Doorbells frequently turn up in TV shows, movies and the theater. If you spot one, let me know.
More often than not and unsurprisingly, their sound is used to announce a visitor. Sometimes, set decorators use doorbells to speak silently to the circumstances and set a mood. In the Wonder Years (ABC 1988-1993) a long chime doorbell is featured in a scene where Kevin and Paul get home from school and converse with Paul's family from the Pfeiffer hallway.
The characters lived in ranch style homes typical of the millions built in post war America. We all related to Kevin, his friends and family because so many of us grew up in just such houses.
In a stroke of brilliance the producers kept the show's setting ambiguous while taking extraordinary care to precisely reproduce homes of the period. This enabled us to relate the characters to our own experiences as we picked out furnishings we remember from growing up in Mid Century Modest surroundings.
In Edward Albee's absurdist play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a long chime doorbell has a stronger supporting role. The chimes are used to illustrate the fractious relationship of the characters with faith and each other.
The doorbell is at various times rung and violently bumped to advance the plot. At left, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton perform in front of the doorbell in the 1966 Warner Brothers film adaptation.
ElectraChime doorbells have been used as stage props in a number of Virginia Woolf productions including a notable 2007 revival at the Sydney Theatre Company.
If you are producing "Woolf", ask us about prop rentals.