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17 Mormon references in movies and sitcoms (Part 1)

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22 2014 11:30 p.m. MST

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In this 1968 Western film, Owen Forbes and others come across a Mormon ghost town. A local man explains that once the well dried up, the Mormons had to leave.

The abandoned town has a church with a steeple that looks similar to the Salt Lake Temple spires and a building with a sign in front that reads “Brigham Young Academy,” according to LDSfilm.com.
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truth in all its forms
henderson, NV

What about south park? they did a whole episode on the Mormons.

Fred T
PHOENIX, AZ

How can you leave out one of the very best?
The "Twern't Mormons" in Jerimiah Johnson.

From the movie Jeremiah Johnson (1972)

Jeremiah Johnson: [Jeremiah and Caleb find Del Gue buried to his neck in sand] Are you all right?

Del Gue: Sure, sure, I got a fine horse under me!

[sneezes]

Del Gue: Got one of them feathers in my nose.

Jeremiah Johnson: You keep sneezing, it'll come out all right. Haven't seen anyone pass by recent, have you?

Del Gue: Nobody's gone in front of me. Can't say what's happened behind me, though.

Jeremiah Johnson: The Injuns put you here?

Del Gue: T'weren't Mormons. A Chief, name of Mad Wolf. Nice fella, don't talk a hell of a lot. Say, you wouldn't have an extra hat on you, would you? Shade's getting' scarce in these parts.

Jeremiah Johnson: What'd you shave your head for?

Del Gue: Mad Wolf figures like every other Injun I know. Says this scalp isn't fit for no decent man's lodgepole. Ain't the first time I've protected my head in such a way. Name's Del Gue, with an "e".

Trainman
Ivins, UT

Well, If all you can find is 17 references to the LDS church going clear back into the 60's, I don't consider that very significant. Your list of NFL players this year who are Mormons is much more significant.

Cinci Man
FT MITCHELL, KY

This is a good list, but I'm sure there are dozens of others. It'll be interesting to watch the list grow, thanks to readers. I'd like to add:
Cahill, U.S. Marshall
Paint Your Wagon

more?

jaredw007
Salt Lake City, UT

There's the 1996 movie "The Long Kiss Goodnight"

Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson): Tell me, do you always curse this much?

Samantha Caine (Geena Davis): What are you, a Mormon?

Mitch Henessey (Samuel L. Jackson): Yes, I'm a Mormon, that's why I just smoked a pack of Newports and drank three vodka tonics. I mean . . . When I first met you, you were all "Oh phooey, I burnt the darn muffins;" now, you go into a bar and ten minutes later sailors come running out.

Weston Jurney
West Jordan, UT

On Red Dwarf there was a hideous monster (wasn't there always). Lister looked at it and exclaimed that it had "more teeth than the Osmond family."

Another time he had a terrible space virus, and said that he was afraid he'd soon be "deader than a Saturday night in Salt Lake City."

Not exactly LDS references, but close!

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

South Park has a few good references, including an entire episode. You missed that one. There are also a couple good quotes in Simpsons, and a great couple from Red in 'that 70's show' you missed as well.

DEW Cougars
Sandy, UT

"Paint Your Wagon" by Clint Eastwood was a good one

JP
Chandler, AZ

- "Millions" a 2004 film by Danny Boyle. Missionaries are featured fairly prominently.
- "Witness" (sort of). In the Spanish soundtrack, they translated "Amish" as "Mormons".
- "Raising Arizona" Nicholas Cage's final words in the movie: "...a land not too far away. Where all parents are strong and wise and capable. And all children are happy and beloved. I don't know. Maybe it was Utah."

IsaacsTM
Huntingtown, MD

Yes this list is very short indeed. The South Park reference is the best I think and needs to be added to this list.

jbluther
Providence, UT

A couple more come to mind:

Training Day (2001) - Denzel Washington tries to get Ethan Hawke to smoke a joint. He refuses to which Denzel's character responds "What's wrong? You Mormon or something?"

House (TV Series) - A Mormon character named Cole back in 2007. DN did an article about it
http://goo.gl/4IWzdy

wapple12
Lehi, UT

There is also the Terrence Hill Comedic Spaghettit Western from 1970, "They Call Me Trinity." He and his brother team up to protect Mormon farmers from Mexican bandits and a corrupt local horse owner. They even pretend to be Mormons and teach them to fight and stop being pacifists. He also almost marries two of the Mormon sisters before realizing it would mean he has to work for a living. Funny movie!

jbluther
Providence, UT

Going before 1968, in season 8 (1966) the TV show Bonanza had a two-part episode about the Cartwrights aiding a Mormon polygamist family called "The Pursued."

jbluther
Providence, UT

House (TV series) had a character named Cole in 2007 that was Mormon. Deseret News even had an article about it.

Training Day (2001) - Denzel Washington's character asks if Ethan Hawke's character is Mormon when he refuses to smoke some marijuana.

Mister J
Salt Lake City, UT

to Weston Jurney

I'm glad someone mentioned Red Dwarf.

The Fox Sunday night lineup wasn't mentioned. Why? My favorite is Homer Simpson, "Why would I go to Utah? I love booze, caffeine and monogamy."

sr.m220
ROSEVILLE, CA

Of course the Bob Newhart Show...

The Bob Newhart show

Emily had her moments. Like the very end of the episode in which Howard's brother, Gordon the game Warden had been to Chicago for a visit.
Emily - Howard's brother called.
Bob - Warden Gordon Bordon?
Emily - No... his other brother. Norman.
Bob - What does he do?
Emily - He's a doorman. At the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
Bob - Don't tell me he's a Mormon.
Emily - That's right. Norman Borden the Mormon Doorman. (Laughs hysterically.)
Bob - How long did it take you to come up with that?
Emily - All day.

sr.m220
ROSEVILLE, CA

The longest Book of Mormon quote in a (non-LDS) movie

2 Nephi 9 in Hitchcock´s "the Family Plot"

Former TV Thunderbird
Menlo Park, CA

The original Battlestar Galactica tv series referenced LDS theology on occasion.

kimnprovo
Orem, UT

I like the small reference in The Office.

Michael Scott: Meredith, have you ever used alcohol to alter your mood or deliberitely change your state of mind?

Meredith: Sure.

Michael Scott: Do you sometimes have a drink to celebrate a special occasion or mark a holiday?

Meredith: Obviously.

Michael Scott: Have you ever, under the influence of alcohol, questioned the teachings of the Mormon church?

Oscar: Where did you get this?

Michael Scott: I got it on a website. That's not important.

The Scientist
Provo, UT

Oh, look! Some movies paid attention to Mormons!

This is newsworthy? Are Mormons so starved for attention and validation?

Shawnm750
West Jordan, UT

There was no character "George" in the TV show Cheers. George Wendt was the actor, "Norm" was his character...

SG Ag
Saint George, UT

What about Breaking Bad? Can't remember the name of the episode but it is in Season 1. Jesse is tripping out in his house, looking out the window and sees what he thinks are two bikers coming to get him. Turns out they are Mormon missionaries trying to spread the word.

Rob of NV
Las Vegas, NV

This kind of trivia stuff is fun and interesting. Yes, this might not be news, but it is different and a fun "game" to play.

That being said, there is a reference to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the 1979 movie "Electric Horseman" starring Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. Redford's character, Sonny Steele (a former rodeo star), runs off with a drugged-up prize racing horse owned by his corporate sponsor. There is a massive manhunt for him in southern UT. The corporate CEO, in his frustration to find Steele, speaks of using various law enforcement and military personnel to find him and then states, "he's in Utah, get the Mormon Tabernacle Choir."

Also, in the TV western Big Valley, season 4, episode 20 in 1969 was titled "A Passage of Saints." In the episode a Mormon polygamist leases a Barkley farm near Stockton, CA. When the townspeople find out, they try to force them out of town. Jarrod Barkley, an attorney, works to protect them.

I look forward to reading what other references people come up with.

Mountain Bird
West Jordan, UT

In the British comedy, Waiting For God, that aired for a while on KUED7, there is a reference to Mormons, though I can't remember the exact dialog.

yodak
Dallas, TX

My favorite reference has to be in the Hitchcock movie Family Plot. A preacher in it quotes from the Book of Mormon.

scotchipman
Lehi, UT

So many others! South Park and Tosh.O take mention Mormons a lot. Tosh.O reminds me of my favorite poster "Scientology Making Mormons Look Saner Since 1952"

DodgerDoug
Salem, UT

Paint you Wagon with Clint Eastwood has a great Mormon reference. BTW, Scientist from Provo, if you don't like the article, just don't read it. It is a fun article and I have enjoyed reading the comments with other Mormon references.

matt4226
Holladay, UT

Are we only covering family friendly movies and TV shows? The main character 1997 movie Orgazmo is an LDS missionary who is trying to save up money so he can pay for his expensive temple wedding when he gets off his mission.

Also, from 1997 was Starship Troopers where they talk about Port Joe Smith and the Mormon extremists who were wiped out by the Arachnids.

As other posters have mentioned South Park has covered the Mormons on multiple occasions.

grainfarmer
shawboro, NC

In the Heat of The Night......

Episode from 1990 called .....Home is Where the Heart Is.......pretty early on, right after the Rev Soames is shot on the R&R tracks, a LDS couple heard the shots and find the Rev dead and are then questioned by Bubba Skinner & Jameson.

BYU Track Star
Los Angeles, CA

I can think of three:

1.) The 1940 20th Century Fox groaner "Brigham Young"? Where Dean Jagger plays Young and Joseph Smith is played by a young Vincent Price.

2.) Wagon Master (1950) Ward Bond plays the Wagon Master helping Mormon emigrants in the West

3.) Angels in America (1993)

4.) A study in Scarlett (1887)

InspectorC
Wasatch Front, UT

In that current sit-com with Robin Williams (about an ad agency)--- (sorry, I don't even know the title... I rarely watch it)---

About 3 weeks ago they had a scene where a bunch of people were standing around in the office, and Robin Williams made some backhanded wisecrack about Mormons. I can't even remember the dialogue or context.

It wasn't the worst thing I've heard said about Mormons, but it was quite offensive to me. But granted.... A little bit funny, in a demented, Robin Williams sort-of-a-way.

GTOBoomer
USA, UT

You can't leave out Paint Your Wagon and The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox. Mormons figure prominently in both.

happy2bhere
clearfield, UT

DodgerDoug

If you were to read The Scientist on other postings in DN you would realize he has a lot of axes to grind against the Church. But we all forgive him.

GenericScreenName
American Falls, ID

I guess we loved being noticed. A little bit of flattery goes a long way. I, for one, would rather Hollywood avoid us at all costs.

Hutterite
American Fork, UT

I forgot about the 'waiting for god' episode with some missionaries in it. It's hilarious. And didn't House call the mormon guy 'big love'?

Shazandra
Bakersfield, CA

Poor Scientist... And yet he reads the DN every day.
I agree, no one makes him read this, do they?

Thanks for the fun article- and that's from an ex-Mormon, avid evangelical, Bible-only Christian. I love my Mormon heritage, and I "get" the satire and jabs. We all have proclivities and we all can poke fun at any group. But that's not what Jesus called us to do. Critique, analysis- Yes. Rudeness, belittling- No.

And my fave is the old Dean Jagger/Brigham Young portrayal. That personified the struggle of my ancestors in a very real way, regardless if I disagree with their theology. Mormons have an empire, a family and work ethic that most of the world admires.

cuscoln
Santa Fe, NM

I cant believe you left out the Mormon extremists reference in Starship Troopers.

Obi-Jon Kenobi
Layton, UT

In the "Fight Club" episode of "The X-Files" (season 7, episode 20), two Mormon missionaries in Kansas City visit two women at two different homes in the same neighborhood that look exactly alike. The second woman yells at them to go away and the two men, inexplicably, get into a fight in the second woman's front yard.

In the "Treehouse of Horror IX" episode of "The Simpsons" (season 10, episode 4), aliens Kang and Kodos knock on the Simpsons' front door. Homer answers, sees them, and says, "Oh no! Mormons!" Kang replies, "Actually, we're Quantum Presbyterians."

Kings Court
Alpine, UT

Who sits around documenting all of these things? It really is quite a silly thing to do.

Mel50
Nashville, TN

Not really a Mormon reference but something I found interesting - In the Horse Whisperer with Robert Redford there is a scene where the characters are about to have dinner and they say the prayer. They all fold hands the way other churches do, except for Redford's character... he folds his arms. I thought "Robert Redford has lived in Utah so long he prays like a Mormon now!" LOL By the way, why DO we fold our arms when we pray??

Mel50
Nashville, TN

Former TV Thunderbird - The creator of Battlestar Galactica, Glen A Larson, was LDS. He put many church references in the show.

Lehi-Dave
Lehi, UT

Starshipp Troopers has a Mormon settlement on a bug planet.

LadyMoon
Crestucky, FL

Ms. Petersen has far too much spare time.

cj2018
KUTZTOWN, PA

When I read this article, I immediately thought of a show that I watched religiously, so to speak, called "The Big Valley," with Barbara Stanwyck. I was only eight when this episode aired, so it was my first exposure to "The Mormons." The episode called "A Passage of Saints" aired March 1969. It was about a polygamist Mormon family that settled in the local town. When the townspeople found out the family was Mormon and they practiced polygamy, they began to threaten and harass them, in order to drive them out of town. Of course, the Barkley's, being the just people that they were, stood up for the Mormons, even though they didn't approve of the religion or the lifestyle. Who knew that just ten years later, at the age of eighteen, I would be baptized into the same religion?

By the way, I also remembered "Pant Your Wagon" like some others, as well as "Brigham Young" from 1940, with Dean Jagger and Tyrone Power.

Tutanikai
Murray, UT

Inspector C, the show you are referencing is "The Crazy Ones" and Robin Williams says something like "Mormons have sex standing up, so God thinks they're dancing." I wasn't terribly offended by it, but it contributes to an inaccurate stereotype.

The Scientist
Provo, UT

There are hundreds of "movies" on Youtube that reference Mormons. You should list all of those so people can check them out.

Brother Mau
Modesto, CA

Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home

Kirk: [Explaining Spock's odd behavior] Oh, him? He's harmless.
Back in the sixties, he was part of the free speech movement at
Berkeley. I think he did a little too much LDS.

Dr. Gillian Taylor: LDS?

snakeriverute
Madison, ID

Don't know if it's been mentioned, but in 1968's "The Scalphunters" Shelley Winters sings the chorus to "In Our Lovely Deseret." Telly Savalas yells at her: "You're not a Mormon. Stop singing those Mormon songs."

Filo Doughboy
Bakersfield, CA

Those of us from south/east Idaho will forever laugh at the entire quintessential Mormon movie made by LDS geeks who can laugh at themselves. Even the open front lawn scenes are still current landscape from rural Blackfoot to Preston. Lots of people found the movie a hoot and knew nothing of the Mormon fodder, including my Oklahoma Southern Baptist pastors. When I told them that the movie could have been my on-going family reality show, they cracked up.

Give us another Napolean Dynamite any day!

Canyontreker
TAYLORSVILLE, UT

I also like Nick Cage in Raising Arizona...good one.

The Duchess and The Dirtwater Fox...
Goldie Hawn is a west coast dance hall saloon girl that decides to move to Utah as "The Duchess" to marry a polygamous so she only has to "work" once a week. Along the way she meets card swindler George Segal "The Dirtwater Fox" and all chaos happens. She gets within site of Salt Lake and changes her mind to be with Segal.
The depiction of a Mormon patriarch in the movie is not flattering or politically correct, so the critiques killed the movie even in 1976.

NeilT
Clearfield, UT

The episode from Cheers (Mormons don't dance) was hilarious. This is an old one. It was from an episode featuring the children from I Love Lucy. The girl says I have a friend who is a Mormon. Maybe they can arrange for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. She is referring to efforts to arrange for entertainment at a school dance. Sorry I wish I could remember more details.

NeilT
Clearfield, UT

The TV series LA Law featured a shot of what was supposed to be a courthouse. It was actually the LA Temple. You can't make this stuff up.

Coug50years
SLC, ut

We loved the movie "Raising Arizona"' where Nicolas Cage has a dream at the end of having a very large family, living somewhere he did not recognize "maybe Utah".

jpb
Zionsville, IN

In Burn After Reading, John Malkovich's character is accused of drinking too much, to which he replies,"You are a Mormon. Compared to you, everyone drinks too much."

Jmetees
Federal Way, WA

The Bob Newhart Show, 1977 episode titled "My Son the Comedian". At the very end, Bob is on a small stage with a microphone, pretending he is Ed Sullivan, and mentions the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

antodav
TAMPA, FL

The Star Trek one is a bit of a stretch, but as a major Trekkie, I'm glad to see it in here anyway. I imagine Spock in a white shirt and tie knocking on doors back in the 60s. It amuses me for a good amount of time.

Another that I remember was in an episode of some sitcom from the 90s or 2000s, (possibly The New Adventures of Old Christine), in which a character talks about flying on an airline based in Salt Lake City. She distresses another character with the news that the airline does not serve alcohol, because it is run by Mormons.

ImABeliever
Provo, UT

Being Lds and having been in the entertainment business before, I agree with the quote
by Bishop Glenn L. Pace when he said, "How can we be the Salt of the Earth if we stay
in one Lump in the hallways of our beautiful buildings?"

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