Back in the day we had amazing father figures to look to. Here is my list, in no particular order, of great TV dads.
He is my prototypical TV dad. Always a wise word, loving with his wife, great with his boys, he knew how to take his shoes off, put his slippers on, and read the evening paper before dinner. He got mad at the boys when they were bad, but not too mad. Just angry enough that the Beeve and Wally knew they'd disappointed the old man, which was just something you didn't do to Ward Cleaver. He was too good to be someone you'd want to disappoint; instead, he was the type of man you aspired to grow up to be.
Always the wise word, because he used to be a hippie. Which made him cool, even though he was now a sort-of-yuppie. Also, he lived in Columbus, OH, and NO t.v. show was set in Columbus, ever (although us Columbus kids couldn't really figure out where he lived, in his lovely Victorian house and safe neighborhood, a combo that wasn't as common then as it is now). His son Worshiped at the alter of capitalism and Ronald Reagan, something he was totally opposed to (remember, hippie), but he loved him and listened to him just the same. His daughter brought home a scary looking artist dude and he accepted him. He got angry, and the kids didn't want to disappoint him, either, because at the heart of it, he was a good man who loved his family and he wasn't afraid to say it. And his son was Michael J Fox.
Dan was an every man. He worked on motorcycles. His business failed. He worked hard to keep his family supplied for. He didn't like his life at times and at others loved it and everyone in it. He threw angry fits at times, but usually saw the humor in life. Dan took things as they came at him and handled them the best he could, which was usually pretty well, given that he was poor and had a crass, domineering wife, rebellious, disaffected kids, and an absolute mess of a father, sister-in-law, and mother-in-law. He gave funny yet insightful advice to his family and was as protective as he could be. Blessed with a big belly and a big heart, we all loved him.
Probably one of the moral people ever on TV. The town sheriff who wouldn't let his deputy load his gun (for obvious reasons). He raised his son in an authoritative yet gentle manner; you were never in doubt of who was in charge. When Opie killed a bird, he didn't like it and let Opie know it, but he let Opie work out the ethics of it all on his own. He was always there for his son, Aunt Bea, Helen, and everyone in town. The handsomest man in church, he ate the kerosene pickles just to make sure Aunt Bea was happy. If every boy aspired to be an Andy Taylor, just imagine what a fabuous, Mayberry of a world we could live in.
Frontier dad who built a log cabin, could dig a well, and saw his children through a life threatening illness practically every episode. Could deal with tragedy better than any human being ever born, and had the authority to get his family (and everyone else in town for that matter) through it as well. Strong, silent, loving, godly. Was Charles Ingalls perfect? Maybe.
Widower, aeronautical engineer, and understanding father to Mike, Chip, and Robbie, and later, Ernie. A family of boys who grew into men, accompanied by grandfather "Bub" and housekeeper Uncle Charlie. Along the way, the boys got married, had a few kids, they moved from Illinois to California, and Steve ruled the family along the way.
A man who found his calling when the toilet overflowed. Local hardware store owner, devoted husband, lodge brother, and bowling league member. Let a greaser live over his garage and eventually became the closest thing to a father that greaser ever had. Raised a superb son of fine moral fiber (even though he barely tolerated his goonie friends) and a spazzy girl in a poodle skirt (even though she eventually ran off with the greaser's cousin to live over a pizza shop and sing cheesy duets). Had it going on long before "had it going on" meant anything.
Sure, he was a TV handy man who couldn't fix anything. That didn't matter when he got home (well, it did, but there was always Al to fix what he broke). At home, he was a manly man, raising three boys to become honorable men, drinking a beer here and there, and restoring his series of amazing hot rods. He and his wife had IT going on, even though they had a fight here and there. Slightly befuddled but spot on where it counted, he knew when to ask his sage neighbor for advice, and always seemed to get it right in the end.
When Americans were asked which TV dad they would most like to have, all of the above men made the list, along with Ben Cartright, Ozzie Nelson, Mike Brady, and, inexplicably, Peter Griffin, but Cliff Huxtable was #1 by a landslide. And lets all face it, Cliff is the best dad on TV, ever. He's funny, smart, likes to play with kids, love his wife, may not get what he wants all the time but can laugh his way through it, and will go to unending lengths to teach his kids a lesson (such as when he cleared out Theo's room, created a fake job, made him rent his room back, buy all the furniture, leaving him, of course, with nothing at the end of the day to have fun with, all the while enlisting every member of the family as bit players in Theo's lesson in economics). Who didn't love his wacky sweaters, his love of jazz, and his attempts to eat whatever he wanted despite Claire's watchful eye. I really could write an entire thesis on Cliff (and I'm sure a few people have), but I will end it here, wondering "Will there ever be another Cliff?"
Who are some of your favorite TV dads, and who did I forget?