My Three Sons
There’s something to be said for a strict upbringing—on TV at least. From 1960-72, the social tornado of sex, drugs and rock and roll that whirled across adolescent America never touched down at 837 Mill Street. As Steve Douglas, Fred MacMurray single-handedly raised one of the nation’s most functional families. He kept the dating chaste, the music melodic and the iced tea weak for sons Mike (Tim Considine, 54, who left the show in 1965 and is now a sports photographer and auto-racing expert), Robbie (Don Grady), Chip (Stanley Livingston) and their adopted sibling, Ernie (Barry Livingston). MacMurray, who died in 1991, didn’t need to worry about how his TV kids turned out.
Don Grady, 51, shares a powder-blue, two-story house (“a real My Three Sons house,” he says) with his wife, Ginny, 37, and their children Joey, 5, and Tessa, 16 months. Like many child stars (he was a Mouseketeer before becoming a Son), Grady found the adjustment back to the real world difficult. “One minute you’ve got a wardrobe man and a script girl and a director all concerned about you,” he says. “And then it’s gone. I’d never put my kids through that unless they knew it was what they really wanted.” But Grady, a prodigy who played eight instruments by age 12, was able to make a successful transition to showbiz composer. He penned the theme to the film Switch; his music for EFX, Michael Crawford’s Las Vegas show, is out on CD; and he’s completing the score for The Revolutionary War, a forthcoming Learning Channel documentary.
Stanley Livingston, 44, last appeared in this year’s Attack of the 60-Foot Centerfold, a straight-to-video release. On Sons, he often threw away fan mail unread, becoming, he says, “the black sheep of the family.” MacMurray tried to help. “At 18, I married a go-go dancer,” Stanley says. “He spoke to me about it a couple of times. You could tell he didn’t approve.” The six-year marriage ended in 1974; Livingston now lives alone in a Craftsman-style house in the Hollywood Hills. “I don’t have any kids,” Stanley quips, “but I have a 25-year-old adult [daughter Samantha].”
Brother Barry Livingston, 41, remains a working actor. He recently played the Juice’s doctor in Fox’s The O.J. Simpson Story and appears on ABC’s Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman as Lex Luthor’s lawyer. As a clean-cut Son, Barry longed to grow his hair and go to rock concerts. “The contrast between what was going on in our generation and the image we had to portray was difficult to reconcile,” says Barry, who lives in Studio City, Calif., with wife Karen, 36, and children Spencer, 6, and Hailey, 3. They don’t even associate him with Ernie. “My son is more excited,” he says, “about seeing me next to Superman.”