That Girl!

I’ve mentioned earlier how much I was a child of television. TV was so much more soothing, so much friendlier, more welcoming than real life. Especially since I was surrounded by the reality of the 1970s while watching American television’s version of the 1960s. I still feel nostalgia for fictional worlds of that medium. Like the movie Pleasantville shifted 10 or 15 years later.

No surprise then that my very first infatuation was with with a young Marlo Thomas from the TV show That Girl.

Every episode opened with people talking about her character, Ann Marie, in the third-person, eventually pointing and saying, “that girl!” and Ann Marie would spin around and smile that dazzling, cute smile, all wide-eyed, and then they’d go into the opening credits where we see the single young woman new to the big city.

Click here to listen to the very first opening.

And here for the theme song I remember from my childhood.

When I was about 5, I announced to my friend Cynthia that I was in love with Marlo Thomas. Cynthia told me she was in love with Liza Minelli. I guess at that age, it made complete sense to me that Cynthia would have a crush on a woman. Women were so much prettier, after all. But I sure did think I’d picked a prettier woman to crush on. We pretended we were out on double dates with our beloved celebrities.

I owned two copies of the Free To Be You And Me album and listened to them all the time. I had the book, and I watched the television special, which they repeated every year throughout the 70s.

A few years later, when my mom was figuring out that I wasn’t learning to read, she hired a tutor. (The first reading test I remember taking put me 2 years behind my age group, where all my peers were 2 years ahead of our age group!)

My tutor must have asked my mom what I was interested in, and my mom must have said, The boy’s got it bad for Marlo Thomas! So my tutor told me she was the head of the local chapter of the Marlo Thomas fan club (Hey, it could happen!) and that she’d get me an autographed photo if I did my reading assignments. Good motivation. I never did learn to read properly, but I must have done my assignments, because I had a “Warmest Wishes XOXO” autograph for years. I don’t know where it is now, but this is the image:

But we have to learn to laugh at even our warmest, fondest icons of childhood. My old college friend and I constantly make fun of the opening of That Girl, and SNL apparently did their own spoof in the 1980s called “That Black Girl!”

The other night, I discovered a dead-on parody in the third season of Family Guy, which I’ve reproduced here.

(click for the entire set)


2 Responses to That Girl!

  1. Wally Conger says:

    Ah, a fellow Marlophile! I had it bad for Marlo Thomas for many, many years from 1966-on, and I was a faithful “That Girl!” watcher. Marlo STILL looks great. I even forgive her her politics and for marrying Phil Donohue.

  2. Hillary says:

    Hi there…I found your post while searching for some That Girl pics – I’m recently obsessed after buying the first season on dvd – and I had to laugh out loud at your heartwarming recollection of double-dating with Marlo, Liza, and your best pal Cynthia. Thanks for sharing, and glad I’m not the only one who still loves That Girl! And hey,<>find that autograph!<>

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