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Father Knows Best

Date December 15, 2008
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Father Knows Best is a radio and television comedy series which portrayed a middle class family life in the Midwest. It was created by writer Ed James in the 1940s, and ran on radio from 1949 to 1954 and on television from 1954 to 1960.
It's telling that this family favorite began on radio as Father Knows Best? When the show came to CBS in 1954, the question mark disappeared. Contrary to popular opinion, however, Springfield, Ohio, insurance agent Jim Anderson (Emmy winner Robert Young) doesn't have all the answers. He and his wife, Margaret (fellow Emmy winner Jane Wyatt), come close, though. Were the show in production now, Anderson wouldn't smoke, but Father Knows Best reflects the standards of its time--separate beds and all. The sweet-natured pilot sets the tone when 14-year-old Bud (Billy Gray) frets about the school dance until Jim arranges for his 17-year-old sister, Betty (Elinor Donahue), to show him some steps. Other storylines revolve around community service and feeling needed, while "Thanksgiving Day" offers a glimpse of Jim's imperfect side when he dismisses a poem written by nine-year-old Kathy (Laurin Chapin), who overhears him; he realizes he was holding Kitten to impossible standards. As Chapin notes in the bonus interview (in which Donahue also features), the primary themes were cooperation and forgiveness. Naysayers can knock Father Knows Best for being square, but it espouses timeless values. And who's to say the lingo wasn't hip for the 1950s? Colorful examples include "goobers," "criminy," "creepers," "knot-head," and "simply utterly."

Father Knows Best Cast

Cast & Characters

  • Robert Young as Jim Anderson
  • Jane Wyatt as Margaret Anderson
  • Elinor Donahue as Betty "Princess" Anderson
  • Billy Gray as James "Bud" Anderson, Jr
  • Lauren Chapin as Kathy "Kitten" Anderson
  • Sarah Shelby as Miss Thomas
  • Robert Foulk as Ed Davis (1955 - 1959)
  • Vivi Jannis as Myrtle Davis (1955 - 1959)
  • Yvonne Lime as Dotty Snow (1954 - 1957)
  • Paul Wallace as Kipp Watkins (1954- 1959)
  • Jimmy Bates as Claude Messner (1954 - 1959)
  • Roger Smith as Doyle Hobbs (1957 - 1958)
  • Robert Chapman as Ralph Little (1957 - 1958)
  • Sue George as Joyce Kendall (1958 - 1959)

Broadcast History

Father Knows Best Title Card First Telecast: October 3, 1954
Last Telecast: April 5, 1963
Original Network:  CBS
Number of Seasons: 6
Number of Episodes: 203
View the Father Knows Best Episode Guide
Original Primetime TV Schedule:
  • October 1954- March 1955, CBS, Sunday 10:00-10:30pm
  • August 1955- September 1958, NBC, Wednesday 8:30-9:00pm
  • September 1958- September 1960, CBS, Monday 8:30-9:00pm
  • October 1960- September 1961, CBS, Tuesday 8:00-8:30pm
  • October 1961- February 1962, CBS, Wednesday 8:00-8:30pm
  • February 1962- Septemeber 1962, CBS, Monday 8:30-9:00pm
  • September 1962- December 1962, ABC, Sunday 7:00-7:30pm
  • December 1962 - April, ABC, Friday 8:00-8:30pm

Theme Song & Opening Credits


Listen to theme song:

Father Knows Best On DVD

Season 1 Season 2 Season 3 Season 4 Season 5
Season 6 View all Father Knows Best DVDs, books, merchandise and collectibles from Amazon.com

Watch Father Knows Best Episodes Online

Father Knows Best Trivia

Before the TV show, there was a Father Knows Best radio show that aired from August 25, 1949 through November 19, 1953! Robert Young was the only cast member to make the transition from radio to television.

The series was so popular that repeats continued to be shown in primetime for three years after production ended and during the daytime for another 5 years after that! The public couldn't believe that the show was ending as it was still #6 in the ratings at the time. The main reason given was that the main premise of the show was a father guiding his children towards adulthood. Well, Betty and Bud were pretty much grown up. Another reason given was that after 6 years of the same series, many of those involved were "losing their creative juices". They wanted to go out on top rather than let the show deteriorate.

Robert Young has a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (Approximately 100 feet west of Mann's Chinese Theater).

Most programs at the time were filmed with 3 cameras in front of a live audience. Father Knows Best used only one camera and no audience.

Some well-known guest stars on the TV show included Cornell Wilde, Barbara Eden, Robert Reed (Dad on "The Brady Bunch), John McIntire (Wagon Train), and John Daly (The Moderator of the "What's My Line" quiz show).

Unfortunately, 13 episodes can not be found. "Stagecoach to Yuma" (#40) and "Not His Type" (#202) were original episodes. The other 11 were "flashback" shows. The distributors decided that "flashbacks" would not work well in syndication and apparently disposed of them.

In 1959, the U.S. Treasury department paid to have a 30 minute Father Knows Best episode produced. It was circulated to schools, churches and other groups for the purpose of selling savings bonds. It never aired on tv. The title was "24 Hours in Tyrantland".

Jim Anderson was the manager of "General Insurance Company".

The show's theme song was entitled, "Waiting". While they were never used on the program, there were Lyrics written. Here they are: "Waiting, for love to find us, is something worth waiting for. Someday, my arms will hold you, my lips will kiss you, forever more. Yes, waiting, can be so lonely, yet somehow we'll see it through. Knowing, there's someone waiting right there just for you".
Last modified on December 16, 2013
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