As a young actress with the stage name Sheila James, she played Jackie, Stuart Erwin's tomboy daughter, in the television series, Trouble With Father, later retitled The Stu Erwin Show. She is better known for her portrayal of the "irrepressible" Zelda Gilroy in the CBS television series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. The running gag was Zelda's roaring crush on Dobie, and his resistance to her advances. The program spawned two sequels, an unsold television pilot, Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis? (1978) and TV movie Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988). In these, Dobie had married Zelda and had a son named Georgie, who was much like Dobie had been at his age. Kuehl reprised her Zelda role in both updates.
When The Many Loves of Dobie gillis ended, James was cast as a model on an episode of ABC's The Donna Reed Show. She appeared on CBS's The Ed Sullivan Show with part of the cast of Petticoat Junction as the fourth member of "The Ladybugs", a take-off on the Beatles. In the episode "The Ladybugs", she portrayed their friend, Sally. She was also in two episodes of CBS's The Beverly Hillbillies as Virginia, "Ginny" Jennings.
James co-starred with Kathleen Nolan in the short-lived ABC television series Broadside, a female version of the hit show McHale's Navy during the 1964-65 season. After the show's cancellation, she got a job as a campus adviser to student groups at UCLA and eventually became an associate dean of students. At age 34, as Sheila Kuehl, she was admitted into Harvard Law School, where she excelled. She was elected class marshal and president of law school student council. In 1978, her final year at the law school, she chaired the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the 1953 graduation of the first group of women to be admitted to Harvard Law School. That same academic year, she became the first woman to win "Best Oralist" in the law school's prestigious Ames Moot Court Competition, judged by a panel including Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.
l was elected to the California State Assembly in 1994, becoming the first openly gay person elected to the California legislature. She was later a founding member of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus. She served as Speaker pro tempore during the 1997–98 legislative session, becoming the first woman in California history to hold the position. After three terms in the Assembly, she was elected to the California State Senate in 2000, beating Assemblyman Wally Knox in the Democratic primary and becoming the first openly gay person elected to the Senate. Re-elected in 2004 with 65.7% of the vote, she has repeatedly been voted the "smartest" member of the California Legislature.
In 2004, Senator Kuehl authored Senate Bill 1234, an omnibus act intended to protect Californians from hate crimes, which it defined as criminal acts committed in whole or in part because of the victims' actual or perceived disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with persons with any of those characteristics. Her bill targeted crimes, not First Amendment-protected speech. It also protected illegal immigrants from deportation due to reporting hate crimes, increased civil protections from discrimination, and provided for law enforcement training concerning crimes against homeless persons and law enforcement response to homelessness. Governor Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law.
In 2006, she sponsored a bill that would prohibit the adoption by any school district in California of any instructional material that discriminates against persons based on their gender or sexual orientation.
Throughout her career as a legislator, Kuehl took a leadership role on health care policy. Her foremost objective was securing passage of legislation to establish a single-payer health care system in California. SB 840 passed both houses of the legislature in 2006, but was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; it was reintroduced in 2007 and again passed the state Senate, with a vote pending in the Assembly. SB 840 passed both houses of the California legislature in August 2008 and was, again, vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.
Kuehl has been criticized by some for regressing reform of California paternity law.
On January 28, 2008, The New York Times reported that Kuehl planned to vote against a health care plan sponsored by Governor Schwarzenegger and supported by a majority of Democrats in the Assembly, while opposed by a majority of Republicans. Her opposition along with the opposition of Senator Leland Yee led the Times to predict that California's widely touted healthcare bill – widely but inaccurately called "universal" coverage – would be effectively killed. However, by the time the bill came to the Senate Health Committee, chaired by Kuehl, all but one of the Democratic Senators on the Committee had grave doubts about the bill and, after an eleven hour hearing on the bill and an intervening week to caucus, on January 28, 2008, one Democrat voted yes, three abstained and three (including Kuehl), along with all Republicans, voted no.
Queering Teen Culture: All-American Boys And Same-Sex Desire in Film And Television by Paperback: 238 pages
Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (May 24, 2006)
Amazon: Queering Teen Culture: All-American Boys And Same-Sex Desire in Film And Television
Why did Fonzie hang around with all those high school boys?
Is the overwhelming boy-meets-girl content of popular teen movies, music, books, and TV just a cover for an undercurrent of same-sex desire? From the 1950s to the present, popular culture has involved teenage boys falling for, longing over, dreaming about, singing to, and fighting over, teenage girls. But Queering Teen Culture analyzes more than 200 movies and TV shows to uncover who Frankie Avalon’s character was really in love with in those beach movies and why Leif Garrett became a teen idol in the 1970s.
In Top 40 songs, teen magazines, movies, TV soap operas and sitcoms, teenagers are defined by their pubescent “discovery” of the opposite sex, universally and without exception. Queering Teen Culture looks beyond the litany to find out when adults became so insistent about teenage sexual desire—and why—and finds evidence of same-sex desire, romantic interactions, and identities that, according to the dominant ideology, do not and cannot exist. This provocative book examines the careers of male performers whose teenage roles made them famous (including Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone, Fabian, and James Darren) and discusses examples of lesbian desire (including I Love Lucy and Laverne and Shirley).
More LGBT History at my website: www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Persistent Voices
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