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Father Knows Best Children Today

09 Dec

Father Knows Best was pictured as the perfect family during its run of 203 episodes from 1954 to 1963 on CBS and NBC. The show also ran during the days of old time radio with only an entirely different cast except for Young who also portrayed the father in the radio version.

Robert Young portrayed the father Jim Anderson while Jane Wyatt was his wife Margaret Anderson in the series. The children were played by Elinor Donahue who was Betty, Billy Gray played the role of Bud and Lauren Chapin portrayed Kathy.

They may have been close to perfect as a television family but there were some problems in real life for Young, Gray and Chapin.

Robert Young

Robert Young suffered from alchoholism and depression off screen and attempted suicide in 1991 before dying of respiratory failure in 1998 at the age of 91.

Jane Wyatt

Jane Wyatt had a long and relatively healthy life and was married to investment banker Edgar Bethune Ward for 65 years before his death in 2000. She died of natural causes in 2006 at the age of 96.

Elinor Donahue

Elinor Donahue was married to producer Harry Ackerman for 30 years. Ackerman produced Leave it to Beaver, Gidget, Donna Reed Show and Bewitched. She is currently married to contractor Louis Genevrino and has been married to him for 17 years. She is presently 72 years old.

She appeared in many television roles since leaving Father Knows Best including 12 appearances on the Andy Griffith Show as pharmacist Ellie Walker and played Nurse Hunnicut on Days of Our Lives for three years.

Billy Gray

Billy Gray would encounter some problems with the law after leaving the show and was arrested for possession of marijuana and served time in jail for the offense. Even though he had no criminal record before or after his arrest he couldn’t land acting jobs for a few years once the word was out about his criminal past.

Gray had this to say about Father Knows Best:

"I think we were all well motivated, but what we did was run a hoax. Father Knows Best purported to be a reasonable facsimile of life. And the bad thing is that the model is so deceitful. ... If I could say anything to make up for all the years I lent myself to that kind of (bad language omitted), it would be: You know best."

He makes his living today as an inventor and is co-owner of BigRock Engineering. He will be 72 on January 13th.

Lauren Chapin

Lauren Chapin who is now 64  experienced many problems after leaving the show and this article details how her life unraveled after her time on Father Knows Best:

http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=888&dat=19810218&id=AeoLAAAAIBAJ&sjid=iFoDAAAAIBAJ&pg=6679,1891754

The following website has many pages of information at the site and each next menu at the bottom of each page takes the reader to more pages of information about Father Knows Best.

http://www.fatherknowsbest.us/FKB/index.html

 

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70 Comments

Posted by on December 9, 2009 in Classic TV, Comedy, Entertainment, Nostalgia

 

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70 responses to “Father Knows Best Children Today

  1. Frank Pilato

    February 3, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    I think Billy Gray needs to give TV audiences credit. There are so many shows on TV that would never ever happen in real life! The Partridge Family! The Flying Nun! The Brady Bunch! The Lucy Show! The Patty Duke Show! The Andy Griffith Show! The Beverly Hillbillies! The Donna Reed Show! And yes, Father Knows Best!!!!! All of these shows are far-fetched but they are all entertaining and they make us feel good….well they’re entertaining to me a they put a smile on my face:-) I can’t understand why Bill Gray feels the way he does about a harmless, situation comedy. I would embrace it and be proud of the work I did. That said and not ever being in a hit TV show, I guess there are many stresses and disappointments that the public doesn’t see. I guess Billy knows best but I’ll always be a fan of this charming series. Good luck to the surviving cast members.

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      February 3, 2012 at 7:05 PM

      I agree with Frank that Billy Gray who is now 74 years old, should appreciate being part of Father Knows Best. He couldn’t have disliked the show too much, since he appeared in the 1977 TV movie, Father Knows Best: Home For Christmas. He also appeared in Father Knows Best Reunion TV movie earlier that year.

      Those reunion shows were the first time he had appeared on TV or movies since 1971 when he appeared in Werewolves On Wheels, so seems like he should appreciate being on the reunion shows after six years with no work.

      He has made only three appearances in the last 35 years, with his last movie The Vampyre Wars being released in 1996, so hasn’t been seen on TV or on movie screen for the last 16 years.

      Billy Gray should be thankful that he is part of the legacy that Father Knows Best left behind. It is sad that Father Knows Best has more or less disappeared from the television screens of America, since I can’t recall it being shown in many, many years.

       
      • bren

        November 3, 2014 at 4:46 PM

        Father Knows Best is shown today on CH. 717, Antenna TV here in Minden, LA. I never did like Laura Chapin’s roles on that show; they made her out to be too much of a baby, even at her age.

         
      • Andrew Godfrey

        November 3, 2014 at 7:38 PM

        We live in DeRidder, Louisiana, but can’t pick up Antenna TV. The only time I have seen Antenna TV is when I was in VA Hospital in Houston and got to see Father Knows Best. Really enjoyed it since it took my mind off my cancer surgery to remove a tumor.

         
    • sharyn

      December 25, 2012 at 1:01 PM

      Billy said Father Knows Best was not real, what about his warewolf and vampyre movies?

       
      • Andrew Godfrey

        December 25, 2012 at 7:12 PM

        I think the Anderson family was a typical family back then. I have yet to meet a real vampire or werewolf, so Billy can’t hardly call them real.

         
    • john-d

      December 18, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      After listening to Billy gray and watching the show since it started in 1957 I can see what he was talking about. All the plots involved a father who butt in to situations too much and made suggestions that were in some cases, the wrong ones. The older daughter acted too bitchy at times, but could be consoling at others. Bud had roles that were really, really dumb a times, like when father gave him a $10.00 allowance and he wound up buying garbage likt a paper hat and cane that even then would be laughable. The best one of the family for acting was Kathy I think. Maybe because she was the youngest, i don’t know. Too young to have much happen I guess. But it’s still a campy show and I still with it. Maybe just to be a credick.

       
      • john-d

        December 18, 2014 at 12:55 PM

        Please excuse the printing. My tablet likes to edit my wording without telling me.

         
      • Andrew Godfrey

        December 18, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        No problem….I was never good at texting on tablets.

         
      • Andrew Godfrey

        December 18, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        It was still one of my favorite shows, when I was growing up.

         
  2. Jo

    March 1, 2012 at 6:23 PM

    I agree with the statement made above about giving the audience credit for intelligence. I did not watch those shows because they were reality, you see, my family was a strange reality. My mother was an undiagnosed mentally ill woman and my father moved us around alot to avoid the problems my mother caused. I watched those shows to escape reality for a brief time every night. I think what Billy Gray lived in his real life in Hollywood was also a strange reality and I would not blame him a bit if he enjoyed himself while working in that altered reality called acting. Atleast he should be proud of a series that brought pleasure to so many.

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      March 1, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      Jo, Thanks for your comment. I think those shows were showing what a real family acted like, since they solved whatever problem together. Like the time Bud had a date accidentally on his mom’s birthday. His mom told him to go ahead and go on the date instead of making him stay home because it was her birthday. Bud felt terrible, but his mom understood the situation and then his date winds up spending the night with his family after all.

       
    • john-d

      December 18, 2014 at 1:01 PM

      I agree a thousand percent. I would go back in a second no mater how corny the shows were

       
      • Andrew Godfrey

        December 18, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        john-d ….I agree….the show took us back in time, before cell phones, computers and big screen tv’s.

         
  3. prudence

    August 24, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    These shows from the 50’s did make everyone feel good and I have the opportunity to watch it on a program called Antenna TV where you can watch all of them daily including Bachelor Father.

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      August 24, 2012 at 11:49 PM

      Wish they had that channel on DISH. I haven’t seen either show anywhere else in years, so you are fortunate to be able to still see them.

       
  4. Dressel Don

    November 5, 2012 at 3:47 AM

    its to bad that certain people have to put down the life style of the 50s as if it was all b.s. we would all be a lot better off today if we still lived like those days! look what we have today- a tremendous gang problems drug problems and lack of morals! Just remember our maker is waiting for us when we go to the next life!

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      November 5, 2012 at 8:22 AM

      Don, My best memories of are of the 50’s. I was 9 years old before we even bought a TV about 1954. Love shows like Andy Griffith, Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best. I even have some of the old time radio shows of Father Knows Best, when only Robert Young of the TV version was in the radio version.

       
    • John

      May 11, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      Those wonderful people who were the adults during those “golden years” of the 50’s were the parents of those who got into drugs in the 60s and 70s, my friend Don. They were the ones who taught them their morals! There was a lot of cr*p going on behind closed doors in the 50’s as I remember: child abuse and alcoholism were rampant. So please, stop with this “Greatest Generation” stuff and how great the 50s were. I lived in the 50s too.

       
      • laura

        May 28, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        I grew up in the 50’s and don’t recall “rampant” child abuse and alcoholism. I guess perhaps it depended on where you grew up, although I was in Los Angeles. Also, my dad WAS “father knows best”; what he said went, and we weren’t oppressed or anything. I think the father in the show is actually very diplomatic. I am grateful for growing up in the 50’s.

         
      • Andrew Godfrey

        May 28, 2014 at 3:10 PM

        Laura, I grew up in the 50’s too. Was 6 in 1950 and was glad to have grown up in the 50’s.

         
      • wendy

        September 16, 2014 at 4:41 PM

        Yes, I think for some reason you are bitter. I grew up in the 50’s and my father was a “Jim Anderson”!!! I had a wonderful childhood and it was real!!! Just like “Father Knows Best”. I enjoy that show and others just like it. It makes me feel good and brings good memories!!!

         
      • Andrew Godfrey

        September 16, 2014 at 7:37 PM

        Wendy, I agree that Father Knows Best best exemplified what life was like for us growing up. Just wish we could see the show today, since it is not on DirectTV.

         
      • john-d

        December 18, 2014 at 2:33 PM

        There are bad people and events in every generation, but I never had to experience much of it going up. It’s just in those days it didn’t show up on the front page or the eleven o’clock news. We had good gernalist then and not ambulance chasers trying to make a buck off of the ignorant. I would gladly go back to those great old days even with all the problems.

         
  5. Andrew Godfrey

    March 27, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    Reblogged this on Nostalgia and Now and commented:

    Am reblogging this article from Dec. 2009 for Father Knows Best fans.

     
  6. web camera

    May 23, 2013 at 5:34 AM

    May I simply just say what a comfort to find somebody who actually knows
    what they’re discussing over the internet. You definitely know how to bring a problem to light and make it important. More and more people need to look at this and understand this side of the story. It’s surprising
    you are not more popular given that you surely have the gift.

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      May 23, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      Don’t have a lot of followers, but over half a million visits have been made to the website.

       
  7. Phil Gallagher

    September 10, 2013 at 3:53 PM

    Eddie Haskell was the perfect role model not some wimp called Bud

     
  8. cindy

    October 19, 2013 at 8:47 PM

    i love these old shows. would rather watch them and wish my grandchildren were growing up in families at least similar to the ones shown in the ’50’s sitcoms. Much prefer them to the crap kids watch today after school…smart aleck kids making scarcastic remarks to their parents and way too much sex. I guess i’m from the old school..

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      October 19, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      I am from old school too and love the old shows.

       
    • Olivia

      March 4, 2015 at 11:12 AM

      I agree with you, Cindy. It is outrageous what is shown on prime time television today! My six year old grand-daughter already turns her head when a couple starts kissing and grappling on a show……any show, it seems. I always thought I was open-minded and considered myself a free-spirited woman but I cringe at television today! I feel bad for the children of today because of the open sexuality and non-moralistic attitudes of the media! I am no longer a cable subscriber and have recently bought a stick for streaming shows and found Father Knows Best and other classics! I am so happy and have good memories of those times. Thank you.

       
      • Andrew Godfrey

        March 4, 2015 at 11:37 AM

        It is at the point now, that you can’t leave kids watching television unattended, since the television producers today show what they think will sell, and don’t care about how it affects children or even grownups. Wish Netflix showed more of the old shows from the 50’s. At least they do show Leave It To Beaver, but they show very few other family shows from the 50’s and 60’s.

         
      • john dunkle

        March 4, 2015 at 12:22 PM

        I agree, but many antenna stations are going back to the great shows of the 50’s and 60’s. I live in Pennsylvania and the stations around Phila that show them are channel 17-2, 10-2 and channel 3-2. I don’t even look up my TV guide anymore.

         
      • Andrew Godfrey

        March 4, 2015 at 3:15 PM

        Antenna system are reviving a lot of our old shows and putting them back on the air. I was watching Make Room For Daddy on one of the antenna networks, and it brought back a lot of memories.

         
  9. Amanda sue

    November 25, 2013 at 7:47 AM

    Dear Mr. Andrew G,
    If you un-hook your dish and plug in a digital antenna, you too will get the channel Antenna t.v.! And it’s free! :^) Have fun watching all those great oldies!

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      November 25, 2013 at 12:09 PM

      We don’t have Antenna TV in our area, but we did move our outside antenna, to where we can get MeTV and it is loaded with oldies shows.

       
      • J. Hand

        September 29, 2014 at 5:26 PM

        Andrew Godfrey, not sure if someone has already posted this or not but another alternative is to purchase Father Knows Best on DVD and then you can enjoy anytime you please or at least as long as DVD / Blu-Ray players exist. I also believe it can be “streamed” thru Netflix and Amazon.

         
      • Andrew Godfrey

        September 29, 2014 at 5:43 PM

        J. Hand, Thank you for the info. We are on Netflix, but haven’t seen it on there yet. Sure wish it was. If it is someone please let me know. I might not know how to find it.

         
    • john-d

      December 18, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      That’s right! I have antenna and don’t need or want cable. What a waste of money. Put that money away for a Rainy day or for your kids education. You don’t need 300 Channels. I get 50 and more from antennas and they are FREE!

       
  10. Shirley Dillard

    January 21, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    I love Father Knows Best,I still watch all the re-runs.I always thought they portrayed a wonderful family.I have also seen the show of Andy Griffith with Elanor Donahue as Ellie the Pharmacy lady.Why don’t they show what Billy Gray looks like now?

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      January 21, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      It is hard to believe that Billy Gray is now 76 years old with his birthday last week. Billy’s last TV appearance was 37 years ago when he was in the Father Knows Best Christmas show, which would make him 39 at that time. Elinor Donahue will be 77 on April 19th. She was last seen in Young and Restless playing a judge in 2011. She only played the pharmacist Ellie Walker 12 times in the first season of Andy Griffith show. Not sure why she wasn’t in more Andy Griffith shows in the last seven years of the show.

       
    • Don Gould

      December 18, 2014 at 2:42 PM

      Shirley . . if you Google Billy Gray’s website, you can see what he looks like today!

       
      • john-d

        December 18, 2014 at 3:12 PM

        He got older, not like the rest of us.

         
  11. James E Villanti

    May 21, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    I still enjoy the show today..Billy feels it was a hoax..perhaps he doesn’t realize that some kids like myself, I’m now 66, never had a good home life and we enjoyed the show and thought that is how family life should have been…even if only for 30 minutes a week…some of us made better lives for ourself because of Father Knows Best

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      May 21, 2014 at 3:44 PM

      James, Know what you mean. I am 69 and thought of Father Knows Best as the way family life should be.

       
  12. Do Gould

    June 13, 2014 at 7:25 AM

    I grew up with Father Knows Best as well. I accepted it as wonderful extertainment and saw no reason why it had to reflect real life. None of the sitcoms shows then dealt with the ugliness and social problems of the time. They rather served as an “escape” and were a great example of how we really should live a moral, wholesome, and loving family life.

     
  13. Katheren Amy

    July 23, 2014 at 3:44 PM

    I am watching Father Knows Best as I write this. (I was very excited to find it on Antenna tv)! I was an only child and a latch-key kid in the early 60’s.. This show gave me an ‘idea’ of what a Positive nuclear family meant: members who were always there for one another.. Yes.. Very idealistic.. And for that very reason I would say it held great importance to me. My “fatherly advice” came from TV dads, and Robert Anderson was my favorite. And a big thanks to Bill Gray.. Enjoyed his character and thought he was a very good actor.. So natural — Innately talented! Hope he does appreciate that gift.

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      July 23, 2014 at 4:24 PM

      Katheren, Glad you are to watch Father Knows Best on Antenna TV. It is not available where we live. Father Knows Best was the kind of show, that taught us how family life should be. Jim Anderson was probably a typical father back in the 50’s, so it was easy to identify with his character. Billy Gray did a good job as Bud and was a typical teenager. Thank you for taking to share your experiences from watching Father Knows Best.

       
  14. Don Gould

    August 3, 2014 at 7:42 PM

    Hi Andrew: I posted a comment recently relating to the Father Knows Best discussions but it was dropped. I am not upset about it, merely curious how that would happen. Many thanks for a wonderful forum of sharing thoughts on these special nostalgic shows from the past.

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      August 4, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      Don, Sorry your post was dropped. You are welcome to repost and I will try to be more careful, to make sure it is posted to the comments section. I may have accidentally deleted it from my inbox. Thank you for the kind words about the blog.

       
      • Don Gould

        August 11, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        Hi Andrew, Thanks so much for reposting my comments. I am pleased to see so many others joining the list of satisfied viewers of such an outstanding program.

         
  15. Greg

    August 6, 2014 at 7:53 PM

    I am currently finishing ‘Father Knows Best’ on DVD. I’ve been getting a lot of the old shows and watching them. To me, it doesn’t matter if real life wasn’t as perfect as these old shows. To me, they are reminders of a simpler time, even if the times weren’t perfect. They also give you an ideal to work for in your own life, even if you come up short. I’m always sad when I finish a series. It’s like saying goodbye to an old friend.

     
  16. Andrew Godfrey

    August 11, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Don, I want to apologize again for not posting your comments the first time you sent them. I think Father Knows Best represented the 50’s in a way we could all identify with.

     
  17. Andrew Godfrey

    August 11, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Greg, I am glad you were able to find Father Knows Best on DVD. It is not an easy show to find on TV. I agree with you completely about life not being as perfect as on Father Knows Best, with a solution to any problem at the end of the 30 minute show, but it did show us how a family sticks together through good times and bad and worked out a solution to their problems. Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver, Ozzie and Harriet, Life of Riley and Andy Griffith were just some of my favorite family shows from the 50’s and 60’s.

     
  18. CijiDunne

    August 14, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    I am sad that Billy Gray feels they way he does…. after starring in the 1950 movie with Doris Day and Gordon (By the Light of Silvery Moon??) I thought Billy was great in that and quite humorous! I thought that kid had a great sense of humor. So he got tangled up with the law a time or two… no one is perfect and I don’t think that is why he couldn’t get acting jobs…. I watch “Father Knows Best” every day as I DVR all the shows. So enjoy them. Robert Young was one of my favorites always…still was a great show…. not to mention all of my other favorites like ‘Leave it to Beaver” and Ozzie and Harriett… oh Ricky….. sigh.

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      August 14, 2014 at 8:11 PM

      Billy Gray was in two Father Knows Best reunion shows in 1977, then was in only 3 movies in the last 37 years and hasn’t acted in 18 years.

      He is now 76 years old, which makes me feel very old, since I remember when he was a kid on Father Knows Best. Gray had acted for 11 years before he was on Father Knows Best. Gray was in 43 movies from 1943 to 1950.

      Imdb.com quotes what Billy Gray had to say about Father Knows Best: Personal Quotes (1)
      [on his Father Knows Best (1954) years, c. 1983] “I wish there was some way I could tell kids not to believe it – the dialogue, the situations, the characters – they were all totally false. The show did everybody a disservice. The girls were always trained to use their feminine wiles, to pretend to be helpless to attract men. The show contributed to a lot of the problems between men and women that we see today….I think we were all well motivated, but what we did was run a hoax. Father Knows Best (1954) purported to be a reasonable facsimile of life. And the bad thing is that the model is so deceitful. It usually revolved around not wanting to tell the truth, either out of embarrassment, or not wanting to hurt someone….If I could say anything to make up for all the years I lent myself to that kind of bullshit, it would be: *You* Know Best.”

      I still like the show whether Billy Gray wants me to like it or not.

       
      • john-d

        December 18, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        He got older, not like the rest of us.

         
      • john-d

        December 18, 2014 at 4:19 PM

        I would love to have the two cars he had on the show. Especially the
        Chevy convertable he got for graduation. I hope both are still around.

         
  19. Carl

    August 14, 2014 at 8:32 PM

    Sad, because I loved that show. Even at 50-something, I watch it whenever it’s on. Certainly, every episode wasn’t really accurate, but to call it BS is just wrong.

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      August 14, 2014 at 8:39 PM

      I didn’t like the BS comment either. That was totally uncalled for. That show brought a lot of happiness, into my life, so nothing anyone says that demeans Father Knows Best will make me stop liking the show. It was television at its best for me.

       
      • Don Gould

        August 14, 2014 at 9:06 PM

        I couldn’t agree more! A few years ago I sent away for a complete collection of all Father KNows Best shows. Unfortunately, the quality was not all that good but what was most troublesome was that it caused my DVD player to jam on certain episodes. I don’t know what would cause that.

        I had Billy Gray’s email address and I emailed him a few times, especially on his birthday which is January 13th. He is 76 years old. I told him I had a complete collection of the shows and he asked me for the website so he could get them as well. That seemed strange for someone who had such total disdain for the series. Maybe he still has good memories of those days.

         
  20. Andrew Godfrey

    August 14, 2014 at 9:16 PM

    Don, Thanks for sharing about your communication with Billy Gray. I guess he had a change of heart after he made his original statement, so good to know, that he would be interested in obtaining all the shows. Father Knows Best had to have some good memories, for him to want to have all the shows.

     
    • Carl

      January 4, 2015 at 8:53 PM

      Not necessarily. As a huge fan of Father Knows Best since childhood, I wish this were the case. But actually, I suspect the reason Billy wanted those shows is for profit. He’s already made it clear that show wasn’t anything he was proud of, so maybe he can autograph them and sell for $$$.

       
  21. Don Gould

    August 27, 2014 at 12:56 PM

    Trivia Question: Does anyone know the name of the theme music from “Father Knows Best”? If not, I will post the answer next week!

     
  22. Andrew Godfrey

    August 27, 2014 at 4:36 PM

    Waiting For Love To Find You

     
    • Don Gould

      August 27, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      Andrew . . you’re fantastic! You got it!

       
      • Andrew Godfrey

        August 28, 2014 at 6:58 AM

        Don, I am not that fantastic. Had a little help from Google search.

         
  23. Mayree

    November 14, 2014 at 2:51 AM

    @andrew godfrey “father knows best” still runs on antena tv I watch it during the weekends good show :)

     
    • Andrew Godfrey

      November 14, 2014 at 8:54 AM

      Mayree, Thanks for sharing that info with us. It is good to know Father Knows Best is still being shown on Antenna TV like you mentioned.

       

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