Saturday, June 11, 2005

Make Room for Daddy.

There's no Danny Thomas ("Danny Williams") on TiVo's list of TV's Greatest Dads! Throwing Things doesn't acknowledge the glaring omission of that classic TV dad, but found lots of other omissions -- like "Uncle Bill, who deserves a credit for "taking in those three kids like he did and keeping his 'relationship' with Mr. French behind closed doors as not to scar them."

Wasn't "Make Room for Daddy" the original dad show? It started in 1953 and ran until 1964 and was a top show the whole time. TiVo puts Andy Taylor second on its list (after Cliff Huxtable), but did you know that the pilot for "The Andy Griffith Show" was an episode of "Make Room for Daddy" ("'Danny Meets Andy Griffith'")?

Well, all I can say is that if they ever do a TV's Greatest Uncles list: don't forget Uncle Tonoose.

IN THE COMMENTS: A reader asks, "How about Ozzie and Harriet? That was from way before Make room for Daddy. I can remember when it was a radio program." Good point! Especially since the TiVo list includes Ozzy Osbourne.

"Ozzie and Harriet" goes back to 1941 in radio form and to 1952 as a TV show, one year before Danny Thomas. Funny, I just heard an Ozzie Nelson band song on the 1940s Decade channel on the radio the other day. Ozzie also made the first TV music video, with Ricky, who went from kid to teen idol, singing "Travelin' Man."

Ozzie was the original hapless, bumbling TV dad. Many people over the years have joked about how he didn't seem to have a job. Harriet played the smart housewife, another classic TV sitcom type. By contrast, "Leave It to Beaver" seems to have been designed to copy O&N (down to the two sons, with the younger one the troublemaker), but getting the proper sex roles enforced. (Ward Cleaver does make the TiVo list, at #5.)

I think a big part of my love for "Make Room for Daddy" was that, unlke Ozzie and Ward, Danny had a daughter. I was so jealous of Angelica Cartwright! Why wasn't I on TV? That question nagged me throughout childhood. Sometimes, I imagined my life was a TV show. I really enjoyed the way the television audience saw everything from my point of view!

Anyway, like Ozzie Nelson, Danny Thomas was on the radio -- even named the "best newcomer in radio" in 1945. He's also notable for being a Lebanese-American, and for refusing to yield to pressure to get his big nose rhinoplastied. The nose proved useful for many jokes. He did change his name, though -- from Muzyad Yahkoob.

Here's a Danny Thomas bio. It's very impressive. Click on the link to see a picture of him doing something no TV dad of today would do.

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