True Colors (TV series)

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True Colors
Genre Sitcom
Created by Michael J. Weithorn
Written by Peter Freedman
Gregory Allen Howard
Jeffrey Joseph
Michael J. Weithorn
Directed by Peter Bonerz
Stan Lathan
Arlene Sanford
Rob Schiller
Carol Scott
John Sgueglia
Starring Frankie Faison
(Season 1)
Cleavon Little
(Season 2)
Stephanie Faracy
Claude Brooks
Brigid Conley Walsh
Adam Jeffries
Nancy Walker
Theme music composer Lennie Niehaus
Composer(s) Gordon Lustig
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 45
Executive producer(s) Michael J. Weithorn
Producer(s) Faye Oshima Belyeu
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Hanley Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Original network Fox
Original release September 2, 1990 (1990-09-02) – April 12, 1992 (1992-04-12)

True Colors is an American sitcom that aired on Fox from September 2, 1990 to April 12, 1992 for a total of 45 episodes.[1] The series was created by Michael J. Weithorn, and featured an interracial marriage and a subsequent blended family.


Premise and first season[edit]

Set in Baltimore, Ronald Freeman (Frankie Faison) is a widowed African-American dentist who marries Ellen Davis (Stephanie Faracy), a divorced white kindergarten teacher who was one of his patients. Ron has two sons from his first marriage, 17-year-old earnest conservative Terry (Claude Brooks) and daydreaming 14-year-old troublemaker Lester (Adam Jeffries), while Ellen has a teenage daughter, studious, cause-driven Katie (Brigid Conley Walsh). Ellen's ex-husband, Leonard (played in guest appearances by Paul Sand), who is accepting of her second marriage, would occasionally visit her while attempting to get his life back on track. Although the series did focus on race issues, most episodes focused on the family adjusting to their new living situation and the three children going through adolescence.

Another source of contention for the family was Ellen's divorced mother, Sara Bower (Nancy Walker), who also had moved into the household. Sara disapproved of her daughter's marriage, although in a more subdued manner than previous bigoted TV characters confronted with race relations (Archie Bunker, et al.), nor was it ever explicitly stated that she disapproved of her new son-in-law on account of race. Despite her wry jokes centering on the occasional pains she had in her life, Sara possessed spunk, had an active dating life, and even in time, formed a good relationship with Lester, who thought that his step-grandmother was quite hip. One hint towards her outlook was when Ron removed an abscess tooth of hers, to which her attitude changes at being relieved of so much pain. Sara then praises Ron as a genius and becomes generous towards her grandchildren.

Originally, the basement of the Freeman home was a dentist's office, where Ron operated a private practice, but it later became Terry's bedroom after Ron rented space in an office building for his practice.

One instance in which the series directly tackled the issue of race was the first season episode "A Matter of Principal" (April 14, 1991). It was career week for Ellen's kindergarten class, and time for the students to choose what kind of profession to visit for a field trip. Ellen successfully coaxed the kids into visiting Ron's dental office. The plans coincided with a $250,000 donation that the family of one of Ellen's students was making to the school, in order for a new library to be built. When the mother of Ellen's student found out that her daughter's teacher was in an interracial marriage, she threatened to revoke her generous donation—unless Ellen agreed to cancel the field trip. This spurred an in-depth debate amongst Ellen, Ron and the entire family, which, after a showdown between Ellen, the mother and the school principal, culminated in her quitting the position at the school.

Second season[edit]

In the second season of the series, Faison was replaced by Cleavon Little as Ron Freeman. Walker, who was suffering from lung cancer, continued to star on the series, but ultimately only appeared in half the season's episodes due to her treatments and compromised health. Before long, due to the sudden loss of her physical mobility, Walker went on to appear in a motorized wheelchair for the majority of her second season episodes. Terry went off to Marshall State University that fall, not far from home. Ellen accepted a new teaching job at Cortez Junior High, and during the season, she finally realized her long-time talent as a painter. She began to showcase some of her work at local art exhibits, in hopes of launching a new side career. Early in 1992, perhaps to compensate for Walker's absences in certain episodes and most likely because of falling ratings, a new regular character, Robert (Norman D. Golden II), was introduced. Robert, who went by the nickname "Twist", was a young neighbor boy who attached himself to the Freemans, stealing scenes and causing an uproar, usually involving Lester and Terry along the way. Meanwhile, Little's physical appearance began to look more gaunt during the course of the season, as the actor disclosed he was battling colorectal cancer.

The second season premiere was also notable for tackling racial issues. The episode dealt with Lester facing problems and being given The Autobiography of Malcolm X. When Lester takes the book to heart and starts dressing and acting like Malcolm Little, he reconsiders when he sees his friends and family interacting with people of different cultures.

Cancellation and cast deaths[edit]

Despite the new plotlines, Fox shortened the season order for True Colors by February sweeps, and kept the episode total at 21. The new episode aired on April 12, 1992 wound up being the series' last, as Fox cancelled True Colors one month later. However, Nancy Walker, who had continued working into the winter months until she could no longer do so, died on March 25, 1992, after the series had produced what would be its last episode, but less than a month before the last original episode aired. Soon after its cancellation the series would lose another of its stars. On October 22, 1992, two months after True Colors reruns had left the Fox primetime schedule, Cleavon Little lost his battle with cancer.[citation needed]


Episode list[edit]

Season 1[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 1 "Pilot" Stan Lathan Michael J. Weithorn September 2, 1990 (1990-09-02)
2 2 "A Pair of Cranks" Stan Lathan Michael J. Weithorn September 9, 1990 (1990-09-09)
Lester is caught shoplifting a pair of expensive athletic shoes and Sara must bail him out by buying the shoes to avoid police involvement.
3 3 "One of the Girls" John Sgueglia Lloyd Garver September 16, 1990 (1990-09-16)
4 4 "A Dog's Life" TBA TBA September 23, 1990 (1990-09-23)
5 5 "Step Lightly" John Sgueglia Michael J. Weithorn September 30, 1990 (1990-09-30)
6 6 "Life with Fathers" John Sgueglia Anne Convy October 7, 1990 (1990-10-07)
7 7 "What's Wrong with that Boy?" John Sgueglia Michael J. Weithorn October 21, 1990 (1990-10-21)
8 8 "Tooth or Consequences" Rob Schiller Gregory Allen Howard October 28, 1990 (1990-10-28)
9 9 "Soft Shell" Arlene Sanford Stan Seidel November 4, 1990 (1990-11-04)
10 10 "Young at Heart" Peter Bonerz Peter Freedman November 11, 1990 (1990-11-11)
11 11 "Occasional Wife" Peter Bonerz Anne Convy November 18, 1990 (1990-11-18)
12 12 "High Anxiety" Carol Scott Peter Freedman & Regina Hicks November 25, 1990 (1990-11-25)
Terry harbors a fear of flying due to his acrophobia. Katie tries to use a psychological method to get Terry to overcome his fear of heights on the roof, but a gust of wind causes everyone to get locked out of the building.
13 13 "Puppet Regime" Rob Schiller Regina Hicks December 16, 1990 (1990-12-16)
14 14 "Christmas Show '90" TBA TBA December 23, 1990 (1990-12-23)
15 15 "Moment of Ruth" Rob Schiller Lloyd Garver & Regina Hicks January 13, 1991 (1991-01-13)
16 16 "A Real Pain" Rob Schiller Stan Seidel February 3, 1991 (1991-02-03)
17 17 "The Tender Trap" Carol Scott Peter Freedman & Anne Convy February 10, 1991 (1991-02-10)
18 18 "Opposites Attract" TBA TBA February 17, 1991 (1991-02-17)
19 19 "Homies Alone" Arlene Sanford Teleplay by: Regina Hicks & Stan Seidel
Story by: Peter Freedman
March 3, 1991 (1991-03-03)
20 20 "Daughter Dearest" Peter Bonerz Regina Hicks March 24, 1991 (1991-03-24)
Katie dates a fellow activist, but Terry has an intuition the man is trying to bed her, causing Ron to show concern and protection for his stepdaughter.
21 21 "A Matter of Principal" Peter Bonerz William Schifrin April 14, 1991 (1991-04-14)
22 22 "Superman, Superego" Michael J. Weithorn Michael J. Weithorn April 21, 1991 (1991-04-21)
23 23 "Prisoners of Love" Rob Schiller Teleplay by: Peter Freedman & Stan Seidel
Story by: Regina Hicks
April 28, 1991 (1991-04-28)
24 24 "Favorite Son" TBA TBA May 12, 1991 (1991-05-12)

Season 2[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
25 1 "Lester X" Rob Schiller Linda M. Yearwood August 22, 1991 (1991-08-22)
26 2 "Strange Bedfellows" M.J. McDonnell Stan Seidel September 12, 1991 (1991-09-12)
27 3 "Splendor in the Basement" TBA TBA September 15, 1991 (1991-09-15)
28 4 "Yo' House, Mama: Part 1" Rob Schiller Kim Bass & Peter Freedman September 22, 1991 (1991-09-22)
29 5 "Yo' House, Mama: Part 2" Rob Schiller Kim Bass & Peter Freedman September 29, 1991 (1991-09-29)
30 6 "Presumed Guilty" TBA TBA October 6, 1991 (1991-10-06)
31 7 "Not My Sister, Brother" TBA TBA October 20, 1991 (1991-10-20)
32 8 "Brotherly Love" TBA TBA November 3, 1991 (1991-11-03)
33 9 "Three for All" TBA TBA November 10, 1991 (1991-11-10)
34 10 "Seems Like Old Times" TBA TBA December 8, 1991 (1991-12-08)
35 11 "Broken Home: Part 1" Rob Schiller Peter Freedman & Stan Seidel December 15, 1991 (1991-12-15)
36 12 "Broken Home: Part 2" TBA TBA December 22, 1991 (1991-12-22)
37 13 "Readin', Ritin' and Runnin" TBA TBA December 29, 1991 (1991-12-29)
38 14 "Photo Opportunity" TBA TBA January 5, 1992 (1992-01-05)
39 15 "Art Attack" TBA TBA January 12, 1992 (1992-01-12)
40 16 "The Beat Goes On" TBA TBA February 2, 1992 (1992-02-02)
41 17 "Half a Man" TBA TBA February 9, 1992 (1992-02-09)
42 18 "In a Flash" TBA TBA February 16, 1992 (1992-02-16)
43 19 "Affirmative Reaction" TBA TBA March 1, 1992 (1992-03-01)
44 20 "Feelings Up" TBA TBA March 22, 1992 (1992-03-22)
45 21 "Word to the Mother" TBA TBA April 12, 1992 (1992-04-12)


External links[edit]