This Waltons guest star was dubbed the next Mary Tyler Moore
Deirdre Lenihan was "television’s next potential headliner"... until she wasn’t.
In The Waltons episode "The Revelation," John-Boy proposes to his girlfriend Daisy, and when she said yes, it was a real moment on the show.
But by the episode’s end, Daisy has called off the wedding, and the next time we see her, Daisy is just an old flame to John-Boy, never to be rekindled.
When Daisy actor Deirdre Lenihan began appearing on The Waltons, many expected she would soon join the cast as a regular.
She was cast to play the role right after the series she was set to star in was cancelled, and The Waltons seemed like a good place for the young star to land. The Waltons was one of TV’s top dramas and many newspapers had dubbed Deirdre "television’s next potential headliner" after she was discovered.
Critics compared her to Mary Tyler Moore and Shirley MacLaine.
But Lenihan’s career never quite took off the way she hoped, even after she auditioned for her first movie ever – called Glass Houses – and immediately got cast as the lead.
From there, casting directors came calling, yes, wanting to cast Lenihan as the star of several TV shows, and the one she liked best was called Needles and Pins, which has since been forgotten, unfortunately.
Needles and Pins was about a young fashion designer who has just taken her first job in the garment industry, and it was the show that was supposed to position Lenihan to be the next Mary Tyler Moore.
Joining her on the cast was Get Smart’s Bernie Kopell and Three’s Company’s Norman Fell, but despite the strong cast and rave reviews from critics, the show was frequently preempted by other network content.
Viewers quickly lost the thread on Lenihan’s fashion show, and soon it was pulled off air.
Some fans were upset.
One critic got so mad when his network affiliate wouldn’t air the show, he insisted that "Deirdre could be the gal everybody will be talking about" and he’d never get a chance to see her perform.
The show getting cancelled freed Lenihan up to become John-Boy’s first serious girlfriend, but after they broke up, Lenihan’s acting career soon ended too.
In 1980, she took a few TV roles, then stepped out of the spotlight.
Perhaps fittingly, given the comparisons to Mary Tyler Moore, her final performance was on an episode of Lou Grant.
Before she retired, Lenihan told the Atlanta Constitution that she liked acting because she had an "acute imagination."
But she also admitted to the Press-Telegram in 1973, when her doomed series Needles and Pins was about to premiere, that she wasn’t exactly prepared for fame anyway.
"It’s rather frightening to think about," Lenihan said when asked what she thought of millions of viewers watching her performance on Needles and Pins. "I’m not sure I could stand to watch myself on TV."
Anyone out there remember watching Needles and Pins?