With an impressive run between 1960 to 1972, My Three Sons follows the life of a widower and aeronautic engineer as he raises his three sons along with the help of his father-in-law. The series played a major role in both ABC and CBS’ lineups in the 1960s and became the third longest-running sitcom to ever hit television. Take a look to see where the cast of this classic show is now along with some fun facts that even the most die-hard fans might not know.
Initially, the show featured William Frawley playing the character of William Michael Francis ‘Bub’ O’Casey. However, due to an illness, he was then replaced by William Demarest.
Furthermore, the eldest son Mike, played by Tim Considine, was written off the show in 1965 after getting married. In order to keep with the continuity of “three sons,” Chips friend, Ernie, was then adopted into the family. Currently, the show remains the third longest-running sitcom in television history.
Fred MacMurray Later In Life
The now-deceased actor Fred MacMurray, played the character of Steve Douglas on the show, the widowed father who raises his children alongside his father-in-law. MacMurray retired from acting in 1978 after making his final appearance as Mayor Clarence in the horror film The Swarm alongside Michael Caine.
For his work, in 1986, he became the first person to receive the “Disney Legend ” award for his work on six of the companies films throughout his career.
Tim Considine Played The Eldest Son
Tim Considine played Mike Douglas, Steve’s eldest son until Season 5, in which he was written off of the show after getting married. After leaving My Three Sons, the former child actor began to shy away from the entertainment industry, feeling that it wasn’t the place for him anymore.
From then on, he made small appearances in other television shows and films. His last onscreen appearance was in 2006’s ray of Sunshine. Later in his life, he attributed his distancing himself from the industry due to his age and wanting to spend time with his family.
Don Grady As The Second Son
Don Grady played Robbie Douglas, the second son in the family, and played the role for the entire run of the series. A musician at heart, Grady made a few appearances in other shows after My Three Sons before quitting for good in order to chase his passion.
He began his new profession as a member of The Mickey Mouse Club, although he, unfortunately, passed away at the age of 68 after a long battle with cancer.
Stanley Livingston Was The Baby Of The Group
Stanley Livingston played the role of Chip Douglas, the youngest of the boys, which he played for the entire run of the series. After the series finished, Livingston continued to semi-regularly act until the late seventies.
However, he has been almost completely retired from the acting business since the 90s. Nevertheless, he didn’t leave the industry entirely and worked as a producer until 2012. One of his most notable works includes writing and directing the documentary series The Actor’s Journey in 2011.
William Demarest Joined The Cast In Season 5
Actor William Demarest played Uncle Charley O’Casey, the children’s maternal great-grandfather, who appeared on the show beginning at Season 5. By the time the series was finally concluded, he was an incredible 80 years old!
Even before My Three Sons, he had a long and successful career in Hollywood. He would retire from film in 1978 after making a few more appearances in mostly television. He passed away in 1983 at the ripe age of 91.
Tina Cole As Katie Miller
Tina Cole acted as Katie Miller, who later marries Robbie in the series. After her time on My Three Sons, she continued to act in a number of television shows until the late seventies. Then, after an almost twenty-year hiatus from the business, she returned to the screen in 2005.
Incredibly in 2018, she had her latest role as Laura Chadwick in the film Reawakened. On top of her work as an actress, she was also a member of the Four King Cousins, a subgroup of the King Family Singers.
Meredith MacRae Was More Than An Actress
Meredith MacRae was an American actress and singer that made a name for herself as Sally Morrison in My Three Sons and Billie Jo Bradley in Petticoat Junction. For three seasons of My Three Sons, she played Mike’s love interest before being written off the show to expand her career.
MacRae also had a series of husbands throughout her life, including Richard Berger, Greg Mullavey, with her finial marriage to Philip M. Neal in 1995. She passed away at the young age of 56.
William Fraley Had A Lengthy Career
Beginning to work in the entertainment industry back in 1914 with his wife, Edna Louise Broedt, the two had a comedy act titled “Frawley and Louise.” Frawley also sparked his acting career not long after, performing on Broadway on several occasions and in 1916, signing with Paramount to act in silent films.
Frawley was also known for his role of the landlord Fred Mertz in I Love Lucy, and of course, for his role as William Michael Francis Aloysius ‘Bub’ O’Casey in My Three Sons.
Barry Livingston Joined The Family In Season 3
Barry Livingston played Ernie Thompson Douglas, who joined the family in Season 3 after Steve adopts him. Douglas remained quite active after the show and has had one of the most successful careers out of the entire cast.
After the show, he went on to be in several substantial tv shows, including Mad Men, Angie Tribeca, and The Middle, as well as the films Argo and The Social Network. He continues to act to this day.
Dawn Lyn Started Acting When She Was Just Four
Born in 1963, Dawn Lyn began her acting career at an extremely young age and was just four years old when she started to pursue acting along with her brother, Leif Garrett. Her first role was in 1967’s Cry Blood, Apache, where she appeared as a Native American boy.
However, she rose to stardom for her role as Dorothy “Dodie” Harper Douglas on My Three Sons during the last three seasons. She was acclaimed for her role and was credited for bringing something new to the show.
The Show Aired On Two Networks
My Three Sons is only one of the few shows that were aired on two different networks. It ran on ABC for the first five seasons, and then it was eventually transferred to be shown on CBS.
Interestingly, the reason for transitioning to CBS was because the series was eventually filmed in color, which was something ABC was hesitant to do because of the cost. This worked out for CBS, who aired the show until it ended.
The Show Had Mixed Rankings
Despite being such a long-running program, surprisingly, My Three Sons didn’t do exceptionally well in the rankings. It never made it to the top ten charts, and its best ranking occurred during season two in which the Nielson charts ranked it at 11.
Nevertheless, the show was incredibly successful viewership-wise. It had a massive following and during Season 5, it attracted 13,438,500 viewers, which was a massive audience for any show at the time.
Don Grady Played Drums In A Psychedelic Band While Shooting The Show
Although he went by the name as Luke R. Yoo when playing music, actor Don Grady played drums in the psychedelic band Yellow Balloon when shooting the series.
The band wasn’t bad either, breaking into the Top 30 and making its way to No.25 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the week of May 20, 1967. The band at one point also featured drummer Daryl Dragon who would go on to become the Captain of Captain & Tennille.
A Unique Work Schedule
Fred MacMurray, who played the father Stephen Douglas on the show, had quite an impressive work schedule. Somehow, he managed to shape his contract so that he could enjoy particularly extensive vacations, sometimes being more than ten weeks long!
Furthermore, his contract allowed him a limited work period of just 65 days of work per season. To this day, it is still not entirely known how he managed to include these terms into his contract.
Fred MacMurray Personally Approved Each Of The Boys
Initially, Ryan O’Neal was a contender for the role of Mike, the eldest son. However, MacMurray didn’t feel that he was all that suited for comedy. Instead, MacMurray recommended Tim Considine for the role after working with him on The Shaggy Dog.
Furthermore, Don Grady, who was cast as Robbie, was approved by MacMurray for being such a well-behaved young man, and it also didn’t hurt that he had a cleft chin that was similar to MacMurray’s.
Fred MacMurray Was A Penny Pincher
Being the highest-paid actor in Hollywood at one point, Fred MacMurray was known to keep a close eye on his money. Supposedly, he would bring a brown-bagged lunch every day when on set for My Three Sons, but that’s not all.
During filming, the wardrobe man told MacMurray that “I think we’re going to have to buy you a dozen new shirts for this weekend. MacMurray replied, saying, Buy a dozen shirts? Why don’t you just turn the collars around on my old ones?”
There Was A Potential Spin-Off
In the 11th season of the show, there was an idea to make a spin-off focusing on Robbie, Katie, and their triplets. In the pilot episode, titled “After The Honeymoon,” Robbie is laid off from his job and moves his family to San Francisco.
However, the spin-off series wasn’t picked up, much to Grady’s relief, as he was fed up with the character by that point. He then left the series after Season 11, with the show claiming that he had been transferred to Peru to oversee a construction job.
Both Robbie And Don Grady Served In The Army Reserve
Don Grady joined the Army Reserve in 1968, and his My Three Sons character, Robbie, did the same in the show. In fact, his filming schedule had to be adjusted to fit the six months he had to spend on active duty.
He then joined a marching band unit that was made up of mostly actors and musicians that were allowed to keep their long hair, as it was considered as a “requirement” for their civilian occupations. Nevertheless, their C.O. ordered to have them cut it, but Grady won the case with the help of a lawyer.
There Were Continuity Errors
Because of MacMurray’s irregular work schedule, it proved to be a nightmare for continuity in the show. When MacMurray was done with a scene, the other actors would freeze in place, and production manager John G. Stephens would take detailed polaroid photos of everywhen.
Then, when MacMurray would come back from his vacations, they would film the rest of the scene after studying the pictures to make sure all of the clothing, hairstyle, and actor’s positioning was just right.