A very special Jack Kelly performance has found its way into the Kellection. It's in an episode of Jane Wyman Presents The Fireside Theatre titled "Kirsti". It originally aired on Valentine's Day in 1956.
I made some screencaps, but unfortunately the copy I have of "Kirsti" isn't the greatest, picture-wise. But, I hope you'll enjoy them nonetheless. :)
JK portrays a young pastor (not a "parson", he insists) named "Rayburn Stone". Pastor Stone has just returned to his New England town with "Kirsti", his winsome Norwegian-born bride.
She's always quoting her "Papa" (hmm, I wonder if she has some American relatives named Maverick?)
Kirsti can't wait to hear Rayburn preach, until he explains that he's only an assistant pastor who doesn't usually deliver the sermons in his church.
That's the job of "Dr. Cutler" (Charles Coburn), the senior pastor. Rayburn takes care of more mundane tasks such as typing Dr. Cutler's messages. However, he also writes a few of his own messages, just in case he needs to fill in for Dr. Cutler some day.
After reading one of Rayburn's sermons, Kirsti thinks it deserves to be heard.
And, it looks like it will be, since Dr. Cutler has come down with a bad cold and has asked Rayburn to spell him in the pulpit.
But, then Dr. Cutler starts to feel better. He decides to preach after all and asks Rayburn to type his sermon.
The next day, Dr. Cutler prepares to preach a recycled sermon full of hellfire and brimstone. However, it seems someone has pulled the old switcheroo with his notes, and Dr. Cutler ends up sharing Rayburn's gentler message instead. This leads to a big change in the church, but not as big as the change the Stones will soon be dealing with at home.
JK is delightful as Rayburn. And, Jane Wyman is so loveable as Kirsti, it's hard to believe this is the same woman who played nasty "Angela Channing" in the 1980's prime-time soap Falcon Crest. But, that just shows what a fine actress Ms. Wyman was.
Just about a month after "Kirsti" aired, JK and JW co-starred in another Fireside Theatre presentation titled "Scent of Roses". And, in a April 1956 newspaper article, Ms. Wyman mentioned JK as one of several talented young Fireside Theatre co-stars in whom she took pride (others included tough guy Neville Brand and actress Betty Lynn, who later appeared as "Thelma Lou" in The Andy Griffith Show).
Naturally, after I purchased a copy of "Kirsti", I discovered this charming episode had been uploaded to YouTube some time ago (it looks like whoever put it there used the same grainy copy). So, enjoy this wonderful JK performance and have a super Sunday. :)