Anybody remember Robin Leach’s TV series Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous? A hit from the mid-’80s through 1994, it catered to people’s desire to escape for an hour to the mega-mansions and island getaways of wealthy celebs. The fantasy travelogue always ended with Leach wishing his viewers “Champagne wishes and caviar dreams.”
ATZ found this spoof, also narrated by Leach, from an early Conan O’Brien Show in which comedian Andy Richter and actor Abe Vigoda travel to Coney Island on a rainy day in December 1994. “Come join the stars as they escort Andy Richter to their wonderful weekend getaways on Runaway with Andy,” Leach says in the intro. He describes Coney as “a sleepy island of exotic delight.”
Abe Vigoda is best known for his role as Sgt. Fish, “the glum, sad faced cynic with a sardonic comment for every occasion,” in the 1970s cop sitcom Barney Miller. You’ll notice that he’s completely in character on this trip to Coney. The combination of Vigoda’s pithy complaints, Richter’s deadpan humor and Leach’s flowery language is pretty hilarious, except for the taunting of the guard dogs.
Vigoda complains nothing is open in Coney Island, but that’s not quite true. Besides chowing down hot dogs and cheese fries twice at Nathan’s, they pay a visit to Faber’s Sportland, an arcade at Surf and Stillwell that was open year round. The scene where Andy and Abe play video games and take photo booth pictures in the long-gone arcade is worth the price of admission. You’ll also catch glimpses of such vanished wonders as the Thunderbolt roller coaster, Hell Hole, Jumbo Jet, Zipper ride, and a food trailer called Trashy Trudy’s Goodeating.
In 2012, Coney Island in the winter is worth the trip even though the rides are closed. As Robin Leach says, it’s “a sojourn to Neptune’s doorstep…” Bring your camera and make a travelogue.
Related posts on ATZ…
February 7, 2012: Video of the Day: The Coldest Thing on Coney Island
April 6, 2011: Made in Coney: TV Commercial for Bonomo Turkish Taffy
January 15, 2011: ATZ Saturday Matinee: Shorty at Coney Island
December 16, 2010: Blast from the Past: LFO’s Summer Girls Music Video