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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight American Television, Part 1
 
  American Television Part 1 is the first in a special two part series.  Click here to view part 2.  
 
 

Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho

 
 
  American Television Dramas have made significant strides in their portrayals of homosexuals, though cable networks have been more daring than the "big three" broadcast networks.  
 
 
  American Television News Programs have historically covered glbtq people and issues inadequately, though there have recently been signs of improvement.  
 
 
  American Television Situation Comedies have consistently reflected the presence of glbtq people, often in distorted and stereotyped ways, but occasionally in ways that acknowledge our humanity and complexity.  
 
 
  American Television Soap Operas on network television have been limited in their treatment of gay relationships. Recently, however, gays and lesbians have created their own soap operas to tell the convoluted stories of lesbian and gay entanglements.  
 
 
  American Television Talk Shows are both promising and problematic for glbtq people. They have brought queer issues to public awareness, but they have also presented glbtq people as stereotypes and freaks.  
 
 
  Raymond Burr (1917-1993) will always be identified with Perry Mason, the character he played in a long-running courtroom drama series, but he is especially significant for his response to the pressure he faced as a gay actor in a homophobic culture.  
 
 
  Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer (b. 1942), the highest ranking official in the U. S. military to acknowledge her homosexuality while in the service, was the subject of the Emmy award-winning 1995 television movie Serving in Silence, which starred Glenn Close.  
 
 
  Richard Chamberlain (b. 1935) is an actor who has excelled in film, on stage, and on television. He first achieved television stardom playing the title role in the long-running series Dr. Kildare in the 1960s.  
 
 
  Margaret Cho (b. 1968) experienced an emotional and professional disaster in her television show All-American Girl but bounced back to become a widely praised comedic talent. She received the first Golden Gate Award given by GLAAD.  
 
 
  Noël Coward (1899-1973) was an accomplished playwright, actor, composer, and lyricist and a frequent guest on American television programs during television's early years.  
 
 
  Ellen DeGeneres (b.1958) will always be remembered for coming out on Ellen, her own sitcom, in 1997, but her continuing successes as a comedian and talk show host promise that she still has a long career ahead.  
 
 
  Documentary Film, sometimes commissioned by PBS or cable networks, has been used by the queer community to resurrect historical memory and to permit the marginalized to bear witness, as well as to build an image base that reflects our diversity and counters distorted representations.  
 
 
  Arthur Dong (b. 1953) is a documentary filmmaker whose works include several films that examine the roots of anti-gay attitudes.  His film Family Fundamentals, which focuses on families who reject their homosexual children, was broadcast on PBS in 2003.  
 
 
  Wayland Flowers (1939-1988) used a puppet he named "Madame" to present a campy gay point of view to mainstream television audiences from the 1960s until his death. Ultimately, Madame became far more famous than her creator.  
 
 
  The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is an influential watchdog group dedicated to promoting accurate representations of the glbtq community in the media.  
 
 
  Rock Hudson (1925-1985) first earned fame as a tall, dark, handsome movie star in the 1950s and 1960s. Later in his career, he became a successful television actor with roles on popular television programs including McMillan and Wife and Dynasty.  
 
 
  In the Life is America's only nationally broadcast gay and lesbian newsmagazine. The program began in 1992 as a variety show, but has since evolved into an acclaimed public-affairs program.  
 
 
  Photo Credit:  Photograph of Margaret Cho by Austin Young, courtesy Ken Phillips Publicity Group.  
 
 

 
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