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Broadcast Firsts

bedBed Sharing - Traditionally, all married TV couples in the 1950s and early 1960s were required sleep in separate (twin beds) to uphold moral codes of the times. Many of the top couples of all time such as Rob and Laura Petrie, and even Ward and June Cleaver never had the satisfaction of knocking knees in the same bed in front of the American public.

The first TV program to show a husband and wife sharing the same bed on a regular basis occurred in 1947 on the Dumont sitcom MARY KAY AND JOHNNY. TV's first sitcom ever. The program told the tale of a newly married couple living in Greenwich Village. Unfortunately, no copies of the show exist so we must rely on the documented memories of others to prove the point. Later in the 1950s Ozzie and Harriet broke the taboo and were seen in the same bed.

While Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on I LOVE LUCY definitely slept in separate beds, their neighbors Fed and Ethel were actually the first on that show to sleep together in the same bed (well sort of). It seems on the January 17, 1955 episode "First Stop" Ethel and Fred try to navigate their way through a sagging mattress and consequently are seen squirming in bed together.

Another sitcom couple who have linked with being the first to share a bed were Darrin and Samantha Stephens, a witch and advertising executive who lived at 1164 Morning Glory Circle Drive in Westport, Connecticut on the prime time sitcom BEWITCHED/ABC/1964-72.

Florence Henderson (a.k.a. Carol Brady) from THE BRADY BUNCH had claimed for years that she and her TV husband Mike Brady (Robert Reed) were the first couple to share a bed together, but through the magic of reruns, her claims has been deposed. And, of course, while Herman and Lilly Munster on THE MUNSTERS and Fred and Wilma Flintstone were seen in the same bed, they are not technically speaking humans. The Munsters being monsters and the Flintstones cartoons. See also Urban Legends Webpage - "Early to Bed"

TRIVIA NOTE: The reason TV couples were not allowed in bed together harkened back to the Hayes Code, a series of rules and regulations designed to moderate the action of Hollywood film industry directors and producers in the 1930s.

The Hayes Code censorship guidelines dictated that a man and woman could never be seen in the same bed. If the situation occurred that a man and woman were on the same bed together, one of them had to keep a leg on the floor. So, for instance, a man could sit on the side of a bed and talk to a woman in the bed, but one of his legs had to maintain contact with the floor at all times.

Marilyn Monroe in Bed
Marilyn Monroe in Bed

The Hayes Codes also prohibited the navel of a woman to be displayed in the screen. Filmmakers found loopholes in the rule, however. In the case of belly dancers, a well-placed jewel in the belly button helped them bypass the spirit of the Hayes Code and continue to make "sheik" & "harem" movie adventures.

The power of the Hayes Code reared its head in the 1960s, as well,. when actress like Barbara Eden as Jeannie the Genie in her Harem Costume on the sitcom I DREAM OF JEANNIE, Sally Field in her bathing suits from teenage comedy GIDGET, and Dawn Wells wearing her knotted-up shirts on the maritime sitcom GILLIGAN'S ISLAND were all made to cover up their navels from the supposed leering eyes of lusty American youth. Thankfully, times have changed.

The Hayes Code fell to the wayside when it was replaced by the MPAA Ratings announced in November 1968 (G, M, R and X rating guidelines).


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