That Girl

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That Girl
Thatgirllogo.jpg
That Girl logo
Genre Sitcom
Created by Bill Persky
Sam Denoff
Starring Marlo Thomas
Ted Bessell
Lew Parker
Bernie Kopell
Rosemary DeCamp
Theme music composer Sam Denoff
Earle Hagen
Composer(s) Warren Barker
Luchi De Jesus
Dominic Frontiere
Harry Geller
Earle Hagen
Walter Scharf
Carl Brandt
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 136 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Sam Denoff
Bill Persky
Marlo Thomas
Danny Thomas
Producer(s) Danny Arnold
Jerry Davis
Sam Denoff
Bernie Orenstein
Bill Persky
Saul Turteltaub
Camera setup Single camera
Running time 22–25 minutes
Production company(s) Daisy Productions
Distributor Metromedia Producers Corporation
Viacom Enterprises
CBS Television Distribution (current)
Broadcast
Original channel ABC
Picture format Color
Audio format Monaural
Original run September 8, 1966 (1966-09-08) – March 19, 1971 (1971-03-19)

That Girl is an American sitcom that ran on ABC from 1966 to 1971. It stars Marlo Thomas as the title character Ann Marie, an aspiring (but only sporadically employed) actress, who moves from her hometown of Brewster, New York to try to make it big in New York City. Ann has to take a number of offbeat "temp" jobs to support herself in between her various auditions and bit parts. Ted Bessell played her boyfriend Donald Hollinger, a writer for Newsview Magazine; Lew Parker and Rosemary DeCamp played Lew Marie and Helen Marie, her concerned parents. Bernie Kopell, Ruth Buzzi and Reva Rose played Ann and Donald's friends. That Girl was developed by writers Bill Persky and Sam Denoff, who had served as head writers on The Dick Van Dyke Show (with which Thomas's father, Danny Thomas, was closely associated) earlier in the 1960s.

Storyline[edit]

Ted Bessell, Marlo Thomas and Jennifer Douglas in a scene from the show, 1969

Each episode begins with a pre-credits teaser in which an odd incident occurs or a discussion foreshadows the episode's story. The scene almost always ends with someone exclaiming "...that girl!", just as Ann wanders into the shot or the character notices her. The words "That Girl" would appear over the freeze-frame shot of Ann. The opening credits during the first season featured Thomas, in character, strolling the streets of New York. From the second season on, the opening shot was the view from a high-speed train, then Thomas in character flying a kite in Central Park, and seeing (and exchanging winks with) her double in a store window. In the last season, lyrics, written by series co-creator Sam Denoff, were added to the theme music, sung by Ron Hicklin.[1]

That Girl was one of the first sitcoms to focus on a single woman who was not a domestic or living with her parents. Some consider this show the forerunner of the highly successful Mary Tyler Moore Show, Murphy Brown, and Ally McBeal, and an early indication of the changing roles of American women in feminist-era America. Thomas's goofy charm together with Bessell's dry wit, made That Girl a solid performer on the ABC Television Network, and while the series, in the overall ratings, never made the top thirty during its entire five-year run, the series did respectably well.

At the end of the 1969–1970 season, That Girl was still doing moderately well in the ratings; however, after four years, Thomas had grown tired of the series and wanted to move on. ABC convinced her to do one more year. In the beginning of the fifth season, Don and Ann became engaged, although they never actually married. The decision to leave the couple engaged at the end of the run was largely the idea of Thomas herself. She did not want to send a message to young women that marriage was the ultimate goal for them and she was worried that it would have defeated the somewhat feminist message of the show.[2]

Production notes[edit]

According to Thomas, she was approached by ABC executive Edgar Scherick, who saw her in a screen test for a failed pilot, but still wanted to feature her in a project. Scherick gave Thomas several scripts to read, none of which she liked, as they all focused on a woman who was either a traditional girlfriend, wife or secretary to someone else; Thomas wanted a show in which the main character was a young, modern woman focused on her own dreams and aspirations.[3]

Although never officially credited as such (Persky and Denoff were the show's creators and official executive producers), Thomas was also a de facto executive producer of the series through her Daisy Productions, which she formed specifically for the series; it was credited on-screen as the production company.[4][5] She originally wanted to name the sitcom Miss Independence, the nickname given to her by her parents.[6][7]

Manhattan exterior shots were accomplished in just a couple of days. The apartment appeared to be set right off the East River in the Upper East Side, in the upper 70s or lower 80s (streets) between York Avenue and East End Avenue. In the episode entitled "Señorita," she lists her address as 627 East 54th Street. Her acting school was modeled after the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre on East 54th Street between First & Second Avenues. That Girl was filmed at Desilu-Cahuenga Studios (for many years called Ren-Mar Studios and now called Red Studios Hollywood), located at 846 N. Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood.[8]

Cast and characters[edit]

  • Ann Marie (Marlo Thomas), a beautiful and would-be actress from Brewster, New York who moves to New York City in order to seek stardom. Often tries to balance temporary jobs, and auditions with having a boyfriend.
  • Donald Hollinger (Ted Bessell) writer for NewsView magazine, who becomes her boyfriend after meeting her during the filming of a TV commercial.
  • Dr. Leon Bessemer (Dabney Coleman), a neighbor of Ann's and gynecologist who is frequently on call to help women give birth
  • Judy Bessemer (Bonnie Scott), Leon's wife and Ann's neighbor, the first person Ann meets as she moves into her new apartment.
  • Jerry Bauman (Bernie Kopell), a fellow employee at NewsView magazine.
  • Ruth Bauman (Carol Ann Daniels), Jerry's wife since the episode "Rain, Snow and Rice."
  • Margie "Pete" Peterson (Ruth Buzzi), a friend of Ann's.
  • Harvey Peck (Ronnie Schell), one of Ann's agents at the Gilliam and Norris Theatrical Agency
  • Jules Benedict (Billy De Wolfe), head of the Benedict Workshop of the Dramatic Arts

Episodes[edit]

Five complete seasons of That Girl aired, with the series finale airing on March 19, 1971. Over the five seasons, a total of 136 episodes aired. Thomas's sister Terre, her brother Tony, and father Danny Thomas all appeared in a 1969 episode called "My Sister's Keeper".

Season Episodes Originally aired DVD release date
Season premiere Season finale Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
1 30 September 8, 1966 (1966-09-08) April 6, 1967 (1967-04-06) May 16, 2006 N/A October 11, 2006
2 30 September 7, 1967 (1967-09-07) April 25, 1968 (1968-04-25) November 14, 2006 N/A March 14, 2007
3 26 September 26, 1968 (1968-09-26) March 27, 1969 (1969-03-27) August 7, 2007 N/A November 7, 2007
4 26 September 18, 1969 (1969-09-18) March 26, 1970 (1970-03-26) August 12, 2008 N/A November 11, 2008
5 24 September 25, 1970 (1970-09-25) March 19, 1971 (1971-03-19) May 5, 2009 N/A August 5, 2009

The pilot[edit]

The only episode never shown during the series' original network run was the pilot produced in 1965. The major differences were evident in its opening credits. Bessell's character was Don Blue Sky, Ann Marie's talent agent who was part Cherokee, and Harold Gould and Penny Santon played her parents. By the time the show aired on ABC, Thomas and Bessell were the only actors to receive top billing.[9]

The plot centered on Ann Marie's attempt to adopt a stage name based on her agent's suggestion. After her use of "Marie Brewster" (the names of her family and hometown combined) was met with disapproval from her parents, she decided to not make the change in the end. This storyline and numerous scenes were recycled into the eleventh episode of Season 1 titled "What's in a Name?" from November 17, 1966.[9]

The pilot was included in the five-disc set of That Girl: Season One, which was released by Shout! Factory in 2006.[10] It has since been added to the sitcom's broadcast syndication package; it led off a New Year's Day marathon on Me-TV at the start of 2012.[11]

Syndication and home media[edit]

On January 1, 2012, That Girl returned to national television on Me-TV with episodes shown on weekday mornings and Sunday afternoons until September 1, 2013.[12]

Shout! Factory has released all five seasons on DVD in Region 1. Each release contains extensive bonus features including episodic promos, featurettes, commentary tracks and the original pilot episode.

In Region 4, Madman Entertainment has released all five seasons on DVD in Australia/New Zealand. On April 21, 2010, Madman released That Girl: The Complete Series, a 21-disc box set that features all 136 episodes, as well as extensive bonus features.[13]

Popular culture[edit]

The show's theme song and opening visuals have been parodied in pop culture several times. They appeared as a series of T-shirts, then as a Saturday Night Live skit featuring cast member Danitra Vance in an African American remake "That Black Girl",[14] as a sequence on episodes of Animaniacs,[15] The Simpsons,[16] Family Guy, Clarissa Explains It All, Arthur, Friends and Roseanne.

It was also parodied in the pre-credits teaser of an episode of The Nanny where Maxwell's guest-starring mother encounters Fran at the florist; in another episode of The Nanny, Peter Bergman, playing himself acting in The Young and the Restless casts Fran in the soap by asking for a co-star like "that girl!" while pointing to Fran.

The 2011 advertising campaign for the launch of FOX's sitcom "New Girl"[17] featured posters of that sitcom's star, Zooey Deschanel, in the make-up, pose and graphic look of Marlo Thomas from the original "That Girl" series.

An episode from Ugly Betty had Fabia forcing Wilhelmina Slater into making an exchange: she'll give up her wedding date to Wilhelmina in exchange for the services of Wilhelmina's assistant, Marc St. James, after Fabia evokes the opening lines.

In 1968, shortly after the feminist protest against bras and other feminine products at the Miss America pageant, Marlo Thomas began going braless on That Girl. "God created women to bounce," Thomas said. "So be it."[18]

References[edit]

  1. ^ That Girl lyrics
  2. ^ "THAT GIRL on The Web: Interviews with Marlo Thomas"[dead link]
  3. ^ Archive of American Television (March 26, 2003). "On "Two's Company"; on the genesis and pilot episode of That Girl". Interviews: People. http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/people/marlo-thomas. Retrieved 2010-07-14.
  4. ^ "The Paley Center for Media | She Made It | Marlo Thomas". The Paley Center for Media.
  5. ^ "'That Girl' Marlo Thomas Now Plays a Mom". ABC News Internet Ventures. May 4, 2002.
  6. ^ Nussbaum, Emily. "76 Minutes With Marlo Thomas," New York Magazine, October 9, 2011.
  7. ^ Marlo Thomas (profile) – WYSU 88.5 FM (Youngstown State University Radio).
  8. ^ "Ren-Mar Studios". seeing-stars.com. Gary Wayne.
  9. ^ a b Stoddard, Sylvia. TV Treasures: That Girl. Second Edition. Los Angeles: SquareOne Publications, 2004.
  10. ^ Vancheri, Barbara. "TV on DVD: That Girl: Season One; Brilliant But Cancelled: EZ Streets," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Thursday, May 18, 2006.
  11. ^ "That Girl Coming To MeTV Network In January 2012, MeTV Merry-thon, & More Affiliates Added," Sitcoms Online, Monday, December 19, 2011.
  12. ^ That Girl is Coming to ME-TV (Official site)
  13. ^ "Madman Entertainment". Madman.com.au. 
  14. ^ SNL Archives.com; Sketches
  15. ^ A Guided Tour of Animaniacs: Volume 4 with Rob Paulsen and Tom Ruegger (Mental Floss)
  16. ^ The Old Man and the Lisa transcript (The Simpsons Archive)
  17. ^ "New Girl" (Google images)
  18. ^ Riordan, Teresa (October 28, 2002). "Patents; In bra technology, an incremental improvement can translate into comfort". The New York Times. Archived from the original on April 24, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-21. 

External links[edit]