Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About

Danny Thomas obtained his own program in 1953 when agent Abe Lastfogel pressured fledgling network ABC into accepting Thomas as part of their terms for acquiring the much-coveted Ray Bolger. ABC, familiar with Thomas' previously ill-received television performances, insisted upon a sitcom, and it was during a prolonged brainstorming session with producer Lou Edleman and writer Mel Shavelson, that Thomas inadvertently came up with the autobiographical premise that was to become Make Room for Daddy. As the three worked futilely into the night, Thomas grew impatient and pleaded that he simply wanted a series so that he could stay put with his family for awhile. The result was, Make Room for Daddy, a show which revolved around the absentee-father dilemmas of a traveling singer-comic "Danny Williams." The title was suggested by Thomas' real-life wife, Rose-Marie, who during Danny's frequent tours, allowed their children to sleep with her. Upon her husband's return, the children would have to empty dresser drawers and leave the master bed to, quite literally, "make room for Daddy."

Incorporating Thomas' singing and story-telling talents, the program was a blend of domestic comedy and variety program (during Danny's fictionalized "nightclub engagements"). It became one of television's most successful comedies, winning numerous awards, including best new show for the 1952-53 season. Despite its success, the program underwent a number of transformations, most notably when Jean Hagen, who played the part of wife Margaret, left the series to attend to her film and stage career. For the fourth season, Danny played a widower, and a succession of guest-stars appeared as potential replacement wives. In the 1956 season finale, Danny proposed to guest-star Marjorie Lord who, along with child star Angela Cartwright, joined the Williams' family for the program's remaining seven years. The start of the 1957 television season also saw the program on a new network (CBS) when ABC president (and Hagen ally) Robert Kintner, lost interest in the series. The newly titled Danny Thomas Show slid into the spot formally occupied by CBS's mega-hit I Love Lucy, where it remained in the top ten until voluntarily leaving the network when the performers sought new avenues of creative expression.

While starring in Make Room for Daddy, Thomas met Sheldon Leonard, a former gangster-type actor with aspirations for directing. Leonard took over as director for the program midway into its first season, eventually becoming executive producer. Together, Thomas and Leonard established Thomas-Leonard Productions, a powerhouse production company based on the Desilu lot that was responsible for a multitude of successful series including The Real McCoy, The Andy Griffith Show, The Joey Bishop Show, The Bill Dana Show and The Dick van Dyke Show. In 1965 when Leonard left to develop I Spy, Thomas continued independently, producing The Danny Thomas Hour, an anthology series for NBC and joining with Aaron Spelling to create and produce The Mod Squad and other programs. While a 1967 attempt to buy Desilu from Lucille Ball was unsuccessful, Thomas continued to create and produce programs under the banner of Danny Thomas Productions.

Thomas had an enormous positive impact upon the growing medium. The off-camera stand-up routines he performed for the in-studio audience just prior to filming each episode of Make Room for Daddy, were imitated on other programs and institutionalized as the now commonplace "warm-up." The Andy Griffith Show was the first real spin-off for network television, originating in a 1960 episode of The Danny Thomas Show. As a producer he read scripts, and supervised a plethora of number one rated programs and was personally responsible for casting Mary Tyler Moore as Laura Petrie in The Dick van Dyke Show. His influence as producer continued not only in his own projects but through the work of his children, notably daughter Marlo, who became a renowned actress-producer-director, and his son Tony, who with partners Susan Harris and Paul Junger Witt is responsible for veritable catalogue of 1970s and 1980s hit programs, including Soap and The Golden Girls.

CREATED BY

Melville Shavelson

DIRECTED BY

Sheldon Leonard, William Asher, Danny Thomas

STARRING

Danny Thomas

Jean Hagen

Marjorie Lord

Sherry Jackson

Rusty Hamer

Angela Cartwright

COMPOSERS

Herbert W. Spencer, Earle Hagen (MSI)

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Louis F. Edelman

PRODUCERS

Sheldon Leonard, Charles Stewart 

BROADCAST

Original channel ABC (1953-1957)

CBS (1957-1964)

Original run September 29, 1953 – September 14, 1964

Highlights
Sheldon Leonard describes his favorite moment from The Danny Thomas Show  (aka Make Room for Daddy )
00:49
Who talked about this show

William Asher

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William Asher on directing The Danny Thomas Show pilot; on working with Sheldon Leonard and difficulties with Danny Thomas

Barbara Billingsley

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Barbara Billingsley on guesting on Make Room for Daddy in the episode "Danny's Date" (airdate: January 14, 1957)  as a tryout for the role of his new wife
01:00

Dann Cahn

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Film editor Dann Cahn on editing The Danny Thomas Show
01:40

Bill Dana

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Bill Dana on how "Jose Jimenez" came to be a regular character on Make Room for Daddy (The Danny Thomas Show)
01:07

Ruth Engelhardt

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Danny Thomas Show
03:43

Rod Erickson

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Rod Erickson on turning down Danny Thomas' Make Room for Daddy
01:05

Mitzi Gaynor

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Mitzi Gaynor on appearing on The Danny Thomas Show and meeting Bob Mackie
02:14

Andy Griffith

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Andy Griffith on the pilot for The Andy Griffith Show, which aired as an episode of The Danny Thomas Show, on deciding to play straight man to Don Knotts, and on the input of producer Sheldon Leonard
04:43

Earle Hagen

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Earle Hagen on composing and conducting music for The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy)
16:58
Composer Earle Hagen on the origin of The Andy Griffith Show
03:20

Ron Howard

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Ron Howard on acting in front of a "live" audience for the pilot of The Andy Griffith Show, that appeared as an episode of The Danny Thomas Show
00:36

Irma Kusely

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Irma Kusely on being hairstylist for Make Room for Daddy  and The Dick Van Dyke Show
01:57

Sheldon Leonard

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Sheldon Leonard describes his favorite moment from The Danny Thomas Show  (aka Make Room for Daddy )
00:49
Producer Sheldon Leonard on his work producing and directing The Danny Thomas Show
10:28

Garry Marshall

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Garry Marshall on writing for the kids on The Danny Thomas Show
01:16

Mary Tyler Moore

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Mary Tyler Moore on auditioning to play one of the daughters on The Danny Thomas Show
00:47

Lee Rich

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Lee Rich on wanting Danny Thomas to be involved with television
00:29

Jay Sandrich

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Jay Sandrich on working with Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas on Make Room for Daddy, and their working relationship
05:00
Jay Sandrich on directing The Danny Thomas Show and his philosophy of directing comedy, which he learned from Sheldon Leonard
03:24
Jay Sandrich on working with and learning from Sheldon Leonard and a series of great directors on The Danny Thomas Show (Make Room for Daddy)
05:33

Bob Schiller

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Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing as a team for Make Room for Daddy
00:35

Alfred Schneider

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Alfred Schneider on creating, with ABC Executive Jim Stabile, what may have been the very first television package deal -- for The Danny Thomas Show
02:25

Mel Shavelson

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Mel Shavelson on writing The Danny Thomas Show
06:51
Mel Shavelson on helping to shape The Danny Thomas Show
05:07
Mel Shavelson on how Danny Thomas took to television on The Danny Thomas Show
02:46
Mel Shavelson on the writing process of The Danny Thomas Show, and on the writers of the show
07:10
Mel Shavelson on the network relationship with The Danny Thomas Show
02:18

Hazel Shermet

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Hazel Shermet on acting in The Danny Thomas Show
01:52

Tony Thomas

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Tony Thomas on his early home life being the inspiration for the series Make Room for Daddy
03:03

Marlo Thomas

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Marlo Thomas on her father Danny Thomas' fame and her thoughts on his television show, Make Room for Daddy
10:38

Bob Weiskopf

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Bob Weiskopf on briefly writing for Make Room For Daddy for Danny Thomas
01:24
Bob Schiller and Bob Weiskopf on writing as a team for Make Room for Daddy
00:35

Lou Weiss

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Lou Weiss on packaging game shows and The Danny Thomas Show
03:41
Lou Weiss on packaging The Danny Thomas Show  and working with Sheldon Leonard
02:29

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