The UCLA Film & Television Archive’s Virtual Screening Room will stream “The War Widow,” an episode of the PBS dramatic anthology series Visions, on Thursday, August 5 at 7PM ET/4PM PT. The episode starred Pamela Bellwood and Frances Lee McCain. It originally aired on October 28th, 1976.
Here’s the description:
Broadcast at a time when LGBTQ+ people were frequently depicted negatively on television, playwright Harvey Perr’s acclaimed period drama “The War Widow” dared to sensitively portray the gentle unfolding of two women falling in love. Set during World War I, Perr’s teleplay concerns an introspective, unfulfilled married woman (Pamela Bellwood) who finds herself increasingly drawn to a vibrant, self-actualized photographer (Frances Lee McCain). Upending decades of televised stereotypes, Perr’s coming out tale centers its strong female characters (anchored by brilliant, understated performances from Bellwood and McCain) with courage and agency as they chart their own destinies in opposition to cruel restrictions imposed by society at large. Controversial when aired (the PBS program included a disclaimer noting that it was funded entirely by grants, not tax dollars), the resulting moving drama (produced by TV pioneer Barbara Schultz) represents a significant milestone in the realistic, positive depiction of lesbians on primetime television. In The Advocate, noted activist and film historian Vito Russo (The Celluloid Closet) wrote, “watching the final scenes of ‘The War Widow,’ a vision of lesbians as a people welled-up inside me and I saw, for the first time on television, the strength of will that has existed in my people throughout history, enabling us to decide to be different and carve a life out of our being.”
Produced by PBS station KCET, Visions ran for four brief seasons between 1976 and 1980.
Registration is required but free. You can register here.