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Jim Hartnett

Jim Hartnett

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Susan Harris made her name creating and producing two very different television series, one of the most controversial sitcoms of the 1970s and one of the most beloved sitcoms of the 1980s, if not all time. A native of Mount Vernon, New York, Harris got her start in television working for the short-lived road drama "Then Came Bronson" and the endearingly cheesy early 1970s anthology "Love, American Style." Harris then began working for producer Norman Lear on his boundary-pushing situation comedy "All in the Family," and later on its spin-off, "Maude." In 1972, prior to the passage of Roe v. Wade, Harris wrote an episode of "Maude" in which the title character (played by Bea Arthur) had an abortion. Harris took the lessons she learned from her time with Lear into an outrageous direction with her 1977 series "Soap." Centered on two suburban sisters, one blue-collar and one wealthy, this deadpan parody of soap opera hijinks was considered downright shocking in some circles for the way it dealt with topics like infidelity, homosexuality, murder, and other hot-button issues. In 1985, Harris returned to television with "The Golden Girls," an instant classic starring Arthur, her "Maude" co-star Rue...

Susan Harris made her name creating and producing two very different television series, one of the most controversial sitcoms of the 1970s and one of the most beloved sitcoms of the 1980s, if not all time. A native of Mount Vernon, New York, Harris got her start in television working for the short-lived road drama "Then Came Bronson" and the endearingly cheesy early 1970s anthology "Love, American Style." Harris then began working for producer Norman Lear on his boundary-pushing situation comedy "All in the Family," and later on its spin-off, "Maude." In 1972, prior to the passage of Roe v. Wade, Harris wrote an episode of "Maude" in which the title character (played by Bea Arthur) had an abortion. Harris took the lessons she learned from her time with Lear into an outrageous direction with her 1977 series "Soap." Centered on two suburban sisters, one blue-collar and one wealthy, this deadpan parody of soap opera hijinks was considered downright shocking in some circles for the way it dealt with topics like infidelity, homosexuality, murder, and other hot-button issues. In 1985, Harris returned to television with "The Golden Girls," an instant classic starring Arthur, her "Maude" co-star Rue McClanahan, Betty White, and Estelle Getty. In 1988, Harris created a spin-off, "Empty Nest," starring former "Soap" co-stars Richard Mulligan and Dinah Manoff. Although both series were successful, recurring health problems--Harris has chronic fatigue syndrome--kept her from taking a day-to-day stewardship role in either.

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