This Was Television On September 29

1953: ABC makes room for Danny Thomas

Successful nightclub entertainer Danny Thomas portrayed successful nightclub entertainer Danny Williams on the sitcom which began life as Make Room for Daddy on this date. After three seasons it was renamed The Danny Thomas Show, continuing under that title on ABC until 1957 before switching to CBS from 1957–64. The family sitcom focused on the challenges of a home life in which the titular daddy was often on the road, leaving his wife to handle their three children on her own. The series was produced by Desilu Studios and, following in the footsteps of that company’s I Love Lucy, helped establish the three-camera style that would shape the burgeoning sitcom format.

Thomas briefly reprised his most famous role on ABC in Make Room for Granddady in 1970–71. Even less well received was his collaboration with Zalman King for Cinemax in the early 1990s, Make Room for Sugar Daddy-A.D.

Also on September 29

1959: The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis premieres. One of the first programs centered on teenage characters, Dobie Gillis was based on a short story series and tracked the misadventures of a clean-cut yet especially amorous boy (Dwayne Hickman) and his beatnik buddy Maynard G. Krebs (Bob Denver) for four seasons on CBS.

1960: My Three Sons debuts on ABC. Through five seasons there and seven more on CBS, one of TV’s longest-running family sitcoms followed the life of widower Steve Douglas (Fred MacMurray) and his challenges raising three boys on his own.

Today’s Birthdays: Gene Autry, singing cowboy (d. 1998); Steve Forrest, anthology vet (88); Madeline Kahn, comedienne (d. 1999); Zachary Levi, superspy (32); Larry Linville, army surgeon (d. 2000); Ian McShane, saloonkeeper (70).

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