Switched at Birth (1991 film)

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Switched at Birth
VHS cover
Written by Michael O'Hara
Directed by Waris Hussein
Starring Bonnie Bedelia
Brian Kerwin
John M. Jackson
Ariana Richards
Erika Flores
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersRichard Heus
Lawrence Horowitz
Barry Morrow
Michael O'Hara
Jeff Wald
Mayank Velhankar
ProducersErvin Zavada
Mark Sennet (supervising producer)
Bob Stewart (associate producer)
CinematographyRobert Steadman
EditorsPaul Dixon
James Galloway
Running time186 minutes
Production companies Columbia Pictures Television
Morrow-Heus Productions
O'Hara-Horowitz Productions
Distributor NBC
Original networkNBC
Picture formatColor (Technicolor)
Audio format Stereo
Original release
  • April 28, 1991 (1991-04-28)

Switched at Birth is a 1991 American miniseries directed by Waris Hussein. It is based on the true story of Kimberly Mays and Arlena Twigg, babies switched soon after birth in a Florida hospital in 1978. [1] NBC aired the production as a two-part miniseries over two consecutive nights on April 28, 1991. [2] [3]



Within days of Arlena Twigg's birth in Florida in late 1978, she is found to have a chronic illness. Blood tests reveal that she is not the biological daughter of Regina and Ernest Twigg. Arlena is ill throughout her life and dies at the age of nine. Subsequently, her parents search for their biological daughter, who they find is being raised as Kimberly Mays by a man who believes that he is her father.


Factual basis

Kimberly Mays and Arlena Twigg were born within a few days of each other in a Wauchula, Florida hospital in November 1978. Kimberly went home with Bob Mays and his wife Barbara, who died of ovarian cancer when Kimberly was three. Ernest and Regina Twigg of Sebring, Florida took home the Mays' biological daughter, whom they named Arlena. The Twiggs learned that Arlena had the wrong blood type to be their biological daughter when she was nine years old. Following Arlena's death from a heart condition, the Twiggs sought information about their biological daughter and located Kimberly Mays, who became the subject of a custody battle between her biological parents and Bob Mays, the man who raised her after she was switched at birth. Bob Mays had agreed in 1989 to grant the Twiggs visitation rights to Kimberly, but he later cut off the visits. The Twiggs then sued for increased visitation or custody of Kimberly. A Wauchula circuit court ruled in 1993 that Kimberly would be allowed to cut off all contacts with her biological family and that Bob Mays was her psychological father. [4] Though Kimberly won the right to stay with Bob Mays, she later ran away and moved in with the Twiggs.

In a 2015 interview with Barbara Walters for the documentary series American Scandals on Investigation Discovery, Kimberly discussed her troubled early adulthood, two divorces, six children, losing custody of her firstborn to her first husband, living in her car with one child, and working as a stripper to buy food for her children. [5]

The court battle was also the subject of a book entitled The Baby Swap Conspiracy by Loretta Schwarz-Nobel.

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  1. Drew, Mike (April 28, 1991). "Emotions Aren't Only Thing Being Exploited in New TV Movie". The Milwaukee Journal . Retrieved June 20, 2011 via Google News.
  2. "Switched At Birth". TV Tango.
  3. Richmond, Ray (November 29, 1999). "Two Babies: Switched at Birth". Variety . It was on April 28, 1991 that NBC rolled out a two-night miniseries entitled "Switched at Birth" that dramatized the true story of Kimberly Mays and Arlena Twigg, children who were unwittingly switched in a hospital nursery as infants and raised by the wrong parents for a full decade before the error was detected. The docudrama emerged as one of the year's highest-rated longforms.
  4. Morrison, Frank West; Tweel, Ronald R. "Balancing Parents' Rights v. The Best Interest of Children: Custody Determinations Between Biological Parents and Others" (PDF). Retrieved June 20, 2011.
  5. staff (2015-11-30). "Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals". Discovery Communications . Retrieved 2016-03-09.