9 Forgotten TV Dads?
On Sunday we celebrate the Big Guy, the Main Man, Papa Smurf—the fella who played at least a passing role in bringing you into the world. There have been more TV dads than we could ever list. Some are too obvious: Cliff Huxtable, Ward Cleaver, Mike Brady, Howard Cunningham and Homer Simpson immediately come to mind. But let’s not forget these other guys (at least for one day in a year).
9. Herman Munster. The most gentle of Frankensteins. Played by the incredible Fred Gwynne, Herman oversees a very strange crew of horrific misfits in The Munsters.
8. Bill Davis. Who could forget the most saccharine sitcom of all time, Family Affair? Brian Keith—not a particularly funny actor—is a bachelor stuck with his brother’s three kids, twins Buffy and Jody and Cissy. He also has an indomitable manservant, Mr. French (played by Sebastian Cabot), to pitch in. Imagine the fun!
7. Fred Sanford. Redd Foxx gets his due as the irascible father of Lamont, overseeing a junk-collecting enterprise, Sanford and Son. Fred frets having “the big one” (a heart attack) but is consoled by thoughts of his true love, the “Horne” (Lena Horne).
6. Andy Taylor. Never was a police sheriff more patient and understanding. Andy Griffith is the benevolent protector of the sleepy town of Mayberry, wrangling the likes of Deputy Barney Fife, Otis the Drunk and Aunt Bee. But he’s never too busy to take his boy, Opie, to the fishing hole, for some wholesome, down-home fun.
5. Danny Williams. Danny Thomas plays Danny Williams on Make Room for Daddy, which ran under different names from 1953 to 1964. Danny is a nightclub entertainer (a recurring TV characterization, like Ricky Ricardo on I Love Lucy) who just doesn’t have the time to be a dad.
4. Steve Douglas. On My Three Sons, Fred MacMurray is the low-key dad to Mike, Robbie and Chip (and later on, Ernie). Once again, since no man could possibly raise children on his own, he’s assisted first by I Love Lucy alum William Frawley as Bub, and then tough guy William Demarest as Charley.
3. Archie Bunker. Talk about role models. Carroll O’Connor is the bigot for all time, spending his life in his easy chair and lambasting his family for their liberal, mealy-mouthed attitudes on politics, sex and humanity. But he’s so good at being bad, you can’t hate him for long.
2. Dr. Alex Stone. Better known for his role as a defense attorney on Judd for the Defense, Carl Betz plays a buttoned-up physician married to a very empowered Donna Reed, one of TV’s first (sort of) liberated women. Like every other family-based sitcom, he’s continually inserted into absurd situations with very random family members. And like every other husband and wife of the day, they sleep in separate beds.
1. Jim Anderson. Saving the best for last, Robert Young is the father we all wished we had. The good feelings on Father Knows Best start with the opening credits (“Here are Robert Young, Jane Wyatt…”) and never quit. He rarely loses his temper, despite the antics of his kids, Princess, Kitten and Bud.
If you liked this, check out our countdown of the Greatest TV Moms of All Time.