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TV’s Greatest Hits: Maude – how Bea Arthur brought politics into the 1970’s suburban home

It’s 1972. The country is about to re-elect President Nixon for his ill-fated second term. Jonathan Livingston Seagull is flying off the shelves in bookstores. And inflation is out of control. Enter Maude.

Maude premiered in September of 1972 as a spinoff from Norman Lear’s groundbreaking comedy, All in the Family. Bea Arthur played the independent and strong-willed title character in the often serious and controversial sitcom. A resident of Tuckahoe, New York, Maude Findlay resides with her fourth husband, Walter, her divorced daughter, Carol, and Carol’s young son, Phillip. Like All in the Family, the plotlines were often political, but from a more liberal standpoint. Maude was as hilarious in her liberalism as Archie Bunker was in his bigotry. Maude tackled many tough topics of the time, such as divorce, alcoholism and abortion.

Although Maude was often uproariously funny, the series also had a dark edge in its realistic approach. This helped keep the series in the top ten for its first four seasons. With the Carter years came a kinder and gentler era in the country. The series was going to be overhauled as Maude groomed herself for a career in politics. However, Bea Arthur decided to leave the show in 1978 and her proposed career as a congresswoman never materialized.

BEATRICE ARTHUR as Maude Findlay / BILL MACY as Walter Findlay / ADRIENNE BARBEAU as Carol / BRIAN MORRISON as Phillip (1972-77) / KRAIG METZINGER as Phillip (19977-78) / CONRAD BAIN as Dr Arthur Harriman / ESTHER ROLLE as Florida Evans (1972-74) / JOHN AMOS as Henry Evans (1973-74) / FRED GRANDY as Chris (1973-74) / HERMOINE BADDELEY as Mrs Nell Naugatuck (1974-77) / J. PAT O’MALLEY as Bert Beasley (1975-77) / MARLENE WARFIELD as Victoria Butterfield (1977-78)

production details
CBS/Tandem / 140×30 minute episodes / 1972-78 (12 September 72 – 29 April 78)

Producers: Norman Lear, Bud Yorkin

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