||LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE
Romance with a comic spin.
224 Episodes of 60 minute duration. ABC. 1969-74.
A product of the 1960’s, 'Love, American Style' looked all naughty on the outside, but was as prim and proper as television could get. Still, it was an innovative and funny look at the rituals of dating and mating and became a moderate hit for ABC.
'Love, American Style' was an anthology that fit three or four "playlets" into an episode. Between the "playlets" and commercials were blackouts, short skits from a group of repertory players. (Stuart Margolin, Tracy Reed and Clifton Davis were among those in the repertory company.)
Each play dealt with an aspect of love and marriage-from dating and mating, to keeping the romance alive or dealing with children more sexually open than the parents. -Each playlet’s title began with "Love and--" (Love and the Pill; Love and a Couple of Couples; Love and the Hippie Girl, Love and the Hot Pants). Newcomers were featured in each of the skits, along with popular ABC stars of the period and a number of guest stars (Phyllis Diller, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar and Martha Rae were among those who appeared on "Love".)
In many ways, 'Love, American Style' was a forerunner of the even more successful 'Love Boat', which featured the playlets along with a regular cast on the floating Pacific Princess. 'Love, American Style' also hinted at forbidden passions and the joy of sex, but each playlet ended innocently, with cleared-up misunderstandings or come-upances for the oversexed Romeos. 1972 brought a new feature to the show: "Lovemate of the Week", a video version of the "Playboy" centerfold.
'Love, American Style' is probably best known today for launching a very successful sitcom for ABC. Producer/writer Gary Marshall created a pilot for the network called 'New Family in Town'. It featured Ron Howard, Anson Williams and Marion Ross as a 1950’s family. ABC passed on the pilot, but aired it on 'Love, American Style' as a February 1972 segment called 'Love and the Happy Days'.
A year later, the film 'American Graffiti' became a major hit and rekindled nostalgia for the 1950’s. ABC brushed off the Marshall pilot, and with some cast changes it became 'Happy Days', which lasted eleven seasons.
'Love, American Style’s' theme song was written by Charles Fox and Arnold Margolin (“Love, American Style/Truer than the red, white and blue/Love, American Style/That’s me and you”) and was performed on the series by The Cowsills.
More than a decade after it left the airwaves, ABC revived the show for its daytime lineup, but 'The New Love, American Style' lasted only a few months in 1985.
Dating and mating rituals have changed considerably since 'Love, American Style' first premiered and the show looks rather quaint compared to how television can portray sex and relationships today. But to paraphrase a famous song, the fundamental things still apply…and 'Love, American Style' made fun of the fundamentals.
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