My Sister Sam

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My Sister Sam
Created byStephen Fischer
Developed bySusan Beavers
Directed byPeter Bonerz
Zane Buzby
Matthew Diamond
James Gardner
Ellen Gittelsohn
Barnet Kellman
Steve Zuckerman
StarringPam Dawber
Rebecca Schaeffer
Jenny O'Hara
Joel Brooks
David Naughton
Theme music composerJohn Bettis
Steve Dorff
Opening theme"Room Enough for Two" performed by Kim Carnes
ComposerSteve Dorff
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes44 (12 unaired)
Executive producerDiane English
ProducersDanny Jacobson
Karyl Miller
Korby Siamis
EditorsDann Cahn
Tucker Wiard
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time22 minutes
Production companiesPony Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Original release
ReleaseOctober 6, 1986 (1986-10-06) –
April 12, 1988 (1988-04-12)

My Sister Sam is an American television sitcom starring Pam Dawber and Rebecca Schaeffer that aired on CBS from October 6, 1986, to April 12, 1988.


The sitcom follows the lives of a 29-year-old San Francisco freelance photographer named Samantha "Sam" Russell (Pam Dawber) and her 16-year-old sister Patti (Rebecca Schaeffer). Sam's life is turned upside down when Patti, who has been living with the sisters' Aunt Elsie and Uncle Bob in rural Oregon after the death of the girls' parents, shows up on Sam's door step and announces that she is going to live with Sam.[1]

The supporting cast includes Sam's neurotic agent Jordan Dylan "J.D." Lucas (Joel Brooks), Sam's sarcastic assistant Dixie Randazzo (Jenny O'Hara) and Jack Kincaid (David Naughton), Sam's womanizing photojournalist neighbor who frequently stops by Sam's apartment.[2]



The series was created by Stephen Fischer and was developed by Pam Dawber's production company, Pony Productions (in association with Warner Bros. Television).[2][3] Dawber and her Manager, Mimi Weber, spent three years searching for the most ideal television series project for their company to co-produce, but after screening several of them, Dawber had not found one that truly spoke to her. In the midst of this search, she and Weber produced a few TV movies under the Pony Productions nameplate, in which Dawber played lead roles.

By late 1985, Stephen Fischer and Diane English submitted their screenplay to Dawber and Weber, one centering on the life and times of a young photographer on the fast track who takes in her teenage sister, titled Taking the Town (based on the phrase "taking the town by storm"). At last, Dawber found a fulfilling script, and the creative team (she, Weber, Fischer and English) had the pilot successfully pitched to CBS. The network gave it a berth on its successful Monday night sitcom lineup for its 1986-87 fall schedule, originally as Taking the Town, with the title changing to My Sister Sam as summer pre-promotions ramped up.

The series was initially intended to be a starring vehicle for Dawber, who found success on television opposite Robin Williams in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy.[1] Dawber later said that she wanted the focus of the show to be on the cast as a whole, stating, "I am not a comedian. I'm a reactor to all the zany people who revolve around me."[4]

My Sister Sam was executive produced by Diane English and Mimi Weber and filmed at The Burbank Studio.[4]

Theme song[edit]

The series' theme song, "Room Enough for Two", was written by Steve Dorff and John Bettis and performed by Kim Carnes.[5] Dorff won a BMI TV Music Award in 1987 for his work on the series.


Season 1 (1986–87)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Samantha Russell, Man Stealer"Ellen FalconGary Murphy & Larry StrawtherOctober 6, 1986 (1986-10-06)
22"Patti's Party"Ellen FalconLisa AlbertOctober 20, 1986 (1986-10-20)
33"Shooting Stars"Ellen FalconDanny JacobsonOctober 27, 1986 (1986-10-27)
44"What Makes Samantha Run?"Ellen FalconTom PalmerNovember 3, 1986 (1986-11-03)
55"Roomies"Ellen FalconKaryl Miller & Korby SiamisNovember 10, 1986 (1986-11-10)
66"The Aunt Elsie Crisis: Day One"Ellen FalconKaryl MillerNovember 24, 1986 (1986-11-24)
77"Teacher's Pet"Ellen FalconLisa AlbertDecember 1, 1986 (1986-12-01)
88"Mirror, Mirror on the Wall"Ellen FalconRamona SchindelheimDecember 8, 1986 (1986-12-08)
99"Babes in the Woods"Tom CheronesTom PalmerDecember 15, 1986 (1986-12-15)
1010"Jingle Bell Rock Bottom"Ellen FalconDiane EnglishDecember 22, 1986 (1986-12-22)
1111"Club Dread"Ellen FalconLarry Strawther & Gary MurphyJanuary 12, 1987 (1987-01-12)
1212"Anything for a Friend"Ellen FalconDanny JacobsonJanuary 19, 1987 (1987-01-19)
1313"Almost In-Laws"Ellen FalconLisa AlbertJanuary 26, 1987 (1987-01-26)
1414"Go Crazy"Ellen FalconDanny JacobsonFebruary 2, 1987 (1987-02-02)
1515"Another Saturday Night"Ellen FalconKorby SiamisFebruary 9, 1987 (1987-02-09)
1616"Family Business"Ellen FalconKaryl MillerFebruary 16, 1987 (1987-02-16)
1717"Making Up Is Hard to Do"Ellen FalconDennis Danziger & Ellen SandlerFebruary 23, 1987 (1987-02-23)
1818"If You Knew Susie"Ellen FalconTom PalmerMarch 2, 1987 (1987-03-02)
1919"Sister, Can You Spare a Fifty?"Ellen FalconStory by : Karyl Miller & Korby Siamis
Teleplay by : Korby Siamis
March 16, 1987 (1987-03-16)
2020"Exposed"Ellen FalconStory by : Ramona Schindelheim & Diane English
Teleplay by : Diane English
April 6, 1987 (1987-04-06)
2121"Campaign Contributions"Ellen FalconRamona SchindelheimApril 13, 1987 (1987-04-13)
2222"Fog Bound"Burt MetcalfeStory by : Stephen Fischer
Teleplay by : Susan Beavers & Stephen Fischer
May 4, 1987 (1987-05-04)

Season 2 (1987–88)[edit]

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
231"Goodbye, Steve"Barnet KellmanDiane EnglishOctober 3, 1987 (1987-10-03)
242"And They Said It Would Never Last"Barnet KellmanDiane EnglishOctober 10, 1987 (1987-10-10)
253"Deep Throat"Peter BonerzDennis Danzinger & Ellen SandlerOctober 17, 1987 (1987-10-17)
264"Never a Bridesmaid"Matthew DiamondKorby SiamusOctober 24, 1987 (1987-10-24)
275"Who's Afraid of Virginia Schultz?"UnknownUnknownOctober 31, 1987 (1987-10-31)
286"Drive, She Said"UnknownUnknownNovember 7, 1987 (1987-11-07)
297"Revenge of the Russell Sisters"UnknownUnknownMarch 15, 1988 (1988-03-15)
308"Play It Again, Sam"UnknownUnknownMarch 22, 1988 (1988-03-22)
319"Ol' Green Eyes Is Back"UnknownUnknownMarch 29, 1988 (1988-03-29)
3210"Life, Death and Admiral Andy"UnknownUnknownApril 12, 1988 (1988-04-12)
3311"It's My Party and I'll Kill If I Want To"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
3412"Good Neighbor Sam"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
3513"Patti, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Oregon Anymore"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
3614"The Art of Love"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
3715"Camp Burnout"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
3816"Grand Prize"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
3917"Walk a While in My Shoes"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
4018"The Wrong Stuff"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
4119"The Thrill of Agony, the Victory of Defeat"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
4220"The Good, the Bad and the Auditor"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
4321"Earthquake"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)
4422"A Day in the Lives"TBDTBDUnaired (Unaired)


My Sister Sam premiered on October 6, 1986, scheduled between Kate & Allie and Newhart, both hit shows for CBS.[2] The series earned solid ratings and was ranked #21 by the end of its first season.[6] Due to its success, CBS renewed the series for a second season.[7] CBS then moved My Sister Sam to Saturday nights opposite The Facts of Life, which was a part of NBC's successful Saturday night comedy lineup.[8] By the end of October 1987, the show's audience had dwindled to one of the lowest on network TV ranking at #71.[6][9] The series was put on hiatus in November 1987 but remained in production while the network decided its fate.[10][11]

CBS brought the series back to the air on March 15, 1988, due in part to letters from fans and the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike which affected the production of other television series for CBS and the other two major television networks (NBC, ABC). CBS chose to move My Sister Sam yet again to Tuesday nights.[12][13] By April, ratings had failed to improve and the series was again pulled from the lineup. CBS announced the series' cancellation in May 1988, leaving 12 episodes of the second season unaired.[14]


After the series was canceled by CBS, the USA Network picked up syndication rights and eventually aired all 44 episodes, including those never shown on CBS.[15]

Home media[edit]

The show's pilot episode appeared on the bonus disc Warner Bros. 50 Years of TV Commemorative: Volume 2. It was packaged with some releases of Murphy Brown Season 1 DVD set


Awards and nominations[edit]

Awards and nominations for My Sister Sam
Year Award Result Category Recipient
1987 BMI Film & TV Awards Won BMI TV Music Award Steve Dorff
1987 Primetime Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Costume Design for a Series Bill Hargate (costume designer)
(For episode "Jingle Bell Rock Bottom")

Rebecca Schaeffer's death[edit]

On July 18, 1989, more than a year after My Sister Sam had been canceled, series cast member Rebecca Schaeffer was fatally shot in the doorway of her Los Angeles apartment building by Robert John Bardo, an obsessed fan from Tucson, Arizona who had been stalking her for three years.[16] The following month, Pam Dawber, Joel Brooks, David Naughton and Jenny O'Hara reunited to film a public service announcement for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence in Schaeffer's honor.[17]


  1. ^ a b Holston, Noel (October 20, 1986). "'My Sister Sam' needs a stronger focus". The Vindicator. p. 21. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c O'Connor, John J. (October 20, 1986). "TV Review; 'My Sister Sam', Series Starring Pam Dawber". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  3. ^ Terry, Clifford (June 6, 1987). "Dawber Moves From Mindy To TV Mogul". Sun Sentinel. pp. 11–D.
  4. ^ a b Buck, Jerry. "Pam Dawber reacts to people". Kentucky New Era. p. 4B. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  5. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (1995). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (6 ed.). Ballantine Books. pp. 718. ISBN 978-0-345-39736-2.
  6. ^ a b "Saturday, Time Slot Slams 'Sam' Into 71st Place, Down 50 Notches". Akron Beacon Journal. October 22, 1987. p. C6.
  7. ^ "'Once a Hero' Is No Hero to ABC - Axed". The Fresno Bee. October 9, 1987.
  8. ^ Donlon, Brian (October 8, 1987). [/USAToday/access/55749523.html?dids=55749523:55749523&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Oct+08%2C+1987&author=Brian+Donlon&pub=USA+TODAY+%28pre-1997+Fulltext%29&desc=%60Max+Headroom%27+could+be+headed+for+the+ax&pqatl=google "'Max Headroom' could be headed for the ax"]. USA Today. p. 3D. Retrieved May 11, 2013. {{cite news}}: Check |url= value (help)
  9. ^ "'My Sister Sam' Loses Views In Move To Saturday Lineup". Akron Beacon Journal. October 14, 1987. p. D6.
  10. ^ "CBS Adding Two New Series and Returning An Oldie In New Shuffle". The State. December 8, 1987. p. 6B.
  11. ^ Gliatto, Tom (March 8, 1988). "CBS Shuffle". USA Today. p. 1D.
  12. ^ O'Malley, Kathy; Gratteau, Hanke (March 22, 1988). [/chicagotribune/access/24674324.html?dids=24674324:24674324&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&type=current&date=Mar+22%2C+1988&author=Kathy+O%27Malley+and+Hanke+Gratteau&pub=Chicago+Tribune+%28pre-1997+Fulltext%29&desc=GOPERS+ON+THE+GO+.+.+.&pqatl=google "Gopers On the Go"]. The Chicago Tribune. p. 14. Retrieved May 20, 2013. {{cite news}}: Check |url= value (help)
  13. ^ Matt, Roush (March 9, 1988). "'Molly Dodd' gets a date; 'Night Court' will move". USA Today. p. 3D.
  14. ^ "CBS Pulls Plug on '&' Shows". Miami Herald. May 27, 1988. p. 1B.
  15. ^ "Short-lived series find new life on cable". Austin American-Statesman. May 5, 1991. p. 8.
  16. ^ Johnson, Beth (July 14, 1995). "A Fan's Fatal Obsession". Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  17. ^ Tom, Green (August 16, 1989). "'Sister Sam' cast honors slain co-star". USA Today. p. 1D.

External links[edit]