September 2, 2013

Did "Free to Be You & Me" imply getting a lot of work done to one's once perky face?

When did you first encounter Marlo Thomas? Did she look like this?



That is indeed her, in 1960, on an episode of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis," but you're more likely to know her from the late-60s show, which was infectiously popular when I was in high school, "That Girl":




(Look at the image on the kite at 0:38 and you'll see what got me onto this topic: the question, raised in the previous post, of what the Lululemon logo looks like. Sidenote: those opening credits were totally ripped off by Mary Tyler Moore, who kind of also stole Marlo's whole concept of the modern woman.)

Obviously, she needed to get some work done to look like "That Girl" and not that girl that was on "Dobie Gillis." Look at her father:



I grew up watching his show, "Make Room for Daddy." Anyway, Marlo went on to that "Free to Be You & Me" project, which began in 1972, when I was 21 and not interested in that sort of thing, and not just because it was for children and parents, but because it was square and middle class. I don't think I have ever listened to a single track on that record, but I know it had a huge impact on younger people. (I wonder if Obama's mother played it for him. I'll bet she thought it was too square, too middle class.)

Here's an example of a blogger — Melissa at On the Rag Mag — who idolized Marlo Thomas:
I grew up worshiping her because of her involvement with Free to Be You & Me. OH MY! How I loved that album and the show. To say that I was obsessed with it would be an understatement. To tell you that pretty much anyone associated with the project brings tears to my eyes, warmth to my heart, and a tingle to my nether regions would not be a lie.
For someone who loves Marlo not because of "That Girl" (or "Dobie") but because of "Free to Be," it's stressful to look at what she's done to herself:



Melissa says:
Marlo Thomas is a woman of her generation, and the way she chooses to age is up to her. I was really sad to see her stretched and snipped beyond recognition, but that is her choice. No one can stay young forever, and we all deal with the aging process in different ways. It’s a mind fuck no matter how you go at it, and it’s her face so who am I to say anything?
Oh, bullshit! You did say something. Quit pretending you didn't. It may be "up to" Marlo to decide what to do, but she did it precisely to affect what we see. She did it to us as well as to herself. We can complain. We can try to influence others not to make the same awful mistake. And there's just so much hypocrisy, or at least that's what I would say if I had any familiarity at all with the songs on "Free to Be You & Me."

As to whether "the aging process" is "a mind fuck no matter how you go at it," if that's the level of wisdom you've reached, that doesn't speak well for the foundation you acquired from "Free to Be You & Me." One more reason why I will continue to refrain from ever hearing "Free to Be" and to believe that it's drivel.

32 comments:

The Godfather said...

Marlo Thomas is in her mid-70's. I know a lot of people in that age range, and she looks better than most. Of course, if she's still trying to act perky, that's not good.

Danny Thomas could and did have a very successful career with a big schnoz, but his daughter probably needed to have hers fixed to have an entertainment career. Unless she could sing like Barbra Streisand.

Oso Negro said...

You gained your celebrity by your wits as a mature woman. It is probably a much more unpleasant thing to age if have made your trade being known for fresh-faced perkiness.

St. George said...

Whether or not the opening sequence of MTM was "ripped off," I don't know. It was shot by an Iranian director, a former assistant to Robert Altman, who did the credits for Hawaii Five-O and Get Smart. So he must have been a smart cookie.

Moore wore a wig to emphasize the difference between her new character and Laura Petrie.

The beret? It was chosen to symbolize rebellion—Think beatniks and the Black Panthers!

The beret toss was a very last minute afterthought. The scowling woman in the background? Pure chance and symbolizing the older generation's disapproval of the modern liberated single woman.

This from the book "Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted."

Moondog said...

Was plastic surgery precise enough in the mid-1960's to do that good a job? I suppose she could have simply matured into the "That Girl" face. An impressive transformation either way.

Paddy O said...

Plastic surgery for aging women is like toupees for balding men.

MomRunningFromCancer said...

It always seems like people go too far with plastic surgery and lip augmentation! Like many things a little goes a long way!

Who actually has lips like that????
They look similar to grapefruit for breasts!!!

I remember watching some movie with my sons when they were younger and pointing out to them - that the actress's breasts were not real! They were saline / silicone filled balloons!
The things we do!!!!

FYI -full disclosure - I admit to having small amounts of Botox above my eye brows to "lift my brow" and a little filler along my laugh lines, so I am not immune to this!!!!!
All things in moderation!

Michael K said...

I knew Margie Thomas in college. I always thought she was "Marlo" after a nose job but the Dobie Gillis shot doesn't look like her. Maybe they are sisters. Margie was quite talented, but looked like her father.

Michael K said...

Nope, it's her.

"They were married on January 15, 1936 and had three children, Margaret Julia ("Marlo"), Theresa ("Terre") and Charles Anthony ("Tony") Thomas."

EDH said...

I remember just about every vignette from the "That Girl" intro.

I didn't recognize a single note or lyric from the theme song.

In a golden age of TV intro theme songs, "That Girl" was entirely forgettable.

Indeed the producers ditched the insipid lyrics, at least by season three.

(Aside, love the Rapunzel Clairol ad narrated by Edward Everett "Fractured Fairy Tales" Horton after the season three intro.)

Ann Althouse said...

"I remember just about every vignette from the "That Girl" intro."

I remember thinking it was weird that she was flying a kite with a logo of herself on it.

YoungHegelian said...

I guess after the success of both the Danny Thomas Show/Make Room for Daddy & The Andy Griffith Show (which was a spinoff from TDTS) the networks thought that they owed DT the indulgence of a little fatherly nepotism.

"That Girl" portrayed MT's character as having a love-life that was already an anachronism by the time the series was on the air. The influence of Daddy Thomas's Lebanese Catholicism?

Inga said...

Aging is not as much of a mind fuck as I thought it would be. It's gradual enough that one can adjust to a new reality, and the transition can proceed much more smoothly. Time marches on and we can choose to march with it or march against it, doesn't mean we have to feel unattractive or be unattractive. My idea isn't to look young, it's to feel comfortable in ones own skin.

For me, that means if one can't feel comfortable without plastics, it doesn't reflect well on ones coping skills. Aging isn't a deformity, it's natural and an older woman's face probably doesn't appear attractive to a younger man for biological reasons, oops I sound like Saint Croix, okay, I'll stop now.

Carol said...

Never watched it, only heard about it. I was blissfully countercultural by that time, and from her looks she seemed terribly straight.

Will said...

Wow, that theme song has a real Spanky and Our Gang "Like to Get to Know You" vibe. The latter is a song I still love and was one of my first couple iTunes purchases 9 years ago. Great style of music!!

David said...

Well the work worked and Marlo was attractive when young. I remember at the time thinking how little she looked like Danny but in those days surgery never occurred to me.

My second wife (now deceased) spent quite a bit of time with Marlo when Marlo was decorating an apartment in NY. Sally (my wife) wasn't the lead decorator but she and Marlo were the same age and took a liking to each other. Sally said Marlo was fun, easy to work with and smart. So I have a high opinion of Marlo because I have a high opinion of Sally. Bless you Sally.

Anyway I think Marlo was quite attractive before the transformation. Not splashy but attractive and very composed looking. There are lots of ways to be attractive, not all of them involving glamour.

She made an investment and a huge leap to change her looks. It could have backfired but she had talent to go along with it.

Aging a mind fuck? Only if you thought you would be young forever. Being old is great in many ways. Too bad it can't last longer.

William said...

Some men , it is said, have the kind of head shape that allows them to wear a toupee without detection. Some women have the kind of face that can absorb plastic surgery. I presume Barbara Walters has had some work done, but her face looks natural and attractive.......An older woman can look kinder or wiser or more good humored than a younger one, but the sex appeal event, like the uneven parallel bars, belongs to younger women........Marlo Thomas can take some satisfaction in knowing that she has aged better than Mary Tyler Moore.

LordSomber said...

I wonder if she knows about her father's glass coffee table.

kimsch said...

I met her once, at a restaurant (Arnie's - owner and founder of Morton's) with her husband Phil Donahue, and her son. She was very gracious, being interrupted during dinner and all.

cassandra lite said...

She really looked like little Danny there.

A wonderful man.

Freeman Hunt said...

Why fight aging when your efforts are so likely to mock you?

Melissa from On The Rag Mag said...

I appreciate your taking the time to read my post. I have posted a response on my site as what I wanted to say was rather lengthy.
http://www.ontheragmag.com/gab/free-to-be-you-and-me/

FrankN said...

The French, who I think unfairly get a very bad rap, have a wonderful expression "sans age" which with their impossible pronunciation rules is pronounced "san sage". And of course it means "without age". A woman [or, I suppose, a man] who maintains her body, doesn't let the pounds or kilograms overwhelm her, can at any chronological age have a look in her eyes which is "sans age", and it has always been the eyes which are the window into one's soul. I'll take the look in the eyes of a woman "sans age" long before caring about a plastic surgeon's slight of hand.

FrankN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rjschwarz said...

Well Sophia Loren seems to have managed to age well. I don't think its all genetics. Its living properly and not letting the surgeon fix what really isn't broken.

David said...

When older, learn to walk on your hands to counteract the effects of gravity.

buddy larsen said...

Emmy Lou Harris is 67 or so, and still sells a love song, you listen and watch, and you still imagine meeting her someplace, and charming her and making her fall in love with you.

Claude Hopper said...

I'm not sure which one is Marlo in the picture at the top of the page. If she is the one on the left, the surgeon did a great job.

Liz said...

Yes, she was Margie Thomas while an undergrad at USC in the mid-1950s. My dad was a classmate and used to show us her picture in the old yearbooks. She was unrecognizable even compared to the Dobie Gillis still. Apparently, a good nose job was showbiz resume requirement back in 1958.

zefal said...

The beret toss was a very last minute afterthought. The scowling woman in the background? Pure chance and symbolizing the older generation's disapproval of the modern liberated single woman.


When MTM was promoting her autobiograpghy in Minneapolis back in the 90s that woman came to a book signing and introduced herself MTM. She explained to MTM that she was out shopping on her lunch break and when she saw A young womean out in the street she feared for her safety. The shot was done on the sly so the public wouldn't know they were being filmed. They almost didn't use the shot because of that woman's reaction. If you noticed, there's another woman who has the same horrified look on her face just before being blocked out by the one with the more distinct glasses on

The Odd Couple which started the same year as MTM (1970) has a similar thing happen in their intro. When Felix is carrying his luggage and sits down near a large concrete planter there's a guy who circles him and stares at him.

Old Survivor said...

The ultimate poseur, John Kerry, gives plastic surgeons a bad name.
See video of his appearance before the congressional committee in the 70's vs today. He looks like a marshmallow.

King Richard said...

My wife, who loved 'Free to Be' as a child, speaks often of how the entire thing was an insidious 'cultural marxism for kids in one lesson' experience.

DS said...

Man, I hated that movie. We had to watch that every year in elementary school in the late seventies. I had no idea she was in it. The song "It's Alright to Cry" was especially annoying. I've since had my own babies and hope they don't have to watch it.