23 November 2004 | rcj5365
The Danny Thomas Show
The television series,"Make Room For Daddy",remains one of the most neglected milestones in situation comedy,which to this day has not been seen since. This was one of the cornerstones,if not,the steppingstone that paved the way for the development of situation comedy,not to mention of the founding pioneers as well,under its star Danny Thomas and its producer and executive in charge of production Sheldon Leonard and his assistant Ronald Jacobs. This series provided the perfect showcase for Danny Thomas,who never found anything else that effectively showcased his talent not to mention his own creative style of situation comedy that remains to this day a bonafide classic.
The series,"Make Room For Daddy",aka,"The Danny Thomas Show" basically was one of the founding cornerstones of situation comedy,and it went on to become one of the longest running situation comedy shows of all time that ran for 12 astounding years in prime time and produced 237 episodes all in black and white and it ran on two major television networks....First,it ran for ABC-TV from September 29,1953 and ended its six year run on the network on July 1,1959. Then in mid-1959,the series switched networks,this time it went over to CBS-TV from October of 1959 to its final episode of the series on September 6,1965. It also went on to become the second longest running situation comedy of all time,and it is tied with "My Three Sons","M*A*S*H","Cheers","Frasier", for the duration of its longevity.
"Make Room For Daddy" followed the misadventures of the Williams family. Danny Williams(Danny Thomas),a nightclub entertainer tries to strike a balance between family life and the grueling lifestyle of the entertainment business. However,the series also showcased some of Danny Thomas' great singing abilities,and that is what brought out this series. In the beginning,the family consisted of his wife,Margaret,played by Jean Hagen,his 11 year-old daughter Terry,played by Sherry Jackson,and his 6 year-old son Rusty,played by Rusty Hamer. However,during the first four seasons of the show,actress Jean Hagen quit the show in 1956 to pursue other options and Danny Thomas decided to continue on without her. Her character was written out as having herself died and Danny was now a widower to take care of the children. The following season(1956-1957),featured Danny dating various other women with from the kids,but instead found his becoming by proposing to a young nurse named Kathy O'Hara,played by Marjorie Lord. The fifth season opened with Danny and Kathy returning from their honeymoon. The newcomer in the cast was Kathy's five year-old daughter from her previous marriage named Linda,played by Angela Cartwright. It was also during the switch that Sherry Jackson,at the height of the 1958-1959 season,where her character Terry left the show,but instead Jackson's character of Terry returned,but in certain spots where she was being courted by a nightclub performer,whom she eventually married. It was here during the 1959-1960 season that Sherry Jackson and the producers went at it over some contract disputes,and in 1960,Jackson left the show for good,never to be heard from again. Her replacement on the show the next season. An unknown actress named Penny Parker took over the character of Terry Williams,and that lasted one season with Parker leaving the show also at the height of the 1960-1961 season. There were other regulars in the cast that made their mark on this series,including some cast members like Hans Conried,Pat Harrington,Jr.,Annette Funicello,Sid Melton,Amanda Randolph as the feisty but comical housekeeper,and Sheldon Leonard.
For those who knew how successful this show was,let me put this in perspective....this show was a milestone in showing the overall behavior in the way families truly behaved,and this show was a prime example of this:indulgent parents,manipulative children,not to mention the relatives,the trials of balancing a career and home life,and so much more,since no other situation comedy of the period came close to such honest depictions of life within the American family....the only show that came close to that line was Dick Van Dyke's classic situation comedy series of the 1960's. Also of interest here:this show spawned a classic hit series;the episode of "Danny Meets Andy",or "Danny In Mayberry" was the pilot to "The Andy Griffith Show",which ran for eight seasons on CBS. Also such memorable guests that were given their own series as well including Bill Dana,Jesse White,Pat Carroll,and Joey Bishop. It is also to note that Joey Bishop's own series,"The Joey Bishop Show" was the only situation comedy in the early-1960's produced by Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas that was in color from 1961-1965 for NBC. Thomas' own sitcom "Make Room For Daddy".and other shows were still in black and white. However,after the show went off the air in 1965,the Williamses returned five years later in 1970 for the spin off comedy "Make Room For Granddaddy",which the regular cast members as this time Danny Thomas plays a grandfather...Marjorie Lord,Rusty Hamer,and Angela Cartwright returned,and this time with new members Micheal Hughes and Rosey Grier,which ran for one season on ABC-TV from 1970-1971.