1 9 6 0 – 1 9 7 2 (USA)
369 x 30 minute episodes
One of television’s longest-running sitcoms, My Three Sons aired in primetime from 1960 to 1972. The show starred veteran film actor Fred McMurray, who played Steve Douglas, a widower with, as the title implies, three sons.
The producers had wanted to call the show The Fred MacMurray Show but Fred wasn’t keen, fearing he would have to appear in every single episode.
Apparently, MacMurray arranged for all his scenes for a full season’s episodes to be filmed in a 65-day period so he could make the most of his time off.
My Three Sons enjoyed huge popularity as a family comedy with a difference, in that it starred a generally all-male cast; McMurray as “dear old dad”, 18-year-old Mike (Tim Considine), 14-year-old Robbie (Don Grady), and 7-year-old Chip (Stanley Livingston).
In the first five seasons, the kids (and Tramp the dog) are raised with the help of Steve’s father-in-law, vaudeville escapee Grandpa Bub. When Bub splits for Ireland – actor William Frawley (who played Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy) had passed away mid-season – Bub’s brother, Uncle Charley, a former merchant marine, takes over the household duties.
Bub’s departure not only marked the end of the show’s run on ABC and its switch to CBS, but also the change from black and white to colour. Meanwhile, Steve tries to support the family (he is a consultant aviation engineer) while always keeping his eyes peeled for a possible wife
Just prior to Uncle Charley’s arrival, the oldest son, Mike, runs off with his new bride to the East Coast. To keep the show’s name relevant, the writers had Steve adopt a friend of his youngest son, Chip – an orphan named Ernie (played by Stanley Livingston’s real-life brother, Barry).
In 1967 the family relocates from their Midwestern home at 837 Mill Street, Bryant Park to North Hollywood, California. Robbie, formerly the middle son but now the oldest, falls in love and marries his college girlfriend, Katie.
Robbie’s wife becomes pregnant and gives birth to triplets, hence having their own three sons. By 1970 the Douglas home is nearly bursting at the seams when Steve finally remarries. His second wife, Barbara Harper, has a freckle-faced daughter named Dodie.
Chip is the next to get bitten by the love bug and elopes with his teenage sweetie, Polly Thompson – with their parents permission, of course.
In the show’s final season, Steve’s cousin, Fergus McBain (also played by MacMurray), comes to live with the Douglas clan and hooks up with a cocktail waitress named Terri Dowling.
Richard ‘Chip’ Douglas
Ernie Thompson Douglas
Michael ‘Bub’ O’Casey
‘Uncle’ Charley O’Casey