The actors, setting and characters aren’t the only important factors in making a hit show. Believe or not, a lot of time is spent on a sitcom’s theme music. Some theme songs tend to become more memorable than the actual show.
The Facts of Life
Al Burton, Gloria Loring and Alan Thicke composed the music and lyrics for “The Facts of Life”. The trio is also responsible for the theme song for the sitcom Diff’rent Strokes. Loring and Thicke were married at the time of this collaboration. Despite popular belief, the opening lyrics “You take the good, you take the bad” weren’t added until later in the series.
The official name of the theme song for Gilligan’s Island is “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle”. Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle wrote and composed the music for the song. Russell Johnson (The Professor) and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) were referred to as ‘the rest’ in the original theme song credits. After some negotiating, Dawn Wells and Russell Johnson were added to the opening credits for the second season.
The theme song for Cheers was titled, “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. The song was written by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo. Gary Portnoy was down on his luck. Portnoy was recently laid off when he struck gold with “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”. The producers of Cheers searched vehemently to find someone to sing the theme, but came up short. They then came up with the idea to ask Gary Portnoy to sing the lead vocals of the song.
“Movin’ on Up”, was the perfect theme song for The Jeffersons. The Jeffersons were the first sitcom on television to feature a predominately African American cast.
The Jeffersons was a spin-off of the hit show All in the Family. Sherman Hemsley’s character, George Jefferson, departed his recurring role on the series when Jefferson changed careers. Jefferson went from a dry-cleaner, to owning his own chain of stores. “Movin’ on Up” was written by Ja’net Du Bois and Jeff Barry. Du Bois, who played Willona Woods on Good Times, sang “Movin’ on Up” with the help of a Gospel choir.
All in the Family
“Those Were the Days” is the opening theme song for the All in Family. Lee Adams wrote the lyrics for “Those Were the Days” and Charles Strouse provided the music. This theme song is probably one of the most memorable sitcom themes. Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton provided the vocals for the song. Stapleton and O’Connor’s performance is probably the most memorable opening theme for a television series. The duo performed the song as their natural quirky selves. Stapleton’s screeching pitch on certain verses became a signature part of the song and the series. The Family Guy’s opening sequence is a parody of All in the Family’s opening.
These sitcoms gave us years of laughter, joy and sometimes tears. Each of these series has made an impact in their own unique way. Even though all of these shows have run their course, their theme songs are still in the race.