The Pruitts of Southampton
The Pruitts of Southampton is a situation comedy that aired during the 1966-67 season on the ABC network. The show was based on the novel House Party by Patrick Dennis. It was ABC’s futile attempt to turn female stand-up comic Phyllis Diller into a sitcom comedienne very much in the style of Lucille Ball.
The program starred Diller as Phyllis Pruitt, and featured Gypsy Rose Lee and Richard Deacon in supporting roles with Diller feeling the series was an inverted version of The Beverly Hillbillies. The show’s producers originally sought comic actress Beatrice Lillie in the Diller role.
The premise was that the Pruitts, a supposedly incredibly wealthy family living on Long Island in the Hamptons, were approached by the Internal Revenue Service about overdue taxes. An audit revealed that the Pruitts were in fact broke; rather than reveal this fact publicly and cause the economic depression which would presumably result from this revelation, an improbably charitable IRS allowed them to continue living in their mansion and maintaining the pretensions of great wealth, which was difficult given their reduced circumstances. By mid-season, in order to raise more money, Phyllis had opened the mansion to boarders, attracting a “nutty” collection of tenants as well, a group that included Paul Lynde as her hopeless brother, John Astin as her brother-in-law, and Marty Ingels as a handyman.
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