In 2023, anti-drag legal guidelines are being debated in no less than 14 states, together with Tennessee, the primary to formally ban “adult cabaret performances” — which incorporates male or feminine impersonations — in public areas or within the presence of kids. But in 1980, drag shaped the centerpiece of a brand new ABC sitcom.
Bosom Buddies is notable for being the primary massive break for Tom Hanks, then 24, and paired him with relative newcomer Peter Scolari, then 25. They performed Kip Wilson and Henry Desmond, respectively — two friends who assume feminine alter-egos named Buffy and Hildegard with a view to dwell in an reasonably priced ladies’s resort in New York City. The present was conceived virtually by chance by Thomas L. Miller and Robert L. Boyett, the duo behind a raft of Seventies hit sitcoms together with Happy Days, Mork & Mindy and Laverne & Shirley.
Buddies was pitched to ABC as a male model of the latter, harking back to “a sophisticated Billy Wilder comedy.” Asked to elaborate, Miller and Boyett talked about Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis’ rapport in 1959’s Some Like It Hot, main ABC to order a pilot on the situation that the sequence additionally characteristic drag. With a number of key feminine components already solid — together with Holland Taylor as their advert company boss — producers scoured New York, Chicago and Los Angeles for a few unknowns to play Kip and Henry.
“One of them was this kid they found out of New York who was understudying off-Broadway,” remembers Buddies director Joel Zwick of Hanks. “This was a guy with no real experience, but he knew exactly what he did well, and he just did it.”
The present, which filmed at Paramount’s Stage 25 (later house to Cheers and Frasier), launched to robust rankings however was hampered by the 1980 SAG strike and community schedule tinkering. Then it misplaced some magic initially of the second season, when Kip reveals his ruse to like curiosity Sonny (Donna Dixon). The comedy was not renewed. Even so, it stays beloved to many, together with Hanks, who stayed near his co-star till Scolari’s demise in October 2021 from leukemia.
Of the present wave of anti-drag laws, Zwick, 81, says: “They claim children are going to be hurt by drag shows. Well, might I suggest the parents don’t take their children to that drag show? The kid probably has no idea it’s not a woman anyway.”
This story first appeared within the March 16 subject of The Hollywood Reporter journal. Click here to subscribe.