Discover more from Rerun Rewind
Top 5 Sylvia Schnauser Episodes of Car 54 Where Are You?
Car 54 Where Are You? features many funny actors, including Joe E. Ross and Fred Gwynn in the two lead roles, Gunther Toody and Frances Muldoon, but the one actor who really stands out is Charlotte Rae as Sylvia Schnauser, the wife of Officer Leo Schnauser (Al Lewis). Every line she delivers is dramatic and exaggerated, and she steals every scene in which she appears. She’s quite clearly the funniest character on the show, and that’s why I’m presenting to you the top 5 Sylvia Schnauser episodes of Car 54 Where Are You?…
#5: Remembering St. Petersburg
Sylvia visits a phony fortune teller, who tells her Leo is a count from Russia, making her a countess. She immediately dons a ball gown and a tiara, refers to Leo as “Count Schnauser,” and bows in his presence. Leo is alarmed by Sylvia’s behavior, so he brings home a psychiatrist to speak to her. However, the fortune teller warned Sylvia not to tell anyone about Leo’s being a count, so when the doctor shows up, she acts totally normal, making Leo look like the crazy one.
Meanwhile, Gunther goes undercover to investigate the fortune teller, and she tells him that he’s Leo’s brother and therefore also a count. Even though he knows it’s a sting, Gunther believes her and fully takes on the role of Russian royalty along with Sylvia.
#4: The Loves of Sylvia Schnauser
The precinct is investigating a phony publishing company, and they recruit Sylvia to pose as a potential customer. Of course, the publisher’s pitch convinces her she’s a talented writer, and she sets out to write a book called “The 51 Loves of Sylvia Schnauser,” which contains recipes for her favorite foods. Leo hears the book’s title and thinks Sylvia is writing about all the men she’s dated.
Word spreads around the precinct that Sylvia is writing a book, and the other cops start thinking of so-called scandals from their past that she might write about. One by one, they visit her to ask her not to include their stories in her book. Leo sees the line of men outside their apartment and becomes incensed, thinking they’re all Sylvia’s past lovers.
Meanwhile, Gunther and Frances visit publishers around the city to ask if they bought Sylvia’s book, and the publishers assume that if the police are investigating the book, it must be good. Eventually, every publisher in the city rushes to Sylvia’s apartment to bid on her book.
#3: The Courtship of Sylvia Schnauser
Sylvia is embarrassed about her and Leo’s wedding because they got married at a courthouse on her lunch break. She decides she wants to have a real wedding, but Leo is reluctant to put the time and money into planning a big to-do.
Of course, Sylvia won’t back down. She insists they’re not really married and moves in with the Toodys, refusing to go home until Leo agrees to marry her again. She appoints Lucille (Beatrice Pons) as her maid of honor and asks Gunther to give her away. Gunther is so thrilled that he starts to act like her father, and Sylvia goes along with it. Eventually, the Toodys basically become Sylvia’s parents, and she takes on the role of their unmarried daughter waiting for her steady to propose.
#2: 142 Tickets on the Aisle
The members of the 53rd precinct’s brotherhood club and their wives decide to see a play for their annual outing, but all the plays in the city are sold out except for “Little Miss Pioneer,” an abysmal production that’s only still running because the theater owner wants to show something clean and wholesome. Gunther and Frances tell the club about the play, and the other members get it into their heads that the play is dirty. Amidst the uproar, Sylvia makes impassioned pleas in favor of the play, insisting the other club members face real life in all its dirt and filth.
The cops escort the play actors to the precinct so they can show the club that the play isn’t dirty, and passersby assume they’re being arrested because the play is obscene. This leads to a mad rush to the ticket office, and by the time Gunther and Frances come back to buy tickets for their club, the play is sold out.
#1: A Star is Born in the Bronx
Sylvia is turned down for a role in the brotherhood club’s play because she’s not thin enough, so she decides to go on a diet and heads to the grocery store to buy some health food. The delicious-looking foods in the store tempt her, and her diet goes out the window when a table of cookies catches her eye. A man invites her to sample a cookie, and she stuffs her face with them for about 10 minutes.
The man with the cookies turns out to be from an ad agency, and they want Sylvia to be the spokesperson for the cookies. Their offer goes to Sylvia’s head right away, and she instantly becomes a prima donna, making unreasonable demands, giving herself a new name, and making plans for her Hollywood career. She insists that the agency allow her to make the commercial her way, and the result is more like a bizarre art film.