Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Trouble with Father (or The Stu Erwin Show or Life with the Erwins or The New Stu Erwin Show -- the program sporadically changed its title) ran from 1950 to 1955, totaling 130 episodes (1953-54 season consisted of repeats only).  Stuart Erwin (Palooka, Pigskin Parade, Our Town) and real-life wife June Collyer (East Side, West Side, Charlie's Aunt, Murder by Television) star as June and Stu Erwin, a married couple with two girls.  Stu is the sometimes bumbling principal of the local high school and June is a typical 1950s sitcom housewife, patient and understanding.  The oldest daughter is boy-crazy high schooler Joyce, played by a fourth cousin of Mary Todd Lincoln, Ann E. Todd (How Green Was My Valley, The Blue Bird, King's Row); for the show's final season the role was played by Merry Anders (Mike McCall in all 52 episodes of How To Marry a Millionaire, The Time Travelers, Raiders from Beneath the Sea).  The role of tomboy daughter Jackie went to Sheila James, best known as Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.  (She shifted gears after acting, earned a law degree and was later elected as the first openly gay member of the California State Assembly where she served for six years before she moved to the State Senate, serving for eight years; she remains active in Los Angeles politics.)  The other regular cast member was Willie Best (The Ghost Breakers, Cabin in the Sky, High Sierra) as Willie, a stereotypical (for the time) Black handyman who often joined Stu in some of his schemes.

The episode linked below under the title "Spooks" was first shown on December 23, 1950, and is better known under the title "Problem Party."  It features Margaret Hamilton as Mrs. Bracker, a representative of a women's league concerned with juvenile delinquency, and a young Martin Milner as Drexel Potter, a high schooler who occasionally dated Joyce; in the final year of the series Milner would play Jimmy Clark, Joyce's new husband.  It was directed by Howard Bretherton and written by Arthur Hoerl.


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