This would be probably the first and only time that the surviving original cast members would get together at the same time to celebrate the series which includes fondly remembered clips and an update of what they were doing in 1977 when it first aired as part of the "ABC Reunion" - and this was five years after "My Three Sons" had ceased production as a TV series. The intervening years and the passage of time would see two of the show's major stars pass away within a several years of each other. But, in a joint effort with the cast of the once popular Screen Gems comedy series "The Partridge Family" (which itself has become a post-series international cultural phenomenon), and which ran from 1970-74, the special was a one-off retrospective that was recieved well, but is now considered something of an oddity 30+ years later.
The special was produced by Dick Clark Productions in association with Don Fedderson. The Executive Producer was Dick Clark, and the special was Produced by Al Schwartz with John Rea acting as Associate Producer. The program was videotaped at the ABC Television Center in Hollywood.
The program starts with Fred MacMurray walking up to the Douglases Bryant Park home as it looked at the time of this special. Then there is opening credits with current pictures of cast members.
Next scene is Fred and Shirley Jones on director chairs who chat a bit. Clip of Fred with a washing machine that's acting up.*(taken from the episode "Woman's Work")*
Clip of Fred coming home asking where everyone is as he says each name- the three original sons (Mike, Robbie and Chip) answer live in the studio *(Clip from "The Girls Next Door")*
They all sit down in living room set. Fred asks what they are now doing. Tim Considine says producing, writing and acting. Clip of Mike angry because his girl has a crush on Steve.*(from the episode, "The Crush")*
Then Stanley Livingston says he is writing a screenplay (says he can't wait to see his name upon the big screen under "Written by.." and co-starring in themovie "Hotwire".) Clip of Chip complaining a certain girl doesn't pick him for spelling bee contest.*(from the episode "Woman's Work")* [It should be noted that Stan's movie was retitled, "Smokey and the Hotwire Gang" and was held back from release until 1979. It was released to video under the title "Mafia Lady" in 1990 and remains a real B-grade entry].
Then Don Grady says he is writing music and recording an album. Clip- Robbie taking Ballet lessons *(from the episode "My Son, The Ballerina)*. Fred says he always thought of Robbie as a sensitive teenager. [Don had a contract with Elektra Records at the time of the Special and released an album called "Home Grown", which contained all self-penned songs recorded by Don under his real name, Don Agrati.]
Barry Livingston comes out on stage. Clip of Ernie's first appearance *(from the episode, "My Friend Ernie")* Says he is still acting in Summer workshops and has acted recently on Broadway.
Fred says that he is travelling with his wife, actress June Haver and still playing bad golf.
"The Partridge Family" side takes over:
Clip of Reuben and Danny dieting and not smoking *(from the episode "Each Dawn I Diet")*
Dave Madden and Danny Bonaduce come out. Clip of Chris and Tracy running away. Suzanne Crough, 14 and Brian Forster, 17 come out. Another clip of them running away again *(taken from the episode, "Home Is Where The Heart Was")*
Danny Bonaduce says he has made appearances on "Police Story" & the telemovies "Stingray" and "Murder on Flight 502"
Dave Madden says he is a stand up comic in Las Vegas.
Susan Dey is not there but sends a video message saying she is sorry she cannot be there as she is promoting her movie "First Love" co-starring William Katt. When she says that she wants to catch up with all of them, especially Danny, he is moved to think she really does care for him, which segues into a Blooper of Laurie pouring a pitcher of milk over Danny during a scene when Danny kept flubbing his lines.
Outtakes of the show are featured.
Clips of Keith with Chris and Tracy saying they want to grow up to become black people. *(from the episode, "Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Partridge")*
David Cassidy appears. Clip of song "Looking Through the Eyes of Love" *(from the episode "Whatever Happened to Keith Partridge?")* . Says he is breeding horses now and still acting. Did a Movie of the Week - "Police Story" (which would become the basis for his short-lived series, "David Cassidy-Man Undercover"). Says he is happily married to actress Kay Lenz. Shirley then introduces him again as he sings a new song, "Strengthen My Love".
Back to "My Three Sons":
Fred introduces the wives. Meredith MacRae, Tina Cole, and Ronne Troup come out but go to the wrong husbands. Ernie complains that it wasn't his fault that he wasn't old enough to get married on the show and Tramp comes out for him.
Meredith says she really dated Tim but is now married to actor Greg Mullavey and doing nightclub act. Clip of Mike trying to propose to Sally." *(from the episode, "The Proposals")*
Tina says she and Don almost got married in real life. Says she is now member of the King Family singers. Clip of Robbie and Katie's nuptials *(from the episode "Wedding Bells")* Then Tina sings a song Don wrote after their breakup. The song is called 'Story' and semi documents their careers on the show. Fred compliments her beautiful voice.
Ronne Troup bemoans the fact that both her and Stanley Livingston never had a traditional church wedding - Clip of Elopement of Polly and Chip. *(from the episode "The Elopement")*
Clip of Steve and Barbara's Wedding *("Came The Day")*
Fred says that he thought the scene in the church was quite touching. Beverly Garland comes out on stage. Trips over Tramp. And when they all sit down the on-set couch breaks for real and they almost all go tumbling backwards. That is pretty funny and spontaneous.
Bev says still acting and runs her own Hotel in North Hollywood, where she is also the honorary Mayor. She has 2 kids. ("Carrie" and "Big Jim")
Bev asks boys what they thought of her as a mother all answer at once. Fred sends Don to his room. "But I'm 33 years old" protests Don, so Fred sends him to his old room.
Fred reintroduces Shirley. She sings "He Touched Me".
Fred and Beverly do a skit about what the show would be like if on the air today. Fred and Beverly are both new-age. Alot of Farouts, groovys and granolas. Ernie stops by and is very conservative. Steve says they got divorced so they could live together. He brings a minister along to make it legal.
Video of William Demarest. Introduces clip of the Triplets *(from "My Three Grandsons")* Clip of Bub and Mike. Clip of himself and Chip *(from "Brother Ernie")* Finishes up saying it was an honor to be a part of TV history. Says he has known Fred for over 40 years and that he never knew a nicer man or a better friend.
Shirley and Fred wrap up. Shirley sings "Moments Make The Memories". Cassidy sings "As Time Goes By" and fakes playing the piano.
For the finale the casts of both series come on stage and sing "Moments Make The Memories" and that concludes the show.
Choreography for the show was Ron Poindexter, Musical Director was Kenny Stark and Special Musical Material was by Billy Bairnes.
Contributing Writers: Howard Leeds, George Tibbles, Arnold and Lois Peyser, John McGreevey, Shirl Gordon and Douglas Tibbles. (My Three Sons)
William S. Bickley, Richard Bensfield, Perry Grant, Lloyd Turner, Gordon Mitchell and Susan Harris. (The Partridge Family)
Contributing Directors: Richard Whorf, James V. Kern and Fred DeCordova.
(My Three Sons)
Mel Swope, Jerry London, Richard Kinon and Bruce Bilson. (The Partridge Family).
Film Clip Research/Clearance was by Craig Austin.
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Sally Ann Morrison Douglas (1963-65)
Ernie Thompson Douglas (1963-72)
Barbara Harper Douglas (1969-72)
William Michael Francis 'Bub' O'Casey (1960-65)
Uncle Charley O'Casey (1965-72)
Dodie Harper Douglas (1969-72)
Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communications which can be found online at http://archive.museum.tv/ has a six and a half minute clip from this special in relatively good quality. Do a search and you may be able to see it.
Special thanks to Scott Awley of the Partridge Family Website "Cmon Get Happy" for providing me with the elusive creative credits of this rare television special.
Trivia: There is a Partridge Family and My Three Sons connection, believe it or not. The Partridge Family's 75th episode ("Hate Thy Neighbor") which is the fourth Season opener, was co-written by "My Three Sons" head writer George Tibbles. And ironically, the role of Donna Stevens in the episode is played by none other than our Polly, Ronne Troup!
Strange to hear William Demarest introducing a clip of his "good friend" William Frawley. Now known that apparently they hated each other in real life.
Dawn Lyn (as Dodie) says she wasn't invited to appear on the special. Apparently she read about it like everyone else in TV Guide. "I didn't then and still don't think of myself as a 'star', for what it's worth I am just Dawn. I choose to define myself by the kind of person I am and what is in my heart, not by having been on TV as a child. As for what is was like being on 'My Three Sons', I had a great time. I am still in touch with the remaining cast members and I love them like family".
This retrospective ABC Special aired during Thanksgiving in 1977. While not part of the original series per se, I think it is good to at least have it documented. All original cast members of the show (with the exception of Dawn Lyn and of course the late William Frawley) appear. Unfortunately owing to the nature of this program, it is destined to remain on the shelf without seeing the light of day again in the forseeable future. Despite being repeated in the 1990s, and because the show is basically 80% clips, getting the relevant copyright clearances now from all entities associated with both series featured would be a major headache.
The sad part about watching this special is knowing that MacMurray, Frawley, Demarest, Garland, MacRae and Grady are all now deceased.
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