ALAN Keeling, our resident TV history guru, has been burning the midnight oil once again and takes us back to the '50s to remind us of a couple of the very first sitcoms to hit the small screen ...
Father Knows Best was a successful family situation comedy from the US, that ran for 203 half-hour shows from 1954 to 1960. Filmed in black and white it reached viewers here in the Midlands in 1956 and was screened by ABC at tea-time on Saturdays as part of their so called Family Hour. It was all about the Anderson family who lived at 607 South Maple Street in Springfield and the dreams, frustrations and ambitions of the head of the household, Jim Anderson, played by Robert Young.
"His co-stars were Margaret his wife (Jane Wyatt), eldest daughter Betty (Elinor Donahue), other daughter Kathy (Lauren Chapin) and son James Junior, played by Billy Gray. Father Knows Best was produced by Screen Gems (Columbia) and filmed at Warner Bros' Studios at Burbank. Robert Young shared the production responsibilities with Eugene Rodney, and the show, based on a 1949 radio series, was a huge hit for everyone concerned.
Can any readers remember My Little Margie, another US sitcom to hit the small screen, which came to the Black Country and the rest of the Midlands region in early 1956? It was a series of stories all about Margie Albright, the beautiful twenty-one year old daughter of widower and president of an investment company Vern Albright, and how she constantly hindered and harassed her father week after week, a common theme in most US sitcoms at the time. Margie was played by Gale Storm, whose real age was 31, and Vern was played by Charles Farrell. There were 126 episodes made altogether, between 1952 and 1955, by Hal Roach Studios Inc. and distributed by Official Films, with production undertaken by Hal Roach Junior."