Hazel (TV series)
Title screen from a first season color episode titled "What'll We Watch Tonight?"
|Created by||Based on a comic strip by Ted Key|
|Directed by||E.W. Swackhamer
William D. Russell
Don DeFore (1961-1965)
Whitney Blake (1961-1965)
Ray Fulmer (1965-1966)
Lynn Borden (1965-1966)
Julia Benjamin (1965-1966)
|Theme music composer||Jimmy Van Heusen (music)
Sammy Cahn (lyrics)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||154 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||26 mins.|
|Production company(s)||Screen Gems|
|Distributor||Columbia Pictures Television (1967-1984, 1988-1996)
Colex Enterprises (1984-1988)
Columbia TriStar Television (1996-2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002-present)
|Original channel||NBC (1961-65)
|Picture format||Black-and-white (season 1)
Color (season 2–season 5)
|Original run||September 28, 1961– April 11, 1966|
Hazel is an American sitcom about a fictional live-in maid named Hazel Burke (Shirley Booth) and her employers, the Baxters. The five-season, 154-episode series aired in primetime from September 28, 1961 until April 11, 1966 and was produced by Screen Gems. The show aired on NBC for its first four seasons (in black-and-white for all but one episode of the first season, and in color for the next three), and then in color on CBS for its final season.
Plot and characters 
Hazel is a competent, take-charge, live-in maid in the home of George Baxter (Don DeFore), a partner in the law firm of Butterworth, Hatch, Noll & Baxter, and known as "Mr. B" to Hazel, his interior decorator wife Dorothy (Whitney Blake), whom Hazel calls "Missy", their son Harold (Bobby Buntrock), known by Hazel as "Sport", and the family dog Smiley. Hazel had worked with Dorothy's family before, so she knew her best. The series humorously dramatizes Hazel's life with the Baxters and her friendships with others in the neighborhood such as postman Barney Hatfield (Robert Williams), taxi-driving Mitch Brady (Dub Taylor), and Rosie Hammaker (Maudie Prickett), another maid in the area. Johnny Washbrook, formerly of My Friend Flicka, guest starred as Hazel's nephew, Eddie Burke.
Many episodes focus on the perennial contest of wills between Hazel and her boss over issues around the house; "Mr. B" usually concedes defeat and grants Hazel's wishes when she tortures him by serving meager portions of her mouth-watering desserts. Some episodes take Hazel outside the Baxter house and follow her life in the community. In the first episode, for example, she spearheads a drive for the construction of a neighborhood playground.
Hazel's life is sometimes complicated by George's snobby Boston sister Deirdre Thompson (Cathy Lewis) and his gruff client Harvey Griffin (Howard Smith). Dotty neighbors Herbert and Harriet Johnson (Donald Foster and Norma Varden) often call upon Hazel's expertise in household matters.
In the show's final season, on CBS, George and Dorothy depart for the Middle East in conjunction with George's work (DeFore and Blake were dropped from the cast) while Harold and Hazel move in with George's younger brother, Steve (Ray Fulmer), a real estate agent, Steve's wife Barbara (Lynn Borden), and their daughter Susie (Julia Benjamin). Hazel provides housekeeping services for her revamped family. The new Baxters reflected a desire for younger demographics. (CBS said that Ms. Blake was not available after NBC's cancellation, although Don DeFore noted that he found out about the change while reading the newspaper.) The most notable new arrival was the teenage actress who played Millie Ballard, Steve Baxter's receptionist. Ann Jillian went on to star in her own series, It's a Living, and numerous television movies.
Production notes 
The series was filmed at Columbia Sunset Gower Studios, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. Exteriors were shot at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank. The facade used as the Baxters' was later home to Sally Field as Gidget. From the driveway, the house next door is recognizable as that of Darrin and Samantha Stephens from Bewitched.
The episode "What'll We Watch Tonight," in which Hazel purchases a color TV, is the only first season episode shot in color and appears to promote color television sets. NBC, which aired the series, was owned by RCA, the largest seller of color television sets, during the period when most viewers still had black-and-white TVs.
In July 1963, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced that unless the show added an African-American to the off-camera technical staff, the organization would begin a boycott of the show's sponsor, the Ford Motor Company. Two months after the announcement, the show's producers announced that a black production executive had joined the show.
Theme song 
While the weekly show began with an instrumental theme song by the team of Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, the closing credits during the first eight shows of the inaugural season played the song with lyrics sung by The Modernaires.
There were different arrangements of the theme song as the series progressed, including a later version by Howard Greenfield and Helen Miller.
During its first four seasons, Hazel was sponsored by Ford Motor Company, which had earlier underwritten Tennessee Ernie Ford's comedy and variety show, The Ford Show. As a result, Ford vehicles, including the Mustang when it was introduced in 1964, were often prominently featured on the series, even as a part of the storyline (an example of product placement). During season four, Bristol-Myers co-sponsored Hazel.
The show was considered to be an instant hit when it debuted, and its first season was fourth in the 1961-1962 Nielsen's ratings. Shirley Booth received two Emmys, (1962 and 1963) for "Hazel" and an Emmy nomination for her third season (1964). Booth received a Golden Globe nomination for Best TV Star (1964), and two nominations for the TV Land Award, Favorite Made-for-TV Maid (2004 and 2006).
In its first season, Hazel won such ratings as to force the cancellation of its principal competitor, the new ABC sitcom Margie, starring Cynthia Pepper, set during the Roaring Twenties.
ABC loosely copied the Hazel theme in the 1962-1963 series Our Man Higgins as an English butler to a suburban American family. Stanley Holloway played the lead role, along with Audrey Totter and Frank Maxwell.
At the end of the 1963-1964 season, the ratings had slipped from #15 the previous year to #22. By the time NBC canceled the series in the spring of 1965, Hazel had fallen out of the top 30 programs. CBS picked up the sitcom for the 1965-1966 season, however there were a number of cast changes made. Bobby Buntrock remained in the cast as Harold Baxter, however Don DeFore and Whitney Blake were dropped and replaced with Ray Fulmer and Lynn Borden, respectively. Child actress Julia Benjamin was added to the cast as Susie Baxter. CBS scheduled Hazel on Monday nights at 9:30 P.M. (E.S.T.) in September, 1965 as part of a powerhouse lineup of programming which included The Lucy Show and The Andy Griffith Show. The series received decent ratings and CBS was planning to renew Hazel for a sixth year, but Booth was ill and tired and decided not to continue the program when the season ended. As a result, in the spring of 1966, Hazel ended its primetime network run.
The story of how Hazel came to be a maid is told for the first time in Love Is The Reason For It All...The Shirley Booth Story by Jim Manago, with radio research by Donna Manago, and foreword by Ted Key. BearManor Media, ISBN 978-1-59393-146-9
Hazel aired on Superstation WTBS from 1980 to 1986, and on WGN Superstation in 1994. Hazel also aired on TV Land from 2002-2003. As of January 2012 Hazel is airing on Antenna TV. Hazel also ran as syndicated reruns on local UHF stations throughout the 1970's.
DVD releases 
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the first season of Hazel on DVD in Region 1 on August 1, 2006.
On February 18, 2011, Shout! Factory announced that they had acquired the rights to the series (under license from Sony) and would be releasing season 2 on DVD in 2011. Season 2 was eventually released on February 21, 2012. Season 3 was released on May 15, 2012. Season 4 was released on December 11, 2012.
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release Date|
|The Complete 1st Season||35||August 1, 2006|
|The Complete 2nd Season||32||February 21, 2012|
|The Complete 3rd Season||32||May 15, 2012|
|The Complete 4th Season||26||December 11, 2012|
References in pop culture 
- In episode 313 of Seinfeld, "The Subway", George Costanza references the show: "You know, my mother used to walk around in our apartment just in her bra and panties. She didn't look anything like you, she was really disgusting, really bad body. If you could imagine an uglier and fatter version of Shirley Booth. Remember Shirley Booth from Hazel?"
- In Season 1, episode 25 of That 70s Show, "The Good Son", Eric calls Hyde "Hazel" because he is doing dishes and cleaning up after himself. Kelso responds, "That's funny, 'cause Hazel is a maid!"
- The Hanna-Barbera series The Jetsons featured a lovable robot maid named Rosie who referred to George Jetson as "Mr. J". It premiered a year after Hazel and was influenced by Hazel's references to her boss as "Mr. B".
- In an episode of Barney Miller, Inspector Luger refers to the 12th Precinct night cleaning woman as "Hazel."
- In episode 19 of The Sopranos, "The Happy Wanderer", Silvio Dante is getting increasingly agitated during a losing night of poker. He finally explodes after an underling sweeps up crumbs near him, yelling at Tony Soprano: "I'm losin' my balls over here. This fuckin' moron's playing Hazel?"
- In episode 45 of This American Life, Act 4, "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous", Cheryl Trykv tells the story of getting lost as a teenager riding a bike (in only a swimsuit) around Palm Springs on a baking hot day. She gets so dehydrated she knocks on strangers' doors (rather than listen to the lawn-elves she hears telling her to drink her pee) until Shirley Booth answers, invites her in and lets her use the bathroom. Over lemon water they chat about New York City and American Theatre. Shirley tells Cheryl that she hadn't heard rumours about Joan Crawford and Lucille Ball being lovers but that once at a party thrown by then-California Governor Ronald Reagan, Ball had drunkenly thrown a grape down Shirley's bosom.
- In a 2013 Mad Men episode (aired on 5/5/13), Ted tells Peggy he is "trying to watch Hazel" in his office.
- (September 28, 1963) "Negro Hired to Head Off Ford Boycott" Los Angeles Times
- TV Guide.com website:http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/man-higgins/203600
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