Innovative. Hip. Produced by the television king of sit-com, Norman Lear, a father of boomers who understood the baby boomer psyche. All That Glitters was also a bust.
You might not remember or were too young to catch the show, remarkable for its failure and obscurity. The intriguing premise should have worked at the time: the gender world is turned upside-down. Women are dominant in business and sex; men are meek and emotional, serving as house husbands and sex objects. Glitter took the pop culture themes of women’s liberation and sexual revolution and spun them into a startling new mix.
The show lasted 13 weeks in 1977. At the time, Norman Lear had under his belt pop culture hits like All in the Family, Sanford & Son, Good Times, Maude, The Jeffersons, and One Day at a Time. He made celebrities overnight. When he strolled into a studio office, execs would throw money in his face.
What happened with All That Glitters? Lear had success with soap opera satire Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. It was offbeat, but attracted a big offbeat baby boomer audience.
Glitter may have been a brilliant idea, but was executed with little imagination. The Wall Street Journal got it right: the players are “merely composites of the least attractive characteristics of both sexes. The satire focuses not on the way real, recognizable people behave, but on stereotypes and cliches about masculine and feminine attitudes.”
The depictions also fed into uncomfortable fears that women’s liberation meant women would become bitchy men, rather than bringing a wiser, more sensitive perspective to power. And did the emancipation of females mean the emasculation of males? But wait, this is a spoof, right? Some feminists were uncertain how to react, displaying the same trepidation of liberals to Archie Bunker and All in the Family, concerned that the show would be taken seriously. In the end, it wasn’t taken at all.
Norman Lear television characters
Linda Gray, soon-to-be the long-suffering wife of J.R. Ewing of Dallas, played the role of a transgender woman in All That Glitters. When offered the part by Lear, she remarked: “I didn’t know whether to take that a compliment or not.” Gray began her career as a model. Her legs were famous long before her full body.
Linda Grey’s legs
Baby Boomer Trivia Questions
►The cast of All That Glitters also included relative unknown Gary Sandy, who went on to star in a long-running sit-com that become even more successful in syndication:
WKRP in Cincinnati
►Boomer Match Game: connect the woman to the movie in which she played a male role:
Salt, Year of Living Dangerously, Victor Victoria, Boys Don’t Cry
►Boomer Song Trivia: What’s the next line of this big music hit?
♫ I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin’ arms across the land
But I’m still an embryo
With a long long way to go…
Answers at end of post
This Day in Baby Boomer History
1988: Elton John sells out Madison Square Garden for a record 26th time.
1988: Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is resting well after breast cancer surgery.
1981: Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization is de-certified by President Reagan after he fires all those federal workers for going on strike.
1979: Walt Disney World’s 100-millionth guest.
1973: Paul McCartney denies widespread rumors of his death.
1962: President Kennedy announces on television a naval blockade on Cuba, beginning the Cuban Missile Crisis.
1960: Cassius Clay wins his first professional boxing match.
►Gary Sandy starred in WKRP.
►Boomer Match Game
Linda Hart→ Year of Living Dangerously
Hillary Swank→ Victor Victoria
Angelique Jolie→ SALT
Julia Andrews→ Victor Victoria
♫ …Until I make my Brother understand.