Out of the successful African-American sitcoms that graced the 1970's,the comedy series "That's My Mama" basically held its own against the quality of the other sitcoms like "Good Times", "Sanford and Son", "The Jeffersons","What's Happening!",and also the sitcoms that lasted a mere season like "Baby I'm Back",and "Rollout", just to name a few.
Created by Dan T. Bradley along with Allan L. Rice with Chris Bearde and Allan Blye as executive producers along with Walter Bien,Gene Farmer,and David Pollock along with Elias Davis as producers,the series "That's My Mama" lasted two seasons and 39 episodes airing on ABC's Prime Time Schedule from September 4,1974 until December 24,1975. Season 1 produced 26 episodes that aired from September 4,1974 until March 26,1975. Season 2 produced 13 episodes that aired from September 10,1975 until December 24,1975. The show was rated one of the least watched by the Nielsens since the series was scheduled on Wednesday nights opposite the variety- musical series "Tony Orlando and Dawn" over at CBS,and the powerhouse family drama "Little House on the Prairie" over at NBC. Out of all the cast members that were associated with this series only actors Clifton Davis, Theresa Merritt and Ted Lange were the only cast members that stayed throughout its entire run of 39 episodes. Teddy Wilson was a guest star in the pilot episode as a shady lawyer but appeared in 38 episodes of the series. Actress Lynne Moody appeared in 23 episodes from September 4, 1974 until March 26,1975. She left midway during the first season and was replaced by Joan Pringle in Season 2. Lisle Wilson appeared in 29 episodes of Season 1. "That's My Mama" in spite of the Nielsens provided some good laughs and some hilarious moments with the focus more on Clifton Davis' character and Ted Lange's comical support as the boisterous college student. Other characters were Wildcat(Jester Hairston),and Josh(DeForest Cowan)who were two senior citizens that hung out in the barbershop just for conversation and occasional mischief.
"That's My Mama" was the foundation of the "Barbershop" movies with more character development. By the show's second season,the series started with a new look and the opening theme music was done by Motown legend Lamont Dozier as the backdrop setting of Washington, DC was introduced. New characters like Helen Martin were added the episodes. And speaking of who were behind the forces of this show the writers consisted of creators Dan Bradley, Allan Rice, Larry Siegel, Mike Milligan and Jay Moriarty, Rick Mittleman, Winston Moss, Walter Bien, Ron Friedman, Al Gordon, Lloyd Garver, Thad Mumford,and Ilunga Adell. Bob LaHendro directed more than 20 episodes of the series along with other directors like Stan Lathan, Norman Abbott, Mort Lachman, Alan Rafkin, Arnold Margolin and Herbert Kenwith. The guest stars that appeared on "That's My Mama" were Mel Stewart, Bernie Hamilton, Tracy Reed, Jeannie Bell, Judy Pace, Gordon Jump, Slappy White, Belinda Tolbert, Tierre Turner, Vernee Watson, Lillian Randolph, Tim Reid, not to mention appearances by Jayne Kennedy, Alfonso Williams, Lance Taylor and Irene Stokes.
"That's My Mama" was the starting point for two of its actors in which Clifton Davis and Jester Hairston would star together in the series "Amen". Actor Ted Lange would go on to do "The Love Boat" as Issac and would make himself a producer-director of several TV shows and movies. Interesting to note as well that actress Joan Pringle would go on to do "The White Shadow",and later appeared in the NBC daytime serial "Generations". It is to note as well that actors Theresa Merritt along with Jester Hairston, DeForest Cowan,and Teddy Wilson are no longer with us. There memories of this series will live on since "That's My Mama" lasted two seasons and 39 episodes. The series was canceled on Christmas Eve of 1975 due to poor ratings. ABC replaced it with "The Bionic Woman" in January of 1976.
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