Maude


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About

Maude, the socially controversial, sometimes radical sitcom featuring a strong female lead character played by Bea Arthur, ran on CBS from 1972 to 1978. Like its predecessor All in the Family, Maude was created by Norman Lear's Tandem Productions. Maude Findlay was first introduced as Edith's liberal, outspoken cousin from suburban Tucahoe, New York on an episode of All in the Family in 1972 before spinning off later that year to her own series set in upper middle-class Tucahoe where she lived with her fourth husband, Walter Findlay, her divorced daughter Carol, and Carol's young son Phillip. The Findlay's also went through three housekeepers during the run of the series, the first of whom, Florida Evans, left in 1974 to her own spin-off, Good Times. These three shows, among others, comprised a cadre of 1970s Norman Lear urban sitcoms that raised social and political issues and dealt with them in a manner as yet unexplored in television sitcom. Maude enjoyed a spot in the top ten Nielsen ratings during its first four seasons despite being subjected to day and/or time changes in the CBS schedule that continued throughout the entire run of the program.

Like many of Lear's productions, Maude was a character-centered sitcom. Maude Findlay was opinionated like Archie Bunker, but her politics and class position were completely different. Strong-willed, intelligent and articulate, the liberal progressive Maude spoke out on issues raised less openly on Lear's highly successful All in the Family. While questions of race, class and gender politics reverberated throughout both, certain specific issues, like menopause, birth control and abortion were more openly confronted on Maude. In a two-part episode that ran early in the series, the 47-year-old Maude finds out that she's pregnant and decides, with her husband Walter, that she would have an abortion which, had just been made legal in New York state. Part two of the double episode also dealt with men and birth control as Walter considers getting a vasectomy. Thousands of viewers wrote letters in protest of the episode because of the abortion issue. In other episodes Maude gets a face-lift, Walter's business goes bankrupt, and he deals with the resulting bout with depression; in yet another Walter confronts his own alcoholism. The realism of Maude, though conforming to the constraints of the genre, made it one of the first sitcoms to create a televisual space where highly charged, topical issues and sometimes tragic contemporary situations could be discussed.

Maude represented a change in television sitcoms during the early 1970s. Many 1960s sitcoms reflected the context and values of white middle America, where gender and family roles were fixed and problems encountered in the program rarely reached beyond the confines of nuclear family relationships. Despite variations on that theme in terms of alternative families (Family Affair and My Three Sons) and an added supernatural element (Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie), the context was middle to upper-middle class, mostly suburban, and white. However, cultural upheaval in the 1960s, the political climate of the early 1970s, shifting viewer demographics and the maturing of television itself were responsible for a departure from the usual fare. By the early 1970s a growing portion of the viewing audience, baby boomers, were open to new kinds of television, having come of age during the era of Civil Rights, Vietnam protests and various forms of consciousness raising. However, the changing tastes of the audience and the social climate of the early 1970s cannot by themselves account for the rise of socially conscious television during this period. The sitcom had also matured and producers like Norman Lear, familiar generally with American humor and specifically with the rules of television sitcom, decided to make television comedy that was more socially aware. Like All in the Family, Maude set out to explode the dominant values of the white middle-class domestic sitcom with its traditional gender roles and non-white stereotypes by openly engaging in debates where various political points of view were embodied in the sitcom characters.

Such debates were the staple of Maude throughout its six-year run. In an early episode Maude hires Florida Evans, a black woman, to be housekeeper. Maude goes out of her way to prove her progressive attitude to Florida by insisting she become like one of the family. Florida, along with Walter and Carol, points out to Maude the foolishness of her extreme behavior. In the end Maude recognizes her underlying condescension towards Florida who, as witty and outspoken as Maude, retains her dignity and decides to remain as Findlay housekeeper on her own terms. The interaction between Maude and Florida in this episode was a comment on the issues and attitudes about race that stemmed from the Civil Rights efforts of the 1960s. Maude's attitudes and behavior were indicative of white liberal politics during a time when race relations in the United States were being reconfigured.

Another reconfiguration was taking place within the arena of women's rights. In one of the final episodes of the show, Maude is given the opportunity to run for New York state senate and Walter refuses to consider the possibility. He offers Maude an ultimatum, and after mulling over her decision, she decides to let Walter leave. This episode, like many others, reflected a feminist sensibility emerging within the country, and can be viewed as a platform for discussions about the changing roles of women and the difficulties they encountered as they were faced with new challenges and more choices. Maude's character agonized over the conflict between tradition and her own career aspirations.

The show's ratings began to fall after its fourth season, and by 1978 Bea Arthur announced that she would leave the show. The end of Maude marked another shift in the domestic sitcom, away from open political debate and towards a renewal of the safer, more traditional family-centered sitcoms of an earlier period in television history.

-Kathryn Fry

CAST

Maude Findlay........................................ Beatrice Arthur  

Walter Findlay................................................ Bill Macy  

Carol................................................. Adrienne Barbeau  

Phillip (1972-1977)................................... Brian Morrison

Phillip (1977-1978)................................. Kraig Metzinger  

Dr. Arthur Harmon ......................................Conrad Blain

Vivian Cavender Harmon...................... Rue McClanahan  

Florida Evans (1972-1974)........................... Esther Rolle  

Henry Evans (1973-1974).............................. John Amos

Chris (1973-1974)....................................... Fred Grandy

Mrs. Nell Naugatuck (1974-1977)....... Hermione Baddeley  

Bert Beasley (1975-1977)........................ J. Pat O'Malley  

Victoria Butterfield (1977-1978)............. Marlene Warfield

PRODUCERS    

Norman Lear, Rod Parker, Bob Weiskopf, Bob Schiller

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

142 Episodes

CBS
September 1972-September 1974   Tuesday 8:00-8:30

September 1974-September 1975   Monday 9:00-9:30

September 1975-September 1976   Monday 9:30-10:00

September 1976-September 1977   Monday 9:00-9:30

September 1977-November 1977   Monday 9:30-10:00

December 1977-January 1978   Monday 9:00-9:30

January 1978-April 1978   Saturday 9:30-10:00

FURTHER READING

Cowan, Geoffrey. See No Evil: The Backstage Battle Over Sex and Violence on Television. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1979.

Feuer, Jane. "Genre Study and Television." In, Allen, Robert C., editor. Channels Of Discourse: Television and Contemporary Criticism. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.

Hamamoto, Darrell Y. Nervous Laughter: Television Situation Comedy and Liberal Democratic Ideology. New York: Praeger, 1989.

Himmelstein, Hal. Television Myth and the American Mind. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1994.

Marc, David. Comic Visions: Television Comedy and American Culture. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

Highlights
Beatrice Arthur on how she was perceived as a feminist after Maude
00:47
Fred Silverman on recognizing the talent of Bea Arthur and convincing Norman Lear to create a spinoff episode from All in the Family which ultimately became Maude
01:06
Norman Lear on how William Tankersley, then head of Standards & Practices at CBS, fought him over a line on Maude
02:56
Rue McClanahan on the controversial episode of Maude, "Maude's Dilemma"
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite episode of Maude, "The Convention" (airdate: January 2, 1973)
01:42
Who talked about this show

John Amos

View Interview
John Amos on playing "Henry Evans" on Maude
02:11

Beatrice Arthur

View Interview
Beatrice Arthur on guesting on All in the Family in "Cousin Maude's Visit" (airdate: December 11, 1971), leading to the spinoff, Maude
02:54
Beatrice Arthur on the production of Maude
03:52
Beatrice Arthur on the character of "Maude Findlay"
08:03
Beatrice Arthur on the character of "Maude Findlay"
01:43
Beatrice Arthur on her favorite episode of Maude , "The Convention" (airdate: January 2, 1973)
01:42
Beatrice Arthur on the Maude episode "The Game Show" (airdate: November 8, 1976)
00:43

Larry Auerbach

View Interview
Larry Auerbach on representing Beatrice Arthur
02:37

Hal Cooper

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Hal Cooper on being hired to direct Maude; on the first episode he directed; on the creative atmosphere
04:29
Hal Cooper on the concept of the series and directing Maude;  on the Maude spinoff Good Times
07:49
Hal Cooper on directing Maude
29:09
Hal Cooper on Maude's funniest moment
03:47
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude Bares Her Soul"
06:56
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Maude's Dilemma, Part II"
03:18
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Life of the Party"
02:29
Hal Cooper on directing the Maude episode "Walter's Heart Attack"
04:21
Hal Cooper on network interference on Maude
02:07
Hal Cooper on becoming an executive producer on Maude
05:00
Hal Cooper on why Maude was cancelled
02:13

Walter Dishell

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Walter Dishell on being a medical advisor on an episode of Maude
01:19

Garvin Eddy

View Interview
On an early opportunity, while still in school, to visit the set of Maude when he was invited by Ed Stephenson; he later was hired as an Assistant Art Director

Ed Begley, Jr. with Emerson College

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Ed Begley, Jr. on guest-starring on Maude, and on The Steve Allen Show being his favorite show
01:18

Nanette Fabray

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Nanette Fabray on her guest appearance as stroke survivor on Maude in the episode "Maude's Reunion"
03:35

Seaman Jacobs

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Seaman Jacobs on writing for Maude
04:04

Irma Kalish

View Interview
Rocky and Irma Kalish on pitching and writing for a controversial episode of Maude with Susan Harris (Maude's Dilemma)
02:36
Irma and Rocky Kalish on the reaction to the abortion episode (Maude's Dilemma) on Maude
01:31

Rocky Kalish

View Interview
Rocky and Irma Kalish on pitching and writing for a controversial episode of Maude with Susan Harris (Maude's Dilemma)
02:36
Irma and Rocky Kalish on the reaction to the abortion episode (Maude's Dilemma) on Maude
01:31

Norman Lear

View Interview
Norman Lear on how William Tankersley, then head of Standards & Practices at CBS, fought him over a line on Maude
02:56
Norman Lear on introducing Beatrice Arthur as "Maude" on All in the Family, and similarities between her character and his then-wife, Frances Lear
03:54
Norman Lear on the controversial abortion episode of Maude
04:49
Norman Lear on the rapid success of Maude, and on casting Bill Macy as "Walter Findlay"
01:39

Rue McClanahan

View Interview
Rue McClanahan on her favorite Maude episode "Feminine Fulfillment" (McClanahan refers to the episode as "The Man from Glad") (airdate: February 28, 1977)
02:28
Rue McClanahan on the controversial episode of Maude, "Maude's Dilemma"
Rue McClanahan on being cast as Vivian on Maude
04:40
Rue McClanahan on the cast of Maude
06:34

Thad Mumford

View Interview
Thad Mumford on writing for Good Times, Maude, and various other Norman Lear shows
06:36
Thad Mumford on writing for Maude
02:11

Dick Van Patten

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Dick Van Patten on a guest role he had on Maude
00:50

Hector Ramirez

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Hector Ramirez on working as a camera operator for Maude and how it differed from All in the Family
01:51

John Rich

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Director John Rich on Maude with Bea Arthur
00:39

Rita Riggs

View Interview
Rita Riggs on working with "palettes" when designing her shows specifically Conrad Bain as "Arthur Harmon" on Maude
01:45
Rita Riggs on doing Beatrice Arthur's costumes for Maude
03:34
Rita Riggs on costuming "Walter Findlay" played by Bill Macy, and the rest of the cast of Maude
02:10
Rita Riggs on designing costumes for Maude and on how she choose her palettes
04:20
Rita Riggs on working with Rue McClanahan as "Vivian Harmon" on Maude
00:50
Rita Riggs on working with Esther Rolle as "Florida Evans" on Maude and Good Times, and on other cast members of those shows
02:10

Doris Roberts

View Interview
Doris Roberts on being offered a regular role on Maude and then being fired before she appeared on the show
02:44

Bob Schiller

View Interview
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the characters and the actors who portrayed them on Maude
06:25
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Maude and working with Norman Lear
03:07
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writers on Maude
00:55
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on Maude and Norman Lear's involvement with the writing
02:52
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on being on set during the tapings of Maude
00:37
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on topics for scripts on Maude and the two-part abortion episode
02:30
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Norman Lear's contributions to storylines on Maude
03:16
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on network interference on Maude
01:04
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Maude and the Psychiatrist" episode of Maude
00:44
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Bea Arthur and other cast members not always sticking to scripts on Maude
01:14
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on racial issues on Maude
01:25
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "The Face Lift" and other episodes of Maude; on why they left the show
01:16
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Maude and the Psychiatrist" and "Florida's Problem" episodes of Maude
00:34
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on photos from their days working on Maude
02:26

Jack Shea

View Interview
Jack Shea on Esther Rolle's Good Times character "Florida's" origins on Maude
00:49
Jack Shea on directing Bea Arthur on Maude
01:33

Fred Silverman

View Interview
Fred Silverman on recognizing the talent of Bea Arthur and convincing Norman Lear to create a spinoff episode from All in the Family which ultimately became Maude
01:06

Ben Starr

View Interview
Ben Starr on writing freelance for Maude
00:33

Bob Weiskopf

View Interview
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing for Maude and working with Norman Lear
03:07
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the characters and the actors who portrayed them on Maude
06:25
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writers on Maude
00:55
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the writing process on Maude and Norman Lear's involvement with the writing
02:52
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on being on set during the tapings of Maude
00:37
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on topics for scripts on Maude and the two-part abortion episode
02:30
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Norman Lear's contributions to storylines on Maude
03:16
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on network interference on Maude
01:04
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Maude and the Psychiatrist" episode of Maude
00:44
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on Bea Arthur and other cast members not always sticking to scripts on Maude
01:14
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on racial issues on Maude
01:25
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "The Face Lift" and other episodes of Maude; on why they left the show
01:16
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on the "Maude and the Psychiatrist" and "Florida's Problem" episodes of Maude
00:34
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on photos from their days working on Maude
02:26

Tucker Wiard

View Interview
Tucker Wiard on working on Good Times, All in the Family, Maude and One day at a Time
02:35

Ben Wolf

View Interview
Ben Wolf on shooting Maude
01:13

Bud Yorkin

View Interview
Bud Yorkin on Maude spinning off of All in the Family
01:27

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