Apr 28, 2013

Spring 1978: Husbands, Wives, and Lovers

The spring of 1978, my senior year in high school.  I devised a clever scheme to avoid having to date girls: I would ask out a supermodel-cheerleader laughably out of my league.  Then, when she slammed the phone down, or had to wash her hair that night, my parents would "console" me by letting me borrow the car anyway.  So on Friday nights I went out with boys, to movies, to get pizza, to Leonard Bernstein's Mass at Augustana College, to the spring musical.

We would get back to my place or his place about 9:00 and turn on the tv set just in time to hear the jazzy, risque theme song to Husbands, Wives, and Lovers ("and luuv-errrrs"), produced by gay-friendly comedian Joan Rivers.

 It was the first time any man and woman on tv had lived together without being married, and hearing about it made us feel grown-up and sophisticated and sexy. Besides, gay people always called their partners lovers.

We also liked the beefcake-heavy opening credits,  in which five couples are seen in bed together, none of them in the least amorous (I don't know the names of any of the characters).

1. Cynthia Harris tries to get the elderly Stephen Pearlman interested, but he's listening to his own heartbeat with a stethoscope.

2. Lynne Marie Stewart tries to get  hunky, open-shirted Eddie Barth (left) interested, but he's busy eating a sandwich.

3. Ron Rifkin argues with Jessie Welles, takes a pillow, and storms off to sleep elsewhere.  A familiar face on tv, Rifkin later played a middle-aged gay man on Brothers and Sisters.

4. The vain Charles Siebert (seen here on Trapper John MD with Gary Frank) wrests a mirror from Claudette Nevins' hand and uses it to admire himself.

5. Mark Lonow (top photo) waits in anticipation while Randee Heller strips, but he doesn't like the results, and rejects her.

Apparently none of the men were particularly attracted to women.

We didn't continue watching; we changed the channel to Monty Python's Flying Circus on PBS.

Apparently lots of people were changing the channel: Husbands, Wives, and Lovers ended after only nine episodes.  Maybe because nobody wanted to see an hour long comedy?  Or because it aired right after a two-hour block of kid-friendly superhero adventure shows? Or because the elderly people home at 9:00 pm on Saturday nights took offense at lovers?

 But it's surprising how many Boomers remember it.  Or at least the opening credits.