getTV Celebrates Designing Women’s 30th Anniversary with Marathon and 30 Fun Facts About the Show
Classic TV never goes out of style, especially when it’s a series like Designing Women.
To celebrate the show’s 30th anniversary, getTV is airing week-long primetime marathons that continue tonight and tomorrow night. The reason for this celebration is twofold, however. Designing Women is joining the network’s daytime block of programming. Starting on Monday, June 26, it airs weekdays from 11a.m. to 1p.m.
GetTV has acquired the first five seasons of the sitcom, which means it’s all the episodes that feature the OG cast, Dixie Carter, Delta Burke, Annie Potts and Jean Smart.
Designing Women focused on four southern women who worked at an interior design firm in Atlanta. They were all distinctly different but what they had in common is they were each fierce, flawed and fabulous.
Julia Sugarbaker: The outspoken and very vocal owner of Sugarbaker and Associates Designs, the firm that’s at the heart of the comedy. Can’t reiterate more that she had her opinions and she loved to make them known. Her takedowns were infamous.
Suzanne Sugarbaker: Julia’s sister, a former beauty queen. She was super high maintenance and often inappropriate in her beliefs. She was rich and spoiled but as the series progressed, she learned some serious truths about life that helped evolve the character.
Mary Jo Shively: Julia’s main designer at the firm. She started out shy and uncertain but eventually became strong and independent. She’s incredibly smart and deliciously sarcastic.
Charlene Frazier-Stillfield: The office manager at Julia’s firm. She was the sweet, naive one and hailed from Poplar Bluff, MO. She felt deeply and was the dreamer of the group. She eventually got married and had a baby.
Anthony Bouvier: You can’t talk about the Designing Women without mentioning Meshach Taylor’s Anthony. He was the Sugarbaker’s deliveryman, who once did a stint in prison. His arc was pretty incredible. While Anthony started out a deliveryman, he eventually became partner and by the end of the series had graduated from law school.
30 Fun Facts Every Designing Women Fan Should Know
- The show was nominated for a total of 18 Emmy Awards, winning only once, for Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling, in 1988.The show was nominated for Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Series three timesâ€”in 1989, 1990 and 1991. Delta Burke was nominated for Emmys as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Suzanne Sugarbaker twiceâ€”in 1990 and 1991. Meshach Taylor received a 1989 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role as Anthony Bouvier. Alice Ghostley, best known for her role as Esmeralda on Bewitched, received a 1992 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for her role as Bernice Clifton.
- The show was nominated twice for Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Seriesâ€”Comedy or Musicalâ€”in 1990 and 1991.
- Both Delta Burke and Jean Smart met their husbands while working on the show. Delta Burke married Gerald McRaney, who played her ex-husband, Dash Goff, two years after his first appearance on the show. Jean Smart met her husband, Richard Gilliland, when he played Mary Joâ€™s boyfriend, J.D. Shackelford.
- Dixie Carter’s real life husband, Hal Holbrook, played her character’s love interest, Reese Watson.
- The exterior of Sugarbaker & Associates Interior Design is The Villa Marre, a Victorian mansion built in 1881 and located in the MacArthur Park Historic District of Little Rock, Arkansas. It is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places. Itâ€™s currently on the market for $975,000. Oldhousedreams.com
- Of the 25 series the major television network shows debuted in 1986, Designing Women was the only one to still be on the air for the 1992-3 season.
- Julia earned the nickname â€˜The Terminatorâ€™ for her passionate speeches in defense of her beliefs. Dixie Carter, being a Republican, didn’t always agree with Julia’s Liberal views. So she and the show’s producers came to an agreement: whenever Julia would go off on something that Dixie didn’t quite agree on she would get to showcase her singing in a future episode.
- During the first season, CBS kept moving the show around, moving it from its original Monday nighttime slot to Thursday and then to Sunday. This devastated the ratings, and CBS was going to cancel it, but then a record-setting write-in campaign from Viewers for Quality Television convinced the network to renew it.
- Of the original cast, Jean Smart was the only one not born in the south/southeastern United States. She was born and raised in Seattle, Washington.
- Suzanne’s housekeeper, Consuela, was often talked about and never seen on the show
- Even though the role was written with her in mind, Delta Burke almost didnâ€™t get the part of Suzanne. Despite the fact that she had already had significant roles in two prior TV series, CBS was unsure about Delta Burke as one of the stars of the show because of her beauty queen background and wanted Lorna Patterson, who was in the movie Airplane! and played the lead role in the TV adaptation of Private Benjamin.
- Dixie Carter was 17 years older than Delta Burke. It’s reported in a later episode, that their mother was married to their father, they divorced, their father married again, had their brother, played by the late Lewis Grizzard, they divorced and he remarried Julia and Suzanne’s mother, accounting for the age difference.
- Delta Burke was crowned Miss Florida at 18 years old and went on to compete in the 1974 Miss America pageant. She was the youngest Miss Florida titleholder in pageant history.
- Linda Bloodworth-Thomason wrote Designing Women with Delta Burke, Dixie Carter, Jean Smart, and Annie Potts in mind. She had worked with Delta and Dixie on Filthy Rich, and Annie and Jean on Lime Street.
- Linda Bloodworth-Thomason’s husband, Harry Thomason, directed 17 episodes of the show throughout the seven seasons.
- Meshach Taylor, who played Anthony Bouvier, wasn’t originally planned as a series regular but ended up in 152 episodes. Taylor died in 2014.
- Dixie Carter, who played Julia Sugarbaker, died in 2010. Show creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason once said, “Thereâ€™s nobody on this show who was loved more than Dixie.’
- Although most of the Designing Women regulars have had very busy careers after the series ended, it was actually Meshach Taylor who landed the longest-lasting single role post Designing Women with his supporting role as best buddy Shel in the sitcom Daveâ€™s World from 1993-1997.
- What Designing Women favorite actor had parts in two legendary Academy Award Best Picture nominees? Alice Ghostley, who played recurring family friend Bernice Clifton, was part of the ensemble for both 1962â€™s To Kill a Mockingbird and 1967â€™s The Graduate. Ghostley also appeared in 1978â€™s Grease.
- The series pilot revolved around Suzanneâ€™s hitting it off romantically with Mary Joâ€™s ex. Scott Bakula guest-starred as Ted, the cheating gynecologist Mary Jo had put through medical school while raising their children.
- In Season 2â€™s â€œKilling All the Right People,â€ a groundbreaking episode which earned show creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason an Emmy nomination in 1988 for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series, the ladies plan a funeral for a fellow designer who is dying of AIDS. Bloodworth-Thomasonâ€™s mother died of AIDS in 1986. Scandalâ€™s Tony Goldwyn plays the young designer whose funeral they design.
- In Season 1â€™s â€œBeauty Contest,â€œ Mary Jo objects to her 12-year-old daughter Claudia entering in a beauty pageant, which leads to Juliaâ€™s famous “The night the lights went out in Georgia” speech, considered one of Dixie’s best moments on the show.
- Delta Burke asked show creator, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, to write â€œThey Shoot Fat Women Donâ€™t They,â€ a Season 4 episode addressing her weight issues, in which Suzanne attends her high school reunion, where people shun her because she weighs more than she did in high school. Bloodworth-Thomason wrote Suzanne an impassioned speech, to which the studio audience responded with tears, laughs, and a standing ovation. Delta Burkeâ€™s performance in this episode garnered her first Emmy nomination.
- Burkeâ€™s all-time favorite episode of the show is Season 4â€™s â€œThe Rowdy Girls,â€ in which Charleneâ€™s cousin Mavis coaches the ladies for a talent show, and Charlene coaches Mavis (Guiding Light‘s Kim Zimmer) to leave her abusive husband. The talent show features Suzanne, in blackface, lip-syncing with Anthony, Mickey & Sylviaâ€™s â€œLove is Strange,â€ and Julia, Mary Jo and Charlene performing â€œAinâ€™t No Mountain High Enoughâ€ a la The Supremes.
- Another one of Delta Burkeâ€™s favorite episodes is Season 2â€™s â€œStranded,â€ in which Suzanne and Anthony are traveling together to St. Louis to meet the others at a design show when a snowstorm closed the roads, forcing them to share a one-bed motel room â€” that is, after Suzanne finally allowed freezing Anthony to come in from the van. Bloodworth-Thomason was eager to mine humor as well as an unexpected friendship between Anthony and Suzanne, who could be a bit racist.
- Jean Smart found out she was pregnant just a few days before filming Season 3â€™s â€œCome on and Marry Me, Bill,â€ which takes place on the eve of Charleneâ€™s marriage to Air Force Pilot Bill (played by Douglas Barr). Hours before the wedding, the hapless couple find themselves locked together in “MÃ©nage-Ã -trois” handcuffs with the stripper hired to entertain at Billâ€™s bachelor party.
- Among the Designing Women cast, who is the king or queen of the theatrical box office, being a part of movies that have made over $1.4 billion dollars collectively at the U.S. box office? That would be Annie Potts (Mary Jo), who has appeared in such comedies as Pretty In Pink, Whoâ€™s Harry Crumb, and Jumpinâ€™ Jack Flash, but has scored major box office dollars with her roles in all three Ghostbusters movies and with her voice role as Bo Peep in all three Toy Story movies.
- The showâ€™s creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason first made a name for herself in Hollywood having earned an Emmy nomination for co-writing an episode of M*A*S*H. Sheâ€™d also created two short-lived series â€” Filthy Rich (1982-83), a spoof of nighttime soaps starring Delta Burke and Dixie Carter, and Lime Street (1985-86), a Robert Wagner-led drama in which Jean Smart and Annie Potts had guest-starred as sisters who were international jewel thieves.
- Linda Bloodworth-Thomason would write all of her scripts on legal pad, and they would turn out longer than the average sitcom script. As a result, the network would often have to time compress parts of shows to keep from cutting key material.
- The show aired a total of 7 seasons, although Delta Burke and Jean Smart both left the show at the end of Season 5.
One of our favorite moments from the series is in the Season 2 episode, “Dash Goff, the Writer,” when Suzanne’s soulmate wrote a thank-you note to the women where he described Suzanne, Julia, Mary Jo and Charlene. The episode ended on a wonder photo of the women. It gives us chills every time we see it:
Yesterday, in my mind’s eye, I saw four women standing on a verandah in white gauzy dresses and straw colored hats. They were having a conversation, and it was hot. Their hankies tucked in cleavages where eternal trickles of perspiration run from the female breast bone to exotic vacation spots that Southern men often dream about. They were sweet smelling, coy, cunning, voluptuous, voracious, delicious, pernicious, vexing and sexing…these earth sister rebel mothers, these arousers and carousers. And I was filled with a longing to join them. But like a whim of Scarlett’s, they turned suddenly and went inside, shutting me out with the bolt of a latch. And I was left only to pick up an abandoned handkerchief and savor the perfumed shadows of these women. These Southern women. This Suzanne, this Julia, this Mary-Jo and Charlene. Thanks for the comfort.
Celebrate Designing Women with an All-Time Favorite Episodes Week. The countdown continues tonight starting at 9/8c. The marathon finishes up tomorrow night at 9/8c on getTV.
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