A brief history of TV couples sleeping in the same bed
No, the Flintstones nor the Bradys were not the first to share a bed. Not by a longshot.
As the fall television was kicking off in September of '69, gossip columnist Earl Wilson had a hot scoop. He got the news from Florence Henderson herself, who was promoting The Brady Bunch, a new sitcom about to premiere on ABC.
"Television's really running wild!" Henderson told the writer. "In our own series, we even have a double bed! That's a big breakthrough in TV. We had some fight to get it. They wanted to keep us in twin beds, like they do everybody else."
At this point in the interview, the PR person panicked. "That's off the record about the double bed," the network rep said. "We don't want it to get around to scare people." Wilson published it anyway.
The network had little to worry about; Henderson had little to boast about. If not the norm, television couples sleeping in the same bed was hardly new. It was as old as sitcoms themselves, in fact.
It all began shortly after World War II…
1. Mary Kay and Johnny
This sitcom racked up a lot of firsts. Easy to do when you are literally the first sitcom in the history of television. Mary Kay and Johnny Stearns were married in real life. That perhaps allowed folks to not get too worked up about them sharing a bed. Or working Mary Kay's pregnancy into the show. (Sorry, I Love Lucy was not the first to do that.) The show premiered on the long-dead DuMont Network, before briefly jumping to CBS and settling on NBC. So why is Mary Kay and Johnny so forgotten? There were only 250,000 TV sets in America in 1947, and the series was largely a regional affair out of New York. And episodes were broadcast live, with little thought of preservation. Only one is known to exist, in the Paley Center.
2. I Love Lucy
Lucy and Desi famously slept in separate beds when I Love Lucy premiered in 1951. However, the show did eventually get around to a double bed. In "First Stop," which aired on January 17, 1955, Fred and Ethel swap sleeping arrangements with Lucy and Desi while on the road at an Ohio hotel.
3. The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet
Like Mary Kay and Johnny, Ozzie and Harriet were hitched in the real world, which is likely why censors and conservatives let their shared bed slide. The bed plays a prominent role in "A Day in Bed," broadcast on May 23, 1956, when Ozzie decides he needs to stay in his pajamas under the covers around the clock.
Image: American International Television
4. The Flintstones
The Flintstones are often cited as being the first couple to share a bed on television. Not so, as we have already learned. First animated couple? Perhaps. First couple in vivid color? Likely. Chronologically, they are the first, technically, seeing how they lived in the Stone Age… but now we're just getting technical.
Darrin and Samantha share a mattress from the get-go. In the first handful of episodes, viewers get a glimpse of the pair's bedroom. In episode seven, "The Witches Are Out," seen here, the two are at least shown under the covers.
Image: Sony Pictures Television
6. The Munsters
Maybe it was the kooky magical elements, but networks eased up on splitting beds. Clean-cut fictional couple Rob and Laura Petrie might have snoozed in separate beds — but a witch, or some monsters? The rules could be bent, seemingly. A month after the above Bewitched, Fred and Lily were shown sleeping together in "Autumn Croakus," on November 26, 1964.
Image: NBCUniversal Television Distribution
7. Green Acres
The Douglases can be seen in their jammies, tucked under a pink blanket, in "Alf and Ralph Break Up," which aired on December 13, 1967.
8. The Brady Bunch
While the above couples beat the Bradys to bed, Mike and Carol certainly logged far more time together under the covers. The Brady parents were shown quite often in their bedroom and in repose. There was perhaps a good reason for that. Labor laws dictated that the cast full of kids could not work long hours. So the sitcom wrote a lot of scenes with the parents, to fill the day with shooting.
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