It’s a “Family Affair”(7-29-1961)

Family togetherness was never stressed more strongly in the sitcoms of the 50’s and 60’s. One sitcom star stressed it strongly enough by bringing up a certain word in an exclusive article for TV WEEK. For Donna Reed, that word was “Divorce.” So not to get the wrong idea, Reed advocated that at the end of a long filming day, to stress family togetherness, the day’s activities on the set were further “divorced” from the evening’s activities, giving more proper time to spend with the family, especially the children. If that was one way to strengthen a marriage and a family, this next item stressed another way of togetherness by living “out of a suitcase.”

Such a suitcase life was lived by Marty Milner and his wife Judy for Milner’s hit series “Route 66,” which was filmed virtually on location, mostly on that famous scenic route(except for some detours in Hawaii). For the Milners, it meant literally going through town-to-town not to mention leaving behind half-empty ketchup bottles. For the young couple, it also meant caring for 2 young toddler daughters which also meant plenty of diapers to pack and early glimpses for the girls of such sites as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, just to name a few. But for the Milners, there’s also the matter of separation anxiety, which was stressed when neighbors asked their 3-year old daughter where Daddy was and she answered “He’s at the North Pole” which led her to suspect that she had no father. But such things are the chance you take when you do a weekly series set entirely on the road, which for the Milners meant many memorable adventures living out of that suitcase.

Our last item, the reason for this title, centered on that night’s episode of “Checkmate,” in which British actor John Williams played a lawyer who announced to the Checkmate team that he was going to kill someone. A few years later, Williams would pop up as a short-term replacement for one of those “Checkmate” associates: Sebastian Cabot. After all, it is a “Family Affair.”


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