Jennifer Keishin Armstrong Biography & Facts
Taxi is an American sitcom that originally aired on ABC from September 12, 1978, to May 6, 1982, and on NBC from September 30, 1982, to June 15, 1983. The series won 18 Emmy Awards, including three for Outstanding Comedy Series. It focuses on the everyday lives of a handful of New York City taxi drivers and their abusive dispatcher. Taxi was produced by the John Charles Walters Company, in association with Paramount Network Television, and was created by James L. Brooks, Stan Daniels, David Davis, and Ed. Weinberger.
For most of the run of the show, the ensemble cast consisted of taxi drivers Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch), Bobby Wheeler (Jeff Conaway), Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner), Tony Banta (Tony Danza), and "Reverend" Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd), along with their dispatcher Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) and mechanic Latka Gravas (Andy Kaufman).
The show was a critical and commercial success, having been nominated for 31 Emmy Awards and winning 13, including three straight years winning Outstanding Comedy. It has remained in syndicated reruns ever since the series ended.
Premise and themes
The show focuses on the employees of the fictional Sunshine Cab Company, and its principal setting is the company's fleet garage in Manhattan. Among the drivers, only Alex Reiger, who is disillusioned with life, considers cab driving his profession. The others view it as a temporary job.
Elaine Nardo is a single mother working as a receptionist at an art gallery. Tony Banta is a boxer with a losing record. Bobby Wheeler is a struggling actor. John Burns (written out of the show after the first season) is working his way through college. All take pity on "Reverend Jim" Ignatowski, an aging hippie minister, who is burnt out from drugs, so they help him become a cabbie. The characters also include Latka Gravas, their innocent, wide-eyed mechanic from an unnamed foreign country, and Louie De Palma, the despotic dispatcher.
A number of episodes involve a character having an opportunity to realize his dream to move up in the world, only to see it yanked away. Otherwise, the cabbies deal on a daily basis with their unsatisfying lives and with Louie's abusive behavior and contempt (despite being a former cab driver himself). Louie's assistant, Jeff Bennett, is rarely heard from at first, but his role increases in later seasons.
Despite the humor of the show, Taxi often tackles such dramatic life issues as drug addiction, single parenthood, blindness, obesity, dissociative identity disorder, animal abuse, homosexuality, racism, teenage runaways, divorce, nuclear war, sexual harassment, premenstrual mood disorders, gambling addiction, and grief.
Cast and characters
Alex Reiger (Judd Hirsch) – Alex is the main protagonist in the sitcom, the compassionate, level-headed core of the show; the one everyone else turns to for advice. At one point, he reveals his anxiety with this unwanted burden. He once worked in an office, with a good chance of advancement, but lost this job owing to his refusal to follow the company line. He was married to Phyllis Bornstein (Louise Lasser), and when she divorced him because of his lack of ambition she sought sole custody of their baby daughter, Cathy (Talia Balsam). He gave in rather than fight it. He is estranged from his lothario father, Joe (Jack Gilford), but has a closer relationship with his sister, Charlotte (Joan Hackett). Alex is a recovered compulsive gambler, although he relapses in one episode. A deadpan cynic, he has resigned himself to driving a cab for the rest of his life.
Robert L. "Bobby" Wheeler (Jeff Conaway) (1978–1981, recurring 1981–1982) – Bobby is an optimistically naive, struggling actor whose flamboyance is Louie's favorite target. Success as an actor eludes Bobby. Once, he is signed up by a famous manager, but it turns out she does not want to represent him, she only wants him as a lover. Robin Williams was originally considered for the role, but he was already committed to Mork & Mindy. Another time he is cast in a pilot for a soap opera called Boise. The show goes into production, but his part is recast. Conaway left the show after Season 3, but made guest appearances in Season 4. On The Howard Stern Show, Taxi writer Sam Simon said that when Conaway was absent during the production of one episode, his dialogue was reassigned to the other cast members who delivered the jokes as well or better, which made the producers realize that Conaway was expendable.
Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) – Louie is the main antagonist of the sitcom. The head dispatcher of the Sunshine Cab Company, Louie spends his time holding court inside the caged-in dispatch office at the garage, arguing with, belittling and bullying the drivers. He not only lacks morals, he is openly proud of his misdemeanors and outright crimes. Louie will do anything to benefit himself, from taking advantage of a drunken friend of his on, off girlfriend Zena Sherman (played by DeVito's real-life wife Rhea Perlman), to gambling with a young boy, to stealing from the company, to even spying on Elaine while she is changing, which he almost got fired over. He lives with his mother (DeVito's real mother, Julia, in two episodes). On some occasions he helps his workers, as in the episode in which a cruel hairstylist (played by Ted Danson) gives Elaine a garish makeover just before a very important event, it is Louie who bolsters her confidence to confront him. Louie is very superstitious, in one episode exhibiting great concern when Jim has a premonition that Alex is going to die later that night. In 1999, TV Guide ranked De Palma first on its list of the 50 greatest TV characters of all time.
Elaine O'Connor Nardo (Marilu Henner) – Elaine is a divorced mother of two, struggling to cope while trying to realize her ambitions in the field of fine art. Louie's object of lust, she is attracted to characters played by actors ranging from Tom Selleck to Wallace Shawn. The last name for the character was taken from Patricia Nardo, a scriptwriter, former secretary, and close friend of Taxi co-creator James L. Brooks.
Anthony Mark "Tony" Banta (Tony Danza) – The kind-hearted, slow-witted Vietnam veteran and boxer has little success in the sport (in one episode Banta gives his record as 8 wins, 24 losses and he has been knocked out 14 times). In fact, Louie makes a lot of money betting against him (when Banta makes a conscious decision to throw a fight, Louie decides to bet on Banta because the only way Banta can remain a loser in such a situation is to win). Finally, the boxing commission takes away his license because he has been knocked out one too many times. In the final season, Tony is introduced to new girlfriend Vicki (Anne De Salvo) by Simka. He and Vicki have a falling out after she becomes pregnant by him, but reconcile and get married. The last name for the character was taken from Gloria Banta, a scriptwriter and close friend of Taxi co-creato.... Discover the Jennifer Keishin Armstrong popular books. Find the top 100 most popular Jennifer Keishin Armstrong books.