Make Room for Daddy follows the life of Danny Williams, a comedian and nightclub entertainer, and his beautiful family. In the first three seasons of the show which aired on ABC, Jean Hagen played Danny’s wife who was the voice of reason on the show. Sherry Jackson played the role of Terry, Danny’s 11-year-old daughter and Rusty Hamer played Rusty, Danny and Margaret’s 6-year-old son. In 1956, Jean left the show and in 1957, Make Room for Daddy transformed into The Danny Thomas Show which aired on ABC. In 1957, Marjorie Lord and Angela Cartwright joined the show’s cast. The show registered a successful 11-year-long run before going off the air in 1964.
Make Room for Daddy won many awards and was one of the most-watched shows of the 50s. Danny’s portrayal of Danny Williams won him a place in TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time”. Most importantly, the show led to two incredibly popular spin-offs and set the benchmark against which all future sitcoms competed.
In this video, we take a look at what made the show so successful as well as pay tribute to the successful career and inspiring life of Danny Thomas. Facts Verse Presents Make Room for Daddy: Danny Thomas’ Brilliant Career.
Before we get started, make sure you click like, subscribe to our channel and press the bell icon so that we can keep you entertained every day.
In 1940, a young comedian who went by the name Amos Jacobs and had tasted some success at the local radio came to Chicago in search of work. He spent days and weeks looking for opportunities to prove his mettle and command over his craft. The city, however, was unrelenting in its cruelty. Tired and dejected, the young comedian almost decided to quit and return, when he passed by a church and attended a mass that had such a deep impact on him that he gave away the last $7 he had left in this pocket. His wife and he were expecting at that time and therefore, he knelt, prayed and left. The same day, Amos got offered two acting jobs that paid him ten times the amount he had placed in the collection box. By the end of the month, he was making waves with his talent at The 5100 Club, one of the most popular Chicago clubs. Amos, then, decided to choose a new pseudonym and an actor that the world would remember for centuries to come — Danny Thomas — was born.
At a time when comedians focussed on one-line-joke comedy, Danny impressed audiences with his unique style and observational comedy. He would go on to the stage and deliver 12 to 15-minute-long monologues highlighting funny incidents from day-to-day life. Thomas became a popular name in the city comedy circuit and with popularity came radio and big-screen opportunities that kept him busy but did not turn into long-term career opportunities. In the 1950s, Thomas decided to foray into the world of television.
Before we tell you about how Make Room for Daddy came to be, please take a moment and like and subscribe to our channel. If you enjoy our videos, press the bell icon and we will keep you posted about all our latest videos.
Danny wanted to create something for the small screen. However, he was clueless about what would work. Then his children gave him the idea that became the foundation of Make Room for Daddy. You see Thomas was a father who stayed on the road for the most part of the year. So, every time we went away, his wife would ask their children to take turns sleeping with her. When Danny would eventually come home, he would tell his children, “Okay, make room for daddy.” It was this routine that gave birth to the idea of Make Room for Daddy — the story of a showbusiness father who does not know how to handle routine family situations and his inabilities, therefore, lead to domestic comedy. He is continually yelling, a character trait that made him all the more believable and adorable.
The show aired in 1953 and maintained high rankings and ratings throughout its first season. In fact, the show also won the Best New Show for the year 1952-1953. While Danny was very convincing as the hands-on dad trying to get on the same page as his children and played a key role in the show’s success, credit must also be given to the children who starred in the show. Make Room for Daddy came at a time when America was dealing with the post-war baby boom and thus, children had a major say in deciding what the family would watch together. Thus, shows that starred children enjoyed more popularity in the 1950s in America. While all the children who starred in the show were incredibly talented, watching Rusty Hamer match Danny line to line was particularly entertaining. Rusty was a gifted child and entertainer.
The popularity and the love that the show enjoyed can be gauged from the fact that the show maintained its ratings even after undergoing several character changes. The original cast of the show included Jean Hagen, who played the role of Danny’s wife. It is believed that there was no love lost between Danny and Hagen and therefore, Hagen decided to quit the show after the third season to pursue a career in films. Thus, at the beginning of the fourth season, it was revealed that Margaret had died suddenly and Danny was now a widower.
Hagen’s exit allowed the show’s writers to introduce several new characters as potential partners for Danny. It also was this creativity and ability of the show’s writers to use every situation to their advantage that made the show such a big hit. In the season finale of Make Room for Daddy, Danny proposes to Kathy O’Hara, played by Marjorie Lord, and she accepts. In 1957, when the show moved to CBS from ABC, Lord joined the original cast and through her, came the supremely talented Angela Cartwright. Cartwright played the role of Linda, Kathy’s daughter from her previous marriage, who Danny legally adopts. Cartwright was only five when she joined the cast.
Since we are talking about Make Room for Daddy, which eventually became The Danny Thomas Show, let us also tell you about all the talented and popular actors who made regular appearances on the show. Louis Beavers appeared on the show several times between 1953 and 1955. Sheldon Leonard, who was also the show’s director, often appeared in front of the camera. Other popular actors who appeared on the show include Jesse White, Mary Wickes, Sid Melton and Pet Carroll.
Make Room for Daddy was a pioneering show in many regards. First, it is a show made in a genre that continues to be popular even today and even though Make Room for Daddy came almost 70 years ago, it set a standard against which today’s popular shows are judged. The Danny Thomas Show is also one of the only few shows in the annals of television history to have led to an iconic spin-off The Andy Griffith Show. The character of Andy Griffith was born on February 15, 1960, when an episode of The Danny Thomas Show titled ‘Danny Meets Andy Griffith’ aired on television.
After a successful 11-year-long run, The Danny Thomas Show went off the air in 1964. Danny Thomas, however, continued his work both in front of and behind the camera. He partnered with Sheldon Leonard and established the Thomas-Leonard Productions, which gave audiences two of the biggest comedy hits: The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show. In 1965, Leonard left the production and Danny ventured on his own, producing hit films and shows that changed the course of American television.In 1970, he reunited with the cast of Make Room for Daddy for Make Room for GrandDaddy. Though the show lasted only a single season, it allowed audiences to relive a show that had made them laugh for 11 long years.
Danny Thomas wasn’t just a brilliant actor and comedian. He was also an equally wonderful human being who did his part for humanity. When Danny Thomas was a struggling actor working hard to make ends meet, he had promised himself that if he ever became successful, he would create a shrine dedicated to St. Jude Thaddeus. Thus, when in the 1950s, Danny began seeing some concrete success, he and his wife, Rose, devoted themselves to raising funds for the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Danny and Rose travelled around the United States, raising funds for the hospital. In 1962, with the help of Anthony Abraham, an automobile magnate, Danny inaugurated the St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital. Today, the facility has eight affiliate hospitals across the U.S. This pediatric facility runs to this day and focuses on children suffering from life-threatening diseases like Leukemia and other forms of cancers and though it takes US$2.8 million a day to keep the facility going, patients aren’t charged any money.
Danny Thomas was an actor and comedian par excellence. At a time, when Americans were getting tired of one-line-joke comedy, Danny dared to do something different. He won audiences with his story-telling humour and his ability to find entertainment in day-to-day situations. It was this talent for observational humour that made Make Room for Daddy such a big hit. While Danny will always be remembered as TV’s one of the most favourite dads, he will also be remembered greatly for his philanthropic contributions and for establishing the St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital that continues to save lives to this day.
Leave us a comment below and tell us how you are remembering Danny Thomas! And before you go, make sure you like this video and subscribe to Facts Verse for more videos!