Saturday, June 18, 2011

10 FAVORITES (37) - Tip-Top TV Dads

Fathers.  So many things come to mind when you say the word.  Stern, decisive, strong, hard-working and smart are just a few of the adjectives that pop up when we describe our Fathers (for most of us at least!).  But what makes a great Father?  Like I did for Mother's Day, I want to explore some the best depictions of Dads in our media.  And with Father's Day coming up this weekend, what better time than now?  But where are the best depictions of Fathers in the culture.  Unfortunately, film has to many for me to comb through in enough time for this post (and so many of them fall in "The Worst" category) and I have grown tired of focusing on the Worst Dads in popular culture (sometimes it can be just depressing!).  So, this week's 10 FAVORITES is devoted to:


TV DAD #10
Tom Bradford, Eight Is Enough
As the father of 8 (yes, 8!!!) children, holding it all together with a mixture of laughter and tears was all that Tom Bradford (played by Dick Van Patten) could do on this late 1970s/early 1980s "dramedy."

Danny Tanner, Full House
One would think after losing your wife in an accident with a drunk-driver that a man who had three young daughters to raise would completely fall apart, but not Danny Tanner (the unforgettable Bob Saget).  He called in reinforcements: brother-in-law Jesse (John Stamos) and best pal Joey (Dave Coullier) on ABC's TGIF staple.

Sheriff Andy Taylor, The Andy Griffith Show
Wholesome and straightforward, Sheriff Taylor was as laid back at home as he was in the Mayberry Sheriff's Office.  Every time Opie (little Ronny Howard!) got into a "scrape," Andy was there to help guide him to the right path. 

Ben Cartwright, Bonanza
Property take-overs, petty thieves and everyone out for themselves, no this was not gritty New York City, this was Virginia City, Nevada in the mid-1800s.  And who could guide 3 sons to master the rough terrain but Ben Cartwright (the late Lorne Greene), master of the Ponderosa.

Howard Cunningham, Happy Days
Okay, despite the fact that his oldest son went upstairs and never came down again, Mr. C (played by the late Tom Bosley) was a great throwback to the exasperated-yet-understanding father we all wanted in the 1950s.  He even got respect from the Fonz!

Charles Ingalls, Little House On the Prairie
Maybe Michael Landon learned how to play a good father by watching Lorne Greene all those years on Bonanza.  Charles Ingalls was a caring and patient man who let his children be themselves (with his strong guidance), I mean he let his little girl (Melissa Gilbert) frolic in a meadow every week!  Who doesn't love a good frolic?!?!

Mike Brady, The Brady Bunch
Not only was he a father to "the three boys of his own," but he took on the challenge of helping to raise 3 girls "with hair of gold like their mother."  The blended family never looked so shiny!

Ward Cleaver, Leave It To Beaver
For fans of Leave It To Beaver, Ward gave audiences a weekly dose of inspiration and moral guidance when Wally or the Beav would stray from the path.  It must have been Hugh Beaumont's calming and sometimes commanding presence in the role that gave us such comfort.

Steven Keaton, Family Ties
I've said this to my father (and he shrugs it off like he doesn't believe me!), but Steven Keaton (played perfectly by Michael Gross) reminded me a lot of my own father.  He was loving, patient (usually), dedicated, comforting and often quite funny.  He was a welcome weekly addition to my childhood that reminded me of the daily addition I had in my father.  Plus, like my dad, he was a big old hippie!

Dr. Cliff Huxtable, The Cosby Show
I think it is fitting that Bill Cosby's Dr. Huxtable is #1 on the TV Dads list as his lovely wife, Clair, was #1 on the TV Moms list.  Their parental combination helped to make The Cosby Show one of my all-time favorite shows.  Who couldn't relate (or want to relate) to Sandra or Denise or Theo or Vanessa or even little Rudy?!?!  Ah, good times (no, wait...wrong series!).

Next week, I will discuss some of the bad casting choices many Movie Musicals have made over the years (I know another "Worst," but I promise it will be the last one for a while!).  In the meantime, to all the Dads out there:

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