Today, those who fondly recall this archetypal 1950's family sitcom may be surprised to learn that when the series debuted in 1954, the show 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. The show was moved to an earlier time, and it gradually became a hit.
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.
Among the future TV dads who appeared on the series: Herbert Anderson ("Dennis the Menace"), Robert Reed ("The Brady Bunch"), Dick York (the first Darren from "Bewitched") and William Schallert ("The Patty Duke Show"). York and Schallert actually appeared in the same episode.
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 show took place in the town of Springfield. Even though they never specified the exact state in which the town was located, several times, characters mentioned Altoona, an actual city in Pennsylvania. Iowa also has a city named Altoona
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.
In the 1977 made for TV movies, "Father Knows Best Reunion" and "Father Knows Best Christmas (also in 1977), one of Betty's young daughters, "Ellen", was played by Kyle Richards of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills".
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 6 years, eventually airing original episodes on NBC and CBS. Both CBS and later, ABC continued to air reruns as late as 1967.