Big Hawaii

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1977
Big Hawaii

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


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 “” 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


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


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)

Diff’rent Strokes

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1978-86
Diff'rent Strokes


DAD: Phillip Drummond (Conrad Bain) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Corporation President

KIDS: Kimberly Drummond (Dana Plato), Arnold Jackson (Gary Coleman), Willis Jackson (Todd Bridges)

WHERE’S MOM?: Drummond adopted dying maid’s kids / Kimberly’s mom died.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae)

The source of most “troubled child actor” stories. Based on the outcome of their growing up, maybe Conrad Bain could qualify as the worst Single TV Dad; even worse than Dr. Quest or Flipper’s Porter Ricks!

How the West was Won

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1978-1979
Oregon Trail

DAD: Zeb Macahan (James Arness) / Single

DAD’S JOB: Pioneer Homesteader

KIDS: Luke (Bruce Boxleitner), Laura (Kathryn Holcomb), Josh (William Kirby Cullen), Jessie (Vicki Schreck)


STAND-IN “MOM”: Molly Culhane (Fionnula Flanagan) / Aunt

Sure, The Oregon Trail didn’t work AT ALL, but would that stop a network from building a GIGANTIC series starring TV icon James Arness in the lead TV Single Dad role?

Zeb Macahan, homesteading pioneer guy, wound up with custody of his brother’s kids after the brother went back East to fight in the Civil War The kids had all kinds of problems: Luke, for example, was on the lam from the law, due to his being wanted for killing a few guys in self-defense.

The Oregon Trail

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1977
Oregon Trail


DAD: Evan Thorpe (Rod Taylor) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Wagon Train Pioneer Guy

KIDS: Andrew Thorpe (Andrew Stevens) (17), William Thorpe (Tony Becker) (12), Rachel Thorpe (Gina Marie Smika) (10)


STAND-IN “MOM”: Margaret Devlin (Darleen Carr) / Girlfriend

Perhaps this is another motif buried in TV Single Dad shows: the idea of the Single Dad taking the Jed Clampett route: “moving away from thar” and heading West. Evan Thorpe packed up his family and headed to Oregon with a wagon train. They were only on the trail for a month when the show got cancelled, though. Too bad.

And no, they didn’t all die of dysentery.

The Hardy Boys Mysteries

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1977-79

Hardy Boys Mysteries


DAD: Fenton Hardy (Edmund Gilbert) / widower

DAD’S JOB: Private Investigator

KIDS: Joe Hardy (Shaun Cassidy), Frank Hardy (Parker Stevenson) (teens)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead for some time

STAND-IN “MOM”: Aunt Gertrude (Edith Atwater) / Aunt

Just as Xena has Hercules, so Nancy Drew had The Hardy Boys. Like Nancy Drew, the boys had a father deeply involved in police work. The boys seemed to have little to no supervision, though, as they always seemed to be jetting off to Peru or Paris or Timbuktu to solve a case.

Apparently these two shows didn’t support enough of an audience by themselves, so the shows were blended into one big show at the end of 1978 as The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries.

Nancy Drew Mysteries

Jim 1970s

Aired: 1977-78

Nancy Drew Mysteries


DAD: Carson Drew (William Schallert) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Criminal Lawyer

KIDS: Nancy (Pamela Sue Martin) (18)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead for quite some time

STAND-IN “MOM”: Bess (Ruth Cox)

Nancy Drew wasn’t that much different from another child of a Single Dad, Ellery Queen (Ellery’s show doesn’t count, however,since he didn’t live with his father). The plots revolved around Nancy, a paralegal research assistant of her dad’s firm, sleuthing cases, winding up at the wrong end of a gun, and having her dad bail her out on a few occasions.

The Tony Randall Show

Jim 1970s

Aired 1976-1977(ABC), 1977-1978(CBS)

Tony Randall Show


DAD: Judge Walter Franklin (Tony Randall ) / widower

DAD’S JOB: Judge

KIDS: Roberta “Bobby” Franklin (Devon Scott ’76-’77, Penny Peyser ’77-’78) (18), Oliver Wendell Franklin (Brad Savage) (11)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead for past two years

STAND-IN “MOM”: Mrs. McClellan (Rachel Roberts) / housekeeper

How did I miss *this* one? This show, about a widowed Philadelphia judge and his two kids, was CLASSIC in terms of TV Single Dad templates. You’ve got the wacky housekeeper, the precocious kids, the one-episode girlfriends, and even Uncle Tonoose (Hans Conried) as Grandpa.

A large tilt of the Bruce Wayne Memorial Brass Shakespeare Head to Lynne Torgersen ( for pointing out this missing gem. Thanks Lynne!