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Visions; Phantom of the Open Hearth

Part of New Television Workshop.

(2) 16mm reels in single container

License Clip

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Phantom of the Open Hearth
Program Description

This comedy/drama was written by Jean Shepherd, who appears at the beginning and the end and narrates it through voiceover. It tells the story of several events as they occur through the eyes of Ralph, a high-school-aged boy. Ralph is anticipating the upcoming prom and is working up the courage to invite Daphne Bigelow, a beautiful and popular student who does not seem aware of his existence. Meanwhile, Ralph's father, referred to throughout as the Old Man, has just been informed that he has won a prize from a Nehi soft drink sponsored contest, which he awaits eagerly. When the prize arrives it is a tasteless lamp, which causes friction between Ralph's mother and father. Ralph's mother is seen going to recurring "Dish Nights" at the local movie theater. Those who attend receive free dishes, but week after week mistaken shipments result in multiple gravy boats, angering the patrons. Finally, Ralph invites not Daphne Bigelow, but his geekish neighbor Wanda Hickey to the prom. He and his friends go out afterwards with their dates and drink heavily. The evening culminates with them vomiting in the stalls of the men's bathroom. "Phantom of the Open Hearth" appears to take place in the 1950's or early 1960's and has a bittersweet feel to it. The anecdotal remembrances of Ralph are both humorous and nostalgic, revealing touching qualities, especially in his father.

Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


High schools
David Loxton (Producer)
Fred Barzyk (Producer)
Shepherd, Jean (Writer)
Schwade, Sol ()
Shepherd, Jean ()
Bonnell, James ()
Mayo, Joe ()
Bolton, Barbara ()
Power, Carlton ()
Goodman, Adam ()
Peters, John ()
Elliott, David ()
Brown, Leigh ()
Huberman, Ed ()
Dolan, Frank ()
Faye, Joey ()
Utman, Bryan ()
Clark, Chris ()
Howard, David ()
Pilavin, Tobi ()
Lampley, William ()
Nuding, Steven ()
Wallach, Roberta ()
Broderick, James ()
Graham, Peter ()
McCullough, Andrea ()
Chicago: “Visions; Phantom of the Open Hearth,” GBH Archives, accessed April 20, 2024,
MLA: “Visions; Phantom of the Open Hearth.” GBH Archives. Web. April 20, 2024. <>.
APA: Visions; Phantom of the Open Hearth. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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