How quaint: 1985 documentary on Westport features local celebrities
A 1985 documentary about Westport — complete with an upbeat, 1980s-style jingle and tuxedo-clad dancers — was recently resurfaced on Facebook.
It features cameos from the likes of Joanne Woodward and Rodney Dangerfield.
“I tell ya, the town of Westport has my respect,” Dangerfield says in the film.
It is, according to the son of the original filmmakers, a “a beautifully made little documentary,” if a bit quaint.
“In retrospect, I think it is utterly charming,” Doug Jacoby said. “The stores in Westport, the way people talked about their town, it’s really a product of the time”
The documentary opens with a narrator — Jim McKay, known for hosting ABC's Wide World of Sports — sitting on a bench on the Saugatuck river, reading a newspaper.
“You know, Some people say the Westport’s a quiet, laid-back sort of place,” McKay says. “Other people say it’s noisy, busy, fast-paced. Still others will tell you that it’s all TV and movie stars, or artsy-craftsy. And yet some people say, Westport’s a real hometown.”
At that point, the jingle begins: “Westport’s got it all. At Staples High, walking by, you can see something special.”
“The goal was to make people feel positive and warm and fuzzy about Westport and I think it succeeded in that goal,” Jacoby said.
The film was made by Jacoby’s parents, Frank and Doris Jacoby, who ran video production firm Jacoby/Storm Productions. Frank Jacoby was, his son recalled, a winner of both the Peabody and Sherwood awards for documentary filmmaking.
Doris Jacoby, whose stage name was Doris Storm, was an actress in the 1950s and later became a television and publishing executive.
The Jacobys’ client was Westport-based Marketing Corporation of America, a marketing research and strategic consulting firm. The film was made on the occasion of Westport’s 150th anniversary.
“It was really a public service,” Jacoby said.
On Facebook, residents posted about how the town has changed. “Westport in the ’70s and ’80s really did have it all. Too much has gone and missed,” one commenter said.
“It’s sad watching this, town is not the same now,” said another.
But others took the opportunity to declare their own love for the town: “Even though of course things have changed since this wonderful video was created, a lot of what makes Westport special is still very much a part of the town.”