Karen Valentine remembers the difficult journey that got her to her acclaimed position as a student turned teacher in the popular television series Room 222.
Contrary to her time on The Dating Game, which she says was a “awful” experience with no love lost, the show that launched her into fame is a love she still cherishes.
Celebrities including Suzanne Somers, Tom Selleck, Leif Garret, and Farrah Fawcett participated in the first dating reality show, The Dating Game, before they were well-known. The show also served as a launching pad for upcoming actors.
One of those celebrities, Karen Valentine, was invited to the dating program that Chuck Barris also founded after making an appearance on his television series Dream Girl of 1967.
Valentine, a former teenage beauty pageant winner, was offered the chance to speak with three available men who were hiding behind a partition.
She acknowledged that she had assumed the appearance would be “harmless fun,” but said that her “choice” had made the whole thing awful.
That was terrible since the guy believed that this was actually going to be a date, isn’t that right? Later, when people were taken on vacations, The Dating Game became more serious, Valentine, who is now 76, told Closer Weekly. “I went to the Ambassador Hotel only to see a show, but the guy thought we were going to make out in the limo, and I was like, ‘You know this is a first date, right?'” So sleazy, in fact. The prize I won was to go to supper and a concert, but the person believed this was a serious matter. I wished to cancel the date. Save the cash, who needs to go on a date, right? I’ll perform another show. I’d like to try my hand at acting or anything.
After putting that regret behind her, Valentine was hired for the 1969 television film Gidget Grows Up, which led to her main part in the popular TV series Room 222 (1969–1974). In the experimental television program, a black high school teacher who strove to instill tolerance in his students was portrayed by the award-winning actor Lloyd Haynes (1934–1987).
James L. Brooks, the man behind The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Taxi, and movies like As Good as It Gets and Terms of Endearment, conceived the show, and Gene Reynolds, one of the MAS*H developers and producers, produced it.
Valentine and Michael Constantine, who were both nominated for supporting roles in My Big Fat Greek Wedding in 2002, received Outstanding New Series awards for Room 222 in 1970. Michael Constantine also won Outstanding New Series for My Big Fat Greek Wedding in 2002.
Regarding her first nomination and win, Valentine remarked that it “was kind of mind-blowing to have that happen so soon, so quickly.” “And to meet Carol Burnett, who told me, ‘Well, congratulations for this.’ It sounded like “Thank you.” But Carol Burnett would be familiar with me? Amazing, indeed.
When the young actress first met another renowned actor, she recalled feeling awestruck.
“I remember I was taking singing lessons at the time, and I went to my singing class,” Valentine said. Gregory Peck was taking classes as well. I was playing the teacher’s piano when he passed by, and he kind of mimed, “You did it!” when he spotted me through the window. I thought, “Oh my God. Gregory Peck is here! How did I acquire the good fortune to meet these celebrities and skilled people right away?
Critics were applauding Room 222, but the show was terminated mid-season in the fourth season after a decline in ratings, according to Closer Weekly.
When the network informed the cast that the show was being canceled, Valentine reflected, “Why things changed, I have no idea. It was sad because, well, it’s always sad, but especially when you feel you have a good product and a good presentation, for it to be taken away, but they did have the wherewithal to let us know that it was happening. But in the end, the network decided to go a different course. They always declare, “We’ve decided to go in a different direction,” in such manner.
She starred in Karen (1975), a show Reynolds produced after Room 222 was canceled, but it was discontinued after four months due to low ratings.
The show’s premise, according to Valentine, was “controversial political stories that were a savvy, humoristic reflection of then-current headlines,” and the show’s initial opening titles were “a take-off of the opening of the film ‘Patton.'” You showed me marching up to an American flag background rather than George C. Scott. incredibly clever yet never broadcast. “It was changed to me riding a bicycle around D.C.,” she continued. Instead of a political issue-focused drama/comedy, the network had in mind something softer, more intimate, and not overly convoluted. It was, in my opinion, ahead of its time.
Valentine, a stage performer who has previously made appearances on Broadway, maintained her career as a guest star on The Hollywood Squares from 1971 to 1977 as well as in episodes of Murder She Wrote and The Love Boat.
Her most recent movie, Wedding Daze (2004), which aired on the Hallmark Channel, featured her alongside John Laroquette.
Valentine has only happy recollections of her time on Room 222, the show that helped her find success very early in her career: “Working with all of those people, and to have that kind of experience first time out-the show just brings back the fondest and best memories in the world to me.” It also kind of spoilt me since it raised the standard so high, she continues. Consequently, when other things occur, you wonder, “What is this?” You know, it was different. But I did get some good, entertaining content, which was lucky.
What was your favorite Karen Valentine-starring film or television program?