The advice, the life lessons, and… the laughter! Today we take a look back on the top classic TV dads we all love. The memorable men range from the 1950s father figures to the 1980s dads who cannot resist telling everyone how life is.
Here is our list of the most lovable, funny classic TV show dads.
Classic TV Dad #1 is None Other Than Andy Taylor, ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
Our first favorite Classic TV dad is none other than Andy Taylor of The Andy Griffith Show. Following the death of his wife, Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) went on to raise his son Opie (Ron Howard) as he maintain a full-time job as the sheriff of the town of Mayberry, North Carolina. The father-son duo went on some crazy adventures through the series.
In a 2010 interview, Howard stated that his classic TV show dad helped shape his life. “He treated me really well,” Howard recalled. “But he made it a learning experience, not in a stern, taskmaster kind of a way, but I was really allowed a real insight into creativity and how things work.”
Howard also said that Griffith was really kind to him and always playful and fun. However, when it came to work, he took things seriously. “By the same token, he wanted to get the work done.”
2. Archie Bunker, ‘All In the Family’
Can’t have a classic TV dad list without Archie from All in the Family. Although he had his shortcomings throughout the series, Archie (Carroll O’Connor) had learned a few lessons along the way. Rob Reiner, who played Archie’s son-in-law, Mike, on the show, reflected on working with O’Connor on the show days after the actor’s death.
“He didn’t ever go for the easy laugh,” Reiner said about O’Connor. “It was always important to him to maintain the integrity of the characters, the honesty, the reality of the characters, and that the humor would come out of that.”
Reiner then said that O’Connor would say if actors had a good story as well as writing, they didn’t have to act. The story would end up supporting the actor. “He taught me that you don’t have to do any kind of theatrical gymnastics in order to make something work, if you did your work as writers and playwrights.”
3. Fred Sanford, ‘Sanford and Son’
A classic TV dad like no other, Redd Foxx’s Fred Sanford spoke his mind at all times, no matter what the outcome. Referring to his son Lamont (Demond Wilson) as “dummy,” Fred would always be there.
In a 1975 interview, Wilson had nothing but praise for his Classic TV show dad. “I love Redd,” he gushed at the time. We have an understanding. He never has to guess what I’m thinking ‘cause I tell him about my feelings – positive or negative.”
Wilson also recalled the early days of filming with Redd. “During the first few weeks, we limited ourselves to polite exchanges of ‘How you doing?’ and kind of walked around each other,” he said. “Then one day we were in the photo studio for some publicity pictures and some guy said, ‘Okay, I want you to put your head through this tire and smile.’ I said something censorable and walked out.”
4. Howard Cunningham, ‘Happy Days’
Another Ron Howard classic TV show also features a memorable father. Howard Cunningham (Tom Bosley) was an army veteran who owned a hardware store to support his family, and he was never without any form of advice. He helped his children through anything and everything.
Following Bosley’s death in 2010, Howard praised the late actor. “I’m so saddened by the loss of our wonderful Tom Bosley,” he reportedly stated. He also said that Bosley’s insight as well as talent and character strength made him a “vital” central figure on Happy Days.
“A great father and husband, and a wonderful artist, Tom lead by example, and made us all laugh while he was doing it. My last conversations with Tom reflected the love of life and peace of mind that he always maintained throughout his full and rewarding life. I miss him already,” Howard added.
5. Jason Seaver, ‘Growing Pains’
More “modern” than the other classic TV dads, Jason Seaver (Alan Thicke) has made the list due to being a remarkable father on the hit sitcom Growing Pains. Although his kids managed to get into all kinds of trouble, Seaver would always be there to offer advice and some laughs.
Kirk Cameron, who played Jason Seaver’s son Mike, opened up about the loss of Alan Thicke following a heart attack in 2016. “I … remember thinking, ‘Wow, this famous Canadian talk show-host-guy sounds different when he says words like, ‘about’ and ‘aye,’ but he’s really nice and funny, and seems like he’s going to be a really cool dad,” Cameron stated during an interview on TODAY.
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