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 Father Knows Best: Season One

 Father Knows Best - Vol. 1

 Father Knows Best 8X10 B&W Photo


Show Type: Sitcom

First Telecast: October 3, 1954

Last Telecast: April 5, 1963

Broadcast History:

October 1954 - March 1955, Sunday 10:00-10:30 on CBS

August 1955 - September 1958, Wednesday 8:30-9:00 on NBC

September 1958 - September 1960, Monday 8:30-9:00 on CBS

October 1960 - September 1961, Tuesday 8:00-8:30 on CBS

October 1961 - February 1962, Wednesday 8:00-8:30 on CBS

February 1962 - September 1962, Monday 8:30-9:00 on CBS

September 1962 - December 1962, Sunday 7:00-7:30 on ABC

December 1962 - April 1963, Friday 8:00-8:30 on ABC


Jim Anderson..... Robert Young

Margaret Anderson..... Jane Wyatt

Betty "Princess" Anderson..... Elinor Donahue

James "Bud" Anderson, Jr...... Billy Gray

Kathy "Kitten" Anderson..... Lauren Chapin

Miss Thomas..... Sarah Selby

Ed Davis (1955-1959)..... Robert Foulk

Myrtle Davis (1955-1959)..... Vivi Jannis

Dotty Snow (1954-1957)..... Yvonne Lime

Kippy Watkins (1954-1959)..... Paul Wallace

Claude Messner (1954-1959)..... Jimmy Bates

Doyle Hobbs (1957-1958)..... Roger Smith

Ralph Little (1957-1958)..... Robert Chapman

April Adams (1957-1958)..... Sue George

Joyce Kendall (1958-1959)..... Jymme Roberta Shore


Father Knows Best was the classic wholesome family situation comedy. It was set in the typical Midwestern community of Springfield, where Jim Anderson was an agent for the General Insurance Company. Every evening he would come home from work, take off his sports jacket, put on his comfortable sweater, and deal with the everyday problems of a growing family. In contrast with most other family comedies of the period, in which one or the other of the parents was a blundering idiot, both Jim and his wife, Margaret, were portrayed as thoughtful, responsible adults. When a family crisis arose, Jim would calm the waters with a warm smile and some sensible advice.

When Father Knows Best went on television in 1954, the three children were aged 17 (Betty), 14 (Bud ), and 9, (Kathy). As the seasons passed, two of them graduated from high school, first Betty (1956) and then Bud (1959). Neither left home, however, both electing to go to Springfield’s own State College.

The Andersons were truly an idealized family, the sort that viewers related to and wish to emulate. The children went through the normal problems of growing up, including those concerning school, friends, and members of the opposite sex. They didn't always agree with their parents and occasionally succeeded in asserting their independence (as when Jim and Margaret almost succeeded in pushing Betty into going to their alma mater, until they realized that she had to make her own decisions and let her choose State instead). But the bickering was minimal, and everything seemed to work out by the end of the half-hour.

Father Knows Best began as an NBC radio series in 1949, with Robert Young in the starring role. He was the only member of the radio cast that made the transition to TV in 1954. The TV series was not particularly successful at first, and CBS canceled it in March 1955. A flood of viewer protests, demanding that the program be reinstated and moved to an earlier time slot so that the whole family could watch it, prompted NBC to pick it up for the following season with an 8:30pm starting time. Father Knows Best prospered for the next five years.

The series became such a symbol of the "typical" American family that the U.S. Treasury Department commissioned the producers to film a special episode to help promote the 1959 U.S. Savings Bond Drive. The story, "24 Hours in Tyrant Land," told how the Anderson children attempted to live for a day under a make-believe dictatorship. Never aired on television, this special episode was distributed to churches, schools, and civic organizations to show the importance of maintaining a strong American Democracy.

During the 1959-1960 season, its last with original episodes, its last with original episodes, Father Knows Best had its most successful year, ranking sixth among all television programs. By the end of that season, however, star Robert Young had tired of the role, which he had been playing for 11 years, and decided it was time to move on to other things. This was one of the rare occasions in the history of television when production on a series ceased when it was at the peak of its popularity. CBS scheduled rerun episodes in prime-time for another two years, also a rarity, and ABC reran them for another season after that. From November 1962 until February 1967, reruns were also seen on ABC daytime.