Love, Sidney is an American sitcom television series which aired two seasons on NBC, from October 28, 1981 to June 6, 1983. It stars Tony Randall as Sidney Shorr (a single, closeted gay man), Swoosie Kurtz as Laurie Morgan (a single mother with whom he shares his home), and Kaleena Kiff as Patti Morgan (Laurie's young daughter). It was the first program on American television to feature a gay character as the central character, although his sexual orientation was carefully downplayed for most of the series' duration.
Title card showing Sidney Shorr and Patti Morgan together
|Based on||Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend by Marilyn Cantor Baker|
|Developed by||Oliver Haley|
|Opening theme||"Friends Forever" performed by Tony Randall, Swoosie Kurtz & Kaleena Kiff (Opening version, eps. 1-20, 30-44; Closing version, eps. 1-20); also by Gladys & Bubba Knight (Opening version, eps. 21-29; Closing version, eps. 21-44)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||44|
|Executive producer(s)||George Eckstein (1981–1982)|
Rod Parker & Hal Cooper (1982–1983)
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||R.G. Productions|
Warner Bros. Television
|Original release||October 28, 1981 –|
June 6, 1983
The series was based on a short story by Marilyn Cantor Baker, which was adapted as the TV movie Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend, which NBC aired a few weeks before the series premiered. It was produced by Warner Bros. Television.
The storyline begins with the television movie Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend. Randall plays the title character, a well-to-do gay New Yorker in his 50s, who befriends a single woman, Laurie Morgan (originally played by Lorna Patterson) and Patti, her young daughter. Laurie is an aspiring actress, and at the end of the movie, Sidney is brokenhearted when she and Patti move to California. Patti is played in the later stages of the movie (once time lapses to her being five years old) by Kaleena Kiff, who retains the role in Love, Sidney.
With the debut of the series, Laurie Morgan (now played by Swoosie Kurtz) and Patti return to New York, following the failure of Laurie's marriage in California. The three characters return to sharing Sidney's Manhattan apartment. Laurie has established herself as an actress in commercials and television roles, and resumes her career in New York, appearing as vixen "Gloria Trenell" on the (fictional) daytime soap opera As Thus We Are. Sidney continues to be a doting father figure to precocious Patti, whose innocence fills his life with sunshine, and provides him with the child he has never had.
Although it is openly acknowledged in the TV movie that Sidney was gay, and had previously been in a relationship with a man, in the series these facts are not stated directly. Instead his sexual orientation is ambiguous and only hinted at, and the "couple" of Laurie and Sidney behave platonically, with only fleeting displays of affection that might be interpreted as romantic.
Sidney speaks at times about his long deceased mother, consistently referring to her as "that terrible woman".
The series depicts Sidney's career as a professional illustrator; his frequent business deals are made with young ad agency director Jason Stoller (Chip Zien), who works at Graham & Ludwig, Sidney's biggest account. Another recurring character in the first season is Sidney's friend and neighbor judge Mort Harris (Alan North). In the second season, their most prominent neighbor is busybody Mrs. Gaffney (Barbara Bryne), wife of the building's superintendent, who seeks to gain Sidney's affections. Also added to the cast that season is Nancy (Lynne Thigpen), Jason's secretary at Graham & Ludwig.
Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend went into production during 1980. Network executives planned to use it as a pilot, and develop the movie into a weekly series if it was a success in the ratings. However, after the film was complete, NBC continued to postpone its premiere, and by the end of the 1980–81 season it had not yet aired. Meanwhile, the network had decided to produce the series as part of its 1981 Fall schedule, using the movie as an introduction shortly before its debut.
By the time the series was cast, Lorna Patterson was no longer available, as she had already begun starring on CBS' Private Benjamin; Swoosie Kurtz took over the role of Laurie Morgan. Tony Randall, bitter about regular television roles after the cancellation of his last series The Tony Randall Show (1976–78), was initially uninterested in returning to a television series, but was interested in the "Sidney Shorr" story as a TV movie. Randall agreed to Love, Sidney with two conditions. First, it would provide him extra income that would go toward the financing of the national theatre he wanted to open and run in New York City. (The salary he made over the show's two seasons eventually paid off when his National Actors Theatre opened at NYC's Pace University in 1991.) Secondly, the series had to be taped in New York. During the first season, the series was produced at Reeves Teletape Studios, though the first episode was recorded in Studio 6A at NBC Studios (New York City). Midway through season one, production of Love, Sidney was forced to relocate to Los Angeles for seven episodes because the Teletape studios needed to honor a previous commitment to another production. Those seven episodes were recorded at Warner Bros. in Burbank. Love, Sidney returned to New York for the remainder of its run, taping in various studios, including the CBS Broadcast Center despite being an NBC series.
When the series was announced, NBC received complaints from the Moral Majority and other special-interest groups who were upset about the network presenting a positive portrayal of homosexuality. The lead character's sexuality was kept ambiguous, referred to only in oblique, coded hints. Some TV critics described the character only as a "confirmed bachelor".
The series proved popular among viewers in New York City, where the series was set, particular with its gay male population. The show was also popular in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. In other markets, however, its ratings ranged from moderately successful to poor.
George Eckstein was the original executive producer from the time of Love, Sidney's premiere. While the series performed well enough for NBC to warrant it a second season, they pushed for changes in order to improve the show's chances for lasting success. At the start of the 1982–83 season, the network hired the veteran producing team of Rod Parker and Hal Cooper to take over the show. With existing producers Ken Hecht and Sandy Veith, they made many changes, including two new regular cast members and a switch to more meaningful, moralized stories which bordered on the "very special episode" format.
The first eight episodes of the second season featured a remixed version of the theme song, sung by Gladys and Bubba Knight. With the November 27, 1982 episode ("Jan, Part 1"), the original version of the theme was reinstated for the title sequence, while the closing credits retained the outro track recorded by the Knights.
As time went on, the writers began to set things up to address Sidney's orientation more directly. The addition of the female neighbor Mrs. Gaffney pursuing a sexual relationship with him offered more opportunities to establish that he was not attracted to women.
In a special hour-long episode aired on May 16, 1983, Sidney agrees to date his new co-worker Allison (Martha Smith), but the courtship ends because of Sidney's lack of passion. He explains that his heart had been broken by a previous long-time love, and he could never love anyone again. Left alone, Allison tearfully remarks about Sidney's former lover: "if only she knew what she was missing", and the camera pans over to a framed photograph of Sidney's former lover Martin, from the pilot movie.
The following episode, the next-to-last in the series, has an openly gay guest character: a psychiatrist who befriends Sidney after the latter talks him out of suicide.
The series was not renewed for a third season.
|1||Wednesday at 9:30-10:00|
|2||Wednesday at 9:30-10:00 (September 8–15, 1982)|
Saturday at 9:30-10:00 (October 2 - December 18, 1982)
Monday at 8:00-8:30 (March 28 - June 6, 1983)
US TV Ratings
|Season||Episodes||Premiered:||Ended:||Nielsen Rank||Nielsen Rating||Tied With:|
|1||22||October 28, 1981||September 15, 1982||39||N/A||N/A|
|2||22||October 2, 1982||June 6, 1983||80||N/A||N/A|
- Nº = Overall episode number
- Ep = Episode number by season
- (s) = Story
- (t) = Teleplay
Season 1: 1981–82
|Nº||Ep||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|1||1||"Welcome Home"||Jay Sandrich||Oliver Haley||October 28, 1981|
|2||2||"A Piece of the Rock"||Tony Mordente||Stephen Black,|
|November 4, 1981|
|3||3||"The Party"||Jay Sandrich||Robert van Scoyk||November 11, 1981|
|4||4||"The Cat Burglar"||Mel Ferber||Stephen Black,|
|November 18, 1981|
|5||5||"Just Folks"||Mel Ferber||George Geiger||December 2, 1981|
|6||6||"Run with It"||Mel Ferber||Bob Brunner,|
|December 9, 1981|
|7||7||"Fiddler Under the Roof"||Tony Mordente||Ernest Chambers (s),|
George Eckstein (s),
Robert van Scoyk (t)
|December 16, 1981|
|8||8||"Hello, Yetta"||Tony Mordente||Larry Arnstein (s),|
David Hurwitz (s),
Marty Nadler (t)
|December 30, 1981|
|9||9||"Charlotte's Web"||Tony Mordente||Richard Baer||January 13, 1982|
|10||10||"The Price of Security"||Tony Mordente||Sylvia Alan||January 20, 1982|
|11||11||"Grade Expectation"||Tony Mordente||Bernard Dilbert||January 27, 1982|
|12||12||"Sail Away"||Tony Mordente||April Kelly||February 3, 1982|
|13||13||"Laurie's First Date, A.D."||Tony Mordente||Bob Brunner,|
|February 10, 1982|
|14||14||"Is There Life After Show Business?"||Mel Ferber||Mel Tolkin||February 17, 1982|
|15||15||"Puppy Love"||Mel Ferber||April Kelly (t),|
Dennis Rinsler (s),
Marc Warren (s)
|February 24, 1982|
|16||16||"Laurie's Commercial"||Mel Ferber||Michael Cassutt (s),|
Lew Levy (s),
Marty Nadler (t),
Jim Parker (t)
|March 3, 1982|
|17||17||"Patti, the Torch"||Mel Ferber||April Kelly||March 17, 1982|
|18||18||"Patti's Roots"||Mel Ferber||Bob Brunner,|
|March 31, 1982|
|19||19||"Visitors from Smoot"||Mel Ferber||Thelma Herman (s),|
April Kelly (t),
David Lyn (s)
|April 7, 1982|
|20||20||"Sidney and the Actress"||Mel Ferber||Bob Bendetson,|
|June 16, 1982|
|21||21||"The Activist"||Mel Ferber||Bob Brunner (t),|
Ken Hecht (t),
Thelma Herman (s),
David Lyn (s)
|September 8, 1982|
|22||22||"Father's Day"||Mel Ferber||Doodles Dubois||September 15, 1982|
Season 2: 1982–83
|Nº||Ep||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date|
|23||1||"Pros and Cons"||Hal Cooper||Fredi Towbin||October 2, 1982|
|24||2||"The Accident"||Hal Cooper||Pamela Chais||October 9, 1982|
|25||3||"Sidney's Spree"||Hal Cooper||George Arthur Bloom,|
|October 16, 1982|
|26||4||"Sidney's Cousin"||Hal Cooper||Fredi Towbin||October 23, 1982|
|27||5||"The Anniversary"||Hal Cooper||Pamela Chais||October 30, 1982|
|28||6||"Rhonda Rabbit"||Hal Cooper||Korby Siamis||November 6, 1982|
|29||7||"Sitcom"||Hal Cooper||George Arthur Bloom (s/t),|
Sandy Veith (t)
|November 13, 1982|
|30||8||"Jan: Part 1"||Hal Cooper||Rod Parker||November 27, 1982|
|31||9||"Jan: Part 2"||Hal Cooper||Rod Parker||December 4, 1982|
|32||10||"Sidney's Hero"||Hal Cooper||Bob Colleary (s/t),|
Michael Poryes (s)
|December 11, 1982|
|33||11||"Ballet"||Hal Cooper||D. B. Gilles||December 18, 1982|
|34||12||"One Is Enough"||Hal Cooper||George Arthur Bloom||March 28, 1983|
|35||13||"Show Biz Mamas"||Hal Cooper||George Arthur Bloom,|
|April 4, 1983|
|36||14||"Blinded"||Hal Cooper||Pamela Chais||April 11, 1983|
|37||15||"Sidney's Bar Mitzvah"||Hal Cooper||Arthur Julian||April 18, 1983|
|38||16||"The Movie"||Hal Cooper||Korby Siamis||April 25, 1983|
|39||17||"Sidney's Art Show"||Hal Cooper||Karyl Miller||May 2, 1983|
|40||18||"The Revolutionary"||Hal Cooper||George Arthur Bloom (s),|
Bob Colleary (s/t)
|May 9, 1983|
|41–42||19–20||"Alison"||Hal Cooper||Pamela Chais||May 16, 1983|
|43||21||"The Shrink"||Hal Cooper||Pamela Chais||May 30, 1983|
|44||22||"Surprise Party"||Hal Cooper||George Arthur Bloom||June 6, 1983|
- Tony Randall interview with WNBC on New York studio space.
- Interview with Tony Randall. Archive of American Television.
- Interview with Hal Cooper. Archive of American Television (December 11, 2003).
- Lina. "The TV Ratings Guide: 1981-82 Ratings History -- Primetime is Awash in a Bubble Bath as Nighttime Soaps Become the Rage". Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- Lina. "The TV Ratings Guide: 1982-83 Ratings History -- Soap Bubbles Rise, Several Veterans Part and NBC Renews Poorly Rated Masterpieces". Retrieved 1 April 2018.