Bosom Buddies

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For the song "Bosom Buddies", see Mame (film soundtrack).
Bosom Buddies
Bosom Buddies.jpg
Created by Chris Thompson
Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Starring Tom Hanks
Peter Scolari
Donna Dixon
Holland Taylor
Telma Hopkins
Wendie Jo Sperber
Lucille Benson (1980-1981)
Theme music composer Billy Joel
Opening theme "My Life" (original prints)
"Shake Me Loose" by Stephanie Mills (syndicated prints)
Ending theme "Shake Me Loose" (instrumental)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 37 (list of episodes)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 25 minutes
Production company(s) Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions
Paramount Television
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
The Program Exchange
Original channel ABC
Original release November 27, 1980 (1980-11-27) – May 27, 1982 (1982-05-27)

Bosom Buddies is an American sitcom starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari created by Robert L. Boyett, Thomas L. Miller and Chris Thompson (Miller/Milkis/Boyett Productions). It ran from 1980 to 1982 on ABC and in reruns in the summer of 1984 on NBC. The show features the misadventures of two single men, working in creative advertising, struggling in their industry while disguising themselves as women in order to live in the one apartment they could afford. Gender stereotypes and male/female interpersonal relationships were frequent themes.

The show became known for its quirky humor and its frequent use of improvisation, especially between stars Hanks and Scolari. Though the show started out with good ratings, it failed to hold the public's interest and was canceled after two seasons.


In the pilot episode, after their own apartment is demolished (while they are still asleep in it), two men disguise themselves as women in order to live in the dirt-cheap Susan B. Anthony Hotel (which happens to be female-only). Kip Wilson (Hanks) is originally skeptical of the plan, but after meeting gorgeous resident model/dancer/nurse Sonny Lumet (Donna Dixon), he ends up convincing aspiring writer Henry Desmond (Scolari) that the experience will make a great book. Their co-worker, Amy Cassidy (Wendie Jo Sperber) [who's attracted to Henry] is the only resident in on the plan. The boys’ deception includes outwitting the hotel manager, Darlene (Edie Adams), and fellow resident, Isabelle Hammond (Telma Hopkins), an aspiring singer. When the pilot sold to ABC, the character of Darlene was replaced by Lilly Sinclair (Lucille Benson).

In the first season, Kip, Henry, and Amy work for Ruth Dunbar (Holland Taylor) at the advertising firm of Livingston, Gentry & Mishkin, where Kip is a graphic artist, Henry is a copy writer, and Amy is the receptionist. Ruth often takes credit for the boys’ work when reporting to her (unseen) boss, Mr. Rubinowitz.

The show was barely renewed for a second season. In order to improve the mediocre ratings of the first season, revise the format, and at the same time, do some cost-cutting, it was decided that the part of Lilly Sinclair was superfluous and was written out. As a result, veteran actress Lucille Benson left the series and Telma Hopkins' character of Isabelle became the new hotel manager. Kip, Henry and Amy left Livingston, Gentry & Mishkin to start their own advertising firm, Sixty Seconds Street, with Ruth serving as a not-quite silent partner.

In the first episode of the second season, the male characters’ ruse of living in drag is revealed, but they are allowed to continue living at the women-only hotel anyway. Sonny forgives Kip for the deception, and Isabelle, the new hotel manager, agrees to go along with the ruse rather than admit it to the other residents. From this point on, the drag element was de-emphasized and the show moved closer to the creators' original concept of a regular buddy comedy.


The series was conceived by Miller and Boyett as a male counterpart to their hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley. They originally pitched it as a straightforward buddy comedy done in what they described as "a sophisticated Billy Wilder kind of way." When ABC executives asked Miller and Boyett to explain what they meant by the comparison to Wilder, the producers mentioned Some Like It Hot and ABC bought the show on condition that it would include men in women's clothing, just like that movie. "We weren't there to pitch that," Miller recalled. "And they jumped on it! We drove back to the studio in the car saying, 'Oh my God, what are we gonna do? We have to do something in drag.'"[1]

After the cast had been chosen, Miller and Boyett asked Chris Thompson, one of the writer-producers of Laverne & Shirley, to write the pilot and be the series showrunner. Thompson (who would go on to executive-produce such shows as The Larry Sanders Show) said later that he took the job purely for the money, but unexpectedly found it to be "my completely favorite experience in show business", because the network left him and his young cast free to experiment. "We were left alone," he recalled. "Nobody was paying attention to us. We were all really young, but it was like we had daddy's Porsche. We had $500,000 to play with every week."[2]

Bosom Buddies was taped on Stage 25 at Paramount Pictures. Stage 25 was also the home of The Lucy Show, Cheers, and its spin-off Frasier.

Like many other sitcoms that aired during the 1980-81 television season, Bosom Buddies felt the effects of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists that occurred in 1980. As a result, the show had an abbreviated first season. At first, its ratings were strong. However, ABC kept switching the show's day and time slots, which hurt the first season's overall standing. The second season, with its revised premise, fared even worse, and after more time slot changes by the network, the show was canceled in the spring of 1982.

Bosom Buddies was one of the last shows to use the Miller-Milkis-Boyett production team due to Eddie Milkis leaving the company in 1984. This was also one of the last Miller-Boyett sitcoms to be produced by Paramount Television (now CBS Television Studios) before they moved their base of operations to Lorimar Productions (later Warner Bros. Television); Happy Days ended its run in 1984, making the latter the last program to meet cancellation before the Miller-Boyett move to Lorimar, with Valerie being the first since to debut.

Theme song[edit]

The theme song for the opening credits was Billy Joel's "My Life", although it was a re-recorded version with a different vocalist. Some reruns shown in syndication (such as when USA Network aired reruns, as well as its current run on Me-TV) and all home video and DVD releases use a vocal version of the show's end credit instrumental theme, "Shake Me Loose", performed by Stephanie Mills, for the opening credits, replacing "My Life".



While the pilot episode was shot on film, the rest of the series was shot on videotape.


Bosom Buddies reruns aired briefly on NBC in the summer of 1984 after Tom Hanks had become a major film star that summer with Splash and Bachelor Party. Reruns also aired on USA Network up until November 18, 1995 as well as on TBS and TV Land up until the mid-2000s. More recently, Bosom Buddies began airing on Me-TV on October 2, 2011 and again on Thursday nights beginning May 29, 2014, as part of the network's "Summer of Me" promotion.

DVD releases[edit]

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) released both seasons of Bosom Buddies on Region 1 DVD. The original theme song "My Life" by Billy Joel was replaced with "Shake Me Loose", a song penned by show creator Chris Thompson, which was used during the show's syndication run. Many of the musical numbers featured during the show's run are edited or eliminated altogether from the DVD releases. Notable in this vein are the songs "Yakkity Yak" (from the episode "Call Me Irresponsible"), "Chances Are" (from "All You Need is Love") and "Rock and Roll Heaven" (from "Hildy's Dirt Nap"). This problem also affected the release of The Odd Couple.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The First Season 19 March 13, 2007
The Second Season 18 September 4, 2007

Pop culture references[edit]

A shot-for-shot remake of the show's opening credits aired January 23, 2014 on Adult Swim as an installment of current television series Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott's The Greatest Event in Television History. The parody was directed by Lance Bangs & Adam Scott and features Paul Rudd playing the part of Tom Hanks's character Kip, and Scott playing Peter Scolari's character Henry. The theme song "My Life" by Billy Joel is actually sung by Billy Joel instead of the sound-alike version used for the original TV series. In an extended mock "making-of" documentary preceding the opening credits remake, Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari and Billy Joel make cameo appearances. In Season 5 Episode 20 of the NBC comedy 30 Rock, Tom Hanks makes a cameo appearance wherein he references Bosom Buddies by singing lines from that show's theme song, "My Life".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sonsky, Steve (August 3, 1986), "Do Not Adjust Your Set. This Is As Good As It Gets (A Critic Tells Why TV's Greatest Art May Always Be Carney)", Miami Herald 
  2. ^ House Rules Exec Breaks The Mold; Honesty Works For This TV Guy. – Free Online Library

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