June Cleaver Was a Feminist!

Reconsidering the Female Characters of Early Television


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About the Book

Long dismissed as ciphers, sycophants and “Stepford Wives,” women characters of primetime television during the 1950s through the 1980s are overdue for this careful reassessment. From smart, savvy wives and resilient mothers (including the much-maligned June Cleaver and Donna Reed) to talented working women (long before the debut of “Mary Tyler Moore”) to crimebusters and even criminals, American women on television emerge as a diverse, empowered, individualistic, and capable lot, highly worthy of emulation and appreciation.

About the Author(s)

Cary O’Dell is with the film, video and recorded sound division of the Library of Congress. He has worked as an archivist for the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago and for the Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland. He lives in Culpeper, Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

Cary O’Dell
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 244
Bibliographic Info: 35 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7177-5
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9329-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments  vi

Foreword by Yvonne Craig  1

Introduction—“I’ll Be Your Mirror”  3

1. “Here, There and Everywhere”: Television’s Big Picture  11

2. “Mama Said”: Television’s Wives and Moms  23

3. “She’s a Rebel”: Lucy and Her Kind  73

4. “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered”: The Rise of the “Magicom” and the Women Who Dominated It  88

5. “She Works Hard for the Money”: TV’s Women at Work  98

6. “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves”: Single in the City  162

7. “Femme Fatale”: Television’s Secret Agents and Super Heroines  176

8. “Voices Carry”: A Conclusion  204

Appendix—The Myths of a Medium  207

Chapter Notes  213

Bibliography  224

Index  229

Book Reviews & Awards

“O’Dell has clearly done his homework”—Communication Booknotes Quarterly.