Benson

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1979-86
Benson

ABC

DAD: Gov. Gene Gatling (James Noble) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Governor

KIDS: Katie (Missy Gold)(11)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead – went to a costume party dressed as a sugar cube and was attacked by a horse.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Benson (Robert Guillaume)

One link to think about and then just put it out of your mind: Benson worked with a stuffy assistant of the Single Dad/Governor, played by Rene Auberjonois. Twenty years later, Captain Benjamin Sisko would have a stuffy assistant named Odo, played by the same Rene Auberjonois. Go figure.

Update 12 May 1999: Okay, so I asked Mr. Auberjonois how come he’s been in so many proximities of Single Dads. Here’s his response:

JIM-

Geeze! I have no idea why I’ve been in the thrall of Single Dads. Coincidence would be my guess.

Best-
René Auberjonois

A snap of the Uncle Charley Memorial Dish Towel to Michael Duclos (duclos@mindspring.com) for the info on the late Mrs. Gatling. Thanks, Michael!

Archie Bunker’s Place

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1979-83

Archie Bunkers Place

CBS

DAD: Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Bartender

KIDS: Stephanie (11) (Danielle Brisebois)

WHERE’S MOM?: Edith died. Edith’s niece abandoned by dad.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Mrs. Canby (Barbara Meek)

Coming out of the ragged edges of the monumental All in the Family, this show pieced together life after Mike and Gloria Stivic moved away and Archie had managed a saloon. At the end of the first season, Edith died, and Archie was left to raise Stephanie, the abandoned niece of Edith’s. Archie hired a housekeeper, Mrs. Canby, and started back on the dating scene after a 25-year hiatus.

Big Shamus, Little Shamus

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1979

Big Shamus, Little Shamus

CBS

DAD: Arnie Sutter (Brian Dennehy) / Unknown Marital Status

DAD’S JOB: House Detective

KIDS: Max Sutter (Doug McKeon) (13)

WHERE’S MOM?: Unknown

STAND-IN “MOM”: Unknown

Two episodes. That’s how long this absolute stinker of a show lasted. Arnie Sutter was a hotel detective in the gambling resort of Atlantic City. I don’t know about how or why he was a single dad, and apparently no one else cared. Can you imagine a show so bad it didn’t make it to Columbus Day? Sheesh.

The Mackenzies of Paradise Cove

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1979

Mackenzies of Paradise Cove

CBS

DAD: Cuda Weber (Clu Gulager) / Single

DAD’S JOB: Fishing Boat Operator

KIDS: Timothy Mackenzie (Keith Mitchell) (7), Michael (Sean Marshall) (12), Bridget (Lory Walsh) (17), Kevin (Shawn Stevens) (17).

WHERE’S MOM?: Drowned. So did Dad.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Unknown

I never saw this show, but based on the writeups I’ve seen, it’s not too much different from the 80’s show Father Murphy. A bunch of kids, not wanting to be split up after their parents drown in a boating accident, convince a tour boat operator to pose as their “uncle.” Not exactly sure if this show was a comedy or a drama. If you’ve seen this show, please e-mail me with your thoughts. Thanks!

Operation: Runaway!

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1978-79

Operation: Runaway

NBC

DAD: David McKay (Robert Reed) / Single

DAD’S JOB: Psychologist

KIDS: Mark Johnson (Michael Biehn), Susan Donovan (Ruth Cox) (teens)

WHERE’S MOM?: Unclear where the whereabouts of birth parents were.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Karen Wingate (Karen Machon) / Girlfriend of David’s

Kinda like a dead serious version of Bachelor Father. David McKay was a psychologist who counselled teen runaways, and he apparently liked to take his work home with him. Mark and Susan were two runaways who became his Youthful Wards, a la Dick Grayson.

This whole premise didn’t seem to work out, so in the last half of the series run NBC dumped David McKay. Too late — the series cratered after a month with the revamped show.

Hello Larry!

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1979-80
Hello Larry

NBC

DAD: Larry Alder (McLean Stevenson) / Divorced

DAD’S JOB: Radio Host

KIDS: Diane(Donna Wilkes, then Krista Errickson) (16), Ruthie (Kim Richards) (13)

WHERE’S MOM?: Divorced – played (occasionally) by Shelley Fabares

STAND-IN “MOM”: Leona Wilson (Ruth Brown)

The third series in the downward, post-M*A*S*H spiral of McLean Stevenson, it wasn’t much different than Frasier with two little girls at home.

NBC tried propping up the ratings of this saggy show with crossover cast appearances from another TV Single Dad show: Diff’rent Strokes. The storyline was that Larry was an Army buddy of Strokes’s Phil Drummond. Wacky hijinks, unfortunately, did not ensue.

Kim Richards was in her second role as the TV Single Daughter of a TV Single Dad. Her first role was in Nanny & the Professor.

It’s interesting to note that Shelley Fabares plays the ex-wife of a TV Single Dad — In the Nineties, she would play a character who marries a TV Single Dad; namely, the title character on Coach!

Big Hawaii

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1977
Big Hawaii
NBC

DAD: Barrett Fears (John Dehner)

DAD’S JOB: Pineapple Rancher

KIDS: Mitch Fears (early 20’s)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead, maybe

STAND-IN “MOM”: none

This was Dallas in the Aloha State. But the plot more closely resembled the Jack Klugman show You Again, where this successful conservative dad winds up with a radically different son. The show didn’t last long enough to worry about.

Sidenote: Veteran actor John Dehner makes his second appearance in the Single TV Dad arena. Go check out his role in Baileys of Balboa, a 60’s TV Single Dad show.

The Dukes of Hazzard

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1979-85

Dukes of Hazzard

CBS

DAD: Uncle Jesse Duke (Denver Pyle)

DAD’S JOB: Old Coot, and retired Moonshine Runner

KIDS: Bo (John Schneider), Luke (Tom Wopat), Daisy (Catherine Bach), Coy (Byron Cherry), Vance (Christopher Mayer) (all supposedly in their 20’s)

WHERE’S MOM?: Who knows? The cousins and nephews of Jesse Duke are why there’s so many West Virginia jokes.

STAND-IN “MOM”: none

Update: Alert Viewer Johnathan Carter writes in with news about the Duke orphans – “I don’t know if it was ever mentioned on the series, but I believe the E! True Hollywood Story on The Dukes of Hazzard explained exactly how the Duke cousins ended up with Uncle Jesse. Apparently, all of Jesse’s brothers and/or sisters and their spouses — the parents of Bo, Luke, and Daisy (and maybe Coy and Vance) — were killed in a car accident (big car!), so Jesse, the last remaining sibling, took in their children. That’s what I heard, but as I said, I don’t know if it was ever mentioned on the show.”

Anyone have any further word on this?

A tap on the Lt. Worf Memorial Communicator Pin to “CMH412@aol.com” for the information about Uncle Jesse’s previous career. Thanks!

…and a wave of the Mrs. Livingston Memorial Feather Duster to Jonathan Carter for the insight on the Dukes’ parental demise. Thanks!

BattlestaR Galactica

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1978

BattlestaR Galactica

ABC

DAD #1: Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) / Widower

DAD #1’S JOB: Defending refugees fleeing the Cylon tyranny

KIDS OF DAD #1: Apollo (20-something), Athena (20-something)

WHERE’S MOM #1 ?: Dead from Cylon attack

STAND-IN “MOM #1”: none

DAD #2: Captain Apollo (Richard Hatch) / Widower

DAD #2’S JOB: Defending refugees fleeing the Cylon tyranny

KIDS OF DAD #2: Boxey (8)

WHERE’S MOM #2 ?: Dead from Cylon attack, Apollo’s stepson

STAND-IN “MOM #2”: Possibly Aunt Athena, or Cassiopea, Apollo’s sidekick’s girlfriend.

Before you warn me about typos, that’s the correct capitalization for the series. The script listed the title as “BattlestaR Galactica” with the capitalized R in the middle.

Alert Viewers sometimes wonder if Lorne Greene was the first actor to portray two TV Single Dads, but that honor goes to John Forsythe, of Bachelor Father and To Rome With Love fame, a decade earlier. This does seem to be the first show to have two TV Single Dads on the same series, though.

A tip of the Sky King Memorial Stetson to ‘OM’ for the clue-by-four about Boxey’s Stand-In Mom suspects. Thanks, OM!

Land of the Lost

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1974-77

Land of the Lost

NBC

DAD: Rick Marshall (Spencer Milligan) / Unknown Marital Status

DAD’S JOB: Some kind of river explorer

KIDS: Will (Wesley Eure)(15), Holly (Kathy Coleman) (11)

WHERE’S MOM?: Unknown – back on normal Earth, somewhere

STAND-IN “MOM”: Unknown

A Sid & Marty Krofft show. Dad wound up stranded in a time vortex that dropped Dad and the two kids into a dinosaur-type world.

In the last (3rd) season, Dad disappeared to the normal Earth and was replaced by his brother, “Uncle Jack” (Ron Harper)