Family Affair: TV Shows Of The ’70s

Many consider The Brady Bunch to be the quintessential ’70s television series centered on family, in this case a blended unit. The Me Decade also proved to be fertile ground for an assortment of familial situations.

The Partridge Family (1970 to 1974)

Shirley Jones played the widowed matriarch of this musical brood consisting of her five children that was loosely based on the real-life Cowsills. The show spawned eight Partridge Family albums, 96 episodes and turned the late David Cassidy into a teen idol.

The Waltons (1971 to 1981)

Based on the Earl Hamner Jr. book Spencer’s Mountain, this drama focused on the life of the title family living in the fictional rural mountain community of Jefferson County in Virginia during the Great Depression and World War II.

Eight Is Enough (1977 to 1981)

Syndicated newspaper columnist Thomas Braden, a real-life parent with eight children, wrote a book by the same title that served as the model for this comedy-drama featuring Dick Van Patten as the patriarch who worked for the fictional Sacramento Register.

Family (1976 to 1980)

This straightforward depiction of middle class life featured Sada Thompson and James Broderick as Kate and Doug Lawrence, parents of Nancy (Merdith Baxter Birney), Willie (Gary Frank) and Letitia aka “Buddy” (Kristy McNichol) and was executive produced by Mike Nichols, Aaron Spelling and Leonard Goldberg.

One Day At a Time (1975 to 1982)

This Norman Lear series focused on Indianapolis-based divorced mom Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) raising daughters Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli) Cooper. It was partially based on co-creator Whitney Blake’s life as a single mom raising three children including future actress Meredith Baxter.

Happy Days (1974 to 1984)

With origins dating back to a segment of the 1972 anthology series Love, American Style, Happy Days was creator Garry Marshall’s nod to the ’50s and the Milwaukee-based family that included wistful portrayals of adolescence via the Cunningham kids and Richie Cunningham’s friends.

Good Times (1974 to 1979)

A spin-off (Maude) of a spin-off (All In the Family), this Normal Lear sitcom focused on the trials and tribulations of the Evans family as they navigated through inner-city Chicago while trying to escape the throes of poverty.

The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969 to 1972)

Based on a novel that inspired a 1963 movie of the same name starring Glenn Ford, the television series starred the late Bill Bixby as Tom Corbett, a widowed magazine publisher whose son Eddie (Brandon Cruz) was trying to marry his father off with the help of Japanese housekeeper Mrs. Livingston (Miyoshi Umeki).

Soap (1977 to 1981)

This night-time parody of a daytime soap opera centered on the relationship between sisters/family matriarchs Jessica Tate (Katherine Helmond) and Mary Campbell (Cathryn Damon). Along with plots dealing with prison escapes, affairs and alien abductions, the show introduced the first primetime gay character, Billy Crystal’s Jodie Dallas.

Little House On the Prairie (1974 to 1983)

Set on a farm in Walnut Grove, MN, during the 1870s and 1880s, this series was an adaptation of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book series of the same name. Illness, addiction, sibling rivalry and adolescent issues were all touched upon during the show’s nine seasons.

An American Family (1971)

This groundbreaking documentary initially aired on PBS and was the first reality show. Its subject was the upper middle-class Loud family. During shooting, parents Bill and Pat Loud separated and then divorced while son Lance came out and was recognized as the first continuing television character that was openly gay.

All In the Family (1971 to 1979)

Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin teamed up to cast the die for this hugely influential show based on the British sitcom Till Death Us Do Part. Hot topics aplenty were addressed including racism, abortion, women’s liberation, infidelity, rape and homosexuality.

My Three Sons (1960 to 1972)

Through two networks (ABC, CBS), 380 episodes and two live-in male housekeepers (William Frawley, William Demarest), this series about widowed aeronautical engineer Steven Douglas (Fred MacMurray) raising a trio of sons endured for a dozen seasons.

The Jeffersons (1975 to 1985)

This All In the Family spin-off was a Norman Lear creation centered on an African-American family moving up the socioeconomic ranks. It not only became the first series to prominently feature an interracial married couple, but it touched on numerous issues including gun control, racism, suicide and alcoholism.

Family Affair (1966 to 1971)

This accidental family came about when successful civil engineer/wealthy bachelor William “Bill” Davis has his 15-year-old niece and her younger twin siblings move into his swanky Manhattan apartment with him and his gentlemen’s gentleman Giles French after Davis’ brother and his wife die in a car accident.

The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan (1972)

The animated world integrated far faster than it’s live action counterparts particularly via this show about the legendary Chinese detective and his 10 offspring. The voice of Mr. Chan was provided by Keye Luke, the only actor of Chinese ancestry to play the title character in any screen adaptation.

The Jackson 5ive (1971 to 1972)

This cartoon predated the 1976 live-action variety show The Jacksons. The animated series had the characters played by voice actors with records of the group’s songs used for the show’s musical tracks. Diana Ross did contribute her voice to the fictionalized version of herself in the pilot episode.

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Dave Gil de Rubio
In addition to being editor of Massapequa Observer and Hicksville News, Dave Gil de Rubio is a regular contributor to Long Island Weekly, specializing in music and sports features. He has won several awards for writing from Press Club of Long Island (PCLI).

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