Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents




From Wikipedia:

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is a 1976 syndicated soap opera parody produced by Norman Lear, directed by Joan Darling and starring Louise Lasser. The series writers were Gail Parent and Ann Marcus.

The show's title was the eponymous character's name stated twice, because Lear and the writers believed that everything that was said on a soap opera was said twice. Lear conceived Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman as satire, but it was viewed as so controversial that many stations aired it well after their 11 P.M. newscasts. The irony was that while Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman dealt with many of the same topics found in episodes of daytime soap operas, the topics were called by their names (impotence, sexual perversion) instead of being referred to in the hushed tones and euphemisms typically favored by "straight" soaps, although the cast had a tongue-in-cheek performance style. For this reason, the series was even more controversial than it might otherwise have been.

The storyline followed Mary Hartman, played by Louise Lasser, her husband Tom (Greg Mullavey), her mother Mrs. Martha Shumway (Dody Goodman), and Mary’s best friend and next-door neighbor, Loretta Haggers, (Mary Kay Place) and Loretta's much older husband Charlie ("Baby Boy") Haggers, played by Graham Jarvis.

Other cast members included Debralee Scott (who played Cathy Shumway, Mary's maneater sister), Martin Mull (as both wife-beater Garth Gimble and talk show host, Barth Gimble), Sparky Marcus (who played Jimmy Joe Jeeter, child evangelist), Dabney Coleman (who played Merle Jeeter, Fernwood's slightly devious mayor), Marian Mercer (who played Wanda, a former sanitarium mate of Mary's and Jeeter's second wife) and Doris Roberts (who played Dorelda Doremus, a faith healer).

The series took place in the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio. Although there is a real Fernwood, Ohio in the United States (located in Jefferson County, Ohio), the town in the series was not based on it, but was instead named for Fernwood Avenue which runs behind the KTLA/Sunset-Bronson Studios where the show taped.

In its first episode, MH2 addressed a family that had been mass-murdered (including the goats and chickens) and the "Fernwood Flasher," who turned out to be Mary's grandfather. Characters on the show died in several bizarre ways, including bathtub electrocution, drowning in chicken soup, and impalement on an aluminum Christmas tree.

Mary Hartman had a nationally televised nervous breakdown on The David Susskind Show at the end of the first season. Mary then found herself in a psychiatric ward, and she was delighted to be part of their selected Nielsen Ratings "family".

When Lasser left the show in 1977, it was re-branded Forever Fernwood and followed the trials and tribulations of Mary's family and friends after she ran away with a policeman. The series finally ended in 1978, after only 26 weeks on the air, along with the talk show parody spin-off Fernwood 2-Night. A total of 130 half-hour episodes were produced.

Mary Kay Place was nominated for a Grammy Award for the album "Tonite! At the Capri Lounge, Loretta Haggers" on which she sang as her MH2 character, Loretta Haggers. The album featured appearances by Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, and one of its songs, "Baby Boy", climbed to the Top 60 on Billboard's Pop Charts, and #3 on the country charts, in 1976. Place also won an Emmy Award for her performance on the show. The show's writers realized Loretta Haggers' newfound fame made it harder to keep her character in Fernwood, so they devised a storyline wherein the country and western star makes an anti-semitic, career-shattering remark on the Dinah Shore talk show.

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was syndicated on local stations briefly in 1982, and enjoyed some short-lived air time on the Lifetime Television in 1994 and TV Land in 2002. Aside from the two-volume videocassette issued in the 1980s and bootlegged videos, the show has been difficult to find on any format. With the exception of the first 25 episodes available on DVD, many fans have been unable to watch most of the episodes from this series.

During the run of the series and its various spin-offs and sequels, KTTV, which broadcast the series in the Los Angeles market, also broadcast a tongue-in-cheek version of its nightly "Metronews" newscast, titled "Metronews, Metronews."

Created by

Jerry Adelman

Daniel Gregory Browne

Ann Marcus


Louise Lasser

Greg Mullavey

Mary Kay Place

Graham Jarvis

Debralee Scott

Dody Goodman

Philip Bruns

Claudia Lamb

Victor Kilian

Country of origin United States

No. of seasons 2

No. of episodes 25


Running time 23 minutes


Original channel Syndicated

Original run 6 January 1976 – 10 May 1977

Ann Marcus on the premise of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Gail Parent on co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Norman Lear on the profitability but not great popularity of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Doris Roberts on playing "Dorelda Doremus" on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Earle Hagen on creating the music library for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman sight-unseen
Who talked about this show

Tommy Cole

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Make-up artist Tommy Cole on working on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Earle Hagen

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Earle Hagen on creating the music library for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman sight-unseen

Norman Lear

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Norman Lear on the profitability but not great popularity of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Norman Lear on creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and selling it
Norman Lear on casting Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, including Louise Lasser, Mary Kay Place, and Dabney Coleman

Ann Marcus

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Ann Marcus on the premise of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on how she came to write for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on writing the pilot for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on Louise Lasser as "Mary Hartman" on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on working with Norman Lear on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on Norman Lear's contributions to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on the cast of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on the catchphrases of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on the chicken soup episode of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on critical and popular reaction to Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Ann Marcus on her favorite scenes in Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Gail Parent

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Gail Parent on co-creating Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Gail Parent on writing Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Charlotte Rae

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Charlotte Rae on becoming a regular on Norman Lear's Hot L Baltimore, and declining a role on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman because of Louise Lasser

Rita Riggs

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Rita Riggs on costuming Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman starring Louise Lasser
Rita Riggs on costuming the cast of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

Doris Roberts

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Doris Roberts on playing "Dorelda Doremus" on Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

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