Contest #158 shortlist ⭐️


Contemporary Fiction American

(CELEBRITY NEWS TODAY) – Clark Fletcher, "America’s Dad", the beloved American actor best known for his starring role of "Doctor Mason McCarthy" in the decades-long melodrama, The Physician, died last night of natural causes at his home in Hollywood Hills. He was 84.

Before his 100-plus film and TV credits, Fletcher began his career as an extra in films back in 1956, when he was only 18 years old. Hollywood producer, James Fillmore, stated in a 1965 New York Times Article, "The other [producers] were sleeping on him, using him as an extra all those years. A real shame. I took one look at that square jawline and knew we had to have him in our film." He cast Fletcher on the spot in his first starring role of "Jason Scott" in the 1963 classic, See Me on Your Way Out. Fletcher’s career took off in a flash, and his fandom (primarily families and young females) became the biggest community of supporters Hollywood had ever seen. 

While Fletcher had many women in his life, on and off again with over eleven different celebrities and models (who could blame him?), there was only ever one woman who had his whole heart – fellow actress and seven season co-star of The Physician, Ginger Adams.

Adams and Fletcher were married three months after the pilot of The Physician aired on television, and with the announcement of their pregnancy in 1985, America believed Fletcher had finally settled into a romance for the ages.

Shortly after the shocking seventh season finale, where Adams’s character died in a horrific car accident, the star-crossed lovers divorced. Fletcher moved through a series of frivolous affairs while Adams quit acting altogether to raise their son, Brandon.

Fletcher never remarried, although in recent years he was rumored to be living with 21-year-old Instagram Model and Influencer, Jessica Lazaro.  Fletcher retired from acting two years ago after a nearly fatal heart attack, but he did make one final guest appearance on the season thirty-eight finale of The Physician to sign over his family practice before he died to his on-screen son "Mason Jr.", played by heartthrob Zachary Higgs, who will be speaking at Fletcher's Broadcasted Funeral on August 11th at 6pm EST. 

Hollywood will never be the same now that Clark Fletcher has passed, and today America mourns the loss of our beloved actor, father-figure, and friend. 

Originally Published – 12:45 PM August 8, 2022.

😢 ♥️ 👍  47K Followers             1.5K Comments               13K Shares

Patti Goldberg

Rest Easy, Clark. You remind me of all my best teenage years in the 70’s. I still can’t believe this, I am heartbroken. 

Vicki Smith

What?! How is this even possible?! I feel like it was just yesterday when Dr. McCarthy Sr. died and Jr. took over! This makes me want to rewatch from the beginning, but I don’t know if I have that much time to spare…. So sad! ♥️

Freddie Wood

good riddins… that guy was a major perv. lots of #metoos the media dont want u to no about … juss look it up … 

↪️ Lisa Rose replied to Freddie Wood

Are you serious?! Clark Fletcher could get with anyone he wanted to! Your just jealous an old man hotter than you 🤣 🤣 🤣

Joanne Leary

One of my favourite actors. loved him in “Too Full for Seconds”. Gone way too soon! RIP!

Roman Patrick

My childhood hero… hope he’s in a better place…

Teresa Miller

He is in God’s hands now 🙏

Kelly Boyer

OMG. I remember watching “The Physician” with my dad growing up. I always thought Clark Fletcher looked like him. When my dad passed away a couple years ago, I watched “The Physician” on an endless loop. I feel like both of my dads are gone now… 😭 😭 😭 guess it’s time for a rewatch…

↪️ Jessica Franco replied to Kelly Boyer

I feel the exact same way! 😭  I’m literally sobbing right now… I can’t believe this… Okay, but Dr. McCarthy was major DILF vibes though, LBH. 😜

↪️ Marsha Manalo replied to Jessica Franco

More like GILF 😂

Paul Duncan

Probably blaming it on covid. They don’t want us nowing the truth, they’ll say he was out partying all the time with no mask. As if that would save you form anything… COVID IS A HOAX. DON’T BELIEVE WHAT THE GOVERMENT TELLS YOU. Bet my life this guys not even dead.. just on a boat somewhere in Bali! must be nice…

Shannon Hawkins

I WILL NEVER RECOVER FROM THIS… I met him in summer of 2010 when I waited his table in NYC, and he was the SWEETEST. PERSON. EVER. People say actors aren’t like us but THEY. ARE. WRONG!!!!!!! He is such a gentle soul and will be truly missed. I just cannot believe this. I’m gonna need a day off tomorrow, this is absolutely CRUSHING!  😭


“Tell me you’re not reading through comments again…?” 

I look up briefly to see my wife’s silhouette in the doorframe. I shake my head no, eyes glued back on my feed, finger still scrolling absent-mindedly through another hundred comments on the CNT article from three days ago.

“Babe,” she crosses the living room and kneels in front of me, still stuck in the same spot on the couch I’ve been for the past three days. “Come on now… You know reading that garbage won’t do you any good.” 

She takes my hands in hers, and slowly slides my phone away and places it in her back pocket. I’m too defeated to fight her for it, so I slump further back into the cushion and turn my gaze to the ceiling to avoid the lecture I’m about to receive.

“How about I put this back in the bedroom for a little bit? I’m sure it could use a charge anyway.”

I wait for her to continue, “That’s it? No lecture?”

“What? Of course not… I just want what’s best for you, and if that’s laying around in your pj’s all week, so be it. I just don’t think scrolling through thousands of crazy comments is gonna make you feel any better.”

“And how would you know?”

She stands up and takes a step back. I know I’ve pushed too far, but I can’t seem to muster the filter I usually have. I don’t know what this emotion is… grief? Maybe. Anger? Likely. Jealously? Closer…

Sam’s mom and dad are both still around. Not just alive, but around. Constantly. I love them, and they have been wonderful ever since my mom passed away, but her family is close, and healthy, and involved, and normal. And mine is... not.

Don’t get me wrong, my father always made an effort to be in my life. I wouldn’t say it was a very big effort, and it certainly wasn’t for more than his “family guy” image, but he showed up for Christmas and sent money on my birthday. I went to a handful of his filming’s, and one year he invited me to the Emmy’s when he was up for a nomination, but typically, his latest arm candy took more precedence for premieres and awards ceremonies than his family back at home.

After the divorce, Mom and I would stay up late on Wednesdays to watch new episodes of The Physician. I could see how badly she missed being in the spotlight, and sometimes seeing my father on TV was harder than pretending I had none altogether. When Dr. McCarthy found Mom’s character’s long-lost son in the season 12 finale, we decided we’d both had enough of prime-time television. 

Mom passed almost five years ago from breast cancer. She wasn’t as popular at the time, not having been on screen for over thirty years, but before she died, she still spent most of her free time in the public eye- fundraising and speaking at Rely for Life events. She even did one appearance on Ellen in 2013 when she was first diagnosed. She wanted to be a role model for women who were going through similar treatments and to broadcast the Ginger Adams Foundation for Breast Cancer Awareness.

After she passed, Sam and I threw an intimate celebration of life. Some news outlets discovered she passed after we posted her obituary in the local paper. Several unknown stations carried the story, while others simply made a two-sentence blurb in their “Celebrities Who Died in 2017” article at the end of the year.

The aftermath of my father’s death, however, has been quite a different spectacle.

He hadn’t been acting on-screen for two years, but still made appearances at awards ceremonies and late-night shows, he even graced the cover of Entertainment Weekly when his his 21-year-old girlfriend moved in last year. The same 21-year-old who alerted social media of my father’s death before his own son.

On Monday, the morning after my father passed, his lawyer called to inform me of my father’s pre-arranged funeral plans and asked that I not take on the burden of planning a “mediocre” funeral that may divert the attention of the live-broadcasted event. He insisted my father “would’ve loved it” if I made an appearance, but noted I was not “anyone who would be recognized” and therefore would not be missed should I have other plans that day.

Sam and I decided it would be better to stay home and grieve my father on my own rather than endure the crowd and paparazzi of the spectacled event. So today, instead of flying out to California for a funeral, I have been glued to my couch, scrolling through comments of people who apparently knew my father better than I ever could.

“I’m sorry.” I admit, finally, to my patient wife who is still standing in front of me, “I didn’t mean it like that. I’m just anxious about this broadcast.” 

I take hold of her hands and pull her towards me until she falls across my lap and wraps her arms around me.

“We don’t have to watch it, you know,” she straightens her spine, legs still stretched across mine. “We can go to the movies, invite over friends, or just binge-watch Law & Order. I just want to do whatever helps you feel better today.”

“I know you do. I just don’t know what that is...” She slides to the cushion beside me, and I continue, “I feel… Guilty? I guess? For not going. For not watching… He’s still my dad, after all.”

“He is…” She encourages me to continue, but I feel my cheeks flush, and I clench my jaw. 

“I swear to God, if Zachary fucking Higgs gets on that stage and talks about ‘the father he never had’ I’ll fly to California and stick my foot so far up his ass he’ll wish he paid more attention to his medical lines all those years…”

Sam laughs, then covers her smile with her hand and I deflate back into the couch.

“I don’t care what his celebrity co-stars say. I don’t give a fuck about his producers or awards. The ‘oh, he was such a nice guy,’ ‘America’s Dad,’ ‘a real family man’ bullshit from people he chose over his real family every day. I don’t want to keep seeing the thousands of comments of ‘he was like a father to me’, when he was a real father to me and still couldn’t give me the time of day. Hundreds of the people, Sam, hundreds of them saying, ‘I grew up with him’, ‘what will we do without him’, ‘I am heartbroken.’ I swear, it’s like these people have more of a connection to him that I ever had.”

My heart is racing in my chest. I don’t know where the words keep coming from, but they feel raw and true as they pass over my tongue. 

“I know, honey, it’s not fair…”

“It’s not! Why should these strangers claim the grief that’s rightfully mine? How can hundreds of men and women be brought to tears by one lousy news article, when I haven’t cried once?”

I choke. 

Sam wraps her arms around me again and rubs the top of my back in circular motions until the skin underneath my shirt feels numb.

“How can all these people feel so heartbroken over a stranger, and I feel nothing for my own father?”

Startlingly, the alarm goes off on my phone, and Sam retrieves it from her back pocket.

*Dad’s Funeral – Channel 5*

“Well?” She looks at me then to the remote on the coffee table. “What do you want to do?”

We decide to turn it on. If I didn’t want to know what others had to say about my father, I wouldn’t have spent the last three days obsessively scrolling through every Facebook post and news article looking for their opinions and comments. Plus, I feel bad enough not being there in person, even though I can’t imagine my dad would’ve noticed one way or another with a crowd of adoring fans and co-stars.

The funeral begins with several actors, now cast in their roles as pallbearers, carrying my father’s casket down a long aisle while Dolly Parton sings “Song for Dad” by Keith Urban, which just so happened to be the song they played after he passed on his final episode of The Physician.  

“You know what, maybe we don’t need to watch this…” I joke to Sam, but she nudges me in the side and turns the volume up louder, bringing a box of tissues closer.

Once the actors place my father’s casket on the stand at the front of the crowd, Dolly finishes her song, and the reverend finishes his opening prayer, Zachary Higgs stands up to give the eulogy.

“I know there are quite a few of us here today, and even more of you watching at home, who knew Clark Fletcher as ‘America’s Dad’. You grew up with him in your homes every Wednesday night at eight. He was ‘mister nice guy’, ‘mister family man’, and if you are anything like me, Doctor McCarthy was like the father you never had growing up.”

“Okay,” Sam interrupts, pausing the DVR and throwing the remote back on the table, “we don’t have to watch this. I’m so sorry, you were right. He’s an ass, I-”

“-No, no. It’s fine. Leave it on. I don’t care anymore. Let’s just get this over with.”

“You sure?”

I nod my head, and Sam reluctantly grabs the remote, keeping her eyes on me to confirm I am still okay. When I don’t change my mind, she presses play.

“But unlike many of you, I had the great honor of growing up with Clark as a father in an albeit fictional relationship. He was every bit as charming, charismatic, friendly, and patient as he appeared on screen. And if you thought the love he had for Mason Jr. was something, you should’ve seen the joy he had from being a dad in his real life.

“When I first started on The Physician, Clark’s son, Brandon, was about 10. Brandon would come visit the set with his mom, Ginger Adams, who as many of you may remember, played my mother on the show before my character was introduced. All week before Brandon arrived, Clark would go on and on about how excited he was to take a few days off to visit with his son.

“’Brandon and I are going to the Hollywood Walk of Fame! He’s never been before and want to show him my star,’ ‘Brandon and I are going to Disneyland! He’s been wanting to go ever since he found out it was in California!’ Clark bragged as his son grew up to anyone and everyone he met, no matter where they were.

“He would be backstage of The Apollo, about to accept an Emmy, then lean over and whisper, ‘If you think this is impressive, you should know, my son just made the varsity baseball team,’ or on set filming a surgery scene and he’d say, ‘You’ll never guess who my son is taking to prom,’ or ‘you know, I think my son is finally growing into the Fletcher chin, he’s gonna be a lady killer, just you wait and see.”

The crowd laughs, and so does Sam. On screen, the camera spans over the audience to the many heads nodding and laughing. Zachary points to a few people in the crowd and says, “I know you remember!”

With each story of his continued speech, my eyes narrow and eyebrows sinch closer together. 

I had forgotten about our trip to Disneyland. It was one of the only trips I took where my father acted like a real, normal dad. He wore Mickey ears, ate popcorn, and rode on all the rides with me without a single camera on him the entire day. 

I remember seeing his handprints on the Walk of Fame, and I think there is still a picture somewhere in Dad’s house of me putting my tiny hands into his large hands’ impression. 

Subconsciously I run my fingers over the stubble of my chin. The same chin that made my father famous, I kept hidden below scruff all these years, for fear of someone recognizing me.

Sam pauses the TV again when she notices I’ve stopped listening.

“You want me to turn this off?”

I shake my head.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

She takes ahold of my hand with both of hers and kisses my knuckle.

“Yeah…” I kiss her hand back and grab a tissue. “Yeah, I think I’m okay…”

August 13, 2022 00:27

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Amanda Lieser
19:05 Sep 04, 2022

Hello! I, like most of the people who have devoured this story, loved that you started with a unique format for this piece. I also love how you included the emojis and comments towards the end as a bridge to the main story. My heart was so delighted when the MC was worried about the funeral speech and found he was not just included, but valued in the funeral. This piece had excellent imagery and beautiful dialogue. It was a well deserved shortlist. Congratulations!


Hilary R. Glick
13:48 Sep 05, 2022

Thank you so much!! I'm just thankful I could sneak those emojis in with the Reedsy formatting! HA! I'm glad you enjoyed it, thank you for your words.


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Kate Winchester
19:16 Aug 24, 2022

I like it when stories veer from traditional formatting and it works well with your story. I loved the dichotomy of the father/biological son and father/feels like sons. It it was also nice to see that the father had some redeeming qualities and that he wasn’t a complete jerk. I felt for the son and liked that the end was sweet. I can see why your story was shortlisted! Congrats!


Hilary R. Glick
21:41 Aug 25, 2022

Thank you so much for reading and for your comments. I appreciate your perspective. While it is easy to box "absent fathers" into a "bad" category, the reality is that there is so much more to the story, or... at least in this scenario! ;)


Kate Winchester
01:26 Aug 26, 2022

You’re welcome. Agreed 🤗


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Kelsey H
00:25 Aug 18, 2022

This is a really interesting look at a father/son relationship. I love the format of this story, it was really effective the way it begins with an article giving a rose-tinted public view of the father, then the comments showing the perspective of fans who feel like they know him because they've watched him on screen (I also loved the addition of the conspiracy theorist in there!) before finally the personal perspective of the person who should have known him best but feels he was let down by him. Its gives the feeling of starting far out ...


Hilary R. Glick
18:12 Aug 18, 2022

Wow! Thank you so much for your insightful comments. Glad you enjoyed the conspiracy theorist - you know there's always one! I appreciate your noting the zooming in. I don't think that was even something intentional, but I did want to show the initial connection to the public before the connection to the son, showing the importance and giving that almost "second thought" to the son, who always felt like he was a lower priority.


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08:31 Aug 17, 2022

Wow! I really enjoyed this story. Starting with the article was so refreshing (compared with what I'm used to on Reedsy), and I wondered about the purpose of it initially, but it made perfect sense later on. The reveal of who the MC is works well; I love how you sort of dropped it in, rather than making a big deal out of it. Subtle and clever. The ending has an emotional punch as well. The only constructive feedback I would offer is maybe playing into the guilt at the end more - how does the MC feel about not attending the funeral, given t...


Hilary R. Glick
18:20 Aug 17, 2022

Absolutely! I would love to delve deeper into this, maybe someday with more than 3k words! haha! I tried to use some subtleties such as referring to his father in the beginning, to calling him the more familiar, Dad, at the end. Would love to expand this story more some day as it is near and dear to my heart. Thank you for your comments and thoughtful reading!


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