My Son Jeep

Jim 1950s - 1960s

Aired: 1953

DAD: Dr. Robert Allison (Jeffrey Lynn) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: M.D. (like Donna Reed’s husband)

KIDS: Peggy (13) (Betty Lou Keim), Jeep (10) (Martin Huston)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Mrs. Bixby (Leona Powers) / housekeeper

Another half-year wonder, this show was a precursor of Leave It to Beaver, but without June Cleaver. Jeep Allison got into the same kind of mishaps Beaver Cleaver would in the latter part of the decade, and Dr. Allison would have to sort out the mess when he got home from the office.

The repetitive motif of the kids finding suitable “new moms” for Dad to date pops up in this show. Jeep was always trying to get Dad to show some interest in his substitute teacher, Miss Miller (Anne Sargent). Wacky hijinks ensued.

Bonino

Jim 1950s - 1960s

AIRED: 1952-53

DAD: Babbo Bonino (Ezio Pinza) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Basso Profundo operatic singer

KIDS: Doris(Lenka Peterson), Jerry(Chet Allen, then Donald Harris), Carlo(Oliver Andes), Francesca(Gaye Hudson), Andrew(Van Dyke Parks)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead, recently

STAND-IN “MOM”: Martha (Mary Wickes) / Maid

This series holds the distinction of being the earliest TV Single Dad show created specifically for television.

Though short-lived, this was a live sitcom starring the famous opera star Ezio Pinza as a (guess what?) famous opera star, Bonino. Bonino’s wife died, leaving him with a “party of six.” Bonino gave up opera touring to raise his kids, but found out that the kids were a leetle more independent than he was expecting.

The series was created by Fred Coe and David Swift, producers of the popular NBC show Mister Peepers. Coe and Swift previously worked with Ezio Pinza on The RCA Victor Show in 1948, and were interested in building a series around Pinza’s vocal and dramatic talents.

I imagine it must have been really interesting to watch a show where five kids had to hit their marks, live, every week.

Very Kewl Update: Just got a cast correction in from none other than Carlo Bonino himself, Oliver Andes!
Hi Jim,
It was even more interesting to actually hit the marks on live TV. I notice that several web sites have the same incorrect information. The part of Francesca was played by Gaye Huston.
Keep up the good work.
Oliver Andes (Carlo)

Much obliged!

Life with Luigi

Jim 1950s - 1960s

AIRED: 1952-53

DAD: Pasquale (Alan Reed) / WidowerMy Little Margie

DAD’S JOB: Restaurant owner

KIDS:  Rosa Pasquale (Jody Gilbert), 18

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead

STAND-IN “MOM”:unknown

A radio crossover (started on radio in 1948) – this show missed being the first TV Single Dad show by only a few months. Pasquale sponsored the title character's immigration in the hopes of having him marry his rather obese daughter. Wacky hijinks ensued, of course

Alan Reed is better known as another TV Dad: he was the voice of Fred Flintstone on The Flintstones ten years later.

My Little Margie

Jim 1950s - 1960s

AIRED: 1952-55

DAD: Vernon Albright (Charles Farrell) / WidowerMy Little Margie

DAD’S JOB: Investment Banker

KIDS:  Margie (Gale Storm), 18

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead – so is Dad.

STAND-IN “MOM”:Mrs. Odetts (Gertrude Hoff)

The granddaddy of them all, My Little Margie set the stage for most TV Single Dad sitcom plots: the child decides Dad needs a new wife, and goes “shopping” for one. Dad winds up meeting the child’s “pick” and things go awry. Dad winds up yelling at the child, and then apologizes. Everything is fine until the next exciting episode…

Although it’s the earliest known TV Single Dad show, My Little Margie was a radio cross-over from CBS. The television version of the radio series, produced by Desilu, made it to the screen as a summer replacement for I Love Lucy.

Update: Alert Viewer Gord Bates reports that the company Vernon Albright worked for was “Honeywell & Todd”. Thanks, Gord!