March 11, 2021

Beloved Actors of 'My Three Sons` Sitcom Then and Now

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"My Three Sons" became a cornerstone series in its era, even though it's long passed. What happened to the Douglas family since the sitcom ended? Let's have a look.

“My Three Sons” was an extremely popular sitcom that was loved by many. It ran from 1960 to 1972, first on ABC and then CBS, telling the Douglas family's story. 

The series is an early example of a TV show that transcended the traditional idea of a nuclear family, which is just part of its legacy. As a tribute to its cast, let’s see what happened to them since the show aired.

Image source: Youtube/ HOW THEY CHANGED

Image source: Youtube/ HOW THEY CHANGED

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THE SHOW

The show originally featured William Frawley, as the boys' grandfather, William Michael Francis ‘Bub’ O’Casey. Due to an illness, Frawley was replaced by William Demarest.

The eldest son, Mike (Tim Considine), was written off the show in 1965, as he got married. To keep the emphasis on “three sons,” Chip’s friend, Ernie, was adopted.

Image Credit: Youtube

Image Credit: Youtube

"My Three Sons" is considered a cornerstone of the ABC and CBS lineups in the 60s. 380 episodes were produced.

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It came in third to "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" and "It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia" as the longest-running live-action sitcom on television.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Image Credit: Wikipedia

FRED MACMURRAY

The late actor played Steve Douglas, a widowed father of four who does his best to raise and provide for his children with this father-in-law's help.

MacMurray retired from acting in 1978 when he made his last appearance as Mayor Clarence. What a star he was!

Fred MacMurray. I Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Fred MacMurray. I Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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TIM CONSIDINE

The 78-year-old actor played Mike Douglas, Steve’s oldest son, until Season 5 when the character got married and was written off the series.

After the series, the former child actor grew more and more distant from the entertainment industry. He felt it wasn't the place for him.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

DON GRADY

The late actor played Robbie Douglas, Steve’s second son, for the entire run of the series. Following the end of the series, Grady made a couple of appearances before quitting acting for good to focus on music.

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He ventured into this field as a member of “The Mickey Mouse Club.” This beautiful dream of singing and dancing was however sadly cut short.

Unfortunately, the actor and singer passed away in 2012, at the age of 68, after a long and tough battle with cancer. 

Don Grady. I Image: Getty Images.

Don Grady. I Image: Getty Images.

STANLEY LIVINGSTON

The 68-year-old actor played Chip Douglas, Steve’s youngest son, for the entire run of the series. After the series wrapped, Livingston continued acting occasionally until the late seventies. 

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However, the former actor remained active in the field, albeit behind the scenes. He went into producing and making films and worked as a producer until 2012. 

Stanley Livingston and his wife Paula Drake. I Image: Getty Images.

BARRY LIVINGSTON

The 65-year-old actor played Ernie Thompson Douglas who joins the family when Steve adopts him in Season 3. Barry is the one from the cast which led the most prolific and successful career in front of the screen.

After “My Three Sons,” the actor went on to appear in many TV shows including “Mad Men,” “Angie Tribeca,” and “The Middle,” as well as big-screen productions in the Oscar-winning “Argo” and “The Social Network.”

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Barry Livingston. I Image: Getty Images.

Barry Livingston. I Image: Getty Images.

WILLIAM DEMAREST

The late actor played Uncle Charley O’Casey, the children’s maternal great-uncle, from Season 5 onward.

Demarest was 80 when the series ended, and he had led a long and successful career in Hollywood. He retired in 1978 after making a few appearances, mostly on TV, and passed away in 1983, aged 91.

Don Lemon and William Demarest in 1969. I Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Don Lemon and William Demarest in 1969. I Image: Wikimedia Commons.

TINA COLE

The 76-year-old actress played Katie Miller who later marries Robbie. After her work in “My Three Sons,” Cole managed to appear in a few shows till the late seventies when she took an almost 20-year hiatus from acting.

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She only returned in 2005. In 2018 she was cast in her latest role, Laura Chadwick, in the film “Reawakened.”

Tina Cole. I Image: Getty Images.

Tina Cole. I Image: Getty Images.

MEREDITH MACRAE

Meredith Lynn MacRae was an American actress and singer who became famous through her roles as Sally Morrison on "My Three Sons" and Billie Jo Bradley in "Petticoat Junction." 

For three seasons, the actress played Mike's' love interest. She later asked to be written off the series to explore her career further.

In 1964, Meredith married Richard Berger. Their union didn't last long, and the couple parted ways in 1968. In 1969, MacRae remarried fellow actor Greg Mullavey until their divorce in 1987.

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The actress's final marriage took place in 1995, to Philip M. Neal. Meredith sadly passed away at the age of 56.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

WILLIAM FRAWLEY

Born in 1887, William Clement Frawley was an American stage and screen entertainer. Frawley was known for his role as the landlord Fred Mertz in the American television sitcom "I Love Lucy." 

Of course, he became popular for his role as William Michael Francis Aloysius 'Bub' O'Casey (1960 - 1968) in "My Three Sons." William started his career back in 1914 with his wife, Edna Louise Broedt.

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The couple had their comedy act, called "Frawley and Louise," which continued until they divorced in 1927. Frawley continued his acting career, performing on Broadway numerous times.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

DAWN LYN

Born in 1963, Dawn Lyn Nervik is an American child actress, who began her acting career from an extremely young age. At just 4 years old, Dawn pursued acting alongside her older brother, Leif Garrett.

Her first role was in the 1967 B-grade western, "Cry Blood, Apache" where she appeared as an American Indian boy. The actress only found out she had played a member of the opposite sex years later. 

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She became famous thanks to her role in "My Three Sons" as Dorothy 'Dodie' Harper Douglas during the last three seasons. She was a stellar act and added something very special to the show.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Image Credit: Wikipedia

The actress financially supported her mother and brother from 1969 until her brother's fame eclipsed hers. She landed more roles in various shows and movies afterward, but her acting career never really took off. 

Her last screen appearance was in a 1978 episode of "Wonder Woman." Dawn married Michael Whitby in 1990, but they divorced in 2001. In 2006, she married W. John Reese, and they've been together ever since.

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Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

SURPRISING FACTS 

"My Three Sons" was one of the only TV series that was played on two networks. ABC had the show for its first five seasons, and then, for an interesting reason, it was shifted to CBS.

The issue was about black and white versus color. ABC was hesitant about airing the show in color because of costs. 

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

The shaggy on-screen dog, Tramp, had a few popular and well-known friends. The dog belonged to Frank Inn's animal family. Frank Inn was known for training many celebrity animals. 

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It garnered a huge audience. From 1964 to 1965, almost 53 million American homes had television sets. Season five of the series attracted 13,438,500 viewers, which means that a quarter of the country was watching.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

"My Three Sons" was undoubtedly an iconic TV series. The show had a layer of interesting facts that audiences were unaware of. But one clear thing is the high level of entertainment in the show. 

It set the stage for the countless family sitcoms that would come in the future! Did you grow up watching this popular series? 

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