Cover image for Women and American television : an encyclopedia
Women and American television : an encyclopedia
Lowe, Denise.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, [1999]

Physical Description:
xv, 513 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PN1992.8.W65 L69 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

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This work presents more than 400 A-Z entries on the individuals, programs, media innovations, and broad topics that tell the story of women's involvement both in front of and behind the television camera.

* A-Z entries range from Gracie Allen and Ally McBeal to talk shows and soap operas

* Includes cross references, a bibliography, helpful appendixes, and a subject index

* Delightfully illustrated

Author Notes

Denise Lowe is a professional researcher and writer specializing in American women and popular culture.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Lowe's Women and American Television provides information that is available in none of the allegedly comprehensive reference books on American television. More than 400 A^-Z entries on individuals, programs, media innovations, and special topics construct the history of women in this medium, both on camera and behind it. In her preface, Lowe comments on the lack of research materials in the form of archives and reference books, though plenty is to be found on men who made less of a contribution. She explains that some women or programs have been left out because of a lack of material, but she does include individuals who were or are icons, trendsetters, and pioneers. Every series that featured a female character in a leading role that was on the air for more than six months is included. In some cases, only a brief description of the program is provided; for example, the few paragraphs on the 1965^-66 series Gidget, which launched the career of Sally Field. If a series was groundbreaking or a popular culture phenomenon, such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show, there is a longer (just over two pages) analysis. Also well covered are important events, governmental rulings, new technologies, and other developments that had a lasting impact on the medium, such as The Public Broadcasting Act and anchorwoman Christine Craft's 1983 sex-discrimination suit that enabled women to remain on camera as they grew older. Sidebar articles cover topics including Career women, Lesbians on television, and Families, TV-style, as well as providing short definitions of such TV terminology as Window dressing, the practice of casting attractive female characters to attract a male audience. These are helpful for background information and refer the reader to other entries in the encyclopedia. The work is particularly notable for its coverage of minority women in television, including characters, actresses, use of stereotypes, and writers from the early TV roles of Ethel Waters to today's Connie Chung, Cristina Saralegui, and media queen Oprah Winfrey. The A^-Z section is followed by lists of directors, writers, and Emmy winners through 1998; a list of women in the Television Hall of Fame; a bibliography; and an index. This volume is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking and particularly notable for its inclusion of little-known mavericks from the early days of the medium. It complements more comprehensive sources such as the Museum of Broadcast Communications Encyclopedia of Television [RBB Ag 97] by focusing exclusively on women's contributions. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.

Library Journal Review

In this new resource, freelance researcher Lowe provides compelling biographical sketches of 429 women in U.S. television, including pioneers (Dorothy Kilgallen, Betty Furness, Lucille Ball), journalists (Christiane Amanpour, Jane Pauley, Jody Applegate), actresses (Mary Tyler Moore, Susan Lucci, Camryn Manheim), comediennes (Gracie Allen, Imogene Coca, Tracey Ullman), sex symbols (Farrah Fawcett, Loni Anderson, Vanna White), talk-show hosts (Dinah Shore, Oprah Winfrey, Rosie O'Donnell), producers (Marcy Carsey, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Marta Kauffman), and network honchos (Chloe Aaron, Jamie Tarses, Kay Koplovitz). Lowe covers both controversial, groundbreaking series and popular programs, whether long-running or short-lived, considering social context and the portrayal of women; she is careful to assess the depiction of Asian, black, Hispanic, and rural female characters. Notable entries profile Nichelle Nichols (Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek), describe the difficulties endured by Lee Grant during the McCarthy era, and explain the appeal of Xena, Warrior Princess, the most popular syndicated series. This work's usefulness is enhanced by a table of contents, a thorough index, various appendixes (directors, writers, Emmy winners, television hall of fame), and a bibliography. This is of interest to larger libraries with collections in careers, broadcasting, and women's studies. Libraries that already own the three-volume Encyclopedia of Television (LJ 11/1/97) may want to add this one because of its emphasis on women's accomplishments.--Elizabeth Connor, Medical Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Charleston (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Lowe, an "avowed feminist," believes that television can, and has, played a major part in indoctrinating women to accept culturally inferior or negative societal roles. At its best, however, television has also been a positive influence. From this platform, she provides entries for more than 180 television shows lasting six months or more and made-for-television movies that have featured a female character in a lead role. Entries range from several paragraphs (I Love Lucy) to a few sentences (Lady Blue). More than 150 biographical entries treat important actresses (Carol Burnett), network executives (Karey Burke), writers (Agnes Nixon), producers (Linda Bloodworth-Thomason), and reporters (Christiane Amanpour). Major events (cigarette ad ban), technological advancements (VCR), and companies (MTM Enterprises) are also represented. The book's true value, however, lies in 58 sidebars that focus on topics like "Fifties Moms," "Lesbians on Television," "Sexism," and "Window Dressing." These entries allow Lowe free rein for her feminist viewpoint. The entry "Representation of Women" notes that in the few cases women in TV are given status positions (doctors, attorneys), the program focuses primarily on their romantic relationships. Appendixes list female Emmy winners, directors, and writers. General readers; undergraduates. D. K. Frasier; Indiana University-Bloomington