Get Christie Love

This post is one of a series honoring Black History Month.

Today we celebrate a TV show on the opposite end of the spectrum from Beulah, which we wrote about yesterday. It would make more sense for me to do Diahann Carroll’s Julia next (and I’ll do that soon), but I had this one already partially prepared in the queue this morning, thanks to handy TV Guide pix.

Get Christie Love has been called the first American television drama to star an African American female lead, though “drama” is a bit of stretch. Most would agree that there’s a camp factor, given that the concept was appropriated from blaxploitation action movies like Cleopatra Jones (1973), Coffy (1973), and Foxy Brown (1974) and that Christie’s catchphrase on the show was “You’re under arrest, Sugar!”

And there’s also the fact that the star Teresa Graves (1948-2002) was a well-known comedian.  She’d been a regular on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (1969–1970) as well as the similar but much shorter-lived shows Turn-On (1969–1970) and The Funny Side (1971), as well as an episode of The New Dick Van Dyke Show and the comedy film Vampira (1974). She’d also been in the blaxploitation films That Man Bolt (1973) and Black Eye (1974).  And then there was that Get Christie Love cross-over episode featuring fellow Laugh-In alum Arte Johnson, Joanne Worley and Judy Carne. Her only really serious role had been on The Rookies on 1973.

Still the series was based on a serious crime novel, and had an actual lady cop from the NYPD as technical adviser on the series. And the show was a whole year before Police Woman.

Graves retired from show business following Get Christie Love’s single season in order to focus on her spiritual life as a Jehovah’s Witness. Sadly, she died of smoke inhalation and burns during a house fire in 2002. She was only 54.