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Free to Be... You and Me

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Free to Be... You and Me (1974)

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Additional Information
Free to Be… You and Me, a project of the Ms. Foundation for Women, is a record album and illustrated book first released in November 1972 featuring songs and stories sung or told by celebrities of the day (credited as "Marlo Thomas and Friends") including Alan Alda, Rosey Grier, Cicely Tyson, Carol Channing, Michael Jackson, Shirley Jones, Jack Cassidy, and Diana Ross. An ABC Afterschool Special using poetry, songs, and sketches, followed two years later in March 1974. The basic concept was to encourage post-1960s gender neutrality, saluting values such as individuality, tolerance, and comfort with one's identity. A major thematic message is that anyone—whether a boy or a girl—can achieve anything.

The television special, produced by Free to Be Productions in association with Teru Murakami-Fred Wolf Films, Inc. and cosponsored by the Ms. Foundation, first aired March 11, 1974, on ABC. It earned an 18.6 rating/27 share and went on to win an Emmy. 16-mm prints of the special were also struck, and some schoolchildren from the 1970s and 1980s remember seeing the television special, or the filmstrip based on the special, in their school during that period.
The special appeared occasionally on HBO in the 1980s. It was released on VHS in 1983. It was also seen on the cable channel TV Land, yet has not been aired on any network since.
A Region 1 DVD of the television special was released in November 2001, and in 2010, a newly remastered version was released with a previously unshown scene featuring Dustin Hoffman, and other extras.

Like Schoolhouse Rock, Marlo Thomas's 1970s children's TV show, Free to Be... You and Me met with immediate success and became a treasured piece of entertainment over the years. Based on her award-winning album of songs, skits, and comedy, Free to Be explores the infinite possibilities of childhood. Fans know most of the skits in the 45-minute show verbatim, and it's easy to see why right from the beginning with an infectious title track followed by a puppet sketch featuring Thomas and Mel Brooks as newborns. Top talent appears on both sides of the camera, including Alan Alda who directs and performs a cartoon about a boy who wants a doll. However, the presentation does show its age at times: a teenage Michael Jackson singing (with Roberta Flack) on how he's not going to change when he grows up. For all ages.


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