Mom's the word: When sitcom stars start expecting

What producers do when the rabbit dies"¦

The rest of us can complain about maternity leave not being long enough, and unfeeling male bosses not understanding the need for additional restroom breaks. That's just par for the course when an average working American woman gets pregnant. But what happens when you're a major player on a popular television series?

I Love Lucy

The ArnazesSometimes, the bundle of joy is written into the script. That's how Lucille Ball's unexpected pregnancy was handled in 1952. Lucy and Desi Arnaz had been married for 11 years before little Lucie (the couple's first child) arrived, so they were as shocked as the rest of the show's staff when Lucille found out she was expecting once again the following year. Thanks to the perseverance of Desi, the network and sponsors agreed to let I Love Lucy's storyline feature a pregnant Lucy Ricardo, even though they weren't allowed to use the word "pregnant" in the scripts. Ratings went through the roof on January 19, 1953, when Lucy Ricardo gave birth to Little Ricky on the same day that Lucille Ball had Desi Junior (by Cesarean section).

More after the jump...

Frasier

Jane Leeves & David Hyde PierceFrasier fans remained on tenterhooks for seven seasons watching Niles Crane fawn over the oblivious Daphne Moon, his father's health care worker. When the couple finally proclaimed their love for one another, the writers were faced with a problem: actress Jane Leeves was pregnant. It was too soon in the relationship for Daphne to be with child, so the writers concocted a storyline that made her a compulsive eater who eventually had to check into a spa to lose the excess 60 lbs. she'd gained.

Leeves' second pregnancy was written into the script. Even though the plan was originally for her to have a girl, in the series finale, Daphne gave birth to a boy that was named David in tribute to series co-creator David Angell, who'd been one of the passengers aboard American Airlines Flight 11 on September 11, 2001.

The Cosby Show

Phylicia RashadOn The Cosby Show, Bill Cosby had decided that his TV family was complete with five children. In fact, he declared in the pilot episode that the Huxtables had four children because "they didn't want five." So when Phylicia Rashad was infanticipating in real life during much of the third season, Clair was seen only sitting at a table or desk, standing in back of the kitchen island, or under the covers in bed with a bad back. Eventually, the writers sent her on several business trips, which not only concealed her expanding physique, but also gave Cosby extended on-camera time in which to ham it up.

Friends

Lisa KudrowA main character like Clair Huxtable can disappear for a few episodes when you've got a Bill Cosby to fill in the gap, but the producers of Friends had no such luxury when Lisa Kudrow became pregnant. Each episode of that show relied on the entire ensemble, and there was no good way to explain a long absence by Phoebe. Instead, Kudrow's pregnancy was written into the script, albeit with a typically loopy Phoebe-esque twist "“ she acted as a surrogate for her brother's wife.

Married...with Children

Katey SagalLisa Kudrow was actually not in favor of her pregnancy being incorporated into the Friends script. She openly wondered in interviews after the fact what the writers would have done had something "gone wrong." Obviously she was thinking of Married"¦with Children's Katey Sagal, whose real-life pregnancy was incorporated into her show's script. Tragically, Sagal's pregnancy resulted in a premature stillbirth. Despite her willingness to continue Peg Bundy's baby storyline, the show's producers decided to end the situation with a Bobby Ewing-style "it-was-all-a-dream" resolution instead.

The Nanny

Lauren LaneThe writers of The Nanny decided to poke fun at the whole "hide the pregnancy" genre when Lauren Lane was expecting. In one episode, an obviously enceinte C.C. Babcock complained to Maxwell Sheffield: "I was watching this rerun of Seinfeld and Elaine must have been, I don't know, 12 months pregnant, and they didn't even acknowledge it. They just kept hiding her behind these huge props!" She then picked up a large house plant to conceal her own expanding midsection. When her condition became impossible to hide, C.C. was sent off to "The Place" to recover from an emotional breakdown.

>>Floss readers, how do you think unscripted pregnancies should be handled on television? Do you prefer tummy-hiding, or should the baby be incorporated into the show? And can you think of any famous on-air pregnancies I missed? Drop us a line in the comments.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
HBO
15 Fabulous Facts About Sex and the City
HBO
HBO

Still wondering if you’re a Carrie, a Miranda, a Charlotte, or a Samantha? It has been exactly 20 years since Sex and the City first premiered on HBO and instantly pushed cosmos, Post-it note break-ups, and Mr. Big into the cultural lexicon, and affection for the groundbreaking series has yet to diminish. The Sarah Jessica Parker-starring show offered a fresh, funny, and very frisky look inside the lives of four very different New York City gals. But even a show as beloved and written about as Sex and the City still has some secrets to spill, and we’ve found a handful of trivia bits that might surprise even its most hardcore fans.

1. CARRIE BRADSHAW ISN’T EXACTLY CANDACE BUSHNELL.

Even casual fans of the series know that Carrie Bradshaw, Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, is based on author Candace Bushnell, who penned her own sex column in the New York Observer back in the 1990s, which she then adapted into the essay collection also known as Sex and the City. Although Bradshaw and Bushnell have a lot in common, they’re not the same woman. Bushnell started writing for the Observer in 1994, using her own name and adventures to seed her wickedly funny column with salacious, true-life tidbits. But writing such stuff under your own name can be tricky—Carrie found that out the hard way plenty of times—and Bushnell eventually started writing stories about “Carrie” and her friends. Although she still pulled these stories from her own life, her semi-autobiographical heroine afforded Bushnell a special kind of freedom. You can still read some of her original columns over at the Observer’s website.

2. CARRIE’S ADDRESS ISN’T REAL.

Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City (1998)
HBO

Carrie supposedly lived in a very chic apartment for the entire run of the series—a rent-controlled Upper East Side brownstone located on East 73rd Street, between Park and Madison Avenues. Swanky location, right? Too bad it was doubly fictional. Carrie’s building number was 245 (a nonexistent number that, if it did exist, would be located further east, between Second and Third Avenues) and the exterior shots were actually filmed in the West Village, at 66 Perry Street.

3. SAMANTHA AND MIRANDA’S ADDRESSES AREN'T REAL EITHER.

Although the other ladies moved around during the course of the series, each of them had their own signature abode, none of which actually exist. Samantha’s Meatpacking District loft at 300 Gansevoort Street isn’t real (that address doesn’t exist), while Miranda’s Upper West Side apartment is also fictional. Charlotte’s chi-chi address at 700 Park Avenue is, however, a real one, and it’s home to a 21-floor co-op that specializes in large apartments. (The cheapest pad on sale there right now—with its two bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms—is on the market for $2,295,000.)

4. SARAH JESSICA PARKER WANTED TO QUIT THE SHOW EARLY.

Even though Parker had a no-nudity clause in her Sex and the City contract (which explains all those sexy scenes that feature Carrie in cute bras and nothing less), she was still nervous about the sexual content of the series. Back in 2010, she told The Sun, “I was not comfortable with nude scenes, scenes with sex toys, or vulgar language—so I did not do any ... My character, Carrie, kissed a lot of men—but that's as far as it went. I had the maturity to control my panic about the whole series and what it meant. At one point, after the pilot show of Sex and the City was made and they wanted me to sign up for the series, I wanted to get out of it.”

5. IT WAS THE FIRST CABLE SHOW TO WIN THE EMMY FOR OUTSTANDING COMEDY SERIES.

Winner for Outstanding Comedy Series, 'Sex in the City' at the 53rd Annual Prime-Time Emmy Awards held at the Shubert Theatre, Los Angeles, CA., Nov. 4, 2001
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Although HBO has had great success with their dramatic series, Sex and the City was the network's first comedy series to win Emmy gold in 2001. It maintained that record until 2015, when Veep won the coveted award (which it won again in 2016 and 2017). 

6. THE FOURTH WALL-BREAKING LASTED FOR MORE THAN ONE SEASON.

Early episodes of Sex and the City feature one majorly jarring element that was later jettisoned from the rest of its run: characters breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to the camera. Although Miranda, Charlotte, and random supporting characters did it in the pilot episode (even Skipper did it!), eventually only Carrie turned to the camera to chat it up. Most fans remember this as a strange quirk of the series’ first season, but it actually lasted until the second season, as its last appearance reared its ugly (and talkative) head in “The Freak Show,” the third episode of season two.

7. IT’S STILL THE INSPIRATION FOR A BUS TOUR.

It makes sense that Sex and the City, one of those “oh, it’s like New York City is its own character!” series, spawned a bus tour of the show’s various New York City-set locations back in 2001. But it’s a little surprising that the tour is still going. Run by On Location Tours, the three-and-a-half-hour tour has now been operating for 17 years—nearly three times as long as the series was on the air—and it shows no sign of slowing down. It operates seven days a week, complete with stops at Magnolia Bakery (for cupcakes) and Bleecker Street (for shopping). And, yes, it does drive by Carrie’s stoop (the one on Perry Street, naturally).

8. NATASHA ONLY APPEARED IN SEVEN EPISODES.

Sex and the City featured a ton of very memorable recurring characters, from Candice Bergen as Enid Frick, Carrie’s Vogue editor, to Frances Sternhagen as Bunny MacDougal, Charlotte's one-time mother-in-law. But few guest stars had quite the same impact as Bridget Moynahan as Natasha Naginsky, Mr. Big’s second wife. Considering how deeply the introduction of Natasha changed Carrie’s life (and her relationship with Mr. Big), it’s surprising that Moynahan only popped up in seven episodes, spread out over the second and third seasons. Her last appearance? The 17th episode of season three, “What Goes Around Comes Around,” in which Carrie desperately tries to make amends.

9. THE SHOW ADDRESSED 9/11 IN ITS OWN WAY.

The September 11th attacks occurred in between half-seasons, as the fourth season was split in two and the first run ended on August 12, 2001. When the show returned on January 6, 2002, the opening credits had been altered so as to not show the Twin Towers, which originally appeared twice, once with the show’s title, once with “Starring Sarah Jessica Parker."

Of the change, led by producer Michael Patrick King, Parker—who watched the towers collapse—told New York Magazine: “Like the rest of us, I had had all sorts of mixed feelings about the Twin Towers ... But once they were gone, they were beloved." They were replaced in the credits by the Empire State Building.

10. THE SHOW DIDN’T INVENT THE COSMO, BUT IT CERTAINLY POPULARIZED IT.

The ladies’ cocktail of choice, the pink-hued vodka sipper, may have risen to frothy fame thanks to the series, but the drink is believed to have been invented way back in the 1930s. Although its exact provenance is up for debate (no one can agree on whether it was first made in Provincetown or Miami or somewhere else), no one questions that its '90s popularity is due to its many, many appearances on the show. Pair it with a Magnolia Bakery cupcake and you’ve got yourself one heck of a Sex and the City snack.

11. THERE WAS A REAL MR. BIG.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Chris Noth in 'Sex and the City'
Paramount Home Entertainment

Given the true-life (and true-love) events that inspired Bushnell’s original columns, it should come as little surprise that there was a real Mr. Big and he has actually been identified. Although the series’ Big was a big-time financier and entrepreneur, his inspiration—Ron Galotti—was a publisher whom Bushnell met at a party in 1995. The pair dated for about a year, but his presence was felt in her columns—and in Carrie’s own story—for years to come.

12. KRISTIN DAVIS USED TO HIDE THE SHOW FROM HER FAMILY.

Kristin Davis was concerned that the show’s risqué subject matter—and even its title—would shock her family, so she didn’t tell her grandmother about it and asked her parents not to watch it. But her attitude changed over time, and she later confessed that her parents had started watching the show after her grandmother passed away. Davis's dad, a psychology professor, really got into it, even using the show as part of his college lectures on "Marriage and Sexuality."

13. KIM CATTRALL WAS WORRIED SHE HAD BEEN CAST AS SOMEONE’S MOTHER.

Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon in 'Sex and the City'
Paramount Home Entertainment

As the oldest member of the cast, Kim Cattrall was a little blown away by the fact that the series wanted her to play the role of Samantha Jones, a sexy singleton, and not someone’s mom. Back in 2002, she commented, “I never thought I'd be playing this character at this age in my life ... I thought I'd be playing somebody's mom ... The other girls on the show are 10 years younger than I am, so I have to get enough sleep and work out and watch what I eat. Just running around New York City is a good way to keep in shape.”

14. THE SHOW’S FINALE REALLY WAS INTENDED AS AN ENDING.

Although Sex and the City has spawned two feature films—and rumors of a third movie continue to pop up from time to time—producer Michael Patrick King (who directed both of the feature films) originally believed that the show ended just as it was meant to. In 2004, mere months after the show aired its final episode, King said at a panel, “Nothing we did in the series was altered to save something for the movie ... This is exactly the way we wanted to end the series. We’re proud of what we did.”

15. SARAH JESSICA PARKER PUSHED FOR DIVERSITY.

When Blair Underwood joined the cast as a love interest for Miranda back in 2003, it marked the injection of a long-needed bit of diversity in the show’s cast. Of the casting, Cynthia Nixon (Miranda herself) said, “We all of us, and no one more than Sarah Jessica, had lobbied for this for a long, long time ... I'm a huge fan of the show, but if we had area in which we really could use improvement, it's certainly this one ... I think it's about time.”

An earlier version of this article ran in 2016.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
5 Fast Facts About Tamara de Lempicka
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes artists become more known among the general public for their colorful personal lives than for their artwork, no matter how great their contributions to the art world. Such is the case with Polish/American artist Tamara de Lempicka, who was born on this day in 1898. While Google is honoring what would have been her 120th birthday with a Google Doodle,  here are some highlights from her storied life.

1. SHE BEGAN HER "CAREER" AT THE AGE OF 12.

Tamara de Lempicka, who was born Maria Górska, discovered her artistic passion and skill at the age of 12. Lempicka had sat for a famous painter, but hated the resulting portrait, and believed she could do a better job. Thus she created her first painting ever, a portrait of her younger sister Adrienne, with which she was extremely pleased.

2. SHE MET HER HUSBAND WHEN SHE WAS 14 YEARS OLD.

Though she was only 14 years old when she met Taduesz Lempicki, the teenaged Lempicka became determined to marry him. Just a few years later, when she was 17 years old, she married the "modestly well-off lawyer" with a dowry provided by her "millionaire banker uncle." (She hadn't lived with her parents since they divorced when she was a child.)

3. SHE'S MORE FAMOUS FOR HER SEX LIFE THAN HER ART.

 Gallery technicians at Sotheby's auction house lift a painting by Tamara de Lempicka entitled 'Portrait de la Duchesse de la Salle' from 1925, next to another painting by the artist, 'Portrait de Marjorie Ferry' from 1932
Oli Scarff, Getty Images

Although she is considered the most famous Art Deco painter, Lempicka was more famous for her libido than for her art. She was bisexual, and carried on scandalous affairs with both men and women (often her patrons and models). Yet the exact details are somewhat unclear since, according to one source, she "shuffled the facts of her biography as much as she meddled with her birth date"—and she meddled with her birth date quite a bit, even going so far as to reportedly try to pass her daughter off as her sister on occasion.

4. SHE LIVED A LIFE OF LUXURY.

Lempicka lived a life of luxury from childhood. Not only was she born into a wealthy family, her second husband was Baron Kuffner, a wealthy Hungarian baron who had been her patron and lover. Although she initially lost money in 1929 when her bank collapsed, she survived the Great Depression relatively unaffected, painting the portraits of King Alfonso XIII of Spain and Queen Elizabeth of Greece during that time. She had been charging as much as 50,000 French francs per portrait by 1927, which was equivalent to about $2000 then, but would be about 10 times as much today.

5. HER ASHES WERE SCATTERED OVER A VOLCANO.

In 1980, Lempicka passed away in Mexico. Per her request, Lempicka's ashes were scattered over the crater of the volcanic Mount Popocatepetl by her daughter, Kizette.

An earlier version of this post appeared in 2008.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios