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And we talked very much, Tracey and I did, about her taking the initiative to get help herself and she just couldn't do it. Do you realize that for the rest of your life you'll be walking around with my name on your arm? You may not stick knives up your nose, you may not gargle with razor blades, and you may not drink water directly out of the toilet. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: I don't know how to play. And I actually, I think, lost her friendship for a short period of time because I was so afraid she was going to die that I called the head of the studio and I asked them to intervene. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "GROWING PAINS") KERNS: A tattoo! JEREMY MILLER, ACTOR: But it says "Mother." (LAUGHTER) KERNS: I don't care what it says, Ben. MATHERS: Because if you want to be aggressive, I can be just as aggressive as you can.
DORIS ROBERTS, "EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND": Well, it's great. And when the kids leave, they feel that they're dismissed, that they have no purpose in life. HENDERSON: I want to ask Meredith Baxter, because I think you were really kind of the first one that broke the mold. I mean, eventually at one of the reunions I became a real estate agent, you know. So I wasn't -- I was Maggie Seaver, but on air I was Maggie Malone, so. Well, this were our spin on "The Brady Bunch." HENDERSON: OK. HENDERSON: Well, Barbara, so that we can all keep our jobs, we're going to take a short break. You never realized how lucky you are to be a part of this wonderful family. I had a situation many, many years ago where a man I knew died of AIDS that I had dated, and the tabloids threatened -- he didn't die of AIDS. So they get into your life, and tell you how to live it, what to do about it, and why you should, because they think they're saving you from pain and from making wrong choices. HENDERSON: Well, I think so, too, and also, it happens to be very funny, Doris. You and Michael Gross were ex-hippies, and so you started breaking some new ground, I think, as far as TV moms went. BAXTER: Although -- although, you know, although they got to show the parents screwing up once in a while and not living up to the kids's expectations, and then it gives us an opportunity to say, I'm sorry, I was in error. That was the end of any real excitement in Elyse's life. It was -- it was kind of -- that was a big deal, but it was -- we were the Seavers. (CROSSTALK) I mean, there was a lot of inside kind of comparisons between our two shows, but it was really "Father Knows Least," you know. BAXTER: Elyse Keaton did have a job, and in one, oh, memorable season, I think I even had a drawing board. BAXTER: However, the best -- the most I could do after the first season -- I think, maybe the second season, the drawing board left. I have held my tongue for two years, and I have given you every benefit of the doubt. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: The kind of person you are: You're an angry, pushy, manipulative bitch. They said he had died of AIDS, and he hadn't died of AIDS. And they were threatening to write a story saying he had died of AIDS, and then print all the women that he had dated. MEREDITH BAXTER, "FAMILY TIES": Well, I know that we were -- I think I came from the era of the fallible mom. There was a wonderful episode in which Michael Gross, who played Steven Keaton, my husband on the show, had an extramarital affair -- or no, he was tempted to. HENDERSON: Well, Joanna, Joanna Kerns from "growing pains," I think you were one of the first to actually have a job. (LAUGHTER) You know, it had the comedy kind of father role, and if anything, I was the tougher one in our TV family. And I would just beg to: "OK, instead of a load of laundry, I will carry through some drawing. But it was so juicy that I went to the director and the guys going, and I was going, hey, you know, Elyse could do that, Elyse could be tempted to have an affair in some arena. I would be hustling through the background, `Hi, everybody, I'm off to' -- and gone." But... BILLINGSLEY: I have to tell you that June Cleaver had a job in "The New Leave It to Beaver." She did. And it was heartbreaking to see what was going on with Michael and what he's had to deal with. I think that an audience doesn't realize on a show -- like most of us have had very long runs with our series -- that you grow so close to each other. It was for us on "The Brady Bunch." And I would like to ask you if all of you had those kind of relationships on your shows. (LAUGHTER) We were so free to make fun of each other. And he showed up not on one occasion, but many occasions. HENDERSON: I'm sure, but you probably saved her -- saved her life. You know, all of us are -- these kids become your kids, and you go through everything with them. And just because you're in the public eye doesn't mean you can't be sick, you know. BAXTER: But all the more reason to try and keep it quiet and keep a lid on it... KERNS: But she's done a lot for kids, young girls with this problem. HENDERSON: Well, I know when Robert Reed on "The Brady Bunch" became ill and he died, and of course, the tabloids put it on the cover that he died of AIDS.
Tell me a little bit about your relationship with Michael. BAXTER: Oh, I tell you, during those years, I've got to say we -- it was nonstop laughter, seven years of laughing the entire time we were working, because we were such a close relationship with all of the -- actually all of the cast members. He -- I think he's just been a great inspiration to all of us, and we wish him only the best. KERNS: Oh, we did, and it was -- we were the same way. And I always said that I would have loved to have tapes of the times between scenes when we would just be playing for the audience, because it was so much fun. I have to tell you he showed up at Kirk Cameron's 16th birthday party in support of Kirk, basically in a way to pass a mantle and say you're going to be the next teen star. (CROSSTALK) I know that you also dealt with an illness on your show with Tracey Gold, who suffered anorexia nervosa. And she now is OK about it, but it was very hard, because I think she was mad at me for a long time. because of the, you know, the shame, and you feel like you have to -- you have a profile you have to keep up and expectations there to fulfill, and it's very difficult. (LAUGHTER) MILLER: You never said I couldn't get a tattoo.
(LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) (LAUGHTER) HENDERSON: Well, Meredith, I know that -- that that news was probably very devastating to you and to everyone on the show. Her family really came through and helped her at the time. MILLER: Well, we could, like, add an "s" and it would say "Smother." (LAUGHTER) KERNS: Don't tempt me, Ben. Do you realize that when I was pregnant with you I walked around for nine months and didn't have a single cup of coffee so that your body would be perfect? I could have gone to Colombia and sucked beans off trees! (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER") JERRY MATHERS, ACTOR: Violet?
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, five decades of TV's most famous moms join Barbara Billingsley from "Leave It to Beaver" and her showbiz son, Jerry Mathers, plus Meredith Baxter from "Family Ties," Joanna Kerns from "Growing Pains," and Doris Roberts from "Everybody Loves Raymond." Tonight's guest host, Florence Henderson from "The Brady Bunch." They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE. I'm Florence Henderson, sitting in for Larry King, who's on vacation. Billingsley, I want to start with you, because you're kind of the -- the dean of TV moms, I would say. I mean, you were the perfect mom of the '50s, and of course, have been Beaver's mom for years. JOANNA KERNS, "GROWING PAINS": Similar but not quite, right? I mean, "The Brady Bunch" started end of the '60s and through the '70s. We weren't allowed to talk to our children above a certain level. But I talked to him a couple of weeks ago, and I'm so impressed with the grace and dignity and incredible courage that he has shown in dealing with this. I'm sure it was not his idea of how wanted his career to finish out, you know, working with the Parkinson's Foundation and creating his own foundation here, but what a gift to other people who are struggling with this: the courage to say, OK, you know, he can do this, I can do this. And I don't think people often realize, as one of you mentioned, you know, people in public eye do get ill. And somehow this story got squashed, but it was -- it was the fashion then to do the things like that.
THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. You know, I was thinking, too, we were so restricted. But I have to say -- and you know, I don't mean to say I'm an intimate part of his circle there. And it was so devastating, because all of us loved him so much and knew that he was gay, had so much respect for him.
Earlier in my career, I had the great pleasure of being mom to one of TV's best-known families, "The Brady Bunch." Tonight, I'm joined by other famous TV moms. It just goes on and on and on, like "The Brady Bunch." But do you see any great differences between TV moms today and when you were doing "Beaver" originally? BILLINGSLEY: No, I think there's a lot of difference, because they're lucky if they've got a mother and father together today, where we were... It's interesting what they get away with today in television. (LAUGHTER) But everything I do as my character comes from love. Meredith Baxter was Fox's TV mom on "Family Ties." Here's a clip. And people do love them and care about them and care about their feelings.
In Los Angeles, Barbara Billingsley from "Leave It to Beaver," Meredith Baxter from "Family Ties," Joanna Kerns from "Growing Pains," and Doris Roberts from "Everybody Loves Raymond." I cannot tell you how thrilled I am to have all of you great ladies here with me tonight. BARBARA BILLINGSLEY, "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER": Of course! And I'd like to ask Doris Roberts about that, because she is the, I think, currently the only one that is a mom on "Everybody Loves Raymond." So Doris, what's it like being Ray Romano's mom? A lot of people refer to her as the mother from hell. I mean, these are women who were taught to get married very early, have children immediately, and take care of a family. KERNS: Well, actually it was premise of the show, was that Maggie goes back to work after raising her kids, and Jason comes home to -- he puts his psychiatric practice in the house, and he's Mr. And I also was, I think, the first television mom to keep her maiden name, Maggie Malone. Wait a minute, Meredith, Robert Reed was the architect on "The Brady Bunch." BAXTER: OK. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND") ROBERTS: You... RAY ROMANO, ACTOR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) (LAUGHTER) ROBERTS: You never loved him for the decent, delightful boy he is. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) HENDERSON: Welcome back to TV moms. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FAMILY TIES") BAXTER: Watch, Alexander. Now the momma bird rides back to her nest and the baby bird opens up his mouth so big. So how do you feel about that, when the tabloids jump on to these problems? You know, you kind of live, I think, hoping in an odd way that it will never happen to you.