The Hogan Family

The Hogan Family (originally titled Valerie and later Valerie's Family) is an American sitcom television series that began airing on NBC on March 1, 1986 and finished its run on CBS on July 20, 1991, for a total of six seasons. It was produced in association with Lorimar Productions (1986), Lorimar-Telepictures (1986–1988), and Lorimar Television (1988–1991). Originally starring Valerie Harper in the titular role as a mother trying to juggle her career with raising three sons with an absent airline pilot husband, Harper's character was killed off in the series after its second season, when Harper was fired from the series following contractual disputes. The series was initially renamed Valerie's Family before Sandy Duncan joined the cast as Valerie's sister-in-law and the boys' aunt, and the series was ultimately renamed The Hogan Family.

The Hogan Family
Also known asValerie (1986–1987)
Valerie's Family (1987–1988)
Created byCharlie Hauck
Theme music composerCharles Fox
Stephen Geyer
Opening theme"Together Through the Years",
performed by Roberta Flack
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes110 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Ronny Hallin (1986, 1990–1991)
  • Linda Marsh (1986)
  • Margie Peters (1986)
  • Richard Correll (1985–1988)
  • Judy Pioli (1986–1990)
  • Chip Keyes (1986–1990)
  • Doug Keyes (1986–1990)
  • Laura Schrock (1986–1987)
  • Steven Pritzker (1986–1987)
  • Deborah Oppenheimer (1988–1990)
  • Bob Keyes (1988–1990)
  • Shari Hearn (1990–1991)
  • Michael Loman (1990–1991)
  • Larry Spencer (1990–1991)
Camera setupFilm; Multi-camera
Running time22–24 minutes
Production companies
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network
  • NBC (season 1–5)
  • CBS (season 6)
Picture formatNTSC (480i)
Original releaseMarch 1, 1986 (1986-03-01) –
July 20, 1991 (1991-07-20)


Series overviewEdit


Seasons 1 and 2Edit

Originally, the show was known as Valerie and its stories revolved around Valerie Hogan (Valerie Harper), who lived in Oak Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb, and struggled with everyday problems raising her three sons during her airline pilot husband Michael's (Josh Taylor) long absences due to his demanding work schedule. She contended with the regular uproar caused by girl-crazy and sometimes narcissistic 16-year-old David (Jason Bateman) and his 12-year-old fraternal twin brothers, irresponsible and jockish Willie (Danny Ponce), and brainy Mark (Jeremy Licht)—whose spotless academic and behavioral record at school came to be pierced by occasional bursts of rebellion.

Valerie worked as the buyer for an auction house and was matched in wit and charm by her best friend, Barbara Goodwin (Christine Ebersole). The family dog, Murray, died in a season-one story line; although the plot of the episode ("Dog Day Afternoon") mentions that Murray was 17 years old and already in mediocre health, his death is the result of injuries he suffered from a fall from a storm-downed tree in the Hogan's backyard.

In season two, Harper and producer/husband Tony Cacciotti had increasing creative control over the show, and the candy-coated tinges of storytelling were completely replaced by realistic humor. Barbara was written out of the show, and the close friend/cohort role became occupied by neighbor Annie Steck (Judith Kahan), mother of a teenage daughter Rebecca (played in one episode by Paula Hoffman). Another neighbor, busybody Patty Poole (Edie McClurg), began appearing occasionally, as did David's friend Rich (Tom Hodges). A jock with a big-man-on-campus attitude, Rich was especially known for calling David "Hogie" (or "Hoagie"). Valerie had switched careers, now working as a freelance graphic artist, so she could be more available to her sons.

Like most American sitcoms in the 1980s, the series sometimes dealt with moral conflicts, but not in a heavy-handed fashion. In the very special episode "Bad Timing", which first aired February 7, 1987, David and a former girlfriend debate whether to have sex.[1][2] The episode featured the first use of the word condom on a prime time television program.[3] Parental advisory warnings were issued in ads for the episode and NBC placed an advisory warning before the episode aired stating that parents may want to watch the episode with their children. Because of the episode's subject matter, some of NBC's affiliates either aired the show outside of prime time or refused to air it at all. The episode was later released to home video, especially for teachers and health educators to use as a tool to promote safe sex.

Another episode which was a "regular episode" but went against the grain of sitcoms neatly solving all their problems by the end of each show was where Willie succumbs to peer pressure and borrowed his father's Mustang without permission and unknowingly caused an accident, bringing this to the attention of Valerie and the police. Valerie is angry with David as he is only child who has passed driver's education and refuses to accept his denial in the accident. Willie, who sees a sitcom family value honesty above all, thinks he will be forgiven for coming forward. In actuality, Valerie becomes very upset and says Willie damaged something worse than the car, specifically her trust. Valerie pauses her tirade to go apologize to David and says Willie will also apologize to him for doing nothing when she yelled at him. Willie is left staring into space, likely thinking admission of wrongdoing does not absolve sin or that the real world is not scripted like TV, or both.

Season 2: Harper leavesEdit

After a modest start in the ratings that was countered by critical success, Valerie had begun to show growth in the Nielsens by the end of the 1986–87 season. Its most significant ratings jump occurred after its moving to Mondays at 8:30/7:30c in March 1987, following ALF. NBC renewed the series for a third season in May. In light of the show's success, Harper and Cacciotti approached their producers and NBC about per-episode salary increases and a larger cut of future syndication revenue.[4] When all of the couple's requests were refused, Harper and Cacciotti walked out on Valerie. Harper had prior history in this situation, as she staged a walk out in 1975 following the first season of her hit series Rhoda, which successfully resulted in a pay increase.[4]

The couple continued to negotiate with Miller-Boyett Productions, Lorimar-Telepictures and NBC during the next few months as the behind-the-scenes struggle became well publicized. NBC programming chief Brandon Tartikoff, who was unhappy with the feud, publicly stated that he would replace Harper with another actress if the fighting did not cease. Tartikoff suggested Sandy Duncan as a replacement to Miller and Boyett, who both sided with the network chief in this possible casting decision. Duncan had recently signed a contract with NBC for a starring vehicle, and Tartikoff felt that this would be the best opportunity for her to make use of it.[4] The announcement was unprecedented at the time. There was never a show that had a lead actor or actress fired from a show named after him or her, with the series continuing with a different star. Harper and Cacciotti felt Tartikoff was trying to spite them with this attempt of a threat and criticized his notion that marquee stars of a television series were dispensable.

In late July 1987, it appeared that a suitable new payment agreement was reached by all parties involved. Harper returned to shoot the third-season premiere in early August. However, shortly after the episode was completed, news had come that Harper and Cacciotti were holding out again. As a result, the cast shot scenes around Harper for the next few episodes. After the couple failed to be on the set for three consecutive episodes, Lorimar decided they had had enough, and fired Harper. The Valerie Hogan character was written out of the show by having the character die in a car accident. NBC explained that the series would take on difficult conflicts facing the family during the grieving process. To make good on their promise, Miller-Boyett and Tartikoff brought in Sandy Duncan as the series' new lead. The third-season premiere was hastily rewritten and shot to feature the shocking change in the storyline.

Harper took both NBC and Lorimar to court for breach of contract. Both in the press and in court, Miller and Boyett made claims that Harper became difficult to work with, citing combativeness towards much of the staff and breakdowns of sorts, suggesting that salary demands were just surface issues with the actress. The producers insisted that Harper approached them on one occasion and exclaimed that the series was "being taken away" from her, since the show was putting slightly more emphasis on Jason Bateman's character of David Hogan at that time. (The producers admittedly wanted to capitalize on the heartthrob status Bateman had been receiving for the last few years, via his roles on Silver Spoons and It's Your Move.) Miller and Boyett also claimed that Harper and Cacciotti were displeased over the possibility that writing would shift to the more slapstick stories that had been a secondary component of their sitcoms at Paramount.[citation needed] Harper and Cacciotti denied these episodes of behavior and accused Miller and Boyett of lying, resulting in a counter libel suit against Harper.[5]

Though the NBC case was dismissed, Harper and Cacciotti won their trial against Lorimar on September 16, 1988, and were awarded $1.82 million in damages which they both later donated to various charities.[4][5]

Valerie's FamilyEdit

When the 1987–88 season premiere aired, the show was retitled Valerie's Family. The timeline of the third season began six months after Valerie's character's death in an auto accident. NBC's decision to continue the series without Valerie Harper was controversial at the time, but the series survived the departure of its main star and the show continued its run on the network for three more seasons. Taking Harper's place in the household was Sandy Duncan as Michael's sister, Sandy, who had moved in with her brother to help the family in their time of loss. She took a job as a guidance counselor at the high school the boys attended following her recent divorce. In the wake of his wife's death, Michael was now home more often. Mrs. Poole moved up to being a regular character, and her husband, Peter, was played by Willard Scott on an infrequent basis. Another of David's buddies, Burt Weems (Steve Witting), joined this season (he had previously made guest shots during the last few Valerie episodes).

The season's third episode, "Burned Out" (aired October 5, 1987), helped better explain the family's grief following the death of Valerie's character. In that episode, a lamp stored in the attic develops a short circuit, sparking a fire that badly damages the house. Many keepsakes and mementos are destroyed in the attic and second floor, including a charred framed photo of Valerie. David finds the photo in his room while the fire damage was being inspected, and immediately breaks down in tears. Sandy comes into the room to comfort him, and as the scene changes, it is presumed that the two share their grief for Valerie. The Hogans, meanwhile, stay with the Pooles while their home is repaired. The episode had a commercial tie-in with McDonald's, which financed the expenses accrued in damaging the set for the fire. As a sponsor that evening, McDonald's commercials aired promoting fire safety.

The Hogan FamilyEdit

The cast of The Hogan Family with the inclusion of Sandy Duncan

At the end of the third season, as Harper's lawsuit hearings continued, the network dropped Valerie's name from the title completely. This was partially to avoid further legal actions involved in continuing to use the original star's name, and also to move on from the public attention being drawn to her dismissal. In June 1988, during summer reruns of the third season, the show was retitled The Hogan Family.

In the fall of 1988, David went off to Northwestern University, and his escapades with Rich and Burt became a major focus (Hodges and Witting now appeared in the opening credits). At one point during freshman year, David began to feel the strain of Mike's household curfew rules, which he felt should not have applied to him any longer since he was now over 18 and in college, and with the family's blessing, moved into Rich and Burt's tiny apartment near campus. The three had a hard time coexisting, so before long David voluntarily moved back home and came to a compromise with Mike who agreed to relax some of the rules with him acknowledging that he was no longer a child, but a young adult. Willie and Mark entered high school that year, where they encountered a more fueled sibling rivalry due to their different identities. Sandy's ex-husband Richard made a few guest appearances, as played by Steve Vinovich. Mike's former Air Force colonel and flight trainer, Skip Franklin (Gerald Gordon) was another guest star, continuing his repeat appearances in this stage of the series, having originated the role on the third episode of Valerie in 1986.

During Duncan's tenure with the show, no mention was ever made of Mike and Sandy's other sister, Caroline, who was played in the Valerie pilot by Francine Tacker. In her only guest appearance, Caroline was portrayed as being glamorous and just as successful as her airline pilot brother, although it was not explained as to what she did, or if she had a family of her own.

As season five opened, the Hogans and Pooles, along with Burt and Rich, took an excursion to Paris. There, David met and fell in love with a woman who, unbeknownst to him, was a princess. When the two are seen around the city, government agents believe that the princess has been kidnapped, and target David, causing him and everyone else to be on the lam from them. While the rest of the family returned to Oak Park, Rich stayed abroad to explore more of Europe, and was no longer with the cast. Later that season, in early 1990, Mark began dating a girl named Cara (Josie Bissett); however, due to dating a girl in "California Dreaming" (played by Elizabeth Berkley), Cara dumped him, while Willie began to date Brenda (Angela Lee). That March, after a showdown with Principal Edwards (guest star Jon Cypher), which led to a nasty mailed resignation letter she started to regret, Sandy found herself promoted to vice principal.

Network switchEdit

In 1990, after spending three of the last four years on Monday nights at 8:30/7:30 (having been on Sundays before that), NBC opted not to respond to an agreement made with Lorimar insisting that the network had to exercise renewal options on the series before April 1. Despite the series still sporting decent ratings, NBC stated that it chose not to renew The Hogan Family "because of the strength of our current development."[6] Lorimar Television subsequently signed a deal with CBS that moved The Hogan Family to the latter network beginning that fall. Oddly enough, CBS placed the series on Saturday nights at 8:30/7:30c, with a new Miller/Boyett sitcom, The Family Man, as its lead-in.

At the start of The Hogan Family's sixth and final season, John Hillerman joined the cast as Sandy and Michael's father, Lloyd. The season premiere has Mike, Sandy, and the boys visit Lloyd in California, upon hearing that he and his wife (Mike and Sandy's mother) have just been divorced. Lloyd clearly has trouble with the events, and at one point in the hour-long episode goes missing, with the family fearing that he might have been killed boating during a storm. The senior Hogan materializes safe, and in the end, follows the family to Oak Park. During the same season, Cara and Brenda become full-time regulars, as Mark's and Willie's love interests. Also that fall, the twins lose their job at Bossy Burger after Willie pressures Mark to skip work with him in order to see a concert (Sandy and Mrs. Poole filled in for them that evening, impromptu). Eventually, in the episode "A Sneaking Suspicion" (aired July 10, 1991), Mark and Willie get new jobs at a shoe store in the local mall.

Early in the season, Sandy Duncan was reunited with Valorie Armstrong, her former costar on Funny Face. Armstrong made a guest appearance as Mrs. Gordon in the episode "The Baby Stops Here" (September 29, 1990).

Rich returns from EuropeEdit

In the December 1, 1990, episode, "Best of Friends, Worst of Times", Tom Hodges reprised the role of Rich after over a year's absence from the show. The main plot begins with David and Burt shooting a video project for one of their college classes, at the local hospital in Oak Park. In the midst of their work with various patients on-camera, Rich shows up in the waiting room greeting an older man (guest star Al Fann), when David and Burt discover him. Rich is happy to see them, but his expressions also indicate nervousness and a rush to avoid his friends. David says that Burt and he had been trying to get in touch with him for months, and Rich explains that he had stayed over in Europe for an extended time, alluding to the fact that he had met a woman while there. After the three initially reunite, the older man with whom Rich was first seen talking tells David that he can find Rich in the wing "with all the other AIDS patients".

In a combination of shock and fear due to his confused knowledge of the disease as he had preconceived notions that the illness only affected gay men and drug addicts, David struggles to come to terms with Rich having AIDS. He avoids the situation until Sandy comes forward and reveals to David that an old college friend of hers died of AIDS several years earlier. David, Burt, and the rest rally around Rich, who at first wanted little to no attention, but soon opened up, and try to make the most of the time they had with him. As the episode concludes, the timeline advances three months, with Sandy and David speaking at the high school's assembly about HIV and AIDS. David touches upon his experiences with Rich, dispels common myths associated with the disease and how to prevent it, and breaks the news of Rich's passing, which had occurred the night before.

The decision to bring such closure to the character of Rich was partially made by the actor who portrayed him, as Hodges co-wrote the episode.


That December, due to dismal Saturday night ratings, CBS dropped the show from its weekly schedule. The series did not return until eight months later, in July 1991, when it finally aired the remaining episodes left for the season. In the interim, CBS announced they had not renewed the show for a seventh season, and would burn off the leftover episodes twice a week in July.

Four unaired episodes had been produced before it was put on hiatus. During the hiatus, production was shut down. The Hogan Family was not given the chance to end with a proper finale. When the leftover episodes aired, they were scheduled on Wednesday nights for two consecutive weeks, July 10 and 17, 1991, before the last two episodes of the series aired in an hour-long block on Saturday, July 20, 1991. The 1990 Christmas show (which had not made it to air the previous December) was the final original episode of The Hogan Family produced, and the last network broadcast of the show, that aired at 8:30/7:30 on Saturday, July 20.


After a long run at Paramount Television, which concluded with the end of Happy Days in 1984, producers Tom Miller and Bob Boyett moved to a new home at Lorimar Productions, a partnership between the two and the studio which commenced on October 1 of that year. Miller and Boyett had ideas about venturing into hour-long comedy/dramas with Lorimar, at a time where a decline in the popularity of half-hour situation comedies was perceived. However, by the time they began at Lorimar, NBC had struck ratings gold with The Cosby Show, and sitcoms were in vogue once again. The pair, who were launching their new Miller-Boyett Productions nameplate sans longtime partner Eddie Milkis, re-shifted their focus to sitcoms.

For their first Lorimar project, Miller-Boyett had Valerie Harper in mind for a starring vehicle. Harper quickly struck a deal with the producers and announced her return to series television, the first time since the conclusion of Rhoda in December 1978. Developed during the 1984–85 season and picked up by NBC, the series was known from conception as Close to Home. It had the same format as what made it to the air, that of a modern mother juggling many responsibilities while her husband was often away. For the latter role in particular, NBC still wanted someone with visual and personal appeal despite the limited scenes, and tapped Days of Our Lives star Josh Taylor to play Harper's airline pilot husband. Taylor's part-time status on the sitcom enabled him to continue his role as Chris Kositchek on Days.

Additionally, teen star Jason Bateman, suddenly available after the cancellation of his NBC series It's Your Move, and Danny Ponce, who had been playing Jason Avery on Lorimar's Knots Landing for the previous two seasons, were added as two of Harper's kids. Newcomer Jeremy Licht rounded out the brood. Broadway actress Christine Ebersole was cast as Harper's best friend, a strong enough presence that the star could play off. The series was to feature a more genuine sense of realism, which Miller and Boyett had in mind for their dramedy concepts. However, this was combined with the smart, character-driven humor that Harper was aiming for, as she and then-boyfriend (later husband) Tony Cacciotti were given ample creative control on her new series.

The pilot for Close to Home was shot in the summer of 1985, and aside from a few changes called for during testing, was given the green light by NBC for a backup premiere that fall (to immediately replace a new September half-hour entry that could have failed). Subsequent episodes were slated to shoot when Jeremy Licht came down with chickenpox, derailing the shooting and ultimately, the premiere. This gave the creative team extra time to tweak the format, and when Licht was well again, production resumed with changes NBC approved of. As the initial season of episodes progressed shooting, NBC retitled the series Valerie, which it debuted as on March 1, 1986.

Valerie was the first series Miller and Boyett produced without the aid of Eddie Milkis. The show was produced by Miller-Boyett Productions and Tal Productions, Inc. in association with Lorimar Television (as Lorimar Productions for season 1 and Lorimar-Telepictures for season 2).


The executive producers (besides Miller and Boyett) were Tony Cacciotti (Valerie Harper's husband since 1987), series creator Charlie Hauck (for the pilot episode only) and Out of the Blue producer Irma Kalish, who helmed the final season. Rich Correll served as co-producer for the first two seasons and later became consulting producer.


Directing credits included James Burrows, Peter Baldwin, Howard Storm, and beginning in 1988, Jason Bateman, who was the youngest-ever director to be registered into the Directors Guild of America (at age 18). Jason's father Kent Bateman also directed some episodes.

Theme music and presentationEdit

The theme song, "Together Through the Years,"[7] was performed by Roberta Flack and composed by Charles Fox. The lyrics were written by Stephen Geyer.

Fox, a holdover from Miller and Boyett's Paramount years, was the principal score composer for the first two seasons, with Bruce Miller taking over from seasons three through six. This was the only Miller/Boyett series from the Lorimar/Warner Bros. era to have not used the songwriting, composing, and underscoring talents of Jesse Frederick and Bennett Salvay for most of its run. Frederick and Salvay, however, did score selected episodes of the series: the first in November 1986, another in April 1987 (which they co-scored with Steven Chesne), and a third in the spring of 1988. Conversely, Valerie was the only Miller/Boyett series to have featured scoring by Fox during the producers' Lorimar era.

The series utilized four different credit fonts during its six seasons. Originally, the principal typeface for all credits was in orange, black-embossed, italicized Bookman Old Style font. Its usage ceased when the second season of Valerie went into production; it later showed up on three more Lorimar programs: the 1989 NBC sitcom Nearly Departed, and ABC's Family Matters and Getting By (the latter two of which were direct sister shows to Valerie, as they were Miller/Boyett series). During the second season of Valerie, the font used in the title sequence and first and final scenes was a gold, condensed version of Cooper Black font. Second season closing credits were in a Windsor font (also seen on All in the Family and Who's the Boss?). Seasons three through six switched to the traditional Cooper Black font, now set in yellow and used in all credits.

As was the case with Perfect Strangers, the first season did not use the familiar Miller/Boyett Productions logo set in Century 751 type; the "Miller/Boyett Productions" byline appeared in the show's main font instead. The proper logo made its debut in the second season, with the main byline accompanied on the side by a larger "M/B" in the same font. Near the end of season two, the byline dispensed the "M/B", and it continued to appear without it for the rest of the series. (The full version of the Miller/Boyett logo, with the "M/B", would reappear as a stand-alone vanity plate on their shows from 1996 to 1998.)


The Hogan Family aired in U.S. syndication on local television stations, from September 1990 until Summer 1998. From August 1998 until August 1999, startup broadcast network PAX TV aired reruns of the series weekdays at 4/3c.

ABC Family previously held the U.S. syndication rights to the program and had aired episodes twice daily for five weeks from September 25 (2005?) until October 27, 2006. It had discontinued running the show since then.

In Canada, the Crossroads Television System held the Canadian syndication rights and began airing the show Wednesday nights. It discontinued airing the show in 2011.

The Hogan Family title was used for syndicated showings of almost all episodes, including those originally broadcast as Valerie or Valerie's Family. Also, the theme was shortened in the opening credits when the show was in syndication. During the Valerie seasons, the title sequence becomes slow motion at the scene where Mike and the boys begin to tackle Valerie in their football game. For the third-season episodes, the title shot from seasons four and five is used for reruns, where The Hogan Family is displayed over the Hogans carrying their picnic items through the park. This deleted the scene where Sandy runs out to the baseball diamond to try and get the bases unloaded. The latter was where the Valerie's Family title was shown on NBC airings, with The Hogans appearing over the park-walking scene.

The only episode to retain the Valerie title in syndication was "Bad Timing" (February 8, 1987), which also kept the original parental advisory disclaimer from NBC.

In 2016, Antenna TV announced that they would air the series in 2017.[8][9] The Christmas episode was the first to air on the network on December 16, during a marathon of holiday-themed episodes from Antenna TV programs throughout the month,[10] before the show officially joined the lineup on January 2, 2018.[11]

The series began airing on Rewind TV on September 1, 2021 after leaving Antenna TV.

In the United Kingdom the series was shown on BBC1 from 1987 to 1992.

In New Zealand the series was shown on TVNZ.

See alsoEdit

  • The Conners, the revamped reboot of Roseanne after Roseanne Barr was fired


  1. ^ "Albany TV station cancels NBC show over condom issue". The New York Times. Associated Press. February 8, 1987. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  2. ^ Lewin, Tamar (March 8, 1987). "New sex mores are chilling TV ardor". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2008.
  3. ^ Rettenmund, Matthew (October 15, 1996). Totally Awesome 80s: A Lexicon of the Music, Videos, Movies, TV Shows, Stars, and Trends of that Decadent Decade. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312144364 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ a b c d Weinman, Jaime (November 28, 2008). "The 20th Anniversary Of the Most Awesomest TV Contract Dispute Ever". Maclean's. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  5. ^ a b Freeman, Patricia (October 3, 1988). "Valerie Harper Gets Her Day in Court, And, Umm, It's Sweet". People. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  6. ^ Haithman, Diane (April 19, 1990). "'Hogan Family' Jump to CBS Called an Exception : Television: The NBC sitcom's switch to a rival network won't inspire similar moves, a Lorimar executive says". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
  7. ^ Valerie and Hogan family every season intro, retrieved August 8, 2021
  8. ^ "Tribune Media – Antenna TV Adds 9 New Programs In 2017". Tribune Media.
  9. ^ "Antenna TV to Add 9 Sitcoms for Fall 2017; MeTV and Decades Remembers Martin Landau – News Blog".
  10. ^ "Antenna TV Holiday 2017 Schedule, Includes Christmas; HBO Returns Two Comedies in January – News Blog".
  11. ^ "Antenna TV January 2018 Schedule Includes Gimme a Break! and Coach; Pop Launches Wednesday Comedies in January – News Blog".

External linksEdit