Filthy Rich
Television Situation Comedy, 1982-83
Written by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, Barry E. Blitzer
Directed by Wes Kenney, Rod Daniel


Dixie Carter  . . . . . . . . . Carlotta Beck
Delta Burke  . . . . . . . . .  Kathleen Beck
Michael Lombard . . . . . . . . Marshall Beck
Slim Pickens . . . . . . . . .  Big Guy Beck (1982)
Forrest Tucker . . . . . . . .  Big Guy Beck (1982-83)
Nedra Volz  . . . . . . . . . . Mother B
Charles Frank . . . . . . . . . Stanley Beck
Jerry Hardin. . . . . . . . . . Wild Bill Weschester
Ann Wedgeworth . . .  . . . . . Bootsie Weschester

The year was 1982. Prime-time soaps were in their heyday, with shows such as Dallas and Dynasty raking in high ratings. Given their popularity, it was perhaps inevitable that comedy spoofs of these shows would start to pop up across the TV lineup. Two of the most memorable were Fresno (which came later in 1986 and starred Carol Burnett) and Filthy Rich.

Though it lasted less than a year, only two seasons’ worth, Filthy Rich was a very funny show. The premise of the show was that Big Guy Beck, a fabulously wealthy Tennessee landowner, had passed on, leaving behind a feuding family, lots of money – and a video will, with which he remained in control of the situation from beyond the grave. Each week, his family gathered in the Beck mansion, Toad Hall, to be treated to another installment of Big Guy’s will.

Among Big Guy’s family members were oldest son Marshall, weak-willed husband of determined social climber Carlotta; youngest son Stanley, independently wealthy and a relatively likeable guy; an illegitimate son, Wild Bill Weschester, and his kooky wife Bootsie; and Mother B, Big Guy’s first wife, who managed to escape each week from the nursing home in which she lived. As if that weren’t enough, there was also Kathleen, Big Guy’s beautiful young second wife, interested mostly in getting her hands on the rest of the family fortune.

With such a family, there was bound to be conflict – and there was, starting when Carlotta and Marshall learned that under the terms of Big Guy’s will, they had to share Toad Hall with the socially inept Weschesters. Appalled beyond belief, acid-tongued Carlotta schemed each week to rid herself and Toad Hall of Wild Bill and Bootsie, while also fending off the deliciously bitchy Kathleen.

Filthy Rich wasn’t high comedy by any means, but its writers did manage to come up with some memorable lines:

Carlotta: Kathleen, dear, I suggest you stay out of this or I will verbally annihilate you. I will cut you off at the knees. I will take that two-cent accent and perfectly coiffed hairdo and stuff it down your demurely concealed, but nevertheless dime store cleavage!
Marshall: You know, Carlotta, you would have made a great ranch foreman on Big Valley (a 1960s TV Western series featuring a strong-willed matriarch).

Marshall: Mother, I think you've had far too much to drink. Let's take this wine and put it over here 'til dessert.
Mother B: Marshall, I have not had too much to drink. I know so because when I have had too much to drink, I throw up.

Marshall: Stanley, remember how when we were little, I was such a sickly child and you never wanted to play with me?
Stanley: Marshall, it wasn't because you were sickly; it was because you were whiny.

Marshall: Just keep smilin', Carlotta. Let it seem as though we're havin' the time of our lives.
Carlotta: I am smilin', Marshall. Someday this nightmare will be over. You and I will have all the money and these people will be tied to mules, working in our fields.

Filthy Rich jump-started the careers of both Dixie Carter and Delta Burke, and they would later work with Linda Bloodworth-Thomason on another excellent show, Designing Women.


The Internet Movie Database: Filthy Rich.<>. (July 2005).
The Network & Cable TV Guide: Filthy Rich. <>. (July 2005).
The term "filthy rich" describes someone with so much money they don't need to take a bath. Wealthy, elderly and eccentric, they don't bathe because they consider the cost of heating the water to be an unwarranted extravagance. They could, of course, use cold water – but that's what poor people do. No one would comment on this lack of personal hygiene because rich old people aren't crazy, just eccentric (and if you're related to them, they're perfectly normal and you visit them every week despite the odour and the mouldy carpet sticking to your shoes because you want to make sure you're not just in the will but the loving relation who gets just about everything1). Such people are on the decline, however, as that kind of old money thinking is dying out with the old people who have money.

Of course, that's just for the purposes of humour. These days it sums up someone so rich that it's obscene. Someone who is filthy rich has so much money Scrooge McDuck2 would be tut-tutting and making comments about the social good that could be done with just a portion of the disgusting, swollen, bloated, stinking pile of wealth.

The original point was, in fact, that the riches are filthy because the owner of the wealth used underhanded, vile means to get it. The money is covered in the grime of their swindling, the muck of their cheating, and the reeking sewage that got all over it despite sending the money through the best financial Laundromat.

These days it's not enough to have a pile of dubiously-attained wealth, you have to keep it too – hence why the filthy rich will vote for tax cuts for the wealthy3, support laws that let them negotiate their employees out of their legally required vacation time under threat of redundancy (but it's all to help the economy so that's okay)4, and anything else that benefits the rich – so the fact is, despite the filth of the riches, they want to store it all in an offal pit because the money is not dirty enough.

  1. Yet you forget that this includes the rotting carpet.
  2. Technically not filthy rich in the first sense, because he regularly bathes. In money.
  3. Thinking this will boost the economy should disqualify people from seeking public office.
  4. This is not a joke. The joke is that people did not riot: They said it was a good thing.

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