|Created by||Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin|
|Theme music composer|
|Opening theme||"And Then There's Maude"|
Performed by Donny Hathaway
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||6|
|No. of episodes||141|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original release||September 12, 1972 -|
April 22, 1978
|Preceded by||All in the Family|
|Followed by||Good Times|
Maude stars Beatrice Arthur as Maude Findlay, an outspoken, middle-aged, politically liberal woman living in suburban Tuckahoe, Westchester County, New York, with her fourth husband, household appliance store owner Walter Findlay (Bill Macy). Maude embraces the tenets of women's liberation, always votes for Democratic Party candidates, and advocates for civil rights and racial and gender equality. However, her overbearing and sometimes domineering personality often gets her into trouble when speaking about these issues.
The show was billed as the first spin-off of All in the Family, on which Beatrice Arthur had made two appearances in the character of Maude, Edith Bunker's cousin. Like All in the Family, Maude was a sitcom with topical storylines created by producers Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin.
Unusual for a U.S. sitcom, several episodes (such as "Maude's Night Out" and "The Convention") featured only the characters of Maude and her husband Walter, in what amounted to half-hour "two-hander" teleplays.
Maude Findlay (Beatrice Arthur) first appears in two season-two episodes of All in the Family: the first in December 1971 as a visitor to the Bunker home, and the second, a backdoor pilot setting up the premise of the Maude series, in March 1972. She is Edith Bunker's (Jean Stapleton) cousin who has been married four times. Her first husband, Barney, died shortly after their marriage; she divorced the next two, Albert and Chester. Albert was never portrayed on screen, but the episode "Poor Albert" revolved around his death, while second former husband Chester would appear once on the show (played by Martin Balsam). Her current husband, Walter Findlay (played by Bill Macy), owns an appliance store called Findlay's Friendly Appliances. Maude and Walter met just before the 1968 presidential election. Maude sometimes gets in the last word during their many arguments with her hallmark catchphrase, "God'll get you for that, Walter", which came directly from Bea Arthur. Maude's deep, raspy voice is also an occasional comic foil whenever she answers the phone and explaining in one episode, "No, this is not Mr. Findlay; this is Mrs. Findlay! Mr. Findlay has a much higher voice."
Maude's daughter, Carol Traynor (played by Adrienne Barbeau - in the All in the Family pilot episode the character was played by Marcia Rodd), is also divorced and has one child, like Maude. Carol and her son, Phillip (played in Seasons 1-5 by Brian Morrison and in the sixth and final season by Kraig Metzinger), live with the Findlays. Though single, Carol maintains her reputation of dating many men. She dates various men throughout the early seasons, later forming a serious relationship with a man named Chris (played by Fred Grandy); Grandy left at the end of the second season. Like her mother, Carol is an outspoken liberal feminist who is not afraid to speak her mind, though they often clash. There are conflicting accounts as to whether Carol's father was Maude's first or second husband.
The Findlays' next-door neighbors are Dr. Arthur Harmon, a stuffy, sardonic Republican and foil for Maude played by Conrad Bain and his sweet but scatterbrained second wife Vivian, played by Rue McClanahan, who confirmed in an interview with the Archive of American Television that she was approached by Norman Lear during the taping of the All in the Family episode "The Bunkers and the Swingers" (1972) to take on the role as a late replacement for Doris Roberts, the original choice for the part. Arthur has been Walter's best friend since the two men served together in World War II; he was the one who brought Walter and Maude together in 1968 and "affectionately" called Maude "Maudie." Vivian has been Maude's best friend since they attended college together. At the beginning of the series, Arthur is a widower. Vivian is introduced in a guest appearance that focused on her split with her first husband. She later got involved with Arthur as a divorcée.
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For the entire run of the show, Maude also has a housekeeper. At the beginning of the series, the Findlays hire Florida Evans, a no-nonsense black woman who often has the last laugh at Maude's expense. Maude often makes a point of conspicuously and awkwardly demonstrating how open-minded and liberal she is (Florida almost quits working for Maude because of this). Despite Florida's status as a maid, Maude emphasizes to Florida that they are "equals," and insists she enter and exit the Findlay house via the front door (even though the back door is more convenient).
As portrayed by Esther Rolle, the character of Florida was so popular that, in 1974, she became the star of her own series, entitled Good Times. In the storyline of Maude, Florida's husband Henry receives a promotion at his job, and she quits to be a full-time housewife. While Maude took place in New York, the setting for Good Times was Chicago, with numerous other differences in Florida's situation, such as her husband being called James Evans -- 'Henry' being the name of James's long lost father.
After Florida's departure in 1974, Mrs. Nell Naugatuck (played by Hermione Baddeley), an elderly (and vulgar) British widowed woman who drinks excessively and lies compulsively, assumes the role of housekeeper. Unlike Florida, who commuted to work, Mrs. Naugatuck is a live-in maid. She meets and begins dating Bert Beasley (an elderly security guard at a cemetery, played by J. Pat O'Malley) in 1975. They marry in 1977 and move to Ireland to care for Bert's mother. Mrs. Naugatuck's frequent sparring with Maude is, arguably, just as comedically popular as Florida's sparring. The difference in the two relationships was that Mrs. Naugatuck often seems to despise Maude Findlay, whereas Florida seems only periodically frustrated by her boss.
Lear said the last name 'Naugatuck' was taken directly from the town of Naugatuck, Connecticut, which he found amusing. Due to the popularity of the program, Baddeley visited the town in the late 1970s and was given a warm, official ceremony at the town green.
Maude then hires Victoria Butterfield (played by Marlene Warfield), a native of Saint Norman in the West Indies, whom Maude initially accuses of stealing her wallet. Victoria remains until the end of the series in 1978. However, Warfield's character was never as popular as her two predecessors, and she was not seen as often, nor given a credit as a series regular.
The character of Maude Findlay was loosely based on creator Norman Lear's then-wife Frances. She first appeared on two episodes of All in the Family as Edith Bunker's cousin. A "Cousin Maud," with a similar role, had also appeared on an episode of Till Death Us Do Part, the British series on which All in the Family had been based. Maude represented everything Archie Bunker did not: She was a liberal, a feminist, and upper-middle-class, whereas Archie was conservative, sexist, and working class.
Maude's political beliefs were closer to those of the series creators than Archie Bunker's, but the series often lampooned Maude as a naive "limousine liberal". They did not show her beliefs and attitudes in an entirely complimentary light. Just before the show's premiere in September 1972, TV Guide described the character of Maude as "a caricature of the knee-jerk liberal."
While the show was conceived as a comedy, scripts also incorporated much darker humor, drama and controversy. Maude took Miltown, a mild tranquilizer, and also Valium; she and her husband Walter began drinking in the evening. Maude had an abortion in November 1972, two months before the Roe v. Wade decision made abortion legal throughout the U.S., and the episodes that dealt with the situation are probably the series' most famous and most controversial. Maude, at age 47, was dismayed to find herself unexpectedly pregnant. Her daughter Carol brought to her attention that abortion had become legal in the state of New York. After some soul-searching (and discussions with Walter, who agreed that raising a baby at their stage of life was not what they wanted to do), Maude decided at the end of the two-part episode that abortion was probably the best choice for their lives and their marriage. Noticing the controversy around the storyline, CBS decided to rerun the episodes in August 1973, and members of the country's clergy reacted strongly to the decision. Thirty-nine stations pre-empted the episode. The two-part episode was written by Susan Harris, who would work with Bea Arthur again later on The Golden Girls.
The producers and the writers of the show tackled other controversies. In a story arc that opened the 1973-74 season, Walter came to grips with his alcoholism and subsequently had a nervous breakdown. The beginning of the story arc had Maude, Walter, and Arthur enjoying a night of revelry. However, Maude panicked when she awoke the following morning to find Arthur in her bed. This alarmed her to the point that both of them swore off alcohol entirely. Walter could not do it ("Dean Martin gets a million dollars for his buzz") and became so frustrated during his attempts to stop that he struck Maude. Afterward, he suffered a breakdown as a result of his alcoholism and guilt over the domestic violence incident. The arc, which played out in two parts, was typically controversial for the show but gained praise for highlighting how social drinking can lead to alcoholism.
The first-season episode "The Grass Story" tackled the then-recent Rockefeller Drug Laws, as Maude and her well-meaning housewife friends try to get arrested in protest over a grocery boy's tough conviction for marijuana possession. The severity of the marijuana laws contrasted with the characters' lax attitudes toward drinking and prescription pill abuse.
In season four, Maude had a session with an analyst, in which she revealed insecurities about her life and marriage and talked through memories from her childhood. The episode was a solo performance by Beatrice Arthur.
The Nielsen ratings for Maude were high, in particular, during the first seasons of the program (during the heyday of topical sitcoms, which its presence helped to create), when it was regularly one of the top-ten highest-rated American television programs in any given week.
In Great Britain, Maude was not shown nationally, although it was shown (beginning in 1975) in the ITV regions of Scottish,Westward,Border,Tyne Tees,Anglia,Yorkshire,Granada and Channel. Satellite station Sky One ran the series in the early/mid-1990s.
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In the fifth season, Maude unexpectedly plunged from #4 to #31 in the Nielsen ratings as its lead-ins Rhoda and Phyllis began to struggle. In 1978, late in the sixth season, CBS revamped the series. In the last three episodes of that year, the fictional governor of New York appointed Maude as a congresswoman from Tuckahoe, as a Democrat during the 1978 U.S. midterm elections (she helped campaign for a congresswoman who unexpectedly died in her home). With this change, Maude and husband Walter would move to Washington, D.C., and the rest of the regular cast would be written out of the series. In the story, the Harmons moved to Idaho, where Arthur accepted a job offer as a country doctor (his "lifelong dream"), while Carol also got a new job offer and she and Phillip moved to Denver.
Bea Arthur felt that it didn't make sense to "start all over again" with a new group of supporting characters, and after season six she decided to leave the series, bringing Maude to an end. Lear still liked the idea of a member of a minority group in Congress, and it evolved into the pilot Mr. Dugan, with John Amos replacing Arthur as the lead character. Intended for a March 1979 premiere, a negative backlash from a screening for African-American members of Congress resulted in CBS pulling the plug and not airing any of the three episodes produced. Lear went back to work on the project and it was eventually reworked into Hanging In, with Bill Macy returning to play a former professional football player turned university president. Premiering in the summer of 1979, the show did not find an audience and ended shortly after it began.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||22||September 12, 1972||March 20, 1973||4||24.7|
|2||24||September 11, 1973||March 5, 1974||6||23.5|
|3||23||September 9, 1974||March 31, 1975||9||24.9|
|4||24||September 8, 1975||March 15, 1976||4||25.0|
|5||24||September 20, 1976||April 4, 1977||31 ||19.9 |
|6||24||September 12, 1977||April 22, 1978||75 ||15.2 |
On August 27, 2013, Mill Creek Entertainment announced it had acquired the rights to various television series from the Sony Pictures library including Maude. Mill Creek subsequently re-released the first season on DVD on February 3, 2015.
On December 2, 2014, Shout! Factory announced it had acquired the rights to the series; it subsequently released the complete series on DVD on March 17, 2015. Among the bonus features, the set includes the two Second season episodes of All in the Family, which introduced Maude ("Cousin Maude's Visit" and "Maude"); two previously unaired episodes of Maude ("The Double Standard" and "Maude's New Friends"); the Syndicated Sales Presentation, hosted by Norman Lear; as well as three featurettes called "And Then There's Maude: Television's First Feminist"; "Everything but Hemorrhoids: Maude Speaks to America"; and "Memories of Maude" with interviews by Adrienne Barbeau and Bill Macy, along with newly discovered interviews with the late Bea Arthur, the late Rue McClanahan and Maude director, the late Hal Cooper.
In 2015, Shout! began releasing individual season sets; the second season was released on August 11, 2015, followed by the third season on November 10, 2015, the fourth season on March 22, 2016, the fifth season on June 14, 2016, and the sixth and final season on August 9, 2016.
|DVD Name||Ep #||Release Date|
|The Complete First Season||22||March 20, 2007|
February 3, 2015 (re-release)
|The Complete Second Season||24||August 11, 2015|
|The Complete Third Season||23||November 10, 2015|
|The Complete Fourth Season||24||March 22, 2016|
|The Complete Fifth Season||24||June 14, 2016|
|The Complete Sixth Season||24||August 9, 2016|
|The Complete Series||141||March 17, 2015|
Maude aired on TV Land in 1999 for a brief time, including an introductory "Maude-a-thon" marathon. Maude was later seen on Nick at Nite in the United States in 2001. Reruns of Maude are occasionally shown on Canwest's digital specialty channel, DejaView in Canada. In 2010, Maude began reruns in Chicago, on WWME-CA's Me-TV. In 2011, Maude began airing on Antenna TV, a digital broadcast network, which has since run the entire six season cycle of the show. In 2015, reruns of Maude began airing on Logo TV during late night/early morning. It also airs weeknights on FETV (Family Entertainment Television).
Maude had previously been adapted in 1980 by ITV in the United Kingdom as Nobody's Perfect. Starring Elaine Stritch and Richard Griffiths, the show ran for two series with a total of 14 episodes. Of the 14 episodes, Stritch herself adapted 13 original Maude scripts and Griffiths adapted one. The original series was screen by certain ITV companies.