Love, American Style was an hour-long television anthology which originally aired between September 1969 and January 1974. For the 1971 and 1972 seasons it was a part of an ABC Friday prime-time lineup that also included Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, Room 222, and The Odd Couple. Each week, the show featured different stories of romance, usually with a comedic spin. All episodes were unrelated, featuring different characters, stories and locations. The show often featured the same actors playing different characters in many episodes. In addition a large and ornate brass bed was a recurring prop in many episodes. Charles Fox's delicate yet hip music score, featuring flutes, harp, and flugelhorn set to a contemporary pop beat, provided the "love" ambiance which tied the stories together as a multifaceted romantic comedy each week.
No "I Love the '70s" party will be complete without this blast from the groovy past, when women were "chicks," beaded door curtains were cool, and Carl Betz got top billing over Harrison Ford. Love American Style
was an anthology series of comedic playlets about modern love, some sweet (two shy ventriloquists let their dummies do the talking in "Love and the Dummies"), some silly (a greeting-card writer's romance is threatened by his penchant for practical jokes in "Love and the Joker"), and some mildly risqué (In "Love and a Couple of Couples," a man regards his ex-wife's posterior as she asks of their former marital bed, "Is it still firm?"). A more apt title for this series could be, "Comedy, Neil Simon-style." One of the more interesting segments is "Love and the Good Deal," co-written by Garry Marshall, and which plays like a deleted act from Barefoot in the Park
in which newlyweds Paul and Corie look for a new bed for their cramped apartment.
Love American Style debuted in 1969, a year in which the networks started to reach out to "modern people living in a modern world" with shows such as Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, The Mod Squad, and The Music Scene (which anticipated Saturday Night Live with its mix of satirical sketches and contemporary music). Love American Style was hip enough to feature a story called "Love and the Pill" and to refer to Philip Roth's novel Goodbye, Columbus. But traditional values invariably triumphed. In "Pill," a young man tells his girlfriend's overwrought parents that they have abstained from you-know. "That's the way we happen to feel about it," he reassures them. But what we truly love about American Style are the casts. You'd have to sail The Love Boat or visit Fantasy Island to find such a stellar gathering of Hollywood greats, comic legends, TV Land faves, future stars, and unsung character actors with the indelible and unforgettable faces. To name a few: Bill Bixby, Sid Caesar, Hans "Uncle Tonoose" Conreid, Broderick Crawford, Dwayne "Dobie Gillis" Hickman, David Ketchum (Agent 13 on Get Smart), Shari Lewis, Regis Philbin, Connie Stevens, Larry Storch, Paul "Tigger" Winchell, Joe Flynn and Carl Ballentine from McHale's Navy, and Mr. Ford, who shows up as Roger, the boyfriend, in "Love and the Former Marriage." Stuart Margolin (The Rockford Files) is the most recognizable face of the show's stock company who appear in Laugh-In-style blackouts that link the stories. These are hit and miss, but some are blink-twice bizarre, as the one in which a black man reassures his reluctant fiancée, "Okay, we'll raise the kids Jewish." So cue the Cowsills ("Love American Style/Truer than the red, white and blue
.") and ignite the fireworks. It's dated, yes, but Love will never go out of style. --Donald Liebenson