My Favorite TV Dads From The 1960s

Television fathers are the type of dad who never got angry at you when you screwed up.  They loved their kids and they loved their families.  Sometimes, we got a chance to see that they were actually human and flawed, but for the most of the time, there was nothing they couldn’t handle.  During the 1960s, it seemed that fathers had it all under control and even though times were bad with the Vietnam War, they never seemed to affect Main Street, U.S.A.  Here are my list of favorite 1960 fathers.  What were yours?

Hugh Beaumont/Ward Cleaver (Leave It To Beaver)
This all-American television dad never seemed to get upset.  Occasionally, he might be wrong, and unlike real fathers, he’d apologize to his kids that he screwed up.  What dad does that?  Also, if you got yourself in trouble, as kids are bound to do, there was no yelling or screaming.  No one would get a beating.  He’d sit down and explain to you that you were wrong and listen to your side of the problem.  OK, so none of this was even close to reality, but Hugh Beaumont was a cool television dad, nonetheless.

Andy Griffith/Andy Taylor (The Andy Griffith Show)
Andy Taylor was a pretty cool television dad, as well – even though he was a country bumpkin with a dorky sidekick in the guise of Barney Fife.  Even though he was a widower who was forced to raise his son, Opie (played by Ron Howard), with only the help of Aunt Bea, he made due while still holding down a full time job.  What made Andy cool was that he was the town sheriff who carried a gun and was loved by everyone in the small village of Mayberry.

Bill Bixby/Tom Corbett (The Courtship of Eddie’s Father)
The second widower on our 1960s list was Tom Corbett.  Corbett was a magazine publisher who had a pretty hip son, named Eddie (thus the name of the show), who is always scheming to get his dad remarried.  During the course of the show, there is a battle of wills between father and son to get the elder Corbett laid.  The whole arrangement had some stability with the Japanese housekeeper, Mrs. Livingstone, who kept everyone in check.  Each episode had Bixby dating someone new or trying to understand how his six-year old son really wanted a new mommy.  It was a pretty good set-up for Bixby, if you ask me.

Lorne Greene/Ben Cartwright (Bonanza)
You couldn’t look at the sixties without recognizing the Western.  Ben Cartwright was yet another widower (are you seeing a trend here?  It isn’t safe to be married to these television dads!), who owns one of the largest pieces of land in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  Not only had Ben had one wife die on him, he had three!  What’s more, he had a grown son with each of the women, who he was now responsible for.  Luckily, he had a Chinese cook by the name of Hop Sing, who could feed all of these big-appetite men.  The storyline was different for a Western, at the time, because it dealt less with shooting bad guys and Indians, than it did with how the family cared for one another and their neighbors.  Life on the Ponderosa (the name of their ranch) was pretty good and Ben Cartwright took care of his own.

John Astin/Gomez Addams (The Addams Family)
Another genre of the 1960s was the “horror/comedy” which was spearheaded by the zany, kooky crew, known as the Addams Family.  The patriarch of this supernatural clan was Gomez Addams, who loved his wife and kids, yet still looked after his extended family – comprised of his brother, Uncle Fester and his wife, Morticia’s mother, Grandmama.  They also had several servants, such as Lurch (a towering giant) and Thing (a disembodied hand).  Gomez was enthusiastic about everything he did and had a real joie de vivre (French for “Joy For Living”).  If your dad was going to be creepy, this is the one you want!