Long before Father knew best on television, the “Father Knows Best” old time radio show was airing across the country. The show was created by writer, Ed James. On August 25, 1949, NBC aired the first episode. The show was about an average middle class family in the Midwest. It aired on Thursday evenings and was sponsored by General Foods.
Robert Young played the father, Jim Anderson, an insurance salesman. He’s portrayed as a wise man that his wife and children turn to for advice.
Margaret, his wife, was played by June Whitely and then Jean Vander Pyl. She was the voice of patience and common-sense within the family.
The Andersons had three children. Betty was played by Rhoda Williams, Bud by Ted Donaldson, and Kathy by Norma Jean Nillson.
Betty, the oldest daughter, was a bit of a drama queen in the show. She often declared minor events as, “the worst thing that could ever happen!” Her interest was mostly in teenage boys.
Bud is depicted as the all-American boy. Though he gets $1.25 a week allowance he often felt he needed a little more.
Kathy, the precocious baby of the family, often complained and whined. She felt her status in the family was not considered as important because she was the youngest. Her brother and sister often seek her help when they need extra money.
Some favorite episodes include, “Enterprising Kids”, “Jim Inherits a Ranch in Arizona”, and “The Phantom Prowler”. Approximately 200 episode were made.
As it’s title implies, the show portrayed a paternalistic view of life in the 1950s. Father was in charge and he always knew what was best for his wife and children. But occasionally, his wife and kids got the best of him. When the show was originally created the title had a question mark at the end – “Father Knows Best?” The question mark was eventually dropped from the title.
Moral lessons were often an important part of the plot of each show.
The final radio episode was aired on November 19, 1953. It went on to become a popular television series. Robert Young was the only cast member to continue his radio show role on the CBS television series.
Thanks to the internet, episodes of “Father Knows Best” can be heard once more. Step back in time and enjoy the antics of the Anderson family. This and many other old time radio shows are available for download at various sites.
Visit Mysteryshows.com for thousands of free Old Time Radio shows
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