Make Room for Daddy (later called "The Danny Thomas Show") is an ABC network sitcom series, starring Danny Thomas in the lead role.
The show first aired on ABC from September 29, 1953 to April 25, 1957, and on CBS (under "The Danny Thomas Show") from October 7, 1957 to April 27, 1964, lasting for 343 episodes.
A sequel to the series, "Make Room for Granddaddy" aired from 1970 to 1971.
The series centered on Danny Williams, a successful nightclub singer who encounters a variety of difficult or amusing situations as he tries to balance his career with his family that consists of his outspoken wife Kathy, teenage daughter Terry from his first marriage, children Russ and Linda, and old-fashioned Uncle Tonoose.
- Danny Thomas as Danny Williams
- Jean Hagen as Margaret Williams (1953–1956)
- Marjorie Lord as Kathy "Clancey" O'Hara Williams (1957–1964)
- Rusty Hamer as Rusty Williams
- Angela Cartwright as Linda Williams (1957–1964)
- Sherry Jackson as Terry Williams (1953–1958)
- Penney Parker as Terry Williams (1959–1960)
- Louise Beavers as Louise (1953–1955)
- Amanda Randolph as Louise (1955–1964)
For its first three years, "Make Room For Daddy" garnered decent ratings, but failed to make the list of the top 30 programs.
Shortly after filming the third season, Jean Hagen left the show over dissatisfaction with her role and frequent clashes with Danny Thomas. Thomas was upset with her for leaving, and felt that the show would not last without her. However, he decided to push on.
At the start of the fourth season, the series title was changed to "The Danny Thomas Show". Both Thomas and producer Sheldon Leonard were faced with a serious dilemma—how to explain Hagen's absence.
To have "Danny" and "Margaret" divorce in that era would have been unacceptable to television audiences, so it was explained that Margaret had died suddenly off-screen; it was a risky move because until this time, no character on a TV situation comedy had died.
Danny nowwas now a widower juggling a performing career while raising two children on his own. He had Louise and his friends often looking after the children while he was touring. He decided to move them to a boarding school, but later relented and the family moved into a new apartment.
During the fourth season, the Danny character dated a few other women and nearly got engaged to a widowed singer until he found out she did not like children. By season's end, the ratings had suffered and it was decided that a wife and mother was needed to complete the family unit.
In a four-part story arc that began airing in April 1957, son Rusty fell ill with the measles and Danny hired Kathy O'Hara (Marjorie Lord), a young Irish nurse, to look after him. Kathy was a widow with a little girl (played by Lelani Sorenson).
Danny and Kathy became fast friends and, not surprisingly, Danny quickly fell in love with her, as did the kids. In the season finale, the two became engaged.
In a curious twist, ABC at this point canceled the series, which proved to be fortunate. In the spring of 1957, "I Love Lucy" (which had reigned as the top-rated show for almost all of its six-year run on CBS) was ending production.
When CBS heard that ABC was cancelling "The Danny Thomas Show", it picked it up as part of its 1957-58 schedule. The show made its debut on CBS on Monday, October 7, 1957 at 9:00 p.m., inheriting the time slot vacated by "I Love Lucy".
The fifth-season premiere episode, "Lose Me In Las Vegas," had Danny and Kathy already married and on their honeymoon.
The Williams family moved into a larger brand-new apartment and, with the change of network, the producers also changed Kathy's daughter. Lelani Sorenson was dropped from the cast and replaced by Angela Cartwright as Linda. Linda then was adopted by Danny, and the show's ratings dramatically increased.
In fact, at the end of its fifth season, "The Danny Thomas Show" posted its highest rating, ranking at #2.
During this season, Amanda Randolph was sick and rarely appeared as Louise, who was said to be recovering from the flu, with Kathy doing most of the housework.
In the early part of the sixth season, Sherry Jackson left the show and the character of Terry was said to have gone to a girls school in Paris.
Jackson commented on her close friendship with Jean Hagen and why she left the series, saying, "The major perk was Jean Hagen. I adored her. We had a great time. She and I were best buddies; she was my only friend from the Make Room for Daddy cast. What made me specifically want to leave the show? I had a five-year contract, Jean had a three-year contract. Jean was thoroughly fed up with the series and made it clear that she didn't want to come back. When she left, I was devastated. I didn't want to continue, either. I wanted to break my contract. They wouldn't let me leave, but gave me less to do; that's why I'm in fewer shows from ages 14–16."
In the seventh season, the character of Terry was brought back, but recast with Penney Parker. Terry was featured in a seven-episode story arc that had her engaged and eventually married to Pat Hannigan (Pat Harrington, Jr.), a nightclub friend of Danny's. After the wedding, the Hannigans moved to California and Terry was rarely mentioned, never to be seen on the show again.
In the last two seasons, with Thomas and Lord growing tired of their roles, Danny and Kathy both regularly traveled, and for much of the tenth season they toured Europe (with a handful of episodes featuring location footage).
Rusty and Linda were looked after by Danny's manager, Charlie Halper (Sid Melton) and his wife Bunny (Pat Carroll).
During the show's 11th and final season, Thomas decided to retire from the show and the program ended in the spring of 1964, finishing as still one of the most popular television programs and ranking at #9.