The City of Los Angeles honors MY THREE SONS on May 16th., an Interview with Stanley Livingston 'Chip'
The City Council of Los Angeles has declared May 16, 2012, MY THREE SONS DAY in Los Angeles. The city will honor and celebrate the show and the cast of television's second longest running situation comedy series, MY THREE SONS. The official ceremony will be at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, May 16th at City Hall.
I remember the show fondly. For baby boomers, it was a staple of television watching. I remember being four-years-old, my mother was babysitting my cousins and they didn’t want to watch... I thought, 'What?!, no MY THREE SONS?' That was a very bad night for me. That show was one of my favorites.
Years later, I ran into Stanley Livingston who played “Chip” on the show at Jerry’s Deli in the valley. Jerry's was one of the few places open late at night, a place to go after a show and we were both there often. I had read about Stanley's stained glass artwork in People Magazine. I would pass the glass daily, hanging in front of his house in the canyon on my way into L.A. The stained glass pieces were beautiful. Until the article, I didn’t know he was the artist. That night at Jerry's, my husband, Cory Riback and I complimented his artwork. That was twenty years ago and we’ve been very good friends ever since.
LAW: What are you doing right now?
SL: I'm watching a re-run of last night's episode of MAD MEN. It’s my favorite show on television. It's also the best written. Great characters and character arcs. I love the early 1960's atmosphere and sets. I think MAD MEN has won the prime time Emmy for best show for four years in a row.
LAW: How did you find out that the city was going to honor MY THREE SONS?
SL: My brother, Barry [Livingston, who played Ernie] called me to tell me. I was floored. It's nice to be honored anytime... but fifty years later and by the City of Los Angeles? Wow! I was born and raised in Los Angeles.... so this really is special. I'm a Hollywood kid.
LAW: Why do you think they picked now to honor you and the series?
SL: The show has reached that magic benchmark of fifty plus years old. I'm older than that. I'll be sixty-two. I guess it's now, or never for both the show and me!
LAW: Why do you think the series has sustained time and is still popular?
SL: The show has never gone off the air in over fifty years - ABC, CBS, Syndication, Nick-at-Nite, TV Land, The Family Channel, The Odyssey Channel, The Hallmark Channel, The Family Net.... and now: the ME-TV Network. MY THREE SONS is an institution because it promulgates the kind of family values that resonate with audiences who have children. The rest of our audience are probably baby boomers who love to re-live their past and the good ol' days. Also, my guess is,... that most of the members of the L.A. City Council are baby boomers. Plus,... the way I see it, giving us an award is much more fun than arguing about a budget to fill pot holes in the streets of L.A.
LAW: How old were you when you got the role of Chip?
SL: I was hired to do the pilot episode of MY THREE SONS at the end of 1959. I was only nine-years- old at the time. However, I was a very old nine-year-old, because I had already been working for a living in the entertainment industry for five years.
LAW: Did you have to audition?
SL: Yes, I did audition, but at a private interview. The producer's requested to see me because I already had a large body of work behind me - TV shows like OZZIE AND HARRIET, LASSIE, DENNIS THE MENACE - and movies: RALLY 'ROUND THE FLAG, BOYS (with Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward), PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DASIES (with Doris Day and David Niven). I was hired the very next day. It was a good thing too... because my unemployment benefits were just about ready to run out.
Unemployment benefits at nine-years-old?
SL: (Laughs) Yes….
LAW: What was your favorite episode of My Three Sons?
SL: My favorite episode is called "Raft on the River". The story line was that I was too young to go on a camping trip with the show's two older siblings, Robbie (Don Grady) and Mike (Tim Considine). So, before they leave on their exciting trip, they quickly build a raft with a little cabin on it out of a pile of scrap lumber sitting in the family's back yard. When I am too afraid to spend the night in the raft by myself - Steve (Fred MacMurray) spends the night with me. What happens next on a peaceful summer night becomes quite an adventure: Steve gets locked out of the house, thunder, lightning, rain, eerie sounds,... and finally... a ghostly apparition appears. The ghost turns out to be...Bub (William Frawley) who returns home late that night and rescues us,... mostly from our vivid imaginations.