My Sister Sam

My Sister Sam
Genre Situation comedy
Created by Stephen Fischer
Written by Lisa Albert
Dennis Danzinger
Diane English
Stephen Fischer
Karyl Miller
Danny Jacobson
Gary Murphy
Tom Palmer
Ellen Sandler
Ramona Schindelheim
Korby Siamis
Larry Strawther
Directed by Peter Bonerz
Zane Buzby
Matthew Diamond
James Gardner
Ellen Gittelsohn
Barnet Kellman
Steve Zuckerman
Starring Pam Dawber
Rebecca Schaeffer
Jenny O'Hara
Joel Brooks
David Naughton
Theme music composer John Bettis
Steve Dorff
Opening theme "Room Enough for Two" performed by Kim Carnes
Composer(s) Steve Dorff
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 44 (12 unaired)
Executive producer(s) Diane English
Producer(s) Danny Jacobson
Karyl Miller
Korby Siamis
Editor(s) Dann Cahn
Tucker Wiard
Camera setup Multi-camera
Running time 24 minutes
Production company(s) Pony Productions
Warner Bros. Television
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Original network CBS
Original release October 6, 1986 (1986-10-06) – April 12, 1988 (1988-04-12)

My Sister Sam is an American sitcom starring Pam Dawber and Rebecca Schaeffer that aired on CBS from October 6, 1986 to April 12, 1988.


The sitcom follows the lives of a 29-year-old San Francisco freelance photographer named Samantha "Sam" Russell (Pam Dawber) and her 16-year-old sister Patti (Rebecca Schaeffer). Sam's life is turned upside down when Patti, who has been living with the sisters' Aunt Elsie and Uncle Bob in rural Oregon after the death of the girls' parents, shows up on Sam's door step and announces that she is going to live with Sam.[1]

The supporting cast includes Sam's neurotic agent Jordan Dylan "J.D." Lucas (Joel Brooks), Sam's sarcastic assistant Dixie Randazzo (Jenny O'Hara) and Jack Kincaid (David Naughton), Sam's womanizing photojournalist neighbor who frequently stops by Sam's apartment.[2]


Guest stars

Notable guest stars in the series included Scott Bakula (episode 1.7), JoAnn Willette (episode 1.18), Robert Pastorelli (episode 2.11, who was hired by Diane English for Murphy Brown soon after), Rob Estes (episode 2.18), Ed Marinaro (episode 2.19), and Cristine Rose (episode 2.20).

Production notes

The series was created by Stephen Fischer and was developed by Pam Dawber's production company, Pony Productions (in association with Warner Bros. Television).[2][3] Dawber and her agent, Mimi Weber, spent three years searching for the most ideal television series project for their company to co-produce, but after screening several of them, Dawber had not found one that truly spoke to her. In the midst of this search, she and Weber produced a few TV movies under the Pony Productions nameplate, in which Dawber played lead roles.

By late 1985, Stephen Fischer and Diane English submitted their screenplay to Dawber and Weber, one centering on the life and times of a young photographer on the fast track who takes in her teenage sister, titled Taking the Town (based on the phrase "taking the town by storm"). At last, Dawber found a fulfilling script, and the creative team (she, Weber, Fischer and English) had the pilot successfully pitched to CBS. The network gave it a berth on its successful Monday night sitcom lineup for its 1986-87 fall schedule, originally as Taking the Town, with the title changing to My Sister Sam as summer pre-promotions ramped up.

The series was initially intended to be a starring vehicle for Dawber, who found success on television opposite Robin Williams in the ABC sitcom Mork & Mindy.[1] Dawber later said that she wanted the focus of the show to be on the cast as a whole, stating, "I am not a comedian. I'm a reactor to all the zany people who revolve around me."[4]

My Sister Sam was executive produced by Diane English, and shot at The Burbank Studio.[4]

Theme song

The series' theme song, "Room Enough for Two", was written by Steve Dorff and John Bettis and performed by Kim Carnes.[5] Dorff won a BMI TV Music Award in 1987 for his work on the series.

Reception and cancellation

My Sister Sam premiered on October 6, 1986 at 8:30 EST, scheduled between Kate & Allie and Newhart, both hit shows for CBS.[2] The series earned solid ratings and was ranked #21 by the end of its first season.[6] Due to its success, CBS renewed the series for a second season.[7] CBS then moved My Sister Sam to Saturday nights at 8:30 EST opposite The Facts of Life, which was a part of NBC's successful Saturday night comedy lineup.[8] By the end of October 1987, the show's audience had dwindled to one of the lowest on network TV ranking at #71.[6][9] The series was put on hiatus in November 1987 but remained in production while the network decided its fate.[10][11]

CBS brought the series back to the air on March 15, 1988 due in part to letters from fans and the 1988 Writers Guild of America strike which affected the production of other television series for CBS and the other two major television networks (NBC, ABC). CBS chose to move My Sister Sam yet again to Tuesday nights.[12][13] By April, ratings had failed to improve and the series was again pulled from the lineup. CBS announced the series' cancellation in May 1988, leaving 12 episodes of the second season unaired.[14]


Season 1

Episode # Episode Title Original Airdate
1 "Samantha Russell, Man Stealer" October 6, 1986
2 "Patti's Party" October 20, 1986
3 "Shooting Stars" October 27, 1986
4 "What Makes Samantha Run?" November 3, 1986
5 "Roomies" November 10, 1986
6 "The Aunt Elsie Crisis: Day One" November 24, 1986
7 "Teacher's Pet" December 1, 1986
8 "Mirror, Mirror... on the Wall" December 8, 1986
9 "Babes in the Woods" December 15, 1986
10 "Jingle Bell Rock Bottom" December 22, 1986
11 "Club Dread" January 12, 1987
12 "Anything for a Friend" January 19, 1987
13 "Almost In-laws" January 26, 1987
14 "Go Crazy" February 2, 1987
15 "Another Saturday Night" February 9, 1987
16 "Family Business" February 16, 1987
17 "Making Up Is Hard to Do" February 23, 1987
18 "If You Knew Susie" March 2, 1987
19 "Sister, Can You Spare a Fifty?" March 16, 1987
20 "Exposed" April 6, 1987
21 "Campaign Contributions" April 13, 1987
22 "Fog Bound" May 4, 1987

Season 2

Episode # Episode Title Original Airdate
23 "Goodbye, Steve" October 3, 1987
24 "And They Said It Would Never Last" October 10, 1987
25 "Deep Throat" October 17, 1987
26 "Never a Bridesmaid" October 24, 1987
27 "Who's Afraid of Virginia Schultz?" October 31, 1987
28 "Drive, She Said" November 7, 1987
29 "Revenge of the Russell Sisters" March 15, 1988
30 "Play It Again, Sam" March 22, 1988
31 "Ol' Green Eyes Is Back" March 29, 1988
32 "Life, Death, and Admiral Andy" April 12, 1988
33 "It's My Party and I'll Kill If I Want To" Never aired
34 "Good Neighbor Sam" Never aired
35 "Patti, I Have a Feeling We're Not in Oregon Anymore" Never aired
36 "The Art of Love" Never aired
37 "Camp Burnout" Never aired
38 "The Grand Prize" Never aired
39 "Walk a While in My Shoes" Never aired
40 "The Wrong Stuff" Never aired
41 "The Thrill of Agony, the Victory of Defeat" Never aired
42 "The Good, the Bad and the Auditor" Never aired
43 "Earthquake" Never aired
44 "A Day in the Lives" Never aired


After the series was canceled by CBS, the USA Network picked up syndication rights and eventually aired all 44 episodes, including those never shown on CBS.[15]

Rebecca Schaeffer's death

On July 18, 1989, more than a year after My Sister Sam had been canceled, series cast member Rebecca Schaeffer was fatally shot in the doorway of her Los Angeles apartment building by Robert John Bardo, an obsessed fan who had been stalking her for three years.[16] In August 1989, Pam Dawber, Joel Brooks, David Naughton and Jenny O'Hara reunited to film a public service announcement for the Center to Prevent Handgun Violence in Schaeffer's honor.[17]

DVD releases

The show's pilot episode appeared on the bonus disc Warner Bros. 50 Years of TV Commemorative: Volume 2. It was packaged with some releases of Murphy Brown Season 1 DVD set. No other episodes of the series have been released on DVD.

Awards and nominations

Awards and nominations for My Sister Sam
Year Award Result Category Recipient
1987 BMI Film & TV Awards Won BMI TV Music Award Steve Dorff
1987 Primetime Emmy Award Nominated Outstanding Costume Design for a Series Bill Hargate (costume designer)
(For episode "Jingle Bell Rock Bottom")


  1. 1 2 Holston, Noel (October 20, 1986). "'My Sister Sam' needs a stronger focus". The Vindicator. p. 21. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 O'Connor, John J. (October 20, 1986). "TV Review; 'My Sister Sam', Series Starring Pam Dawber". Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  3. Terry, Clifford (June 6, 1987). "Dawber Moves From Mindy To TV Mogul". Sun Sentinel. pp. 11–D.
  4. 1 2 Buck, Jerry. "Pam Dawber reacts to people". Kentucky New Era. p. 4B. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  5. Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (1995). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (6 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 718. ISBN 0-345-39736-3.
  6. 1 2 "Saturday, Time Slot Slams 'Sam' Into 71st Place, Down 50 Notches". Akron Beacon Journal. October 22, 1987. p. C6.
  7. "'Once a Hero' Is No Hero to ABC - Axed". The Fresno Bee. October 9, 1987.
  8. Donlon, Brian (October 8, 1987). "'Max Headroom' could be headed for the ax". USA Today. p. 3D. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  9. "'My Sister Sam' Loses Views In Move To Saturday Lineup". Akron Beacon Journal. October 14, 1987. p. D6.
  10. "CBS Adding Two New Series and Returning An Oldie In New Shuffle". The State. December 8, 1987. p. 6B.
  11. Gliatto, Tom (March 8, 1988). "CBS Shuffle". USA Today. p. 1D.
  12. O'Malley, Kathy; Gratteau, Hanke (March 22, 1988). "Gopers On the Go". The Chicago Tribune. p. 14. Retrieved May 20, 2013.
  13. Matt, Roush (March 9, 1988). "'Molly Dodd' gets a date; 'Night Court' will move". USA Today. p. 3D.
  14. "CBS Pulls Plug on '&' Shows". Miami Hearld. May 27, 1988. p. 1B.
  15. "Short-lived series find new life on cable". Austin American-Statesman. May 5, 1991. p. 8.
  16. Johnson, Beth (July 14, 1995). "A Fan's Fatal Obsession". Retrieved May 11, 2013.
  17. Tom, Green (August 16, 1989). "'Sister Sam' cast honors slain co-star". USA Today. p. 1D.
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