America's Daughter

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Darleen and I were watching an old movie with Fred MacMurray awhile back when she happened to say something that jogged my memory, and I asked her if she had ever worked with MacMurray. To cut to the chase, by the time the conversation was over, I realized I am married to the girl who has had, probably, more fathers than any actress in Hollywood today.

The fact that this hadn’t dawned on me before tells you how much we discuss The Business, but counting Fred MacMurray, Darleen has had seven famous on-screen fathers, most of whom she charmingly and lovingly drove nuts on-screen, much as she does her husband today off-screen.

Fred MacMurray was her dad in a two-hour movie of the week, intended as a pilot for a series, called The Chadwick Family, and she caused him plenty of stress and distress in that movie.

Henry Fonda was her father in a television series called The Smith Family, that ran for thirty-nine episodes, where he had to deal with challenges from a girl who was growing up faster than he could cope with.

David Niven played her extremely harried father (I know exactly how he felt) in The Impossible Years, where the poor man had to deal with both Darleen and an equally troublesome Cristina Ferrare.

Robert Young was her father in two movies of the week called All My Darling Daughters and All My Darling Daughters Anniversary, Darleen giving that poor man fits in both movies.

Karl Malden had it slightly easier in The Streets of San Francisco because she had grown up considerably, but she kept getting kidnapped or threatened or in jeopardy somehow, so poor Karl Malden had his hands full.

Glenn Ford was her father in Once an Eagle, where Sam Elliot had taken on much of the responsibility for her as her husband. He and I should commiserate sometime.

And in an excellent but short-lived (it was ahead of its time) series called Miss Winslow and Son, the son being out-of-wedlock, Elliot Reid played her somewhat shocked father, but the situation unfortunately shocked viewers of that day too much for the series to continue.

All of these men had a taste of how much trouble she can be, but having lasted twenty-five years with her, I feel I am the one who really deserves an award. Or possibly canonization. Or maybe both.

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