Of course Teri Garr was everybody's biggest crush in the Seventies!

Revisit the comedic legend's early TV days when she was the dream girl of a "whole generation."

Read to Me

When a sniper opens fire on the 4077th in M*A*S*H's second season, everyone huddles in the dark, keeping still. That didn't stop Hawkeye from giving a pretty nurse a little nudge.

"This is eerie," the nurse tells Hawkeye.

"Sit a little closer," Hawkeye suggests, in typical ladies' man fashion. "It drives away the series."

"Why do I feel safe here with you?" she says, snuggling into Hawkeye's arms.

"Search me," Hawkeye jokes back. "I don't."

Playing the nurse in this scene from "The Sniper" is Teri Garr, an actor who became a comedy legend after gaining attention as one of the most crushworthy women of the Seventies.

She was everybody's crush in this era, not because of her beauty — although she had plenty of that — but because she appeared to be the complete package: the specific kinda dream girl who every girl wants as her best friend and every guy wants on his arm.

"Not quite the girl next door; that would be too perfect," Washington Post critic Tom Zito wrote in 1983. "She's more like the girl next door to the girl next door."

"I always had this American-pie face," Garr said.

Born to a vaudeville actor and a Rockette, Garr was destined for a career in entertainment.

"Ever since I can remember, I wanted to be a dancer, to wear fancy costumes and play make-believe," Garr told the Santa Cruz Sentinel in 1984.

A dancer is precisely how Garr broke out, working hard to move up in Elvis movies and on the TV show Shindig!

"It dawned on me that I was better than the people dancing in the row in front of me," Garr told the Post. "But sometimes it's hard to be assertive. Even now, when I get tired of playing the roles I do, I think of the million other women who want to be me and I go right back to work and say, 'Thank you very much.'"

By the time Garr appeared on M*A*S*H, she had just broken out from background roles in movies to speaking roles on TV, starting when she memorably rolled into Mayberry in a red convertible on The Andy Griffith Show in 1968.

Her big breaks came that year from two memorable roles, one on the big screen, and one on TV.

For the Monkees movie Head, Jack Nicholson, who wrote the script, chose Garr as a woman who gets a snake bite and begs, "Quick, suck it before the venom reaches my heart!" This would become Garr's first-ver onscreen line.

Then, in the Star Trek episode "Assignment: Earth," she played a secretary mistaken for an agent who unwittingly helps an alien escape from Kirk and Spock. The episode was supposed to lead to a spin-off series, where Garr would have had her first TV cast role, but the spin-off series was not meant to be.

Instead, Garr said she got cast as a bunch of "birdbrained lasses" in bit parts on TV, which she said kept her from landing the major roles she felt she deserved.

"I've worked a lot, but it’s been mostly character roles," she told the Pittsburgh Press in 1984. "I'd like to play a leading lady who is the focal point of the picture, you know?"

"What I've done is more quantity than quality. I want to do quality," she said.

It didn't matter to folks in the audience whether Garr was in the spotlight, though, she still caught pretty much everyone's eye. The Pittsburgh Press article declared that "almost every adult male fell in love with a Teri Garr in his senior year in high school."

Garr thought this sort of attention was silly, but she could relate. When she was growing up, Garr confirmed in her memoir Speedbumps: Flooring It Through Hollywood that her celebrity crush was James Dean.

Although Garr was typecast for a long time as the kind of wholesome girl perfect for commercials for laundry detergent or toothpaste, and then later as a mom, she kept her head up and her eye on the prize.

"I've always had a very positive attitude," Garr told the Sentinel. "Whenever I walked out after being rejected in an interview, I always said, 'You are so wrong. You'll be sorry that you didn't choose me for the job.'"

Garr's fans know that the year after she appeared on M*A*S*H, her career picked up sensationally when Mel Brooks cast her as Inga in Young Frankenstein. She apparently got offered the role of Inga after nearly getting cast as Elizabeth, a role performed in the movie by Madeline Kahn.

"Mel picked me [for Elizabeth] out of 500 girls, but he admitted Madeline Kahn was considering the part," Garr said. "He called me back to say Madeline had accepted the role. But could I come back the next day with a German accent? I said, 'Ya, I zertainly can.'"

In his memoir, Brooks remembered her audition a little differently. He recalled that she got cast because the movie's star, Gene Wilder, also had a crush on Garr. "Teri was a dancer on television," Brooks wrote in Young Frankenstein: A Mel Brooks Book. "It was Gene, not me, who insisted that we audition her. The rumor is during the movie they may have fallen madly in love with each other."

Wilder wasn't the only one who saw something special in Garr, though.

"I knew Teri would be sensational," Brooks said.

Less than a decade later, she was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dustin Hoffman's acclaimed comedy Tootsie.

Now considered a comedic legend, Garr looks back at her time on M*A*S*H a little less romantically than Hawkeye actor Alan Alda probably does:

"I remember once saying I clawed my way to the middle," Garr told The Ottawa Citizen.

That newspaper declared "a whole generation of young men had a crush on her" during this scrappiest phase of her career. Asked what she thought of becoming one of the Seventies biggest sweethearts, Garr demurred, the perfect girl next door to the girl next door: "I'm really not aware of it. People say that and I say, 'Oh, you’re kidding.'"

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Anonymous 3 days ago
Beyond the looks...Teri is a super nice lady. Unfortunately, she has been ill for years and does not move around like she used to. However, her personality is still sweet and bubbly and she has always been kind to me!
LalaLucy 3 days ago
Just watched her( for about the 1000th time) in Tootsie. That movie is chockful of great moments but she has some of my favorites. 🙂
Gran1983 12 days ago
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Flash4001 15 days ago
She was sexy as Inga in "Young Frankenstein".
She was pretty as John Denver's wife in "Oh God"
Whortin1988 19 days ago
making a good salary from $1200-$2500/week , which is amazing, under a year back I was jobless in a horrible ADt economy. I thank God every day I was blessed with these instructions and now it’s my duty to and pay it forward and share it with And Everyone, Here For MORE INFO PLEASE Just check this SITE._________wwwcash03.Com
Inrodwetrust 19 days ago
She used to do this ongoing skit on the David letterman show in its early years where he would interview her while she showered that’s when I fell in love with her lol
Bret 19 days ago
For me, it was between Teri Garr and Jan Smithers.
JHP 19 days ago
In the 70's there were so many for me

Stephanie Zimblist - Suzanne Pleshette - Julia Duffy - Elizabeth Montgomery - gees

NOW I have a haddock:)
denny JHP 18 days ago
Zimblist plays for the other team, much like my boyhood crush Kristy McNichol.
JHP denny 18 days ago
haven't had my coffee yet don't quite understand your reply:)
Wiseguy JHP 17 days ago
Zimbalist
JHP Wiseguy 17 days ago
I get it now and I miss spoke - I also meant Stephanie Powers:)
RedSamRackham 20 days ago
* Teri was also wonderful as a SNL guest host! ☺
djw1120 21 days ago
BTW, Robert Lansing, who played "Gary Seven" on the "Star Trek" episode, "Assignment Earth" was NOT an alien. He was a human that was taken from the Earth by an alien species and made "superior" to watch over the "regular" humans of Earth.
bnichols23 djw1120 20 days ago
Am I remembering wrong, or was it his forebears who were taken?
StrayCat bnichols23 20 days ago
I thought Seven said "they" were taken as children implying there are others like him.
bnichols23 StrayCat 17 days ago
The script didn't perfectly dovetailed (a lot of Rod Serling's TV stuff didn't either), & he did say to Kirk that he was "of this time period," but also said to Isis that it was "primitive ... incredible that people can exist like this. At least we won't have to." He also said the missing agents were descendants of humans taken from the Earth approximately six thousand years prior, which would imply that as a high-level supervisor he wouldn't be someone actually from 20th century Earth. The computer said that although his voiceprint matched, its records showed no record of a Gary Seven assigned to the planet. It'd seem to be [please forgive me -grin-] illogical for a contemporary person to be picked out, removed, established as a top supervisor, & reimplanted to fix a problem due caused by the deaths of agents descendant from forever ago. :)
UTZAAKE 21 days ago
Another actress featured in a MeTV article 2.5 weeks ago could've also easily qualify for "everybody's biggest crush in the Seventies." That would have to be Marcia Strassman who was four years younger than Garr. Full disclosure: my original crush back in the 1970s was Pamela Sue Martin.
cperrynaples UTZAAKE 20 days ago
Then I guess you saw her as a medium on Nancy Drew 2.0!
RedSamRackham UTZAAKE 20 days ago
* My 1970's crush was Dolly Parton! ☺
JHP RedSamRackham 19 days ago
that counts as 3 crushes:) She is angel for sure
TheSentinel 21 days ago
Not me. Farrah Fawcett was my first actress crush back in the '70s, right when Charlie's Angels debuted.
djw1120 TheSentinel 21 days ago
Too bad she was only on for the first season.
BTW, she made more money from the "famous swimsuit" poster than she ever made from anything else.
Diana 21 days ago
I don't remember ANYONE being a big Teri Garr fan back in the day. She was always 2nd rate as an actress and beauty was never her forte!
TheSentinel Diana 21 days ago
Yeah, she seems more like an average-looking girl next door to me.
JQ Diana 21 days ago
What do you know---you're a woman. I assure she was extremely attractive--I would have left my mother for her!
dangler1907 Diana 21 days ago
Either you have memory problems or you're not very observant. Especially after Young Frankenstein, virtually all teen boys and young men had a crush on her. Smart, talented and sexy.
TimHarper Diana 19 days ago
Turning a little green there!
Fishbassist 22 days ago
Everyone wanted to take a “Rrroll rrroll rrroll in ze hay!” With her.
Flash4001 Fishbassist 15 days ago
You can have the blonde and I'll have the one in the turban
Flash4001 Fishbassist 15 days ago
PUT THE CANDLE BACK!!!!!!!
Mob39 22 days ago
Loved her in Young Frankenstein! She was great in Mr. Mom. She and had great chemistry with Michael Keaton. So sad when I read about her MS illness. 😢 Many blessing sent her way. 🙏🏻
Tlor 22 days ago
The Gary Seven show that was supposed to be a Star Trek spin off was really good. (it was in season 2) We saw it recently and went wait that was supposed to be a spin off.. darn the suits who hate scifi!!
Fishbassist Tlor 22 days ago
The Assignment: Earth premise (person from the future who was sent back to the present to preserve the future) was repurposed for the USA Network series the 4400 and then again for the Netflix series Travelers
daDoctah Fishbassist 21 days ago
Roddenberry repurposed quite a few ideas through the years. He named a character Dylan Hunt, played by Alex Cord, in an intended pilot called "Genesis II". When that pilot failed to become a series, he tweaked some of the ideas and remade it as "Planet Earth", recasting John Saxon in the Dylan Hunt role, but again it wasn't picked up. A year or so later he tried once again, renaming Saxon's character and calling the pilot "Strange New World".

A quarter of a century later came the series "Andromeda" with several of Roddenberry's characters returned, including yet another Dylan Hunt, this time played by Kevin Sorbo.
It's fascinating how people mis-remember "Assignment: Earth". Gary Seven wasn't an alien and it was never established that he was from the future (though it was clear he was aware of some future events.) He was a human, raised from humans taken by aliens thousands of years ago.
The basic premise - aliens sending someone to Earth to shepherd humanity into "adulthood" - was later reworked into another unsuccessful pilot. In the TV movie "The Questor Tapes" the character became an android. And that android persona was then later reworked into Data on "Star Trek: The Next Generation".
CaptainDunsel daDoctah 19 days ago
Interestingly enough there were two Roddenberry concepts going to series at pretty much the same time. According to some sources, when Sorbo accepted the role of Dylan Hunt, he made one request - that they use the title for the OTHER series for his show. Thus, what would have been "Earth: Final Conflict" became "Andromeda" and vice-versa.
Andybandit 22 days ago
Interesting story. She is a good actress. How sad that she has MS now.
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