The Paley Center Celebrates Free to Be…You and Me at 40
Watch this event live streamed at 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT. You can also join in the conversation with #PaleyLive
Co-moderators: Marlo Thomas and Gloria Steinem
Letty Cottin Pogrebin
First a platinum LP, then a best-selling book—and then, at last, an award-winning prime-time television special. In 1974, Free to Be…You and Me burst into homes across America, introducing children (and their parents) to a whole new way of combining education and entertainment. It quickly became iconic. A landmark concept in the field of teaching gender neutrality, Free to Be has been embraced by generations for its potent message of freedom, equality, and personal liberation. As creator Marlo Thomas observed, “We wanted to let children know that their wildest dreams were not just okay, but wonderful—and completely achievable.” In the book, When We Were Free to Be, historians and educators Lori Rotskoff and Laura L. Lovett declared, “Free to Be’s creators didn’t talk down to children, but instead took them seriously, inspired their curiosity, and made the world seem like a more welcoming place. That sounds pretty ‘classic’ to us.”
Today, Free to Be continues to be a touchstone for children everywhere, thanks in large part to the home-viewing edition of the TV special. Cherished moments in that historic broadcast include Thomas’s duet with Harry Belafonte about the many professions available to both men and women (“Parents Are People”); “William’s Doll,” which joyously celebrates the universality—and commonality—of girls’ and boys’ playthings; and football hero Rosey Grier’s tuneful testimony that “It’s Alright to Cry.” Members of the cast and creative team will reunite at the Paley Center for a special 40th anniversary celebration of Free to Be’s TV debut, and will discuss why their creation remains important and vibrant in today’s digital world.
Mel Brooks and Marlo Thomas in Boy Meets Girl from the original 1974 TV broadcast. This remastered version with improved audio and unrealesed material is available at http://www.freetobefoundation.org
You can also find this clip and so much more on Shout Factory’s The Incredible Mel Brooks: An Irresistible Collection Of Unhinged Comedy DVD boxed set.