‘Family Affair’ Takes Place in the Same Fictional Setting as ‘My Three Sons’ and Another Classic Sitcom

by Suzanne Halliburton
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Family Affair fans probably felt a similar vibe while watching My Three Sons. They were all family-oriented with single men raising a family.

The shows, all classics from the 1960s, were created by the same people. And they both shared a connection with a short-lived sitcom called To Rome With Love. And, To Rome With Love also featured a single dad with three kids. The difference here is this sitcom was based in Rome.

Edmund L Hartmann and Don Fedderson created Family Affair, the show that ran from 1966-71. The show ranked among the country’s top 10 shows in three of its five seasons.

Fedderson was the executive producer of My Three Sons. And Hartmann was a producer. The show ran for a dozen seasons and ranked among the country’s top 20 shows for seven of them.

It was the same situation for To Rome With Love. Fedderson’s production company ran the show. Hartmann was a producer. However, unlike the more popular Family Affair and My Three Sons, the show only lasted two years. And producers tried to save it from cancellation. John Forsythe, years before Charlie’s Angels and Dynasty, starred as Michael Endicott, a widower who was a college professor. He had three kids and he moved the family to Rome after he accepted a job at the American Overseas School.

Family Affair, My Three Sons Used In Cross Promotion to Help Struggling Show

With the show struggling, producers added actor Walter Brennan to the cast. The show shifted to a different night. There even were cross-over episodes to help with marketing.

On the episode called Roman Affair, Buffy (Anissa Jones) and Jody (Johnny Whitaker) accompanied by Mr. French (Sebastian Cabot) from Family Affair visited Rome and the show. Two episodes later, a good chunk of the My Three Sons cast paid a visit for Rome Is Where You Find It. Uncle Charley (William Demarest) came along with Robbie (Don Grady) and Katie Douglas (Tina Cole.)

But there were no crossovers involving the two more popular shows — Family Affair and My Three Sons. Uncle Bill (Brian Keith) raised Cissy (Kathy Garver), Buffy and Jody in his ritzy apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

And like Family Affair, Fred MacMurray, as Steven Douglas, was a single man raising his brood of boys on My Three Sons. He had help from Uncle Charley. The show stayed on so long it ran on two networks — ABC and CBS. In all, there were 380 episodes, all done in front of a live audience.

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