Of course Teri Garr was everybody's biggest crush in the Seventies!

Revisit the comedic legend's early TV days when she was the dream girl of a "whole generation."

When a sniper opens fire on the 4077th in M*A*S*H's second season, everyone huddles in the dark, keeping still. That didn't stop Hawkeye from giving a pretty nurse a little nudge.

"This is eerie," the nurse tells Hawkeye.

"Sit a little closer," Hawkeye suggests, in typical ladies' man fashion. "It drives away the series."

"Why do I feel safe here with you?" she says, snuggling into Hawkeye's arms.

"Search me," Hawkeye jokes back. "I don't."

Playing the nurse in this scene from "The Sniper" is Teri Garr, an actor who became a comedy legend after gaining attention as one of the most crushworthy women of the Seventies.

She was everybody's crush in this era, not because of her beauty — although she had plenty of that — but because she appeared to be the complete package: the specific kinda dream girl who every girl wants as her best friend and every guy wants on his arm.

"Not quite the girl next door; that would be too perfect," Washington Post critic Tom Zito wrote in 1983. "She's more like the girl next door to the girl next door."

"I always had this American-pie face," Garr said.

Born to a vaudeville actor and a Rockette, Garr was destined for a career in entertainment.

"Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a dancer, to wear fancy costumes and play make-believe," Garr told the Santa Cruz Sentinel in 1984.

A dancer is precisely how Garr broke out, working hard to move up in Elvis movies and on the TV show Shindig!

"It dawned on me that I was better than the people dancing in the row in front of me," Garr told the Post. "But sometimes it's hard to be assertive. Even now, when I get tired of playing the roles I do, I think of the million other women who want to be me and I go right back to work and say, 'Thank you very much.'"

By the time Garr appeared on M*A*S*H, she had just broken out from background roles in movies to speaking roles on TV, starting when she memorably rolled into Mayberry in a red convertible on The Andy Griffith Show in 1968.

Her big breaks came that year from two memorable roles, one on the big screen, and one on TV.

For the Monkees movie Head, Jack Nicholson, who wrote the script, chose Garr as a woman who gets a snake bite and begs, "Quick, suck it before the venom reaches my heart!" This would become Garr's first-ver onscreen line.

Then, in the Star Trek episode "Assignment: Earth," she played a secretary mistaken for an agent who unwittingly helps an alien escape from Kirk and Spock. The episode was supposed to lead to a spin-off series, where Garr would have had her first TV cast role, but the spin-off series was not meant to be.

Instead, Garr said she got cast as a bunch of "birdbrained lasses" in bit parts on TV, which she said kept her from landing the major roles she felt she deserved.

"I've worked a lot, but it’s been mostly character roles," she told the Pittsburgh Press in 1984. "I'd like to play a leading lady who is the focal point of the picture, you know?"

"What I've done is more quantity than quality. I want to do quality," she said.

It didn't matter to folks in the audience whether Garr was in the spotlight, though, she still caught pretty much everyone's eye. The Pittsburgh Press article declared that "almost every adult male fell in love with a Teri Garr in his senior year in high school."

Garr thought this sort of attention was silly, but she could relate. When she was growing up, Garr confirmed in her memoir Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood that her celebrity crush was James Dean.

Although Garr was typecast for a long time as the kind of wholesome girl perfect for commercials for laundry detergent or toothpaste, and then later as a mom, she kept her head up and her eye on the prize.

"I've always had a very positive attitude," Garr told the Sentinel. "Whenever I walked out after being rejected in an interview, I always said, 'You are so wrong. You'll be sorry that you didn't choose me for the job.'"

Garr's fans know that the year after she appeared on M*A*S*H, her career picked up sensationally when Mel Brooks cast her as Inga in Young Frankenstein. She apparently got offered the role of Inga after nearly getting cast as Elizabeth, a role performed in the movie by Madeline Kahn.

"Mel picked me [for Elizabeth] out of 500 girls, but he admitted Madeline Kahn was considering the part," Garr said. "He called me back to say Madeline had accepted the role. But could I come back the next day with a German accent? I said, 'Ya, I zertainly can.'"

In his memoir, Brooks remembered her audition a little differently. He recalled that she got cast because the movie's star, Gene Wilder, also had a crush on Garr. "Teri was a dancer on television," Brooks wrote in Young Frankenstein: A Mel Brooks Book. "It was Gene, not me, who insisted that we audition her. The rumor is during the movie they may have fallen madly in love with each other."

Wilder wasn't the only one who saw something special in Garr, though.

"I knew Teri would be sensational," Brooks said.

Less than a decade later, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dustin Hoffman's acclaimed comedy Tootsie.

Now considered a comedic legend, Garr looks back at her time on M*A*S*H a little less romantically than Hawkeye actor Alan Alda probably does:

"I remember once saying I clawed my way to the middle," Garr told The Ottawa Citizen.

That newspaper declared "a whole generation of young men had a crush on her" during this scrappiest phase of her career. Asked what she thought of becoming one of the Seventies biggest sweethearts, Garr demurred, the perfect girl next door to the girl next door: "I'm really not aware of it. People say that and I say, 'Oh, you’re kidding.'"

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65 Comments

FloridaTopCat 13 months ago
No mention of Teri's 6 appearances on the TV Movies "McCloud" - which were part of the Sunday NBC Mystery Movie rotation along with Columbo and McMillan & Wife.
KentuckyPhil69 14 months ago
Not mine... Mine was and still is Kate Jackson ♥️♥️♥️
dorsey1956 38 months ago
She was really funny in Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton...
Anonymous 39 months ago
Beyond the looks...Teri is a super nice lady. Unfortunately, she has been ill for years and does not move around like she used to. However, her personality is still sweet and bubbly and she has always been kind to me!
LalaLucy 39 months ago
Just watched her( for about the 1000th time) in Tootsie. That movie is chockful of great moments but she has some of my favorites. 🙂
Gran1983 39 months ago
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JDnHuntsvilleAL Gran1983 38 months ago
PLEASE FLAG THIS SPAMMER!!!!!!
Flash4001 39 months ago
She was sexy as Inga in "Young Frankenstein".
She was pretty as John Denver's wife in "Oh God"
Flash4001 37 months ago
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Deleted 39 months ago
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JDnHuntsvilleAL 38 months ago
PLEASE FLAG THIS SPAMMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Inrodwetrust 39 months ago
She used to do this ongoing skit on the David letterman show in its early years where he would interview her while she showered that’s when I fell in love with her lol
Bret 39 months ago
For me, it was between Teri Garr and Jan Smithers.
KentuckyPhil69 Bret 14 months ago
Jan Smithers... Mercy!! Thank you for reminding me 😊
JHP 39 months ago
In the 70's there were so many for me

Stephanie Zimblist - Suzanne Pleshette - Julia Duffy - Elizabeth Montgomery - gees

NOW I have a haddock:)
denny JHP 39 months ago
Zimblist plays for the other team, much like my boyhood crush Kristy McNichol.
JHP denny 39 months ago
haven't had my coffee yet don't quite understand your reply:)
Wiseguy JHP 39 months ago
Zimbalist
JHP Wiseguy 39 months ago
I get it now and I miss spoke - I also meant Stephanie Powers:)
denny 37 months ago
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RedSamRackham 39 months ago
* Teri was also wonderful as a SNL guest host! ☺
djw1120 39 months ago
BTW, Robert Lansing, who played "Gary Seven" on the "Star Trek" episode, "Assignment Earth" was NOT an alien. He was a human that was taken from the Earth by an alien species and made "superior" to watch over the "regular" humans of Earth.
bnichols23 djw1120 39 months ago
Am I remembering wrong, or was it his forebears who were taken?
StrayCat bnichols23 39 months ago
I thought Seven said "they" were taken as children implying there are others like him.
bnichols23 StrayCat 39 months ago
The script didn't perfectly dovetailed (a lot of Rod Serling's TV stuff didn't either), & he did say to Kirk that he was "of this time period," but also said to Isis that it was "primitive ... incredible that people can exist like this. At least we won't have to." He also said the missing agents were descendants of humans taken from the Earth approximately six thousand years prior, which would imply that as a high-level supervisor he wouldn't be someone actually from 20th century Earth. The computer said that although his voiceprint matched, its records showed no record of a Gary Seven assigned to the planet. It'd seem to be [please forgive me -grin-] illogical for a contemporary person to be picked out, removed, established as a top supervisor, & reimplanted to fix a problem due caused by the deaths of agents descendant from forever ago. :)
UTZAAKE 39 months ago
Another actress featured in a MeTV article 2.5 weeks ago could've also easily qualify for "everybody's biggest crush in the Seventies." That would have to be Marcia Strassman who was four years younger than Garr. Full disclosure: my original crush back in the 1970s was Pamela Sue Martin.
cperrynaples UTZAAKE 39 months ago
Then I guess you saw her as a medium on Nancy Drew 2.0!
RedSamRackham UTZAAKE 39 months ago
* My 1970's crush was Dolly Parton! ☺
JHP RedSamRackham 39 months ago
that counts as 3 crushes:) She is angel for sure
RedSamRackham 37 months ago
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TheSentinel 39 months ago
Not me. Farrah Fawcett was my first actress crush back in the '70s, right when Charlie's Angels debuted.
djw1120 TheSentinel 39 months ago
Too bad she was only on for the first season.
BTW, she made more money from the "famous swimsuit" poster than she ever made from anything else.
Farrah was just a lot of hot HAIR. :-p
djw1120 37 months ago
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Diana 39 months ago
I don't remember ANYONE being a big Teri Garr fan back in the day. She was always 2nd rate as an actress and beauty was never her forte!
TheSentinel Diana 39 months ago
Yeah, she seems more like an average-looking girl next door to me.
JQ Diana 39 months ago
What do you know---you're a woman. I assure she was extremely attractive--I would have left my mother for her!
dangler1907 Diana 39 months ago
Either you have memory problems or you're not very observant. Especially after Young Frankenstein, virtually all teen boys and young men had a crush on her. Smart, talented and sexy.
TimHarper Diana 39 months ago
Turning a little green there!
JQ 37 months ago
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Fishbassist 39 months ago
Everyone wanted to take a “Rrroll rrroll rrroll in ze hay!” With her.
Flash4001 Fishbassist 39 months ago
You can have the blonde and I'll have the one in the turban
Flash4001 Fishbassist 39 months ago
PUT THE CANDLE BACK!!!!!!!
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