Show Type: Soap Opera
Produced: 1975-1978 (325 episodes)
Released: January 1976
Mary Hartman (1976-1977)..... Louise Lasser
Tom Hartman..... Greg Mullavey
Martha Shumway..... Dody Goodman
George Shumway (1976-1977)..... Philip Bruns
George Shumway (1977-1978)..... Tab Hunter
Cathy Shumway..... Debralee Scott
Heather Hartman..... Claudia Lamb
Raymond Larkin..... Victor Kilian
Sergeant Dennis Foley (1976-1977)..... Bruce Solomon
Loretta Haggers..... Mary Kay Place
Charlie Haggers..... Graham Jarvis
Jimmy Joe Jeeter (1976-1977)..... Sparky Marcus
Merle Jeeter..... Dabney Coleman
Wanda Jeeter..... Marian Mercer
Garth Gimble (1976-1977)..... Martin Mull
Pat Gimble (1976-1977)..... Susan Browning
Eleanor Major (1977-1978)..... Shelley Fabares
Mac Slattery (1977-1978)..... Dennis Burkley
Harmon Farinella (1977-1978)..... Richard Hatch
Penny Major (1977-1978)..... Judy Kahan
Popesco (1977-1978)..... Severn Darden
Jeffrey DeVito (1977-1978)..... Randall Carver
Mel Beach (1977-1978)..... Shelley Berman
Annabelle (1977-1978)..... Renée Taylor
Reverend Brim (1977-1978)..... Orson Bean
Dr. Szymon (1977-1978)..... James Staley
This was the classic soap opera to satirize all soap operas.
Mary Hartman was a "typical American housewife" living in the small town of Fernwood, Ohio. She was totally impressionable and rather slow-witted, with the most significant things in her life coming from television commercials, which she believed totally. One of her early concerns was the prospect of "waxy yellow buildup" on her kitchen floor and how to avoid it. Pigtailed and plain, her life was full of one crisis after another - her father (George Shumway) disappeared, her daughter (Heather) was held hostage by a mass murderer, her husband (Tom) was impotent, and her best friend - aspiring country music singer Loretta Haggers - was paralyzed. Eventually, Mary's implacable calm collapsed and she had a nervous breakdown, as well as an affair with local cop Dennis Foley.
Mary's Grandfather, Raymond Larkin, was known to all as the Fernwood Flasher for his penchant for exposing himself in public; her sister, Cathy, was a local swinger; and her Mother, Martha, was decidedly flaky. Tom Hartman was an assembly-line worker at the local automobile plant where he worked with Loretta's husband, Charlie. Jimmy Joe Jeeter was an 8-year-old Evangelist whose career was cut short when he was electrocuted by a television set that fell into his bathtub. His father, Merle, was Fernwood's mayor.
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was the creation of producer Norman Lear and had been offered to the major networks, all of which rejected it as too controversial. Lear then sold the series to local stations as a syndicated entry in 1976 and had a much-publicized success with it. The novelty of satirical soap opera attracted many viewers (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman ran after the late local news in most cities). When star Louise Lasser left the show in 1977, it continued for another six months under the title Forever Fernwood with most of the original cast intact. However, Tab Hunter took over the role of Martha Shumway's husband George (with the explanation that George had fallen into a chemical vat and been restored with plastic surgery); and new characters included Eleonor Major, Tom Hartman's new love; Harmon Farinella, who sought an affair with Loretta Haggers; and Mac, the truck driver.
CBS, the network that had first rejected it, aired selected reruns of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman as part of its late-night lineup for a few months in 1980.
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