In Hello Larry, after his divorce, sitcom dad Larry Adler moved himself and his two teenage daughters from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon. He got a job as the host for a radio talk show, and from the looks of it, this single dad had his act together. His callers phoned in, he answered with his trademark “Hi, you’re on the air with Lar,” and then he doled out his patented funny and outspoken advice. Between calls, he joked around with portly engineer Earl and flirted with lovely producer Morgan. Easy, right?
But at home, Larry’s teenage daughters had real-life problems. They missed their mom (played by Shelly Fabares, who occasionally came to town for guest appearances), and their friends back in L.A. They had problems with boys and with kids at school who weren’t especially enamored of that brash new radio host blabbing over the airwaves who also happened to be their dad. So, the confidence with which Larry advised his callers didn’t always apply to the way he raised his own kids, and from this premise, a sitcom was born…
The tone and single-parent premise of the show was certainly reminiscent of One Day at a Time, and rightly so—executive producers Dick Bensfield and Perry Grant worked on both shows. Hello, Larry aired after another single-parent sitcom, Diff’rent Strokes, and in an attempt to boost Larry’s ratings, the network tried to inject a little of the Drummond family popularity into the Adlers. Backstory was created: Philip Drummond and Larry were in the army together, and Drummond’s corporation owned the Oregon radio station where Larry worked. This way, cast members from Diff’rent Strokes could appear a handful of times in Larry, and vice versa.
In the fall of 1979, Meadowlark Lemmon, formerly of the Harlem Globetrotters, joined the cast (as himself), playing a local sporting goods storeowner. And incidentally, even though it’s not as much fun as stunt casting tidbits, in the winter of 1979 the show was often interrupted or pre-empted altogether for news reports on the Iranian Hostage Crisis. By the time that international brouhaha was settled, Hello, Larry was off the air, ending its run in April of 1980.
USA / NBC – T.A.T. Communications / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 26 January 1979 – 30 April 1980
McLean Stevenson as Larry Alder
Kim Richards as Ruthie Alder
Donna Wilkes as Diane Alder
Krista Errickson as Diane Alder (2)
Joanna Gleason as Morgan Winslow
George Memmoli as Earl, Larry’s engineer
Ruth Brown as Leona Wilson; Larry’s neighbor
Meadowlark Lemon as Himself; sports store owner
Fred Stuthman as Henry Alder
Shelley Fabares as Marion Alder; Larry’s ex-wife
Don Chastain as Scott Thomas; Marion’s boyfriend
John Femia as Tommy Roscini; Larry’s neighbor
Rita Taggart as Marie Roscini; Tommy’s mother
Parley Baer as Lionel Barton I; radio station owner
David Landesberg as Lionel Barton II, Barton’s grandson
Will Hunt as Wendell; the drunk
Voices of Radio Callers
F. William Parker