Whitney Blake had a lot of career. I’m not sure when or why she got added to the list—there are a couple of options, not least being suggested by someone else. (You, too, can suggest things for the calendar by contributing to my Patreon or Ko-fi!) I can think of several possible moments of, “Oh, wow, I really need to get to her.” She’s actually one of those rare people where I didn’t go out of my way to get to the parent before the child, and in fact getting to her daughter Meredith Baxter is part of how I knew anything interesting about her at all, as her two major credits don’t line up much with my knowledge base.
Not that I’m unfamiliar with Whitney Blake’s acting completely, mind. For one thing, she was the first defendant on Perry Mason, and you know I’ve seen that a time or two. I’m certain I saw her episode of Batman, because I’m certain I have seen all of Batman. I might have seen The Boy Who Stole the Elephant, because that sounds like the kind of thing that was on The Lost Disney Channel Of My Childhood, but if I have, it’s been years, and you know full well that’s not on Disney+. Unfortunately, that appears to be where my familiarity runs out.
So I can’t tell you much about her work on Hazel, of which she did 122 episodes out of 154. I can’t even tell you why she didn’t do the remaining 32. However, her work as Dorothy Baxter (and, yes, she was really married to a man named Baxter for a while!) is heavily in the pantheon of TV Moms Of The Early Sixties. I think the first I encountered her was in an Erma Bombeck book, though my dad did also own at least one book of the comics. (My dad owned a lot of books of comic strips.) Erma Bombeck did a lot of comparing herself to TV moms, and she counted Dorothy Baxter as one of the ones worth mentioning, as I recall.
As she got older, she hit the wall that a lot of actresses do and didn’t much get hired. Wikipedia says she had an LA-area talk show, but none of my other sources have any detail about that. I even searched around and couldn’t find anything. Honestly, I suspect that there are a lot of local TV shows that fall through the cracks and aren’t recorded on any of the major sources, and there probably isn’t much in the way of a source for finding that specifically. Some things are really hard to research, and for a lot of them, I feel as though there’s no good reason for it.
In the ultimate insult, it appears that her intention in co-creating One Day at a Time with third husband Allan Mannings was to star in it. With her real daughter playing her TV daughter, apparently. She was declared too old. She was 49 at the time. That was seen as too old to play the mother of teenagers. Now, Meredith Baxter is twelve years older than Mackenzie Phillips, true. However, it seems they were shopping the show around for five years. What’s more, I’ll have a thirteen-year-old and a nine-year-old when I turn 49. Sure, I had kids late, but 49 is nowhere near too old to have teenagers. Ageism in Hollywood sucks.