Poster: Mr. Television
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Uncle Charley: This is California- the land of milk and money
Steve: You mean milk and honey.
Uncle Charley: I'm too old for honey-I'll take money.
My Three Sons aired from September 1960 until August 1972 on ABC and CBS.
Second only to Ozzie And Harriet as network television's longest running non-animated situation comedy , My Three Sons had a Disney flavor to it. Fred MacMurray and Tim Considine had starred together in the hit Disney movie The Shaggy Dog, and Don Grady was a former Mickey Mouse Club mouseketeer. Even little Stanley Livingston was a show-business veteran, having appeared in several episodes of The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet.
The "family" in this case was all-male. Steve Douglas ( Frd MacMurray), a consulting aviation engineer, lived with his children at 837 Mill Street in a medium-sized Midwestern city. A widower, he seemed to spend more time raising his three sons than he did at his job, what with the usual growing pains of boys just beginning to date, going on camping trips, and the other "adventures" of middle-class suburbia. Steve also spent a good deal of time fending off attractive women, who wanted to marry him and take over that lovable, ready-made family.When the series began in 1960, the boys were aged 18 (Mike)( Tim Considine), 14 (Robbie)( Don Grady), and 7 (Chip)( Stanley Livingston). Steve's father-in-law was "Bub" O'Casey( William Frawley),a lovable old coot who lived with them and served as a kind of housekeeper to the clan. When he left after five seasons to take a trip to Ireland (William Frawley, seriously ill, left midway through the 1964-1965 season), he was replaced by his brother, Uncle Charley( William Demarest), a retired sailor whose crusty disposition masked a soft heart.
Others joining the cast in the early years were: Sally( Meredith MacRae), Mike's girlfriend and later fiance (the first serious romance he had had since his infatuation with the "girl next door," Jean Pearson played by Cynthia Pepper); Robbie's friend Hank( Peter Brooks); and Chip's pals, Sudsy Pfeiffer and Ernie Thompson( Ricky Allen, Barry Livingston). Tramp was the family dog.
By the start of the 1965-1966 season when the show moved from ABC to CBS, Tim Considine had grown out of the role as oldest son and wanted out of the series. In the first CBS episode, Mike and Sally got married and moved east so that he might accept a job teaching psychology on the college level. To re-establish the "three sons," Steve subsequently adopted the orphaned Ernie. Things went along much as before for the next two seasons.
In the fall of 1967, Steve moved the family from the Midwest to North Hollywood, California, where his job had taken him. Although the adjustment was not completely pleasant - many of the Douglasses' new acquaintances were not too friendly at first - there were good sides to the move. Robbie fell in love with Katie Miller one of his fellow students at college, and their romance blossomed into marriage before the end of the season. Katie was played by actress Tina Cole, who had been seen, over the previous few seasons, in a number of "high school girl" roles on My Three Sons. In the fall of 1968, the newlyweds discovered that Katie was pregnant and during that season she gave birth to triplets, Steve Jr., Charley, and Robbie II ( Josephm Michael, and Daniel Todd)- three sons, of course. In 1969, new love finally came to father Steve in the person of widow Barbara Harper( Beverly Garland), one of Ernie's teachers. They were married during the season and Barbara's young daughter, Dodie( Dawn Lynn), joined the family. Even Chip (who was by now 17) got into the act, eloping with his college girlfriend, Polly Williams( Ronne Troup), in the fall of 1970.
Then at the end of the season actor Don Grady left the series. He had grown tired of playing the role of Robbie Douglas and wanted to concentrate on his music career. This sent the producers into a quandry. How would the show fare without him? The following season it was explained that Robbie was sent to Peru to help as a structual engineer on a bridge being built. Katie and her 3 son's however, continued to live at the Douglas home. The series should have had a name transplant...it was now about a much larger family with the emphasis on all members.
As if the sprawling family had not gotten big enough already, Steve's cousin, Fergus McBain Douglas( also played by Fred MacMurray), arrived in the fall of 1971 in search of a wife to take back home to Scotland. A nobleman in his native land, Lord Fergus fell in love with cocktail waitress Terri Dowling( Anne Francis). She felt inadequate to go back to Scotland as royalty, but was eventually persuaded.
In its later years, as the size of the family on My Three Sons grew and separated into individual households, episodes could no longer include the entire group. More and more often, they dealt with the specific problems of only a part of the large cast of regulars, with different members taking the spotlight from week to week.
From December 1971 until a few weeks after the series ended its prime-time run. CBS ran repeat episodes in its daytime lineup.
Here is William Demarest's Obituary from the New York Times
WILLIAM DEMAREST, 91, ACTOR; KNOWN FOR ROLES IN COMEDIES
By JON PARELES
Published: December 29, 1983
William Demarest, who played dozens of gruff, golden-hearted curmudgeons in films and on television, died at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., yesterday, apparently of a heart attack. He was 91 years old.
Mr. Demarest performed in many Preston Sturges comedies, including ''The Lady Eve,'' as well as Frank Capra's ''Mr. Smith Goes to Washington'' and films by John Ford and Stanley Kramer.
He began his film career in 1927 - after two decades in vaudeville - and specialized in flinty but wise supporting characters. In all, he appeared in more than 100 movies, but he probably reached his widest audience as Uncle Charley in the television series ''My Three Sons.''
Mr. Demarest was born in St. Paul, Minn., in 1892. He started appearing on the vaudeville stage as a child, with two older brothers, and worked in stock theater and occasionally as a professional boxer.
He appeared on Broadway in the Earl Carroll musicals ''Sketch Book'' (1929) and ''Vanities'' (1931). But it was Mr. Demarest's comic character roles in films that established his reputation. Appeared in 'Jazz Singer'
He appeared in the first motion picture with sound, ''The Jazz Singer,'' with Al Jolson in 1927. He moved to Hollywood in 1936, the year he appeared in ''Wedding Present.''
In the early 1940's, he appeared in a string of Preston Sturges comedies - ''The Great McGinty,'' ''Sullivan's Travels,'' ''Hail the Conquering Hero,'' ''The Palm Beach Story,'' and ''The Miracle of Morgan's Creek,'' in which he played Officer Kockenlocker.
Among Mr. Demarest's other films were ''My Favorite Spy'' (1942), ''Along Came Jones'' (1945), ''The Jolson Story'' (1946), John Ford's ''What Price Glory?'' (1952) and Stanley Kramer's ''It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World'' (1963). He was nominated for an Academy Award as supporting actor in ''The Jolson Story.''
In 1965, he joined the cast of ''My Three Sons.'' He also appeared in the television series ''Wells Fargo,'' ''The Millionaire'' and ''Love and Marriage.''
After he moved to Palm Springs in 1968, he was active in various charitable groups, including the William Demarest Foundation and the William Demarest golf tournament.
He is survived by his wife, Lucille.
Here is Fred MacMurray's Obituary from The New York Times
Fred MacMurray Is Dead at 83; Versatile Film and Television Star
By PETER B. FLINT
Published: November 6, 1991
Fred MacMurray, the personable, unassuming actor who starred in some of the best film comedies of the 1930's and 40's and was later the protagonist in popular Walt Disney fantasies and the television situation comedy "My Three Sons," died yesterday at St. John's Hospital and Health Center in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 83 years old and lived in Los Angeles.
He died of pneumonia after being admitted to the hospital on Monday afternoon, said Sarah O'Meara, a family friend.
Reviewers repeatedly praised the charm, credibility and spontaneity of the 6-foot-3-inch-tall, pipe-smoking former saxophonist who had never studied acting. He had a good-guy image in nearly 80 films, but his most noted roles were cads -- a passion-crazed murderer in "Double Indemnity" (1944) and "Pushover" (1954), a deceitful Navy lieutenant in "The Caine Mutiny" (1954) and an exploitative philanderer in "The Apartment" (1960).
Billy Wilder persuaded the affable actor to play the rotters in "Double Indemnity" and "The Apartment" to surprise and shock moviegoers. He did. According to a possibly apocryphal anecdote, Mr. MacMurray was walking in Disneyland one day when an elderly woman approached him and declared: "I always liked you until I saw you in 'The Apartment.' Now I hate you." She is said to have then pummeled him with her purse and stalked off.
"Whether I play a heavy or a comedian," he said, "I always start out Smiley MacMurray, a decent Rotarian type. If I play a heavy, there comes a point in the film when the audience realizes I'm really a heel." A Listing of Main Films
Mr. MacMurray's films include "Alice Adams" (1935), "Hands Across the Table" (1935), "The Trail of the Lonesome Pine" (1936), "The Texas Rangers" (1936), "Champagne Waltz" (1937), "True Confession" (1937), "Sing You Sinners" (1938), "Remember the Night" (1940) and "Take a Letter, Darling" (1942).
Others are "Above Suspicion" (1943), "And the Angels Sing" (1944), "Where Do We Go From Here?" (a 1945 musical fantasy that gave the onetime vocalist a chance to sing), "The Egg and I" (1947), "Callaway Went Thataway" (1951) and "There's Always Tomorrow" (1956).
The actor's Disney films include "The Shaggy Dog" (1959), "The Absent-Minded Professor" (1961), in which he invented "flubber," a magical rubber compound that enables people and objects to fly, and "Son of Flubber" (1963).
Mr. MacMurray said he enjoyed film making, remarking: "It's nice to know you can do it again."
"I take my movie parts as they come," he said. "I don't fly into an emotional storm about them. I just do them. I guess I am an offhand comedian in a natural way." 'I'm Lazy in Spurts'
He said he was not "a dedicated actor" because "I'm lazy in spurts -- I'd as soon go fishing or play golf." As a result, he declined many offers to do stage plays and television series. However, he agreed to star in "My Three Sons" when a producer, Don Fedderson, promised he would have to work on it only three months a year. His scenes were shot first, and the other actors did the rest of the scenes later. He was given a high salary and a partnership.
"My Three Sons" focused on a widowed father of three boys and their gruff but lovable maternal grandfather (William Frawley) and later their great-uncle (William Demarest), who oversaw household chores. The artfully produced series became one of the most popular on television, both in the United States and abroad, running in prime time from 1960 to 1972 and many more years in syndication. CBS bought it in 1965, reportedly for more than $7 million.
Mr. MacMurray won many raises at Paramount Pictures, where he spent his first decade in Hollywood. In 1943, his annual salary was nearly $420,000, making him that year's highest-paid actor and fourth-highest-paid American. Frugal by nature, he put his finances in the hands of a manager, made many profitable investments and reputedly became one of Los Angeles's richest citizens. Son of a Concert Violinist
Frederick Martin MacMurray was born on Aug. 30, 1908, in Kankakee, Ill., where his father, Frederick, a concert violinist, was on tour. He began to know financial insecurity at the age of 5, when his parents separated. He spent most of his youth in Beaver Dam, Wis., where he graduated from high school with 10 letters in athletics. In high school and for one year at Carroll College in Waukesha, Wis., where he had an American Legion scholarship, he led his own three-piece band, Mac's Melody Boys.
Over the next eight years, Mr. MacMurray was a saxophonist and vocalist with various dance and vaudeville bands around the country and appeared on Broadway in two revues, "Three's a Crowd" and "The Third Little Show," and in a Jerome Kern musical, "Roberta." He won a contract with Paramount and achieved stardom in his first leading role, in the 1935 comedy "Gilded Lily.'
He appeared in a wide variety of roles but gradually specialized in comedy, both sophisticated and farcical. He typically played genial, persistent leading men and became one of the most durable stars.
Mr. MacMurray often appeared with such film goddesses as Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck and Madeleine Carroll, but he said he was no great screen lover. "Sometimes," he remarked, "scenes include people who just say 'Hi' to indicate they're in love. I play those scenes very well."
He was a family-oriented man who lived unflamboyantly and relatively modestly, despite his wealth. His favorite recreations were golf, fishing, painting and cooking.
He is survived by his wife, the former actress June Haver, whom he married in 1954; a son, Robert, of Hawaii, and three daughters, Laurie Sipma of Sacramento, Calif., Kate MacMurray of Los Angeles and Susan Pool of Little Rock, Ark. His first wife, Lillian LaMonte, an actress and model, died in 1953.
Here is Beverly Garland's Obituary
Beverly Garland, Actress of B Movies and My 3 Sons, Dies at 82
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSDEC. 8, 2008
LOS ANGELES (AP) Beverly Garland, the B-movie actress who starred in 1950s low-budget hits like Swamp Women and Not of This Earth and went on to play Fred MacMurray's second wife on the CBS television series My Three Sons, died here on Friday. She was 82.
Ms. Garland died at her Hollywood Hills home after a lengthy illness, her son-in-law Packy Smith told The Los Angeles Times.
Ms. Garland made her film debut in the 1950 noir classic D.O.A., beginning a career that lasted more than 50 years and included some 40 movies and dozens of television shows.
She gained something of a cult status for playing tough, hard women in pictures like The Alligator People (1959) and Roger Corman films like Gunslinger (1956), It Conquered the World (1956) and Naked Paradise (1957).
I never considered myself very much of a passive kind of actress, she said in a 1985 interview with Fangoria magazine. I was never very comfortable in love scenes, never comfortable playing a sweet, lovable lady.
Ms. Garland ventured into situation comedies in 1964, playing Bing Crosby's wife on The Bing Crosby Show. Late in the decade she was cast as MacMurray's bride. Until then his character had been a widower. She remained with the series until it went off the air in 1972.
Her many other television credits include episodes of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Remington Steele, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and 7th Heaven.
Beverly Fessenden was born in Santa Cruz, Calif., in 1926 and grew up in Glendale, Calif. She married the actor Richard Garland, and they were divorced in 1953 after less than four years.
In 1960, she married Fillmore Crank, a real estate developer, and the couple built a Mission-style hotel in North Hollywood, now called Beverly Garland's Holiday Inn. Mr. Crank died in 1999, but Ms. Garland remained involved in running the hotel.
She served on the boards of the California Tourism Corporation and the Greater Los Angeles Visitors and Convention Bureau.
She is survived by four children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, according to The Los Angeles Times.
Here is Don Grady's Obituary
Don Grady, Robbie on My Three Sons, Is Dead at 68
By PAUL VITELLOJUNE 28, 2012 (NYT)
Don Grady, who played Chip and Ernie's wholesome, heartthrob big brother Robbie on the long-running television sitcom My Three Sons, died on Wednesday at his home in Thousand Oaks, Calif. He was 68.
A family spokesman said the cause was cancer.
Mr. Grady, a versatile musician and singer who got his start in television as a Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club, considered music his vocation and his acting career something of an accident. At 14, he was an aspiring musician in high school who played ukulele, drums, accordion and clarinet while acting on the side when he was called to audition for the part of Robbie Douglas, one of three sons of the wistful, pipe-smoking widower Steve Douglas, played by Fred MacMurray.
The producers had already cast another actor. But, for reasons I never found out, they needed to replace him, Mr. Grady wrote in the forward to Fred MacMurray, a 2007 biography by Charles Tranberg. I was summoned to a hastily held audition at noon, and by 3 p.m. I was cast as the new Robbie. My acting abilities probably helped, but I still believe the reason I got the part was because the cleft in my chin looked like Fred's.
He played Robbie throughout the life of the show, more than 300 episodes from 1960 to 1972, although his place in the fictional family hierarchy shifted slightly over time. He was Mr. Douglas's middle son in the first few years, until the role of the original older brother, Mike (Tim Considine), was written out of the script and a new brother the adopted son, Ernie (Barry Livingston) was written in. Chip Douglas (Stanley Livingston, Barry's older brother in real life) took Robbie's place in the middle.
Mr. Grady's Robbie was always the coolest son. He was the teen idol of the cast, his face having been featured on the cover of teen magazines since his days as a Mouseketeer. Like Ricky Nelson of Ozzie and Harriet, Robbie sang in a band, and it performed on the show.
As the eldest son for most of the show's run, Mr. Grady was the family's earnest grown-up-in-training and the most frequent recipient of the fatherly advice that capped almost every episode.
Now, Rob, do you really think that's the right thing to do? Mr. MacMurray said in the 13th episode of Season Four, poking the air with his pipe. Well, no, Dad, Robbie answered. Not when you put it like that.
Don Louis Agrati was born in San Diego on June 8, 1944. His parents divorced when he was in his teens, and his mother, Mary, became a theatrical agent. One of his two sisters, the actress Lani O'Grady, died in 2001. He is survived by his wife, Ginny, his two children, Joey and Tessa, his mother, and another sister, Marilou Reichel.
Mr. Grady appeared in other shows besides My Three Sons, including The Rifleman and Wagon Train. But he focused mainly on his music after the series ended, forming a pop singing group, The Yellow Balloon, which recorded a song of the same name in 1967. It was the band's only hit, reaching No. 25 on the Billboard pop charts.
He later composed music for television, theater and films, including the theme song to Phil Donahue's talk show, songs for the TV series The Kid-a-Littles and the 1985 film Girls Just Want to Have Fun. He was a co-writer of Keep the Dream Alive, which was recorded by Herbie Hancock, Della Reese and others for the Jazz to End Hunger project.
Stanley Livingston said in an interview on Thursday that Mr. Grady was a lot like the character he played on My Three Sons.
He had a lot of charm, said Mr. Livingston. He was a good guy to be with. People loved him. He really was a wonderful big brother.
To watch episodes of My 3 Sons go to http://www.solie.org/alibrary/MyThreeSons.html
For a My Three Sons Fan Page go to https://web.archive.org/web/20090805211704/http://www.geocities.com/alcus2/threesons.html
To go to Tim's TV Showcase go to https://web.archive.org/web/20090208131756/http://www.timstvshowcase.com/my3sons.html
For the most comprehensive episode guide on the web from the old TV Tome site go to https://web.archive.org/web/20040416132122/http://www.tvtome.com:80/tvtome/servlet/ShowMainServlet/showid-1349/
For the Fred MacMurray Home Page go to http://www2.powercom.net/~fredmac/
For info on Fred MacMurray's death go to http://www.findadeath.com/directory/m/Fred_Macmurray/index.html
For the William Demarest Web Site go to http://members.tripod.com/~compmast/demarest/demarest.html
For the Official Stanley Livingston Web Site go to http://www.stanleylivingston.com/
For the Official Meredith MacRae Web Site go to http://meredithmacrae.com/
To watch a My Three Sons Reunion go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_o_S5XTukI
To watch My Three Sons-related interview videos at the Archive of American Television go to http://www.emmytvlegends.org/interviews/shows/my-three-sons
For 2 great reviews of My Three Sons go to http://www.museum.tv/eotv/mythreesons.htm and https://web.archive.org/web/20050208052229/http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/overview8.htm#sons
To watch the season 1 opening credits go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htETnX9p__I
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Keywords: My Three Sons