Situation Comedy 1957-1962
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The pedigree of Bachelor Father goes back to a 1935 radio show called Fibber McGee and Molly, the creation of husband and wife team Jim and Marian Jordan. This show was one of the very first situation comedies. It was about a mythical town and its characters. Another first was the broadcasting spin-off. Fibber McGee and Molly gave rise to several spin-off shows starring many of its characters. One that became more successful than most starred a character called Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve. The Great Gildersleeve premiered in 1941. It concerned unmarried Throckmorton's tribulations as he suddenly is put in charge of his nephew and niece.
Everett Freeman, already a successful radio scriptwriter and radio producer was working on several shows such as the popular Baby Snooks at the same time as The Great Gildersleeve was being produced. Over a decade later he put his adapted version of the story to MCA's production company Revue Productions (MCA happened to be the production company for The Great Gildersleeve). What was to follow was a 5 year run of Bachelor Father, on CBS, NBC and ABC.
The main character was Bentley Gregg, played by John Forsythe (who later to played Blake Carrington in Dynasty). Noreen Corcoran played the co-starring role of Kelly. She landed the role when Ronald Reagan happened to see her screen test. He immediately recommended her.
Gregg is a wealthy attorney living in Beverly Hills. Being the godparent to his niece, Kelly, he was responsible for her upbringing when her parents were killed in a car crash.
Eligible Bachelor Bentley Gregg already has an eye for the ladies. He is aided and abetted in his quest for female company by Kelly, who decides to play matchmaker on several occasions.
The housekeeper, Peter Tong (played by Sammee Tong) does his best to keep things in order in the chaos that ensues. Shaggy dog Jasper also makes regular appearances. Kelly's best friend Ginger (Bernadette Withers) would also join in the various plots.
Over the 157 episodes, the characters and storyline evolve. In early episodes a familiar format is established with Bentley being dragged into various situations (often at the behest of Kelly) and then meeting a beautiful woman who he always falls for. By the final season Kelly is dating and eventually has a fiancé although the show is taken off air before we get to see the wedding.
John Forsythe had successful quadruple bypass surgery in 1979 and emerged as Blake Carrington in Dynasty in the 1980's. He is now retired. Noreen Corcoran retired from acting in 1965 to concentrate on dance and theater management. Sammee Tong, faced with mounting gambling debts, committed suicide in 1964.