It doesn’t matter if you are a die-hard fan or discovering these shows late in time, there is something here for everyone. These hidden treasures are what make these shows timeless and a significant part of our history and culture.
Not Everyone got Along During the Show
In the Jan. 23, 1965 edition of TV Guide, it was reported that Tina Louise, who played Ginger “I’m a movie star” Grant on "Gilligan's Island," had many problems with the cast. The article stated, “Denver will not say why he and the glamorous Tina [Louise] do not get along, nor will any of the castaways, they just ignore her, and she ignores them.”
The article continues, “Between scenes, while the other six principals chat and tell jokes together, she sits off by herself. And recently, when Denver was asked to pose for pictures with her, he adamantly refused. Part of Louise’s dissatisfaction with the series was that she had expected to be the star of the show.” (Maybe she was just a really good method actress and was preparing for filming between sets?)
Stanley Roper Was Based on a Real Person
The landlord-tenant relationship isn’t always the most congenial. The character of Mr. Roper in "Three's Company" was the high-strung landlord to the three roommates. As the curmudgeonly landlord, Stanley added comedic tension with his suspicion of the unconventional living arrangement.
His interactions with the tenants provided memorable moments of humor and misunderstandings, becoming a fan favorite, however, he wasn't a complete work of fiction. Norman Fell, who played Roper, confessed that he modeled the character after someone he knew in real life. He summarized the character as someone who "just can't do things right..., and yet he thought he was the cat's meow."
Off Limit Relationships
It was known that "Bewitched" Elizabeth Montgomery was drawn to the bad boys and found herself in many unsuitable relationships. There were even talks that she had a relationship with President John F. Kennedy. Not many details are known about their exact relationship, but what is known is that they were friends in the 1960s. In the tell-all book, author Pilato adds that JFK was known for chasing beautiful women, so there could be a glimpse of the truth behind this rumor.
Elizabeth Montgomery had relations with many other famous men, including Dean Martin, Elvis, and many others in the industry. She was married four times, and it is rumored that she constantly looked for attention elsewhere during all of her marriages.
Jerry Van Dyke almost became Gilligan
During casting for "Gilligan’s Island," Schwartz was very much interested in having Jerry Van Dyke as part of the cast. Jerry promptly turned down the part, calling it ridiculous and saying the pilot was “the worst thing I’ve ever read.” Instead of taking the lead as Gilligan, Jerry decided to take a lead role in "My Mother the Car." This turned out to be a less-than-brilliant move, as the show was eventually considered to be one of the worst sitcoms of all time.
When asked about his decision to reject the part of Gilligan, Van Dyke recalls, “I had a lot of problems with the agency because they were trying to push me into taking [Gilligan’s Island], but that’s the joke: I turned it down and took "My Mother the Car." But, again, it was really good because I’d [have] been forever known as Gilligan. So, that worked out too!”
A Missing Jacket
The "Happy Days" sitcom was modified to make its episodes cater to broad comedy. And like many other shows where the comedy isn’t limited to the fictional scenes alone, Happy Days did have its fair share of incidents and bloopers while at work. While preparing to shoot a new scene, the production staff noticed that Arthur Fonzarelli’s iconic jacket was missing from the set.
They couldn’t believe it could have been stolen, but that is the case. With the jacket nowhere to be found, they had to scramble to get a new one that would look exactly like the original. To match it, they had one specially made, which Fonzie wore when he jumped the shark.
Grandpa Was Proud
Will Geer, the actor behind Grandpa Zebulon Walton on "The Waltons," dedicated his life to many things, not only acting. As a member of the gay community, Geer also dedicated his life to activism. He was in a relationship with Harry Hay, a prominent activist focused on gay rights, labor rights, Native American civil rights, and other notable causes.
Geer himself was a labor organizer in New York and Southern California during the 30s and 40s. He organized benefits for migrant workers and toured work camps. Although he passed away in 1978, his notable work as an activist lives on.
How Many Celebrities Starred on The Partridge Family?
Like many other TV shows, "The Partridge Family" had its fair share of Hollywood celebrity guests adorning the screen. Besides, the two "Wizard of Oz" stars, the legendary Johnny Cash, played a gig with the family too. But did you know that two of the three Charlie’s Angels, one of the decade’s most popular shows celebrating supermodels playing secret agents, made an appearance?
Angels Cheryl Ladd and Farrah Fawcett stopped by. Mark Hamill, the beloved Luke Skywalker, also guest-starred. There’s a long list of famous visitors, including Jodie Foster, Howard Cosell, Rob Reiner, Louis Gossett Jr., Maureen Reagan (Ronald Reagan’s daughter), and Dick Clark (king of the charts).
Rock Around the Clock
The "Happy Days" series theme song was “Rock Around the Clock,” performed by Bill Haley and the Comets, and it could be heard as soon as the episode started. Season one used this new version, recorded in 1973, and like the show itself, it would undergo some big changes along the way.
The "Happy Days" theme song would be modified from the third season onwards to make it sound more modern. This was written and performed by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. The recording would be commercially released only in 2005, more than thirty years after it was initially heard.
Billy Crystal Auditioned for the Part of Jack
When you think of "Three's Company," you think of Jack Tripper, and when you think of Jack Tripper, you think of John Ritter, But did you know that there were other men in line auditioning for the part? Billy Crystal (who probably would have made a great Jack) auditioned for the lead role that eventually went to Ritter.
However, seeing how successful Crystal is today, it certainly wasn’t a major loss for the legendary comedian. Now, Crystal wasn't the only one who was on the potential list. Apparently, Barry Van Dyke, and Michael Lembeck gave it a shot and tried to get the part.
Grandma, Had a Girlfriend
Here is something that would have caused quite a stir within the Walton family; Grandma was gay! Ellen Corby played Esther Walton in the show and took home three Emmy awards for her performance. She married her husband, Francis Corby, in 1934, and the two never had children, eventually divorcing in 1944.
Well, turns out that Ellen had a female partner of 45 years who lived with her up until her death in 1999. It was known in Hollywood that the two ladies were more than just friends. Ellen’s final words were to her girlfriend, Stella Luchetta: "I love you.”
Back in the day, “The Brady Bunch” didn't exactly rake in the ratings bonanza. It was low on the charts, and it took a while before everyone knew who Carol, Mark, and Marcia were. The cast didn't get those jaw-dropping million-dollar paychecks like today's celebs, and they settled for much less.
How much less? They had to pay to park their own cars in the ABC parking lot. Talk about being cheap! Despite the budget constraints, the dedicated cast of "The Brady Bunch" persevered, creating a beloved family sitcom that resonated with audiences and left an indelible mark on television history.
Saved by the Audience
Actor Paul Benedict played neighbor Harry Bentley on "The Jeffersons." He stood out on-screen because he had some disproportionate features. It turns out that he had a serious health problem, and a studio audience member spotted it. The audience member was a radiologist and sent a note to the actor to meet him in the lobby after. He told Benedict that he most likely had acromegaly, an endocrine disorder.
Following the encounter, Benedict sought medical attention, eventually receiving the proper diagnosis and treatment, thanks to the observant audience member's intervention. This remarkable incident highlights the power of awareness and the impact a single individual can have on someone's life.
Stuck in the Closet
Robert Reed, who played Mike Brady on "The Brady Bunch," was gay, however, he didn’t disclose his sexuality for fear of it ruining his career. Although it wasn’t discussed between him and fellow cast members, most of the cast and crew, knew. Florence Henderson commented on Reed’s hidden secret: "Here he was, the perfect father of this wonderful little family, a perfect husband. Off-camera, he was an unhappy person."
Reed was unwilling to come to terms with his sexuality, and this resentment often led him to self-deprecate and have mental breakdowns. Sadly, Reed passed away in 1992 from complications of HIV.
Jack Tripper is The Only Character to Appear in Every Episode.
Even though 'Three's Company" had three stars, John Ritter was clearly number one (for both the writers and the producers, apparently). He contributed remarkable comic talent and preserved a unique relationship with his co-stars and the production team. This explains why Ritter’s character was the only one that appeared in each and every episode of the show and made him a central figure.
His dedicated commitment to the show and his exceptional portrayal of Jack likely played a significant role in securing his substantial salary, reflecting the value he brought to the series. Ritter's remarkable talent and undeniable charisma solidified his status as the undeniable star of "Three's Company."
A Grammy Nomination for the Family
"The Partridge Family" not only captivated audiences with their heartwarming story, but they also embarked on a successful music career. The family topped the Billboard Hot 100 with the hit single “I Think I Love You,” selling over 5 million copies and outselling the Beatles’ “Let It Be.”
With lead singer Cassidy a verifiable teen idol, the album hit No. 4 on the Billboard Top 200. The group produced eight studio albums selling millions of records domestically and internationally along the way. 1971 the TV show was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy, and "The Partridge Family" group released 11 singles.
It’s All In the Details
Devoted fans of "The Jeffersons" can find delight in the series' attention to detail, as subtle nuances often go unnoticed by even the most dedicated viewers. Even the top enthusiasts may not have noticed one recurrence that took place with each episode. In the opening of each episode, viewers can see that the photo on the desk with the telephone has changed.
Whether it's George, Lionel, Louise, or the beloved Mother Jefferson, this minute alteration adds an extra layer of depth and intrigue to the opening credits. While detecting this meticulous alteration may require keen observation, the reward of discovering these small touches further enhances the viewing experience, offering a delightful treasure hunt for the show's ardent fans.
Cindy and Bobby Had a Crush on Each Other
On "The Brady Bunch," although Cindy and Bobby were step-siblings on the show, their real-life selves were into each other in a way that a step-brother and sister are typically not, but nine-year-old kids are. Susan Olsen said things got hot and heavy between her and Mike Lookinland. Think of kissing sessions in Tiger’s doghouse. To call it a heavy heated make-out session would be a bit much, considering their young age.
Eventually, they formed a lasting friendship that extended beyond their roles as siblings, often spending time together and maintaining a strong connection throughout the years, even after the show ended.
Cindy’s Temper Fits
With sudden fame at a young age comes egos. Cindy Williams, who played the loveable and endearing Shirley Feeney on our old-time favorite, "Laverne and Shirley," apparently, was known to explode from time to time. On one occasion, the actress we know as the sweet-and-even-tempered one drove her car through the wooden arm at the Paramount gate because the guard didn’t recognize her.
She backed her car up and then stepped on it, bulldozing through the gate without looking back. Another temper fit on the set of "American Graffiti" found Harrison Ford getting a beating when Cindy’s fists flew in a rage.
Playing the snooty, scheming, mean-girl antagonist was not Alison Arngrim’s first choice, but she was determined to land a Little House role. Alison came from a show business family. Her dad, Thor Arngrim, was a Hollywood manager, and her mom, Norma MacMillan, was an actress who voiced Casper the Friendly Ghost and other characters. When the auditions were announced, Arngrim just had to be a part of the quaint prairie country show.
First, she went for the lead, obviously, but she didn’t make the cut to play Laura. She then auditioned for Mary but lost out to Melissa Sue Anderson. Finally, she read from Nellie’s script for the first episode and took the crown, or the wig, as it were. A perfect fit.
The Mysterious Theme Song
Did you know that the famous “Bewitched” theme song actually has lyrics? Yes, it is true! Despite the fact that the actual lyrics are, in fact, never sung during the opening credits of the show, it indeed does have lyrics. It did not have lyrics because the network that “Bewitched” was played on had a major time crunch to prepare the theme song for their first episode to debut.
Steve Lawrence did not get the lyrics to them soon enough, and it ended up just being instrumental since that was all that they had. Steve Lawrence’s version of this song pretty much went unheard until a few years back. But a clip can be seen on YouTube of Steve Lawrence singing it, lyrics and all!
One of the most memorable images from Little House depicts the youngest sister, Carrie, running alongside her sisters and then taking a stumble and tumbling down the lush hillside. Carrie was played by two girls, Lindsay and Sidney Greenbush. As twins, they would take turns shooting scenes so that labor laws for childhood actors wouldn’t be violated.
Believe it or not, but during the running scene, the fall was completely unscripted. The three girls were being filmed bounding down the hill when one of the little twins fell over. The director loved the pretty shot, and it lives on in perpetuity.
The BFF Roomies Played Fast Girls on Happy Days
Laverne and Shirley are endearing working-class best buds on their own show, however, on "Happy Days," they were cast as girls from the other side of the tracks. Garry Marshall, who produced "Happy Days," said he needed a pair of “fast girls” for the double date episode with Fonz and Richie, and the rest is history.
The spin-off series showcased their unique chemistry and comedic talents, captivating audiences with their spirited and zany adventures. At their Milwaukee apartment, working on the assembly line at the Sholz brewery, they’re always fighting back against Squiggy and Lenny’s advances. Penny Marshall described the transformation as being “re-virginized.”
"The Fonz” Was Almost Named “The Mash"
It wouldn’t be the first time a show’s creator would name a character or two after a person close to him or her; names derived from people one knows personally makes the cast of characters easier to remember, especially if you match up personality traits or make the naming choices significant in one way or another.
In the case of The Fonz, Garry Marshall wanted the character to have his original surname. So it should have been Arthur Masciarelli. But he liked the sound of “The Fonz” better than “The Mash,” so he decided to change it before the production started. He made a sound decision.
A Solid Nickname
Throughout "The Jeffersons," George Jefferson affectionately referred to his wife, Louise, as "Wheezy," a nickname that became synonymous with their loving and playful relationship. Interestingly, this endearing term was not originally scripted but was a delightful improvisation by the talented actor Sherman Hemsley. Hemsley, known for his quick wit and comedic timing, had actually given the nickname "Wheezy" to a woman he had known in the past, and somehow he let the same name slip during filming.
The unexpected inclusion of "Wheezy" added an extra layer of authenticity and warmth to George and Louise's dynamic, creating a genuine connection that resonated with viewers and further endeared the characters to their loyal audience. The nickname became a beloved trademark of the show, forever etching its place in television history.
Everything Had to be Made From Wood and Coconuts
Since "Gilligan's Island's" entire premise was that the cast had to survive on a deserted island, all props had to be made from either wood or coconuts to make it look as "authentic" as possible. This posed a major challenge, as everything from the chairs and up to the foot pedal-powered car had to be made from only these 2 materials.
This has become a trend on eBay, where you can get many “Gilligan’s Island Props,” which are basically regular everyday objects made of wood and coconuts. It sounds like a great investment for anyone wanting to star in his Gilligan’s Island fan show.
The Studio Took Advantage of the Cast
It was no lie that the production team of "The Waltons" was very cheap, especially with the cast members. They faced budget constraints, resulting in tough decisions and cost-cutting measures that affected everyone. Just to illustrate for you how cheap the studio was — apparently, their idea of a party consisted of having one beer and 13 straws for cast members.
While we assume that this is probably an exaggeration, the studio had a reputation for being very stingy. Even though the studio had a stingy reputation, they did send flowers to Michael Learned once. That must have really been difficult for them, considering their tight budget.
Larry Dallas Was Just Supposed To Make a One-time Guest Appearance
In "Three's Company," Richard Kline, who played Larry Dallas, was the charming and sophisticated neighbor who brought charismatic energy and many hours of pure entertainment to the show (in addition to exceptional talent). The character of Larry visited the trio’s apartment on a regular basis which paved the way for hilarious comedic scenes and humorous interactions.
The character of Larry was initially supposed to appear in a single episode of the show. But after producers observed the obvious chemistry between Kline and Ritter, they decided Larry should stay. After this, Larry Dallas became a consistent character on the hit show.
The Episode That Disappointed The Fans
The infamous wedding episode of “I Dream of Jeannie” was hated by not only the actors but also fans of the show. Everyone saw the wedding as so far-fetched and insincere, and the show was canceled pretty soon after this episode was shown! Despite the hatred for this episode, NBC was trying to really hype it up.
They even staged a fake wedding for Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman a week before the episode was going to air. NBC invited writers and press from all over the US to come to the wedding. It's safe to say that it was quite an elaborate publicity stunt!
A Documentary Star
People will always remember Elizabeth Montgomery as the beautiful Samantha Stephens from “Bewitched”; however, you may not know that she also took on a lot of controversial work. Many people just saw her as beautiful and funny, but she wanted to do serious work. She voiced the narration for not one but two political documentaries, which of course, showcased her liberal political beliefs.
She first did “Coverup: Behind the Iran Contra Affair,” released in 1988, long after “Bewitched.” The second one that she voiced was in 1992 and was a much more controversial documentary. However, it still won an Academy Award!
Time Slot Chaos
Securing a favorable time slot is a priority for studio executives, aiming to attract a larger audience and achieve higher ratings. However, "The Jeffersons" faced an unconventional journey in terms of its airing schedule. The show found itself in a staggering fifteen different time slots throughout its eleven seasons. This inconsistency might have disrupted the viewership patterns of other series, but "The Jeffersons" defied the odds.
Despite the chaotic scheduling, the sitcom managed to garner a dedicated fan base and became a beloved cult-classic comedy. Its enduring popularity and ability to captivate audiences demonstrated the strength of the show's writing, humor, and the exceptional performances of its talented cast.
Chrissy’s Full Name is “Christmas Noelle Snow.”
Another highly questionable choice made by the show’s producers was for Chrissy’s full name to be "Christmas Noelle Snow." Why? There seems to be no sensible reasoning behind this bizarre choice other than the producers wanted her to have a Christmas-themed name! Anyway, her full name does add a festive touch to her character.
The whimsical name captured Chrissy's cheerful and carefree nature, reflecting her endearing personality. With her blonde hair and infectious laughter, Chrissy Snow became an iconic figure in television history, leaving a lasting impression on fans who fondly remember her as the heart and soul of the hilarious roommate trio.
Aunt Clara Actress Marion Lorne Collected…What?
Here is a fun fact! You know how Aunt Clara on “Bewitched” is totally obsessed with doorknobs? Well, the actress who played Aunt Clara, Marion Lorne, had an obsession with them in real life! The basis for this funny obsession was based on the actress's real-life hobby!
Marion Lorne had over one thousand antique doorknobs in her personal collection. We mentioned earlier that some of the supporting cast would bring in their own wardrobe and accessories to be used in the show, this was no different for Aunt Clara. She used her own doorknob collection in the show as well!
Ma’s Real Name
Caroline Ingalls, a tough-as-nails pioneer woman known adoringly as “Ma” on "Little House on the Prairie," the kindest, most gentle mom that ever did grace the small screen, was played by Karen Grassle. For some reason, she thought a stage name would be better. As a theatre actress, she used her real name, but for TV, she came up with “Gabriel Tree” when she auditioned for “Ma” on Little House.
Michael Landon told her it was ridiculous and way too hippy for the times. As it turns out, she was born and raised in Berkeley and is also a UC Berkeley theater student. He was right on the money. She dropped the stage name and starred as Karen Grassle.
The Famous Christmas Episode was Written by School Students
The script and the storyline for the “Bewitched” episode entitled “Sisters at Heart,” when Samantha and Serena help a young girl and teach her a valuable lesson, was actually written by a group of black high school students. These students were in Marcella Saunders’ class in Central LA at a school called Jefferson High School.
This episode was aired on Christmas Eve and was meant to be an eye-opening moment while telling the tale of a wonderful story; however, this episode would never air today. It is absolutely politically incorrect due to the fact that several cast members appear in blackface at some point during the episode.
Joanie and Chachi Dated In Real Life
"Happy Days" Joanie and Chachi made for a really nice couple. They appeared to be so made for each other and their characters would eventually marry. In the most adorable turn of events, the actors behind both characters themselves, Scott Baio and Erin Moran, dated during the show’s run.
While their relationship was of the on-again, off-again variety, what was cool about it was that they were able to maintain their professionalism at work. There were never any fights or tantrums on the "Happy Days" set, and their relationship was a not-so-well-kept secret among the rest of the cast members.
Happy Days in the 1920s or 1930s
The Happy Days sitcom has become one of the most syndicated shows in TV history. But not many know that it ought to have been written based on a different era. Its creator, Garry Marshall, was approached by network executives to produce and direct a show based on the 1920s or the 1930s. Marshall was keen on doing the show, except that he didn’t know anything substantial about the designated era nor about the flappers.
He counter-offered writing a pilot about the 1950s instead since he grew up in those years and felt he had much to share based on his experiences. While Marshall’s pilot wasn’t a hit right away (more on that soon), its creation still marks the moment when "Happy Days" was born.
The Last Farewell
No special effects were necessary for one episode of "Little House on the Prairie." Walnut Grove literally exploded with dynamite. In this final take and post-series special, “The Last Farewell,” aired in 1984, the townsmen argue with invaders who want to take over their land. Land-developing tycoon Lassiter had acquired the rights to the entire township, and the infuriated townsmen tried to fight him off in court but lost the legal battle.
The infuriated townsmen tried to fight him off in court but lost the legal battle. At that point, Laura leads everyone to the drastic solution of blowing up the entire town in order to take Lassiter’s rights away and restore justice. In real life, under contract, the land that provided the setting for Walnut Grove had to be returned to its original condition. So it was Michael Landon’s directorial decision that blew the town to smithereens.
Drink and Substances
Many cast and crew members of "The Little House on the Prairie" set battled addictions off stage. Landon admitted in a 1983 interview with WaPo that he had an addiction. But, he said, that was on the set of "Bonanza," the show that launched his frontiersman TV career.
In her memoir "Prairie Tale," Melissa Gilbert discusses her own struggles with addiction, which happened after the show wrapped. She said she realized she had a problem when she woke up one morning and found herself sleeping in the dog bed. Since then, sobriety and a recovery lifestyle have replaced heavy drinking.
Joyce DeWitt Never Wanted Her Bare Legs Shown
For whatever reason, Joyce DeWitt (who played Janet Wood on "Three's Company") refused to let her bare legs be revealed while starring on the show. Whether it was modesty or self-consciousness, DeWitt never went without a pair of pantyhose when her legs were being shown. She was so dedicated to concealing her legs that she even landed an endorsement deal with the pantyhose brand L’eggs!
As one of the central characters, Janet was the sensible and level-headed roommate who often found herself caught up in the comedic chaos surrounding their living arrangement. DeWitt's portrayal of Janet showcased her talent for comedy and relatable charm, making her an integral part of the show's success and endearing her to worldwide audiences.
Even More Unconventional
One of our favorite shows, "The Jeffersons," was not only a pioneer when it came to the relationships it featured but also in its determination to cover sensitive topics that were unheard of at the time. The show's producer, Norman Lear, was known for creating shows that make people talk, and "The Jeffersons" was no exception. In one episode titled "Once a Friend," the show featured transgender identity.
George faces a friend from his past and addresses the topic by embracing him with a touch of humor and empathy. By introducing this matter, "The Jeffersons" pushed boundaries and helped increase awareness and understanding around this controversial issue, in addition to contributing to its legacy as an innovative and revolutionary sitcom.
Suzanne Somers Lied About Her Age
In 'Three's Company," John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt claimed that Somers told them she was 17 when she had her son, who was 11 at the time (which would have made her 28). However, her claim didn’t add up when you do the math. If you consider her birthday and the show's start date, she was most likely in her 30s when she made the statement, and after deep analysis, this can be confirmed. She was in her early thirties, precisely 33 years old.
Despite being a relatively late addition to the show, Somers integrated herself into the dynamic trio of roommates. Her youthful energy and comedic timing allowed her to embody Chrissy Snow's lovable and endearing character, contributing to the sitcom's enduring popularity.
Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!
If you are a young girl who tuned in to watch "The Brady Bunch," there’s a good chance that you felt jealousy towards the family’s gorgeous eldest blonde daughter, Marcia. Marcia’s on-screen perfection was inconsistent with Maureen McCormick’s real-life self.
It was revealed after the show came to an end that she was battling an addiction to illegal substances, and it turns out that she had intimate relations to support her habits. Although she experienced success on the show, her addiction to those substances and medication led her to struggle for years after the show’s surmise and lose her reputation as a reputable actress.
Hagman Discusses His Addictions
It was very well known that Larry Hagman, who played Tony Nelson on the "I Dream of Jeannie" show, was caught having too many drinks during the filming. However, you may not have heard that Larry has also stated that he was using illegal substances while filming many of the scenes he was in.
In her autobiography, "Jeannie Out of the Bottle,” Barbara Eden even shared that Larry said he never regretted his bad habits on set and substance use while filming. He did, however, worry about how these things were impacting his health and wanted to keep himself healthy.
No Number Four
While it was a big surprise that "Gilligan's Island" ended so suddenly – the show was canceled while the cast was on vacation, as we know – for a long time, it was rumored there were scripts for the planned fourth season that would have had Tina Louise's character Ginger being rescued.
At the same time, two additional female characters were going to join the cast. However, this has been debunked. Louise has even gone on record by saying that while she didn't enjoy the show, she wasn't planning on leaving and would have been a part of the fourth season.
The Kiss Controversy
"The Jeffersons," known for its progressive portrayal of a successful black couple, pushed boundaries in its time. However, one particular scene faced opposition from several CBS executives. Some deemed the kiss between Tom and Helen Willis, a mixed-race couple on the show, inappropriate. Fortunately, an executive producer, Fred Silverman, championed the scene and fought for its inclusion in the episode.
His determination to uphold the show's commitment to representation and inclusivity prevailed, allowing this significant moment of affection to remain intact. The decision to showcase the kiss on television marked a small but important step toward breaking down barriers and promoting acceptance during a time when such portrayals were still considered groundbreaking.
Not Everyone Like Desi Arnaz as Lucy’s Husband
In today's diverse society, it's not uncommon to witness couples of different ethnic backgrounds, however, back in the 1950s, such unions were far from the norm. When CBS approached Lucille Ball with the idea of transforming her popular radio show, My Favorite Husband, to " I Love Lucy," she grasped the opportunity but had a specific condition. Ball insisted that her real-life husband, Desi Arnaz, plays her onscreen spouse.
Skeptical of how audiences would perceive a woman like Lucy with a foreign husband and his distinct Cuban accent, CBS initially hesitated. Ball had no intention of having it any other way and make a groundbreaking moment in television history. A mixed-race couple would take center stage, challenging societal expectations and paving the way for greater inclusivity on the small screen.
A Toxic Workplace
The "Laverne & Shirley" set was lively, with heated arguments and choice words flying. The sweet and wholesome roomies transformed between takes. In short, the "Laverne and Shirley" soundstage on the Paramount lot was not PG rated. In fact, Garry would not allow his children to visit. It was perfectly okay to hang out at "Happy Days" in the same lot.
Garry Marshall wrote in his memoir that his kids were not allowed to visit Aunt Penny because, as he told them, “On the set, they argue and fight a lot. Cursing happens.” His daughter wanted to know if her aunt curses too. “I’m afraid so,” he told her.
The Audience Could Not Stop Laughing
One of the most hilarious episodes of "I Love Lucy" was "Lucy Does the Tango" (1957). In this memorable installment, Lucy does a clever trick by covering some eggs with her clothing, making her husband believe their hens weren't laying any eggs. The plan unfolds smoothly until the day Ricky insists on practicing the tango with Lucy. This results in the two of them finding themselves covered in crushed eggs, creating a tremendously messy scene.
The audience burst into laughter, with their amusement going on for a remarkable 65 seconds. It was so extreme that certain portions of the laughter had to be edited out in the final version. The genuine reactions of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz were captured authentically since they had not rehearsed the egg-filled routine prior to the live audience performance.
Pregnancy Was Not Allowed
When it was decided that Lucy's character would be expecting a baby on the show, Arnaz took precautions by hiring a Catholic priest, a minister, and a rabbi to ensure nothing would happen on set. Surprisingly, the network considered the word "pregnant" of being too vulgar and banned its use in the show.
Instead, they adopted the term "expecting," which Ricky amusingly pronounced as "'spectin.'" It seems like saying "pregnant" would have been simpler for him! Who would have thought that the olden days had such particularities? And yet, this is how things worked back then, from time to time.
The Belly Button Timer
While the styles and looks of "Gilligan's Island" are now pretty dated, it was quite well-known for the amount of fanservice it showed. A famous “Mary Ann or Ginger” question, about which gal people preferred, was a popular ask. Mary Ann's outfit was quite daring for the time, and one of the show's biggest controversies was exactly how many seconds of Mary Ann's belly button could be visible in a season and how times have changed.
Everyone was worried about preserving their politically correct values and not daring to be seen as controversial or, dare we say, revealing. This was the exact same problem that plagued “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Asking For More
The realm of television salaries never fails to captivate, with humble beginnings often leading to substantial raises in the event of a show's success. However, this conventional trajectory took a different turn for Mike Evans, who portrayed Lionel Jefferson on "The Jeffersons." Determined to secure a better deal, Evans confronted the producer Norman Lear during a Christmas party.
He demanded a salary increase, expressing his willingness to quit if his request was not met. Unfortunately, the outcome proved to be unexpected, as the actor was ultimately let go from the show. This behind-the-scenes anecdote sheds light on the challenges and risks actors face in pursuing fair compensation in the entertainment industry.
Three's Company's Song Was by The Composer of "Sesame Street"
Some theme songs just get stuck in our heads, which is often how they are designed to be. A catchy tune usually means a successful show. The "Three's Company" theme song became a catchy tune and was created by the same composer who did the "Sesame Street" theme. Composer Joe Raposo wrote the theme song for both of the shows, as well as for "The Electric Company."
Raposo's gift for creating unforgettable melodies left an indelible mark on television history, enriching the viewing experience for audiences of all ages. Who would have thought the same talent was responsible for two diverse shows?
The Show's Timeline Was Constantly Messed Up
Even the best television producers are not immune when it comes to making mistakes. In “The Waltons,” the show’s timelines were messed up on several occasions, leading to inconsistency regarding the character’s age and a significant mix-up in the order events took place. One excellent example is when John-Boy wasn't able to enlist in the Army even though he was 19.
This is just another reminder that mistakes can happen to the best of us, including those responsible for bringing beloved stories to life, and regardless of these occasional hiccups, "The Waltons" remains an enduring and cherished series that continues to captivate audiences.
Old Jim Beam Bottle
Everyone knows Jeannie's famous bottle on the "I Dream of Jeannie| show. It is where Jeannie lived in the show, and it was one of the most popular props of all time. But you will be blown away to find out what it really is! The bottle was actually just an old Jim Beam bottle!
This 1964 bottle of liquor was transformed into a world-famous TV prop! The prop department still spent a few hundred dollars to get the bottle decorated and painted perfectly, but it was still just that. Since they spent so much money on the bottle, it was known around set to be VERY careful with it since they did not want to have to replace that!
Crushing on Mom
Apparently, Barry Williams, who played Greg Brady on 'The Brady Bunch," was crushing on Florence Henderson, who played his on-screen mother. While it wasn’t his blood mother, the age difference between the two is enough to make the relationship a big no-no. Greg was crushing so hard that he wanted a much deeper relationship.
While the feelings were never reciprocated romantically, their dynamic added an intriguing layer to their on-set interactions, with Williams often seeking moments to impress and connect with Henderson. This innocent infatuation became a lighthearted aspect of the show's behind-the-scenes dynamics, showcasing the genuine affection and camaraderie shared among the cast members.
Almost No Other Women On Set
The Producers of "I Dream of Jeannie" did not want to hire a blond for the leading role, however, Eden got it anyway. The producers and creators really put a high value on her character, which was seen in the fact that not many other female roles were cast on the show. Barbara Eden didn’t have much female competition throughout the show’s five seasons.
Emmaline Henry appeared in a recurring role as Amanda Bellows, otherwise, the list of female roles was reserved mostly for bit parts on the show. Given that Eden wasn’t even supposed to have the role because she is a blonde, shows just how much value they put in keeping the focus on her character.
Ethel and Fred Mertz Where Not That Close
On "I Love Lucy," while Lucy and Ricky projected love both on and off the screen, not all TV couples shared the same sentiment. Vivian Vance and William Frawley portrayed the married Mertz couple, but their relationship was far from harmonious behind the scenes. The root of their discord lay in Frawley's age, as he was 22 years senior to Vance, who disliked playing the spouse of someone much older.
Off-camera, they engaged in constant arguments and exchanged insults. However, they became a loving husband and wife when the cameras started rolling. Their dedication to their roles preserved the success of "I Love Lucy," and only a few of their colleagues were aware of their actual hatred.
ABC TV Show Cast was Underpaid
"The Partridge Family," a delightful ABC primetime show, was distributed by Columbia Pictures Television. However, the production was handled by Screen Gems Television, a division of Sony Pictures. Interestingly, the production company found a cost-saving measure by not paying the child actors in the show. Inflation aside, the meager weekly payment of $600 was rather disheartening.
To make matters worse, David Cassidy, the talented pop star of the 1970s who portrayed Keith Partridge, received the wages intended for child actors. Thankfully, after his manager raised the issue, Sony Pictures rectified the situation by increasing Cassidy's pay to $6,000 per week.
During the filming of the pilot and the first two seasons of "Happy Days," the production team used nothing more than a single camera and a laugh track. However, to align with the prevailing standards and filming techniques from 1975 to 1984, they made a transition to a three-camera setup and began filming in front of a live studio audience.
With this shift, some adjustments were made around the house to accommodate the presence of multiple cameras, ensuring that every hilarious moment was captured in all its glory. Filming in front of a live audience posed its own challenges and advantages, as the laughter and applause from the audience created contagious energy that sometimes interfered with the cast's performance.
Mary and Laura Ingalls Were Not Sisters Behind the Scenes
Melissa Gilbert and Melissa Sue Anderson may have shared a first name, but they didn’t have much more in common in real life. On camera, they played loving sisters, off camera, they had a rivalry on par with the show’s actual rivalrous characters, Laura and Nellie. Gilbert and Anderson simply did not like each other, and their icy relationship persisted for the duration of the show.
It remains to this day! In fact, in the acknowledgments of Gilbert’s memoir, she even included a suggestion by a friend to title the book “Nellie Wasn’t the Bi@ch, Mary Was.” Jeez. P.S. Melissa Sue was the only actor who received an Emmy nomination for the show.
The Truth Behind Their Costumes
Here is a juicy secret that actress Kasey Rogers spilled. Kasey played the role of Louise Tate on “Bewitched.” She shared that the supporting actors on the show all had to provide their own clothing. The supporting cast would bring in their selections a week before filming the episode, and then the crew working in the wardrobe would clean and iron the clothing for filming day.
Of course, the main actors did not have to bring in their own wardrobe, but it was definitely a way to save money by having the supporting cast bring in their own options for wardrobe.
Ralph Waite Was Fired Because the Network Was Cheap
"The Waltons" faced a critical juncture as its ninth season loomed on the horizon. Determined to carry on, the resourceful producers embarked on a cost-cutting mission, and with the intention of maintaining the show's essence within a tighter budget, they had to make a difficult decision. Sadly, Ralph Waite bid farewell to the Waltons family.
The absence of his presence left a void, leaving fans curious about the fate of their cherished character. As the curtain lifted on this chapter, it became evident that, though challenging, financial considerations could influence the course of a treasured series. Through the trials and tribulations, "The Waltons" continued to captivate audiences, reminding us that despite constraints, the show must go on.
The Cast Never Escaped the Island During the Show
With the sudden cancellation of "Gilligan’s Island," the show never reached its ending (since it was supposed to go on for a fourth season). Eventually, the crew decided to tie up loose ends from the last episode of season 3, which ended just like the rest, with the castaways still stranded on the island.
In the 1978 made-for-television movie Rescue from Gilligan's Island, we finally see the castaways successfully leaving the island and dealing with the difficulty of reintegrating into society. The movie was very well received, and fans were delighted that the show’s story didn’t end yet. A second movie called Castaways on Gilligan’s Island was announced shortly after and released a year later, in 1979.
Behind Closed Doors?
Due to the extremely strict censorship rules on television during this time, Jeannie had to be seen leaving the bedroom any time she entered the bedroom with Tony during the series. Yes, even if she was going to be leaving in smoke! How extreme to you have to be as a TV network?
When “I Dream of Jeannie” was airing on television, most television shows would show two twin beds in any couple's bedroom, even if they were married! It was common for married couples never to be shown as sharing a bed in those times! Just another scandalous aspect of “I Dream of Jeannie!”
Gilligan’s Island wasn’t Actually Filmed on an Island
Although this may surprise some and as an obvious fact to others, the show wasn’t actually filmed on an island. Instead, a set was built especially for the show on CBS’s Studio City in California. The show was originally intended to be filmed in Malibu, but the show's set was eventually moved due to fog issues and other problems.
As with any production, the studio faced various difficulties, from problems with low water temperatures, the sounds of traffic from a nearby freeway, and other expected setbacks in such a unique and imaginary location. Fortunately, the show proceeded as planned, and all that effort was worth the trouble it took from the cast and the production.
The Waltons' House Would Eventually Become the Gilmore Inn
After "The Waltons" concluded, the iconic house where the Walton family resided became a sought-after location for various shows and movies. Among the contenders, "The Gilmore Girls" won the rights to the home, transforming it into the cherished Dragonfly Inn. While the house has undergone renovations since then, it retains a significant piece of TV history.
With every nook and cranny, the home still whispers echoes of the heartfelt moments shared by the Waltons and the spirited energy of Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. It stands as a testament to the enduring allure of these beloved shows, forever intertwined in the tapestry of television nostalgia.
Lucille Ball Was a Blonde
During Lucille Ball's early days in Hollywood, she initially had blonde hair, but her hair color change truly defined her iconic image. Upon signing with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, she was requested to dye her hair red, as it would complement their Technicolor productions.
Following her memorable and significant role in the 1942 film "DuBarry Was a Lady," she earned the title of the "crazy redhead," a nickname she proudly maintained throughout her iconic portrayal in "I Love Lucy." It's safe to say that her impact wouldn't have been as remarkable if she had remained a blonde, and in this specific case, the color made all of the difference.
The Main Cast Didn’t Meet Until The Night of The First Taping
In "Three's Company," the plot centers around three roommates who have been living together for a while. However, in reality, the three cast members did not actually meet until the night of the first taping. Isn't that just remarkable? This was partly because Suzanne Somers was such a last-minute addition to the cast.
Despite the unconventional circumstances, the talented trio displayed their skills by seamlessly crafting a collective and captivating on-screen chemistry that became the foundation of the show's success. Their ability to establish a genuine rapport and bring their characters to life demonstrated their remarkable talent and professionalism during that time.
No Belly Button Allowed
The popular sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie" encountered strict censorship rules pertaining to the costumes, particularly those of Jeannie herself. Surprisingly, one specific aspect garnered significant attention: Jeannie's belly button. It had to be hidden. This peculiar guideline meant that Jeannie's alluring and sometimes revealing costumes were permissible as long as her belly button remained concealed.
It became a focal point of scrutiny, ensuring that her outfits were tailored to avoid any inadvertent exposure of this seemingly controversial feature. The production team and costume designers had to exercise caution and creativity to comply with these seemingly arbitrary regulations, highlighting the intricacies of television censorship during that era.
A Secret Scandal?
With any TV shows and actors, there will be scandals, and there will be secrets. Herbie Pilato used this to write a book about Elizabeth Montgomery, and it was a tell-all about the show “Bewitched.” In the book, he reveals that Dick York was in love with Elizabeth Montgomery. He goes on to say that one of the reasons Dick York was replaced in the show was because of his infatuation with Elizabeth, it was not purely because of his medical condition.
Herbie also goes on to say that Elizabeth did not get along with fellow actress Agnes Moorehead, who played Samantha's mother. Moorehead and Dick York, however, were close friends, and she was so angry when he was replaced on the show by Dick Sargent. It was said that she took out her frustrations on him and even made him cry on set.
Playing For Two Teams
Did you know that Jeannie had an evil twin sister on "I Dream of Jeannie?" Her name, strangely enough, but not so creative, was also Jeannie! This sister character was created by a former “Bewitched” writer named James S. Henerson.
James was swiftly fired from the “Bewitched” writing team after someone, probably because another writer or producer discovered that he was simultaneously writing for the two shows. This was bad news since “I Dream of Jeannie” was often said to be a rip-off of “Bewitched!” They did not want to have any similarities between the two shows, so he was fired right away!
Drinks On Set!
A lot of things that happened back in the sixties while filming television shows would never fly in this day and age! One thing, for example, was that cast members would often drink on the set of “Bewitched.” In fact, they were sometimes filmed after having a few too many.
Sometimes if you saw them drinking on the show, they really were drinking! Even the producer, William Asher, would drink on set! The drinking was so expensive that stand sites were created that would calculate the number of times a character was seen drinking and each episode. Sounds like a pretty fun drinking game!
Not Ideal Conditions
Actors oftentimes have to film in circumstances that are, to put lightly, less than ideal. This was definitely the case for the first episode of “I Dream of Jeannie.” They filmed the first episode in Malibu, California In the dead of winter.
The location was actually Zuma Beach, but It was supposed to be a deserted island somewhere warm tropical, definitely not California in winter! You would not be able to tell by watching the episode, but it was freezing on set. Eden admitted that she was freezing the whole time they were shooting, but it still remains her favorite episode!
Do you know a 7-letter word that is even worse than the F or S swear words? In the decade that "The Brady Bunch" was filmed, DIVORCE was about as taboo as it gets. Due to its family-friendly nature, the word was intentionally avoided and never mentioned on any episode of the show.
As a result, the network didn’t allow Schwartz to cast Carol as a divorcée. While it was never made clear what Carol’s status was, she is thought to have been a widower, similar to Mike, whose wife passed away. Schwartz wasn’t happy about the network’s decision, so he never mentioned her deceased husband during the series.
There Were Special Cameras for Chrissy and Jack
On the hit show "Three's Company," revelations from behind the scenes added an interesting twist to the dynamics among the cast. It came to light that there were supposedly "special cameras" designed to capture the characters of Jack and Chrissy, leaving Joyce DeWitt, who played Janet, feeling left out.
Reports suggested that DeWitt was understandably upset upon discovering this discrepancy, as it implied a disparity in the attention and focus given to her co-stars. However, despite these challenges, DeWitt's professionalism and dedication to her character remained unwavering, and she continued to deliver strong performances that contributed to the show's overall success.
Suzanne Somers Wanted More Money
"Three's Company" Suzanne Somers was discontented with her given salary and faced the producers head-on to negotiate a better contract. Her portrayal of the sweet but sometimes naive character brought laughter and warmth to the show, however, when it came to reality, it brought a lot more.
Somers, who was already raking in $30,000 an episode, wanted to increase her salary to $150,000 per episode, the amount Ritter got. Can't blame her for fighting for equality! The producers were not enthused by her request, but Somers was unwilling to compromise. The ensuing drama led to Somers receiving the cold shoulder from her castmates and her character ultimately being written out of the show.
A Nod to The Wizard of Oz
Some observant fans probably caught on; however, not everyone noticed this, but a select few "The Partridge Family" episodes harked back to the wonderful 'Wizzard of Oz." Guest stars Ray Bolger (Scarecrow) and Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch) from the famous 1939 production joined "The Partridge Family" as guest stars, and if you loved them in Oz, there was no way you could have missed their remarkable performance.
Bolger played Shirley’s father, and Hamilton played Reuben’s mother. Other big-name stars like Johnny Cash and Richard Pryor surprised fans. Johnny Cash played himself opening for The Partridge Family at a Vegas show.
"Laverne & Shirley" had a special family connection behind the scenes. Although Penny Marshall and executive producer Garry Marshall made "Laverne & Shirley, their entire family was behind its success." The family from the Bronx was all in. Even their mother made cameo guest appearances. This familial bond added an extra layer of collaboration and understanding, contributing to the show's success and the chemistry between the characters on screen.
Their father, Anthony Marshall, was the heavyweight behind it all, who produced the sitcom. He produced "Lavern and Shirley" and several other successful sitcoms under his firm Henderson Production Company. Anthony Marshall was behind The "Odd Couple," "Happy Days," and "Mork and Mindy."
Natalie Schafer got Down and Dirty for the Show
Natalie Schafer was in her 60s at the time "Gilligans's Island" was being filmed. She did not let her age or anything else get in the way of getting down and dirty by doing her stunts. That means Schafer would jump into the lagoon or fake quicksand without a stunt double. In 1965, she told “Let’s Be Beautiful” columnist Arlene Dahl that she stayed in shape by swimming and by following her special “ice cream diet.”
Although she was in her early 60s when the show was originally filmed, actress Natalie Schafer decided she would do all her stunts by herself instead of relying on a stunt double. This means that all the dangerous and oftentimes dirty stunts we see the rich and spoiled Lovey Howell perform in the show were actually Natalie being very unspoiled and brave at her job!
Lucille and the Grape Stomping Scene
In "I Love Lucy," the episode "Lucy's Italian Movie" presented some unexpected challenges for the actress, making it a less-than-fun experience. First, finding a vineyard willing to donate a large number of grapes was tough, as Proviso Company agreed only if they could mention that the winemaking method was outdated. Then came the task of casting the right person to wrestle with Lucy in the grape vat.
Teresa Tirelli got the role but didn't speak English, causing miscommunication. During a scene where they were supposed to fake a fight, Tirelli took it a bit too seriously and almost ended up choking Lucille with the grape mush. Definitely not the light and enjoyable episode they had hoped for!
Home Is Where The Magic Is
The set of "Bewitched" showcased a whimsical and enchanting design, reflecting the magical world of Samantha and her witchcraft adventures, and if it looks a little familiar to you, you are not alone. The “bewitched” set was a reversed copy of the house in the movie “Gidget” in 1959!
If you watch the two side by side, you will see that the living room and patios were duplicated from the movie. It was not just the interiors that were duplicates, the exterior of the “Bewitched” home was also pretty well-known. The exterior was also used in TV shows such as “Dennis the Menace” and even “I Dream of Jeannie.”
Olivia Newton-John as Laurie?
"The Partridge Family" faced interesting casting choices and potential crossover opportunities. Initially, the producers had their sights set on Olivia Newton-John to portray Laurie Partridge, but the role eventually went to Susan Dey, who brought her own sweet charm to the character. Coincidentally, Dey nearly landed another iconic role, as she was considered for the part of Sandy in the 1978 musical film "Grease!"
Ultimately, the role went to Newton-John, solidifying her status as a musical superstar. These casting decisions showcased the talent and potential that both Dey and Newton-John possessed, contributing to their respective successful careers in the entertainment industry.
Hit TV series always feature big names, and "Laverne & Shirley" is no different. Back in the late ‘70s, the show attracted cameos from Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher (Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia). Comedy legends Carol Burnett and Gilda Radner made an appearance. Radner, incidentally, was nearly cast as Shirley.
Comedian Jay Leno joined the cast for an episode, as well as Harry Shearer, who went on to do "SNL." Eric Idle from "Monty Python" visits in an episode about British rockers during the sixth season. Real-life rock legend Art Garfunkel of Simon & Garfunkel also made an appearance. Spinal Tap appeared on “Bus Stop.”
All About Concentration
On "The Brady Bunch," when it came to casting the children for the roles of the Brady children, the process was unique and never used on any other casting process, and we are not talking about the children’s hand-clapping game. When Schwartz was interviewing children to play the parts of the Brady kids, he wanted to make sure that the hired children would be able to focus on the set. In order to test their abilities, he put toys on his desk.
The children who were able to concentrate on Schwartz and not get distracted by the toys were selected to move forward in the hiring process. If only such a method would work in schools, and the children could be graded according to the time they are able to not look at whatever is on the teacher's desk.