Sep 29, 2015
Beefcake Dads of 1950s Sitcoms
They generally identified with and/or mooned over the teenage boys: the muscular physiques of Bud (Billy Gray) of Father Knows Best and Wally (Tony Dow) of Leave it to Beaver, the blatant bulges of Ricky and David Nelson (Ozzie and Harriet), the teen idol cuteness of Jeff (Paul Petersen) of Donna Reed. But there's a lot to be said for the dads, too.
Unfortunately, they weren't always as gay-friendly as their tv sons.
Ozzie and Harriet had many gay friends in real life, although no openly gay characters appeared on their show (that would have been impossible in the 1950s).
After his tenure on Father Knows Best ended, he starred in Marcus Welby, M.D., one of the most homophobic tv series of the 1970s. In one episode, Dr. Welby diagnoses a man with "homosexual tendencies," but assures him that with the proper counseling, he can overcome his affliction. In another, he treats a gay pedophile, with the implication that all gay men are pedophiles. Gay activists protested, but the network -- and Dr. Welby -- wouldn't budge.
No data on whether he was a gay ally or not, but apparently his tv wife, Barbara Billingsley, was nonchalant about gay people.
While he was playing the titular lawyer in Judd for the Defense (1967-69), one of his clients was a father who thinks that his son's friend is "recruiting" him into the "homosexual lifestyle." Judd assures him that there's no cause for believing such a scandalous rumor.