San Francisco in Cinema: Phyllis

"Erskine's photo studio," 2040 Union Street.

With its chic stores and salons, the former farmhouse at 2040 Union Street hasn't changed much since it appeared as Erskine's photo studio in the 1970s sitcom Phyllis. Spun off from the Mary Tyler Moore Show in 1975, Phyllis followed Mary's pretentious neighbor, Phyllis Lindstrom, when she moved to the City from Minneapolis following the death of her husband. Like Maude, another CBS sitcom, the series revolved around a basically unlikeable character. When it was not successful after its first season, producers used cast and storyline changes, even a softer hairdo for star Cloris Leachman, in an attempt to boost the show's ratings. Beginning in the second and final season, Phyllis no longer worked at Erskine's and instead worked for Supervisor Dan Valenti at City Hall. The 48-episode series featured a catchy theme that celebrated many of San Francisco's landmarks like Chinatown and the Golden Gate Bridge, all at the expense of hapless Phyllis. Name freaks will enjoy knowing that the Union Street building in the Cow Hollow neighborhood was built by a dairy farmer named James Cudworth.


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