Sunshine

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1975

NBC

Sunshine

DAD: Sam Hayden (Cliff DeYoung) / widower

DAD’S JOB: Composer/Singer/Odd Jobs

KIDS: Jill (Elizabeth Cheshire) (5)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN “MOM”: Nora (Meg Foster) / neighbor

Getting Together returns. How about a one-man Partridge Family, with Dad taking the Shirley Jones role, and the one kid doesn’t sing? Okay, that’s stretching a bit. Dad is raising his stepdaughter, left to him by his late wife (who dies of 90-minute TV Cancer in the pilot), and is not following accepted norms of raising kids. Being in a rock-and-roll band, for example, is frowned on by Sam’s neighbors. Anyway, this tedious little show only lasted eight weeks, so don’t even worry about it.

The Cop and the Kid

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1975-76
NBC
Cop and the Kid
DAD: Frank Murphy (Charles Durning) / Single

DAD’S JOB: Police officer

KIDS: Lucas Adams (Tierre Turner) (11)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN “MOM”: Brigid Murphy (Patsy Kelly) – Frank’s mom.

One of the Things Wrong with the Seventies was the “Chico & the Man Syndrome” — the shows where white foster parents raise minority “street-wise” kids. This show was typical of the syndrome. Frank Murphy was a cop who collapsed from an asthma attack while trying to arrest Street-Wise Lucas. So, Street-Wise Lucas blackmailed Frank into adopting him.

Nothing really groundbreaking with this show. Both cop and kid disappeared after four months on the air.

Joe & Sons

Jim 1970s

Aired 1975-76

Joe and Sons

DAD: Joe Vitale (Richard Castellano) / Widower
DAD’S JOB: Erie, PA Steel Mill Worker
KIDS: Mark (Barry Miller), Nick (Jimmy Baio) (teenagers)
WHERE’S MOM?: Recently dead
STAND-IN “MOM”: Estelle (Bobbi Jordan) / next-door neighbor
The man who said “Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes” in The Godfather played a drill press operator raising two kids in Erie, Pennsylvania without the benefit of a Foreign-Born Domestic like Hop Sing or Mr. French.

The Texas Wheelers

Jim 1970s

Aired 1974-75


DAD: Zack Wheeler (Jack Elam) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Layabout

KIDS: Truckie (Gary Busey) (24), Doobie (Mark Hamill) (16), Boo (Karen Obediear) (12), T.J. (Tony Becker) (10)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN “MOM”: Unknown

Wow. Mark Hamill and Gary Busey in a SITCOM – with Jack Elam as a dad! This show was ripe with interactions between the kids and their no-account dad. Picture Fred Sanford with 4 kids, and that’s the comedy level.

A flap of the William Demarest Memorial Dish Towel to Ellen Vance for reminding me of this funny little show. Thanks, Ellen!

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.