The Courtship of Eddie’s Father

Jim 1950s - 1960s

Aired: 1969-72

DAD: Tom Corbett (Bill Bixby) / Widower

DAD’S JOB: Magazine Editor (or something like that)

KIDS: Eddie (Brandon Cruz) (10)

WHERE’S MOM?: Dead recently – unknown cause.

STAND-IN “MOM”: Mrs. Livingston (Miyoshi Umeki)

This show is based on the 1963 Glenn Ford movie of the same name.

The epitome of TV Single Dads, Bill Bixby is, along with Brian Keith, among the first TV Single Dads brought to mind by most viewers.

The shows followed the Andy Griffith Show format, where Dad would teach a “lesson,” Eddie would apply that lesson incorrectly to a comedic situation, then Dad was forced to confront the problems of living up to cliches.

Mrs. Livingston certainly fit the mold pioneered by Sammee Tong in Bachelor Father, and even expanded by the Alfred character in Batman, that of the foreign-born, Yoda-like, guilt-tripping domestic servant “mom”;.

This show also kicked in the melancholic scent of Family Affair, where, no matter how joyous an event, the overwhelming mood of the show is barren, depressing, and even claustrophobic. Eddie seemed to live a confining lifestyle: there was little mention of group activities, school teams, even having friends over (Okay, Billy Gerber was a friend, but didn’t Eddie spend most of his social interactions with DAD’S girlfriends du jour?). Eddie seemed to be parked at home after school, trapped in the tight little apartment with Mrs. Livingston until Dad came home. Mrs. Livingston always seemed most eager to blast out of that apartment at Yabba-Dabba-Do Time to return to her own life.
Also on the depressing menu were the mandatory “heart-to-heart” talks at the end of each episode: Eddie and Dad would be at some empty, outdoor locale (like a zoo or a park), filmed from some omniscient view. In what seemed like a voice-over, Eddie and his Dad would talk about some major lesson from today’s episode, and ponder the cosmic meaning of it all. One could almost hear the channel surfing commence…

One more piece of trivia: in the movie version, Eddie was played by that quintessential son-of-a-single-dad, Ronny Howard (Opie on The Andy Griffith Show).

Update: Alert Viewer Joseph Wise checks in with a celebrity tidbit about the show: “First television appearance of Jodie Foster, 1969, playing “Joey Kelly” , although she was also in Gunsmoke and Julia that year.” Thanks Joseph!

Update: Alert Viewer Bob Potmesil points out that Eddie *did* have an affiliation with at least one social organization – “Reading about Courtship of Eddie’s Father, I remembered that at one point, Eddie did belong to a quasi-Scout group, ‘Indian Pals’.” — Many thanks, Bob!