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A
nd then there are relatives whose antics are too incredible to be true -- because they are. From the earliest silent black-and-white flicks to episodic TV in digitized color pictures and stereo sound, our fictional cousins abound. You'll even find some on the pages of a best seller or two. Here are a few of the fictional members of the family:

On TV

The Andy Griffith Show (CBS, 1960-68) - "Barney Fife, Realtor" (1965)

Barney (Don Knotts) decides that selling houses would be the perfect sideline for him. He starts by targeting some of the families in Mayberry who may want to change houses and soon has a chain of four buyers and sellers lined up. Even Andy (Andy Griffith) has gotten involved. Having recently admonished Opie for trying to sell his bicycle without revealing the problem with the brakes, Andy finds himself being less than honest with the prospective buyer of his house about the leaky roof or the noisy pipes. Opie practices what his father preaches and mentions these things to an interested buyer, much to Andy's annoyance. When Andy visits the house he's interested in buying, he finds that it may not be perfect as well. About half-way through the show, Andy tells Opie about the flaws in the house that Old Man Parmaley wallpapered over when he sold it to them. You can watch this episode on YouTube: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.


Gunsmoke (CBS, 1955-75) - "Thirty a Month and Found" (1974)

A sequence of tragedies leads to the deaths of three cowboys, one of them an old friend of Marshall Matt Dillon's (James Arness) in Episode 616 of this long-running oater. (The title refers to $30 a month and free meals and lodging.) Matt houses a drunk Will Parmalee (Gene Evans, right) and two of his friends in the jail after they go looking for a missing $300. Matt thinks it was all a misunderstanding, but what he doesn't know is that they shot and buried a man before going to Dodge. This episode won the Writer's Guild Award for best episodic drama that year. Will's best line: "A man can't tote a house and kids around on a horse."


12 O'Clock High (ABC, 1964-67)
"Those Who Are About to Die" (1965)

The 918th draws a tough mission: an aircraft factory in the Rhone Valley, 120 miles beyond fighter support range. Fog rolls in and they stand down for three days, the tension weighing on the men. When they finally do take off, Lt. Parmalee (Tom Skerritt, on the right, sharing a beer with two others) is Blue Wing 2 with co-pilot Jensen and navigator Henderson. Sally Kellerman also appeared in this episode. Skerritt guest-starred five times in this series, each time in a different role.


Laredo (NBC, 1965-67)

Texas Ranger Capt. Edward A. Parmalee (Phil Carey, right), a Civil War hero who lost his wife and fortune in the war, lived for two things: the Rangers and his daughter, Jenny (who never appeared). He was an iron-willed leader who commanded the respect of his men and the community, but he often tired of his administrative duties and slipped out to join his men on missions. Parmalee was a bachelor about town not at all above a little gentlemanly flirtation when the situation allowed. Continually exasperated by his men, he was also occasionally amused and almost always proud. He was, however, first and foremost a lawman. Carey went on to play conniving Asa Buchanan on ABC's "One Life to Live" for more than 20 years and died in February 2009, at age 83.


Dallas (CBS, 1978-91)
1986-87 season

Wes Parmalee (Steve Forrest, right) was a ranch hand who claimed to be Jock Ewing, founder of the Southfork Ranch clan, who died five years earlier in a helicopter crash. Parmalee said he survived the accident, which necessitated plastic surgery. After trying to convince everyone he was Ewing -- even successfully passing a polygraph test -- it was explained that Parmalee was a fraud and he left Dallas for good.


The X-Files (Fox, 1993-2002)
"The List" (1995)

Napoleon "Neech" Manley, a well-liked inmate on death row, is strapped into an electric chair and killed. Several days later a prison guard is found dead in the cell Neech had occupied for 11 years. Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) tells fellow FBI agent Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) that Neech believed in reincarnation, and swore he would return from the grave to take vengeance on five men who mistreated him. The agents examine the guard's body and the cell where his body was discovered. The warden suspects that Neech's inmate friends are responsible for guard's murder. Mulder interviews Neech's friend, Speranza, who believes Neech's spirit killed the guard. Later, a guard named Vincent Parmelly (Ken Foree) pulls Scully into the shower area and tells her an inmate named Roque possesses a list which names the five men Neech's spirit intends to kill.


At the Movies
A Fool There Was (1915)

Theda Bara, right, sinks her teeth into her role of vampire in this 20-minute silent, which was directed by Frank Powell and based on a Rudyard Kipling poem. One of the creature's victims is Reginal Parmalee (Victor Benoit). It is from Bara's role in this film that we have the word "vamp" -- a woman who saps the last sexual energies from respectable middle-aged men, making them no more than slaves crawling at her feet.


A Society Sensation (1918)

Believing himself to be of noble blood, fisherman Captain Parmalee (Alfred Allen) tries to foist daughter Sydney (Carmel Myers) off on high society. Amused by Parmalee's pretensions, a wealthy dowager tells her friends that Sydney is a duchess. The ruse works so well that socialite Dick Bradley (Rudolph Valentino -- in his first important role -- at left with Myers) falls in love with Sydney. When Dick's mother learns the truth, she forbids the lovers to marry, but the dowager comes to the rescue once more. Also in the cast: Zasu Pitts.


White Banners (1938)

A homeless Hannah Parmalee (Fay Bainter, left, who was nominated for a best actress Academy Award for this role) drifts into the lives of the kindly Ward family in a small Indiana town in 1919. She makes herself useful as a cook and housekeeper, but her real interest is in meeting their teenage neighbor, Peter Trimble (Jackie Cooper). It turns out Peter is the son out of wedlock that she gave up for adoption, and now she has tracked him down to see what sort of young man he has become. Claude Rains stars as the head of the Ward clan. Bainter lost this Oscar to Bette Davis who played the title role in "Jezebel" -- but won one for best supporting actress for her role in Davis' movie!


Paris Model (1953)

The story of a dress and the effects it has on the women who wear it begs the question of "Where is O.Henry when he is needed?" A daring new Paris style creation, "Nude at Midnight,": is donned by Marion Parmelee (Marilyn Maxwell, at left being shown the dress by Paulette Goddard) who tries to charm her husband's retiring boss into letting her husband, Jack Parmelee (Robert Bice), take over the company, but the boss's wife, who really runs the business, has other ideas. Also in the cast: Eva Gabor, before she settled on "Green Acres."


Boy on a Dolphin (1957)

Italian screen goddess Sophia Loren's second American film is this glossy romantic adventure set -- and partially filmed -- on the Greek island of Hydra. Phaedra (Loren) is a sponge diver who discovers the wreck of a sunken ship with a number of fascinating artifacts, including a statue of a boy astride a dolphin. Her boyfriend, Rhif (Jorge Mistral), is convinced that the statue is valuable, and begins making plans to bring it to dry land for sale. They approach James Calder (Alan Ladd), an American archeologist working on a project for a Greek museum. Calder wants the statue but can't pay for it; he asks them to donate it to his museum -- hardly what Rhif has in mind. So Rhif turns to Victor Parmalee (Clifton Webb, at right, with Loren), an American art collector, and the two make plans to salvage the ship's contents for which Rhif will be paid handsomely. But Phaedra finds herself attracted to Calder -- especially after being disgusted by Parmalee's blunt offer to make her his mistress -- and begins a romance with the archeologist. Then it's a race to see who can recover the ship's valuables. (NOTE: Three-time Academy Award nominee Clifton Webb's middle name was Parmelee. We've found a scrapbook that belonged to his mother, Mabel "Mabelle" Parmelee.)


True Grit (1969)

The murder of her father sends teenage tomboy Mattie Ross (Kim Darby) on a mission of "justice" to avenge his death. She recruits a tough old marshal, one-eyed Reuben J. "Rooster" Cogburn (John Wayne, right), because he has grit and a reputation of getting the job done. The duo set off for Indian Territory to find killer Tom Chaney (Jeff Corey) and the band of outlaws he's connected with, led by the notorious bandit Ned Pepper (Robert Duvall). Minor characters in the film are Harold and Farrell Parmalee (Jay Ripley and Kenneth Becker, respectively), but they supply Pepper one of the best lines of the film: "All the Parmalees is touched, but Harold's the worst -- no, their ma's the worst, then comes Harold's brother, Farrell -- but they're all good shots."

True Grit (2010)

The "touched" Parmalee brothers ride again in the Jeff Bridges-Matt Damon-Josh Brolin remake. This time it's Bruce Green as Harold, on the right; Mike Watson as Farrell, second left; and Scott Flick as Clement, bottom; who are members of the Lucky Ned Pepper gang.

In Books
John Parmelee's Curse (1886)
by Julian Hawthorne

The author was the son of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

With the copyright long expired, Google has put the New York Public Library's copy online to read.


Murder at Union Station (2004)
by Margaret Truman

In her 20th mystery in the Capital Crimes series, the late author uses Washington's refurbished railroad station as the locale of a sensational shooting whose consequences ricochet from seedy bars to the halls of Congress. President Adam Parmele makes an appearance.


Legacies (1996)
by Janet Dailey

Two lovers -- Lije Stuart, a part-Cherokee Indian with a Harvard law degree, and Diane Parmalee, his childhood sweetheart and the daughter of an Army officer -- must fight to stay together as their respective families take opposite sides during the Civil War.


Merton of the Movies (1922)
by Harry Leon Wilson

Harold Parmlee appears as an actor of "society dramas" who is a well-known idol of Hollywood flappers in this show-biz novel.


Fugitive's Trail (2000)
by Robert J. Conley

Scrawny, young Melvin Parmlee lit out of Texas riding a swayback horse. His crime: killing a man with an ax handle for shooting his dog, Farty. Ahead lay a land of prairie, mountains, boomtowns, whores, gold and outlaws; behind him was a long trail growing more crowded with enemies every day.


The Devil's Trail (2002)
by Robert J. Conley

Kid Parmlee's tail continues. The West's scrawniest gunslinger has been recruited into a bounty hunt for a gang of criminals. For the Kid, it's the beginning of an explosive adventure on both sides of the law, in the company of bank
robbers, friends, traitors, a woman named Doc--and a pot of gold at the end of the trail.