For years, decades even, my husband has belched out the words “Kaye Ballard!” whenever we’ve spent time reminiscing about shows we watched as kids. His bark of “Kaye Ballard!” was in reference to “The Mothers-In-Law”, starring Kaye along with Eve Arden on the NBC show that was actually owned and produced by Desi Arnaz, and was co-owned by Proctor and Gamble. NBC didn’t make a lot of money from “The Mothers-In-Law” back in the day and therefore it was cancelled after two seasons and it’s not really talked about that much. Written by the same folks that wrote “I Love Lucy”, it has a very formula farcical feel that seems slightly out of whack from a 1960s sitcom that’s the same age as me, but when you’re in the right frame of mind, it’s a fun show to watch. I knew some about Kaye Ballard; I knew the name, I vaguely remembered the show, I remember her doing things on The Muppet Show and maybe Match Game, and I knew she could sing.
Earl and I just finished watching the entire series of “The Mothers-In-Law” on Amazon Prime this week. I’ve mentioned this a few times on the blog since the beginning of the pandemic.
Kaye Ballard chews through the scenery of “The Mothers-In-Law” in a way that’s hard to describe. Demonstrative? Oh, yeah. Loud? Yep. Boisterous? You bet.
What a freakin’ delight. She’s a hoot and a half.
After watching Kaye do her thing and finishing up the entire series I’ve been reading and watching interviews with Ms. Ballard via the Internet. A brilliant vocalist, she has an amazing voice that was featured on many an album and Broadway show. Kaye passed at age 93 in 2019. From every interview I’ve watched over the past few days, she was a delight, completely honest and forthright, and a good ol’ Show Business broad. They don’t make them like her anymore and we are all at a loss without Kaye Ballard no longer on this Earth. She never married. Who cares? People speculate. It was a different time. She lived her life honestly and completely and shared what she wanted to share and I hope I feel as much vivaciousness as she showed right up through the last interview in the last years of her life.
The third to last episode of “The Mothers-In-Law” features a scene with Kaye and Eve Arden with Don Rickles. Don is ad-libbing from the script during the scene and Kaye and Eve lose it a bit, something you didn’t really see in 1960s sitcoms. It was a delight to watch the other night and if you have Amazon Prime, you should watch it.
I can’t help but wonder if anyone will be writing in this manner in 50 years about the likes of the folks on television today. Will some middle aged gay man pine about Debra Messing that was I’ve been amused by Kaye Ballard’s antics these past few weeks? Doubtful. They don’t make them like that anymore and we’ve lost a great deal of class because of it.
I’m looking forward to spending time listening to Kaye’s albums and enjoying a few moments of what was.
I’ve hinted to my husband that we might have to watch a few episodes of “The Doris Day Show” where Kaye played Doris’ neighbor and owner of an Italian restaurant.
If it’s not on Amazon Prime? “Rats”.