The picture above is NOT Ben Franklin, but then you knew that. (Didn’t you?) The photo is of the late Elizabeth Montgomery, star of the TV show Bewitched, which ran on ABC from 1964 through 1972. She played Samantha Stevens, a witch married to a mortal.
Two of the show’s episodes, though, featured Ben Franklin. In the first, My Friend Ben, “Aunt Clara accidentally summons Benjamin to help Samantha fix her lamp.” In the follow-up, Samantha for the Defense, Sam defends Ben “at his trial when he is accused of stealing a fire engine.”
Truth is, I don’t remember either of these plots – I found the descriptions in a book called Television Comedy Series by Joel Eisner and David Krinsky. I don’t even know which husband Darrin was on- the late Dick York (who starred 1964-69) or the late Dick Sargeant, though it was probably the former. What I DO remember, however, was VERY important in my view of life at the time. Ben says to Sam that he is, by nature, a pessimist, because when good things happen, he is always pleasantly surprised.
I didn’t know if that quote was truly said by the real Franklin, but it seemed to make a lot of sense, so I adopted it as part of my mantra. For years. Actually, for decades. What’s really peculiar about it is that I had totally forgotten about it until fairly recently.
I did find a list of Franklin quotes. One was: “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” It seemed to capture the same spirit as my guiding quote.
So, the inventor, publisher, composer and diplomat, who was born 300 years ago today, is best remembered by me from an alleged quote from a TV sitcom from four decades ago.