Episode 222: “Director Ladies: Mary Lou Belli | From Steve Martin to Ms. Pat”

“The thing I loved about the theater was ‘the puzzle’. And in television, it was a new puzzle every week. And I LOVED that.” – Mary Lou Belli, on the joy of directing.
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The Conversation

  • STARTING SMALL: After graduating college at Penn State, Mary Lou still “looked 14 years old” -- so she went to New York where she immediately got roles playing children on stage and in films.
  • Domestic Life – learning about “perfection, refinement and improvement” with Steve Martin and Martin Mull.
  • Teaching “Anne Shirley” (Megan Follows, Anne of Green Gables) how to drive on the back lot at Universal Studios!
  • How Jack Riley – Mr. Carlin from The Bob Newhart Show – lit the fire that led to Mary Lou becoming a director.
  • Getting her start as a director at Betty Garrett’s Theater West in Los Angeles.
  • Being mentored by Debbie Allen, Nancy Malone, Lee Shallat-Chemel, Linda Day, Joan Darling.
  • MARY LOU IN CHARGE: Directing Ellen Travolta and Scott Baio on Charles in Charge.
  • How identifying women as minorities opened up the playing field – and how affirmative action overwhelmingly helps open up career pathways.
  • How being “the only woman in the room” leads to a lack of opportunity – but with MORE women in the room, generosity of opportunity follows.
  • Running into CCH Pounder at Trader Joe’s!

So join Susan and Sharon – and Mary Lou – as they talk road trips, Estelle Getty, Sydney Pollack, Emmy nominations, “Don’t Touch My Hair”, the joy of Scott Bakula – and the wisdom of passing out Xerox copies of your good reviews!

Our Audio-ography

Find out more at her website, MaryLouBelli.com.

Buy Mary Lou Belli’s books at Bookshop.org.

Watch The Ms. Pat Show on BET. On Amazon Video.

Listen to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ podcast Wiser Than Me.

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80s TV Ladies™ Episode 222: “Director Ladies: Mary Lou Belli | From Steve Martin to CCH Pounder”. Produced by 134 West and Susan Lambert Hatem. Hosted by Susan Lambert Hatem and Sharon Johnson. Guest: Mary Lou Belli.  Sound Engineer and Editor: Kevin Ducey. Producer: Melissa Roth. Associate Producer: Sergio Perez. Music by Amy Engelhardt. Copyright 2023 134 West, LLC and Susan Lambert. All Rights Reserved.