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38 Years Before "Olivia Pope" There Was "Christie Love," And She Made History

by Tambay A. Obenson
April 12, 2012 4:22 PM
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Episode #2 of Scandal airs on ABC at 10pm tonight; although if you've been reading this site all week, you'll know that episode 2 is already online courtesy of ABC and Hulu, and has been since last week; meaning you can watch it ahead of tonight's TV airing if you'd like. Click HERE to do so.

And on the occasion that it's a very rare occurence that a black woman leads a series/movie on primetime network TV, I thought I'd revisit a previous instance of this (trust me, there aren't that many) - a show that's credited as being the first ever hour-long television detective/drama series to star an African American woman.

Maybe the phrase "You're under arrest, sugah! rings the bell?

We all know about Cleopatra Jones and Foxy Brown, who preceded her, and who most recall in discussions centered on blaxploitation queens, but don't forget about Christie Love!

The late Teresa Graves starred in this 1974 made-for-TV film titled Get Christie Love, as a detective who goes undercover to bring down a drug cartel, and does so with all the style and class common in its blaxploitation era brethren - the fashion, the sexuality, the high karate-like kicks, chops, blows, and more... all in a day's work ;)

Although, given that it was made for TV, Get Christie Love is much less graphic, vulgar and salacious than its godmothers, made for a relatively low budget, sanitized to meet network standards.

The TV movie was based on Dorothy Uhnak's crime-thriller novel, The Ledger; however, the main character was originally written as a white, New York Police detective; but obviously, the filmmakers had other ideas.

There's no great cinema art here... but it's a light and entertaining enough watch; in fact, the movie's popularity helped spawn a short-lived TV show, produced by Aaron Spelling. That in itself was a coup, given that there weren't exactly many instances at the time in which a black woman played the title role in an American network television program.

She's credited as the first African American woman to star in an hour-long television detective/drama series.

Teresa Graves was killed in a fire at her home in Los Angeles in 2002. She was just 54 years old. She gave up her show biz career to dedicate her life to religion (she was a Jehovah's Witness), after Christie Love, the TV series, was canceled.

For those of you who haven't seen Get Christie Love, it's on home video; though I couldn't find it streaming anywhere. I know the DVD is on Netflix, but it's instead titled Big Bad Mothaz.

You'll find it on YouTube however, but in pieces. Here's 10 minutes of it:

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  • lilkunta | December 9, 2012 8:20 AMReply

    "big bad mothaz" ? really? got to give it a stereotypical name? perhaps many are looking for the tv show to buy and are looking for the show under the real name? stupid stupid stupid.

  • Donella | April 13, 2012 4:24 PMReply

    I never could decide if she looked more like Whitney or Vivica.

  • BluTopaz | April 12, 2012 9:56 PMReply

    How beautiful, she looked so much like a more chocolate-y Whitney

  • urbanauteur | April 12, 2012 8:06 PMReply

    I got this in my collection;-)

  • illthoughts | April 12, 2012 5:34 PMReply

    I never knew or even heard of this before. Thanks. Keep up the good work Tambay.

  • sergio | April 12, 2012 5:34 PMReply

    How many people know that originally Cicely Tyson was supposed to play Love, but before shooting began she injured her foot and she took that as a sign that she wasn't supposed to do the show and pulled out.

    I've always wondered what her version of Love would have been like

  • Neziah | April 12, 2012 4:24 PMReply

    I really liked her in this role. She was smart, sassy and oozed sex appeal.

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