First, You Cry is a 1978 American made-for-television biographical drama film starring Mary Tyler Moore, Anthony Perkins, Jennifer Warren, Richard Dysart and Don Johnson, directed by George Schaefer. It is based on the 1976 autobiography First, You Cry written by NBC News correspondent Betty Rollin in which she recalls her battle with breast cancer. The film was broadcast on CBS on November 8, 1978.[1]

First, You Cry
Based onFirst, You Cry novel by Betty Rollin
Written byCarmen Culver
Directed byGeorge Schaefer
StarringMary Tyler Moore
Anthony Perkins
Jennifer Warren
Richard Dysart
Don Johnson
Music byPeter Matz
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Philip Barry Jr.
CinematographyEdward R. Brown
Editor(s)James Galloway
Running time100 minutes
Production company(s)Company Four
MTM Enterprises
Original networkCBS
Original releaseNovember 8, 1978 (1978-11-08)


TV news correspondent Betty Rollin (Moore) is giving a television report on the dangers of breast cancer, hoping that it will make women more aware of preventative measures. At home, Betty's husband Arthur Heroz (Perkins), a successful author, comments on how a lump in Betty's left breast has grown appreciably harder since she had it examined some time ago. Betty promises to make a follow-up exam. The subsequent checkup, however, leads to a diagnosis of cancer. Following a period of fear and denial, Betty agrees to a biopsy, which, due to the cancer's spread, leads to an immediate mastectomy. Upon leaving the hospital, Betty tries to deal with her varied emotions, along with those of her self-involved spouse, former lover, mother and friends. When she can't perform simple tasks like putting on a robe, Betty falls into depression. She sees herself as "damaged goods", leading to dramatic intimacy issues with Arthur.

Betty returns to work, but feels only awkwardness with colleagues. Things worsen when Betty finally looks at her scar, and assumes that all men will now be repulsed by her body. When husband Arthur becomes increasingly distant, she reunites with former beau David (Crenna). She goes to live with him in Philadelphia, quitting her job and leaving her friends behind. After a period of bliss, however, Betty still finds herself unhappy. She the decides to write a book about her travails, leading to an overhaul of her life, both professionally and personally.



First, You Cry was shot from February 14 to March 1978: exterior scenes were filmed on location in New York City and interior scenes were filmed at CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California.

Award nominationsEdit

In popular cultureEdit

The film was parodied on the November 17, 1979 episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by Bea Arthur, in a sketch titled "First He Cries". In the sketch, a husband (played by Bill Murray) is distraught over his wife's (played by Gilda Radner) mastectomy. The sketch was controversial and received over 200 calls and 300 letters of complaint. Betty Rollin herself wrote a letter in support of the sketch.


  1. ^ "Harper Collins". Archived from the original on October 21, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2016.

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