BY WALTER OPINDE
Julia TV Series (show) was an American “situation comedy” notable for being one of the first weekly series to depict an African American woman in a non-stereotypical role. Previous television series featured the African-American lead characters, but the characters were commonly portrayed as servants.
Julia TV Show was starred by an actress and a singer, Diahann Carroll. The show ran for 86 episodes on NBC from 17th September, 1968, to 23rd March, 1971. The series was produced by Hanncarr Productions, Inc., Savannah Productions, Inc., and the 20th Century Fox Television. During pre-production, the proposed series title was ‘Mama’s Man.’ The series was among the few situation comedies in the late 1960s, which did not use a laugh track. However, 20th Century Fox Television added one when the series was reissued for syndication and cable rebroadcast in the late 1980s.
In Julia TV Show, Diahann Carroll played the role of a widowed single mother, Julia Baker, whose husband was an Army Captain Baker, and an O-1 Bird Dog artillery spotter pilot who was shot dead in Vietnam. Carroll was a nurse in a doctor’s office at a large aerospace company. The doctor’s role, Morton Chegley, was played by Lloyd Nolan, and Julia’s romantic interests by Paul Winfield and Fred Williamson. Julia’s son, Corey (Marc Copage) was approximately six to nine years of age during the entire series run. He had barely known his father before he died. Corey’s best friend is Earl Waggedorn (called by that precise full name each and every time). The Waggedorns lived downstairs in the same apartment building, with Len (Hank Brandt), Marie (Betty Beaird), son Earl Waggedorn (Michael Link) and an infant son.
The first two seasons included Nurse Hannah Yarby (Lurene Tuttle), who left to be married at the beginning of the third season, just as the clinic’s manager, Brockmeyer, ordered downsizing — and removal of minorities from employment. Chegley let Yarby go but kept Julia in defiance of the manager’s edict. She was also kept after Chegley reminded Brockmeyer that such a move was a violation of the Civil Rights Act which was just 5 years old at that point.
The second and third season included Richard (Richard Steele) as a character who was about one or two years older than Corey. Chegley’s uncle, Dr. Norton Chegley (also played by Lloyd Nolan) made three appearances.
Julia was well-rated in the first two seasons but dropped out of the top 30 most-watched shows during season 3. Therefore, the series was canceled in 1971 reportedly because of Carroll’s and series creator and executive producer Hal Kanter’s desire to work on other projects.
Read more of the story via:
Acham, Christine (2004). Revolution Televised: Prime Time and the Struggle for Black Power. U of Minnesota Press. p. 126.
Weiner, Ed; Editors of TV Guide (1992). The TV Guide TV Book: 40 Years of the All-Time Greatest Television Facts, Fads, Hits, and History. New York: Harper Collins. p. 174.