Love Boat

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1977-86

DAD: Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod) / Divorced

DAD’S JOB: Your Ship’s Captain (according to the credits)

KIDS: Vicki Stubing (Jill Whelen)(10)

WHERE’S MOM?: Showgirl girlfriend – left when daughter was a baby.

STAND-IN “MOM”: none

Vicki, the near-invisible daughter on Captain Stubing’s Love Boat, was a throw-away, forgettable character. No probing episode focused on the relationship between Vicki and her dad was ever aired. Then again, when was any episode of this show “serious”?

Want to know something icky? On the last season of Love Boat, Captain Stubing married Emily Haywood – played by that ultimate mom, Marion Ross. Fortunately the series ended before Stubing was hit by the Mike Brady Rule and disqualified.

Update: Alert Viewer Dave Leifer has some insights on the captain’s wife: Merril Stubing’s first wife was Stacey Stubing played by Actress Bonnie Franklin. He was married but she wasn’t the mother of his daughter…go figure. I guess even the righteous Captain fooled around a little!

A snap of the Uncle Charley Memorial Dish Towel to Dave Leifer for the info. Thanks, Dave!

Paper Moon

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1974

DAD: Moses Pray (Christopher Connelly) / Widower(?)

DAD’S JOB: Con Man

KIDS: Addie Pray (Jodie Foster) (8)

WHERE’S MOM?: Missing – Dead maybe.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Unknown

From the movie of the same name. Dad was a con man who sold Bibles in depression-era Kansas. Addie was his world-wise 13-year-old daughter who was actually a lot tougher than Dad. Mostly operating outside the law, they did show subtle affection for each other.

In keeping with the mood of the movie version, Paper Moon was shown in black-and-white.

Audiences didn’t like it very much, so the Pray family got cancelled after just four episodes.

Sanford & Son

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1972-76

DAD: Fred G. Sanford (Redd Foxx) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Junk Dealer

KIDS: Lamont (Demond Wilson) (almost 30)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead a few years. Unknown cause.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Aunt Esther (LaWanda Page) / aunt

Fred Sanford pushed the limits of role reversal in the TV Single Dad framework. Fred’s world was basically financed by his son, Lamont. Lamont had no love for the situation he found himself in (caring for his incompetent Dad), but he realized his “duty” to Fred and continued operating the family junk business, no matter how difficult it was dealing with his father. This kind of child-guidance reversal of roles wasn’t matched by any other TV Single Dads’ show. In fact, the only show it comes near is the relationship between the niece Penny and her uncle in the animated series “Inspector Gadget” in 1982.

Nanny & The Professor

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1970-71

DAD: Professor Howard Everett (Richard Long) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Math Professor

KIDS: Hal(David Doremus) (12), Butch (Trent Lehman) (8), Prudence (Kim Richards) (5)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead a few years. Unknown cause.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Phoebe Figalilly (Juliet Mills) – “Nanny”

Nanny & The Professor represented a “last hurrah” for Sixties-style TV Single Dads; in fact, it barely made it into the Seventies. The story was a thinly-veiled ripoff of Disney’s Mary Poppins, with the added spin of a Single Dad in the mix.

ABC ran the boards in the early 70’s with multitudes of single and recombinant TV parent sitcoms such as The Partridge Family, The Brady Bunch, and the aforementioned Getting Together.

A slight casting irony – – TV Single Dad Richard Long was returning to television after a four-year run on one of the most famous TV Single *Mom* shows: The Big Valley.

Getting Together

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1971-1972

DAD: Bobby Conway (Bobby Sherman) / Single older brother

DAD’S JOB: Songwriter

KIDS: Jennifer Conway (Susan Neher) (12)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead – so is Dad.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Rita (Pat Carroll) / Landlady

A spin-off of another single-parent show (The Partridge Family), this “vehicle” for teen heartthrob Bobby Sherman put him as guardian of his 12-year-old sister, Jennifer.

Unlike its successful parent series, Getting Together came apart after 3 months. There was a small hit song to come out of this series: “Jennifer,” which climbed the charts around Thanksgiving, 1971.

Susan Neher had just come off a gig as part of another Single Dad family: the youngest daughter on “To Rome With Love” back in 1969.

To Rome With Love

Jim 1950s - 1960s

Aired: 1969-71

DAD: Michael Endicott (John Forsythe) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: College Professor

KIDS: Alison (Joyce Menges), Penny (Susan Neher), Mary Jane “Pokey” (Melanie Fullerton)

WHERE’S MOM?: Died just before episode one.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Harriet Endicott (Kay Medford) / Aunt, then Andy Pruitt (Walter Brennan) / Grandpa

Whenever I get the book version of this website published, I’m going to devote a whole chapter to the Standard Television Plot of Dad moving to another part of the world after Mom goes to heaven.
In this show, Professor Endicott takes a job in The Eternal City after his wife dies. Bella hijinks ensue.

This show marks several firsts. One of these firsts is actually a “second” – it’s the first time an actor has played a Single Dad character on two different shows (John Forsythe). The show also marks the first (and one of the few) shows where the Single Dad is the father of an all-girl tribe (excluding only children like Gidget and My Little
Margie). Kinda like an anti-My Three Sons.


Jim 1950s - 1960s

Aired: 1966-69

DAD: Dr. Marsh Tracy (Marshall Thompson) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Jungle Veterinarian

KIDS: Paula Tracy (Cheryl Miller)(19)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead or something.

STAND-IN “MOM”: none

I just remember the cross-eyed lion, Clarence. Beats me about the rest of it. Wait, didn’t Paula date a guy who looked like Mike Minor from Petticoat Junction?

The Governor & J.J.

Jim 1950s - 1960s

Aired: 1969-72

DAD: William Drinkwater (Dan Dailey) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Governor

KIDS: J.J (20-ish) (Julie Sommars)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead for a while – unknown cause.

STAND-IN “MOM”: none

This is My Little Margie meets Benson. J.J. was trying to get Governor Dad married off and re-elected at the same time.
Nothing ground-breaking, although it did manage to stay on the air for four years. That’s quite an accomplishment for a TV Single Dad show!


Jim 1950s - 1960s

Lancer 1968-1971

DAD: Murdoch Lancer (Andrew Duggan) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Rancher

KIDS: Scott Lancer (Wayne Maunder), Johnny Madrid Lancer (James Stacy) 20-something, foster daughter Teresa O’Brien (Elizabeth Baur) late teens

WHERE’S MOM?: 3 kids – 3 different dead moms.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Jelly Hoskins (Paul Bringear) / Ranch Hand

Boy oh boy, this smells like Bonanza. Or maybe the Single-Dad version of Big Valley. Murdoch Lancer had a ranch, e-i-e-i-o, and bad-guy locals wanted his land, e-i-e-i-o. With two half-brothers (the Felix-Unger-y Scott and the Robert Downey, Jr.-lifestyled Johnny) they kept the bad guys away from sniffin’ around Murdoch’s adopted teen cutie daughter Teresa. Funniest thing about this show is that it lasted *4* whole seasons!

Update: Alert Viewer “Fletcher” chimes in with more details on teen-hottie Teresa:
“Teresa O’Brien was not one of Murdoch Lancer’s children, he was her Guardian. Her father was Murdoch’s ranch foreman and was killed in the first episode. Her mother wasn’t dead either. She turned out to be a ‘lady of the night’ and came back to the ranch in a later episode. Seems that she had run off when Teresa was a small child, probably ‘find herself’.”

A tip of the Jed Clampett Memorial Moth-Eaten Hat to ‘Fletcher’ for the info on Teresa. Thanks, Fletcher!

Update: Alert View “WinJ” pops up with more info on the mom’s demise:

“Scott’s mother died in childbirth. His grandfather took him back to Boston and kept him away from Murdoch with the threat of a custody suit. Johnny’s mother ran off with a gambler. We are uncertain when she died, only that she did at some point, leaving Johnny with the misguided belief that his father threw them both out. Not exactly the wholesomeness of Bonanza. Johnny was a gunfighter, Johnny Madrid, for at least 5 years, making him about 15 when he started that career. Teresa was the daughter of Murdoch’s best friend and foreman, Paul O’Brien. His wife ran off when Teresa was a baby to be an entertainer, Angel Day. Teresa was born on Lancer. When her father died, Murdoch became her guardian. Just to set the record straight.”

A nod of the Adam West Memorial Cowl to “WinJ” – thanks!

Mayberry R.F.D.

Jim 1950s - 1960s

Aired: 1968-71

DAD: Sam Jones (Ken Berry) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: City Councilman of Mayberry, NC.

KIDS: Mike (Buddy Foster)(7)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead – unknown cause.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Aunt Bee (again!) (Frances Bavier)

What do you do when Andy Griffith wants off The Andy Griffith Show? Easy – you replace him (and Opie, too) with Ken Berry and son, keep Aunt Bee(!) and continue the franchise. The show lasted until the CBS purge of “rural” comedies in 1971.

Update: Here’s some info on Mike Jones from Alert Viewer Roberta Gibson: “I just read your clips of single tv dads and it brought back some happy memories! The clip about Mayberry RFD mentions a son named Mike. Mike was played by Buddy Foster who is Jodie Foster’s brother. I don’t know what happened to him after that show – I think I read somewhere that he is on the other side of the camera now.”