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Make Room for Daddy / The Danny Thomas Show (ABC-CBS 1953-1964)

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Singer-comic Danny Thomas had always struggled with leaving his family when he went on the road to perform. In those days, a good television gig could keep an actor near home, but Thomas’ initial foray into the small screen was a variety show that was quickly cancelled. After that disappointing experience, ABC executives would only agree to another shot if Thomas starred in a sitcom. During a long brainstorming session one night, Thomas and the network brass decided that the new show’s premise should reflect Thomas’ real life, and Make Room for Daddy was born.

True to Thomas’ experiences, the sitcom featured a traveling performer-father trying to work and raise a family simultaneously. The real life Thomas got to forgo the motel rooms of the road and act in a successful, long-running, Emmy-winning series, just like he always wanted. And even better than that, when he went home from the studio at night, he was looking right at his source material for future episodes.

In its 1953 debut and for three years following, Thomas’ character, Danny Williams, was married with two precocious kids, Terry and Rusty. But when actress Jean Hagen (Danny’s TV missus) left the show after three seasons, the sitcom endured the first of many casting evolutions. Hagen’s character was written to have died, so in the fourth season, Danny played a widower who dated a number of guest-starring lady friends—sometimes to the comic dismay of his kids.

In the 1956 season finale, Danny proposed to the widowed Irish lass Kathy. With Kathy’s little daughter Linda, the core Williams brood was established for the next seven years, and when the program returned to the air in the fall of ’56, it was renamed The Danny Thomas Show. In 1957, the sitcom switched from ABC to CBS, and into a time slot previously occupied by the CBS’s powerhouse I Love Lucy.

Danny Thomas was one of the only sitcoms to stay on the air more than a decade, and it set new standards for the portrayal of realistic familial dynamics. The Williams kids weren’t the head-bowing, ever-obedient types of 50’s sitcom youngsters—when Thomas hollered or cracked wise, his TV kids gave it right back. The show was constantly peppered with interesting guest appearances too, as real-life stage personalities worked the mic at the clubs where Danny Williams performed. Incidentally, Thomas’ off-camera comedy bits, which were performed for the live studio audiences just before taping began, planted the seed for the now industry standard pre-show “warm-up.”

Make Room For Daddy

Thomas formed a company with a man named Sheldon Leonard, who directed The Danny Thomas Show during its first season and went on to executive produce. Their very successful and prolific T and L Productions was responsible for shows like The Real McCoys, The Andy Griffith Show (actually a spin-off from a Danny Thomas episode) and The Dick Van Dyke Show (for which Thomas recommended Mary Tyler Moore to play Laura Petrie). Performers like Bill Dana and Joey Bishop went from guest appearances on Danny Thomas’ show to the stars of their own shows—produced by Danny Thomas.

The Danny Thomas Show ended its run in 1964, though NBC re-ran it under the original Make Room for Daddy title as part of its weekday schedule from 1960 to 1965. Much of the beloved cast reassembled for two TV specials that aired in ’67 and ’69, then came together again in 1970 for the one-season spin-off sitcom Make Room for Granddaddy.

So, Thomas’ real life family became the basis for his television show, and his television show opened opportunities for his real life TV business. There are those guys on commercials who aren’t doctors but who play them on TV…Thomas was, in fact, a performer who also happened to play one on TV, and not surprisingly, he played himself perfectly.

production details
UK / ABC – CBS / x25 minute episodes / 20 September 1953 – 18 July 1957 on ABC and 7 October 1957 – 14 September 1964

cast
Danny Thomas as Danny Williams
Jean Hagen as Margaret Williams (1953-56)
Marjorie Lord as Mrs. Kathy “Clancy” Williams (1957-64)
Sherry Jackson as Terry Williams (1953-58)
Penny Parker as Terry Williams (1959-60)
Rusty Hamer as Rusty Williams
Angela Cartwright as Linda Williams (1957-64)
Amanda Randolph as Louise (1953-64)
Horace McMahon as Phil Arnold (1953-54)
Ben Lessy as Benny (1953-57)
Jesse White as Jesse Leeds (1954-57)
Hans Conried as Uncole Tonoose (1958-64)
Sheldon Leonard as Phil Arnold (1957-64)
Pat Harrington Jr. as Pat Hannigan (1959-60)
Annette Funicello as Gina Minelli (1959)
Sid Melton as Uncle Charley Halper (1959-64)

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TV

You Can’t Fight Christmas (TV One 2017, Brely Evans, Andra Fuller)

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You Can't Fight Christmas TV One

You Can’t Fight Christmas begins with the annual holiday decorating of the Chesterton Hotel by interior design expert Leslie Major (Evans). She is hard at work managing the transformation when she meets and develops a crush on the hotel owner’s handsome grandson, Edmund James (Fuller). Soon she discovers that Edmund and his uptight business partner, Millicent (White), have secret plans.

They intend to completely revamp the hotel into an upscale business resort once Edmund inherits it from his grandfather. Scheming Millicent also has plans for Edmund that involve a wedding ring.

Is he ready to take their partnership to the next level? Can Leslie save the hotel and its Christmas legacy? Will Edmund find his Christmas spirit?

You Can’t Fight Christmas also features appearances by Travis Winfrey (Single Ladies), Porsha Coleman (Hollywood Today Live), and cross-over appearances by Ash and Davis Jr.

cast
Brely Evans as Leslie Major
Andra Fuller as Edmund James
Persia White as Millicent Williams
Porscha Coleman as Belinda King
Travis Winfrey as Kevin Boudreaux
Nathan Davis Jr. as Thomas Wallace
Dedrick Bonner as Darren Rollins
Matthew Jones as Arnold Willis
Larry Poindexter as Jasper
Richard Gant as J. J. James
Marla Gibbs as Beverly Lawrence
Erica Ash as Regina Young
Ava Elise Farmer as Brie Wallace
Nicholas Anthony Reid as Waiter
Glen Marzillo as Tony

crew details
Director: Kenny Young
Writer: Marnie Martin
Producers: Elizabeth Cullen, Sean Dwyer

production details
Country: USA
Network and Production Companies: TV One – Poke Productions
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017

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TV

Royal Christmas Ball, A (ION 2017, Tara Reid, Ingo Rademacher)

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Royal Christmas Ball ION

Dateless for the Christmas ball, 39-year-old bachelor, King Charles of Baltania, tracks down his American college sweetheart, only to discover Allison has never been married, yet raised a 17-year-old daughter, Lily, who mathematically might be Charles’ biological princess.

cast
Tara Reid as Allison
Ingo Rademacher as King Charles
Mira Furlan as Rosa
Haley Pullos as Lily
Faune Chambers Watkins as Eva
Mykel Shannon Jenkins as Sam
Marc Anthony Samuel as Marcus
Christian Olivo as Victor
Miles Burris as Emile
Kennedy Lea Slocum as Taylor
Claire Cohen as Lorena
David Meza as Waiter
Cesar Cipriano as Florist
Stan Bly as Paparazzi
Brian Nolan as Paparazzi

crew details
Director: David DeCoteau
Writer: Suzanne Dunn
Story: Jeffrey Schenck, Peter Sullivan

production details
Country: USA
Network and Production Companies: ION – Hybrid Films
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Sunday 10 December 2017

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TV

Runaway Christmas Bride (ION 2017, Cindy Busny, Travis Milne)

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Runaway Christmas Bride ION 2017

A runaway bride, Kate, making herself scarce for the holidays, meets a ski patrol rescuer, Jason, at a resort. Her December days begin to brighten, until her parents and jilted fiancé, Alex, show up at the mountain to reset the wedding for Christmas.

cast
Cindy Busby as Kate
Travis Milne as Jason
Christos Shaw as Mike
Karen Kruper as Lily Paulson
Mark Milburn as Alex Atkins
Bruce Dawson as Rick Atkins
Roz Murray as Kim Atkins
Trent Pryor as Wedding Rehersal Guest
Holly James as Wedding Guest

crew details
Director: David DeCoteau
Writer: Brian Skiba

production details
Country: Canada
Network and Production Companies: ION – Odyssey Media
Duration: 1×120 minute episode
Aired From: Saturday 9 December 2017

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