Bosom Buddies

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Bosom Buddies
Bosom Buddies.jpg
Created by Chris Thompson
Thomas L. Miller
Robert L. Boyett
Starring Tom Hanks
Peter Scolari
Donna Dixon
Holland Taylor
Telma Hopkins
Wendie Jo Sperber
Lucille Benson (1980–1981)
Theme music composer Billy Joel
Opening theme"My Life" by Billy Joel (original prints)
"Shake Me Loose" by Stephanie Mills (syndicated prints)
Ending theme"Shake Me Loose" (instrumental)
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes37 (list of episodes)
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time25 minutes
Production companies Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions
Paramount Television
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original network ABC
Original releaseNovember 27, 1980 (1980-11-27) 
March 27, 1982 (1982-03-27)

Bosom Buddies is an American television sitcom starring Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari created by Robert L. Boyett, Thomas L. Miller and Chris Thompson (Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions). It aired for two seasons on ABC from November 27, 1980, to March 27, 1982, and in reruns in the summer of 1984 on NBC. The show features the misadventures of two single men, working in creative advertising, struggling in their industry while disguising themselves as women in order to live in the one apartment they could afford. Gender stereotypes and male/female interpersonal relationships were frequent themes.


The show became known for its quirky humor and its frequent use of improvisation, especially between stars Hanks and Scolari. Though the show started out with good ratings, it failed to hold the public's interest and was canceled after two seasons.


In the pilot episode, after their own apartment is demolished while they are still asleep in it, two men disguise themselves as women in order to live in the dirt-cheap Susan B. Anthony Hotel, which happens to be female-only. Kip Wilson (Hanks) is originally skeptical of the plan, but after meeting gorgeous resident model/dancer/nurse Sonny Lumet (Donna Dixon), he ends up convincing aspiring writer Henry Desmond (Scolari) that the experience will make a great book. Their co-worker, Amy Cassidy (Wendie Jo Sperber) [who's attracted to Henry] is the only resident in on the plan. The boys’ deception includes outwitting the hotel manager, Darlene (Edie Adams), and fellow resident, Isabelle Hammond (Telma Hopkins), an aspiring singer. When the pilot sold to ABC, the character of Darlene was replaced by Lilly Sinclair (Lucille Benson).

In the first season, Kip, Henry, and Amy work for Ruth Dunbar (Holland Taylor) at the Manhattan-based advertising firm of Livingston, Gentry & Mishkin, where Kip is a graphic artist, Henry is a copy writer, and Amy is the receptionist. Ruth often takes credit for the boys’ work when reporting to her (unseen) boss, Mr. Rubinowitz.

The show was barely renewed for a second season. In order to improve the mediocre ratings of the first season, revise the format, and at the same time, do some cost-cutting, it was decided that the part of Lilly Sinclair was superfluous and was written out. As a result, veteran actress Lucille Benson left the series and Telma Hopkins' character of Isabelle became the new hotel manager. Kip, Henry and Amy left Livingston, Gentry & Mishkin to start their own advertising firm, Sixty Seconds Street, with Ruth serving as a not-quite silent partner.

In the first episode of the second season, the male characters’ ruse of living in drag is revealed, but they are allowed to continue living at the women-only hotel anyway. Sonny forgives Kip for the deception, and Isabelle, the new hotel manager, agrees to go along with the ruse rather than admit it to the other residents. From this point on, the drag element was de-emphasized and the show moved closer to the creators' original concept of a regular buddy comedy.



The series was conceived by Miller and Boyett as a male counterpart to their hit sitcom Laverne & Shirley . They originally pitched it as a straightforward buddy comedy done in what they described as "a sophisticated Billy Wilder kind of way." When ABC executives asked Miller and Boyett to explain what they meant by the comparison to Wilder, the producers mentioned Some Like It Hot and ABC bought the show on condition that it would include men in women's clothing, just like that movie. "We weren't there to pitch that," Miller recalled. "And they jumped on it! We drove back to the studio in the car saying, 'Oh my God, what are we gonna do? We have to do something in drag.'" [1]

After the cast had been chosen, Miller and Boyett asked Chris Thompson, one of the writer-producers of Laverne & Shirley, to write the pilot and be the series showrunner. Thompson (who would go on to executive-produce such shows as The Larry Sanders Show ) said later that he took the job purely for the money, but unexpectedly found it to be "my completely favorite experience in show business", because the network left him and his young cast free to experiment. "We were left alone," he recalled. "Nobody was paying attention to us. We were all really young, but it was like we had daddy's Porsche. We had $500,000 to play with every week." [2]

Bosom Buddies was taped on Stage 25 at Paramount Pictures. Stage 25 was also the home of The Lucy Show , Cheers , and its spin-off Frasier .

Like many other sitcoms that aired during the 1980–81 television season, Bosom Buddies felt the effects of a strike by the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists that occurred in 1980. As a result, the show had an abbreviated first season. At first, its ratings were strong. However, ABC kept switching the show's day and time slots, which hurt the first season's overall standing. The second season, with its revised premise, fared even worse, and after more time slot changes by the network, the show was canceled in the spring of 1982.

Bosom Buddies was one of the last shows to use the Miller-Milkis-Boyett production team due to Eddie Milkis leaving the company in 1984. This was also one of the last Miller-Boyett sitcoms to be produced by Paramount Television (now CBS Television Studios) before they moved their base of operations to Lorimar Productions (later Warner Bros. Television); Happy Days ended its run in 1984, making the latter the last program to meet cancellation before the Miller-Boyett move to Lorimar, with Valerie being the first since to debut.


While the pilot episode was shot on film, the rest of the series was shot on videotape.

Bosom Buddies series overview
SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 19November 27, 1980 (1980-11-27)April 30, 1981 (1981-04-30)
2 18October 8, 1981 (1981-10-08)March 25, 1982 (1982-03-25)

Season 1 (1980–81)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
11"Pilot" Joel Zwick Chris Thompson November 27, 1980 (1980-11-27)
Kip and Henry dress up as "Buffy" and "Hildy" so they can live at an all-girl hotel.
22"My Brother, My Sister, Myself"Chris Thompson & Don Van AttaChris ThompsonDecember 4, 1980 (1980-12-04)
Kip violates hotel rules by being in Hildy's room after hours.
33"Loathe Thy Neighbor" Herbert Kenwith Howard Gewirtz & Ian PraiserDecember 11, 1980 (1980-12-11)
After a quarrel with her roommate Amy, Sonny moves in with Buffy and Hildy.
44"Macho Man"Chris Thompson & Don Van AttaLenny RippsDecember 18, 1980 (1980-12-18)
Tired of being seen by women as a sensitive guy, Henry tries to prove that he can be tough and manly.
55"What Price Glory?" John Bowab Roger GarrettJanuary 1, 1981 (1981-01-01)
Kip and Henry must let go of their moral scruples to get a big advertising account for their agency.
66"Kip and Sonny's Date"John BowabChris ThompsonJanuary 8, 1981 (1981-01-08)
Kip goes on his first date with Sonny, while Henry dates Ruth's punkish niece.
77"Beauty and the Beasts" Will Mackenzie Howard Gewirtz & Ian PraiserJanuary 15, 1981 (1981-01-15)
After experiencing life as an unattractive woman, Henry realizes that he himself has been shallow in only dating women for their looks.
88"Revenge" John Tracy Lenny RippsJanuary 22, 1981 (1981-01-22)
All of Amy's friends work together to pull an elaborate sting on a man who dumped her.
99"Amy's Career"John TracyDavid Chambers & Jack CarrerowJanuary 29, 1981 (1981-01-29)
Amy gets her big break when she's put in charge of a major advertising campaign.
1010"Gotta Dance"Will MackenzieDavid Lerner & Bruce FerberFebruary 5, 1981 (1981-02-05)
Kip casts Sonny in a singing and dancing commercial for the public library.
1111"Sonny Boy"Chris Thompson & Don Van AttaLenny RippsFebruary 12, 1981 (1981-02-12)
Buffy and Hildy are shown on TV after foiling a robbery, and Henry's mom recognizes Hildy as her son.
1212"How Great Thou Art"Will MackenzieDavid Lerner & Bruce FerberFebruary 19, 1981 (1981-02-19)
Henry arranges for Kip to have an exhibition of his paintings, but the critics don't like them.
1313"Kip Quits"John BowabChris ThompsonFebruary 26, 1981 (1981-02-26)
Kip quits his job rather than change a campaign to please a client. Bruce Vilanch has a bit part in this episode.
1414"Only the Lonely"Tom TrbovichDavid Chambers & Jack CarrerowMarch 12, 1981 (1981-03-12)
Ruth invites Kip and Henry over to her apartment for an awkward evening of games and calypso music.
1515"The Re-Write"Will MackenzieStory by: Chris Thompson
Teleplay by: Howard Gewirtz & Ian Praiser
March 19, 1981 (1981-03-19)
Henry tries to write the story of how their secret identities were nearly discovered, but Kip encourages him to add slapstick comedy or sex.
1616"The Show Must Go On"Will MackenzieHoward Gewirtz & Ian PraiserMarch 26, 1981 (1981-03-26)
After singing along with a stand-up comedian (Bob Saget), Isabelle gets a chance to sing professionally at a nightclub.
1717"The Hospital"Will MackenzieDavid Chambers & Jack CarrerowApril 2, 1981 (1981-04-02)
Buffy and Hildy go to work at the same hospital where Sonny works as a nurse.
1818"Best Friends"Chris Thompson & Don Van AttaChris ThompsonApril 9, 1981 (1981-04-09)
Henry becomes jealous of Kip's friendship with his childhood friend (Adrian Zmed), now a rock star.
1919"Cahoots"Will MackenzieDavid Chambers & Jack CarrerowApril 30, 1981 (1981-04-30)
Kip and Amy agree to help each other get Sonny and Henry.

Season 2 (1981–82)

No. in
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air date
201"The Truth and Other Lies" Joel Zwick Lenny RippsOctober 8, 1981 (1981-10-08)
Kip decides to take his relationship with Sonny to the next level by revealing that he and Buffy are the same person.
212"There's No Business..."Joel Zwick Chris Thompson October 15, 1981 (1981-10-15)
Kip and Henry buy their own commercial production house from an unscrupulous salesman (Joe Regalbuto).
223"The Reunion"Joel ZwickGary H. MillerOctober 22, 1981 (1981-10-22)
At a reunion of students from his old high school, Henry meets a deaf girl and recalls how badly he treated her on prom night.
234"One For You, One For Me"Joel ZwickJack CarrerowNovember 27, 1981 (1981-11-27)
After berating Kip for being irresponsible with money, Henry buys a stolen VCR and is thrown in jail.
245"The Road To Monte Carlo"Joel ZwickGary H. MillerDecember 4, 1981 (1981-12-04)
A near-death experience leaves Kip and Henry with a big insurance settlement, which they use to take a trip to Monte Carlo.
256"WaterBalloonGate"Joel ZwickDavid ChambersDecember 11, 1981 (1981-12-11)
Kip and Henry drop a water balloon on a car that turns out to belong to Richard Nixon. After being questioned by the Secret Service, Kip is so shaken that he gives up practical jokes.
267"All You Need is Love"Joel ZwickTerry HartDecember 18, 1981 (1981-12-18)
Depressed after breaking up with another girlfriend (Stepfanie Kramer), Henry goes to a video dating service, where he meets a beautiful Satanist (Rita Wilson).
278"Other Than That, She's a Wonderful Person"Joel ZwickStu SilverDecember 25, 1981 (1981-12-25)
Henry starts dating a pretty interior decorator (Jennifer Holmes) whom Kip detests.
289"The Slightly Illustrated Man"Joel ZwickChris ThompsonJanuary 8, 1982 (1982-01-08)
Kip and Amy decides to prove their commitment to Sonny and Henry by getting tattoos.
2910"The Two Percent Solution"Joel ZwickDavid Chambers & Jack CarrerowJanuary 15, 1982 (1982-01-15)
Amy's small amount of stock in Kip and Henry's company gives her the deciding vote in a shareholder decision
3011"Cablevision"Joel Zwick Jeff Franklin January 22, 1982 (1982-01-22)
Kip and Henry produce an episode-length cable variety show, including an appearance by their special guest star and kidnap victim Penny Marshall.
3112"The Grandfather"Joel ZwickStory by: Lenny Ripps & Gary H. Miller
Teleplay by: Jeff Franklin & Terry Hart
February 4, 1982 (1982-02-04)
Henry saves the life of a little girl who turns out to be the granddaughter of a mob boss.
3213"Kip off the Old Block"Joel ZwickLenny RippsFebruary 11, 1982 (1982-02-11)
Kip tries to prevent his parents (Jerry Hardin and K Callan) from breaking up.
3314"Hildy's Dirt Nap"Joel ZwickStory by: David Chambers
Teleplay by: Jack Carrerow & Gary H. Miller
February 18, 1982 (1982-02-18)
A middle-aged man falls in love with Hildy, so Henry fakes Hildy's death.
3415"The Way Kip and Henry Were"Joel ZwickLenny Ripps & Terry HartMarch 4, 1982 (1982-03-04)
The guys recall how they gave up their youthful ambition and went to go work for Ruth.
3516"Who's On Thirst?"Joel ZwickTerry HartMarch 11, 1982 (1982-03-11)
Kip and Henry spend a weekend in a mountain cabin without anything to eat or drink.
3617"Not With My Sister, You Pig"Chris Thompson & Don Van AttaChris ThompsonMarch 18, 1982 (1982-03-18)
After Henry dates Kip's sister, the guys get into a fight that lands them in the hospital.
3718"Not the Last Picture Show"Joel ZwickLenny RippsMarch 25, 1982 (1982-03-25)
Kip and Henry imagine what life will be like when they're senior citizens.

Theme song

The theme song for the opening credits was Billy Joel's "My Life", although it was a re-recorded version with Gary Bennett as the vocalist and Mike Lucas on piano. Some reruns shown in syndication (such as when USA Network aired reruns, as well as its later runs on MeTV) and all home video and DVD releases use a vocal version of the show's end credit instrumental theme, "Shake Me Loose", performed by Stephanie Mills, for the opening credits, replacing "My Life".


Bosom Buddies reruns aired briefly on NBC in the summer of 1984 after Tom Hanks had become a major film star that summer with Splash and Bachelor Party . Ratings were good, however any chances of reviving the show were futile since Hanks would obviously not be available. Reruns also aired on USA Network up until November 18, 1995 as well as on TBS and TV Land up until the mid-2000s. Nickelodeon UK also aired reruns of Bosom Buddies from November 1, 1995 - February 4, 2001 as part of its nightly Paramount Comedy Channel (originally The Paramount Channel) programming block until Paramount Comedy became its own 24/7 UK channel separate from Nickelodeon. [3] More recently, Bosom Buddies began airing on MeTV on October 2, 2011 and again on Thursday nights beginning May 29, 2014, as part of the network's "Summer of Me" promotion. As of April 6, 2020, the show is on Decades during its "Television Through the Decades" morning/afternoon block.

Home media

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) released both seasons of Bosom Buddies on Region 1 DVD. The original theme song "My Life" by Billy Joel was replaced with "Shake Me Loose", a song penned by show creator Chris Thompson, which was used during the show's syndication run. Many of the musical numbers featured during the show's run are edited or eliminated altogether from the DVD releases. Notable in this vein are the songs "Yakkity Yak" (from the episode "Call Me Irresponsible"), "Chances Are" (from "All You Need is Love") and "Rock and Roll Heaven" (from "Hildy's Dirt Nap").

On February 6, 2018, CBS Home Entertainment released Bosom Buddies- The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1. [4]

DVD NameEp #Release Date
The First Season19March 13, 2007
The Second Season18September 4, 2007
The Complete Series37February 6, 2018

Pop culture references

A shot-for-shot remake of the show's opening credits aired January 23, 2014 on Adult Swim as an installment of Parks and Recreation star Adam Scott's The Greatest Event in Television History . [5] The parody was directed by Lance Bangs and Scott and features Paul Rudd playing the part of Tom Hanks' character Kip, and Scott playing Peter Scolari's character Henry. The theme song "My Life" by Billy Joel is actually sung by Joel instead of the sound-alike version used for the original TV series. In an extended mock "making-of" documentary preceding the opening credits remake, Hanks, Scolari, and Joel make cameo appearances. In Season 5 Episode 20 of the NBC comedy 30 Rock , Hanks makes a cameo appearance wherein he references Bosom Buddies by singing lines from that show's theme song, "My Life". [6]

See also

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  1. Sonsky, Steve (August 3, 1986), "Do Not Adjust Your Set. This Is As Good As It Gets (A Critic Tells Why TV's Greatest Art May Always Be Carney)", Miami Herald
  2. House Rules Exec Breaks The Mold; Honesty Works For This TV Guy. Free Online Library
  4. Tom Hanks, Peter Scolari, Telma Hopkins in 'The Complete Series'
  5. Kelli Bender (January 28, 2014). "Tom Hanks Joins Paul Rudd for Spot-on Bosom Buddies Parody".
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