Norman Lear’s path-blazing, groundbreaking, though, alas short-lived series “Hot L Baltimore” premiered on this date. The television situation comedy series was adapted from the hit off-Broadway play by Lanford Wilson and took place in the “Hotel Baltimore” in Baltimore, Maryland and drew its title from the cheap establishment’s neon marquee, which had a burned-out letter “e” that had never been replaced. The half-hour series premiered January 24, 1975 and was produced by Norman Lear for ABC. (It was, in fact the first Norman Lear property to air on ABC.) The cast included Conchata Ferrell, James Cromwell, Richard Masur, Al Freeman, Jr., Gloria LeRoy, Jeannie Linero, and Charlotte Rae.
The series had several controversial elements, including two primary characters who were prostitutes (one of whom was an illegal immigrant) and one of the first Gay couples to be depicted on an American television series. Because of the story lines the show was the first network television show to have a warning at its opening, cautioning viewers about mature themes. The network supported the show and gave it a full publicity campaign, but it failed to win an audience and was canceled after thirteen episodes; its last telecast was June 6, 1975.
The very bizarre happenings in the lives of the residents of the seedy Hotel Baltimore. Despite their disparate backgrounds and ethnicities, these neighbors became families. George (Lee Bergere) and Gordon (Henry Calvert) were middle-aged Gay lovers in their fifties, Suzy and April were prostitutes, Mr. Morse was a grouchy old man, Jackie was a young tomboy, Mrs. Bellotti was an eccentric woman with a never-seen psychotic son Moose who once glued himself to the ceiling, and Charles was a wise black man. Bill was the hotel’s desk clerk, and Clifford its young manager.