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My Three Sons

Season 5 Episode 17

A Woman's Work

Aired Unknown Jan 07, 1965 on ABC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

A Woman's Work
Bub decides to leave for an Irish holiday to help his formidable Aunt Kate celebrate her 104th Birthday in Dublin. Son-in-law Steve eagerly offers to do the housekeeping, rashly declaring that if all women organised their work efficiently, it could be done in just a fraction of the usual time. A belief which is hardly borne out by his own demonstrations.moreless

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  • The end of a forgotten era, and the passing of the torch.

    After returning with Steve and the boys from a trip to his ancestral home of Ireland, a trip made possible after winning the Irish (?)Sweepstakes, Bub decides to return there, ostensibly to help his Aunt Kate celebrate her 104th birthday. With him gone, Steve and the boys realize just how difficult life can be without a \"woman\" around the house.

    Though it was not explicitly stated, it was generally understood that this would be William Frawley\'s last appearance in the series, and that Bub would not be returning. This is made evident by one very touching, unforgettable scene early in the episode, as Bub is packing his bags in his bedroom, with Chip sitting on the bed, and the two are chatting. They look at each other briefly, smiling warmly, as if they both know this is goodbye. Frawley, who was forced to leave due to poor health, died a little over a year later.

    It also heralds the first of several major changes, as Uncle Charley soon joins the household, Mike and Sally get married and move away, and Ernie joins the family. Also, the series would leave ABC for CBS the next season, and would begin filming in color.moreless
Meredith MacRae

Meredith MacRae

Sally Ann Morrison Douglas (1963-65)

Barry Livingston

Barry Livingston

Ernie Thompson Douglas (1963-72)

William Frawley

William Frawley

William Michael Francis 'Bub' O'Casey (1960-65)

Fred MacMurray

Fred MacMurray

Steve Douglas (1960-72)

Tim Considine

Tim Considine

Mike Douglas (1960-65)

Don Grady

Don Grady

Robbie Douglas (1960-71)

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (0)

  • NOTES (5)

    • This milestone episode features a very ill looking William Frawley in his last appearance as Bub. Many stories have circulated over the years regarding why he was written out of the show, but the real reason is that at 78 years of age, he could not pass the Desilu Studios physical exam and no insurance company would back him. Production Supervisor John G. Stephens remembers: "When I was told by the doctor that Bill's health problems had gotten worse and that he should have been dead a year ago, I didn't say a word to Bill and immediately went to Executive Producer Don Fedderson. We couldn't get insurance for him anywhere. Fedderson decided to gamble on Frawley for half a season which would allow sufficient time for a suitable replacement to be found". Don Grady remembers that "Towards the end it was pretty sad, he would forget his lines and it got worse and worse during that last year. He went down real fast". Stanley Livingston recalls that he "felt it was kind of heartless to do that to somebody of that age, forcing them off the show". Bill lived with his only companion, a male nurse and had some months of relative happiness. He passed away on March 3, 1966 a week after his 79th Birthday while walking down Hollywood Boulevard.

    • Whilst Frawley's character may have been headed for Ireland, we are only given the impression that it's for a holiday and that someday he will return. Off-screen, this was a done deal whereby the character would never return due to the ill health of Frawley at the time. There is a very poignant moment in this episode when Chip is helping Bub to pack for his overseas trip and there is a quick reaction shot at the end of that scene between Frawley and Livingston, subtlely alerting the viewer that this will indeed be the last time they will see each other. The emotion is definitely there even if at this point in the storyline it isn't made abundantly clear that Bub will not be returning.

    • When Steve is on the phone talking about a work associate named Carl Nugent , this is a nod to the show's long-time Property Master of the same name who was born in 1911 and passed away aged 88 in 2000. Similarly, the Douglas washing machine and kitchen stove break down on cue, courtesy of Special Effects by Joe Lombardi.

    • Viewers with a sharp ear for listening will recall that Frank DeVol's 'Irish Theme' for Bub is tracked into this episode. It is lifted from the original score from this season's earlier two-parter, "Dublin's Fair City".

    • Very curiously, the current release print for this episode (last seen on TV Land in the US, and Foxtel in Australia) has the wrong writer credits attached. The opening of the end credits showing writers James Allardice and Tom Adair was lifted from Episode 168. Half way through the credits it segues back into the correct guest star credits. Looke closely!

      The correct writer of this episode (second part of a two-part story arc) is George Tibbles who also authored the following episode as well. This is also verified by this author as well as being listed in the script depository at UCLA, which earmarks this episode as Production No. 5272-0165