Monthly Archives: December 2008

Redd Foxx Comedy Hour, The

Here’s another ticket for a show that taped at CBS but as you can see from the absence of those letters on the ticket, the show didn’t air on CBS. It also wasn’t called The Redd Foxx Show like the ticket says. There was a later program called The Redd Foxx Show and it was a situation comedy. This one was a variety show that was broadcast on ABC as The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour.

Mr. Foxx starred in Sanford and Son from 1972 to 1977. When it was finally cancelled, he signed a big contract with ABC and this series resulted. It was produced by the team of Allan Blye and Bob Einstein, and it was a very funny, innovative series that not a lot of people watched. Foxx was joined by regulars Billy Barty, Bill Saluga and Hal Smith, along with some of his old nightclub cronies like Slappy White and “Iron Jaw” Wilson. “Iron Jaw” was a performer who was often on nightclub bills with Foxx as an opening act. His performance consisted of linking about a dozen lightweight wooden chairs into a cluster and lifting that assemblage up in his teeth. That was about all he did but Foxx kept him working. Andy Kaufman also appeared once or twice.

When Redd left NBC, there were press reports that the main point of contention had been that the network wouldn’t give him a dressing room with a window in it. The actual reason was that, given the success of Sanford and Son, he felt he deserved a lot more money than NBC was offering and also that he had more to offer than just playing Fred Sanford. He wanted, for example, to host variety specials and to guest host The Tonight Show — the latter, a demand that was vetoed by Johnny Carson. ABC offered a lot more…so off he went. The opening of his first telecast showed a shot of the ABC studio and an announcer introduced him. You then heard the voice of Redd Foxx yelling, “I ain’t comin’ out ’til I get a window!”

What followed was a funny show but America wasn’t watching. A bad time slot (Thursday nights at 10) was one reason. Another may have been that people really only loved him as Sanford. The only attention the series got was when they did a sketch spoofing Farrah Fawcett’s then-famous hair-do, It was a visit to her home where everyone — including her parents, the maid and a parrot — wore Farrah wigs. The actress sued and ABC settled with a promise that her coiffure would not be mocked on any ABC show. For a couple years there, the main taboo on an ABC show was any joke that mentioned Farrah Fawcett. Other networks could and did make fun of her but it was verboten on ABC.

Records show that The Redd Foxx Comedy Hour debuted on September 15, 1977 and last aired on January 26, 1978. The above ticket is for January 20, which makes one suspect the taping either didn’t occur or that it resulted in a show that never aired. By March of 1980, Redd Foxx was back on series television…playing Fred Sanford again.

Haggis Baggis

Haggis Baggis was a game show that was on for one year — from June 20, 1958 ’til June 19, 1959 — during which time it almost had more hosts than viewers. There was a prime-time version hosted by Jack Linkletter and a daytime version hosted by Fred Robbins and then Dennis James. Contestants faced a game board with a celebrity’s photo concealed behind 25 squares. They could uncover portions of the photo by naming item in different categories and the first person to identify the celeb won…and if it sounds kinda silly, it apparently was. Dennis James, who hosted an awful lot of game shows, once called it the worst one he’d ever worked on. When you consider how bad some of those programs were, you get a hint as to why, in addition to the weird name, Haggis Baggis wasn’t around for very long.


Rhoda got a spin-off series from The Mary Tyler Moore Show so why not Phyllis? Rhoda started in ’74 and Phyllis, starring Cloris Leachman, debuted on September 11, 1975.

The premise: Her husband Lars had died. She and her daughter Bess (played by Lisa Gerritsen) moved from Minneapolis to her old home town of San Francisco, where his mother (played by Jane Rose) and stepfather (played by Henry Jones) still resided. Beyond that, the supporting cast changed from time to time as the writers struggled to find the kind of “family” that was the norm in sitcoms from the MTM Company. They never quite made it. Even with occasional cameos from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show cast, Phyllis only lasted two seasons…and probably would have run one, had it not come with such a promising pedigree.

My favorite moment in the series occurred in the first series when the cast included Richard Schaal, playing a guy who wasn’t the brightest of bulbs. In one episode, Bess was dating (and talking about marriage to) a boy of normal height but whose parents were played by well-known “little people” Billy Barty and Patti Maloney. Phyllis was creeped-out at the genetic possibilities if Bess and the lad married and had children and was acting more nervous than usual. Schaal’s character asked her what was wrong. She replied, “Bess wants to marry a boy whose parents are midgets!”

Schaal responded, “Well, I hope she finds one.” Big laugh.

Cloris/Phyllis said, “No, no. Bess is dating a boy whose parents are midgets!”

Schaal: “Well then, there’s no problem!” Even bigger laugh. If they’d had more like that, the show might have lasted longer.