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Because of its many changes over the years, My Three Sons seemed almost
two different shows. Both were very good, but I prefer the earlier
episodes, the black & white ones. They had a certain charm to them that
missing in later years. Robby somehow never seemed to fit the eldest
role the way Mike did. That, and the move from Bryant Park, Michigan out
Los Angeles took away the small town feel that the earlier episodes had.
Then came the arrival of women into the family, and that changed
For the first five seasons, 1960-61 to 1964-65, the show was aired on ABC and filmed in black & white. For the last seven seasons, 1965-66 to 1971-72, it was aired on CBS and filmed in color. For the first 4.5 seasons, the boys "nanny" was their grandfather Bub, for the last 7.5 seasons it was their great uncle Charlie. For the first 5 seasons, the sons were Mike, Robby, and Chip, for the last 7 seasons the sons were Robby, Chip, and Ernie.
William Frawley left the show halfway through the 1964-65 due to ill health (he died in 1966). In the story line, Bub went over to Ireland to visit relatives and decided to stay there. Shortly after his departure, his brother Charlie arrived for a visit, and ended-up staying for the rest of the shows run. After the end of that season, Bub was never referred to again. In the first episode of the 1965-66 season, Mike married his girlfriend Sally and moved to another town to take a job. This marked Tim Considine's departure from the series. To re-establish the "three sons" storyline, Steve Douglas adopted Chip's friend Ernie, who had recently become an orphan. Mike was never seen again (not even when Steve married Barbara) and was only sporadically referred to thereafter.
More bits of trivia:
Before being cast as Katie, Tina Cole had appeared several years earlier(in the black & white days) as Ina, one of Robbys friends.
Stanley Livingston and Barry Livingston are brothers.
Before being adopted by the Douglases, Ernies last name was Thompson. Years later, Chip married Polly Thompson, no relation to Ernie.
When Robby and Katie had kids, it was triplets. They were all boys, thus keeping with the "three sons" theme.
Originally, the show was going to be called "The Fred MacMurray Show", but MacMurray objected to that, so the title was changed.
In its early years, My Three Sons was sponsored by Chevrolet, thus Chevy cars were seen behind the closing credits.
There are two syndication packages for My Three Sons. One package consists of the first five seasons (the black & white ones) and the final season. The other package contains the other six seasons. Why it is done this way I don't know, it doesn't make sense to me. I would think they would just have the B&W episodes as one package and the color episodes as the other.
"My Three Sons" remains one of the most popular television series ever.
course it has its detractors as any show does, but its historical value
in its simplicity and naivete. A hybrid of the era the would be labeled
'dom-com' or domestic situation comedy, "My Three Sons" is notable for
star-friendly shooting schedule, and the composition of the nuclear
with a motherless family being brought up by the widowed father and
housekeeper grandfather, something that was relatively new to television
1960. In its early years the cast changes were minimal but as the show
progressed and additional characters were added, most viewers had no
keeping up with the Douglases. In reruns the show has found a whole new
generation of audience, even if they seem more sophisticated now than
we were at a younger age. The fact remains that the series is still
and with a huge catalogue of episodes in it's inventory, the reruns will
probably continue for ever as long as television stations need
By today's standards it appears wholesome, tame and perhaps slightly dated, but it's a slice of life that all of us can appreciate and learn from. "My Three Sons" is more than just another run of the mill television show from the 1960s - it is an enduring piece of sitcom entertainment that still entertains today some forty plus years after its premiere. The comfortably numb nostalgia that the show evokes is only part of the viewing pleasure. There really is great work here so take a step back in time to the good old days when there were no tv dinners... and watch a much loved part of television history.
When this show first came on, a lot of people called it a Disney show due to the fact that Fred MacMurray and Don Grady, who both appeared in Disney Films. This show was definitely the one of the first ones to deal with single parenthood, but it dealt with it in a humorous manner. This was also one of the few shows that survived a change in networks when it jumped from A.B.C. to rival C.B.S. in 1965. And that wasn't the only change. Like many other shows that year, it went from black and white to color. However, unlike many other shows, it managed to make the transition very easily and, ironically, it stayed on for an additional seven years on C.B.S. as opposed to the five that it was on A.B.C.. However, one thing that really changed when it went through all those changes was the fact that many people said that the A.B.C. episodes were more adventurous and were often very surreal. Hopefully, one of these days both eras of this show will be released and the fans of the show will be able to choose for themselves.
I never thought that Fred MacMurray would ever get a biography written
about him simply because of the subject. The man was apparently as
normal as he seemed. No scandals of any kind, no movie or television
star temperament, no salacious gossip of any kind. Still a good
biography was written about him in the past couple of years.
When MacMurray was offered My Three Sons his film career had rejuvenated due to Walt Disney's, The Shaggy Dog. Quite frankly MacMurray wanted to have it all, but there are only 365 days a year. Producer Don Fedderson to get his participation in the show agreed to a system whereby all of his scenes in all of the show's episodes were shot first, taking about 2 months. Then everyone else's scenes were shot and the episodes edited together. It allowed Fred time for his outside work, mostly with Walt Disney.
This was a firm and fast rule, even guest stars who didn't get around to their commitments on a show, found themselves saying their dialog to furniture as the episodes were put together. If they could be called back, they were, otherwise it was playing to the scenery.
What I find amazing is that people actually put up with this, but there's no denying the success of the results. My Three Sons had a twelve year run on the show, all of the original sons got married and started families. One son, Tim Considine quite halfway through the run like Adam Cartwright, still the show kept going as MacMurray adopted Barry Livingston to keep the trio with Don Grady and Barry's older brother Stanley Livingston.
Females gradually entered the all male household with the marriages of Considine to Meredith MacRae, Grady to Tina Cole, and Livingston to Ronne Troup. And the big finish was in those final couple of seasons as widower MacMurray married Beverly Garland and became a stepfather of girls for the first time with Dawn Lyn.
Before the females invaded the household chores and the raising of the boys was assisted by William Frawley and later William Demarest. Both had done films with MacMurray back in the old days. Frawley's health so declined the producer's could not get him insured any longer. He was not a happy camper when he was let go.
When My Three Sons completed its run, gentle family comedies like this were going way out of style. Shows like All In The Family which had a more pessimistic view of the human condition were the vogue when the Seventies were ushered in. Still the show provides some fond memories for me and it had the weirdest shooting schedule allowing it's star to have it all.
There have been many wonderful shows, but My Three Sons have to be one
of the best. Fred MacMurray, did such a wonderful job as the father in
this show. When had those special scenes in which he was advising his
kids or explaining something to them, he would come across as someone
who was caring and very attached to his kids. I know some fathers in
this world who have trouble at being interested let alone caring.
Today, this show might seem dated, but there is a lot we can gain from watching this show. The ideas of making a family that will work together and see things through, is a good example of one thing that we can gain from this. Television today doesn't have very many shows that will show a family working together as a unit.
Hopefully someday, we will see this show on DVD, and have it start from the beginning episode in season one. I think there is a lot we can get from this show.
A TV Classic in the golden age of early 60's sitcoms that became
creator-executive producer Don Fedderson's most successful show that
became second only to "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" as the
longest-running sitcom series in television history spanning 12 seasons
and 380 episodes airing from September 29,1960 until April 13,1972 with
repeated episodes airing from April 20,1972 until August 24,1972. The
series first aired on ABC's Thursday night prime time schedule
producing 153 black and white episodes from September 29, 1960 until
May 20,1965. Then after it was canceled by ABC in 1965 the series was
picked up by CBS for the next seven seasons in color for 227 episodes
from September 16,1965 until April 13,1972. CBS also aired various
episodes in repeats for it's daytime line-up for one season in
September,1971 that featured various seasons in color. "My Three Sons"
won the Golden Globe for Best Television Series in 1962 and was
nominated for three Prime Time Emmys in 1961,1968 and 1969. The show's
sponsors throughout it's run where during the earlier years The
Chevrolet Motor Division where you saw Chevrolet products featured in
various episodes and during the closing credits. Other sponsors were
General Motors Division, The Quaker Oats Company, Ralston-Purina, and
in it's final season the sponsor was The Ford Motor
Of all the cast members that were associated with the show only actors Fred MacMurray(Steve Douglas),and Stanley Livingston(Chip Douglas) remained throughout it's entire run. William Frawley(Bub O'Casey) appeared in 165 episodes; William Demarest(Charley O'Casey) appeared in 215 episodes. Tim Considine(Mike Douglas)appeared in 185 episodes; Don Grady(Robbie Douglas)appeared in 357 episodes;Barry Livingston,the brother of Stanley Livingston(Ernie Thompson-Douglas)appeared in 206 episodes; Tina Cole(Katie Miller Douglas)appeared in 134 episodes;Beverly Garland(Barbara Harper Douglas)appeared in 74 episodes; Dawn Lyn(Dodie Harper Douglas)appeared in 73 episodes;Ronne Troup(Polly Williams Douglas)appeared in 36 episodes. Tramp the Douglas' family dog was in all 380 episodes of the series throughout it's run.
The series revolves around Steve Douglas(Fred MacMurray)who was a widower and aeronautical engineer with three sons that consisted of the oldest(Mike),the middle-child(Robbie),and the youngest child(Chip)and their maternal grandfather(Bub O'Casey)who was the housekeeper and the family dog in their suburban household in fictional Bryant Park. Then numerous changes began to take when the series went from ABC to CBS. The first color telecast saw the marriage of the oldest son Mike to his college sweetheart Sally. And by the show's eighth season on CBS(when the show moved from Thursday nights to Saturday nights)saw the family's adoption of Ernie and also midway through the season saw Robbie's marriage to his college sweetheart Katie. That same season also saw the family moving from Bryant Park to North Hollywood where Steve has been offer a new position at his place of employment. Season 9 saw the birth of Robbie's wife Katie with three sons. Season 10 sees Steve Douglas walked down the aisle of martial bliss when he marries Barbara Harper and also brings along her daughter Dodie from a previous marriage. And during the show's 12th and final season(when CBS moved the series from Saturday nights to Monday nights in a later time slot opposite ABC's Monday Night Football)saw the youngest Chip also marrying his high school sweetheart Polly Williams.
When "My Three Sons" ended it's astounding run in 1972 after 12 seasons and 380 episodes it marked the end of an era in family situation comedy series where it was taken over during the 1970's with the landscape of prime time television changing it's programming to urban dramas and gritter police shows. The show that replaced "My Three Sons" on CBS in the fall of 1972 was "The Bill Cosby Comedy Hour"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"My Three Sons" is a show of the same happy-family caliber as "Brady Bunch". and yet it is a milder, gentler show, always portraying the nuclear family unit as warm, loving, supportive, and well-wishing. not a thing is wrong with seeing a family--albeit lacking in motherly figures until the last season or two--look out for each other's best interests, show respect for parental and grandparental figures, and treat everyone with kindness, giving the benefit of the doubt to all. remember how the elderly uncles are incorporated into the family and participate in meaningful ways? look at how uncle Charlie could cook. remember how Ernie is adopted along the way as a son? so lovely. much later in the series when widower dad Steve finally remarries, a daughter is adopted into the family, and is treated respectfully by her much elder new brothers. (think how late teens and early twenties persons look to a seven year old.) do we not value respectful, obedient behavior toward our parents and caregivers and authorities? then this show holds up, despite all the changes the household goes through--as any household is apt to have in twelve years of life. lovely, lovely.
I have read various postings of the My Three Sons subject, and sincerely hope that they NEVER make a "new" version of it ! I only wish they would syndicate the black and white episodes, as they were the best ! Yeah,I miss the early California sitcoms with a message,, and would opt to view them rather than watch Will and Grace any day ! Naturally Bill Frawley was great as Bub, but you do get to see him tire through that last year or two episodes....Will Demerest as Uncle Charlie was precious though !,, I'm so sorry that through the last few years,, that the show scummed to the changing times, and the boys went "hip", and the issues got more messagey....Yup, the early years were the best, and there ain't no replacing' it !!!
"My Three Sons" was about an unconventional family, Mom was missing.
Dad, Steve Douglas, was missing most of the time since he was busy as
an engineer in the aerospace industry, a dream job for those times when
the space-race was a hot topic the show began 9-years before America
put a man on the moon in 1969.
Bub, then later, Uncle Charlie kept the house and was there when the boys, Mike, Robbie, and Chip, and later Ernie (Chip's little brother in real life) came home from school. This was a quirky bachelor pad. The show's theme music fit; it was a little kookie, just like the family. And, that was all the music that counted. There was some old music played, like the music my mom and dad 39 and 48-years older than me listened to, which was how it was back then. Kids went to another room or outside with the transistor radio to hear their own music where it wouldn't bother the folks. By the later 60s we had an FM antenna on the roof to stay up and listen to jazz and the more psychedelic sounds and lyrics.
Every week, one of the kids would have some problem and would have it solved by the end of the show without anyone having gone on a shooting rampage. The military- industrial complex hadn't yet changed the definition of gun to denote a problem-solver that goes bang bang and makes America great.
TV in those days was not about reality, which we turned on the set to escape, but entertainment. The shows were not meant to literally reflect real families, but depicted families that were somewhere near to the screenwriter's ideal of what a family should be, showing how people are there for each other no matter what. And, the what was nowhere near as bizarre as the reality of today. Things that were funny, as an exception to the rule or the norm, are no longer funny since they've become a bad joke that is the rule or the norm.
And, what does that say about us as a society? I liked "All in the Family" when it began in the early 70s, but was and am dumbfounded by those who see Archie Bunker as the lifestyle guru who is here to save America instead of the "Meathead-of the household" that he portrayed.
I still don't care for reality TV, even with the years of exposure to it. I'd rather read a book of my liking or watch a rerun of some seemingly absurd show like "My Three Sons." It was good entertainment, which is what TV is meant to provide for one thing.
If you want reality, watch the news or, better still for reality, some very old reruns of the news. But, I give "My Three Sons" a 10.
I would give anything to have My Three Sons out on DVD. All the other good old family comedies are, why not the best one ever made. I'd love it and I know many others who would love it as well. Can someone please tell me why such a fabulous award winning family comedy is not yet out on DVD for those of us who love the good old days of television shows. Shows like I love Lucy and Dick Van Dyke and Andy Griffith are out there on DVD, and they are all from the same era as My Three Sons. The acting was fabulous in this good old sit-com and they touched on some really wonderful family values and packed it all into a half hour show of light hearted laughs. What stops this wonderful show from being re-produced and sold like the other old shows? I'd pay most definitely to have them all.
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