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 network 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 later runs 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.

Season 1 (1980–81)[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "Pilot" Joel Zwick Chris Thompson November 27, 1980
Kip and Henry dress up as "Buffy" and "Hildy" so they can live at an all-girl hotel.
2 "My Brother, My Sister, Myself" Chris Thompson & Don Van Atta Chris Thompson December 4, 1980
Kip violates hotel rules by being in Hildy's room after hours.
3 "Loathe Thy Neighbor" Herbert Kenwith Howard Gewirtz & Ian Praiser December 11, 1980
After a quarrel with her roommate Amy, Sonny moves in with Buffy and Hildy.
4 "Macho Man" Chris Thompson & Don Van Atta Lenny Ripps December 18, 1980
Tired of being seen by women as a sensitive guy, Henry tries to prove that he can be tough and manly.
5 "What Price Glory?" John Bowab Roger Garrett January 1, 1981
Kip and Henry must let go of their moral scruples to get a big advertising account for their agency.
6 "Kip and Sonny's Date" John Bowab Chris Thompson January 8, 1981
Kip goes on his first date with Sonny, while Henry dates Ruth's punkish niece.
7 "Beauty and the Beasts" Will Mackenzie Howard Gewirtz & Ian Praiser January 15, 1981
After experiencing life as an unattractive woman, Henry realizes that he himself has been shallow in only dating women for their looks.
8 "Revenge" John Tracy Lenny Ripps January 22, 1981
All of Amy's friends work together to pull an elaborate sting on a man who dumped her.
9 "Amy's Career" John Tracy David Chambers & Jack Carrerow January 29, 1981
Amy gets her big break when she's put in charge of a major advertising campaign.
10 "Gotta Dance" Will Mackenzie David Lerner & Bruce Ferber February 5, 1981
Kip casts Sonny in a singing and dancing commercial for the public library.
11 "Sonny Boy" Chris Thompson & Don Van Atta Lenny Ripps February 12, 1981
Buffy and Hildy are shown on TV after foiling a robbery, and Henry's mom recognizes Hildy as her son.
12 "How Great Thou Art" Will Mackenzie David Lerner & Bruce Ferber February 19, 1981
Henry arranges for Kip to have an exhibition of his paintings, but the critics don't like them.
13 "Kip Quits" John Bowab Chris Thompson February 26, 1981
Kip quits his job rather than change a campaign to please a client. Bruce Vilanch has a bit part in this episode.
14 "Only the Lonely" Tom Trbovich David Chambers & Jack Carrerow March 12, 1981
Ruth invites Kip and Henry over to her apartment for an awkward evening of games and calypso music.
15 "The Re-Write" Will Mackenzie Chris Thompson (story)
Howard Gewirtz & Ian Praiser (teleplay)
March 19, 1981
Henry tries to write the story of how their secret identities were nearly discovered, but Kip encourages him to add slapstick comedy or sex.
16 "The Show Must Go On" Will Mackenzie Howard Gewirtz & Ian Praiser March 26, 1981
After singing along with a stand-up comedian (Bob Saget), Isabelle gets a chance to sing professionally at a nightclub.
17 "The Hospital" Will Mackenzie David Chambers & Jack Carrerow April 2, 1981
Buffy and Hildy go to work at the same hospital where Sonny works as a nurse.
18 "Best Friends" Chris Thompson & Don Van Atta Chris Thompson April 9, 1981
Henry becomes jealous of Kip's friendship with a rock star (Adrian Zmed).
19 "Cahoots" Will Mackenzie David Chambers & Jack Carrerow April 30, 1981
Kip and Amy agree to help each other get Sonny and Henry.

Season 2 (1981–82)[edit]

No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
20 "The Truth and Other Lies" Joel Zwick Lenny Ripps October 8, 1981
Kip decides to take his relationship with Sonny to the next level by revealing that he and Buffy are the same person.
21 "There's No Business..." Joel Zwick Chris Thompson October 15, 1981
Kip and Henry buy their own commercial production house from an unscrupulous salesman (Joe Regalbuto).
22 "The Reunion" Joel Zwick Gary H. Miller October 22, 1981
At a reunion of students from his old high school, Henry meets a deaf girl and recalls how badly he treated her on prom night.
23 "One For You, One For Me" Joel Zwick Jack Carrerow November 27, 1981
After berating Kip for being irresponsible with money, Henry buys a stolen VCR and is thrown in jail.
24 "The Road To Monte Carlo" Joel Zwick Gary H. Miller December 4, 1981
A near-death experience leaves Kip and Henry with a big insurance settlement, which they use to take a trip to Monte Carlo.
25 "WaterBalloonGate" Joel Zwick David Chambers December 11, 1981
Kip and Henry drop a water balloon on a car that turns out to belong to Richard Nixon. After being questioned by the Secret Service, Kip is so shaken that he gives up practical jokes.
26 "All You Need is Love" Joel Zwick Terry Hart December 18, 1981
Depressed after breaking up with another girlfriend (Stepfanie Kramer), Henry goes to a video dating service, where he meets a beautiful Satanist (Rita Wilson).
27 "Other Than That, She's a Wonderful Person" Joel Zwick Stu Silver December 25, 1981
Henry starts dating a pretty interior decorator (Jennifer Holmes) whom Kip detests.
28 "The Slightly Illustrated Man" Joel Zwick Chris Thompson January 8, 1982
Kip and Amy decides to prove their commitment to Sonny and Henry by getting tattoos.
29 "The Two Percent Solution" Joel Zwick David Chambers & Jack Carrerow January 15, 1982
Amy's small amount of stock in Kip and Henry's company gives her the deciding vote in a shareholder decision
30 "Cablevision" Joel Zwick Jeff Franklin January 22, 1982
Kip and Henry produce an episode-length cable infomercial, including an appearance by their special guest star and kidnap victim Penny Marshall.
31 "The Grandfather" Joel Zwick Lenny Ripps & Gary H. Miller (story)
Jeff Franklin & Terry Hart (teleplay)
February 4, 1982
Henry saves the life of a little girl who turns out to be the granddaughter of a mob boss.
32 "Hildy's Dirt Nap" Joel Zwick David Chambers (story)
Jack Carrerow & Gary H. Miller (teleplay)
February 11, 1982
A middle-aged man falls in love with Hildy, so Henry fakes Hildy's death.
33 "Kip off the Old Block" Joel Zwick Lenny Ripps February 18, 1982
Kip tries to prevent his parents (Jerry Hardin and K Callan) from breaking up.
34 "The Way Kip and Henry Were" Joel Zwick Lenny Ripps & Terry Hart March 4, 1982
The guys recall how they gave up their youthful ambition and went to go work for Ruth.
35 "Who's On Thirst?" Joel Zwick Terry Hart March 11, 1982
Kip and Henry spend a weekend in a mountain cabin without anything to eat or drink.
36 "Not With My Sister, You Pig" Chris Thompson & Don Van Atta Chris Thompson March 18, 1982
After Henry dates Kip's sister, the guys get into a fight that lands them in the hospital.
37 "Not the Last Picture Show" Joel Zwick Lenny Ripps March 25, 1982
Kip and Henry imagine what life will be like when they're senior citizens.


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.

Home 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

External links[edit]