Friday, June 26, 2015

Ray Charles on St. Elsewhere

Music legend Ray Charles made a guest appearance as a blind homeless man on a fifth-season episode of St. Elsewhere.

Ever wondered what Ray Charles looked like without
his shades on?
The sixteenth episode of season five of St. Elsewhere, "Jose, Can You See?", is the "eye" episode. Dr. Jacqueline Wade (Sagan Lewis) suffers abrasions on her corneas from her new contact lenses; Dr. Elliott Axelrod (Stephen Furst), Dr. Daniel Auschlander (Norman Lloyd), and Dr. Donald Westphall (Ed Flanders) try on each other's glasses during an elevator ride; Daniel Auschlander's long lost love Margaret Ryan (Geraldine Fitzgerald) is admitted to St. Eligius with a eye-related ailment; and Dr. Carol Novino (Cindy Pickett) and Dr. Philip Chandler (Denzel Washington) clashing over blind, homeless patient Arthur Tibbetts, played by music legend Ray Charles.

Arthur Tibbetts is "minding his own P's and Q's" in an alley when a pair of thugs begin harassing him. After stealing his hat, they assault him, stabbing him in the abdomen and breaking a bottle over his head. He enters St. Eligius's ER, where he is treated by Drs. Novino and Chandler.

X-rays reveal that Tibbetts is sufficiently well to be released. Novino is moved by his plight, and wants to admit Tibbetts to get him off the street for the night. Chandler, a stickler for policy, and mindful of the hospital's budget crisis, insists that the patient be released. Novino then takes it upon herself to play "musical beds" until Chandler goes over her head to Westphall.

Before he is released, Tibbetts has a nice moment in the hospital lounge with fellow patient Margaret Ryan, reminiscing about the past. Naturally, you can't have Ray Charles on your show without having him play the piano, so he performs a rendition of the Carole King classic, "You've Got a Friend".

Check out Ray Charles on St. Elsewhere:


Guest appearances by famous musicians seemed to be all the rage at the time. Three weeks after this episode aired, Frank Sinatra guest-starred as a retired cop on Magnum, P.I.. A year earlier, Frank Zappa appeared on an episode of Miami Vice as a drug lord.

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