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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman

"Mary Hartman" redirects here. For the women's studies academic, see Mary S. Hartman.
Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
DVD box cover
Also known as Forever Fernwood
Created by
Developed by Norman Lear
Starring Louise Lasser
Greg Mullavey
Mary Kay Place
Graham Jarvis
Debralee Scott
Dody Goodman
Philip Bruns
Claudia Lamb
Victor Kilian
Country of origin United States
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 455 (325 as Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, and 130 as Forever Fernwood)
Running time 23 minutes
Production company(s) Filmways Television
T.A.T. Communications Company
Distributor Filmways (1976-1977)
Columbia TriStar Domestic Television (2002)
Sony Pictures Television (2002-present)
Original channel Syndicated
Original release January 5, 1976 (1976-01-05) – May 10, 1977 (1977-05-10)

Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman is an American soap opera parody that aired in daily (weekday) syndication from January 1976 to May 1977. The series was produced by Norman Lear, directed by Joan Darling and Jim Drake, and starred Louise Lasser. The series writers were Gail Parent and Ann Marcus.[1]

The show's title was the eponymous character's name stated twice, because Lear and the writers believed that everything that was said on a soap opera was said twice. There is no live studio audience or a laugh track in the series, mostly due to the soap opera look.

In 2004 and 2007, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was ranked #21 and #26 on "TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever".[2][3]


Main cast

  • Louise Lasser as Mary Hartman (née Shumway), the show's titular character.
  • Greg Mullavey as Tom Hartman, Mary's unfaithful husband and Heather's father.
  • Dody Goodman as Mrs. Martha Shumway (née Larkin), Mary's often daffy mother, known for talking to her plants.
  • Mary Kay Place as Loretta Haggers (née McCandless), Mary's best friend and neighbor, a wanna-be country singer.
  • Graham Jarvis as Charlie "Baby Boy" Haggers, Loretta's much older husband and Tom Hartman's best friend.

Secondary cast

  • Debralee Scott as Cathy Shumway, Mary's maneater sister.
  • Philip Bruns (and for a few episodes, Tab Hunter) as George Shumway, Martha's husband and Mary and Cathy's father. He worked at an automobile assembly plant along with Tom and Charlie.
  • Victor Kilian as Grandpa Raymond Larkin, Martha's father, who was revealed in the pilot episode to be the "Fernwood Flasher".
  • Claudia Lamb as Heather Hartman, Tom and Mary's troubled daughter, who had, unfortunately, witnessed the massacre of the Lombardi family (including their goats and chickens).
  • Salome Jens as Mae Olinski, Tom's co-worker at the assembly plant (she was the payroll officer), with whom he had an affair.
  • Bruce Solomon as Sgt. Dennis Foley, a Fernwood police officer who liked Mary, with whom she eventually ran off. (See Forever Fernwood, below.)
  • Samantha Harper as Roberta Wolashek, a forlorn social worker, or hapless new age movement advocate.
  • Martin Mull as wife-beater Garth Gimble.
  • Norman Alden as Coach Leroy Fedders, Tom's former high school coach. He died drowning in Mary's chicken soup.
  • Reva Rose as Blanche Fedders, Coach Fedders' constantly protesting and militant wife.
  • Susan Browning as Garth's wife, Pat, the target of his abuse.
  • Sparky Marcus as Jimmy Joe Jeeter, child evangelist, who perished when a TV set fell into the bathtub electrocuting him.
  • Dabney Coleman as Merle Jeeter, Fernwood's slightly devious mayor and Jimmy Joe's father.
  • Marian Mercer as Wanda Rittenhouse Jeeter, a widow of a city commissioner, and a former sanitarium mate of Mary's who became Jeeter's second wife while also carrying on a bisexual relationship with their maid, Lila.
  • Gloria DeHaven as CB radio aficionado Annie "Tippy-toes" Wylie, a bisexual who also had an affair with Tom Hartman.
  • Orson Bean as Reverend Brim, one of Fernwood's clergymen, mainly in Forever Fernwood.
  • George Furth as Reverend Harold Standfast, who helped Mary through the Davey Jessup hostage crisis. (He had to swear on a stack of Bibles to have Mary released, but only did so after being threatened with the exposure of an extramarital affair he had with Florence Baedecker, the choir mistress of his church).
  • Mary Carver as Christine Standfast, Reverend Standfast's wife, who knew all about her husband's extramarital affair.
  • Rose Gregorio as Florence Baedecker, the choir mistress of Reverend Standfast's church, who was involved in an affair with the reverend, whom she called Bunny.
  • Shelley Fabares as Eleanor Major, a woman who Tom Hartman fell in love with, after Mary left him and Heather for Sgt. Foley.
  • Will Seltzer as Davey Jessup, the murderer of the Lombardi family (and their two goats and eight chickens), who held Mary and Sgt. Foley hostage. Before that, he had held Mary's daughter Heather and her best friend, Trudy Weathersby, hostage.
  • Doris Roberts as Dorelda Doremus, a faith healer.
  • Michael Lembeck as Clete Meizenheimer, television news reporter for Fernwood's local television station.
  • Andrew Rubin, Jesus Jarerra, Clete Meizenheimer's co-reporter.
  • Archie Hahn as Harold Clemens, a reporter for the town's newspaper, the Fernwood Courier.
  • Beeson Carroll as Howard McCullough, Mary's dashingly handsome gay neighbor.
  • Lawrence Haddon as Ed McCullough, Howard McCullough's partner.
  • Vivian Blaine as Betty McCullough, Mary's fortune teller neighbor helping her son and his partner hide their true relationship[4]


The series took place in the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio. Although there is a real Fernwood, Ohio, in the United States (located in Jefferson County, Ohio), the town in the series was not based on it, but was instead named after Fernwood Avenue, which runs behind the KTLA/Sunset Bronson Studios where the show taped.


In its first episode, Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman addressed the Lombardi family of five that had been mass-murdered (including their two goats and eight chickens) by young Davey Jessup, and had been witnessed by Mary's daughter, Heather; and the "Fernwood Flasher", who turned out to be Mary's grandfather, Raymond Larkin. Characters on the show died in several bizarre ways, including bathtub electrocution (Jimmy Joe Jeeter), drowning in chicken soup (Coach Leroy Fedders), and impalement on a pink bottle brush artificial Christmas tree (Garth Gimble).

Mary Hartman had a nationally televised nervous breakdown on The David Susskind Show at the end of the first season. Mary then found herself in a psychiatric ward, and she was delighted to be part of their selected Nielsen ratings "family". One of her sanitarium mates, widowed Wanda Rittenhouse (Marian Mercer) would become more prominent later on when she married Merle Jeeter, the mayor of Fernwood.

Forever Fernwood

When Lasser left the show in 1977, it was re-branded Forever Fernwood and followed the trials and tribulations of Mary's family and friends after she ran away with a policeman (the aforementioned Sgt. Dennis Foley), with whom she had a lot of contact in the first season. Aside from Lasser, the rest of the cast remained intact. More actors become part of the cast: Shelley Fabares as Eleanor Major, who began dating Tom after Mary left him; Judith Kahan as Eleanor's stuttering sister, Penny Major; Randall Carver as Cathy Shumway's gangster husband, Jeffrey DeVito.[5][6] On the very last episode of the series Penny married Tom Hartman. Forever Fernwood ended in 1978, after only 26 weeks on the air (130 half-hour episodes). It was replaced with the talk show parody spin-off Fernwood 2-Night, which later became America 2-Night.

Mary Kay Place was nominated for a Grammy Award for the album Tonite! At the Capri Lounge, Loretta Haggers on which she sang as her Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman character, Loretta Haggers. The album featured appearances by Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson, and one of its songs, "Baby Boy", climbed to the Top 60 on Billboard's Pop Charts, and #3 on the country charts, in 1976. Place also won an Emmy Award for her performance on the show. The show's writers realized Loretta Haggers' newfound fame made it harder to keep her character in Fernwood, so they devised a storyline wherein the country and western star makes an anti-semitic, career-shattering remark on the Dinah Shore talk show.

During the run of the series and its various spin-offs and sequels, KTTV, which broadcast the series in the Los Angeles market, also broadcast a tongue-in-cheek version of its nightly "Metronews" newscast, titled Metronews, Metronews. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was often abbreviated MH2, so Metronews, Metronews was abbreviated MN2. During the run of Fernwood 2-Night, MN2 became the name of the show, which was retconned to stand for Metronews 2-Night.

Cast reunion

In 2000, several of the original cast appeared on a panel for a Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman retrospective at the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills, CA. The panel discussion was taped for the museum's archives.


VHS releases

  • The Best of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman – Volume I. Videocassette. Embassy Home Entertainment.
  • The Best of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman – Volume II. Videocassette. Embassy Home Entertainment.

DVD releases

On March 27, 2007, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: Volume One on DVD in Region 1.[7] The three-disc boxset features the first 25 episodes of Season 1, dealing with the Fernwood Flasher and Lombardi massacre storylines. Many of the episodes were the heavily-edited syndication versions, edited to fit more commercials in the broadcasts.

On August 28, 2013, it was announced that Shout! Factory had acquired the rights to the series and released Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman – The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 on December 3, 2013.[8] The 38-disc set features all 325 episodes of the series (the season one episodes were restored to their full-length broadcast versions) as well as bonus features.


Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman was syndicated on local stations briefly in 1982, and enjoyed some short-lived air time on Lifetime Television in 1994.

References in pop culture

  • The name of the show was referenced by the character Stewie Griffin in the animated TV show Family Guy, in the episode "Saving Private Brian".

See also


External links