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Who’s your favorite TV housekeeper? – Clacking in Color

Housekeeping isn't for the faint of heart! Perchance that's why TV maids and butlers keep things so gosh darn funny! In this week's Clacking in Color, the groovy column celebrating minorities on TV, writer Jaylen Christie wants to know who your favorite TV maid or butler is ... and why!

You know, I always said that I could never work in hospitality. I just don’t feel I have the patience. Quite the contrary, the likelihood of me taking orders from someone else is about as slim as Teri Hatcher’s waistline. Still, it’s rather interesting viewing some of the maids and butlers in television shows of the past. It seems that nearly every TV family of the seventies had a faithful assistant or loyal housekeeper to clean up a spill, dust off a vase, or deliver a hilarious zinger to liven up a dull scene.

Growing up as a certified lover of television, I sure did have my favorites. Each of these entertaining supporting characters succeeded in stealing the spotlight from the protagonists of their respective sitcoms. However, none was as funny — or as rude — as Florence Johnston from The Jeffersons. I was on a YouTube high a few weeks ago and decided to watch a few old TV shows. As a fan of retro programming, I’m sure you can imagine my delight at finding such a funny classic. I’m a nerd. Don’t judge me. You see, the thing about Florence was that she didn’t do windows. She rarely answered doors. She also had a knack for telling off her boss. She told it like it was, and NAACP Image Award winner Marla Gibbs was absolutely genius in the role.

Where they came up with that material is anyone’s guess, but Florence was comic gold … and is probably one of the reasons that The Jeffersons survived for over ten miraculous seasons. Aside from George and Weezie, she’s easily the most remembered character from the sitcom. The woman was downright comedic! I’m pretty sure that my neighbors were a little aggravated by my loud laughs as I watched multiple episodes on YouTube in which she’d badger the equally hilarious George Jefferson played by the late great Sherman Hemsley. Eh. They’ll be alight.

Back in the day, minorities could usually be found in these kinds of roles. I think we all know the reason behind that so I won’t get into it. Still, I never had too much of a problem with it. Most of these characters weren’t overtly stereotypical and were usually pretty darn funny without being a cruel caricature. In recent years, the role of the funny maids or comical butlers have become a bit more colorful and diverse. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had the sarcastic Geoffrey. The Brady Bunch had the all-knowing Alice. The Nanny had the quick witted Niles. Even Two and A Half Men has a funny housekeeper in Berta. Each of these characters has given, or is currently giving, their respective shows a bit more oomph. This is a good thing.

Having treasured Gibbs’ delectable performance as Florence, I’m curious to know who your favorite TV maids and butlers are! After last week’s discussion about Kelly Ripa’s new co-host, I want to have a little fun this week. Don’t be shy. Speak your mind! Besides, Florence wouldn’t have it any other way!

Photo Credit: Sony

Categories: | Clacking in Color | Columns | General |

10 Responses to “Who’s your favorite TV housekeeper? – Clacking in Color”

September 4, 2012 at 4:09 PM

I must be SERIOUSLY old. The first maid I thought of was Hazel. She was funny getting into and out of situations every week trying to help “Mr. B” – Great show, and REALLY retro.

September 4, 2012 at 4:52 PM

I must be SERIOUSLY young because I don’t even know who Hazel is. LOL :-)

September 4, 2012 at 4:15 PM

I’m afraid the first three I thought of were Alice from “The Brady Bunch”, Berta from “Two and a Half Men”, and Daphne from “Frasier” (who was more than that, of course). Sorry that none of them fit the “in color” part. I guess that’s just been my TV viewing experience.

September 4, 2012 at 4:51 PM

It doesn’t have to fit the “in color” part, dude. I just want to know who everyone favorites are. I like Berta a lot too, and I completely forgot about Daphne from Frasier! It’s funny how TV shows always make the housekeeper the one who gets the funny zingers. I wonder what would happen if they just had a TV housekeeper that actually liked doing their job…without delivering one-liners. Could it work? Hmmm… LOL

September 4, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Debbie beat me to it. Hazel was the first housekeeper I remember. Then there was Rosie on The Jetsons and before she “moved-on-up”, Florida Evans on Maude. Finally, Mr. Belvedere. Although Christopher Hewett could not match the film version portrayed by Clifton Webb. Admittedly, I’m not old enough to have watched the Clifton Webb version when the were originally shown in theaters.

September 8, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Who the heck is this Hazel that everyone keeps talking about? LOL

September 5, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Ha! Mr. Belvedere. I remember that show. Sadly, folks younger than me probably only know of Mr. Belvedere thanks to Family Guy and Stewie’s obnoxious singing of the theme. LOL. I think–although there is a lack of color in my choice and this is CLACKING IN COLOR–I have to go with The Nanny. Couldn’t you say that the show had two housemaids? While Fran was not a housemaid, she was of service to the house along with Niles. They were both mentioned and looked at as the help, but for Fran, of course, she was a bit more than that after a while. I FREAKING LOVED THAT SHOW. I know, Fran’s voice is a bit annoying but it was funny and she was eye candy at times–at times, people. She reminded me of Lucille Ball of the 90s. Always getting into antics and her best friend, her name escapes me, was like the Ethel of the show and of course, Max was Ricky. Hmm, I just thought of that. Interesting. But Niles was hilarious as well. Always sarcastic with those one liners and looks and back and forths with CiCi. The show just did not miss a beat.

September 8, 2012 at 7:18 AM

I loved Florence as well!! And I loved how she could put George in
his place!! Her points were usually right, too; which made her all the funnier!! Berta is another fav of mine. And you are so right; the maids/butlers ARE the scene stealers!! Great article…..keep up the great writing!!

September 8, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Yeah, Berta is pretty funny. I’m glad we agree about Florence! She was hilarious! Thanks for reading! :-)

September 8, 2012 at 7:22 PM

. . . . .

Hello! Alfred Pennyworth, the tireless valet, assistant, confidant and housekeeper for Bruce Wayne.

Rosie the family maid on The Jetsons (mentioned above by Otto66) comes in a close second.

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