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Father Knows Best (TV Series 1954–1960) Poster

(1954–1960)

Trivia

The Andersons' kitchen actually had working appliances. They were used to make coffee and pastries for cast and crew members when they reported for work in the mornings.
Those who fondly recall this archetypal 1950s family sitcom may be surprised to learn that when the series debuted in 1954, it did so poorly in the ratings that CBS canceled it in March of 1955. A flood of protests came from viewers insisting that the show be reinstated. It was moved to an earlier time, and gradually became a hit.
The show took place in the town of Springfield. Even though it was never specified in which state the town was located, several times characters mentioned Altoona, an actual city in Pennsylvania. Iowa also has a city called Altoona.
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The NBC radio series on which the show was based had Jim being somewhat clumsy and slow-witted, often getting himself into embarrassing scrapes. On the TV version he's a lot wiser and makes far, far fewer mistakes.
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Among the future TV dads who appeared on the series: Herbert Anderson (Dennis the Menace (1959)), Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch (1969)), Dick York (the first Darren from Bewitched (1964)) and William Schallert (The Patty Duke Show (1963)). York and Schallert actually appeared in the same episode.
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Friday, November 22nd, 1963, when New Yorkers first witnessed breaking news of John F. Kennedy's assassination over WABC-TV, a rerun of "Father Knows Best" was interrupted to make way for the unfolding news coverage.
The character 'Jim Anderson' was ranked #6 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" (20 June 2004 issue).
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When the sitcom first aired in 1949 on NBC radio at 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays, it was sponsored by Maxwell House. When the series moved from NBC radio to CBS television in October 1954, Robert Young was the only member of the radio cast to make the transition to the TV sitcom adaptation.
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In the pilot, Ellen Drew played the mother (replaced in the series by Jane Wyatt and Sally Fraser played the eldest daughter (played in the series by Elinor Donahue.
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Herbert Anderson, Sylvia Field and Gloria Henry all had a supporting role in a "Father Knows Best" episode and all went on to play major cast members in Dennis the Menace (1959).
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Jane Wyatt's Margaret Anderson was originally played on radio by June Whitley Taylor and later by Jean Vander Pyl. Elinor Donahue's Betty was originally voiced by Rhoda Williams. Billy Gray's Bud once belonged to the voice of Ted Donaldson and Lauren Chapin's Kathy was earlier voiced by Norma Jean Nilsson. Other members of the radio cast have included: Eleanor Audley (Elizabeth), Herb Vigran (Hector) and Sam Edwards (Billy).
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In The Father Knows Best Reunion (1977) and Father Knows Best: Home for Christmas (1977), one of Betty's young daughters, "Ellen", was played by Kyle Richards of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (2010).
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The show began on radio in 1949 and was then produced for television by Eugene B. Rodney and star Robert Young. The show ran for six years, eventually airing original episodes on NBC and CBS. Both CBS and later ABC continued to air reruns as late as 1967.
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The setting is very possibly Springfield, Illinois, since there is mention of a wedding in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a new girl from Chicago, and in one episode, Bud's homing pigeon is released in Rockford, all relatively near Springfield, Illinois.
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Here is what Billy Gray, who played son James Anderson Jr., better known as Bud, said about this excessively idyllic series: "I wish there was some way I could tell the kids not to believe it. The dialogue, the situations, the characters they were all totally false. The show did everyone a disservice. The girls were always trained to use their feminine wiles, to pretend to be helpless to attract men. The show contributed to a lot of the problems between men and women that we see today.... I think we were all well motivated, but what we did was run a hoax. 'Father Knows Best' purported to be a reasonable facsimile of life. And the bad thing is, the model is so deceitful. It usually revolved around not wanting to tell the truth, either out of embarrassment, or not wanting to hurt someone. If I could say anything to make up for all the years I lent myself to (that), it would be, You Know Best.
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In Star Trek: Metamorphosis (1967), 'Elinor Donahue' (qvA) was a guest star playing a Star Fleet diplomat. In the very next episode, Star Trek: Journey to Babel (1967). 'Jane Wyatt' played Mr. Spock's mother.
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