Long before Dad Knew Best on television, the old radio show “Father Knows Best” was broadcast across the country. The show was created by writer Ed James. On August 25, 1949, NBC broadcast the first episode. The show was about an average middle-class family in the Midwest. It aired Thursday nights and was sponsored by General Foods.
Robert Young played the father, Jim Anderson, an insurance agent. He is portrayed as a wise man to whom his wife and children turn for advice.
Margaret, his wife, was played by June Whitely and then by 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 eldest daughter, was a bit of a drama queen on the show. She often declared minor events as “the worst thing that could ever happen!” Her interest was mainly in teenage boys.
Bud is depicted as the all-American boy. Although he gets a $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 that 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.” About 200 episodes were made.
As the 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 children 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 any show’s plot.
The last radio episode aired on November 19, 1953. It became 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” are back on the air. Step back in time and enjoy the antics of the Anderson family. These and many other old radio shows can be downloaded from various sites.