The Montefuscos

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The Montefuscos
Created byBill Persky
Sam Denoff
Directed byDon Richardson
Bill Brinckerhoff
StarringJoseph Sirola
Naomi Stevens
Ron Carey
ComposerPeter Lurye
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes8 (plus 1 pre-empted)
Executive producersBill Persky
Sam Denoff
ProducersDon Van Atta
Bill Idelson
Production companiesConcept II Productions
MGM Television
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 4 (1975-09-04) –
October 23, 1975 (1975-10-23)

The Montefuscos is an American sitcom that was cancelled after three episodes were broadcast in 1975. It aired on Thursday nights at 8:00–8:30 pm (ET) on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC), which chose to run a total of eight episodes (a ninth was pre-empted by Game 5 of the 1975 World Series) from September 4 to October 23, 1975 despite its earlier cancellation notice. Created by executive producers Bill Persky and Sam Denoff, the comedy centered on three generations of an Italian-American family that lived in New Canaan, Connecticut and their weekly gatherings for Sunday dinner.[1] It led off a Thursday primetime schedule that also featured new programs Fay, Ellery Queen and Medical Story.


From left: Back-son Nunzio (Sal Viscuso), son Joseph (John Aprea), daughter Angie (Linda Dano), son in law Jim (Bill Cort). Middle-Daughter in Law Teresa (Phoebe Dorin), mother Rose (Naomi Stevens), father Tony (Joseph Sirola), son Frank (Ron Carey). Front-the grandchildren played by: Dominique Pinassi, Jeffrey Palladini, Damon Raskin and Robby Paris.
  • Joseph Sirola as Tony "Papa" Montefusco, patriarch of the family.
  • Naomi Stevens as Rose "Mama" Montefusco, Tony's wife.
  • Ron Carey as Frank Montefusco, the oldest son and a dentist.
  • Phoebe Dorin as Theresa Montefusco, Frank's wife.
  • John Aprea as Joseph "Joey" Montefusco, the middle son and a Catholic priest.
  • Sal Viscuso as Nunzio Montefusco, the youngest son and an actor.
  • Linda Dano as Angelina "Angie" Montefusco Cooney, the daughter.
  • Bill Cort as Jim Cooney, Angelina's Episcopalian husband.
  • Damon Raskin as Anthony Patrick Cooney, Jim and Angelina's son.
  • Dominique Pinassi as Gina Montefusco, Frank and Theresa's daughter.
  • Jeffrey Palladini as Anthony Carmine Montefusco, Frank and Theresa's son.
  • Robby Paris as Jerome Montefusco, Frank and Theresa's son.


The sitcom's original title prior to its debut was Sunday Night Dinner, but it was changed by NBC's vice president of programs Marvin Antonowsky as a result of unfavorable test results.[2] Thirteen episodes were videotaped before a live audience, but only eight aired.[3]


The series generally received unfavorable reviews from television critics, some of whom called it "The Monte-Fiascos."[4] John J. O'Connor of The New York Times pointed out the primary target of the criticism when he stated, "We are obviously, snugly ensconced in the world of stereotype." He described the members of the fictional family as tending "to shout frequently, throw their arms about one another, slap one another's back."[5]

Gary Deeb of the Chicago Tribune was much less tactful in his analysis, saying that it was "a program built around an alleged Italian family in which each member talked with his hands, drank gallons of red wine, and said 'AY!' approximately every 15 seconds."[4] He added, "If you grew up in a real Italian family, this shameful piece of burlesque will have you writhing in disbelief."[6]


The Montefuscos was slated to air opposite the first half-hour of The Waltons on CBS and Barney Miller on ABC. It debuted along with Fay and Medical Story on September 4, 1975, just prior to premiere week.[5] Three weeks later on September 25, NBC announced that The Montefuscos and Fay would be dropped from its primetime schedule after October 23 because of poor showings in the Nielsen ratings. Both shows were the first ones cancelled during the 1975–76 television season.[7]

ABC Television president Fred Pierce spoke out against NBC's swift cancellations, pointing out that the ratings for Barney Miller in its first season were no better than those of The Montefuscos under the similar circumstance of going opposite The Waltons in the same time slot. He explained, "Unless a show is absolutely hopeless, a network ought at least try it in another time period before giving up on it, if only out of respect for the people in Hollywood who made large investments of money and time in the programs."[8]


Title Original air date
1"Behind Papa's Back"September 4, 1975 (1975-09-04)
Tony's reading of his will after dinner has the other family members worried about his health.
2"My Son, the Actor"September 11, 1975 (1975-09-11)
The family anticipates Nunzio's professional acting debut on a live, local television production.
3"Nunzie's Girl"September 18, 1975 (1975-09-18)
Nunzio's girlfriend (Candice Azzara) is revealed to have once secretly dated Frank.
4"The Last of the Red Hot Dinners"September 25, 1975 (1975-09-25)
Tony is furious when his son-in-law Jim is late for dinner because he attended a football game.
5"Do You Take This Montefusco"October 2, 1975 (1975-10-02)
Tony & Rose's 40th wedding anniversary celebration is marred by an angry outburst during Mass.
6"Too Many Cooks"October 9, 1975 (1975-10-09)
With Rose ill from an infected wisdom tooth, the rest of the family attempts to prepare dinner.
7"Here Comes the Priest"October 16, 1975 (1975-10-16)
The family anxiously awaits the Bishop's arrival, hoping Joey is appointed pastor of the local parish.
Note: This episode was originally scheduled to air that night, but was preempted by the network's telecast of Game 5 of the 1975 World Series.
8"Filomena's Visit"October 23, 1975 (1975-10-23)
Filomena (Kaye Ballard), Tony's sister and Rose's bitter rival, interrupts Sunday dinner.
9"Papa Pasta"October 23, 1975 (1975-10-23)


  1. ^ The Montefuscos – The Classic TV Archive.
  2. ^ Kane, Arnold. My Meteoric Rise to Obscurity. Rancho Mirage, CA: We Publish Books, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2020
  3. ^ Leszczak, Bob. Single Season Sitcoms, 1948-1979: A Complete Guide. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2020
  4. ^ a b Deeb, Gary. "'Grady' is latest in long line of losers," Chicago Tribune, Wednesday, December 3, 1975.
  5. ^ a b O'Connor, John J. "TV: New on NBC, 2 Comedies and 'Medical Story,'" The New York Times, Thursday, September 4, 1975.
  6. ^ Deeb, Gary. "More than ever before," Chicago Tribune, Sunday, September 7, 1975.
  7. ^ "NBC Dropping 'Fay' And 'Montefuscos,'" The New York Times, Friday, September 26, 1975.
  8. ^ Brown, Les. "ABC Chief Scores Cuts In TV Series," The New York Times, Monday, October 6, 1975.

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