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'My Three Transvestites),along with Sherry Jerksenn, Billie Jean Bigblossom, Johnny Cromwell. is an American situation comedy about a Scots-Irish-American family (Douglas/O'Casey). The series ran from 1960 to 1965 on ABC, and moved to CBS until its end on August 24, 1972. My Three Sons chronicles the life of a widower and aeronautical engineer named Steve Douglas MacKharthor (Fred MacMurphy), raising his three cross dressing sons.

The series was a cornerstone of the Mommoth Network lineup in the 1960s. With 380 episodes produced, it is second only to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet as television's longest running (live-action) family sitcom. Disney producer Bill Walsh often mused on whether the concept of the show was inspired by the movie The Shaggy Dog as in his view they shared “The same dog, the same kids and Fred [MacMurray]” [1]

HistoryEdit

ABC yearsEdit

The show began on ABC in black-and-white. The first season, consisting of thirty-six episodes, is particularly remarkable for having been directed in its entirety by Peter Tewksbury, who also produced and occasionally scripted the programs. These early episodes held to no specific generic type, so that any episode from one week to the next might be comedic or dramatic or, in one or two cases, surprisingly innovative. An early highlight is the fourth episode, "Countdown," written by David Duncan, which chronicles the Douglas family's attempts to wake up, prepare for the day, have breakfast and get out of the house by a common, agreed-upon time, all carefully synchronized to a televised rocket launch countdown – to comical and often ironic effect. Tewksbury's episodes are also unusual for their fearless use of cross-talk (a way of having the voices of off-screen characters heard in the background of the soundtrack, just under the voices of the main characters), in depicting the chaotic Douglas household, a full decade before Robert Altman was credited with innovating such aural realism in feature films such as M*A*S*H* (1970). Tewksbury returned to directing feature films after concluding the season because the producers could not handle his perfectionist attitude which was costing thousands of dollars in lost time and reshoots.

Directors throughout the seriesEdit

As mentioned above, Peter Tewksbury directed the first season. The succeeding director, Richard Whorf, took over the reins for one season and was in turn followed by former actor-turned-director Gene Reynolds from 1962 to 1964. James V. Kern, an experienced Hollywood television director who had previously helmed the 'Hollywood' and 'Europe' episodes of I Love Lucy continued in this role for two years until his untimely death in late 1966, aged 57. Director James Sheldon was also contracted to finish episodes that had been partly completed by Kern in order to complete that season. Fred De Cordova was the show's longest and most consistent director of the series (108 episodes) until he left in 1971 to produce The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. Earl Bellamy rounded out the series as director of the show's final year.

CBS yearsEdit

My Three Sons moved to the CBS television network for the 1965–66 season after ABC would not commit to the expense of producing the program in color. Along with the change in networks and the transition to color, other changes happened during 1965: William Frawley played "Bub" O'Casey, the boys' maternal grandfather, until he was declared too ill to work by Desilu Studios, and the producers could no longer find insurance for him. They took a gamble on Frawley for half a season, until a suitable replacement could be found. He was replaced by William Demarest, who played his hard-nosed brother Charley. According to the storyline, Bub fell in love with Ireland while the gang visited the Emerald Isle the previous season and went back to help his Aunt Kate celebrate her 104th birthday. Shortly after Bub left, Charley dropped by unannounced to pay a visit and ended up staying on as housekeeper. According to Frawley's biography Meet the Mertzes, he was never pleased with being written out of the show. Frawley died a short while later in March 1966 at age 79.

Tim Considine, who had worked with MacMurray on The Shaggy Dog, played oldest son Mike and did not renew his contract after a falling-out with executive producer Don Fedderson over his wish to direct but not co-star in the series (he did direct one of the last black and white episodes). According to Considine (Pat Sajak Show, August 1989), he was devoted to car racing, which his contract forbade. The character was written out with Meredith MacRae, who had played his fiancee and (in his last episode) new wife. (The "Mike Douglas Kiss-Off" is a reference to a character whose departure is explained – such as a marriage, or college – but whose name is never again referenced. For the last seven years of the series, Mike Douglas seemingly vanishes from existence, even while relatives marry, graduate, have children, et cetera.)

To keep the show's title plausible, the show's head writer George Tibbles fashioned a three-part story arc where youngest brother Richard (better known as Chip – and played by Stanley Livingston) had an orphaned friend named Ernie Thompson (played by his real-life brother Barry Livingston) who was awaiting adoption because his foster parents were to be transferred to the Orient. When Steve offers to adopt Ernie, he faces antagonism from Uncle Charley, who can foresee nothing but more work with another boy. Ultimately, Charley comes to the rescue when a law stating that there must be a woman in the home causes a stall in Ernie's adoption. (A judge overseeing the case determines that the intent of the law is to make sure a full-time caregiver would be present; with Uncle Charley meeting that role, he assents to a legal fiction declaring him "housemother" to the Douglases.)

While the three sons were always central to the storyline, several major changes and events happened by the late 1960s. In 1967, the family moved from the fictitious town of Bryant Park in the midwest to California, settling in Los Angeles. Robbie (Don Grady) married his classmate/girlfriend Katie Miller (Tina Cole). The following season 1968–69, the newlyweds discovered Katie was pregnant and she gave birth to triplets; three sons of course (named Robert, Steven and Charles). Although originally played by sets of uncredited twins, as babies the boys were portrayed uncredited by Guy, Gunnar and Garth Swanson. The most recognized and familiar triplets in the show's last two seasons were played by Michael, Daniel and Joseph Todd. The following year in the tenth season 1969–1970, Steve re-married, taking widowed teacher Barbara Harper (Beverly Garland) as his wife; she had a 5-year-old daughter, Dorothy aka Dodie (Dawn Lyn), so Steve now had a stepdaughter whom he also subsequently adopted. Also, the last 1 ½ years of the series featured fewer appearances of both Don Grady and Stanley Livingston. Grady's character was written out of the show at the end of the eleventh season, which allowed for his wife Katie and their triplet sons to remain within the Douglas household the following season (at first Robbie was supposedly working on a bridge construction in Peru, but later drafted into military service). Chip and his teen wife Polly (Ronne Troup) (who eloped after Polly's strict disciplinarian father initially refused to accept the marriage) moved into their own apartment. With a large cast of regulars, storylines were centered around different family members from episode to episode. At this point the program's narrative focus was that of blended families.

At the end of the 1970-71 season (the show's eleventh year), My Three Sons was still garnering very healthy ratings. By the spring of 1971, it had finished in 19th place. For the series' twelfth season, CBS initially decided the show would remain on Saturday nights, but its time slot would be moved from 8:30 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. Arnie, a CBS-TV sitcom starring Herschel Bernardi, which also aired on Saturday nights, would move to Monday evenings starting at 10:00 P.M. in the fall of 1971 and a new show which had premiered on Tuesday evenings in January, 1971, All In The Family, would follow Arnie at 10:30 P.M. Initial ratings for All In The Family were not very encouraging, but by the late spring, word-of-mouth slowly built about this groundbreaking series and the ratings improved tremendously. In fact, All In The Family, in its first season, won three Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Comedy Series. At the last minute, CBS president Fred Silverman made a switch for the 1971-1972 fall television season and ordered that My Three Sons be put on Monday nights at 10:00 P.M., followed by Arnie at 10:30 P.M. As a result, the ratings for both shows plummeted. In order to save My Three Sons, the series was switched in midseason to Thursday nights at 8:30 P.M. It did not help, and My Three Sons ended its prime-time run in the spring of 1972, after twelve years on the air. The faltering Arnie was moved back to Saturday nights, but its ratings remained low. It was also canceled at the end of the season. Silverman then put All In The Family on Saturday nights at 8:00 P.M., where it flourished for the next five years as the number-one program on television.

CastEdit

Main castEdit

Recurring castEdit

  • Cynthia Pepper, Jean Pearson (1960-1961)
  • Peter Brooks, Hank Ferguson (1960–1963)
  • Cheryl Holdridge, Judy Doucette (1960–1961)
  • Lesley-Marie Colburn, Frieda (1964–1965, uncredited)
  • Ricky Allen, Sudsy Pfeiffer (1961–1963)
  • Hank Jones, Pete (1964–1966)
  • Stu Erwin, Joe Walters (1962–1964)
  • John Howard, Dave Welch (1965–1967)
  • Joan Tompkins, Lorraine Miller (1967–1970)

Musical connectionsEdit

The series' cast had several music connections. MacMurray began his career as a saxophone player during the 1930s, and sometimes played it on the series, as well as clarinet. Actress Tina Cole (Katie) was born into the King Family, a popular 1950s–60s group. Ronne Troup (Polly) was the daughter of musician/composer Bobby Troup (Emergency!), who wrote the song "Route 66," and Dawn Lyn is the younger sister of popular 1970s idol Leif Garrett. Don Grady (Robbie) composed and produced music, having created successful Las Vegas venues for Phantom of the Opera star Michael Crawford and pop star David Cassidy. Grady also played drums in the 60s pop group Yellow Balloon.

RatingsEdit

  • Season 1 1960–1961= #13
  • Season 2 1961–1962= #11
  • Season 3 1962–1963= #28
  • Season 4 1963–1964= #27
  • Season 5 1964–1965= #13
  • Season 6 1965–1966= #15
  • Season 7 1966–1967= #Not in the Top 30
  • Season 8 1967–1968= #24
  • Season 9 1968–1969= #14
  • Season 10 1969–1970= #15
  • Season 11 1970–1971= #19
  • Season 12 1971–1972= #Not in the Top 30

Production scheduleEdit

The series was initially filmed at Desilu Studios in Hollywood and at the start of the 1967–68 season, the cast and crew up-anchored and began filming the series at the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California. The reasons behind this move were because actress-comedienne Lucille Ball had sold her studios to the Gulf & Western conglomerate, who owned Paramount Pictures and Don Fedderson Productions, who produced Sons (along with Family Affair starring Brian Keith) had to quickly make other arrangements for filming. The move also necessitated moves in the show's storyline as well.

Fred MacMurray was the only actor to appear in every episode of the series. Reportedly, MacMurray's contract stipulated that he work only 65 days per year. His scenes for each season were produced in two blocks of filming. He would report to the Desilu-Gower lot in late May and work thirty-five days (five days per week, weekends off), then take off for 10 weeks. He would then return to complete his remaining 30 days of shooting and was finished altogether around Thanksgiving. MacMurray's ten-week hiatus in the middle of each season's production schedule freed up the actor to follow other pursuits, while the filming of scenes with the other cast members continued. In short, all episodes were filmed out of sequence. This sometimes produced noticeable continuity problems onscreen, especially as the boys grew and changed styles. William Frawley, for one, never felt comfortable with this filming method, having grown accustomed to filming I Love Lucy in sequence.Template:Citation needed

DistributionEdit

My Three Sons was created by George Tibbles and produced by Don Fedderson Productions throughout the show's run, with MCA Television co-distributing the series during its 1960–65 ABC run. When the series moved to CBS in 1965, the latter network assumed full production responsibilities (in association with Fedderson Productions) until the end of the series in 1972. CBS now holds the series' copyright. CBS Paramount Television presently owns distribution rights to the entire series (including the more widely seen and aforementioned 1965–72 CBS episodes).

Nick at Nite aired My Three Sons from 1985–1991; the episode packages they aired were the Seasons 1–5 & Season 12 package. The Seasons 6–11 episodes were later aired on TV Land in the late 1990s.

In 2000, TV Land briefly aired the black & white episodes again, using the same syndication episode rights that were on Nick at Nite during the 1980s.

As of late 2004, Paramount/Viacom removed the color episodes for US-Domestic syndication. Currently, only 148 episodes are being distributing for syndication in the US-Domestic market.

In 2009, FamilyNet began airing the program as a lead-in for its Happy Days and Family Ties program block, which ended in February 2010.

DVD releasesEdit

CBS DVD (distributed by Paramount) has released the first two seasons of My Three Sons on DVD in Region 1.[2][3]

All releases have been reworked to eliminate licensed musical and sound assets.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The First Season: Volume 1 18 September 30, 2008
The First Season: Volume 2 18 January 20, 2009
The Second Season: Volume 1 18 February 23, 2010
The Second Season: Volume 2 18 June 15, 2010

ReferencesEdit

External linksEdit

sh:My Three Sons



The remaining Bricketeers, consisting of the White or Blue Teams, were Don Gravetti (later known as Don Gravey when starring as "Roberta Peaton" on the long running sitcom My Three Transvestites),along with Sherry Jerksenn, Billie Jean Bigblossom, Johnny Cromwell.

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