My Three Sons

Whatever Happened to Ernie?

Season 12, Ep 24, Aired 4/13/72
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  • Episode Description
  • Steve's boss Bob Anderson and his wife share 'Where-did-we-go-wrong?' panic as they struggle to communicate with their son; Steve and Barbara are the counselors. The teenager is rude and disrespectful to his parents but his insolence doesn't bother them nearly as much as not knowing if he is taking drugs.

  • Cast & Crew
  • Barry Livingston

    Ernie Thompson Douglas (1963-72)

  • Beverly Garland

    Barbara Harper Douglas (1969-72)

  • William Demarest

    Uncle Charley O'Casey (1965-72)

  • Dawn Lyn

    Dodie Harper Douglas (1969-72)

  • Ronne Troup

    Polly Williams Douglas (1970-72)

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  • Trivia & Quotes
  • Notes (7)

    • Head writer for "My Three Sons", George Tibbles died of cancer on February 14, 1987 at age 73 and was living in Rancho Mirage, California at the time of his death. Next to possibly famed author turned novelist Sidney Sheldon ("The Patty Duke Show"/"I Dream Of Jeannie") and the legendary Gene Roddenberry ("Star Trek"), George's consistent writing output for the series, for good or bad, was very plot-oriented, as befits a television writer. The pressure he was under was obviously intense at times. He would have been under time limitations, would be writing and rewriting constantly as you can only have so much story to tell in a single half hour show, and of course in television you have a series to "keep alive". As the show's creator, one-time Producer, Writer and Executive Story Editor and Consultant, it is he who set the guidelines for our favorite characters. Just for your interest, George wrote a massive 96 episodes of the show (including 17 as a co-writer) during it's years of production. During the 1984-85 Season, Tibbles wrote episodes of "Who's The Boss?" on NBC and "Charles In Charge" on CBS. Early in 1986 he penned an episode of the shortlived Diana Canova series "Throb" and this appears to be the final thing he worked on before becoming ill.

    • A terrific viewer quote that I just have to include here is from a great messageboard collaborator named Videovet: "Everytime I hear Ernie blurt out in that perpetually exasperated stuck-in-puberty limbo voice 'POT??', I'm sore for days from laughing so hard. With just one word a tradionally 'square' television show, completely oblivious to the turbulent 60s for twelve years, suddenly turns hip in its swansong episode. Barry Livingston, my hat's off to you!" (Editor's thanks to Steve).

    • With the series finally being axed by CBS (no-one was too surprised; television families were changing), we are given the impression that the show's concept will "flourish" as Robbie and Katie's "three sons" will certainly continue the family name. But, you have to feel for poor Ernie. He's the only one of the sons who doesn't get married on the series, simply because he wasn't old enough at the time. At this point he is dating so you could imagine that he eventually would have. While it can be argued that the show may have been rating consistently, the quality of the scripts in this last season showed the signs of strain. The series was an honest-to-goodness middle-class, middle-America sitcom that typified the period in which it began, 1960, and was sadly outmoded by the time it came to an end, a massive 380 episodes later in 1972. Certainly the show dragged on longer than anyone had really intended. As Fred MacMurray was once quoted as saying: "I basically just went from year to year; you can get cancelled, you know". Most viewers who had watched the show since its inception had no problems keeping up. Thus we'd followed the growing up of a family, and had come full circle. Co-star Beverly Garland recalls however, that "MacMurray loved doing 'My Three Sons' and would have gone on with the show for many more years if possible."

    • Russell Schulman is best remembered as Buddy Hinton who challenges Peter Brady to a fight over his sister's lisp in the Brady Bunch episode 'A Fistful Of Reasons' in 1970.

    • This final aired episode (but not the last filmed; see Episode # 369) brings the "My Three Sons" series to a close. For its time in 1971, the producers have tastefully handled the delicate issue regarding whether the boy is smoking marijuana, the subject matter of which certainly seems out of context for a situation comedy that never even mentions the Vietnam War!

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