Thursday, March 25, 2010

Nudity on TV


It’s really no surprise that the first network to show nudity was PBS. I’m not talking about those National Geographic shows, either. I’m referring to a scene with bare breasts, nipples, the whole shabam. Full-frontal nudity, baby. What did surprise me, though, was the year. I figured that nudity on network television didn’t happen until the late 1980’s, but no. The first nude scene on American network television happened way back in the early 70’s.

On May 4, 1973, PBS aired Bruce Jay Friedman’s play, Steambath, on Hollywood Television Theater. The story was about the afterlife, portraying God as a Puerto Rican steambath attendant, with Bill Bixby playing a man who refused to believe that he had died. The nude scene showed actress Valerie Perrine taking a shower from all sides, exposing her breasts and nipples. While only a few PBS stations were brave enough to air the program, it still goes down in history as the first nude scene on American network television.

So they next time you see someone naked on HBO, give it up for PBS, the first network to break the barrier and show nudity on television. I know I will.


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