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PALEY CENTER FOR MEDIA, THE: PALEYFEST REWIND: MY THREE SONS: 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION {PUBLIC SHORT VERSION}

Summary

One in a series of evenings and special screenings presented by The Paley Center for Media’s Paley Rewind series. Held at The Paley Center for Media in Los Angeles, this evening celebrates the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “My Three Sons,” the comedy series about a widower and his three sons which ran from 1960-1972.

The program begins as the moderator introduces the panelists: supervising producer John G. Stephens; Laurie MacMurray (daughter of star Fred MacMurray, who played father Steve Douglas); Tim Considine (Mike Douglas); Ronne Troup (Polly Williams Douglas); Tina Cole (Katie Miller Douglas); Barry Livingston (Ernie Thompson Douglas); and Stanley Livingston (Chip Douglas).

The panelists discuss topics which include: background on late show creator Don Fedderson; the show’s relatively few award nominations; the influence of producer George Tibbles; the casting process; alternate actors including Ryan O’Neal who were fired at the beginning of production; Fred MacMurray’s decision to transition from a big movie career to the small screen; details of his contract; the “brilliant but difficult” producer Peter Tewksbury; Cole’s experience wearing a realistic pregnancy “suit”; the challenges of shooting out of order; memories of “fatherly” MacMurray, who didn’t understand “the big fuss” around his celebrity; Stanley Livingston’s son-like rebellion against MacMurray on set; the realistically imperfect nature of MacMurray’s character; MacMurray's work in the film “The Apartment” and the audience’s surprised reaction to his unpleasant character; his comedic talent in the “goofier” episodes; memories of William Frawley (“Bub” O’Casey) and his history on “I Love Lucy”; Frawley as a “surrogate grandfather” to Stanley Livingston; Frawley’s pranks on former onscreen wife Vivian Vance, shooting on the lot next door; his lack of culinary skills, despite playing a cook; Considine’s military service; the casting of brothers Stanley and Barry Livingston, who had previously acted together on “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”; Considine’s departure from the show at the end of the fifth season because he felt “stagnant” in his career; details about Frawley’s departure in the same year; his replacement with William Demarest ("Uncle" Charley O'Casey) and how he “played himself”; his talent for pratfalls and his “secret to longevity”; how the cast changes affected the show; the “tearjerker” episode in which the character of Ernie was adopted into the family; the “risk” of going beyond comedy; Stephens’ forceful handling of racial tensions on set; Considine’s interest in race cars and how he was contractually forbidden to race; various famous guest-stars, including Gloria Swanson and a "difficult" Zsa Zsa Gabor; actor Don Grady (Robbie Douglas) and his character’s journey from middle brother to elder brother; the transition to color television; being “thrown out” of DesiLu studios and the move to CBS in 1965; the addition of Cole in 1967 and her long audition process; awkward kissing scenes between herself and on-screen husband Grady; the use of twin beds even once the characters were married; how joining the show was like “joining a real family”; the show’s interest in dealing with serious issues as well as comedic ones; memories of the late Beverly Garland (Barbara Harper Douglas); the lack of network interference in the casting and writing process; Fred MacMurray’s refusal to involve his children with show biz, despite their interest in appearing on the show; Laurie’s brief guest appearance and crush on the character of Ernie; impressions of various cast members; and a memorably funny childbirth scene.

Questions from the audience then lead to a discussion of the following topics among others: whether the cast has stayed in touch over the years; their current family lives and projects, including Barry Livingston’s role in “The Social Network”; background on the show’s theme song; being recognized for their childhood roles; the importance of having many scripts written before filming began; the length of episodes and number of episodes per season as compared to today’s standards; and the noticeably different style of the first season, due to Tewksbury’s influence.

Details

  • NETWORK: N/A
  • DATE: June 19, 2010 6:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 1:33:25
  • COLOR/B&W: Color
  • CATALOG ID: 102151
  • GENRE: Seminars
  • SUBJECT HEADING: N/A
  • SERIES RUN: N/A
  • COMMERCIALS: N/A

CREDITS

  • Laurie MacMurray … Panelist
  • John G. Stevens … Panelist
  • Tim Considine … Panelist
  • Ronne Troup … Panelist
  • Tina Cole … Panelist
  • Barry Livingston … Panelist
  • Stanley Livingston … Panelist
  • William Demarest
  • Don Fedderson
  • William Frawley
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor
  • Beverly Garland
  • Don Grady
  • Fred MacMurray
  • Ryan O'Neal
  • Gloria Swanson
  • Peter Tewksbury
  • George Tibbles
  • Vivian Vance
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