In 1945, English Author Josephine Leslie (under pseudonym R. A. Dick) wrote the gentle romantic novel The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Very soon after publication, Twentieth Century Fox got to hear about the book and purchased the movie rights and asked Fred Kohlmar to produce it.
The story concerns a widow, Lucy Muir, from turn of century England who rents a house by the sea in Cornwall, mainly as a refuge from her domineering family. Not long after Lucy and her child (two children in the tv version) plus her maid, move into the house, Lucy is confronted by the ghost of Captain Gregg. At first the ghost tries to frighten the family away, but after Lucy refuses to give in, they begin an ever deepening freindship, despite the captain's occasional stuffiness.
The movie was a moderate box office success in the U.S., but gained quite a following in Europe, especially France and was generally liked by the critics.
In 1968 Fox Television decided to revive the story and make it into a half-hour comedy drama. The success of lightweight comedies that included a fantasy element, such as Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie undoubtedly convinced Fox to pilot the show.
Hope Lange was cast as the re-named Carolyn Muir while the ghost - Captain Daniel Gregg - was played by Edward Mulhare. The show was set in contemporary times.
In the first season Mrs. Muir, her son Jonathan (played by Harlen Carraher) and occasionally the captain's nephew, Claymore Gregg (played by Charles Nelson Reilly), are the only people to be able to see and talk with the ghost (apart from the pet dog, Scruffy). Carolyn Muir is a freelance writer who is helped on occasion by Captain Gregg. As well as her children and housekeeper (and Scruffy) she has occasional visits from Claymore who happens to own the house. The captain always denies that Claymore is his nephew as he is resents the idea that he inherited the house that he once owned.
Claymore would often be at the wrong end of Captain Gregg's wrath as would other unwanted visitors, especially any potential suitors to Carolyn. In the second season, Carolyn's daughter, Candy (played by Kellie Flanagan) and housekeeper Martha (Reta Shaw) become aware of the Captain's presence and poor Claymore - another potential suitor for Carolyn - gets even more ghostly treatment from the captain.