My Favorite TV Dads From The 1970s
Father's Day is right around the corner and the 1970s had a lot of interesting and quirky dads. The seventies changed the way we looked at fathers. Some were still fatherly, others were over the top. Here were my five favorites. Add your own if you think I missed the boat.
Robert Reed/Mike Brady (The Brady Bunch)
One of the last of 1960s dads, Mike Brady was a widower with three kids who married a widow with three more kids. Of course, like other dads of the previous decade, they had a housekeeper, named Alice. Mike was an architect who had an office at home where he could keep some control over the organized chaos of six teenagers. One of the highlights of the show was that one or more of the kids would have a crisis and it was up to Mike or his wife, Carol (Florence Henderson), to resolve the issues. A bit of trivia about the Brady Bunch was that Mike was also the first television dad to actually sleep in the same bed with his TV wife.
Tom Bosley/Howard Cunningham (Happy Days)
The 1970s liked to pull dads out of their element and put them in other time periods. Howard Cunningham was a dad of the 1950s. He was the small business owner of a hardware store who lived in Milwaukee, with his wife, Marion (Marion Ross), son Ritchie (Ron Howard) and daughter, Joanie (Erin Moran). They also had a sort-of adopted son in a local hoodlum, Fonzie (Henry Winkler). "Mr. C." as he was commonly called, was a friend to all of the neighborhood kids, while he sometimes struggled to understand his own. He had good, mid-western beliefs and tried his best to understand this "rock-n-roll" nation. If he had any faults, whatsoever, it would be he forgot about his oldest son, Chuck, who vanished off to college sometime after the first few episodes...
Carroll O' Conner/Archie Bunker (All In The Family)
Starring as the bigoted, opinionated and hard working stiff, Archie Bunker, Carroll O' Conner was one of my favorite television dads. He never saw eye-to-eye with his son-in-law "Meathead" (played by Rob Reiner), but you could tell that he had a deep love (if not a quirky respect) for his family. Archie was a member of the "greatest generation" - America's children who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in "the Big One" (Dubya-Dubya-Two) and he had a really hard time dealing with the social strife America was going through. Who could blame him for reacting the way he did when his daughter ended up marrying a hippy? Archie had an opinion on everything: Blacks, Jews, religion, the military, politics, homosexuals, or anything you can think of not talking about at the dinner table. Amazingly, he was almost always wrong!
John Amos/James Evans, Sr. (Good Times)
James Evans had three kids: Junior, Thelma, and Michael who all grew up in low class housing in the heart of Chicago. He worked extremely hard for his family, who were taken care of by their mother, Florida. While James was tough on his children, especially Junior (aka as JJ), he was a protector and provider for them, as well. However, John Amos, the actor, had some serious issues with the role of JJ, whom he considered a buffoon and a bad role model for the black community. He was so vocal that the writers killed off the character in the third season. Florida, the mother, soon followed.
Michael Landon/Charles Ingalls (Little House On The Prairie)
Charles Ingalls was loosely based off of the real-life Charles Ingalls, from the Little House books by Laura Ingalls-Wilder. Landon's character was a true father. He was understanding in the way that we think of modern fathers being, but at the same time, tough, as was required by the American frontier. The television series betrayed Ingalls without prejudice, good-hearted, and caring for everyone. He would give the shirt off his back to help everyone from drunken farmers, down on their luck herders, and even the Indians. His four daughters were the light of his life, yet it didn't stop him from adopting three other children. As the show went on, he proved to be an even kinder grandfather. He was a well-loved patriarch who had the respect of all in the small town of Walnut Grove where he raised his family.