Father Knows Best Remains One of the Best Loved Family Sitcoms
Father Knows Best was one of the most popular comedy series of the late fifties to early sixties, reflecting the conservative values of the era with its portrayal of the solidly-middle class Anderson family. The cast of Father Knows Best was led by Robert Young and Jane Wyatt as Jim and Margaret Anderson; although both had flourishing film careers, they are undoubtedly best known for their work on this series. Young would win two Emmys for his portrayal, and Wyatt three. Other members of the cast included Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray and Lauren Chapin, who played the three Anderson children Betty, James and Kathy.
The show actually began life as a radio show that first aired in 1949 to 1954. Young also played the role of the father on the show, and was the only member of the radio cast to make the transition to television. Father Knows Best debuted on CBS in 1954, and ran until 1960, when Young left to pursue other projects. The show was so popular, however, that it continued to run in primetime reruns for the next three years. During its last (1959-60) season, the show ranked 6th in its average Nielsen ratings.
The enduring popularity of the show was highlighted when the cast of Father Knows Best was reunited for a pair of TV movies in 1977, Father Knows Best Reunion and Father Knows Best: Home for Christmas. In the intervening years, Young starred in another hit series, Marcus Welby, M.D., for which he won another Emmy for his work on the show. Wyatt, meanwhile, went on to create another iconic character: Amanda Grayson, the mother of Spock, whom she played in the original Star Trek series and the 1986 movie, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. And Father Knows Best continues to enjoy a healthy afterlife both in syndicated reruns and in DVD box sets that allow a new generation of viewers to rediscover one of America’s best-loved fictional TV families.