When your landlord is after you for the rent, it’s not very funny, although it can be a little dramatic. It’s much more relaxing and fun to watch people on television and in movies deal with landlords. For entertainment value, here are the top ten famous TV landlords, who have knocked on our doors and hearts:
Fred and Ethel Mertz, I Love Lucy (1951–1957)
I Love Lucy would never have been the same without Lucy and Ricky’s best friends, neighbors, and landlords, Fred and Ethel Mertz (William Frawley and Vivian Vance). These famous New York City landlords were just as much a part of the storyline as the show’s namesake. Fred was notoriously stingy with money and would stall as long as he could with repairs. Ethel, meanwhile, was content to get into all sorts of mischief with Lucy, including one classic episode in which they try to wallpaper Lucy’s apartment and end up covered in wallpaper and glue themselves.
Stanley Roper, Three’s Company (1977–1984)
No fan of ‘70s sitcoms can forget Stanley Roper (Norman Fell), the cheap, henpecked husband of the popular ‘70s show, Three’s Company. Many of the early episodes revolved around the attempts of Jack, Chrissy, and Janet to convince Mr. Roper that Jack was gay, and that therefore there was nothing “sinful” about the three of them living together in the same apartment. It seems likely that he was never fully convinced.
Ralph Furley, Three’s Company (1977–1984)
When Mr. Roper moved on, Ralph Furley, played by the unforgettable Don Knotts, took over duties as landlord for the mismatched Santa Monica, CA trio of roommates. Furley was much less concerned with Jack’s sexual orientation as he was with his own distorted self-image as a hip, sexy ladies man, while his tell-tale snorts and garish leisure suits revealed him as anything but.
Edna Babish, Laverne and Shirley (1976–1983)
Another classic from the ‘70s was landlady Mrs. Babish (Betty Garrett), on Laverne and Shirley. As two ahead-of-their-time forward-thinking career girls working in a Milwaukee brewery, Laverne and Shirley gave Mrs. Babish all she could handle, but she still became part of the family, literally, when she married Laverne’s dad.
Henry Rush, Too Close for Comfort (1980–1938)
Henry Rush, portrayed by sitcom star Ted Knight, had double trouble when he had to deal with two tenants who were not only capable of getting into lots of trouble, but were also his daughters. In the ‘80s sitcom Too Close for Comfort, it was all Henry could do to keep up with his girls while maintaining a career as a famous cartoonist.
Michael Mancini, Melrose Place (1992–1999)
A much less humorous television landlord was Dr. Michael Mancini of the ‘90s series Melrose Place. Although Mancini, played by Thomas Calabro, began as a responsible family man who ran the building for the owner in order to help support his family while he began his medical career, he eventually became a schemer who everyone in the building learned to watch out for.
Amanda Woodward, Melrose Place (1992–1999)
As bad as Michael was, many of the residents of Melrose Place thought Amanda, played by soap queen Heather Locklear, was worse. Amanda made no bones about her greed and power, and joyfully used the residents of the Melrose Place apartments that gave the show its name for her own ends.
Mr. Heckles, Friends (1994–2004)
In the early episodes of Friends, Monica, Rachel, Joey, and Chandler have several humorous, if not cantankerous, run-ins with their landlord Mr. Heckles—a strange, scruffy, bathrobe-wearing curmudgeon. He lived directly beneath the girls’ apartment and constantly complained about how loud their footsteps were (even when they weren’t walking around) to the point of using a broom handle to bang on his ceiling out of frustration—a habit that led to his unfortunate demise: one day he keeled over, broomstick in hand. In the episode that marks the end of this secondary character, the friends “inherit” all of Mr. Heckles’ earthly possessions, meaning they have to clean out the landlord/pack rat’s apartment, and they keep a seashell lamp, a hula girl clock, a TV screen magnifier, and Mr. Heckles’ yearbook.