A new show cropped up on Amazon Prime recently that no fan I know had ever heard about, no biographer had ever written about or obscure list mentioned. I've come to call it "the baby thing."
Amazon Prime has been including some great old 1970s material lately, like all the Tattle Tales episodes and Paul Lynde’s Halloween Special and now this Sonny & Cher special from 1971. Most fans I’ve spoken to have never even heard of it, let alone seen it; which begs the question: what else is out there that we don't know about? Anyway, many thanks to Cher scholar Michael for alerting me to its existence.
The show is called The First Nine Months are the Hardest and Amazon lists the air date as 1971, but a few fans tell me it looks like it was filmed much earlier judging by how Sonny and Cher look.
And there is a lot of Sonny & Cher here doing skits and singing songs. I can't help but think this show might have helped sell TV execs on their ability to do a variety show.
The show is hosted by Dick Van Dyke (who I love!) and includes outfits by Bob Mackie (which seem oddly pedestrian for him) and an Emmy nominated score by Ray Charles. Whaa???
Cher scholar Robrt dug up an earlier non-musical version directed by Carl Reiner in 1964.
The show features three real celebrity couples. Michele Lee is lovely and amazing and her husband James Farentino is nice on the eyes but doesn't really pop out. Ken Berry and his wife Jackie Joseph are typical Broadway fare. The other couples have oodles of talent for sure, way beyond Sonny & Cher in song and dance ability, but somehow Sonny & Cher have such an interesting chemistry in comparison. They steal the show.
The tone of the show is a bit weird, nostalgic and retro even for 1971, as if its trying to convince bra-burning women to settle down. But really, it's all about the gas-company sponsor promoting fears in new mothers in order to get them to want to switch from electric or coal to “clean gas.” But aside from that, this is a gem of a new find for Sonny & Cher fans.
Check it out on streaming from Amazon Prime. In the meantime, here's the play-by-play of the show (at the least the parts where Sonny & Cher appear).
The show begins with a big song and dance number. Each crib has the couple's surname on it.
In Cher's first skit, the new mothers are in a doctor's waiting room (Dick Van Dyke plays a somewhat smug doctor) wondering how hard their pregnancies will be. Cher's hair looks great in all these skits.
In the next skit with Cher, Sonny is trying to call Cher's father to tell him the good news, but Cher wants to keep the secret until she's showing.
In the next skit, Sonny & Cher argue about purchasing too many things for the baby.
In the next skit, they argue about Cher's mother coming over to help out once the baby is born.
Next is another big song-and-dance with the full cast singling about baby names. Cher actually considers the name Mary. I can't deny this was somewhat exciting seeing as I once fantasized about being the kid of Sonny & Cher. As if Cher would ever pick such a pedestrian name for her kid, though.
But I always think about that little grade-school boy who wrote about the meaning of love as "when your name sounds good in their mouth."
This last skit is a creepy one where the three women idolize their doctor, Dick Van Dyke, who sits on a throne! The women are all infantilized as little girls. Ugh. This was back before you could insist on having a female gynecologist!
The last skit is where the dad's get one last visit at their wives before they're wheeled into the delivery room. This was also back in the day when new fathers did not get to stay in the delivery room! What a time capsule this is!