Monday, June 2, 2014

Bosom Buddies Saving Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari

Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari are Bosom Buddies

"It's kind of ridiculous because we're turning into best friends. ... At times we look to each other for guidance and suggestions and bona fide help about what we're doing with the show and our feelings about it." -- Tom Hanks interview, Rome News-Tribune, November 20, 1981

Bosom Buddies starred then relative newcomers Tom Hanks as graphic artist
Buffy and Hildy beside Henry and Kip
Bosom Buddies
Kip Wilson and Peter Scolari as copywriter, Henry Desmond. It ran two seasons 1980-1982

The best friends disguised themselves as women in to live in the only place they could afford, a women-only apartment building, The Susan B. Anthony Hotel

They're known as Buffy and Hildegarde (Hildy) and the girls' brothers, Kip and Henry when dressed in their regular attire.

Kip and Henry have the kind of friendship that many of us hope to have in our lifetime. Any Tom Hanks fan should just love this show and appreciate the chance to see how great he was so early in his career.

Kip is an aspiring artist and Henry is an aspiring novelist. Henry's got a story going about their experiences. In one episode Kip gets an art show at a local gallery. Plots revolved around friendship and family relationships, growing up, stereotypes, and even business ethics. 

Enjoy the 1970s and '80s references. In the episode Water-BalloonGate. Kip and Henry mistakenly drop a water balloon on a car belonging to former President Richard Nixon. They're questioned by the Secret Service and Kip vows go give up practical jokes.

Kip lustily devours a chicken in The Rewrite

"It would be too bad if Bosom Buddies got lost in a comedy avalanche because there's more talent and cheek evident here than in six or seven cookie cutter comedies put together." Pulitzer Prize winning television critic Tom Shales.
-- Wilmington Morning Star-News
November 17, 1980

When the show aired Scolari and Hanks were in their twenties. Peter Scolari was planning to get married. Tom Hanks was married with two children. He said that when his young son watched the show he used to ask why Daddy was wearing Mommy's clothes. 

We now know this same young man as actor Colin Hanks, today in his thirties, married with two children of his own. Yes, Mr. Hanks is a grandfather. (That's nothing, Mick Jagger became a great-grandfather in May 2014. Now we can all really feel old.)  Colin Hanks was Alex Whitman on the show, Roswell, Travis Marshall on Dexter and Gus Grimly on the new FX program, Fargo. We saw him in the film Orange County.

"I've done stuff in drag before," Tom Hanks admitted. "Every actor has drag credits. I did Juliet at the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival." He wasn't overly worried about being typecast in the future.
-- The Nashua Telegraph, December 27, 1980

Supporting Cast

The entire cast is talented and funny. It's a real ensemble show featuring Telma Hopkins (Isabelle) and Donna Dixon (Sonny) and in season one, Lucille Benson (Lilly Sinclair) live at the Susan B. Anthony. 

Hopkins is immediately recognizable from her other television work (Gimme a Break! and Family Matters) and from her singing career. 

The guys are known as Buffy and Hildy's brothers
Originally Telma Hopkins was part of Tony Orlando and Dawn. She'll be on Martin Lawrence's FX show The Partnership. In the Bosom Buddies episode One for you One for Me, when Henry is released from a spell in jail, she makes a joke about Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree. Isabelle says, "I don't know, it just popped into my head."

Donna Dixon worked to break the stereotype of the dumb blonde, bringing more wit and substance into her portrayal of Sonny, a nurse and the girl who Kip adored. Dixon has been married to actor Dan Aykroyd for many years. Aykroyd himself was part of an iconic double act with John Belushi both on vintage Saturday Night Live and in The Blues Brothers.

Wendie Jo Sprerber's character Amy works with them and lives at the hotel. She was responsible for helping them to find that apartment and come up with the idea to live there. 

Her film and television credits include I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978), 1941 (1979), Bachelor Party (1984), Back to the Future (1985) and Love Affair (1994). Sadly, Ms. Sperber died of breast cancer in 2005. She was the founder of weSPARK Cancer Support Center.

At work, their boss is Holland Taylor (Ruth Dunbar). She's well known as Margaret Powers on The Powers That Be, Judge Roberta Kittleson on The Practice and Evelyn Harper in Two and a Half Men. I like her so much. In this world where some folks still think life fades at 40, it's important to show that we can be fun, sexy, strong and smart at that age and beyond.

Ms. Taylor wrote the solo play Ann, based on the life and work of Ann Richards, 45th Governor of Texas. Taylor played the character on Broadway in 2013. 

At The 67th Tony Awards in 2013, Holland Taylor was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Coincidentally that same year, Tom Hanks was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play as Mike McAlary in Nora Ephron's final play, Lucky Guy. Peter Scolari was also in the show, playing the character of Michael Daly.

Themes, Reaction to the Show, TV Land Award

In a season one Bosom Buddies episode, Beauty and the Beasts, Henry has an epiphany after seeing himself as a less than attractive woman. This was similar to what actor Dustin Hoffman talked about going through in the movie, Tootsie, playing an actor who dresses as a woman to find work.  

"I was shocked that I wasn’t more attractive," Hoffman admitted in an AFI interview. "It suddenly occurred to me after doing Dorothy for a while that if I'd met her at a party, I'd never so much as condescend to talk to her, because physically she was a write-off. 

"It's a shallow attitude, certainly, to judge people by the way they look. And I think that is what started to make me sad."
Rita Wilson guest stars
-- from an American Film Institute interview with Dustin Hoffman

Commendably, when an episode called for a deaf character, the show hired a deaf actress. Nanci Kendall appears in Reunion.

Guest stars included Penny Marshall, Adrian Zmed, Joe Regalbuto and Bob Saget. Jerry Hardin and K Callan play Kip's parents. 

A rumor went around when the show was on the air that Tom Hanks was really the son of comedian and actor Buddy Hackett. 

When Penny Marshall was on, Kip is interviewing her for a public access tv infomercial. She tells him that being on a sitcom can be exhausting even if you are part of a team, but he wouldn't know anything about that. Then she asks if they're making some kind of cult show or something. Kind of prophetic.

Probably the most interesting guest star is in the episode, All You Need is Love, where Hanks met his future wife, Rita Wilson. They'd marry in 1988, after reconnecting while working on the 1985 film Volunteers.

The overriding theme of the show is friendship, between the characters in the ensemble cast but especially between the two leads, Hanks and Scolari, Kip and Henry. What do you think, Bosom Buddies fans? Does this fall into the bromance category?

"Scolari revealed that they have considerable input on the scripts and hinted that early scripts didn't please them entirely. 'The character responses were too extreme,' he explains. 'We both felt the roles could have been a little subtler. We're pleased now, a sort of qualified contentedness. We get the chance to work the hell out of the scripts.'"
-- The Nashua Telegraph, December 27, 1980

"Both Hanks and Scolari come from the same type of ensemble school of acting.... And a major factor in developing their friendship has been that they have almost the identical system
Kip gets a pep talk
of working, Hanks said. 

"'The way we get going during rehearsals is very much the same. We have the same technique, the same sort of background and very much the same sort of training - which has helped quite a bit.

"'So Peter and I are Bosom Buddies which shames me, shames me, to say,' he kibbitzed. 'But it's pretty much the case.'"

-- Tom Hanks interview, Rome News-Tribune  November 20, 1981

Sunday, April 25, 2010 TV Land scored record-breaking numbers for its eighth annual TV Land Awards hosted by Tim Allen, attracting nearly 2 million total viewers. It was the highest-rated and most-watched TV Land Awards since 2004. .... Among the awards presented, The Legend Award to Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner and the Anniversary Award to the cast of Bosom Buddies.

"In New York recently promoting Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid the ingenious film spoof he directed and cowrote with Steve Martin... Carl Reiner was scolding ABC for axing such comedies as Taxi, Barney Miller and Bosom Buddies... Reiner recalled, 'In its first season Dick van Dyke was up against Perry Como and it got terrible ratings. If it was on now it would have closed up in a minute. Today you get six shots and you're dead. ... 

"Reiner who in the 1950s worked with comedians such as Mel Brooks, Sid Caesar and Imogene Coca on the legendary Your Show of Shows has now become something of a guru to young comics such as Steve Martin, whom he also directed in The Jerk. 'At this stage I think I know why something works and why it doesn't.'"
-- Lawrence Journal-World, July 4, 1982

Would you like the DVD set to supplement viewing the shows on MeTV? Maybe you want to have friends over and introduce them to the series and/or you're in the mood to do a little binge watching. 

The original Billy Joel My Life theme song couldn't be used due to licensing restrictions. Some scenes seem to be missing here and there (not sure why) but the show is still charming, entirely worth watching and re-watching. The new theme song is Shake Me Loose by Stephanie Mills.

On a Thursday in May, 1982 ABC aired the last episodes of both Bosom Buddies and Mork and Mindy.

Bosom Buddies Cast Hanks & Scolari
Signed 8x10 Photo Certified Authentic PSA/DNA

Hanks and Scolari

In 1984, Tom Hanks starred in the films Splash and Bachelor Party, movies that launched his incredible film career. In the early 1990s he made history when he won Academy Awards for Best Actor back to back in 1993 for Philadelphia and 1994 for Forrest Gump. This had been done once before by Spencer Tracy in 1938 for Captains Courageous and 1939 for Boys Town.

Peter Scolari, remembered for playing Newhart's manipulative boss, Michael Harris on Newhart 1984-1990, received three consecutive Primetime Emmy Nominations for his work on that show. He appears on the HBO series, Girls

Raymond Burr fans may think they remember him from a Perry Mason TV movie, and they're right. Scolari appeared in Perry Mason: The Case of the Glass Coffin in 1991. Lovers of magic will like this episode in particular. Foodies should look for him in an episode of Chopped on The Food Network.

Hanks and Scolari have worked together several times since the Bosom Buddies days. In 1996, Scolari appeared in That Thing You Do! In 2004, The Polar Express and The Lucky Guy in 2013. 

In 1993, the pair was reunited for an installment of a Showtime anthology, Fallen Angels called I'll Be Waiting. "It's very hard to reunite somehow without carrying around a lot of cachet from those heady years of TV. .... I must say we picked up right where we left off. 

"You can't be the only two guys on a TV series for two years without developing a gestalt sort of communication that really hangs in there over the years. It was just one of the real added pleasures in the whole experience, working with Peter."
-- The Sunday Gazette, August 2, 1993

"In watching the reruns of Bosom Buddies one begins to wonder why the show didn't go on and on. The plots for the most part are inventive well written and played to the hilt by Hanks, Scolari and the supportive cast. Even when an episode missed the mark the playing saves the day. .... 

"Together they were a dream sitcom team and Bosom Buddies is one of those rare treats which is even better the second time around."
John N. Goudas and Daniel Kohan, syndicated columnists 
-- The Times-News - August 29, 1987

"Bosom Buddies clearly is one of the Shows That Got Away, shows that were good enough to deserve longer runs than the network gave them." 
David Bianculli, Television critic for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.
-- The Toledo Blade - September 5, 1984

Perhaps the two biggest pluses on the series are the fellows in the tacky frocks; Tom Hanks is the tall one, Kip and Peter Scolari as the short one, Henry. Both were recruited from the New York theater and though they hadn't been teamed before they go together like chicken and Shake 'n Bake." Tom Shales
-- Wilmington Morning Star-News November 17, 1980

I was looking to see if there were still apartments that rented solely to men or to women and couldn't find any. Housing for women seems to be university, transitional or emergency housing, a shelter of some sort or maybe the YWCA.

There could definitely be a Bosom Buddies inspired fancy dress party. Some 1980s fashion verges on what we could now think of as Star Trek evening wear.

The cast, the silliness, improvisation, poignancy, the relationships and oh yes,  the sometimes sunglasses-worthy 1980s fashion and hair makes Bosom Buddies a winner. It's a very fun buddy show but it's even more. Bosom Buddies is well written and can boast a stellar cast. I think you'll love this feel-good show.

To show the impact of the series, on an episode of Adult Swim, Adam Scott and Paul Rudd did "an homage" to Bosom Buddies. Guest stars included Tom Hanks and Billy Joel performing My Life. It was billed as The Greatest Event in Television History.

Please Note: as of November 2014, looks like Bosom Buddies is no longer on MeTV. Keep looking for it on this and other networks and get the DVD set if possible.

This review is part of the Summer of MeTV Classic TV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. Check out the complete schedule.  

Piano Dance: Fun with James Cagney, Tom Hanks in Big, Liberace

The WeSpark Cancer Support Center in Sherman Oaks, CA

Angela, Bea, Peter and Tom

Some people confuse the Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Joanne Woodward movie Philadelphia with the Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, James Stewart film Philadelphia Story. 

There may be some who confuse the tv show, Bosom Buddies with the song from Mame. So here are Angela Lansbury and Bea Arthur -- on the same page alongside Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari. Four famous Bosom Buddies together at last.....


  1. Very entertaining post. I confess that when watching Tom Hanks in BOSOM BUDDIES, I never imagined he will become a big-time, Oscar-winning actor. I would have guessed a career arc similar to Scolari's (solid with some critical acclaim). I never understood why the show's producers abandoned the central premise--having Kip and Henry reveal that they were actually guys--at the start of the second season. I don't think that helped the show. I had forgotten that Mrs. Hanks was a guest star on BOSOM BUDDIES!

  2. This series has had such an enormous, lasting impact on its fans. I still find myself quoting it--just last week I heard myself out of general frustration, stating "...Sonny, Sonny, Sonny..." channeling my inner Kip Wilson. Thanks for this post. I'm gonna have to watch it again on MeTV this summer!


Welcome and thanks for visiting.

Please keep your comments topical & respectful. We can't accept links or be responsible for content of comments.