‘Father Knows Best’: One Character Made the Jump from the Radio Show to the TV Show

by Atlanta Northcutt

Only one actor was special enough to be able to make the jump from the “Father Knows Best” radio program to the TV show.

 Robert Young was special enough to be featured from the very, very beginning of “Father Knows Best” all the way through the end of the series.

“Father Knows Best”- The Father Lives On

At the beginning of the series, Robert Young began playing the voice of the “Father” in “Father Knows Best.” Young used both his acting and vocal talents when the show began playing on the radio in 1949. It aired on NBC radio on Thursday nights and was sponsored by Maxwell House. It first appeared on the CBS network in 1954.

Once the popular series transitions to TV and appears on the CBS network, all of the other roles besides Young receive changes from the show’s original vocal characters.

The woman who played the role of his wife, Margaret, was June Whitley. She is viewed as the (literal) voice of reason for her husband. Whitley’s replacement on the show is by actress Jean Vander Pyl. The actress was the voice of other characters, such as Wilma Flintstone and the robot maid, Rosie, on The Jetsons.

From Radio to TV

The radio program the show’s based on depicts Young’s character as much more unintelligent and clumsy than the TV father. While playing the television role of Anderson, his depiction is as a wiser, more caring, and far more knowledgeable dad than before.

However, he was much gruffer in his demeanor while not on camera. The father originally had a unique and original sense of humor for his time. At one point, he reportedly says, “What a bunch of stupid children I have.”

The sarcastic sense of humor spreads throughout the family as they continuously make wise-cracks at each other. Young is much less sarcastic and abrasive on TV in comparison to his portrayal of the radio character. He appears to be much kinder.

Robert Young was the only cast member remaining from the show’s original transformation from radio to TV.

When the show finally becomes a CBS series, it receives a whole new list of actors. Young was still the star of the show. His new castmates are Jane Wyatt as wife Margaret Anderson, Elinor Donahue as Betty, Billy Gray as Bud, and Lauren Chapin as Kathy.

Throughout all of the tribulations and trials of “Father Knows Best,” the show never quits shining. Its main star, Robert Young, continuously basks in the show’s light as it transitions from radio to TV.