn’t won. There are still skirmishes being fought all over the globe and there are many here in America who would love to take away our well won victory and turn back the clock to our time of repression. For the benefit of our daughters and our granddaughters, we can NEVER NEVER allow this to happen. We must be at the ready to strike down the “right to lifers” and the super-conservatives, the bible thumping religious righters wherever and whenever we find them.

    My hat is off to you Jerilyn. You are a woman of substance and a true role model for us all.

    Kathryn Anderson

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    1. Hi, dear Kathryn! Thank you very much for joining me for the denouement of my series, the inspiring true story of how Jerilyn Stapleton turned a traumatic childhood into a lifetime of advocacy and achievement.

      I agree that the best way to cope with your own personal problems is to focus outward and get involved in helping others with theirs. Jeri Lyn has been doing that for decades in a variety of leadership roles. The groups and organizations in which Jeri is an active participant work to raise awareness about violence against women, promote peace and secure equal rights for women and minorities. Simply put, Jerilyn Stapleton is part of the solution.

      As you know, Kathryn, for many years The Women's Movement, and Jeri Lyn as a key part of it, have been addressing the important issues you raised. Among them is the manner in which women are portrayed in the media - too often as brainless bimbos and trophy wives. A case study is Cagney & Lacey, the pioneering 1980s television series in which the two lead characters are females working as New York City police detectives. The CBS show got mixed reviews and sparked debate, and there was concern among network execs that America at that point in time wasn't ready for strong, tough female characters in traditional male roles. CBS canceled the series twice, but protests, petitions and letter writing campaigns, in which Jeri Lyn participated, helped get the show reinstated on the schedule. Cagney & Lacey went on to an impressive seven season run and garnered 36 Emmy Award nominations and 14 wins, proving that quality programming with positive role models will find an audience if given time.

      I am very happy that you found Jeri Lyn's story inspiring, Kathryn. She certainly is, as you stated, a woman of substance and a true role model for us all.

      Thank you again, dear Kathryn, for being here today to help lead the discussion about the important topics raised in today's post.

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    2. Kathryn, you made me cry because your comment is so beautiful and intelligent.

      Love,
      Janie

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    3. Thank you, Janie. Keep up the good fight, sister!

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    4. Thank you both for being part of the solution!

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  3. This is even better than the last post, Shady!

    I love the first clip and as I was watching it, it occurred to me that you could put a "cheer" soundtrack to that. It reminds me not only of the 60s dancers, but also of the late 70s cheerleaders. Now I have a theory that the Moms of the late 70s were the dancers of the 60s and some of them went on to coach cheerleading. So, lean to the left, lean to the right, stand up sit down fight fight fight. That's an order.

    The next clip transported me back to the go-go boots years. My sister wanted go-go boots so bad; and she go them! They doubled as majorette boots, ha ha. Me? I had ridiculously narrow feet and they were always so uncomfortable that the fad could not draw me in. Even as a child, I had geezer ways.

    Jerilyn was a cut above the rest and I salute her talent and ability to overcome her difficult situation...and take it a step further to help others.

    Have a great day, Shady! Looks like I'll be rained in again...the skies are angry out there...

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    1. Hi, dear Cherdo! Thank you very much for coming by for the exciting conclusion of my series on The Action Kids. Yessum, Jeri Lyn was my favorite dancer on 60s television. As I watched her in awe week after week on WTAI, it never entered my dumb teenage noggin that somebody as perfect as Jeri could actually have problems going on in her life. This series and, in particular, this Part 3 post, "Jerilyn's Journey" was also a journey for me. It allowed me to understand how easy it is for fans to objectify their idols and forget that they are real people with real problems and real feelings. I always admired Jeri Lyn but today I admire her for different reasons.

      Thank you for recognizing Jerilyn Stapleton for her strength and courage, her ability to cope and survive and for her years of dedication to causes that affect us all.

      Have a great week, dear friend Cherdo!

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    2. I had go-go boots. I think I've told you that before. I just like to rub it in.

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    3. You and Cherdo and Holli should organize a blog hop. Everybody posts weekly flashback pictures of themselves wearing go-go boots.

      Deal?....or NO deal? :)

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    4. I can't imagine I have a photo of myself in my go-go boots. As the youngest child of six, my parents didn't take many photos of me.

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    5. I don't understand the logic of that, dear Janie, but if it's true then it's a shame because I would like to see early pictures of you with or without go-go boots.

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    6. By the time my parents got to #6, they had lost interest in taking photos of babies. I don't think I had a baby book, either, or I had one but it was blank.

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    7. :( Well, that's all behind you now. I think we can all take a lesson from Jeri Lyn and put the past where it belongs... in the past.

      You are loved, admired and respected today, Janie. That's a fact. Please remember it.

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    8. Oh, it doesn't bother me that my parents stopped parenting by the time they had me. If I'd had six kids, I'd probably have given away a few. We lived in a clean house, had decent clothes (the hand-me-downs didn't bother me), and plenty to eat. I think two of the best things my mother did for us were encouraging us to read and letting us take piano lessons.

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    9. Absolutely. Parents who encourage their children to read and to learn to play a musical instrument are giving their kids a head start in life. Thanks for the additional background information, dear Janie!

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  4. Janie told me to stop by today but said she couldn't explain why. All as told me was that it would be a topic that means a lot to both her and myself. She was right.

    I was so confused. "Yes, she's very pretty, but I have no idea who she is. Why is this so important to me?" Because this amazing woman is proof that you can not only survive, but you can thrive and help hundreds or thousands of other people do the same thing. What she has been able to do with her life is amazing enough but to think about all the people she has been able to help- who will hopefully help people themselves- is just mind blowing.

    It gives me hope for my generation and future generations, that we can all follow in her path.

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    1. Hi, dear Rachel! Welcome to Shady Dell Music & Memories! It was very kind of Janie to direct you and other readers over here today. Thank you very much for coming and for contributing to the dialogue.

      You wrote:

      << I was so confused. "Yes, she's very pretty, but I have no idea who she is. Why is this so important to me?" >>

      I deliberately structured this three part series in such a way that the shocking revelations in Part 3 would stand out in sharp contrast to all that had come before. Here's the thrust of it. When teenage guys, myself included, watched Jeri Lyn five days a week on Action, all we saw was her pretty face, her sweet disposition and "poetry in motion." When teenage girls watched Jeri, they copied her dance steps, her clothing styles and even her trademark ponytail and hair bow. Guys wished they could date Jeri Lyn and girls wished they could BE Jeri Lyn. In an interview, Jeri admitted that she was flattered by the attention of the fans and all the mail they sent her and by her reputation as the most popular member of The Action Kids. Jeri went on to say that female fans who wished they could trade lives with her would have backed out of the deal had they known that Jeri's personal life was a nightmare.

      You are right, Rachel. Jeri Lyn didn't dwell on the past. She seized control of her life and dedicated it to helping others. Surely, the ripple effect of her tireless efforts will impact future generations. Thank you very much, dear Rachel, for taking time to read this special post and for expressing yourself so eloquently. I hope to see you back here at SDMM again soon. You are always welcome!

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    2. Oh, Rachel, I love you so. What a great comment from my baby.

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    3. I will gladly stop by again, thank you! The way you structured the post was brilliant. It gave such a big comparison to show her life.

      As somebody who has seen abuse and lived through it, it is far easier to hide than anyone really knows. None of my coworkers know that I've been fighting depression since I was a teenager. Nobody who saw me knew that I had a panic attack when I saw somebody who looked like my father. A fake smile and laugh can hide so much. But what is amazing is when one day you realize, "I'm not faking anymore. I survived. I'm free and now I can change the world."

      And thank you, Mama. I was hoping the first part of my comment wouldn't be misunderstood as an insult because I was very confused at first. I'm so glad I kept reading.

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    4. Hi again, dear Rachel! Thank you for the return visit, the additional remarks and the compliments. :)

      You wrote:

      << A fake smile and laugh can hide so much. But what is amazing is when one day you realize, "I'm not faking anymore. I survived. I'm free and now I can change the world." >>

      This is profound. This is key. "Act as if" is the principle at work here. If you knew you couldn't fail, how would you look? If you knew you could conquer the world, how would you stand, walk, talk, think and feel? Act as if you are free and you will be free.

      I also thank you for taking time to read the entire post. Your observations and contributions to this important topic mean a lot to me, to Janie, to my wife Kathryn and, I'm sure, to Jerilyn. Bless you, dear Rachel!

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    5. Well done, Rachel. You are a survivor who doesn't stay in bed all day. With everything you've experienced, you still get out in the world every day and live a good life, speaking out when you can, and showing so much kindness.

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    6. Nicely put, dear Janie, and hooray for Rachel for putting the past behind her, taking back her life and creating a better future.

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  5. Great photos and wonderful post, dear Shady! The Kinks! I recall a song that I have always loved by them...I think it is called "Tired of Waiting for you". Lots to view and thank you so much for sharing all these wonders from days gone by, dear friend. :)

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    1. Hi, dear Linda! Thank you for coming down from Canada, dear friend!

      Yessum, I am very proud to present these rare pictures of The Action Kids along with a selection of videos that show them doing their thing on Where The Action Is.

      Thank you again for stopping, by, dear friend Linda!

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  6. Dear Shady,

    Thank you for this excellent post.

    As I watched the Brian Hyland video, I was struck immediately by how tiny Jeri was. I know she was a kid in chronological years, and in size, she was a child. It must have been so easy to slap her around. I also wonder about her childhood. Women who are abused by a man as children quite often are unconsciously attracted to abusive men.

    Shady, I need to take a little time to digest this post, and then I'll be back to write some more.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Hi, dear Janie! First of all, thank you again for directing traffic to my blog today. That was very sweet of you. I very much appreciated Rachel's visit and comment. Secondly, I will be sure to show Kathryn your reply to her comment. As I stated, the two of you are very much alike.

      I don't fully understand why many women who were abused as children are attracted to abusive men. The only reason I can think of is low self esteem. If a cruel person or people treat you like you have no value and do it over a long enough period of time, eventually you come to believe they are right about you and that you don't deserve a loving, nurturing partner. You end up making relationship decisions based on that flawed script.

      Thank you again for plugging this post on your blog today, dear friend Janie, and for joining the discussion of this important topic. I hope to see you soon!

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    2. These women have it ingrained in them that they don't deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. I was abused. I married an abuser. It took me more than twenty years to figure out what I had done to myself. I don't think any woman says to herself, Well, since my parents beat the crap out of me, I'll marry a man who will do the same. What should be unnatural happens naturally. A therapist told me once that if you put one hundred strangers in an auditorium that the two people who are depressed will find each other and sit together. That's probably a bit of an exaggeration, but she made her point. We are drawn to the familiar. It's nature. We have to learn what isn't natural and respect ourselves before we can work on freeing ourselves from abuse.

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    3. Nicely expressed dear Janie, and I hope you check out Birgit's comment, too. It's sad but true. People are drawn to the familiar, to those who match and mirror their facial expressions and other forms of body language. If the weasels in suits could erase all those old tapes of Where The Action Is, so too can you and I erase old mental tapes that no longer serve us. Too many people follow the same old unresourceful script written decades ago during childhood.

      I look forward to your guest post. Let me know when I can start officially start promoting it.

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  7. Kathleen Mae SchneiderJuly 13, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    There is so much injustice and cruelty in the world! The tendency of the more powerful among us to use their strength to crush the lives and spirits of those they perceive as weaker may appear to be in the majority. It almost seems overwhelming.

    We feel impotent to counteract even a little bit of the hate with love and understanding. But all we can do, if we don't want to be like those who abuse others with actions and words, is to exert our influence on the tiny part of the world where we can have some effect.

    Jerilyn Stapleton is a wonderful example of this incredible power to experience a trauma in silence and later turn it into a source of good that replicates all over the world. How anyone could suppress that sweet and vivacious woman who was such a role model for youths of the time is beyond belief!

    However, she not only survived her abuse but chose to be better rather than bitter. She made it her life's mission to continue to speak up for those wounded and neglected women who have no voice.

    Whether it be to those who feel their very lives are in jeopardy if they tell the ugly truth of their desperate situation - to those who have been deprived of basic dignity and respect to which all humans, regardless of gender, are entitled - she is nothing short of heroic.

    It's amazing to think how Jerilyn's life might have turned out post-Action Kids. She could have gone the way of so many others in the Hollywood limelight by turning to drugs, alcohol or promiscuity, unable to handle the ephemeral nature of fame. Or she could have played right into the hands of the fashion industry and perpetuated the anorexic standards that continue to imprison so many tender souls.

    I have personal experience with this, being a child of the sixties myself. As a woman with a "sturdy" genetic body type (particularly on my father's strong Germanic side), I know how limiting it can feel to look in the mirror and think I'm not thin (or now young) enough. If I let myself, I, like so many women, could feel somehow undeserving of positive attention or admiration.

    By the grace of God, my background and education enabled me to have a rewarding career, marry a decent man who respects and loves me and have a family. I've been able to avoid many of the traps inherent in our culture to which so many others have fallen victim.

    Jerilyn's life speaks eloquently to us all and inspires us to bring forth the gifts we have been given to serve others. We don't have to look far to find opportunities to make the world better. We all can, in ways large and small, rise above prejudice and mysogeny of all stripes - whether religious, racial, or concerning gender preferences - and realize our obligation to our brothers and sisters everywhere to promote dignity and the chance for them to live a rewarding and authentic life in peace.

    Thank you for this post, Tom. It's so good to know that Jerilyn Stapleton exemplifies how listening to our better angels helps to pull those less fortunate up out of obscurity and their tragic circumstances.

    Your lending your support to Jerilyn's cause - as a MAN, for goodness sakes - is amazing! You've done it again - spotlighted someone who many of us would never have even heard about, and in this case thereby extending the good she does through your blog.

    Your admiration for her might have begun as a typical teenage guy marveling at her youthful charms and dance ability, but has grown far beyond it to recognize the lasting beauty within her that rises from a burning desire to combat injustice.

    Audrey Hepburn once said, "As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others." Both you and Jerilyn have done just that!

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    1. Dearest Kathleen, this is a sensational comment from you, dear friend, and I thank you very very much! Your words brought tears to my eyes because, clearly, you understand the prevailing theme of this whole series. You get what I meant when I decided to call it "The Big Picture." Yessum, I can see clearly now... and I too have changed. As a teenager all I knew about Jeri was that which I was allowed to see on television - a super cute, fun loving, carefree girl "out there havin' fun in the warm California sun." Three years ago, when I started doing research for this series, I was shocked and saddened to learn that my favorite Action girl, Jeri, had experienced four types of violence by age nineteen. The news hit me like a punch in the stomach. My first reaction was to feel dirty and ashamed for having essentially regarded Jeri as a two dimensional paper doll, never stopping to think that she was a real flesh and blood person, never knowing all she was dealing with behind the scenes of the program. My feelings of guilt and shame were eased somewhat when I heard Jeri state in an interview that she enjoyed getting so much fan mail back in the day and that she remembered her stint on Where The Action Is as a wonderful experience. Many celebrities try to distance themselves from their early work. They act ashamed of it, diminish its value, trash their co-stars, etc., and in doing so tarnish the memories cherished for decades by their fans. What I like about Jeri is that she still appreciates her fans and seems genuinely tickled to recall her popularity as an Action Kid dancer. That generous attitude makes us love her even more, especially in light of her alarming back story and that fact that she has gone on to do far more important work in the California Democratic Party and the Women's Movement.

      A while back I had the honor of contacting Jeri Lyn Stapleton and exchanging email with her. I found Jeri to be a sweet, humble woman with a kind and generous heart. My admiration and respect for Jeri Lyn knows no bounds.

      Thank you again, dear friend Kathleen, for recognizing what this post was all about and for acknowledging Jeri Lyn Stapleton as a shining example of how the human spirit can triumph over adversity. In many ways Jeri Lyn reminds me of your mother, Margaret. Jeri endured tough times and was victimized but chose not to dwell on them. Instead she mustered her strength, courage and determination and channeled her energy into helping other women in similar situations. She became a crusader for peace at all levels - the family level, the community level, the national level and on a global scale.

      I am very proud to sing the praises Jeri Lyn Stapleton, and I am also proud to have a friend like you, dear Kathleen, one who takes time or MAKES time to be here on important occasions like this one. Thank you again and please give my love to Mother!

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    2. What a brilliant comment, Kathleen. You show such insight.

      Love,
      Janie

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    3. Isn't that an incredible comment from Kathleen? Stay tuned because Kathleen will be resuming her exclusive guest blogger series In-Dell-ible Memories right here on SDMM!

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  8. Wow! this is an eye opening post and brings to mind 2 sayings:
    Looks can be deceiving AND you never know what goes on behind closed doors!
    What a wonderful person Jeri Lyn is for helping others who suffered the same battles! This post even goes full circle with John & Helen Ettline (owners of the Shady Dell), helping protect and keep battered women.
    I admire them all! Thanks Shady for bringing this subject to light on the SDM&M blog!
    Toni Deroche

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    1. Hi, dear Toni! Thank you very much for coming by and adding your thoughts to our discussion. I also thank you for bringing up a point that I was going to mention and drawing a parallel between the work of Jeri Lyn Stapleton and the Ettlines. People like Jeri Lyn and the Ettlines see a need or a problem, step up to the plate and do something about it. For newcomers to this blog who are reading this reply, Shady Dell owners John and Helen Ettline secretly harbored (in their third floor attic) battered women who had fled their homes to escape abusive spouses and boyfriends.

      Yessum, looks can be deceiving, and now that I (and you) have "The Big Picture," we have all gained a true measure of Jeri Lyn's greatness as a survivor, as a role model, as an instrument of peace and as a social activist working tirelessly within the system for the rights of women, children and minorities.

      Thank you ever so much, dear friend Toni, for contributing to the comments as I bring this special three-parter to an end. Have a wonderful week ahead, Toni!

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    2. The Ettlines had their own version of an underground railroad.

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    3. Absolutely, Janie! The Diary of Anne Frank also comes to mind. The Ettlines offered safe haven to battered women, single mothers, pregnant girls and runaways by hiding them in the third floor attic of their house. Teenage patrons who snacked, danced and romanced downstairs had no idea of the drama that was unfolding two floors above them.

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  9. Jeri Lyn is a little mound of dynamite!! Lots of power to her little punch for sure. She did amazing things and stood taller than her 4'11 stature with her endless fights for women. I am so grateful you introduced us to a wonderful dynamo like her. I was 4'11 my senior year in high school. I had long hair and was a dancer so I was cheering for Jeri Lyn through these posts. My heart broke when I read the line of her abuse. 1 out of 4 women have been abused. That's a lot of pain that surrounds us. You have a choice to smile and hold it in or to let it destroy you.
    On to the go go boots- I was obsessed with boots from a young age. When I was just little ( like from the age of 5) My allowance was a new pair of boots if I was good for a month. I had red, black, white and bright yellow shiny patent gogo boots!! I loved them so much. I still have way too many pairs of boots today and I wear every pair.
    Great Series Shady!!

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    1. Hi, dear Holli! Thank you very much for dropping by to experience the Part 3 finale of my series and for adding your thoughts about Jeri's story to our ever expanding thread.

      Yessum, the pretty perky Jeri Lyn that danced for us every day after school wearing go-go boots and sporting her trademark ponytail and hair bow was a 4 foot, 11 inch dynamo. The Jeri Lyn of recent decades has retained that youthful energy and channeled it into a life of service to benefit women, children and minorities. Her story is an inspiration to people of all ages who have endured violence and abuse. The message is clear. Don't let it define you. As James Brown shouted, "Get up, get into it, get involved." Reinvent yourself. Ask not what others can do for you. Ask what you can do to help others. Become part of the solution.

      Thank you again, dear friend Holli, for your visit and generous comment today. It means a lot that you made time for me in the middle of your travels. Enjoy your evening and the week ahead! :)

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    2. The Clark County Prosecutor's domestic violence Web site states that each year three to four million women in the U.S. are beaten by a husband, ex-husband, or male lover. One woman in the U.S. is beaten by her husband or partner every fifteen seconds. We have to fight back. Telling our stories is a way of drawing attention to the problem. If people don't know what's going on, then they can't do anything about it.

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    3. The stats are alarming, Janie, and you are absolutely right. Hiding our heads in the sand isn't the answer. Wishing and hoping that someday things will change doesn't cut it. An open dialogue like the one we are having here is the first step in raising awareness. Passionate crusaders like Jeri Lyn help precipitate real change.

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  10. She took what happened to her and built something positive. This is a great post about someone whom you had a crush on and now admire for what she did with her life. I was expecting to hear drug abuse and an early death but thankfully it is the exact opposite. I read your response to Janie Junebug about why women go for abusive men. My little theory is that these men (and women) and predators. they can sense vulnerability in another so they know how to charm the other into thinking that person will feel safe and loved. Many are tired from all the persecution so they like it when someone seems to be able to "take charge" not realizing that they are falling for someone who is abusive. Charm is something that a person must "turn on". Charm is used to get ahead or get something whatever that may be. It can be used for good or for evil. I always say Hitler was charming. Disgusting but true. We look at the madman with 80 years of open eyes. He swayed a nation plus many people in Canada and the U.S.! These are just my thoughts

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    1. ...and very interesting thoughts they are, dear friend Birgit! Thank you very much for joining the discussion and contributing your personal observations. I agree with what you added to my conversation with Janie. When you mentioned the word "charm" and how evil people can turn it on and off, Ted Bundy and others like him immediately came to mind. You also mentioned the word "tired" and that, too, is key. In my motivational seminar training I learned the following principle: "Fatigue makes cowards of us all." It's true, isn't it? When you are beaten down and too tired to fight or even defend yourself, you tend to settle for anyone (charming abusers/predators) or anything (drugs) that some along and make you feel better for a while. When the bubble bursts and the person starts dishing out verbal and/or physical abuse, inertia can keep you stuck in the relationship because it's too hard, too much trouble and too traumatic to extricate yourself even for your own good and the good of any children that might be involved.

      Yessum, this series had three purposes. the first was to pay a long overdue tribute to The Action Kids on the 50th anniversary of the debut of Where The Action Is. The second was to salute Jeri Lyn Stapleton and tell her inspiring story. The third was to emphasize how much this series has changed me personally. What began 50 years ago as a teenage crush has evolved into a deeper, more mature appreciation of a fine human being.

      Thank you again, dear BB, for your visit and wonderful comment. Have a great week!

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    2. I'm glad you mentioned Ted Bundy. Even after he was arrested and news stories told of his infamous acts, many women wrote to him in prison to support him and say they wanted to marry him. He was good looking. He was charming and helpful. He charmed more than one woman out of life. So many people thought my ex-husband was kind, thoughtful, and brilliant. He showed one face to the world, and another face at home where he took out his anger on me, and sometimes on the children.

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    3. You touched on an important point here, Janie. It is very disturbing to realize that handsome male offenders are able to charm their victims and even attract groupies who get a thrill from flirting with danger. Beautiful women are often deemed "too pretty for prison" and given lighter sentences or no jail time at all for their crimes. It's time for us to abolish these double standards. The beautiful people shouldn't be allowed to get away with murder.

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  11. On the one hand, it is easy to see that God allows the pain to temper the steel. However, as I get older, I get sick to my soul living in a world that has to constantly stamp on beauty and innocence. Heavy sigh, and I move on. I can easily see what you all saw in her.

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    1. Hi, Chris! Thanks for coming, good buddy. The concept of suffering is one that we all wrestle with. Why is there so much of it? Why must the innocent suffer? The weak? The defenseless? As I think we have all learned here today, Jeri Lyn Stapleton was a beautiful young woman and she also possesses an inner beauty, an honest selfless compassion for others. In the years since her nightmarish youth, Jeri has dedicated her life to helping women who are exposed to various forms of violence. Their numbers are astonishing.

      Thank you again for reporting in and expressing yourself, Chris. I appreciate it, good buddy!

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  12. I'm humbled by the amazing life of Jeri Lyn. What courage and strength it took for this little dynamo to take a horrible situation and change it for herself and most importantly for many other women who are trapped in abuse and feel they have no voice or choice but to suffer. In the video featuring Brian Hyland you can really see how teeny tiny she was physically...perhaps making her an easy target for abuse. I'm glad her life was one of success and strength. She was such a cutie and I'm sure the love of many a teenage boy. Somehow I find myself thinking of a very young, tiny, dark haired Sally Fields and her Giget role. I remember many of my guy buddies back in the day loving her as well. She too is a small but dynamic person. I've learned a lot in these posts and have been taken back into a time of my life that was fun, innocent and happy...probably the very opposite of Jeri Lyn's life behind the scenes. You never know what goes on behind closed doors or in any aspect of people's lives. We should remember not to judge or assume all's well. Taking time to be observant could be the way to help others in similar situations. You turned a post that, on the surface, was a step back in time but have made public the topic of abuse and perhaps helped someone out there make a change in their life. I hope you have a great week and thanks for the wonderful life story of a super woman hero!

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    1. Hi, dear YaYa! Thank you ever so much for coming and for leaving this wonderful comment! You summed up perfectly what this special time-sensitive series was meant to achieve. It was a journey for me, for you and for the rest of the readers as much as it was Jerilyn's journey. As I told another friend who commented, I had the pleasure, the great honor, of exchanging email with Jeri Lyn some three years ago when I first got the inspiration to assemble this series. Given all she went through in the early years of her life, it wouldn't have surprised me one bit if Jeri had come across as a bitter, cynical woman. The exact opposite is true. Jeri today remains the same sweet, polite, humble person she always appeared to be on Where The Action Is. She gets a kick out of knowing that fans still remember her and are curious about her. She is proud of the fact that she received the most mail during her two year stint as a dancer on the show and has fond memories of being a cast member and getting a chance to travel across the country on location shoots.

      Here is an interesting tidbit that I haven't revealed to any other reader, YaYa. Around the time that I was connecting with Jeri Lyn via email, she was in the process of writing her autobiography. The working title was Whatever Happened to Little Miss Action? I hope she finishes her life story and gets it published because men and women alike will surely benefit from reading it.

      Yessum, this series was a study in contrasts. It started with music and dancing as we met the super cool, casual, laid-back, always happy, always smiling Action Kids and watched them perform. Digging deeper, we learned the disturbing truth about Jeri Lyn's private life. The series culminated in the uplifting account of how Jeri put her troubled past behind her and went on to live a life filled with accomplishment in public service as a peace activist and human rights advocate.

      Thank you again, dear sweet YaYa, for getting the gist of the series from start to finish and for leaving such intelligent, thoughtful comments about it. I deeply appreciate your input, dear friend. Have a great week!

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  13. Lovely post Shady, I enjoyed watching the videos of the Action Kids.

    How wonderful to hear that Jeri Lyn has dedicated her life to helping others. She's an inspiration!

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    1. Hi, dear Sarah! Welcome back, my special English friend! I'm thrilled to have you here to experience the excitement and drama that unfolded in the third and final chapter of my series. It pleases me greatly to have been able to bring you this series about Where The Action Is and these fine young dancers The Action Kids. For years I searched the internet and couldn't find very much about them, so I decided to take matters into my own hands and pay a long overdue tribute to them. That's when I discovered Jeri's story, past and present. This series gave you an education about a long lost American TV series and a look at mid 60s dances, clothing and hairstyles. Jeri Lyn Stapleton is an inspiration to me and I am very happy to know that she is also an inspiration to you.

      Thank you again for being such a loyal friend, dear Sarah, and enjoy the rest of your week!

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  14. You made me want to hear more about her real life and what she went through off the stage. Sounds like a truly inspirational survivor. :)

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    1. Hi, dear Rita! Thank you very much for coming, my Fargo friend! As I told YaYa (above), Jerilyn has been working on the story of her life, a book with the working title Whatever Happened To Little Miss Action? I'm keeping an eye out for it. I'm glad you found inspiration in what I was able to tell you about her life in this post.

      Thank you again for your visit and comment, dear friend Rita!

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  15. This is very touching, Shady. We never know what horrible truths are hidden behind peoples' smiles, do we? Jerilynn is an inspiration for us all, but especially for those who have suffered abuse. Thanks for sharing her story

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    1. Hi, dear Debbie the Doglady! Thank you very much for being here as I wrap up my series on Where The Action Is with the dramatic and uplifting story of Jerilyn Stapleton, living proof that you can turn trauma into triumph. Jeri set an example for us all to follow. If you get knocked down, get back up again, dust yourself off, put on a smile, summon your courage, march forward with confidence and reach out and help others in need.

      Thank you again for joining me tonight, dear friend Debbie. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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  16. As I watched Jerilynn dancing I thought, "She dances in a natural, loose, relaxed way. It looks like dancing was her gift. Reading about her life makes me see her as a gift to the world. People like her, who live to help other people, are just a beautiful gift.

    I have read we marry the same kind of people who abuse us because deep down we want to resolve things. We want the person from the past to love us so we try to make this new person love us and accept us as we are. Unfortunately, this doesn't usually work. I think if we were abused as a kid, it would be good to work out our past in therapy before we marry anyone. Thanks for telling us all about the Action Kids and Jerilynn.

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    1. Hi, dear Belle! It's wonderful to see you, my great friend. Thank you for coming down to experience the conclusion of the Action series.

      When I watch Jeri Lyn dancing, laughing and clapping along to the music in these old videos, she makes it appear as though she doesn't have a care in the world. I would describe her as a consummate professional for continuing to entertain millions for two years while carrying the baggage of a troubled personal life. I agree that Jeri is a beautiful gift to the world. She was then and she is now. Jeri has helped countless women in similar circumstances.

      The rationale you shared makes sense and helps explain why people who were victims of violence and abuse as children marry the same type person who abused them. Through education and awareness people can learn to break that pattern and free themselves from bondage.

      I'm thrilled that you were here to enjoy and appreciate this series, dear friend Belle. Thank you again for coming and I'll see you again soon. Enjoy the rest of your week!

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  17. Jerilyn is a cutie-pie. I would feel like a giant next to her standing at 5'2". lol That's so sad she was subjected abuse, but am so happy that she found a way out unlike so many others. Great, fun series you put together, Tom. I enjoyed reading each segment very much!

    Come by to vote when you can in my Mr. Bojangles #BOTB showdown! ;)

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    1. Hi, dear Cathy! Thank you very much for coming by and experiencing the inspiring part 3 conclusion of my special series. You and I must have been visiting each others blogs around the same time this morning because I voted in your band battle an hour ago.

      It delights me to know that I bring you enjoyment with my posts. I realize that you are a little too young to remember a lot of the material I present, but it's great to know you enjoy listening and learning.

      Thank you for adding your comments in support of Jeri Lyn, a woman who refused to stay down, a woman who turned bad beginnings into a lifetime of service and accomplishment.

      Thank you again, dear friend Cathy. Don't forget my special "4400" post coming up next Monday, July 20!

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  18. what a totally inspiring, lovely, wholesomely charming lady. A person can't help but smile back at the smiling, and the things that others say about her is exactly what we should aim to be the kind of people that have friends who talk about us so. Abusive relationships, no matter how shallow the relation or duration, are so scarring. They mess with the mind. How perfectly timed with some of my thought processes this is, and how wonderful how she overcame this. Her stories should be more well known! I feel like many could benefit from learning of this cool little gal, and making her a role model as well!
    -Abigail and Daisy

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    1. Hi, dear Abigail! Hi, dear Daisy! How are you both today? I'm in excellent spirits knowing that you got so much out of this series including the finale, the gripping story of Jeri Lyn Stapleton, the most popular member of The Action Kids and my favorite dancer on 60s television. Jeri always wore a winning smile. Teenage Shady never dreamed there were problems behind the scenes in her personal life. She soldiered on, entertaining millions on Action. When she retired from "show biz," Jeri rose through the ranks of organizations that strive to end violence in all its forms in all segments of society. The last I heard Jerilyn was writing her life story, working title Whatever Became of Little Miss Action? I can't wait for the book to be published!

      Thank you very much for your visit and superb comment, dear friend Abigail. Enjoy the rest of your week and I'll see you soon!

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  19. Great article/series, Shady! I'm glad Jeri was able to rise above and not become a continuation of perpetration. That happens, at times. From the videos, she's quite inspiring. I wish her continued success.

    By the way - Is it my imagination or did the Music Machine remind you of Steppenwolf?

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    1. Hi, dear Dixie! Thank you very much for completing this special Action series with me, sweet friend! I'm very pleased that you enjoyed it and were inspired by the background story about Jeri Lyn. I hope Jeri reads every comment and realizes how many people admire her courage and all the great things she has done with her life.

      Yessum, come to think of it, Sean Bonniwell and his garage band The Music Machine do resemble another great band of the period, Steppenwolf, in appearance, in the rough, gravel voiced lead vocal and in their powerful rock sound. Sadly, Bonniwell died of lung cancer less than four years ago at age 71.

      Thank you very much for making time for a visit today, dear friend Dixie. It means a lot to me (smile). Enjoy the rest of your week!

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  20. Wow, those are some interesting facts. It's so sad to hear about the domestic abuse, but encouraging in a way, to see how she never let it get her down. She refused to hide away and looked adversity in the face and spat at it. What a wonderful attitude to have. It was really cool to learn about this series and hear some of the stories you've shared. It was a great series and I'm glad I found it to read.

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    1. Hi, Jeffrey! I'm glad to see you, my new friend. Thanks for swinging by to catch the final chapter of the series. You're right about Jeri. She was a tiny lady but she possessed a big heart and a tremendous amount of determination. In the decades since her appearances as a regular on WTAI, Jeri has been an instrument of change, working within the system so that someday women and girls won't have to experience what she went through early on.

      Thank you again for your visit and for your continuing support of SDMM, Jeffrey. I greatly appreciate it. Enjoy the rest of your week, good buddy!

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    2. Have an enjoyable weekend yourself. And see you around the blogsphere!

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    3. Thanks, Jeffrey. I appreciate your style of blogging and your friendship. See you soon!

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  21. Jerilyn Stapleton's an admirable woman. A force to be reckoned with.

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    1. That she is, dear Lux. Thank you for popping in to learn about Jeri's life of service in the years since Action. I hope her story gave you inspiration. Have a wonderful weekend, dear friend!

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  22. Wonderful post!
    Have a nice week end!
    Photographer Gil Zetbase
    http://www.gilzetbase.com/

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    1. Thanks for your visit and comment, Gil. I hope to see you again here at SDMM!

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  23. Jerilyn can be seen on YouTube under Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons Rag doll

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