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Ghostly flashback: Three men, one horrible hairpiece

Ghostly flashback: Three men, one horrible hairpiece

So, an architect, an actor and an artist walk into a nursery. Stop me if you've heard this one ...

Wait, I'm not actually joking this time. After fruitlessly scanning The Wizard of Oz for its hanged crewman, I was reminded of another film famed for a phantasm: 1987's Three Men and a Baby. I bought into the hubbub as a kid, racing to the video store in hopes of spotting the dead boy behind the curtains. I don't recall if I ever succeeded--and let's face it, who could've with a VCR and late-'80s model 27-inch TV set?--but I remember being excited by the process. So I gave it a go again. On the day the film--and its 1990 sequel, Three Men and a Little Lady--arrived in the mail, I foolishly surfed the Internet for hints on how to find Three Men's ghost child. Snopes.com, noted online myth busters, had already debunked the rumor, producing photographic evidence the "kid" behind the drapes was actually a cardboard cutout of star Ted Danson. Yeah, right. I wasn't sold, so I watched for myself.

Upon further review, this time equipped with an up-converting DVD player and a 56-inch HDTV, I'm now comfortable saying that thing isn't a ghost. Honestly, it looks more like a cutout of Elliot from E.T. than Ted Danson, but I'm certain it's no zombie tot. Curious yourself? Visit YouTube. There are several clips available for viewing.

My first observation on the rest of the films: If there's anything capable of distracting viewers from the thought of an underage poltergeist, it's Ted Danson's awful hair. As a youngster, I remember reading in my mother's National Enquirer magazine that Danson donned a hairpiece during his heyday on Cheers. If this bit of tabloid journalism was fabricated, I'd be shocked. Watching both films on anything from Betamax to Blu Ray, you'd swear there's a marmot camped atop his head.

Part one, helmed by Leonard Nimoy (Spock from the original Star Trek), sees the lives of three co-habitating bachelors--Danson, Tom Selleck (Magnum, P.I.) and Steve Guttenberg (the Police Academy series)--thrown into chaos when a baby is left on their doorstep. Rather than prudently calling Child Protective Services, they learn how to care for the infant on the fly--and eventually develop a soft spot for little Mary.

Part two launches the baby through toddlerhood at light speed, then surrounds Mary's mother--who's now been living with the men for years--and her quest to find a husband, despite one of the Three Men having secretly fallen for her.

These titles are typical of the era. A cute concept suffers as emotional moments are replaced by cheap laughs and unneeded plot ruffles. An accidental drug deal, a deceitful romantic rival and a crashed wedding? Please.

The bright spots, among them a lovable Tom Selleck, and uber-cute infant and 6-year-old Marys, definitely buoy the films. And regardless of my ghost-hunting gaffe, the terrible toupees and egregiously '80s side stories, the title trio--three of the most iconic actors of the decade--still provide enjoyable companions for a trip down memory lane.

(Ed. note: Ever wonder what happened to Guttenberg? Apparently when your legacy is the Police Academy franchise, it's this. May be NSFW ... and it may also be faked.)
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