Billionaire “Lean In” author Sheryl Sandberg praised “Free to Be” and says she plays the album for her children. Its star and developer, Marlo Thomas (of the sitcom “That Girl”), accurately said last year in a blog post that the show “became a coined phrase — a cultural touchstone — that spoke of the times in which we lived.”
And what times they were! Times of hokey “message” entertainment, singing jocks, humorless cartoons and revolting sweaters.
The show, which is of course unwatchable today except perhaps in states with generous attitudes toward self-medication such as Colorado and Washington, was an hour-long special that meant to tell little girls they could be anything they wanted, and little boys they could be anything they wanted too, provided that what they wanted was to be girls.
The program’s most searing and indelible moment was the horrifying sight of Rosey Grier, a huge man once known as one of the most ferocious players in the NFL, strumming a guitar, smiling like a brain donor and singing “It’s All Right to Cry.”
And that’s the Weimaresque 1970s in a nutshell: every man became Alan Alda for a few years — even Rosey Grier.
The horror. The horror.