Friday, February 01, 2008

Dale Gadd and Doc Brinkley

The first big lecture hall class I enrolled in at KU was Intro to Radio and Television with Professor Dale Gadd at Wescoe Hall in the fall of 1983. Gadd, the former KJHK faculty advisor, was in his final year at school after 11 years on the hill. He announced his intent to depart for Hollywood. He wanted to pitch a TV script he wrote for a black comedy about aging called "Silver Threads" and was encouraged by conversations he had with Norman Lear about it.

The highlight of the class was Gadd's Doc Brinkley lecture, a full hour devoted to the quack surgeon and patent medicine peddler from Milford, Kansas who made a fortune 'restoring' male virility back in the 1920s. Gadd had a full slide show of archival photos to accompany his lecture (It may still exist as a collection at the Spencer research library). I saw him walk over with a box of slides under his arm prior to his presentation.

Brinkley ran his own radio station in the days when they weren't real tight about transmitter power regulation in addition to having the equivalent of the worlds only source of 'boner medication' (spoiler alert: It was goat testicles). People from Denver to Chicago picked up the station at night. He put musical acts on between pitches too and when the authorities came after him, he moved to Mexico and started over, but not before he almost became Governor of Kansas.

Gadd left town as advertised at the end of the term. His Hollywood sojourn lasted a few years. He gave it a shot but I saw him back in Lawrence in 1988 or 1989. He died in 1995. It's too bad Gadd didn't seize the opportunity to write a book about Doc Brinkley. He might have saved this gentleman a lot of trouble.

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