The Daring Dad-Only TV Shows
was seen on American Western television starring Chuck Connors as rancher Lucas McCain and Johnny Crawford as his son Mark. Set in the 1870s and 1880s in the fictional town of North Fork, New Mexico Territory, the show was shot in black and white, in half-hour episodes. The Rifleman aired from Sept. 30, 1958, to April 8, 1963, as a production of Four Star Television. It was one of the first primetime series on US television to show a single parent raising a child.
Each episode displayed true Western drama as the obvious Good vs. Evil played-out with gunslingers who robbed banks and trains would somehow land in North Fork and begin to start trouble in Marshal Micah Torne’s town, which led to Tornes always getting word to Lucas that his support was needed to snuff-out this trouble. Granted, McCain was not a deputy, as it were, but his special rife Winchester (that McCain designed) was respected by the good and evil when it was loaded and being held in the steady hands of McCain.
It was unclear about McCain’s life before North Fork, but in one episode Micah was talking to McCain about a gang of gunslingers who wanted to get even with McCain because McCain rode with this gang years ago and felt that something in their plans was not right, so he left the gang to set-out to raise his only son, Mark, and live a quiet life as a cattle rancher, but as the shows came on, we could see the clear hints when every bank robber and gunfighter would hit North Fork. I wonder if the overkill of (that) one linkage about McCain’s life was not a bit over-exaggerated.
Other co-stars in The Rifleman was Hope Summers as Miss Hattie Denton, Patricia Blair as Lou Mallory and Joan Taylor as Millie Scott. Among the many Hollywood stars who guest-starred in The Rifleman, was Sammy Davis, Jr., Dennis Hopper, and Clu Gulagher.
The Andy Griffith Show
Andy Samuel Griffith (June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012) was an American actor, comedian, television producer, Southern Gospel singer, and writerwhose career spanned seven decades in music and television. Griffith’s trademark for his southern drawl, his characters with a folksy-friendly personality, and his gruff, gregarious voice, Griffith was a Tony Award nominee for two roles, and gained prominence in the starring role in directorElia Kazan's film A Face in the Crowd (1957) before he became better known for his television roles, playing the lead roles of Andy Griffith in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show (1960–1968) and Ben Matlock in the legal drama Matlock. (1986–1995).
Andy’s co-stars were as talented as he was and their talents were soon to be discovered. Francis Bavier as Aunt Bea, who came to live with Andy and Opie, Andy’s son played by Ronnie Howard, and Don Knotts, who came to the Andy Griffith Show as Andy Taylor’s chief deputy, Barney Fife. In this presentation of the single dad, there was a few mentions of Andy’s wife, but her name was never spoken. On the debut, Andy is seen administering the Wedding Vows to Rose, his then-homemaker to a Mayberry regular later as Charlie Foley, who ran a grocery store in Mayberry. Aunt Bea came to work for Andy to help keep house and raise Opie, but he was not pleased because Aunt Bea did not know how to do the things in play with him such as baseball, fishing, and other activities that she had to learn in the years to come. After the debut show was in the final minutes, Opie’s heart was broken and ran to Aunt Bea and Andy begging Aunt Bea to not go because as he put it, she don’t know how to do anything. And so started the Andy Taylor family.
Andy’s selection of talent included Frances Bavier, Aunt Bea, who came to be the Taylor’s housekeeper and help to raise Opie as growing up without a mother was tough. Don Knotts was Barney Fife, Andy’s deputy sheriff. Howard McNear did a tremendous job as Floyd Lawson, the town barber, and McNear and Taylor were close friends off-screen. Hal Smith filled the role as Otis Campbell, the town drunk, but he just made himself a home at the Mayberry Jail. Betty Lynn starred as Thelma Lou, Barney Fife’s girlfriend and Aneta Corsaut was Helen Crump, Andy’s girfriend and Opie's teacher. George Lindsey did an outstanding job as Goober Pyle, who ran Wally’s Service Station, while his cousin, Gomer Pyle/Jim Nabors, left the Andy Griffith Show to star in one of CBS’ spin-off as Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.
As Far as The Single Dad-Only Goes
the producers and writers for the Andy Griffith Show worked overtime in writing the perfect script which Griffith did not ask, but demanded. He was a stern perfectionist on and off the set. What was so warm about Andy and Opie, was their chemistry as dad and son as this relationship grew, but the two always remained close even during the Mayberry Reunion film and other guest starring roles on many of CBS’ many variety shows.
Who could forget the mountain band, The Darlings, who filled-out the Andy Griffith Show with Denver Pyle, a veteran actor, who was the Darlings’ patriarch and his sons, although talented musicians, did not speak one word. (This gig was also used on the future Bob Newhart Show with the three guys and the leader would announce them as: I’m Larry. This is my other brother, Larry and my other brother, Larry.) Maggie Patterson was so delightful as Charlene Darling who made the term, sweet mountain girl a reality.
When Andy Griffith, Danny Thomas, and Sheldon Leonard sat down and laid-out the formula for the Andy Griffith Show, Andy is to be credited for being brave-enough to go “out on the limb,” to not just test how a dad-only framework would do, but watch and help it grow from the foundation of being so base and down-to-earth, but leaving Griffith and the co-stars with their lovable and simplistic images.
The Courtship of Eddie’s Father
was an American sitcom made from the 1963 movie of the same name, which was based on a novel by Mark Toby (edited by Dorothy Wilson). The series is about a widower, Tom Corbett (played by Bill Bixby), who is a magazine publisher, and his young son, Eddie (played by Brandon Cruz). Eddie believes his father should marry, and manipulates situations surrounding the women his father is interested in. (Eddie's matchmaking efforts were the theme of the movie, but gradually became less central to the storyl-ines in the series.) The series debuted on Sept, 17, 1969, and was last broadcast on March 1, 1972. Bixby received an Emmy nomination for the show. Miyoshi Umeki had the most pivotal role as Corbett’s housekeeper and nanny as she moved through the painful situation of watching Eddie and Tom live without the presence of a wife and mother.
But the show had a certain vibe of a peaceful background which overtook Corbett and the juggling act that he had with his publishing career as well as being able to answer all of Eddie’s sometimes-complex questions as most youngsters can ask. But it worked. And worked well. From Sept. 17, 1969, the show came out swinging, as it were, and before the show ended, the production as well as the actors all had the mindset of “take no prisoners” because they knew and believed that their foundation was sure as a dad-only and son who was being raised by a warm, caring, intelligent dad.
The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, it can be said, that the ideology from the early sitcom successes, Andy Griffith Show and The Rifleman, paved the way for such a show as Courtship of Eddie’s Father.
July 29, 2019___________________________________________________
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I have owned and played these VCR tapes and each time that I played them, many times once a week or maybe a month, the tapes kept my personal love for these three special shows that today, cannot be equaled.
My feeling is that every TV fan of these particular era's, should take the time to watch each of these shows that were very successful series. I may sound biased, but i have to be honest . . .these three shows, The Rifleman, Andy Griffith Show and The Courtship of Eddie's Father, were the "cream of the crop," in dramatic and comedy sitcom themes.
© 2019 Kenneth Avery