Sister, Sister (1982 film)

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Sister, Sister
Title card.
Written byMaya Angelou
Directed byJohn Berry
StarringDiahann Carroll
Irene Cara
Rosalind Cash
Dick Anthony Williams
Paul Winfield
Theme music composerAlex North
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Executive producer(s)Irv Wilson
Producer(s)Maya Angelou
John Berry
Dennis Berry (associate producer)
CinematographyGayne Rescher
Editor(s)Art Seid
Running time98 minutes
Production company(s)20th Century Fox Television
BudgetUS $50,000
Original networkNBC
Picture formatColor
Audio formatMono
Original releaseJune 7, 1982

Sister, Sister is a 1982 American drama television movie written by Maya Angelou and starring Diahann Carroll, Rosalind Cash, and Irene Cara. The film tells the story of three sisters who come together to decide the fate of their family home after the death of their revered father. Originally filmed in 1979, the film was shelved for three years before debuting on June 7, 1982 on NBC. The film won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special. Irene Cara won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special for her role in the film.


The story starts out with Carolyne Lovejoy (Carroll), a schoolteacher, singing in the church choir at the local church. It is later revealed that she is having an intense affair with the pastor, Reverend Henderson (Dick Anthony Williams). Carolyne later comes home to find her younger sister, Sissy (Cara), with her boyfriend, Johnny. It is expressed that Sissy is an aspiring ice skater, but Caroline wants her to follow in her footsteps and become a schoolteacher.

Their battle continues throughout the movie. Later their estranged sister, Frieda (Cash), who has been living 13 years in the slums of Detroit, shows up with her 12-year-old son, Danny (Kristoff St. John). They decide to stay for a while because Danny has had some trouble with the law and Frieda wants to give him a fresh start in a new environment. While all trying to co-exist in the same house, the sisters' lives turn upside down. Frieda emerges as the troubled black sheep, while Carolyne is knocked off her martyr pedestal when the minister succumbs to Frieda's seduction. Sissy learns that their father never wanted another daughter, but had hoped she would be the son that eluded him. Their mother tried to abort her.


Although the movie was filmed in November 1979, NBC chose to withhold it until June 1982, when it aired during primetime. According to JET Magazine, Fred Silverman, who was the head executive of the network at the time, decided not to air the film because it did not match his preferred formats of "action-packed or comedy shows," and that the film's focus on the intense personal dramas of middle-class blacks would not appeal to white sensibilities of the late 1970s. After Silverman's resignation, the new network president, Grant Tinker, decided to make his mark on NBC's programming by debuting all of the productions that Silverman had shelved.[1]