The classic TV show Father Knows Best first aired Season 5, Episode 30 titled “The Formula For Happiness” on April 5, 1959. Jim Anderson (Robert Young) wakes up in the middle of the night after an unusual and disturbing dream. He recounts the details with his wife Margaret (Jane Wyatt) at the kitchen table over hot cocoa. In his dream, Jim was to share a formula for happy living on a national television broadcast viewed by the President of the United States. A mysterious villain named Charles Barter interrupts the broadcast and Jim’s dream. However, in the days that follow, all the elements of the dream begin to come true. The show ends with Jim finding a simple and meaningful Formula For Happiness written by his daughter Kathy (Loren Chapin.)
In the 1940s, Father Knows Best was a popular radio show. The character of Jim was quite different—a cross, bumbling Homer Simpson type of dad. He is supported and often rescued by his reasonable intelligent wife and children.
In 1954, Robert Young and partner Eugene Rodney recreated their radio show for CBS Television. The original idea was to continue the bumbling character, and call the series Father Knows Best? However, since America was at the height of the Cold War, sponsor Lorillard’s Kent Cigarettes decided that the series should depict an ideal, wholesome American family. When the series moved briefly to NBC, the Scott Paper Company, also a champion of traditional family values, sponsored it. A total of 203 episodes were produced and aired on all three television networks between October 3, 1954 and September 17, 1960.
The cast was as follows:
As with the radio show, the character of Margaret remained the voice of reason. However, Jim’s character was transformed to one of a thoughtful father who offered wise advice when his children had problems. Jim was a salesman and manager for the General Insurance Company in the fictional town of Springfield. Like the Simpsons, we never learned where Springfield was. Father Knows Best was known as one of the 1950s sitcoms that idealized American family life.
The Daily Doo-Wop Rec Room offers a TV set. If you click on it, there are four selections, which usually an episode of a TV series, a TV game show, a cartoon or short film typical of one shown during this first era of rock and roll, and a vintage commercial.