Sunday, September 1, 2013

Classic TV: Make Room For Daddy, aka The Danny Thomas Show (1953)

People of today's generation only know Danny Thomas as the philanthropic entertainer who became closely associated with St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis. However, Thomas before that was a nightclub & sitcom star who landed on TV in 1953 with Make Room For Daddy.

Thomas played Danny Williams, a NY-based nightclub performer, husband, and father of 2. The series lasted 11 seasons, changing its title after the first 4 seasons to The Danny Thomas Show, which is the title used in the video you'll see shortly. There were other changes as well. Jean Hagen, who played Williams' 1st wife, Margaret, left after 3 seasons. Marjorie Lord, who played Danny's 2nd wife, Kathy, joined the show in season 4. Sherry Jackson, who played Danny's eldest child, Linda, left early, and when they decided to bring Linda back, the part was recast. Angela Cartwright, later of Lost In Space, joined along with Marjorie Lord in season 4, and would return for the sequel, Make Room For Granddaddy, in 1970. Rusty Hamer rounded out the core cast, and after Granddaddy ended, essentially retired from show business.

Make Room For Daddy was produced & directed by Sheldon Leonard, and produced at Desilu, a winning combination that would continue into the 60's, including a pair of series that had their roots on this show. The Andy Griffith Show began as a backdoor pilot, and Bill Dana's alter-ego of Jose Jiminez was a recurring character on the show before landing his own series. Toward the end of the run, Danny went on a European tour, as Thomas began cutting back on his schedule, leaving the kids in the care of his manager, Charley (Sid Melton, ex-Captain Midnight) and his wife, Bunny (Pat Carroll).

Following is an episode featuring special guest star Jack Benny:

As of today, the series has joined the Me-TV Sunday lineup, with back-to-back episodes airing at 7 am (ET). If you never had the chance to watch the show before, now's a good time.

Rating: B+.


magicdog said...

I used to watch this in syndication back in the day - they never showed the Hagen episodes, so I was supposed to find out years later she was the first wife. I remembered her best from "Singin' In The Rain". There was also re-edited opening credits featuring the core cast and Marjorie Lord. I saw the original credits on ME-TV which didn't show vid of the cast - merely credits listing, "Marjorie Lord as 'The Wife' ", etc. I thought it was rather funny.

There were a lot of great episodes and some genuinely touching moments in this show.

I think it was a copout however to have Danny & Kathy away while Charley was left to sit with the kids.

Funny seeing Pat Carroll in this! I remember her even before her voice work on "Little Mermaid". I saw her on Broadway way back when in the musical, "Annie" as Miss Hannigan. She was a great presence. I also remembered her from an episode of "Happy Days" as the "Den Mother" of a womans dorm who came to belt Richie & Fonzie for being there after 10pm!

hobbyfan said...

if they tried remaking this show in the 80's, they could've subbed out Melton and replaced him with the similarly sized Casey Kasem. Not much diff, but ya know.......!

Then again, it would fit since Casey & Danny have something in common (both being of Arab descent, along with Jamie Farr).