Karen Valentine, known for her iconic role as a student turned teacher in the hit TV series Room 222, reflects on her journey to success. Despite her love for Room 222, Valentine reveals that her appearance on The Dating Game was an “awful” experience, leaving her with no fond memories.
Before becoming famous, celebrities like Suzanne Somers, Tom Selleck, Leif Garret, and Farrah Fawcett appeared on The Dating Game, the groundbreaking dating reality show that launched the careers of many actors. Valentine, who had previously appeared on Chuck Barris’ TV series Dream Girl of 1967, was invited to participate in The Dating Game, which was also created by Barris.
Valentine, a former teen beauty queen, thought the show would be harmless fun. However, the experience turned out to be terrible. The guy she chose as her date had different expectations and thought it was a serious romantic encounter. Valentine wanted to focus on her acting career and was not interested in pursuing a relationship. She recalls, “Save the money, who needs to go on a date? Let me do another show. Give me a shot at acting or something.”
Fortunately, Valentine left that regretful experience behind and went on to star in the TV movie Gidget Grows Up (1969), which paved the way for her iconic role in Room 222 (1969 to 1974). The groundbreaking series, created by James L. Brooks and produced by Gene Reynolds, focused on a black high school teacher’s efforts to teach tolerance.
Room 222 received critical acclaim and won several awards, including Outstanding New Series at the Primetime Emmy Awards in 1970. Valentine also won recognition for her supporting role. She describes the experience as mind-blowing, especially when she had the opportunity to meet legendary actors like Carol Burnett and Gregory Peck.
Sadly, Room 222 faced a decline in ratings during its fourth season and was ultimately canceled mid-season. Valentine recalls the network’s decision to go in a different direction, which was disheartening for the cast. After the cancellation, she starred in her own show Karen (1975), but it only lasted four months due to low ratings.
Despite the ups and downs, Valentine’s career continued with appearances in shows like The Hollywood Squares and episodes of Murder She Wrote and The Love Boat. Her last film, Wedding Daze (2004), was broadcast on the Hallmark Channel.
Looking back on her experience with Room 222, Valentine cherishes the memories and the opportunity to work with amazing people. She admits that it set the bar high for her future projects and feels fortunate to have had fun and well-done material throughout her career.
If you’re a fan of Karen Valentine, what’s your favorite show or movie that she starred in?