Heartsounds is an autobiographical book written by Martha Weinman Lear, former staff writer and editor for The New York Times Magazine. The book was first published in 1980 by Simon & Schuster. A 1984 made-for-television movie (see below) starring James Garner and Mary Tyler Moore was based on the book.
The book is about Lear's husband, Harold Alexander Lear, a Manhattan urologist, and how the couple deals with his life-changing heart condition. The couple must face the medical system for the point of view of the patient, something they seem not to be prepared for, and learn about each other along the way, as Harold's health slowly declines over a four-year period.
On her husband's double bypass coronary operation, Martha Lear wrote:
- "No other surgery affects people in quite this way. For it is unthinkable, finally, that one’s heart should be cut open. It is the one unthinkable cut."
The book was made into a television movie in 1984 by Harold Lear's cousin, television writer and producer Norman Lear, with ABC, and Embassy Television. The script was drafted by Fay Kanin, who also was one of the co-producers, along with Fern Field, and the film was directed by Glenn Jordan. The film score was composed by Leonard Rosenman. James Garner played the part of Harold Lear, while Mary Tyler Moore played Martha Lear. It also stars Sam Wanamaker, as Moe Silverman, and Wendy Crewson, as Judy. Norman Lear was the executive producer for the project. The movie was shot in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with additional exterior footage shot in New York City, New York. Toronto stood in for New York City for economic reasons. The film debuted on ABC September 30, 1984.
Garner was nominated for a Golden Globe, for Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, and for an Emmy, for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Special. Mary Tyler Moore was nominated for an Emmy, for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or a Special. The producers, Norman Lear, Kanin, and Field, were also nominated for an Emmy, for Outstanding Drama/Comedy Special. The casting director, Eve Brandstein, was nominated for an Artios, for Best Casting for TV Miniseries' or TV Movie of the Week. ABC won a Peabody Award.