The 70’s

Consider the differences between the Seventies Single Dad shows and the shows of the preceding two decades. The classic focus of TV Single Dad shows had been directed on the relationship between Dad and his kids. This decade concentrated more on the career activities of the Dad (and in some cases, the children!), without much emphasis on the struggling developmental relationships with the children.

  • Getting Together

    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.

  • Nanny & The Professor

    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.

  • Sanford & Son

    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.

  • Paper Moon

    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.

  • Love Boat

    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!