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This is a show that needs to be seen again! This was one of the lost
forever sitcoms of the 1970's that had African-American characters in
prominent roles. However,the 1970's rolled-out a ton of quality-themed
African-American shows,which some were instant hits and classics like
"Sanford and Son","The Jeffersons","Good Times",What's Happening?",to
the ones that were good but only lasted one season like,"Baby,I'm
Back", "Rollout","Get Christie Love",and not to mention,"That's My
And the ones that didn't last long,quickly faded into our memories. However,one of those shows,"That's My Mama",provided some good laughs and some hilarious hijinks. Clifton Curtis(Clifton Davis)is barbershop owner who lives in Washington,DC who shares a house with his mother Eloise(Theresa Merritt)and his sister Tracy(played by Lynne Moody in the early episodes and then later by Joan Pringle)who was married to Leonard ,a stiff,unhip accountant(played by Lisle Wilson in the earlier episodes). Clifton's friends were Earl(Teddy Wilson),a mailman who later became his partner in the barbershop,and Junior(Ted Lange),a boisterous college student. Wildcat(Jester Hairston) and Josh(DeForest Covan)were two senior citizens who hung out in the barbershop,just for conversation and sometimes mischief. Theresa Merritt's character of Eloise,was billed as the main character,but the focus was more on Clifton and the comical support was more on Junior,who supplied most of the hijinks on the show. Eloise was basically the mentor who basically gave advice whenever the other characters got into trouble,and it most of the time she had to bail Clifton out of a tight situation.
This series was the starting point of for two of its actors,since after this series went off the air,Clifton Davis and Jester Hairston would star together in the series "Amen" which ran on NBC-TV during the mid-1980's,early 1990's. Also it is to note that actor Ted Lange would go on to "The Love Boat" as Issac,and would make himself known as an great director of several TV and movie projects. It is also interesting to note that actress Joan Pringle would go on to do "The White Shadow",and later on in the late-1980's make her mark in the all-black daytime serial,"Generations". As for actor Teddy Wilson,most viewers would recognize him as the street hustler Sweet Daddy from "Good Times" who would make several appearances not on "Good Times",but other black shows of that decade including appearances on "The Jeffersons",and "What's Happening!"
It is sad to note that Teddy Wilson,Theresa Merritt,Jester Hairston,and DeForest Cowan are no longer with us. There memories of this show will lived on,since "That's My Mama" is seldom seen in syndicated markets in repeats,probably because it only lasted one season when it ran on ABC-TV from 1974-1975. Only 39 episodes were produced on this series in which 26 episodes were produced in Season 1 and 13 episodes were produced for Season 2. The series premiered on September 4,1974 on ABC's Wednesday night prime-time schedule where it faced strong competition from CBS' "Tony Orlando and Dawn",and the NBC powerhouse drama "Little House on the Prairie". The series was abruptly canceled on Christmas Eve of 1975 due to poor ratings. ABC replaced the series with "The Bionic Woman"
While it was never as popular as the more well known African-American
sitcoms of the 1970s (Sanford and Son, Good Times, What's Happening?),
That's My Mama provided some good laughs. Clifton Curtis (Clifton Davis)
was a Washington DC barber who shared a house with his mother, Eloise
(Theresa Merritt). His sister Tracy (played by Joan Pringle in early
episodes, and later by Lynne Moody) was married to Leonard, a stiff, unhip
accountant. Clifton's friends were Earl (Teddy Wilson), a mailman who
became his partner in the barbershop, and Junior (Ted Lange), a boisterous
junior college student. Wildcat (Jester Hairston) and Josh (DeForest
were two senior citizens who hung out in the barbershop. Eloise was
as the main character, but the focus was more on Clifton. Eloise
gave advice whenever the other characters got into trouble.
It's interesting to note that both Clifton Davis and Jester Hairston went on to star together in the early 1990's sitcom, Amen. Sharp-eyed television viewers will also recognize Teddy Wilson as having made several appearances on "Good Times" as the street hustler, Sweet Daddy. That's My Mama is seldom shown in reruns, probably because it only lasted a couple of seasons.
This show was so crazy back in the day! Theresa Merritt was so funny. And Theodore Wilson was almost as funny as he was playing "Sweet Daddy" on Good Times. Clifton Davis and Jester Hairston were on this show together way before they were Amen together. And it was so cool to see Ted Lange playing Junior. Every episode, Junior would say "Oooooooooooooooooooooo! Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" I didn't like the fact that they had two different guys playing the role of Clifton Davis' brother in law in the show. I used to look forward to watching this show every evening when I was in the 4th grade. This was another great black sitcom that they stopped showing reruns of.
as a teenage girl in 1974, i used to watch "That's My Mama" just so i
could see the handsome (ok fine) Clifton Davis do his magic in the shop
and also for "Junior" (Ted Lange) to whirl into the shop with his
famous "oooooooweeeeeeee! i got it, i got it, and i got to re-port it!"
--- cracked me up every time. personally, i think that this show was
the predecessor for the hit movie "Barbershop" only with more
the second season of "TMM" kinda started going downhill, however the opening theme music was a little more R&B oriented and nicely performed by Lamont Dozier (one of the songwriters that made up the Holland-Dozier-Holland team at Motown, who were famous for making hit songs for the Supremes in the early 60s). i hope one day TV Land or Nick-at-Nite or TVOne will find these gems and show them again for those of us who remember it to enjoy once again.
Ted Lange was extremely funny on this show. His catch phrase was long excellent: "I got it, I got it, and I got to report it!" I wish Ted were given more opportunities to show his great abilities to go over the top. I just checked online and there are no references to his catch phrase on the Internet! I'm going to change that and post it somewhere, because this must live on. I think that if more people knew about Ted's abilities then he would have been one of the very top stars of the 1970s...instead, he made it as a major figure -- and I should at least be grateful for that. I wish Ted's catch phrase were as popular as his pointing with index fingers.
I didn't have the pleasure of seeing this series on television or in syndication. By getting the two seasons on DVD, I was entertained by this lighthearted series. I knew Clifton Davis and Jester Hairston from the eighties sitcom, "Amen." Theresa Merritt who plays Mama Eloise Curtis as a warm loving mother to her adult children, Clifton (played by Clifton Davis) and Tracy (played well first by Lynne Moody and just as well with Joan Pringles in the second season. I will never understand why the network canceled the series. It was mostly because of poor ratings but they aired their last episode on Christmas Eve. Ted Lange (Isaac from the Love Boat) tried to bring it back in syndication in the eighties but not enough stations signed on. I felt this series had plenty of potential. The casting was brilliant but the writing could have been better. Still a barbershop in Washington DC with a terrific cast.
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.
I have (4) episodes of this sitcom on tape but would like to communicate with others that may have some of these extremely hard to find episodes on tape. Episodes of another black sitcom from the 1970's was just recently put on DVD. Maybe someone in the film vault, will someday, pull out some of these episodes for syndication or DVD.
Clifton Davis coped quite well as the straight man son in this all-black
comedy show. He was let down by Theresa Merritt, who was always weak in the
title role of Mama. Ted Lange provided some comic relief as Junior, but he
did not really start to shine until he joined the crew of the Love
I don't believe this show was ever rerun, so these recollections are a quarter century old.
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