Wolf Martin Garber (May 18, 1922 – October 17, 2019), known professionally as Bill Macy, was an American television, film and stage actor known for his role in the CBS television series Maude (1972–1978).
As I am writing a book on Maude, I’ve been doing research on the cast members. I’ve discovered that in real life Bill Macy was a funny, funny man and, according to his wife, Samantha Harper Macy, had a “generosity of spirit”.
This very short blog is just to touch on Bill’s career, his life and his humor. Bill was performing in the San Francisco company of Oh! Calcutta! when he met his wife, Samantha, also performing in the play. Oh! Calcutta! is an avant-garde theatrical review created by Kenneth Tynan. The show sparked controversy due to its scenes of total nudity – both male and female. About meeting Samantha, in Macy’s words: “We met in the buff, I liked her smile.” Oswego New York Palladium 1976 by Charles Witbeck
Bill would go on to portray Walter, 4th husband to Maude, portrayed by Bea Arthur. “I never worked so hard in my life as at this. We were in this morning at 8:30 and we won’t get home until 8:30 tonight and we’re still on the first act! The Troy New York Times Record 1972 He was crazy about Bea Arthur’s work from earlier days: “I remember in 1949 at the Cherry Lane off Broadway watching Bea Arthur the way a virgin looks at a hooker.”
His interviews were pretty racy and so funny. I am writing about them in my Maude book. On this journey, I was very happy to get in touch with Bill’s wife, Samantha Harper Macy. She was too glad to share information about Bill and their life together. She even appeared in a couple of episodes of Maude! As a matter of fact, she has written a book! If you want a treat get her book.
And I love you all for hanging in here with me on my writing journey. My 3rd upcoming book (Right On, Maude) has been a handful-so much interesting stuff to write about pertaining to Bea Arthur, her cast mates, the episodes. It’s going to be a good book.
I wrote my first post in 2014. Beginning with the next paragraph I am going to reprint sections from my first post along with excerpts from other posts I’ve printed along the way. Basically, as a way to remind those who have followed me for awhile and for my new followers. I’ve been on WordPress the whole time and, trust me, I had a lot of learning to do in order to conquer this online technology. But I was determined to get myself on a platform so that people would find me and learn about the book I was writing. Little did I know that, as my brother would say, my book writing career snowballed, into learning marketing, giving talks at Rotary Clubs, Libraries, appearing on podiums (!), winding up all over Google (haha, that’s funny to me) and being asked to write another book and another and another! With my first book, I wrote:
Best-selling author, Dean Koontz said, “I really believe that everyone has a talent, ability or skill that he can mine to support himself and to succeed in life.”
I found this quote while doing some research for a book I will eventually complete. I began my research in about 1998 because my then small grandson’s favorite words seemed to be “I can’t”. Usually in regard to why he did not finish his homework. His homework was always too hard. I came up with the bright idea to enlighten him on what a person can accomplish by telling him about, and by writing a book for him about my father, his grandfather, who was a black man born in poverty in 1896 ( I discovered during my research that Eddie was really born in 1891) and who rose to prominence despite many obstacles.
While doing this research I discovered much more than I could have known, not just about my father’s rise, but also about what motivates people, and about determination and how much work actually goes into achieving one’s goals, and how that work can be extremely rewarding. What I hoped to impart to my grandson morphed into a desire to share inspiration to any person who feels they “can’t”.
Eddie was born in East Baltimore, one of the poorest neighborhoods. At age nine he left home determined to have a better life. He started out as a boy magician, got into vaudeville, burlesque, plays, musicals. He wrote songs. His most famous “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. He went on to radio appearances and became famous through “Duffy’s Tavern” and “Amos n Andy” radio shows. He wrote, produced, directed and starred in five movies. Guest starred in a couple of movies. He became successful. Eddie died in 1950 at the height of his fame. Here is an example of the jokes on “Duffy’s Tavern” – Eddie being Eddie, the waiter:
EDDIE: What is that sign you’re making, Mr. Archie, is it a welcome sign for Mr. Berle? ARCHIE: No Eddie, it’s a resolution, you know, one of those New Years things. Listen to it, “There is a well known golden rule, through the ages it’s been true, always be good to your neighbor, they may live next door to you.” That’s good, huh? EDDIE: Yea, it makes a lot of sense, too. How bout hangin up a sign for the waiter, me. ARCHIE: Like what, Eddie? EDDIE: Like this: “The golden rule has a fine intent, but a ten cent tip will pay the rent.
What motivates us? How do we determine that skill or ability we possess? What does it mean to succeed in life? These are questions I am going to explore in this blog through personal anecdotes, poetry and discussion. I want this experience to be as uplifting and inspirational as possible to those who could use a boost. In a 1939 interview, Eddie was quoted as saying “the best recipe for success that he has, is to find something you like to do, and do that the best you know how”.
Well, I found something I liked doing and the book has been completed. Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer was published in July of 2016. On June 24, 2017 I and my book became the 2016 Foreword INDIES WINNER in the Performing Arts & Music (Adult Nonfiction) category!
Upon completion of that book I was asked by my publisher to write another book, this time on the 1970s TV sitcom “The Jeffersons”. When I started the process of interviewing folks for my book on the 1975-1985 sitcom, I spoke with Mr. Norman Lear first. He talked about how he was influenced to produce a show like “The Jeffersons” by a few people who thought it would be a good idea to have a tv sitcom that portrayed affluent Black people who were coming up in the world as opposed to just struggling along, like the family from Good Times. It took a few years, a re-write and some anxious moments (hours, haha), but I did it.
Some great people helped me by granting interviews and sharing their memories. The book contains a lovely Foreword by Marla Gibbs and an Endword by Associate Professor John H. McWhorter, an extremely impressive person in my estimation. I am so happy to share this with you. Mr. McWhorter says it is a good source book for you Jefferson fans. Marla is sure you will find the book as interesting as she did.
The book published on June 22, 2022 and I have since had a couple of book signings and presentations. We had a marvelous surprise when a cast member of the show stopped by! His name is Ernest Harden, Jr., and he played for three (or four) seasons as Marcus Henderson, George Jefferson’s helper in his cleaners. I found out during my research that Ernest played opposite Bette Davis in “White Momma”. And he was in the movie “Cooley High”. He still acts today and has become a good friend.
At present I am working on a book about “Maude” a 1970s TV sitcom created by the brilliant Norman Lear. Brilliant because all of his TV sitcoms were hits. Back then there was one big similarity in his shows, they were all so loud. When I was researching “The Jeffersons,” I found many newspaper articles complaining about how loud the Jeffersons characters were, loud and rude to each other. People wanted to know why a Black family had to be portrayed in such an unfavorable light. Well, starting with the very first episode of “Maud”, I had to turn the volume down on my laptop. Maude hollers at Walter, the husband, Carol (the daughter, hollers at Maude, when their neighbor Arthur, comes over, they all holler at him-during the second episode Arthur shouts that he will never set foot in their house again! The sitcom went on from there for six seasons. Crazy! Of course, 30 some-odd years later I am probably a lot more sensitive to loud noises. Be that as it may, Maude was indeed a hit comedy show, and Bea Arthur was exactly the right choice to play her.
I’ve just remembered, I am writing this post during the beginning of Black History Month. My father’s biography was shared at a number of libraries for Black History Month when it first published, I had signed up to be a presenter. Have not been asked this year, for either of my first two books. But that’s OK. I celebrate Black History everyday. Anyhow, I’ll be posting in celebration of Black History because there is a lot of good information out there about African-American history that needs to be shared. History that has been blended in with the stories of America that make for great reading. And I have what I think is a really good episode from “Maude” to share with you, guest starring Mathew “Stymie” Beard.
Thanks, for stopping by.
Get your books. Through me or Amazon or Larry Edmunds Bookshop in Hollywood. Peace.
I type faster when I am passionate about a subject. I need to get it down quick and get it out to “you” whoever “you” are. The person to whom I am speaking. I need you to know what I think about who you are and what you do that I don’t. Yes, I do know that what I think about you makes not a jot of difference in who you are. And in the group of people I hang out with, what you think about me is none of my business.
A Twitter friend came up with the question “what are you passionate about.” It took 1 day and a conversation with another friend for me to zero in on something I am passionate about, other than writing about my father, Eddie Green, born 1891, filmmaker, songwriter, radio icon, dancer, stage and screen actor. I am passionate about disrespect and using it to laugh at whomever we choose. There are comedic programs today that choose to mock people, which, in my opinion, is a form of disrespect in the guise of comedy. I know at least one person who thinks certain comedy programs are being politically selective in who they mock. My question is why is it ok to mock any political person? Why would it be ok to pick out their mistakes, and missteps to use to make audiences roar with laughter? Why do we choose to humiliate those in office at all? They are people, just like us, trying to do the job that we voted them into. Why are we willing to be entertained through their gaffs?
Of course, there are people who can make disrespect funny. Rodney Dangerfield, for instance. But he laughs at himself.
A long time ago The New Yorker magazine printed a cartoon. Two men were walking down the street in opposite directions. One of the men tripped and fell and all of his papers in his briefcase flew out all over the street. The other man stopped and helped the man pick up his papers and straighten himself. This other man patted the guy on his shoulder and saw him off down the street to go on with his day. After watching the man who had fallen down walk on a few feet, the good samaritan busted out laughing!! One assumed he was laughing because the man fell down. So, I suppose it is just a human thing to do. But at least the cartoonist let the man hold his amusement in ’till the guy was a distance away.
We put our amusement on TV! We stream it! We draw caricatures. Immediately! Ahaha! Did you see what he just did, Ahaha!!! Did you hear what she just said!! Was that stupid, or what! Ahaha!! Of course, in America, we can laugh at or talk about any or everything. And, yes some things are just hilarious! Even if they do make the person we are laughing at look foolish.
Or we roll our eyes, and according to Angie eye-rolling is disrespectful.
I’m not specifically talking about the political arena here, though. Just including it into what strikes me as disrespect. Disrespect (a lack of regard for people’s feelings.) Unfortunately, I have personal experience. My early good life morphed into family dysfunction. (Imagine you are eight years old and you are asleep in your bed and someone comes in and RIPS the covers off of you in the middle of the night and makes you get up and wash those dishes again because you didn’t do it right the first time.) There is more, So yes, I am sensitive. And I know there are many others out there who experience disrespect of all kinds and who may be craving just to be appreciated, to be heard. Or, maybe not.
I guess my point here is that if you want me to get my soapbox out, just bring up a subject that I think is disrespctful and be prepared for me to go on and on and on. Probably causing at least one of you to roll your eyes.
Hey, thanks for reading and thank you so much for stopping by.
Don’t forget my books make great Christmas presents:
My second book, The Jeffersons A fresh look back featuring episodic insights, interviews, a peek behind-the-scenes, and photos, was published on June 22, 2022, my birthday. On August 17th in Los Angeles, I will be hosting a book event. Book Soup 8818 W. Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, Ca. 7:00pm.
It took a few years, a re-write and some anxious moments (hours, haha), but I did it. Some great people helped me by granting interviews and sharing their memories. The book contains a lovely Foreword by Marla Gibbs and an Endword by Associate Professor John H. McWhorter, an extremely impressive person in my estimation. I am so happy to share this with you. Let your friends and relatives know and stop by if you are in the vicinity. Christmas is coming and I think this book will make an excellent present. Mr. McWhorter says it is a good source book for you Jefferson fans. Marla is sure you will find the book as interesting as she did.
I have segued into my third book about the TV program Maude. The show ran from 1972 to 1978 and starred Bea Arthur as Maude. There is going to be a strong emphasis on Bea Arthur in and out of character. She was a great actor, I think, and her many credits, not just those for Maude and Golden Girls, have proven this to me through my research. As a person, Bea Arthur or Beatrice Arthur or Bernice Frankel is quite interesting and I hope to write an enjoyable book about her and those with whom she worked, including the seal. Hahaha, Thanks, for stopping by: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fL2rStFnc8able
Don’t forget my debut book about my father: Eddie Green The Rise of an Early 1900s Black American Entertainment Pioneer – Both are on Amazon
Hello again, I’m finally paying attention to my WordPress world. I’m wrestling with my 3rd book on the TV Sitcom Maude, which means I have not been able to share much here. When I wrote my first book about my father I did not know as much about him as I did after I wrote the book. But he was my father, and over the course of his life a lot was written about him in the newspapers because he was a rising star in Entertainment and people liked him as a person. I learned about his personal character through articles and of course, through my mom. In writing about Maude I am wanting to get to know more about the person who played the character, Bea Arthur, to understand how Arthur was able to so completely BE Maude.
In an article in the Nyak New York Journal, 1974, titled “No, I’m Not Maude”, she stated: “Although I can rant and rave as much as Maude does when the need arises. I don’t have her persistence. If someone calls my bluff and yells back at me. I usually back down. In all honesty. I’m afraid the tiger in my tank is really a pussycat. And I can’t identify too closely with the women’s lib movement, either, because I’ve always felt liberated.” Arthur, when she is at home, likes browsing in antique shops, watching old movies on TV, and doing family activities, dogs and all.
In a way, I identify with Bea Arthur. Because as I’ve listened to her interviews and talked with people who met her she does seem rather complex. I came across a 1968 article that was written while Arthur and her husband Gene Sax were making a movie titled “A Mother’s Kisses,” she was urged to accept the leading role. She said yes — if her husband could direct. “After all,” she says in her familiar tones of authoritative femininity, “I’m the power behind the throne.” So it seems that though she is a pussycat, she also has an authoritative side, according to the person who witnessed her “authoritative femininity.”
Bea Arthur as Maude was Maude to her viewers, she received many letters attesting to that fact. After reading her statement in that 1974 article I believe she knew that maybe a bit of her own personality was injected into her character, this is what she was quoted as saying: “You see, it was my intention from the beginning of the series to show that there is a soft spot or two in Maude’s armor of steel, and its’ gratifying to know that viewers see her as I do.”
I could see these two personality traits when Cousin Maude was introduced into All in the Family. She was asked by Edith to come and help with the family as they were all down with the flu. Archie did not like Cousin Maude and sent her a letter telling her not to come. She came. At the beginning of the episode, while comforting Edith, she looks at Archie with a scathing look and says: “MAUdie is here.” Towards the end of the episode, she has a sweet smile on her face while assuring Archie that “Maudie is here.”
Bea Arthur, a consummate actor. She brought her all to Maude. Looks like I am going to have to bring my all to the writing of my take on the sitcom. Thanks for hanging in here with me. You are all a part of my “becoming” a writer.
The other day I was browsing my facebook friend’s comments and I saw a comment regarding a Black Male Opera Singer. I had not heard of this person before and said so in my reply. My friend sent a message back: “You’ve never heard of George Shirley? Where have you been?” Well, I thought, for the past __-odd years I’ve been right here on planet earth. But I had not heard of Mr. Shirley. He probably had not heard of me, either. Although my mother had been an aspiring opera singer before she married my father back in 1945. So, from the beginning of my life I was immersed in the world of opera through my mom. I saw my first opera at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles-Hansel and Gretel. I still have the memory of my mother practicing Ave Maria on our piano. I was assaulted every day by mom’s opera records that she played loudly while she cleaned. But she either played Marian Anderson or Madama Butterfly or some other female, I don’t remember hearing male opera stars in our house.
As a child it never dawned on me to question the race of the stars I heard. I didn’t really take note of that until I became an adult. Probably not until I saw my first “Porgy and Bess” where I fell totally in love with Porgy, he was handsome, well-shaped, and that voice! Before seeing this guy, I knew of the four tenors, Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, Mario Lanza, and Lucianno Pavoratti. I knew of Rossano Brazzi, who began early as a child in an operatta, and who I heard in “South Pacific”. I still get chills watching him sing to the woman in the movie. I knew of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald (I love her voice) from watching them in movies on television. Of course, I heard my mother sing. I found out much later that she had been a favorite back in the day through an article in The California Eagle newspaper that said: Tip to Talent Scouts: Keep your ears on Norma Amato’s delightful thrushing. She has the kind of voice you hear only in a dream.
As I got older I began to realize the presence of Black female opera stars such as Kathleen Battle and Leontyne Price. They began to have a forward presence in my brain. But I just had not taken a lot of notice or even cared about seeing more Black male opera stars. I blame this on my parents. Well, on my mom and my step-father, and my aunt Dot. They didn’t play male opera singers on their record players. They played Big Joe Turner or Joe Williams, Black jazz singers, or Nat King Cole. My aunt Dot was a Dinah Washington fanatic and LOVED Billy Eckstein! Their album covers were always prominent (my relatives did a lot of partying). But I never saw one Black male opera star album in our house. I saw Black boxers on TV ’cause my step-father loved boxing. Plus we never discussed race in our family. Definitely not as it pertained to progress.
Except when it came to sports. Baseball, Boxing, Football, Boxing, Boxing. Basketball. Mom and my step-dad even had a bookie joint going on in one of our houses. Then I was out on my own and the seventies came around and the party was on in my life. Black male opera singers were the furthest thing from my mind. Give me some James Brown, Teddy Pendergrass, Lionel Ritchie, 50 cent, Johnny Mathis, Run DMC, babee. Now, today, I have gained some new knowledge. I’ve been introduced to the singing of Black male opera singer George Shirley.
Mr. Shirley has a beautiful voice. His voice reminds me of what it is I like about the opera. The voices touch my soul, and my heart. They transport me into a different realm. They bring me peace and love. I think my mother should have introduced me to more opera sung by Black men. I think Black parents should tell their kids about Black male opera singers, not just Black sports figures. We have so many talented Black men in this field. They deserve a bit of adoration, too. And a lot more mention, in my opinion.
In 1961, George Shirley won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions thus becoming the first African American tenor to be awarded a contract with the Met as a leading artist, the beginning of an eleven-year association. Over the span of his career, George has had a vested interest in helping African American students reach their full potential. In 1962 Leontyne Price and George Shirley two Negro-American singers will be featured as stars of two operas that are already sold out.
In 2015, through my research During the writing of my father’s biography I did learn of another Black tenor who was my father’s friend, Mr. Chauncey Northern. Here is a quote from a newspaper article from 1928: Mr. Northern who successfully interpreted the title role of the opera “Othello,” In Naples, Italy, recently, and his four brothers, comprising the Northern’ Brothers Quartet, will be heard in the New York Edison Hour tonight at 8 o’clock on WRNY. The program will Include solos by Chauncey Northern and quartet numbers, spirituals and characteristic negro melodies-which are recognised as true folk music of this country.
Mr. Northern would later work with my father in Eddie’s Sepia-Art Pictures Studio in the 1940s: Chauncey Northern, well-known tenor who is also a recognized voice specialist and coach, has joined the Sepia-Art Motion Pictures Company as head of its music department. In this capacity, Mr. Northern will have charge of the arranging of voices for the choir which will be a permanent feature with this organization. Sepia-Art Pictures expects great things to be accomplished by these young singers under the careful and comprehensive direction of Mr. Northern. His studios, located in Carnegie Hall, are the mecca of many of the great artists of today.
So, I’ve been exactly where I was supposed to be especially here and now so that I could be the recipient of some wonderful news about a Black male opera singer who has a gorgeous voice that I get to listen to on social media. Thank you for your glorious musical contribution Mr. Shirley.
Thanks, for stopping by, stay tuned for more from me. 🙂
My last post for Women’s History Month. I really almost forgot about this celebration. I’ve been watching Murdoch Mysteries online and they have been shooting during the Suffrage Movement and it is amazing to me what women have had to go through just trying to live their lives to the fullest. And women are still clawing their way to reach heights their male counterparts have reached. I saw a post on Facebook about Joyce Brown, 1920-2015, pictured above, about a week ago. She was a Broadway musical conductor. I had never heard of her, even though she was the first African-American female Broadway musical conductor. The article I read was written in 2017 for ESPN. The article mentioned a statement she made about being spoken of as a musical prodigy who became Broadway’s first African-American female musical conductor of a show beginning its opening night, in 1970. Setting aside the fact that she was Black she said “I would have gotten the job anyhow because the competency is there.” She said she worked hard and was a reliable person. As this article noted there is not much more information online about Brown, as if she had been totally forgotten or not worth remembering through the years.
So you know I had to do some research. I found a little extra information in the Nassau New York Newsday newspaper from 1970 By Leo Seligsohn. It was about the Broadway play Purlie and it’s “rocking”, “swaying”, orchestra conductor, Joyce Brown. The 1970 program starred Cleavon Little and Melba Moore, with Sherman Hemsley as Gitlow. As you might know, I just finished my book on The Jeffersons where I mention that Purlie is where Norman Lear saw and snatched up Hemsley to play George Jefferson. The extra information I found had this “Purlie” ad.
AN UNCOMMONLY GOOD ORCHESTRA AND A BOUNCY CONDUCTOR, JOYCE BROWN, TO LEAD THE FESTIVITIES. MISS BROWN RATES APPLAUSE ALONG WITH HER MUSICIANS AND SINGERS.
I am placing a piece of the article that came alongside the ad from 1970 because it celebrates Joyce Brown’s work magnificently:
“Standing in the pit In a state of perpetual motion, she is giving them all the life and spirit within her, rocking, swaying and breathing love into almost every note and syllable of the lyrics and score. Singing and dancing their hearts out there on the stage of the Broadway Theater, the cast members are giving it back in a mutual transference of psychic energy that is something to see. The woman is Joyce Brown, musical director of “Purlie.” Just before the beginning of the second act the spotlight picks her out and she takes a small bow. At the show’s conclusion, or what should be its conclusion, she keeps conducting and the orchestra continues playing in a rising crescendo of audience and orchestra-Joyce Brown togetherness. Theatrical? Perhaps. But there is an incandescence and a realness about Miss Brown.”
The article goes on the say that Ms. Brown was a bit put off by a note in the program that said she was making history by being the first black woman to conduct the opening of a Broadway show, because, she said, she was simply a woman trying to perform her craft the best she ever had in her life. She said that Race had never hampered her career. Which for me harkens back to what my father, Eddie Green, said about his career in the early 1900s, that if you’ve got the talent, you get respect; and that the best recipe for success is to find something you like to do and do the best you know how. Joyce Brown knew her craft, she liked what she did, she also taught other women by listening and coaching in productions like “Hair” in 1972. She knew she was good at what she did and she had fun with it. Self-assurance is what she demonstrates, still. She will not be forgotten.
Stay safe, you all, and thanks, for stopping by. If you are so inclined you may share this post, good news is always appreciated. 🙂
What does today’s war news have in common with the fact that I am writing a new book about the 1970s TV Sitcom “Maude”? Well, I’ve been trying to write a positive post this week about the sitcom but I just could not see how to try and insert positivity into such a sad world situation. Then I went online and typed in “1970s” just to get some ideas. First thing that popped up was about the anti-Vietnam war protests, a colossal movement to say the least.
Then there was the women’s movement as women gained success in business, politics, education, science, the law, and even the home. As far as television went Maude’s producers and creators were right on time as she was portrayed as a strong, independent, liberal feminist.
Then, as I was going through my social media sites I found the perfect post giving a brilliant explanation of this latest war that I think has a much deeper relevance to Life (with a capital L). I cannot credit the writer as I do not know who it is but I can give you the gist of what it said: She (one side of the war) was in an abusive relationship but she fed him, let him use her car, etc., until she built up the confidence to call it quits. She began working on herself, becoming a strong, independent woman with help and support from her friends. She was single for a number of years. Then The toxic ex (the other side of the war) showed up and wants her back. He started sitting outside her house, her friends tried to warn her that he might do her harm, but he said her friends were lying to her. Then the ex broke into her house and beat her up and dared her friends to do something about it.
I identify with a lot of this explanation. For me, it is about the fact that there are wars going on somewhere, every day. It may not get plastered all over the news media, but it’s there. And we need to somehow learn to love and care for each other in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in the market, on the roads. As countries. We must learn to help each other simply because we don’t want to do away with our existence on Planet Earth, or do we?
Of course, it was not all doom and gloom in the 1970s. Which, thank heavens, let’s me write about something truly positive. There was Disco. Donna Summer, babee. The beginning of rap – The Sugarhill Gang with “Rapper’s Delight”. Gil Scott – “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. At the movies we saw Star Wars, Jaws, Grease, The Exorcist, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, The Godfather. And, as for the women’s movement, Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and even won Helen a Grammy Award.
Which brings me back to Maude. Uncompromisin’, enterprisin’, anything but tranquilzin’, right on Maude. What I heard Mr. Norman Lear call a “leaning into life” character. Strong, outspoken, no-nonsense, liberal wife and mom. Played beautifully by Bea Arthur. Arthur said herself that the only thing that she had in common with her character, Maude, was that they were both tall and had deep voices. But Bea Arthur was such a good actor you forgot that Maude was a TV character. In one episode “The Analyst” Bea does a 22 minute monologue to a psychiatrist (actually an empty chair) that blew me so far away it wasn’t funny. The writing, by Jay Folb, read like parts of my own life. I was Maude laying on the doctor’s couch, crying and crying. She was so good. Mr. Folb received an Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series nomination for this episode.
There is an article about the episode at the Paley Center for Media in New York on line. The Paley Center for Media explores how media influences attitudes, behaviors, and actions, as well as shapes public discourse, on important social and cultural issues.
I hope we can all Study War No More and lay our burdens Down By The Riverside. I love you all, thanks for stopping by.
This week I received a much awaited Foreword for my book on the 70s TV sitcom “The Jeffersons.” I was thrilled to receive it. Thrilled that this very well-known actor would put their name on MY book. Little ole me. Yes, this is my second book. I am a published author. But this seemed to give me some extra clout. Something I hadn’t looked for or expected when I started this writing journey. Especially at this time in my life. When a lot of people are “enjoying retirement”. I’m just still living life. And realizing what I have come through to get to today’s achievements. I felt so thankful I just started crying. And then I started thinking about some of the bad stuff I’ve been through.
The depression hit hard. My early life was good. Could not have been better. My father was a successful entertainer and my mother was a beautiful opera singer and violinist. Eddie died when I was 3. My tap dancing lessons stopped and things got real quiet around our house.
A couple of years later Mom sold our house and we moved with her new husband to the “east side” of Los Angeles. Money ran out, I had to leave Catholic School and go to grammar school. I was light-skinned and became the girl that got bullied. Thanks to my mom I loved music. And dancing. I had decided I wanted to be a singer. At age 8 I formed my own front porch group. Singing became my focus. Our new family life was chaotic to say the least. After mom started having my siblings I became the “baby-sitter”. A lot of crazy things happened during those years so I started spending a lot of time away from home. I found boys. Alcohol. At 21 I stopped my singing career and became a working mom. Family issues pursued me. My own issues pursued me. Somehow I came through sorta sane. I stopped drinking and smoking. I went to Therapy. I became a grandma. Oh boy! I retired from my Admin Assistant job at the VA. And just lived life the best I could. Trying not to focus on what could have been, and how life should have been. Then I wrote a book.
The other day while feeling elated and depressed at the same time I got online and for some reason I wound up listening to Elton John – I think he has a concert coming up. The first song I turned to was “I’m Still Standing. He was at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019. Then I listened to his performance at The Royal Opera House in 2002. Some of his stuff reminded me of Isaac Hayes Hot Buttered Soul album. I discovered that during his appearance he mentioned Burt Bacharach/Hal Davis, the 2 men who wrote “Walk On By” which was a track on Isaac’s album. One of the songs Elton played at the Opera House reminded me of Isaac Hayes’ “By the Time I get to Phoenix.” It was the strings and horns on both of those albums.
Elton’s playing also reminded me of Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”. Would you believe that I actually found a recording of Elton John singing “Johnny B. Goode” in 1979. I felt a lot better after listening to these guys. I love the connectedness. Hey, thanx for hangin’ in here with me.
I know that Life is not all peaches and cream, but when I look back on my childhood comic characters I get a real feeling of happiness. A feeling absent all the bad stuff that may have been happening then in the news (the bouncing ball murderer), or in the home (new step-father because father died). I received a Harvey Comics book as a prize and I love it! Little Huey, Richie Rich, Litle Dot and Casper flying through the air. Free and easy. Fantasy. I still want Life to be like a Fantasy. The way it seemed to be in the 50s and 60s. The way it was when, sometimes, I would come home from school and mom would have the windows open with the curtains blowing in the breeze while she washed dishes and listened to opera. When I was taught to not use God’s name in vain and to always cross myself when I passed a church. To be respectful.
Today our society seems to want to embrace and show its anger. So much so that we now have to censor ourselves on social media. A loss of freedom. The thing is our world actions have led to watching what we say, even if what we say is simply a line from a TV program. I am not free to comment on social media without first making sure my words are not invoking some kind of violence. I posted on Facebook a line from a Twilight Zone TV episode with Telly Savalas. “My name is Tina and I am going to **** you.” The title of the episode is Living Doll. Facebook admonished me for posting incendiary language. They did not suspend me but they might next time. Our need to be angry is skewing our freedom. I do not blame one man for not pointing out the bad apples and deleting them, because there are so many unhappy people out there. Once I posted a comment and someone replied to me that they hoped someone would try to drown me and no one was there to save me. I was so astonished I replied “No you don’t! You don’t even know me! What would your mother think if she heard you say that!? People today no longer care what their mother would say. So now I have to censor myself on Facebook. In the Twilight Zone episode the doll did not like Telly Savalas so she warned him of her plan for him.
I know that Norman Lear chose to make TV sitcoms that brought laughter into peoples lives. He knew about the rough times and wanted to introduce some fun into our evenings. Hence, shows like Maude. This sitcom did include dark humor, controversy and drama, it was also quite funny at times. Bea Arthur had a magnificent handle on comedy. She said on an interview that the fact that she had work on her own show made her feel like a “middle-aged Cinderella.” Awwww, that’s nice.
Good Times, executive produced by Lear, was definitely about living with laughter and positivity even though life certainly came with problems. Weeping Wanda, played by Helen Martin was always good for a laugh and don’t forget Johnny Brown as Buffalo Butt. I loved this show. It was funny and sometimes, carefree. I was a single mother with an 8 year old daughter, I needed a TV sitcom or two in the evenings. Even the Twilight Zone episodes sometimes made me laugh. After all, who ever heard of a talking doll? Too bad when Telly fell down the stairs, though, wasn’t it? LMAO
May this be a year that tempers our anger, relieves our anxieties and allows us to feel free and easy.
I am sending out Love vibes to all. Thanks, for stopping by.