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The 5 Mrs. Buchanans aired from September 1994 until April 1995 on CBS.

This ensemble comedy centered on the conflicts among 4 women with very little in common except a fearsome mother-in-law. Gravel-voiced Emma " mother" Buchanan ( Eileen Heckart), was the matriarch of the Buchanan clan in suburban Mercy, Indiana, outside of Indianapolis. A tough, opinionated widow, she loved her 4 sons but barely tolerated the women they had married. Alex ( Judith Ivey), married to Roy, was a fast-talking Jewish New Yorker who kept busy running a small thrift store. Delilah ( Beth Broderick), married to Charles, was a sexy, sugary-sweet but somewhat dim-witted Southerner who helped out at the thrift store. Vivian ( Harriet Sansom Harris), married to Ed, was an obnoxious, class-conscious Midwesterner, and Bree ( Charlotte Ross), who had just married Jesse, was an outgoing, if somewhat naive Californian whose youthful blond good looks were the envy of her sisters-in-law. What kept the younger women from having serious catfights with each other was their mutual dislike of their mother-in-law. Most of the action took place at the thrift shop, where they compared the cheap engagement rings they had all been given , complained about how Mother Bichanan had spoiled their husbands, and plotted ways to get under her thick skin. The husbands themselves were almost never seen.

A Review from variety

September 23, 1994 12:00AM PT
The Five Mrs. Buchanans
CBS looks to have a hot property with Eileen Heckart as the definitive mother-in-law of the Buchanan family.

By Tony Scott

Storyline by creators/scripters Jamie Wooten and Marc Cherry involves her three daughters-in-law and a prospective fourth, and how they cope with her.

Establishing seg in Mercy, Ind., introduces shop owner Alex (Judith Ivey), sexy Texan Delilah(Beth Broderick), snooty Vivian (Harriet Sansom Harris) and fiancee Bree (Charlotte Ross), a former Disneyland employee, and it’s routine bitchiness. Stereotyped jokes abound; the women’s only common ground is that they loathe Mother Buchanan.

The laughs start late when a glass stem snaps and Heckart’s Mother Buchanan enters. Once Mrs. B. shows up to meet Bree, the lights figuratively go up, the characters turn real, and the sitcom’s on. Director David Trainer brings out amusing characteristics in all the Buchanan ladies; they’ve got sudden substance.

Cowed by Mrs. Buchanan, the first three ladies try dirty digs as they accept their fate. But incoming Bree shows there’s gray matter behind the bride-to-be’s sparkling eyes; looks like Mother Buchanan has met her St. George. Heckart’s role as written is a gem, and the actress’s timing and line reading alone could make the program.

David Sackeroff’s production design happily reflects the spirit of the goings-on and adds another dimension.

The Five Mrs. Buchanans

(Sat. (24), 9-9:30 p.m., CBS)

Production: Taped at Fox TV Center, Hollywood, by Wooten & Cherry Prods. and Twentieth TV. Executive producers/writers/creators, Jamie Wooten, Marc Cherry; co-executive producers, Richard Vaczy, Tracy Gamble; supervising producer, Jan Siegelman; producer, Nancylee Myatt; director, David Trainer.

Crew: Camera, George Spiro Dibie; editor, Mike Cole; production designer, David Sackeroff; lighting director, Ken Wilcox; sound, Kerry Boggio; music, uncredited.

Cast: Cast: Judith Ivey, Eileen Heckart, Beth Broderick, Harriet Sansom Harris, Charlotte Ross, Paul Johansson, Diana Racine, Christopher Michael Moore.

A Review from The Sun Sentinel

`Buchanans' Familiar Yet Funny
September 24, 1994|By TOM JICHA TV/Radio Writer

Some will look at the new CBS comedy The Five Mrs. Buchanans and see a reworked Golden Girls. Others will see it as a new take on Designing Women. The producers say it is a completely new show. There is merit to each point of view.

The female-dominant premise of The Five Mrs. Buchanans is reminiscent of both The Golden Girls and Designing Women. Four sisters-in-law with distinctly different personalities and backgrounds find themselves drawn into a tight alliance. Their common bond is a desire to be able to cope with their manipulative, overbearing mother-in-law.

What's more, the creators and executive producers of The Five Mrs. Buchanans, Jamie Wooten and Marc Cherry, spent three years writing for The Golden Girls - the final three years. They also worked on the insipid sequel, The Golden Palace.

"Not that we brag about that," Cherry said.

Wooten joked that they got there just in time to see the mistakes that were being made. "Rose just got dumber, Blanche just got sluttier and they were all painted into corners. Because of that, we're going to try not to let that happen with our characters."

In addition to the concept, the link to Designing Women will be more obvious to the audience because it is in front of the cameras. Judith Ivey, who stars as one of the Mrs. Buchanans, played B.J. Poteet in the final season of Designing Women.

Ivey plays Alex, "the Jew from New York" Mrs. Buchanan.

Ivey is surrounded by a cast that could hold its own with The Golden Girls and Designing Women, which is about as good as it gets in sitcoms.

Beth Broderick is Delilah Buchanan, a dimbulb former cocktail waitress from Corpus Christi, Texas. The role is not unlike the Didi Starr character she played on Hearts Afire.

Harriet Sansom Harris, who had a recurring role in Frasier last season as an agent, is Vivian, the snooty Mrs. Buchanan. She's also the gossip-mongering Buchanan, ever eager to hear some dirt on one of her relatives. What you sow, you shall reap; the favorite game of Viv's twins is "international terrorist."

The soon-to-be fourth Mrs. Buchanan is the perky Bree, played by Charlotte Ross. Bree used to work at Disney World and boasts of being able to sing It's A Small World in 16 languages. With the slightest provocation, she'll prove it. Bree is such an optimist she is actually looking forward to meeting Mother Buchanan, played to wicked perfection by Academy Award winner Eileen Heckart.

Tact is not part of Mother Buchanan's life, and her sons are too cowed to stand up to her and tell her to cut it out. She asks to use Alex's bathroom, then reconsiders with a nasty shot at Alex's housekeeping. "Never mind, I'll wait until I get to a Texaco."

The three current Mrs. Buchanans fear that Mother Buchanan will begin to divide them by conquering the naive Bree.

The Mr. Buchanans will be introduced gradually, but they will be mere spear carriers for the women on the series, according to the producers.

While acknowledging the links to The Golden Girls and Designing Women, Cherry said the show is actually based on his own family. "My dad's the youngest of 12 brothers and sisters. Eight of those are brothers. So I have this really amazing collection of aunts. When we pitched this show, I talked about how all the Cherry men are alike but their wives are completely different. The wives are kind of thrown into a family situation and just expected to get along even though they have nothing in common."

If the scene at family reunions is anything similar to the hilarious antics Cherry and Wooten have put into The Five Mrs. Buchanans, the family ought to sell tickets.


Program: The Five Mrs. Buchanans

Stars: Judith Ivey, Eileen Heckart, Harriet Sansom Harris, Beth Broderick and Charlotte Ross.

Premiere: Tonight at 9 on WCIX-Ch. 6 and WPEC-Ch. 12.

Airs: Saturdays at 9 p.m.

An Article from The Washington Post

By John Carmody October 19, 1994

Cable News Network said yesterday that correspondent Claire Shipman has joined Wolf Blitzer and Jill Dougherty on the White House beat ...

She has been a general assignment correspondent since returning to the United States a year ago from Moscow, where she was a correspondent and producer -- and eventually married the bureau chief, Steve Hurst ...

All five Mrs. Buchanans will get a tryout on CBS's Monday night schedule on Halloween, replacing "Love & War" for only that evening at 9:30 ...

The network kind of likes the show -- it just increased the episode total to 13, after all -- but in their regular 9 p.m. Saturday timeslot, the five Mrs. Buchanans are not holding on to Doc Quinn's lead-in audience, which in turn doesn't help "Walker, Texas Ranger" at 10. And nobody at CBS, understandably, wants to upset Chuck Norris (or Chuck's barber) ...

Starting tonight on the 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts, Channel 9 anchor Gordon Peterson will report for three straight nights on the anti-incumbent fervor sweeping the nation's voters ...

"The Last Hurrah?" will focus on Ted Kennedy's problems in Massachusetts but will also look at challenges for Sens. Feinstein, Robb and Wofford, Speaker Foley and Gov. Cuomo ...

A Whole Lotsa Dots

The November ratingzzz sweeps are in the air and that means the network morning shows are on the move again. Well, a couple of them, anyway ...

"CBS This Morning" said yesterday that it'll be broadcasting from Phoenix on Nov. 3-4, helping out the network's new affiliate in that market, KPHO (Channel 5) ...

Paula Zahn will play a little one-on-one with Phoneix Sun Charles Barkley and Glen Campbell will sing (and if it's "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," Captain Airwaves promised yesterday, he'll scream!) ...

ABC's "Good Morning America," on the other hand, is renting a bus for a six-day tour of the great Chesapeake Bay, which starts Sunday, Nov. 6, on "GMA/Sunday" and continues all through the following week ...

On Sunday co-hosts Antonio Mora and Willow Bay will visit Annapolis; while Joan Lunden and Charlie Gibson will visit St. Michaels, Md., on Monday; Richmond and Norfolk on Tuesday; Washington (yay!) on Wednesday; New Castle and Georgetown, Del., on Thursday; and Kennett Square, Pa., and Philadelphia on Friday ...

An NBC News spokeswoman said yesterday that the "Today" show has no plans to travel during the sweeps, which begin Nov. 3 and run through Nov. 30 ...

Charles Osgood, anchor of CBS's "Sunday Morning" and "The Osgood File" on CBS Radio Network, played his banjo for his lunchtime audience at the National Press Club yesterday ...

First he sang his own composition, a salute to the Press Club, and then "So Long, It's Been Good to Know You," which he dedicated to the departing (or departed) members of the Clinton administration ...

He was also serious, calling "Sunday Morning" an opportunity to "point to people who do wonderful things ... {reminding us that} with all the catastrophe, selfishness and greed, there is also laughter, beauty and joy, no less a reality in the world" ...

"If I were a real newsman," he said, "I'd be more obsessed with the O.J. Simpson case than I am," adding that "if I had the power, I'd declare 'Sunday Morning' and 'The Osgood File' O.J.-Free Zones" ...

He also disclosed that his first TV assignment in Washington for CBS was covering the squirrels in Lafayette Square ...

Fox has canceled "Hardball," the last survivor of the network's new Sunday night lineup, following this coming Sunday's telecast ...

The network has already pulled "Fortune Hunter" and "Wild Oats" from a schedule that was supposed to produce maximum audiences from the National Football League lead-ins ...

The sitcom, about a major league franchise, had been losing a good chunk of its "Simpsons" lead-in audience at 8:30 ...

The network said yesterday that "Hardball" will be replaced by repeats of "The Simpsons" for the nonce, as they say in Hollywood ...

PBS says that it will introduce an "innovative new television series designed to instill a love of literature in young children" in the fall of 1995 ...

Forty half-hour episodes of "Wishbone" will be produced by Big Feats! Entertainment ...

The series stars a dog named Wishbone, a real Jack Russell terrier, whose active imagination lands him -- in full costume -- smack in the middle of signature scenes from classic works such as "Oliver Twist," "The Odyssey," "The Hound of the Baskervilles" and "Romeo and Juliet" ...

Aimed at elementary school children, each episode will also portray the real world of Wishbone in a parallel story line that revolves around the kids and families in his neighborhood ...

Talk show star Regis Philbin will conduct an auction Saturday evening in Kensington on behalf of a Washington area scholarship fund sponsored by local alumnae of Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Ind., and retired nuns ...

Among the items Philbin (Notre Dame, '53) will auction off will be a behind-the-scenes look at "All My Children," donated by Agnes Nixon (a former St. Mary's student), "a surprise item" from Philbin's co-anchor, Kathie Lee Gifford, and memorabilia from "Late Show With David Letterman" ...

The auction runs from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Academy of the Holy Cross in Kensington. Tickets are $35 per person and must be purchased in advance. For more information call 703-734-0073. That's 703-734-0073 ...

"ABC World News Tonight" won again last week with a 9.8/20, compared with an 8.6/17 for "CBS Evening News" and an 8.5/18 for "NBC Nightly News" ...

According to ABC, that makes it 260 weekly wins in the last 263 weeks ...

Monday night, the NFL game between Kansas City and Denver on ABC scored an 18.7 national rating and a 32 percent audience share between 9 and 12:15 a.m. ...

That helped ABC win the night. CBS was second, with "Murphy Brown" tops at 15.8/23. NBC was third, as the movie "Moment of Truth: A Mother's Deception" averaged a 12.7/20. Fox was a distant fourth ...

Locally, the NFL game on WJLA did an 18.1/32. "Murphy Brown" scored a 17.9/25 for WUSA and "Mother's Deception" on WRC did a 12.4/18. "Melrose Place" averaged a 13.3/20 on WTTG ...

Each local ratingzzz point represents 18,760 TV homes ...


Following are the top 20 network prime-time shows last week, ranked according to the percentage of the nation's 95.4 million TV households that watched, as measured by the A.C. Nielsen Co. A share represents the percentage of actual sets-in-use tuned to a particular program when it aired.

.... Rating ............................. Share ... Network

1 ... 21.0 ... Home Improvement ........... 31 ....... ABC

2 ... 20.1 ... Grace Under Fire ........... 30 ....... ABC

3 ... 20.0 ... Seinfeld ................... 30 ....... NBC

4 ... 19.1 ... ER ......................... 32 ....... NBC

5 ... 18.3 ... 60 Minutes ................. 31 ....... CBS

6 ... 18.1 ... NFL Vikings vs. Giants ..... 30 ....... ABC

7 ... 18.0 ... Roseanne ................... 28 ....... ABC

8 ... 17.4 ... NYPD Blue .................. 29 ....... ABC

9 ... 17.0 ... Murder, She Wrote .......... 26 ....... CBS

10 ... 15.9 ... Frasier (9 p.m.) ........... 23 ....... NBC

11 ... 15.6 ... Ellen ...................... 24 ....... ABC

12 ... 14.9 ... Mad About You (Thurs.) ..... 24 ....... NBC

...... 14.9 ... Frasier (9:30) ............. 22 ....... NBC

...... 14.9 ... Murphy Brown ............... 22 ....... CBS

15 ... 14.7 ... Mad About You (Tues.) ...... 23 ....... NBC

...... 14.7 ... Madman of the People ....... 23 ....... NBC

17 ... 14.5 ... 20/20 ...................... 28 ....... ABC

18 ... 14.3 ... NFL overrun (Sun.) ......... 26 ....... FOX

19 ... 14.1 ... Dave's World ............... 21 ....... CBS

20 ... 13.7 ... Friends .................... 22 ....... NBC

...... 13.7 ... Wings ...................... 22 ....... NBC

ABC won the week for the third time in four tries this new fall season, averaging a 12.4 rating and a 21 share, compared with an 11.5/19 for NBC, an 11.4/19 for CBS and a 7.9/13 for Fox ...

It was the first time -- you'd best get a good grip on your high chairs for this one -- that ABC had won three of the first four weeks of a new TV season since 1978-79, according to the network ...

There were three series premieres last week, and while ABC's "NYPD Blue" scored well in its return for the new season, NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street" finished in a tie for 78th. NBC's "Unsolved Mysteries" returned in 70th ...

Among newsmagazines, aside from the Top 20 performances of "60 Minutes" and "20/20," the news wasn't too hot. The Tuesday edition of "Dateline NBC" was 33rd, "PrimeTime Live" tied for 46th, "Dateline NBC" on Wednesday tied for 52nd, Friday's "Dateline" tied for 61st, and "Eye to Eye With Connie Chung" was 76th ...

A Fox movie about Roseanne (Barr Arnold), "Roseanne: An Unauthorized Biography" wound up as an unseen biography, finishing 92nd among 95 programs ranked for the week ending Oct. 16 ...

Here is Eileen Heckart's Obituary from The New York Times.

Eileen Heckart, Oscar-Winning Actress, Is Dead at 82
Published: January 2, 2002

Eileen Heckart, the actress with a smoky voice and toothsome smile who won an Oscar for ''Butterflies Are Free,'' three Emmys and a special lifetime achievement Tony, died on Monday at her home in Norwalk, Conn. She was 82.

The cause was cancer, her son Mark said.

One of those ubiquitous actresses who always seemed to be working, Ms. Heckart was perhaps most widely known for her television appearances as Mary Richards's Aunt Flo on the Mary Tyler Moore show, for example, or more recently for her recurring role of the mother of the lawyer James Wyler in the ABC drama ''Murder One.''

Her best-remembered film roles include the mother of Rocky Graziano in ''Somebody Up There Likes Me'' (1956) Marilyn Monroe's waitress friend in ''Bus Stop'' (also 1956) and the overbearing mother of the blind boy in ''Butterflies Are Free,'' for which she won the Academy Award as best supporting actress in 1972.

But the actress often said in interviews that her heart belonged to the stage and that was where she performed the bulk of her work.

She played her share of drinkers -- like the spinster teacher in ''Picnic'' in 1953 and the alcoholic mother whose son drowns in ''The Bad Seed'' in 1955, both on Broadway.

Most recently, in 2000, she played Gladys Green, the lead in ''The Waverly Gallery,'' Kenneth Lonergan's empathetic study of an elderly woman with Alzheimer's disease.

Writing in The New York Times, Ben Brantley called her performance ''uncanny'' and praised her ''beautifully coherent and intelligent portrayal of a woman sliding into incoherence.''

The actress was born Anna Eileen Heckart in Columbus, Ohio, on March 29, 1919.

Her parents separated when she was 2. Her father, Leo Herbert Heckart, took her younger brother to live with him, she said, but she remained with her mother, Esther, who was married five times.

Ms. Heckart graduated in 1942 from Ohio State University in Columbus, where she she caught whooping cough, which resulted in the deepening of her voice.

After graduation, she married her college sweetheart, John Harrison Yankee Jr., who became an insurance broker. The couple had three sons, Mark, of Norwalk; Philip, of Stratford, Conn.; and Luke, of Los Angeles, all of whom survive her, along with two half-sisters and Mark's two daughters.

Ms. Heckart began her career in summer stock, came to New York and cut her teeth in live television -- -- ''The Alcoa Hour,'' ''The Philco Television Playhouse,'' ''Goodyear Television Playhouse'' and ''Playhouse 90.''

Her first break onstage came in William Inge's ''Picnic,'' when she was 33. She played a schoolteacher with, as Brooks Atkinson put it in The New York Times, ''a hunger for life and a knack for getting it.''

She made her Broadway debut in 1943 as understudy and assistant stage manager for ''The Voice of the Turtle.''
After ''Picnic'' came ''The Bad Seed.'' Then ''Butterflies are Free'' on Broadway with Keir Dullea and Blythe Danner, in which she played Mr. Dullea's mother.

In 1965, she created the role of the disapproving mother in the Broadway production of ''Barefoot in the Park,'' while also appearing in episodes of television series like ''Gunsmoke'' and ''The FBI.''

The PBS productions ''Save Me a Place at Forest Lawn'' and ''The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds,'' both in 1966, won Ms. Heckart a host of television awards.

Among her other plays were ''The Dark at the Top of the Stairs,'' ''Our Town,'' ''They Knew What They Wanted,'' ''A View From the Bridge,'' ''Mother Courage'' and ''Time of the Cuckoo.''

During a decade of absence from the New York stage, she toured in national companies of Broadway hits, acted in movies and won roles in four separate television series that were picked up and then dropped. The last of these was ''Annie McGuire,'' in 1988, in which Ms. Heckart played Mary Tyler Moore's mother.

When she returned to the theater in the 1989 production of Lee Blessing's play, ''Eleemosynary,'' the Times theater critic Frank Rich welcomed her back.

''There are some absent friends you don't realize how much you've been missing until they suddenly pop up again,'' he wrote.

''Ms. Heckart is what one might describe as a long actress,'' Mr. Rich continued, ''long of face, of torso, of tongue. There is mischief in her big glistening eyes. And when she speaks, it is in the low, crystalline, merry rasp of a wise aunt who has seen and understood everything (perhaps with cigarette in hand), relished most of it and can't wait for the next adventure.''

Ms. Heckart smoked up until her death and blamed her friend Bette Davis for her addiction. ''I went to a hypnotist and managed to stop smoking for six months,'' Ms. Heckart recalled in a 1989 interview with The Times. ''Then I appeared in 'Burnt Offerings' with Bette. Well, she smoked all day, and then she asked me to dinner. Pretty soon, I asked her for just one cigarette. Then I had another. And then I was a smoker again.''

In 1997, Ms. Heckart's husband died suddenly on his morning walk. ''I looked out the window and he was gone,'' she told The Times in April 2000. ''It was the worst year of my life.'' The two had been married for 53 years.

She was awarded a special Tony in 2000 for her lifetime of theater work.

In another Times interview Ms. Heckart said her current role in ''The Waverly Gallery'' was her best, except perhaps for her part in ''Mother Courage.''

She also said it would be her last. ''This is my swan song, my last performance in a play,'' she said. ''It just takes too much energy.''

Speaking of her role, she added, ''You get such a good one, you may as well go out on a wave.''

Correction: January 4, 2002, Friday An obituary of the actress Eileen Heckart on Wednesday referred incorrectly to her Broadway appearance as the mother (Mrs. Banks) in ''Barefoot in the Park.'' She did not create the role; she succeeded Mildred Natwick. The article also misstated the number of Emmy Awards she received. It was two, not three.

To read some articles about The 5 Mrs. Buchanans go to and

To watch some clips from The 5 Mrs. Buchanans go to

For the 5 Mrs. Buchanan's Home Page go to

For Tim's TV Showcase go to

For a Tribute to Eileen Heckart go to

For The Beth Broderick Page go to

For the Beth Broderick Photo Gallery go to

For a Charlotte Ross Photo Gallery go to
Date: Tue March 28, 2017 � Filesize: 69.7kb, 740.2kbDimensions: 1018 x 905 �
Keywords: 5 Mrs. Buchanan Cast (Links Updated 5/27/18)


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