When a book is adapted to a movie and then a television series, you can be sure it is something special. In 1945, Josephine Lesley penned the beautiful novel The Ghost and Mrs Muir. It was about a widow, Lucy Muir, her young children and her maid, who moved to a cottage near to the sea. The idea was to get away from it all (and especially for Lucy to get away from her two overbearing sisters-in-law). Gull Cottage was known locally for being haunted and could not attract any tenants for this reason. Undaunted, Lucy moved in, attracted by the low rent.
Rather than enjoy the peace she craved, she soon discovered that the rumours about a ghost were true. The ghost she encountered was of a sea captain and Lucy was the only person that he would reveal himself to, albeit only in her mind's eye. Lucy's children and their maid were unaware of his existence. The captain at first tried to scare Lucy as ghosts are supposed to do, but she refused to be bullied and simply carried on living happily in the house. The captain could not help but respect her for her steadfastness. He gave up trying to haunt her and they began to become close friends. She decided to write his biography using true stories from his own words. Over time they would share many long conversations and intimate moments which leads the story on to a poignant and romantic conclusion.
Soon after the book had been published, Twentieth Century Fox purchased the rights to make a movie from the story. Within two years, Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney starred in The Ghost and Mrs Muir. The movie followed the book in most respects. As always, some of the readers of the original story were a little disappointed in a few of the changes that were made. In the movie, for example, the captain (the ghost) actually appears in person, whereas he is simply a voice in Mrs Muir's head in the book. Although it was not a runaway box office hit, the movie was well received by all who saw it and by the critics.
Wind on another 21 years to 1968 and Fox Television were actively looking for new ideas for tv shows along the same lines of Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie. The book and the movie of The Ghost and Mrs Muir had many comedy moments in them and Fox executives, especially Howard Leeds who had written episodes of Bewitched, could see the potential for The Ghost and Mrs Muir, which contained the same fantasy elements of I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched. Experienced writer Jean Holloway was given the task of kicking off the writing, and soon the show was put together, starring Hope Lange as Mrs Muir (now Carolyn Muir) and Edward Mulhare as the captain.
The long gap between the film of 1947 and the tv show of 1968 meant there were less comparisons made between them. Some of those that did compare them were not always pleased with the outcome, perhaps because this was like comparing apples with pears. The show lasted for two seasons, which was (and maybe still is) about average for a comedy series and was not a bad effort considering the limited storylines that were possible.
After the Show
Both Hope Lange (Mrs Muir) and Edward Mulhare (the captain) continued to co-star in a variety of tv dramas and comedies for many years after as well as the odd film. Hope Lange died in 2003 and Edward Mulhare died in 1997.
Vernon Stent is the content writer for bygonetv.com. Here you can read more about The Ghost and Mrs Muir . Find out what happened to the stars of bygone tv shows -Where are they Now?