In the fall of 1972, the first spinoff from "All in the Family" premiered. It was "Maude," with Beatrice Arthur as Edith Bunker's liberal cousin. And right out of the gate, "Maude" took on controversial topics like psychotherapy, black militancy and modern morality. Then on November 14, in the ninth episode of the series, Maude found out she was pregnant at age 47. She considered her options, including abortion, which at the time was legal in New York state, where the show was set. (The U.S. Supreme Court wouldn't legalize abortion nationwide until 1973.) Maude's decision to get an abortion would go largely unnoticed during the episode's original run, but when summer reruns came along the show received a firestorm of criticism, driving the idea of abortion -- and even the mention of the word itself -- off of network television for the next fifteen years.
Sid Caesar is one of the comic giants of 1950s TV, but he was also plagued by anxiety, depression, guilt and an explosive temper. In the early 1980s he came to my hometown of Louisville to perform at a dinner theatre, and I reviewed the show. I didn't know it then, but he was in the midst of a battle to escape his addiction to booze and pills and conquer his deep-seated demons.
Where Have I Been? An Autobiography, by Sid Caesar with Bill Davidson
"Sid Caesar's Finest Sketch," David Margolick, The New Yorker, February 14, 2014
I'm joined once again by my brother Steve for a trip down memory lane to recall our TV memories from the 1960s and '70s, specifically Saturday morning shows like "Casper the Friendly Ghost" and "The Banana Splits Hour," with side trips involving everything from "Schoolhouse Rock" to "The Eighth Man."
In our last episode, we looked at the East Coast blacklist triggered by "Red Channels" -- which listed the "Communistic" activities of supposed radicals -- and the lives that were ruined by it. In this episode we look at the pushback -- the positive results of people standing up to a small number of self-appointed vigilantes, and what happened when networks and sponsors stood strong against threats to shows such as "I've Got a Secret" and "I Love Lucy." We also look at one man who finally had enough and took the blacklist creators and enforcers to court.
Fear on Trial, by John Henry Faulk
Desilu: The Story of Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, by Coyne Steven Sanders
Ball of Fire: The Tumultuous Life and Comic Art of Lucille Ball, by Stefan Kanfer
The Image Empire: A History of Broadcasting in the United States, Volume III, by Erik Barnouw