Bosom Buddies: It Gave Us Laughs (and Tom Hanks)

Bosom Buddies is a classic American sitcom that aired from 1980 to 1982. The show follows the lives of two young men who dress up as women to secure affordable housing in a women-only apartment building. The show was co-created by Robert L. Boyett and Thomas L. Miller, and starred (a very young!) Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari in the lead roles.

Bosom Buddies was praised for its witty writing, strong performances, and unique premise. The show tackled issues of gender and sexuality humorously and thoughtfully. While it only ran for two seasons, it has remained a cult classic and is still enjoyed by fans today.

Despite its short run, Bosom Buddies has had a lasting impact on pop culture. Notably, it helped launch the career of Tom Hanks, who became one of Hollywood’s most successful actors. 

Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari as Buffy and Hildegarde in the tv show Bosom Buddies

Plot Summary

Bosom Buddies followed the lives of two young advertising executives, Kip and Henry, who are struggling to find affordable housing in New York City. After being kicked out of their apartment, they take on the guise of Buffy and Hildegarde, two women who live in a women-only apartment complex. The show follows their hilarious attempts to maintain their secret identities while navigating their personal and professional lives.

Kip and Henry, played by Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, respectively, find themselves in various comedic situations as they try to keep their true identities hidden from their coworkers and neighbors. They must constantly dodge questions about their personal lives and maintain their alter egos, all while trying to keep their jobs and find love.

The show’s premise provided plenty of opportunities for physical comedy and witty banter, and its lighthearted tone and likable characters made it a hit with audiences.

Bosom Buddies Cast and Characters

Bosom Buddies boasted a talented cast, including:

  • Tom Hanks as Kip Wilson
  • Peter Scolari as Henry Desmond
  • Donna Dixon as Sonny Lumet
  • Holland Taylor as Ruth Dunbar
  • Wendie Jo Sperber as Amy Cassidy
  • Louise Sorel as Isabelle Hammond
bosom buddies cast

Hanks, of course, became one of the most successful actors in Hollywood, winning multiple Academy Awards and starring in numerous blockbuster films. Scolari also had a successful acting career, appearing in shows like Newhart and Girls. Sadly, he passed away in 2021 from leukemia at age 66.

Donna Dixon played the role of Sonny Lumet, a beautiful woman who Kip falls in love with. Holland Taylor played the role of Ruth Dunbar, the tough but fair building manager who is suspicious of Kip and Henry’s true identities. Wendie Jo Sperber played the role of Amy Cassidy, a ditzy but lovable friend of Kip and Henry. Louise Sorel played the role of Isabelle Hammond, a wealthy and glamorous building resident who is always on the lookout for new gossip.

All in all, this blockbuster cast meshed perfectly!


The idea for Bosom Buddies was developed by Chris Thompson, who had previously worked on The Love Boat and The Jeffersons. Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions produced the show, responsible for several other successful television series, including Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and Full House.

The show was initially pitched to ABC as a comedy about two men who dress up as women to live in an all-female apartment complex. The network hesitated to greenlight the series, but after seeing the pilot episode, they decided to take a chance.

peter scolari and tom hanks as Henry and Kip in Bosom Buddies

Reception and Legacy

Bosom Buddies was a critical and commercial success during its initial run. The first season garnered an average of 19 million viewers per episode, making it one of the highest-rated shows of the 1980-81 television season.

The show’s unique premise and the chemistry between the two leads, Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari, were praised by critics. The series was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards in 1983, including Outstanding Art Direction for a Series.

Despite its success, Bosom Buddies has not been as widely remembered or celebrated as other sitcoms of its era. However, it has developed a cult following over the years and is still beloved by many fans.

The show’s impact can also be seen in its influence on other television series. The hit sitcom Three’s Company later used the concept of two men dressing in drag to live in a women-only apartment complex. Additionally, the show helped launch the career of Tom Hanks, who became one of Hollywood’s most successful actors.