When Hazel Was Young

Is That Really Hazel???

Once upon a time there were seven television channels to choose from in New York City. Before 1977 and the wide introduction of cable television every kid experienced the same TV shows and could talk about them with their peers.

Gilligan’s Island; I Dream of Jeannie; Mr. Ed; F-Troop; Green Acres; Bonanza, Star Trek, Family Affair; I Love Lucy; Batman; The Brady Bunch and so on. If it was being rebroadcast after school in syndication we saw it. That means kids also had little to choose from. Which means kids watched many bad TV shows. And that’s why I saw Hazel.

Hazel was one of the most annoying television series from the 1960s.

The star playing Hazel was Shirley Booth (1898-1992), a somewhat frumpy looking middle aged live-in maid; a know-it-all, who bosses around her employer Mr. B. (Baxter) played by Don DeFore.

Here is a 60 second clip (which is all I will subject you to.)

I would rather listen to nails being dragged across a chalkboard than listen to Shirley Booth’s voice. Hazel ran from 1961-1966 and then went into syndication where it played to screenglued children for about dozen years.

Obviously lots of  people liked the show or it wouldn’t have originally remained on network television for five seasons.

Before Hazel, Shirley Booth had carved out a respected  career as a talented stage actress, making her Broadway debut in 1925.

Shirley Booth won a Tony Award playing Lola Delaney in 1950 Come Back Little Sheba. Reprising the roe In Booth’s 1952 film debut, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

But if you asked anyone to conjure up an image of Shirley Booth it would most likely resemble Hazel.

Years ago I was reading a book about vaudeville, and I can’t remember which book it was. A 1920s star was interviewed and said when Shirley Booth started in the theatre she was desired by  a lot of men and stunning looking.

I looked online for photos 1920s Shirley Booth and came up with nothing. Then recently I found this photo taken around 1927. Well all I can say is “that’s Hazel?”

Shirley Booth circa 1927

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8 thoughts on “When Hazel Was Young

  1. David

    Hazel was and is a crap show. It has no place in today’s programming but for really old people remembering the bad old days when upper class folks had live in maids in all white neighborhoods. None of her lines were funny and if they were her annoying voice would cancel them out. Please take this show off the air. I know FeTV is hard up for programming but “Hazel”? I would take “My Mother the Car” over this show and “My Mother” was awful.

  2. Michael Gonzales

    I Googled “Hazel is annoying” and this wonderful post came up. I too loved her when I was a NYC kid, but now I’m wondering about her mental health.

  3. Joseph K Warlick

    I can remember watching Hazel as a child growing up, and I still watch the episodes that are running on Antenna TV on cable TV. Brings back fond memories. Hazel was a hoot. She was the jack of all trades, bar none. She could get it done when no one else could. She was the one who got out and played sports with little Harold, helped other maids in times of .crisis, and even though she got irritating to Mr. B a lot of the time, he could NOT have made it without her. Missy depended on her also, and Hazel was right there, The entire family, including Mr. B’s uppity sister, who had to be brought down a notch or two by Hazel, even began to appreciate Hazel for all her good qualities.

  4. Clyde

    My mom, my brother, and I all enjoyed “Hazel” on television. Dad wasn’t a big television guy except for Gunsmoke — until it went to an hour long show — Wed. & Fri. Night Fights, and a couple others. I liked the Hazel cartoons in the Saturday Evening Post, so it was only natural to enjoy the show. I found Shirley Booth’s voice to be funny and friendly sounding, but her 1920s photo above to be very “Va-va-va-voom!” to quote Ed Norton

  5. Kevin

    I remember when it originally aired. NBC must have thought a lot of it, because it was one of the few shows in color. When I found out that she had once been a respected dramatic actress, I felt kind of bad for her doing that goofy show. Then I realized she probably made more from “Hazel” than all her movies and Broadway shows combined, and with a lot less pressure. Kind of like Fred MacMurray on “My Three Sons”.

  6. John Suessmann

    I was one of those school kids glued to the screen. Always enjoyed it and still watch it from time to time on Antenna TV. Love your site, keep up the great work.


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