Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Don Grady R.I.P.

Don Grady, most famous for playing eldest son Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons, died yesterday at the age of 68. The cause was cancer.

Don Grady was born in San Diego, California on 8 June 1944. His mother was a talent agent. He made his television debut as one of the original Mouseketeers on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1955. He also appeared in one of the serials on the show, "The Adventures of Spin and Marty." In the late Fifties he guest starred on various television shows, including The Ann Southern Show, Buckskin, The Restless Gun, Wichita Town, Zane Grey Theatre, Laws of the Plainsman, The Rifelman, Wagon Train, and Have Gun--Will Travel. He appeared in the films Cash McCall (1960), Ma Barker's Killer Brood (1960), and The Crowded Sky (1960). It was in 1960 that he was cast as Robbie Douglas on the long running sitcom My Three Sons. He remained with the show until it went off the air in 1971.

In the Sixties he guest starred on the shows The Eleventh Hour, The Lucy Show, Mr. Novak, To Rome With Love (as Robbie Douglas from My Three Sons), and The F.B.I. In the Seventies he guest starred on Love American Style, and appeared in the film The Wild McCulloughs (1975). In the Eighties he guest starred on Simon and Simon.

Following his acting career, Mr. Grady worked as a composer in television and motion pictures. He served as  a composer on the films Switch (1991), Passings (2000), and Good Neighbour (2001). He composed the theme song for The Phil Donahue Show and music for the mini-series The Revolutionary War. He adapted music for Blake Edwards' movie Skin Deep (1989).

While I cannot say I thought Don Grady was a great actor, he was very good at what he did. I do not think they could have cast anyone better in the role of Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons, and he did very well in the various guest appearances he made on television shows. He seemed to have a gift for playing in Westerns, appearing on several Western television shows early in his career.

Although best known as Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons, arguably his biggest legacy will be as a composer. He was very good when it came to writing music. Indeed, while may afternoon talk shows have outright forgettable themes, The Phil Donahue Show theme is quite memorable. While I suspect that there are many who wish his acting career had been longer, Don Grady arguably made a bigger contribution to movies and television through his music. Regardless, he was a multi-talented man, both a good actor and a great composer.


Toby O'B said...

Actually he was the second oldest son. Tim Considine played the oldest, Mike Douglas, until 1965. After he left the show, Steve Douglas adopted the little hanger-on from the previous two seasons, Ernie Douglas.

Terence Towles Canote said...

Thanks for the correction, Toby! I'd completely forgotten about Mike, but then the vast majority of episodes I've seen were from after 1965.