January 12, 2019

MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY / THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW


MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY / THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW
(ABC, CBS, September 29, 1953-April 27, 1964)

Marterto Enterprises (1953-62), T&L Productions (1962-64)


            Make Room For Daddy was a sitcom starring Danny Thomas as successful comedian and nightclub entertainer Danny Williams. The series centered on Williams’ always being constantly busy with work and away from his family, leaving his wife Margaret (Jean Hagen) often raising their children Rusty (Rusty Hamer) and Terry (Sherry Jackson) alone. This was often the cause of tension between Danny and Margaret. Louise Beavers appeared as the Williams’ maid, Louise, and often sided with Margaret in their arguments (she would be replaced by Amanda Randolph when she became ill). The show was only a modest hit. Hagen, who didn’t get along with Thomas, left the show at the conclusion of the third season once her contract expired. Knowing a divorce wouldn’t be tolerated by television audiences, Thomas and producer Sheldon Leonard had her character die off-screen; the first death of a character in a sitcom. The show was also renamed The Danny Thomas Show for the remainder of its run.

Danny Williams and his family Margaret, Rusty and Terry.

They decided that Danny needed a new wife when the ratings began to decline, so Irish nurse Kathy O’Hara (Marjorie Lord) was introduced in the fourth season to take care of Rusty when he was sick. She and Danny fell in love and became engaged. ABC, who originally aired the show, cancelled the show at the end of that season. CBS, looking for a replacement for the just-ending I Love Lucy, picked up The Danny Thomas Show and put it in Lucy’s timeslot. Danny and Kathy were married between the seasons, and Danny adopted her daughter, Linda (Angela Cartwright). Jackson, who had a close friendship with Hagen, left the show when her contract ended in the 6th season. She was replaced by Penney Parker for several episodes before the character was written off entirely.

Danny Williams' new extended family, including Kathy and Linda.

The Danny Thomas Show enjoyed an 11-season run by the time Thomas and Lord were tired of their roles and Thomas ended the show. During that time, the show had crossed over with several others including The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, The Joey Bishop Show, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. It also led to the creation of two spin-offs: The Andy Griffith Show, starring Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor whom Williams had run across in his travels, and The Bill Dana Show after Dana appeared several times as his most well-known character, Jose Jimenez. Along with reruns, the cast returned for two reunion specials on NBC, The Danny Thomas TV Family Reunion and Make More Room For Daddy as part of The Danny Thomas Hour. A third reunion, airing again on CBS, called Make Room For Granddaddy led to a one-season revival of the show before it was cancelled during the rural purge designed to draw in younger viewers.

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