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Over the course of its five-season run — the first four on ABC and the final one on NBC — Taxi picked up a trunkload of industry honors for its cast and producers. Not surprisingly, the ensemble sitcom about the lives of a group of Manhattan cabbies — inspired by a 1975 New York magazine article, “Night-Shifting for the Hip Fleet” — was co-created by two TV writers with impeccable track records: James L. Brooks (co-creator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and David Davis (co-creator of The Bob Newhart Show).
Taxi won outstanding comedy series at the Emmys in 1979, 1980 and 1981 and best comedy series at the Golden Globes those same years. The 1980 Globes — in which it tied with Alice for best comedy — were particularly special to Marilu Henner, who played divorced mom and aspiring artist Elaine on the show. “It was Jan. 26, 1980. I was dating John Travolta at the time,” recalls Henner, then 27. (Henner has hyperthymesia, a condition that allows her to recall life events in vivid detail.)
“We had a competition. Because in the middle of the actual plate [on the table] there was always a program with all the nominees in it. A bunch of us were nominated. I was nominated. And so we always had bets going.” (Besides Henner, Taxi stars Judd Hirsch, Tony Danza, Jeff Conaway and Danny DeVito were nominated, with DeVito winning — tying with Alice‘s Vic Tayback.)
By its second season — the one feted at the ’80 Globes — the show had hit its creative stride and the cast had also grown very close. “We were the cool kids on the Paramount lot because every Friday without fail we had a party,” says Henner, now 68. “So everybody would come over. Then four times a year we had a huge party that was just ridiculous.” (The late Andy Kaufman, who played Latka, “was a sweet kid from Great Neck who just had some crazy ideas.”) The cast remains tight and reunites semi-regularly to reminisce, this year via Zoom.
This story first appeared in a January standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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