HISTORICAL OVERVIEW: When the series began in 1960, the boys were aged 18 (Mike), 14 (Robbie) and 8 (Chip). They were played by Tim Considine, Don Grady and Stanley Livingston, respectively. At the beginning of the series, storylines centred on the family's adventures in suburbia, and was perhaps the hybrid of what was to become the era of the Dom-Com (Domestic Sitcom). Steve Douglas also spent a good deal of time fending off attractive women who wanted to marry him and take over that loveable ready made family. The 'woman' in their lives was Bub O'Casey, Steve's maternal father in law, who did all the cooking, cleaning and chores. Other regulars in the early years were Peter Brooks as Robbie's best friend Hank Ferguson, and Ricky Allen as Sudsy Pfeiffer, Chip's best friend. The first of the show's format changes began at the start of the 1963-64 season. Meredith MacRae (1944-2000) was introduced as Sally Morrison, the girlfriend to eldest son Mike. They would become engaged and eventually marry. Meanwhile, Chip's new pal Ernie Thompson (co-star Stanley Livingston's real-life brother, Barry) was introduced and he would ultimately become a permanent part of the Douglas household. During the 1964-65 season, Frawley left the show for health reasons and Bub was written out of the show and replaced with his cantankerous younger brother Charley, a retired sailor played by William Demarest (1892-1983), whose crusty disposition masked a soft heart. At the start of the 1965-66 season, when the show moved from ABC to CBS, Mike and Sally got married in the very first Color episode, and moved back East so that Mike could accept a job teaching psychology on the college level. (Actor Tim Considine had at 24, outgrown the role and wanted out of the series to pursue a Directing career, which ultimately never eventuated). To re-establish the 'three sons', Steve subsequently adopted orphan child Ernie, who was not permitted to accompany his foster parents in their move to the orient. Things went along much the same for the next two seasons, although now the sons were Robbie, Chip and Ernie. Mike would never be referred to again after a few episodes.
In a dramatic production move, the series, which for the first seven seasons was filmed mainly on Stage 11 at Desilu Studios in Hollywood, had to up anchor and begin filming at the former Republic Studios site, now rechristened the CBS Studio Center in Studio City, California. This necessitated moves behind and in front of the cameras. Lucille Ball, who by 1962 had bought out her ex-husband Desi Arnaz to take total control of Desilu, was, in February, 1967 talked into a deal by chief executive Charles Bludhorn of the giant Gulf and Western conglomerate, into selling Desilu. As G&W now owned Paramount Studios, Desilu was absorbed into this operation. To facilitate the placement of schedules for various TV series that lensed their shows at Desilu, all were forced to find other burgeoning accommodations. "My Three Sons" complimented the move to the CBS Studio Center (the Columbia Broadcasting System now owning the show) by introducing a new storyline at the start of the 1967-68 season, where Steve Douglas transfers to California, and the family moves to North Hollywood. (Thus, a new house, and new studio facilities). Although the adjustment was not too pleasant many of the Douglas's new acquaintances were not too friendly at first, there were good sides to the move. Robbie fell in love with college student Kathleen Miller (Tina Cole), and their romance blossomed into marriage. At the beginning of the following season 1968-69, the newly weds discovered that Katie was pregnant, and during the season she gave birth to triplets; three sons of course. Season 1969-70 brought new love to father Steve Douglas in the form of Barbara Harper (Beverly Garland), Ernie's English teacher. They were eventually married and Barbara's five year old daughter Dodie (Dawn Lyn), whom Steve subsequently adopted, also joined the family.
Even original youngest son Chip (who was by now 18) got into the act, eloping with fellow college student Pauline ('Polly') Williams (Ronne Troup) in the 1970-71 season. Adopted brother Ernie was the only one of the sons not to get married on the show. As if the sprawling family had not gotten big enough already, the start of the final season (1971-72) saw a four part related episode that was sort of a continuation of a storyline that began in the 1963-64 season. Steve's Scottish nobleman cousin Fergus McBain Douglas (enacted by Fred MacMurray; voiced by Alan Caillou) came to the United States in search of a wife to take back to Scotland. In its later years, as the of the Douglas family grew on "My Three Sons" and separated into individual households, episodes could very rarely include the entire group. More and more often, they dealt with the specific problems of a large cast of regulars, with different members taking the spotlight from episode to episode. These multi-story elements were the brainchild of the show's creator and head writer for its twelve seasons, George Tibbles, who penned a massive 95 scripts of the series during this period. 16 of these were as a co-writer, in addition to him overseeing the work of the contributing staff writers during his tenure as Story Editor/Supervisor.
"My Three Sons" never changed much in only in structure, its format changes having been discussed with the writing staff which increased the show's longevity with natural progressions for each character. For its time and of its type, the show was extremely well written and the writing of the series doesn't get enough credit to this day. As the series only filmed several months out of the year, the same Director was usually employed, which gave the show the behind the scenes continuity it probably needed. When the show was finally cancelled it had been running for twelve years and in reruns has run many, many more. By today's standards it appears wholesome, tame and perhaps slightly dated, but it's a slice of life that all of us can appreciate and learn from. One thing is certain. For all of its detractors, the series remains a favourite all over the world. The show's huge catalogue of 380 half hour episodes is a lasting legacy for Fred MacMurray and his TV family that will never be forgotten. While never a top ten hit during its original run, thanks to syndication the show remains extremely popular and continues to win new fans, young and old for its effective way of depicting an all-male family that did all-male things, even in its simplicity and its naiveté. The original Black and White episodes, considered by most fans as the show's best, were held back from syndication until the 1980s and enjoyed a new lease of life on Cable Television until the late 90s. The Color episodes are in constant syndication and are the only ones being distributed across the U.S. as of this writing (Jan. 2002). As long as TV stations are in need of quality programming the series will hopefully be played regularly to a whole new generation of audience.
WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Fred MacMurray (b. August 30, 1908 in Kankakee, Illinois) died on November 5, 1991 aged 83, of pneumonia as a result of contracting chronic lymphocytic leukemia. MacMurray's off-screen role in the series was purely financial. A deal with Executive Producer Don Fedderson named MacMurray a silent partner, in effect giving him a 50% ownership stake in the series. In his 70s after he had all but retired from the business as one of Hollywood's wealthiest citizens, thanks to shrewd property investment deals among other business ventures, Fred suffered for a while with throat cancer. Sadly missed by all of us. The plaque in his mausoleum crypt at Holy Cross cemetery in Culver City, California says "Forever in the hearts of your family" (indeed!) which was arranged by his second wife, actress June Haver, to whom he was married for 37 years until his death. (June passed away aged 79 in 2005 and is now interred with him). He is survived by four children; two were adopted during his first marriage to the late actress Lillian LaMont, (Robert and Susan), and then in 1956 he and June adopted twin baby girls Katie and Laurie. Known as a devoted husband and father, no one ever talks of Fred as ever being a great actor, but when you think of it he never really gave a bad performance, and for the sheer number of movies and television shows he made, that's a pretty good epitaph for anybody in show business.
William Frawley (b. February 26, 1887 in Burlington, Iowa) died on March 3, 1966 a week after his 79th Birthday from a massive coronary, while strolling down Hollywood Boulevard after seeing a movie. His constant companion, a male nurse, carried him into the nearby Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel but he was pronounced dead on arrival at Hollywood Receiving Hospital. His funeral was held at the Church of the Blessed Sacrament in Los Angeles and he is buried in the San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills, California. Tracing his show business roots back to vaudeville, he was also a prolific character actor who appeared in more than 150 feature films from as early as 1916 and usually but not always was featured in comedic roles. Bill is best remembered for his long running role on "I Love Lucy" (1951-57) as the irascible Fred Mertz. Perhaps appropriately, his last performance was a cameo on an episode of "The Lucy Show" which aired in late 1965.
William Demarest (b. February 27, 1892 in St. Paul, Minnesota) died on December 27, 1983 aged 91, from a heart attack, after a long battle with prostate cancer. One of the true stalwarts of the entertainment industry, he is one of the few performers who can lay claim to being there from the very beginning; he appeared uncredited alongside Al Jolson in Warner Bros. first ever talking motion picture, "The Jazz Singer" in 1927. He was a welcome face in many vintage movies where he usually played in support of the leads, and was instantly recognizable to audiences even if people didn't know his name. His career started when he was a headliner in vaudeville in the days before World War I and his last appearance was in a 1978 telemovie which capped off a remarkable 73-year career in show business. He was retired and living in Palm Springs, California at the time of his death, and he is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
Meredith MacRae (b. May 30, 1944 in Houston, Texas) died on July 14, 2000 aged 56, of complications from surgery for brain cancer. The daughter of the late actor Gordon MacRae, Meredith had her own talk show in the 1980s called "Mid-Morning L.A." and she won an Emmy for her work on the show in 1986. Married three times, her only child Allison was born in 1975 during her second marriage (1969-87) to actor Greg Mullavey. She became a successful producer and garnered many awards during her long career. She did a series of acclaimed lectures to major companies and organizations, taught a in film and TV production at Chapman University, and recorded over a dozen best-selling books on tape. Former L.A. mayor Tom Bradley called her one of that city's most outstanding businesswomen. As per her wishes and because her hobbies had included water skiing and scuba diving she was cremated and her ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.
Beverly Garland (b. October 17, 1926 in Santa Cruz, California) died on December 5, 2008 aged 82 after a short illness. Beverly was the widow of land developer Fillmore Crank to whom she was married for 39 years until his death in 1999. She ran with the help of three of four of her grown children, the Beverly Garland Holiday Inn, located in North Hollywood which is a few blocks from Universal Studios. Until her death she was still occasionally active in show business, and was bestowed the honor of of being inducted into the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters Hall of Fame, and celebrated the beginning of her "second" fifty years in show business in 2001. In recent years she had a recurring role on the series "Seventh Heaven". Garland's hotel is also the Los Angeles site of the famed annual celebrity autograph & collector's conventions.
Don Grady (b. June 8, 1944 in San Diego, California) died on June 27, 2012 aged 68 after a long battle with cancer. Don began his career in show business and started where so many others have, at Disney. Don was one of the original Mousketeers, before landing his long-running role on "My Three Sons". During the series he was able to parlay his interest in music into a second career and left the show to become a reputable composer of film and television, although it took him almost ten years to finally make a living from it. His most recent credits include music for theme park attractions at Universal Studios as well as productions on the Lifetime and Discovery Channels. Married for the second time to Ginny, he is the father of two children, Joey and Tessa. Born Don Agrati, he is the son of a former talent agent and was the older brother of the late actress Lani O'Grady (1954-2001) who played Mary Bradford on the TV series "Eight Is Enough" (1977-81). In a recent TV Guide interview, Don said he still got mail from people who remembered the show and are thankful for its family values. He also said he grew extremely proud of the show over the years. Be sure to stop by www.dongrady.com - now his tribute site, to check out all about Don's musical career. 2008 also marked Don's 50th Anniversary in show business!
Tim Considine (b. December 31, 1940 in Los Angeles, California): Tim, is now a well known sports photographer and writer involved in auto racing, which takes him all over the country. His most recent book, "American Grand Prix Racing: A Century of Drivers & Cars" - is an award winning definitive account of U.S. drivers in Grand Prix events, and was published in 1997. Divorced from actress Charlotte Stewart, he is now re-married to Willett Hunt and has a 29 year old son named Chris. Now basically retired from acting, Tim isn't afraid to go back to his roots however; he appeared in the reunion movie "The New Adventures Of Spin and Marty" in 2000 reprising the role of the original Spin Evans, the character he portrayed on the old Walt Disney series of shorts from 1955-58, which began as "The Adventures of Spin and Marty", a segment of "The Mickey Mouse Club". Recently as 2003 Tim also appeared as a supporting actor in the family TV movie, "The Monster Makers".
Stanley Livingston (b. November 24, 1950 in Los Angeles, California): Stan is now the founder and Chief Executive Officer of "Kids In Show Biz, Inc". He has written feature films and directed commercials. Through his production company Premier Entertainment Group, he produced a feature film called "Checkers" in 2000 and the following year directed all 20 Episodes of a new children's TV Series for PBS. He was married to a dancer named Sandra at age 18 and the union which lasted six years, produced a daughter named Samantha, born in 1970. In recent years he has created stained glass artwork for celebrity clients including Tom Hanks and Lorenzo Lamas. He often sold his items through e-bay, but these days is all about showing actors and parents of actors the pitfalls of the industry and what to do to combat that. Check out his informative website at www.theactorsjourney.com
Barry Livingston (b. December 17, 1953 in Los Angeles, California): Barry has had the most active post-series career. Married to Karen, with two children named Hailey and Spencer, Barry continued acting with roles in a host of made for TV movies of the week. This was followed by summer acting workshops and off-Broadway productions in New York. In the 90s, had a semi-recurring role on "Lois and Clark: The Adventures of Superman". Like his older brother Stanley, Barry has dabbled in directing and writing, but he's mainly a character actor. His most recent credits include guest star appearances on the popular television shows "Ally McBeal", "The West Wing", "Will and Grace", "Boston Public" and "Roswell". In 2011, he released his autobiography, aptly titled 'The Importance of Being Ernie'.
Tina Cole (b. August 4, 1943 in Hollywood, California): Tina, the daughter of Yvonne King and the late Buddy Cole (of "The King Family" singers fame) is divorced from her second husband, Fillmore Crank Jr., stepson of her "My Three Sons" co-star Beverly Garland. In the last decade, she has worked with a "looping group" doing voice-over work for national television series and movies. With a teenaged son and a six month old baby boy (from her first marriage to producer Volney Howard III) Tina moved to Sacramento in 1982, and she has been the resident director of the Junior League of that city's Children's Theater for some years. By 1985 two daughters completed her family. Although divorced in 1995, her life still centers around her four children. Now remarried, a mom and a mother-in-law, apart from a recent local morning television talk show in 1999, her latest theatrical credits include the musical "I Do, I Do" and a starring role in the play "Six Women with Brain Death" in 2001. Tina also taught acting at a prominent local drama school for a few years but is now retired. Still stunningly beautiful, it's hard to believe that Tina is now in her late 60s!
Dawn Lyn (b. January 11, 1963 in Hollywood, California): Dawn found it difficult to make the transition from child star to young adult. While she managed to appear in a few guest star roles during her teens like "Barnaby Jones", "The Streets of San Francisco" and "Wonder Woman", in effect, her career was stymied by her small stature and youthful appearance. The younger sister of former pop idol Leif Garrett, Dawn left the entertainment industry to pursue other interests. She married an architect named Michael Whitby in 1990, but it ended in divorce after nine years. Today, Dawn is happy and living her life out of the spotlight. She has a great time being involved with the local community theater and civic/volunteer activities, is still in contact with her co-stars and loves them like family. Dawn remarried in 2006 to John Reese, and as a result of her husband's career, she relocated in September 2007 to Germany to be with him. They lived there for nearly five years and have now returned to California as of late 2012. Like her co-stars, she was deeply saddened to hear that her TV mother Beverly Garland (with whom she had always kept in touch) passed away at the end of 2008.
Ronne Troup (b. June 10, 1945): Ronne, who is now in her late 60s has kept a low profile with guest appearances but still occasionally acts and does commercials. The daughter of the late Bobby Troup and stepdaughter of the late Julie London, she had a recurring role on the night-time soap "Knots Landing" in the 80s and has appeared recently on programs like "The Practice", "E.R." and "The West Wing". Ronne is the younger sister of Cynnie, who was a script editor on their father's series "Emergency" in the early 70s. She has been maried twice and has been very happy in her own life, and is blessed to have two daughters, Bridget and Jamie Lawrence, and a wonderful husband, Bob Bayles. In spite of a career in acting, she has always enjoyed writing, since her days at UCLA when she imagined being a writer. I believe that in recent years, apart from the odd guest appearance on shows like "Coldcase" she has been teaching elementary school in the Los Angeles area.
The Todd Triplets (Joseph, Michael & Daniel) (b. August 5, 1967): After being contacted by the boys' mother Lynn and their stepfather David, I can let you know (at the time of this writing) that Joe, his wife and two kids are living in Colorado Springs. Joe has now retired from active service. He was an 'E7' in the medical unit. Mike is also in the army, and is based in Washington. He too is an 'E7' and will retire in two years. He is now divorced and has two daughters in Hawaii where he spent four years on active duty before going to Washington. Danny is married and lives in Houston. He spent five years in the Army and settled in Houston where he is the owner of a company that installs yard water and lighting systems. The boys have spent many years overseas and all speak several languages. According to their Mom, they are happy and haven't done any TV work since they were 16 years old.
First Telecast: September 29, 1960 on ABC. Last Telecast: August 24, 1972 on CBS. Number of Episodes: 380 (x half-hours). (184 Black and White, 196 Color). A Don Fedderson Production, Distributed Worldwide by CBS Television Distribution International Ltd. Original Broadcast History: ABC Sept. 1960-Sept.1963 Thurs. 9:00-9:30pm Sept. 1963-Sept.1965 Thurs. 8:30-9:00pm CBS Sept. 1965-Aug. 1967 Thurs. 8:30-9:00pm Sept. 1967-Sept.1971 Sat. 8:30-9:00pm Sept. 1971-Dec. 1971 Mon. 10:00-10:30pm Jan. 1972-Aug. 1972 Thurs. 8:30-9:00pm
Q1. Which regular cast members on the popular baby boomer sitcom My Three Sons appeared in every episode of the series during it's 12-year run, from 1960-1972?
Q2. One of the regular cast members during the first five seasons on My Three Sons was also a regular cast member on I Love Lucy. Who was it?
The My Three Sons cast in 1962 and 1967. (Photos: ABC Television | Wikimedia / Public Domain)
Originally airing in black and white when My Three Sons premiered in 1960, the series focused on the daily lives of widowed father and aeronautical engineer Steven Douglas (Fred MacMurray), and his three sons - Michael/Mike Douglas (Tim Considine 1960-1965), Robert/Robbie Douglas (Don Grady 1960-1971), and Richard/Chip Douglas (Stanley Livingston 1960-1972). Living with the family is Steven's father-in-law/the sons maternal grandfather, Bub O'Casey (William Frawley).
When Tim Considine didn't renew his contract, the character of oldest son Mike Douglas was married to his fiancee Sally (Meredith MacRae) in a special wedding episode, and then written out of the series.
To keep the title of the show intact, patriarch Steven Douglas adopts the orphaned best friend of his youngest son Chip Douglas - Ernie (Barry Livingston, actor Stanley Livingston's real-life younger brother).
Clockwise from top left, the My Three Sons cast circa 1962: Tim Considine, Fred MacMurray, Don Grady, Stanley Livingston, and William Frawley. (Photo: ABC Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
In addition to the wedding of Mike Douglas, there were 2 more weddings on My Three Sons:
Middle son Robbie marries his girlfriend Katie Miller (Tina Cole) at the beginning of the 1967-1968 season
In the 1969-1970 season father Steven Douglas marries Barbara Harper (Beverly Garland), a widowed teacher and the mother of 5-year-old Dorothy/Dodie (Dawn Lyn). Steven adopts Dodie as well.
Below from left, the cast of My Three Sons circa 1970: Don Grady, Tina Cole, Fred MacMurray, Barry Livingston, William Demarest, and Stanley Livingston.
(My Three Sons 1967 Cast Photo: CBS Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
My Three Sons star Fred MacMurray was in his 50+ years and had acquired an impressive resume of 80+ feature films by the time My Three Sons premiered in 1960. Some of his most memorable movies and co-stars from the 1940's and 1950's include the mystery/thriller Above Suspicion (1943) with Joan Crawford.
(Fred MacMurray 1960 Photo: ABC Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Fred MacMurray co-starred in Double Indemnity (1944) with Barbara Stanwyck and Edward G. Robinson; The Caine Mutiny (1954) with Humphrey Bogart; and The Far Horizons (1955) with Charlton Heston, Barbara Hale, and William Demarest.
In the year before My Three Sons debuted, Fred MacMurray appeared in the first of 6 Walt Disney movies - The Shaggy Dog (1959) with Tommy Kirk, Annette Funicello, and Tim Considine (Mike Douglas on My Three Sons); and The Apartment (1960) co-starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. Fred MacMurray had been married to first wife Lillian Lamont from 1936 until her death from cancer in 1953; during their marriage they adopted 2 children. He married actress June Haver in 1954 and they also adopted 2 children, twins Katherine and Laurie MacMurray (b. 1956).
(Fred MacMurray & June Haver 1957 What's My Line Screenshot)
While My Three Sons was on the air, Fred MacMurray continued to appear in movies, including these Walt Disney that baby boomers will recall: The Absent Minded Professor (1961) co-starring Nancy Olson and Tommy Kirk; Bon Voyage! (1962) co-starring Jane Wyman, Deborah Walley, Tommy Kirk, and Michael Callan; Son of Flubber (1963) with Nancy Olson and Tommy Kirk; and Follow Me, Boys! (1966) with child actor Kurt Russell (left).
Right, Fred MacMurray and Tramp, the Douglas family dog, on My Three Sons. (1966 Photo: CBS Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
After My Three Sons ended, MacMurray appeared in a few movies including Charley and the Angel (1973) with Cloris Leachman, Kurt Russell, and Vincent Van Patten. His last movie was the star-studded horror film The Swarm (1978) with Michael Caine, Katharine Ross, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia De Havilland, Lee Grant, Bradford Dillman, Henry Fonda, etc.
Fred MacMurray was a septuagenarian senior citizen when he retired in 1978, wealthy from his acting and real estate investments (and reported thriftiness). Before octogenarian senior Fred MacMurray died in November 1991 from pneumonia at the age of 83, he had survived throat cancer, a stroke, and leukemia. His widow June Haver died in 2005 and is buried with him. Below, Fred MacMurray as dad Steven Douglas, Tina Cole as Katie Miller, and Don Grady as son Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons.
(My Three Sons 1967 Photo: CBS Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Don Grady (born Don Agrati in June 1944), who played middle son Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons, was 16 years old when the series began. Grady had been signed by Walt Disney Studios while he was still in junior high school and had already begun acquiring acting acting credits in 1957. He was in episodes of several western TV series such Zane Grey Theater and The Rifleman. While My Three Sons was on the air, Don Grady's character Robbie Douglas, along with his My Three Sons "wife" Katie Miller Douglas (Tina Cole) made a crossover appearance on an episode of the romantic comedy series To Rome With Love (1970). When My Three Sons ended, Grady and Cole co-starred in TV movie/pilot After the Honeymoon (1971) which was to be a spin-off, but it wasn't picked up.
Don Grady turned his attention to a career in music as a composer and as a stage performer in musicals such as Pippin, Godspell, and Damn Yankees, although he did pop up on TV in two episodes of Simon & Simon in 1983-1984 as different characters. Grady's first marriage to Julie Boonisar lasted 3 years, from 1976-1979. He had two children with his second wife Virginia/Ginny Lewsader, whom he married in 1985. They remained married until his death in 2012 from cancer at the age of 68.
Below, Don Grady as Robbie Douglas with William Demarest as Uncle Charley, on My Three Sons.
(My Three Sons 1969 Photo: CBS Television | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
World War I veteran and actor William Demarest was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Role for his performance as Uncle Charley on My Three Sons (1965-1972). He appeared with singer Al Jolson in The Jazz Singer (1927), one of the first "talkie" movies, and later was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as singer Al Jolson's mentor in The Al Jolson Story (1946). Born in 1892, Demarest married his vaudeville partner Estelle Zichlin Colette circa 1920; it's believed they divorced around 1927.
(William Demarest 1942 The Palm Beach Story Movie Trailer Screenshot: Paramount Studios | Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
William Demarest married second wife Lucile Thayer in 1939; he was a nonagenarian senior citizen when he died of a heart attack in 1983 at the age of 91, leaving Lucile a widow after 44 years of marriage. He acquired over 160 film credits (TV and movies) during 51 years in film, with roles in notable movies such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) starring James Stewart; The Farmer's Daughter (1940) with William Frawley (Grandfather/Bub on My Three Sons); The Lady Eve (1941) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda; Viva Las Vegas (1964) starring Elvis Presley and Ann-Margret; and That Darn Cat! (1965) starring Hayley Mills and Dean Jones.
A1. Fred MacMurray had a contract that said he only worked for 65 days a year - filming for 35 days in one block of time from late May; then resuming after 10 weeks off, for another 30 days. With 30+ episodes a season for My Three Sons, this required many of Fred MacMurray's scenes to be filmed out of sequence, causing continuity and other problems for the production crew and his fellow actors - but it allowed him to appear in movies, play golf, and raise cattle on his Twin Valley Ranch in Northern California, which he had purchased in 1941. Note: The ranch was sold in 1996 to Gallo, and today is known as the MacMurray Estate Vineyards. Kate MacMurray, one of his adopted twin daughters with June Haver, lives on the ranch in a cabin her father helped build, and is a spokesperson for the MacMurray Ranch Label brand of wine.
A2. Veteran character actor William Frawley was well known to baby boomer audiences from his role as Fred Mertz on I Love Lucy (1951-1957). Septuagenarian senior citizen Frawley's health was poor and he had to leave My Three Sons part way through the 1964-65 season because Desilu Studios was told insuring him would be too costly. Born in 1887, William Frawley and his brother formed a vaudeville act and wrote scripts, before he made his way onto Broadway and films in the era of silent movies. Frawley was divorced from Edna Louise Broedt, a fellow vaudeville performer whom he'd been married to from 1914-1927, and had no children when he collapsed from a heart attack while walking down the street in March 1966 at the age of 79. William Frawley had over 110 film credits to his name, including roles in One Night in the Tropics (1940), the first Bud Abbott and Lou Costello movie; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1939) starring Mickey Rooney; Miracle on 34th Street (1947) starring Edmund Gwenn, Maureen O'Hara, and Natalie Wood; and The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) starring Bob Hope. He appeared in several Blondie and Abbott and Costello movies during the 1940's and 1950's as well.
(William Frawley 1947 Miracle on 34th Street Photo: Insomnia Cured Here | Flickr Some rights reserved)