Monday, January 14, 2019


More than likely the Stearnses are not remembered by any but the most dedicated “televisiologists”, but their place in the medium’s history has been carved in stone.

From Wikipedia:
Mary Katherine Stearns (née Jones; October 27, 1925 – November 17, 2018) was an American actress best known for portraying the fictional version of herself on the sitcom Mary Kay and Johnny from 1947 until 1950.

On November 18, 1947, the DuMont Television Network debuted a new show starring Mary Kay and her newlywed husband Johnny entitled 'Mary Kay and Johnny'. The series had the Stearns' playing fictional versions of themselves. On the show the pair portrayed a newlywed couple, also named Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns, who were trying to make it in New York. Most of the episodes took place in an apartment complex in Greenwich Village, New York. Mary Kay's counterpart was an everyday, run-of-the-mill, zany housewife and Johnny's counterpart was a bank employee. The series moved from DuMont to NBC in 1948 then to CBS then back to NBC where it finished its run in March 1950. 

After the show ended, the Stearns' moved to California where Johnny pursued a career in production. Stearns did another weekly television series by herself entitled 'Mary Kay's Nightcap' which aired on NBC during the 1951-52 television season. She also had guest star appearances on 'Armstrong Circle Theatre' and 'Kraft Television Theatre'. She and her husband also had a seven-year stint as the spokespeople for U.S. Steel.

‘Mary Kay and Johnny’ is an American situation comedy starring real-life married couple Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns. It was the first sitcom broadcast on a network television in the United States. ‘Mary Kay and Johnny’ initially aired live on the DuMont Television Network before moving to CBS and then NBC.

‘Mary Kay and Johnny’ was the first program to show a couple sharing a bed, and the first series to show a woman's pregnancy on television: Mary Kay became pregnant in 1948 and after unsuccessfully trying to hide her pregnancy, the producers wrote it into the show. On December 31, 1948, the Stearns' weeks-old son Christopher appeared on the show and became a character.

She also played Cinderella in a 1952 episode of 'Kraft Theatre' and was in "Danny's Tune", an episode of 'Armstrong Circle Theatre'.  (The Cinderella gig was another example of her being forgotten by Time - many TV fans probably think Leslie Ann Warren was the first to play the role.  I admit I didn't know somebody else had taken on the role first.)

It could be that the Stearnses were also the first members of the League of Themselves, paving the way for others like Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David.

As Red Skelton would have said, “Good night and may God bless….”

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