Sea Hunt

Jim 1980s

Aired: 1987-88 Syndicated

DAD: Mike Nelson (Ron Ely) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Scuba Guy

KIDS: Jennifer (Kimber Sissons) (18)


STAND-IN "MOM": Don’t know

"By now, my lungs were begging for air!"

No, it’s not Lloyd Bridges’s Sea Hunt, it’s that perpetual crossword-answer-of-six-letters-for-"TV Tarzan," Ron Ely in the Mike Nelson role. This time, Mike’s a widower, in order to accomodate the Eye Candy daughter Jennifer. Not as high-tension as an episode of Flipper, but it did have pretty pictures. Twenty-two episodes and it bubbled away.

The Hogan Family

Jim 1980s

Aired: 1988-91 NBC

DAD: Michael Hogan (Josh Taylor) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Pilot

KIDS:David (Jason Bateman) (15-16), Willie (Danny Ponce) (10), Mark (Jeremy Licht) (10)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead. "Accident" (see notes below).

STAND-IN "MOM": Sandy Hogan (Sandy Duncan) / aunt, and Mrs. Poole (Edie McClurg) / next door neighbor

So Valerie Harper bombs in "Rhoda," and she gets another show named "Valerie." Perfect, huh? So, she quits the show, because, hey, what’s NBC gonna do, keep going with a show named "Valerie?" — Guess what? The show goes on, as The Hogan Family

According to Pam (, "Willie and Mark Hogan were actually fraternal twins. A lot of their storylines dealt with the conflict created by the fact that Mark was a ‘brain,’ and Willie was a ‘dumb jock.’ "

And this from Bill Weichand "’The Hogan Family’ was the follow-on series to the show ‘Valerie’. In the final episode of ‘Valerie’, the kids’ mother was killed in a house fire. I still remember the episode."

Or maybe that’s not QUITE the way they dropped Valerie out of the series. Here’s a clarification on the Hogan Hand-off to Aunt Sandy, from Alert Viewer Mark Taylor: "In your entry on ‘The Hogan Family’, you mention that ‘Valerie died in a fire in the last episode…’ This is incorrect – Valerie Harper’s character written out of the series (Ms. Harper had left in a dispute with the shows producers) prior to the start of the next season. The first episode of that next season introduced Sandy Hogan (Mike’s sister and the boys’ aunt). It was established at the beginning of that episode that Sandy moved in to help take care of the boys so Mike could return to his job as an airline pilot. When Mike Hogan discusses going back to flying, He mentions that ‘its only been six months since Val’s accident.’ Later, David urges his dad that is time to go back to flying by stating, ‘its time, Dad, its been six months since Mom died.’ Further, the ‘Fire’ episode was the second episode of that same season. In that episode, David Hogan recalls driving up to see the house on fire and praying ‘Dear God, I just lost my mother, don’t take them too.’ In a later scene, the family has gone back into the house, and David goes to check on his room — it has been totally gutted. In the room he finds a picture of his mother and starts sobbing when the picture falls apart in his hands. This last scene is what your contributor remembers — it was pretty dramatic."

A bow of the Jeff Tracy Memorial Palm Trees to Katie Meddaugh ( for some of the additional info on the show. Thanks, Katie!

And a flap of the William Demerest Memorial Apron to Bill Weicand ( for his thoughts on mom’s demise. Thanks, Bill!

Plus a triple bounce of the Flipper Memorial Beach Ball to Mark Taylor ( for the details on the Hogan kick-off episodes. Thanks, Mark!

Empty Nest

Jim 1980s

Aired: 1988-95 NBC

DAD: Dr. Harry Weston (Richard Mulligan) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Pediatrician

KIDS: Carol (Dinah Manoff) 20-ish, Barbara (Kristy McNichol) 20-ish, and Emily (Lisa Rieffel) 20-ish.


STAND-IN "MOM": Nurse Laverne Todd (Park Overall)

Set in Miami, "Empty Nest" is the TV Single Dad situation of a widowed pediatrician, Harry Weston, and his two adult daughters, Barbara and Carol Weston, who have come back to live with him after failed marriages. Emily, the third daughter, popped in at the end of the series run to replace the departing Kristy McNichol, who was having some bipolar stuff going on at the time.

Full House

Jim 1980s

Aired: 1987-96ABC

DAD: Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Sportscaster

KIDS: Donna Jo – "D.J." (Candace Cameron) (10), Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) (5), Michelle (Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen) (6 months)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead – killed by a drunk driver

STAND-IN "MOMS": Uncle Jesse (John Stamos), Becky (Lori Loughlin), Joey (Dave Coulier)

This show, the anchor-point for ABC’s successful "TGIF" family-friendly Friday night programming, was similar to the theme of My Three Sons, except the kids had TWO Uncle Charleys in Uncle Jesse and Joey.

Jesse was the brother of Danny’s wife. Joey was an honorary uncle as he and Danny were pals since grade school.

A swing of the Michael Dorn Memorial Bat’leth to Alert Viewer Carlos for the info about Uncle Joey.

A tip of the Chuck Connors Memorial Cowboy Hat to Katie Burell ( for the information about the stand-in "moms" of the Tanner kids. Thanks again, Katie!

…and a big toot on the Fred MacMurray Memorial Saxophone to "John Rompala, a.k.a. Lucky" for the details about Uncle Jesse’s relationship to Danny – – plus the news about how Mrs. T. met her unsavory end. Thanks, Lucky!

My Two Dads

Jim 1980s

Aired: 1987-88 NBC

DAD# 1: Michael Taylor (Paul Reiser) / Single

DAD#1’S JOB: Businessman

DAD# 2: Joey Harris (Greg Evigan) / Single

DAD#2’S JOB: Artist

KIDS: Nicole (Staci Keanan) (12)

WHERE’S MOM?: Recently dead ex-girlfriend of both Dads

STAND-IN "MOM": Judge Wilbur (Florence Stanley), who assigned both Dads joint custody.

This show, like the show to follow (ABC’s Full House), poses an interesting question: Are you a single Dad if you live with other single Dads?

Paul Reiser and Greg Evigan’s characters both had "flings" with the same woman a dozen years before the series started. When the show starts, the woman has died, leaving cute little Nicole in the care of the state. Wacky Judge Wilbur, who obviously has an eye for a potable sitcom, assigns the men joint custody of Nicole. So, Paul Reiser’s straitlaced Michael Taylor moves into swingin’ hippie/artist-type Joey Harris’s apartment. A good description of the show would be that it’s like Who’s the Boss? meets The Odd Couple. Oh and did I mention that Judge Wilbur (played by the woman who played Fish’s legendary wife, Bernice) is also Joey’s landlord? So, add Three’s Company into that mix.

**AUTHOR’S NOTE**: This is the show many people bring up when they’re trying to stump me on TV Single Dad shows. If you’ve asked me about the show, I’m guessing you’ve done a site search and found your answer right here. 🙂

Buck James

Jim 1980s

Aired: 1987

DAD: Buck James (Dennis Weaver) / Divorced

DAD’S JOB: Trauma Unit Surgeon

KIDS: Dinah (Elena Stiteler), Clint (Jon Maynard Pennell) – teens.

WHERE’S MOM?: Dee-vorced

STAND-IN "MOM": Jenny (Shannon Wilcox) / the Ex.

When I was going to school at the University of Texas, ABC used to have a guy named Dr. Red Duke, who was also from UT and who did health segments on the nightly news. Finding a quick way to turn someone’s life into a weekly drama, ABC turned Red Duke’s life into a vehicle for Dennis Weaver. Buck James split his time between putting people back together at Holloman Medical Center and being a dad to his kids on his ranch.

The Cavanaughs

Jim 1980s

Aired: 1986-88 CBS

DAD #1: Francis Cavanaugh (Barnard Hughes) / Widower

DAD #1’S JOB: Retired

DAD #1’S KIDS: Kit (Christine Ebersole) (20’s), Chuck (Peter Michael Goetz) (40’s)

WHERE’S MOM #1: Dead

DAD #2: Chuck Cavanaugh (Peter Michael Goetz) / Widower

DAD #2’S JOB: Construction Company Manager

DAD #2’S KIDS: Fr. Chuck (John Short) (20’s), Mary Margaret (Mary Tanner) (teens), Kevin (Danny Cooksey) (10), John (Parker Jacobs) (10)

WHERE’S MOM #2: Dead

STAND-IN "MOM #2": Kit (Christine Ebersole) / Aunt

Wheels within wheels. Kit Cavanaugh was the prodigal daughter of Nice Catholic Guy Francis Cavanaugh, a retired widower living in Boston. Kit returned home to help out taking care of her brother Chuck’s kids. Chuck, a recent widower, had four kids – one of whom was a grown-up Catholic priest. Picture the arguments about who’s raising who and what the ground rules are in the multi-generational family.


Jim 1980s

Aired: 1986-91 NBC

DAD: Deacon Ernest Frye (Sherman Hemsley) / Widower(?)

DAD’S JOB: Preacher

DAD’S KIDS: Thelma Frye (Anna Maria Horsford) (20’s)


STAND-IN "MOM": Sister Casietta Hetebrink (Barbara Montgomery) (1986-1990), Sister Amelia (Roz Ryan)

I didn’t watch the show, but here’s what alert viewer knows about the series:

"Thelma was an adult child living with her father. Most of the time she was trying to get the preacher (Clifton Davis) to fall in love with her (which eventually happened and they married) The stand in moms were the two sisters."

A clang on the Hop Sing Memorial Dinner Triangle for for the info on "Amen" — Thanks!

Lime Street

Jim 1980s

Aired: 1985 ABC

DAD:James Greyson Culver (Robert Wagner) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Detective / Horse Farmer

DAD’S KIDS: Elizabeth (Samantha Smith) (13), Margaret Ann (Maia Brewton) (11)


STAND-IN "MOM": Evelyn Camp (Anne Haney) / Housekeeper

A series that had a tragic reason for leaving the air.

First a little world history background: Samantha Smith was a young girl who lived in Maine and had a social studies assignment to write to the leader of a foreign country. Samantha picked Yuri Andropov, the leader of the Soviet Union. She asked him why he wanted to conquer the United States. Mr. Andropov read the letter, and invited young Samantha and her family over to Moscow for a meeting in the Kremlin. The story made headlines around the world and brought celebrity to little Samantha.

Enter ABC. The network, just finishing up the success of Hart to Hart, wanted another starring vehicle for Robert Wagner. They found a new show called Lime Street, in which Wagner would play James Greyson Culver, a Virginia horse farmer who also investigated insurance fraud (like Banacek) for a British insurance company. They cast Samantha Smith as Culver’s daughter Elizabeth, and cast Maia Brewton (one of the kids from Adventures in Babysitting) as her little sister Margaret Ann. The show began filming in May of 1985.

Tragedy struck during a mid-summer break in the filming. While returning to her home in Maine, the commuter plane carrying Samantha crashed, ending her brief life. With only a few episodes filmed, the show itself was DOA when it appeared in September, and was cancelled before Halloween.

A wave of the Juliet Mills Memorial Feather Duster to Marni Page ( for pointing out this show. And a flap of the Juliet Mills Memorial Apron to "The Rogmeister" for the show details. Thanks, Marni! Thanks Rogmeister!


Jim 1980s

Dads 1986-87 NBC

DAD #1: Rick Armstrong (Barry Bostwick)

DAD #1’s JOB: Obituary writer for a Philadelphia newspaper

DAD #1’s KIDS: Kelly (Skye Bassett)(13)

DAD #2: Louie Mangiotti (Carl Weintraub)

DAD #2’s JOB: Stonemason

DAD #2’s KIDS: Kenny (12)(Jason Naylor), Allan (Eddie Castrodad)(16)

WHERE’S MOM#1 AND MOM#2?: Dead. And Dead.


Through the auspices of the Museum of TV and Radio, I’ve managed to see an episode of this series.

Dad Rick and Daughter Kelly move into widower Louie’s Philly house. Louie is a more-experienced TV Single Dad, having lost wife Louise (Louie and Louise?) several years earlier. Wacky hijinks, of course, ensue when Louie attempts to teach new TV Single Dad Rick how to be a better Single Dad.

Theme music by Alf Clausen, who gave the world much of the incidental music of The Simpsons.