One of the longest running Classic TV sitcoms is My Three Sons, which aired on ABC from 1960-65 and then switched networks to CBS, where it aired until 1972. Film star Fred MacMurray, based on advice from Robert Young (Father Knows Best, Marcus, Welby M.D.), was lured to the series with a pretty sweet production deal that allowed him to shoot a season’s worth of episodes up front so that he would have the rest of the year free to work on films.
On My Three Sons, Fred plays Steve Douglas, a widower raising his — no surprise here — three sons with the help of his father-in-law, “Bub,” played by William Frawley aka Fred Mertz from I Love Lucy. In 1965, due to health reasons, William left the show to be replaced by William Demarest as the boys’ great-uncle, Uncle Charlie. As time went on, wives, a stepdaughter and, most notably in the case of this podcast, an adopted son were added. Barry Livingston, 65, played that son, Ernie, and over the course of this podcast he looks back at the show, what it was like growing up during the eight years he was involved in the series, adapting to life afterward and avoiding the so-called “child actor curse.” His acting career, we’re happy to say, is still flourishing.
For much more on Barry after listening to the podcast, you should head to Amazon and check out his memoir, The Importance of Being Ernie: From My Three Sons to Mad Men, a Hollywood Survivor Tells All. Notes the publisher, Citadel, “At first, Barry’s lazy eye and horn-rimmed glasses nearly derailed his career, getting him kicked off his first major film starring Paul Newman. Eventually, his ‘nerdy’ look became his biggest asset, landing Barry a recurring role on Ozzie & Harriet and a regular part on My Three Sons. Fifty years later, Barry is still going strong — from the stage and small screen to feature film roles opposite Adam Sandler and Robert Downey, Jr. Like most Hollywood actors, Barry experienced some incredible highs and lows along the way, but he never gave up.”
Barry Livingston definitely gives off that vibe in our podcast interview — check it out above!