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That's My Mama aired from September 1974 until December 1975 on ABC.

This ethnic comedy centered on the world of Clifton Curtis ( Clifton Davis), a young, hip barber in a black middle-class neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Clifton had inherited the family barbershop, "Oscar's," after the death of his father. He liked his career choice and his life as a bachelor, but Mama ( Teresa Merritt) had different ideas for him, wanting him to find a nice, conservative spouse - just like his sister Tracy ( played by Lynne Moody and later Joan Pringle) had done. Tracy's husband, Leonard ( Lisle Wilson), was successful as an engineer, but way too square for Clifton.

Other's around the barbershop included: Earl ( Theodore Wilson), the postman - and Clifton's best buddy; Wildcat and Josh ( Jester Hairston, DeForest Coven), two old-timers who frequently stopped in for a joke, some checkers and ill-advised advice and Junior ( Ted Lange), the irrepressible street philosopher.

There were several cast changes in the fall of 1975, and Earl, the big talker with unatainable schemes, became Clifton's partner in the barbershop. ( Note: Actor Ed Bernard played Earl in the first two telecasts in 1974, while Theordore Wilson had another role in those episodes only).

Here is Teresa Merritt's Obituary from The New York Times

Theresa Merritt, 75, Praised In Role of Ma Rainey, Is Dead

Published: June 21, 1998

Theresa Merritt, whose half-century career on television, in movies, on Broadway and in concert halls stretched from the original production of ''Carmen Jones'' to a recent episode of ''N.Y.P.D. Blue,'' died on June 12 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. She was 75 and lived in the Hollis section of Queens.

A spokesman for her family said Ms. Merritt died after a six-year battle with skin cancer.

Ms. Merritt is probably best known for two roles. Beginning in 1974, she starred in ''That's My Mama,'' an ABC situation comedy set in a Washington barbershop where a widowed mother knows best what her hapless son (played by Clifton Davis) should do. And on Broadway in 1984 she originated the title role of a domineering, manipulative blues singer in August Wilson's ''Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,'' earning a Tony nomination.

She was ''Ma Rainey incarnate,'' wrote Frank Rich in his review in The New York Times. ''A singing actress of both wit and power, she finds bitter humor in the character's distorted sense of self: when she barks her outrageous demands to her lackeys, we see a show business monster who's come a long way from her roots.''

Ms. Merritt was born in Emporia, Va., but moved to Philadelphia while a toddler to be reared by an aunt and uncle after her mother died. Yearning for a career as an opera singer, she studied at the Settlement School of Music in Philadelphia, and at Temple University and New York University.

As a teen-ager, she sang in church and community choirs and appeared on a radio show aimed at black audiences, ''Parisian Tailor's Colored Kiddie Hour.''

When she was 21, Ms. Merritt was chosen by Billy Rose, the Broadway producer, to join the cast of his 1943 musical, ''Carmen Jones.'' She played Frascetta.

Later, Ms. Merritt toured as a backup singer for Harry Belafonte and Jackie Wilson and sang at Carnegie Hall in 1985 as part of the Kool Jazz Festival and Salute to Cole Porter.

Her other New York stage roles included a gospel singer in ''Trumpets of the Lord'' in 1969; the understanding Southern maid in ''F. Jasmine Addams,'' a 1971 musical based on Carson McCullers's ''Member of the Wedding''; the wicked witch in ''The Wiz,'' and John Lithgow's black Polish landlady in ''Division Street,'' a 1980 farce by Steve Tesich.

Ms. Merritt acted in several films, including ''They Might Be Giants'' (1972), ''The Goodbye Girl'' (1977), ''All That Jazz'' (1979), ''The Great Santini'' (1979), ''The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas'' (1982) and ''The Serpent and the Rainbow'' (1988).

She also appeared on numerous television series, including ''Beekman Place,'' ''Another World,'' ''Police Story'' and ''The Love Boat.'' In the last year, she played guest roles on ''N.Y.P.D. Blue,'' ''Cosby'' and ''Law and Order.''

Ms. Merritt is survived by her husband of 52 years, Benjamin Hines, and by four children, Norman, Benjamin Jr. and Denise, all of Hollis, and Dennis, of St. Louis.

In a 1984 interview, following her acclaimed opening in ''Ma Rainey's Black Bottom,'' Ms. Merritt said: ''I don't regret never being a big star. That can all go in seconds. I'm 62, and I've had a taste of it all.''

To watch some clips from That's MY Mama go to

For more on That's My Mama go to's_My_Mama

For some That's My Mama-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to

To watch the opening and closing credits go to
Date: Fri January 2, 2004 � Filesize: 22.3kb � Dimensions: 427 x 577 �
Keywords: Clifton Davis, Theresa Merritt, Mama


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