I spent some time with my father today who turned 81. My spouse calls him an old goat, but I call him dad. He has to share his birthday with the Thanksgiving weekend. He says he doesn’t mind and in fact, much of the family is around because of the Thanksgiving holiday. As I sat and looked at my father, who is clearly showing his age, I started to think about the history of TV fathers and it got me thinking….
Indeed TV gave us some warm and fuzzy feelings about what a dad should be. TV dads of yesteryear were the undisputed rulers and heads of their household. They were always right and had some sort of lovely life lesson to offer whether we wanted it or not. They were the center of the household.
One of my most favorite TV dads was My Three Sons which was based on a pipe smoking widowed father and his trusty male housekeeper raising his three sons. He always seemed to have time to not only raise his kids, smoke a pipe and offer life lessons, he was always golfing. Now that is my kind of dad.
Next TV dad that comes to mind for me is Ward Cleaver. He simply embodies the stereotypical 50s dad. He was a businessman that took his job as seriously as his family. Even when frustrated, Ward hardly raised his voice. It was as if June spiked his coffee with Prozac.
I really got a kick out of Jim Anderson from Father Knows Best . He was the Stepford dad. There was no two ways about it. He was like a dad-bot and someone was controlling him. I love to watch the old TV series and giggle. It seemed as if someone was controlling this almost perfect 1950s family. As always, the dad Jim ended each episode by teaching his children some important moral lesson.
Let’s try not to forget Ozzie Nelson in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. It baffled me that he somehow supported his family without ever letting them know what he actually did for a living. But gosh darn it he was the bread winner and that is all that mattered.
Another interesting TV dad was Ben Cartwright from Bonanza. Now here was a TV dad that could not let go on his poor sons and they lived with him even as adult men. But Ben was a great father, well even though he shot and killed a great deal of people, it was always in self-defense which was something he needed to teach his aging sons.
Howard Cunningham was another great TV dad who was not only a good dad to his two kids, actually three but you rarely saw the eldest one. To top it off, he was a father like figure to greaser Fonzie, and Ritchie’s wacky friends. More modern day TV gave us good TV dads such as Cliff Huxtable from the Cosby show. There was ex-hippy dad Steven Keaton from Family Matters and who could forget Tony Danza from Who’s the Boss?
Who was your favorite TV dad from days past?