Are you a fan of sitcom My Three Sons? This was a popular American sitcom that ran over 12 seasons and 380 episodes from 1960 to 1972. The show followed widowed aeronautical engineer named Steven Douglas and his three sons.
The show was a success due to its excellent writing and directing. But the show’s main success was due to its incredible cast members. Sadly, many of the main My Three Sons cast members have now passed away.
They lived incredible lives and persevered in their careers to become huge film and TV stars. We can all learn to follow our dreams and gain some inspiration from these incredible actors.
Let’s learn about how each My Three Sons cast members died and about their incredible lives and careers…
Fred MacMurray was born on the 30th of August, 1908, in Kankakee, Illinois. His father was a concert violinist and it seemed that Fred was destined to pursue a career as a musician himself. He performed as a vocalist with artists such as Gus Arnheim and George Olsen. He also played clarinet and tenor with Gus Arnheim.
But it was clear that Fred’s true talents were with acting. He began his acting career in the 1930s alongside his music career. He immediately got his start with great directors such as Billy Wilder and soon found himself acting alongside prominent actors such as Humphrey Bogart, Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, and Barbara Stanwyck.
His big break was as Walter Neff in the film noir Double Indemnity which was released in 1941. Two years later, he became the highest paid actor in Hollywood! He was also lauded for his villainous role in the romantic comedy drama film The Apartment.
That film was released in 1960 and it was the same year that he was cast as Steven Douglas in My Three Sons. He received praise for his role in the TV show and his performance is listed up there with some of his best film performances.
He largely retired from acting following My Three Sons. His final acting role was in the 1978 horror film The Swarm.
Fred MacMurray was a lifelong smoker and he sadly was diagnosed with throat cancer in the 1970s. In 1988, he suffered a stroke and was partially paralyzed for a few years. He suffered from leukemia and then eventually died from pneumonia in 1991 at the age of 83.
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William Frawley came into this world on February 26, 1887, in Burlington, Iowa. While he was best known for his role as Fred on I Love Lucy, his role as Bub O’Casey on My Three Sons also became one of his most memorable roles.
His religious mother wasn’t too keen on young William becoming an actor, he nevertheless persisted and began acting in local plays and even performing in operas.
While he worked a few day jobs as a stenographer and a court reporter, it was clear that his heart was with acting. He briefly formed a vaudeville double act with his brother Paul before moving on to scriptwriting.
He began his film career in the 1910s, appearing in a few silent films. By the 1940s, he had become a regular character actor in films such as Miracle on 34th Street and Monsieur Verdoux.
His big break came when he was cast as Fred in I Love Lucy – a role he played from the show’s start in 1951 to its end in 1957. Following the success of I Love Lucy, he was cast as “Bub” O’Casey on My Three Sons which became the other show he was best known for.
He appeared on the show from 1960 to 1965. Sadly, he died from a heart attack in 1966 only 5 days after his 79th birthday. My Three Sons continued without him for another 7 years, but many fans agree that his portrayal of “Bub” O’Casey was one of the highlights of the show.
William Demarest was born on February 27, 1892, in the twin-city, Saint Paul, Minnesota. He served in the US Army during the First World War and then began a career in show business upon returning to civilian life.
William first began working in vaudeville before graduating to Broadway plays. He soon came into contact with director Preston Sturges and became a favorite for the latter’s films. William appeared in some of Preston Sturges’ best films including The Lady Eve and Sullivan’s Travels. He also had a role in the hit comedy film It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World.
He also had a prominent career in television – appearing in shows such as Alfred Hitchcock Presents. His big break in TV came with his lead role in the sitcom Love and Marriage.
But his role as Uncle Charley on My Three Sons became his most popular TV role. His character was a replacement for “Bub” O’Casey who was played by William Frawley. The show continued to remain popular thanks to William Demarest’s excellent performance as Uncle Charley.
He had a few film roles in the 1970s but his role on My Three Sons would signify the peak of his career. William died in 1983 at the age of 91. He had been suffering from prostate cancer and pneumonia.
Born on June 8, 1944, in San Diego, California, Don Grady began his acting career in his teens appearing in several popular Western TV shows. These included shows such as The Restless Gun, Colt .45, Wichita Town, The Rifleman, and Wagon Train.
Much of his early career included bit parts and occasional recurring roles on these popular TV shows. He appeared in only a few films during his career with Ma Barker’s Killer Brood and The Wild McCullochs being his only credited film roles.
His big break came when he cast as Robbie Douglas in My Three Sons. He appeared in the show for 11 of the show’s 12 seasons. After he quit the show, he pursued a musicall career and often composed music for films and TV shows. He composed music for shows such as Donahue and even for an episode of My Three Sons. Don also composed music for Jetsons: The Movie.
He continued to work as a music composer throughout the 2000s – with his final credit being the 2008 documentary film On the Edge of Black and White. But his role as Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons remains his best known work. His role grew bigger as the show progressed but he didn’t want to stick around for the final season as he was eager to start his musical career. He was truly a multi-talented entertainer.
He sadly died of myeloma at the age of 68 in 2012.
Meredith MacRae was born on the 30th of May, 1944, in Houston, Texas. She began her acting career taking on bit parts in movies such as Beach Party.
Her first foray into television acting was as Julie Kovacs in The Young Marrieds. But it was her role as Sally Ann in My Three Sons which caused her acting career to take off. She played Mike’s love interest and loved her time on the show. Nevertheless, she asked to leave the show after 3 seasons as she wanted to explore other acting opportunities. As per her request, her character written out of the show.
During her time on My Three Sons she also appeared in the feature film Bikini Girl. Following her departure from the show, she acted in the film Footsteps in the Snow. She spent much of her career appearing in bit parts and recurring roles on popular TV shows including The Beverly Hillbillies, Love American Style, The FBI, The Rockford Files, CHiPS, Magnum PI, and Batman: The Animated Series.
Meredith also had a formidable film career following her departure from My Three Sons. She appeared in films such as Norwood, The Chinese Caper, My Friends Need Killing, Grand Jury, Earthbound, Vultures, and China Heat.
She also created and hosted the show Born Famous which premiered in 1987. Meredith MacRae died in 2000 due to complications from brain cancer – after experiencing intense vertigo and having a brain tumor removed in previous years.
Beverly Garland was born on October 17, 1926, in Santa Cruz, California. During her years at Glendale City College, she began taking acting classes.
One of her first major roles was as Nina in the TV drama Mama Rose. Early on, she developed a reputation for playing strong and tough roles. She also had a formidable movie career – with one of her early notable roles in the film D.O.A.
From 1957 to 1958, she appeared in the one-season police TV series Decoy – in which she played an undercover police officer.
She also acted in several films during the 1950s including Problem Girls, The Neanderthal Man, Bitter Creek, The Rocket Man, The Miami Story, The Desperado, Killer Leopard and Two Guns and a Badge.
She joined the cast of My Three Sons during the final season in 1972 where she played Barbara Harper Douglas. By this time, she was a veteran film and TV actor and a household name. She continued to act regularly in films and TV shows following the end of My Three Sons.
Her notable TV work in the later stage of her career included roles in Mannix, Kung Fu, Marcus Welby MD, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Trapper John MD, Scarecrow and Mrs. King, Port Charles and 7th Heaven. She also appeared in the films on occasion from the 1970s onwards. Her notable film roles during this stage of her career included the films Sixth and Main, Roller Boogie, It’s My Turn, and If – which was her final feature film role.
She died from natural causes in the year 2008 at the age of 82.
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