Memories of … ‘Jennifer Slept Here’

In honor of the 52nd birthday of actor John P. Navin Jr. on July 24, a little flashback to the mostly forgotten Jennifer Slept Here (October 21, 1983-September 5, 1984).

Navin had appeared in such projects as Taps (1981), Losin' It (1983), National Lampoon's Vacation (1983) and had the honor of uttering the first line on Cheers (1982) at the time he was cast in Jennifer Slept Here, meant as a vehicle for hot star Ann Jillian (b. 1950).

Jillian had been a child actor who'd appeared in the movie Gypsy (1962) and on such TV series The Twilight Zone (1983) Hazel (1965-1966). In the '70s, she was a stage star, and was in the original company of Sugar Babies (1979).

(Image via TV Guide)

Everyone knew her name by 1980, when she played sassy, brassy Cassie Cranston on It's a Living (1980-1982). The show tanked and she went on to play Mae West (1893-1980) to great acclaim in the 1982 miniseries of the same name, to give an invaluable supporting performance in the hit movie Mr. Mom (1983), and to anchor the star-packed miniseries Malibu (1983) before being cast as Marilyn Monroesque Jennifer Farrell in Jennifer Slept Here.

Jarring advertising (Image via NBC)

The show, created by Larry Rosen (no birth/death dates) and Larry Tucker (1934-2001), the broad comedy also featured veteran TV actors Brandon Maggart (b. 1933), Georgia Engel (1948-2019) and Glenn Scarpelli (b. 1966), and newcomer Mya Stark (b. 1976).

They captured Jillian and massacred Navin! (Image via NBC)

It also had a theme song sung by Joey Scarbury (b. 1955), the same guy who warbled the #2 smash "Believe It or Not," the theme song for The Greatest American Hero (1981-1983).

Joey had a ghost of a chance of getting through puberty ... (Image via NBC)

The reviews for the series were mixed and the comedy broad, but the ratings were not terrible; in fact, it was often in the Top 30 in reruns. Sadly, it was not renewed for Season 2.

With Warwick Sims (1944-2005) as a dead playboy (Image via NBC)

Post-Jennifer Slept Here, Jillian was contractually obliged to return to It's a Living when it was revived in 1985, but otherwise performed mostly in high-rated TV movies, taking special time out in 1988 to dramatize her battle with breast cancer in The Ann Jillian Story (1988). She retired from acting in 2000, though still makes public appearances.

The series gave up the ghost prior to Season 2. (Image via NBC)

Navin also left show biz. After this sitcom failed, he only appeared in two TV movies, in a pilot and in a bit part in the feature Explorers (1985), with his last gig coming in 1993, seven years after his next-to-last. He's sunk from view, but would probably be a big draw at autograph shows for Vacation, if not for Jennifer Slept Here.

Jennifer's wardrobe was so Old Hollywood it was Dead Hollywood. (Image via NBC)

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