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Old Time Radio - Father Knows Best

Category: Radio
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Father Knows Best

Father Knows Best is an American sitcom starring Robert YoungJane WyattElinor DonahueBilly Gray and Lauren Chapin. The series, which began on radio in 1949, aired as a television show for six seasons and 203 episodes. Created by Ed JamesFather Knows Best follows the lives of the Andersons, a middle-class family living in the town of Springfield. The state in which Springfield is located is never specified, but it is generally accepted to be located in the Midwestern United States.

The series began on August 25, 1949 on NBC Radio. Set in the Midwest, it starred Robert Young as the General Insurance agent Jim Anderson. His wife Margaret was first portrayed by June Whitley and later by Jean Vander Pyl. The Anderson children were Betty (Rhoda Williams), Bud (Ted Donaldson) and Kathy (Norma Jean Nilsson). Others in the cast were Eleanor AudleyHerb Vigran, and Sam Edwards. Sponsored through most of its run by General Foods, the series was heard Thursday evenings on NBC until March 25, 1954.

On the radio program, the character of Jim differs from the later television character. The radio Jim is far more sarcastic and shows he really rules over his family. Jim also calls his children names, something common on radio but lost in the TV series. For example, Jim says, "What a bunch of stupid children I have." Margaret is portrayed as a paragon of solid reason and patience, unless the plot calls for her to act a bit off; for example, in a Halloween episode, Margaret cannot understand how a table floats in the air. But that is a rare exception.

Betty, on radio, is portrayed as a status-seeking, boy-crazy teenage girl. To her, every little thing is "the worst thing that could ever happen." Bud, on radio, is portrayed as an "all-American" boy who always seems to need "just a bit more" money, though he receives $1.25 (nearly $14.00 in 2021) per week in allowance. Bud is expected to always answer the phone, which he hates. He is also shown as a somewhat dim boy who takes everything literally; for example, Jim might say, "Go jump in the lake," to which Bud would reply, "Okay, Dad; which lake should I go jump into?" He also uses the phrase "Holy Cow!" to express displeasure. On radio, Kathy often is portrayed as a source of irritation. She whines, cries and complains about her status in the family. She often is a source of money for her brother and sister, although she is in hock several years on her own allowance.

In an interview published in the magazine Films of the Golden Age (Fall 2015), Young revealed about the radio program: "I never quite liked it because it had to have laughs. 

 

800px Father Knows Best cast photo 1962                                                                    
Jane wyatt robert young                                               800px Father Knows Best cast photo 1962

 Roberg George Young

Born in Chicago, Young was the son of an Irish immigrant father, Thomas E. Young, and an American mother, Margaret Fyfe. While Young was a child, the family moved to various locations within the U.S., including Seattle as well as Los Angeles, where Young was a student at Abraham Lincoln High School. After graduation, he studied and performed at the Pasadena Playhouse while working odd jobs and appearing in bit parts in silent films. While touring with a stock company producing "The Ship", Young was discovered by a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer talent scout who signed the fledgling actor to a contract. Young made his sound-film debut for Fox Film Corporation in the 1931 Charlie Chan film Black Camel, starring Warner Oland.[1]

June Whitley (born June Culbertson) is a Canadian actress who has performed on radio, television, and film. Whitley was born June Culbertson in Vancouver. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. A. Culbertson. Her early acting experience came in the Vancouver Little Theatre and Theatre Under the Stars.[1]

Whitley performed on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio programs before leaving in 1947. Her work for CBC included having featured roles on Stage Party and Vancouver Theatre. She moved to Hollywood, where she acted in films and on radio.[2] From 1949 through 1953, she portrayed Margaret Anderson, the wife and mother on the radio version of Father Knows Best.[3] She also appeared on other radio programs, including Suspense and The Mercury Theatre on the Air.[4]

Rhoda Elaine[citation needed] Williams (July 19, 1930 – March 8, 2006) was an American actress who voiced Drizella Tremaine in Walt Disney's CinderellaIn 1949, Williams began a five-year stint as Robert Young's oldest daughter, Betty, on NBC Radio's Father Knows Best.

With the advent of television, Williams moved into the new medium on such early live shows as Lights, Camera, Action! and Slice of Life and, with the advent of film TV, Date With JudyChrysler TheatreLaredoThe Big ValleyRun for Your LifeDragnetIronsideProject UFOMarcus Welby, M.D.Policewoman, and Barnaby Jones. She appeared on Superior Court and General Hospital and provided alien voices for Star Trek IV and Star Trek V.

Ted Donaldson (born August 20, 1933 in New York City) is an American former child actor. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Donaldson was the son of singer-composer Will Donaldson and Will's wife, Jo. His mother died when he was 4+12 years old. His stepmother was radio organist and composer Muriel Pollock.[1] He attended the Professional Children's School in New York City.[2]

Donaldson began his acting career in December 1937 when he appeared in an NBC radio show.[2] In 1941, he played Tiny Tim in a week-long serialized version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol that was presented on Wheatena Playhouse.[3]

From 1949 to 1954, he played Bud, the son of Robert Young's character in the radio version of Father Knows Best.[4] He was offered the same role on the television version of the series, but turned it down, saying, "I didn't want to be typed. I didn't want to be a 21-year-old playing a 15- or 16-year-old kid. I wanted to do other things."[1] As an adult, he called that "one of the two or three most stupid things I have not done because not only would the salary have been very nice for five years, but the residuals would have also."[1]

Norma Jean Nilsson (born January 1, 1938) is a former child actress in old-time radio and films.[1] Nilsson is the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Arthur V. Nilsson. Her father was a professor of anatomy at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic. She has an older brother, Arthur Jr.[2] She began performing when she was 3 years old and was active during World War II, entertaining troops at Army camps across the United States.[3]

Nilsson attended Victory Garden School and Bancroft Junior High School.[4] Newspaper columnist Louella Parsons wrote in 1946 that Nilsson had an IQ of 162.[5]

When Nilsson was 4 years old, she won a talent contest on Tune-Out Time on KECA. At 5, she made her "first big-time radio appearance", portraying a dying girl on Free World Theatre. At 8, her picture was featured on the cover of the July 21, 1946, issue of Radio Life magazine.[6] In 1947, she was the highest-paid child actress in radio.[2] An article published in Radio and Television Mirror in 1951 reported that she was "a charter member of the Five Hundred Club, an organization of children who have appeared on five hundred or more radio broadcasts."[3] Nilsson played Cookie (the Bumsteads' daughter) in the radio version of Blondie,[7] Kathy (the Andersons' younger daughter) on the radio version of Father Knows Best[7]: 115 , Glory Mae (the "little girl who lives next door") on The Jack Carson Show.,[6] and as the lead actress Lois to Raymond Burr's antagonist in the "Murder on Mike" (1957) episode of Suspense. She was also heard on Luke Slaughter of Tombstone,[8] Cavalcade of America[9] and the radio version of Have Gun, Will Travel.[10]

 

 

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