Sherman Hemsley was TV dad George Jefferson in ‘The Jeffersons.


by Myron Mays    

As far back as television goes, TV dads have been a common figure. They were prominent on older shows such as “Leave it to Beaver,” “My Three Sons” and the “Dick Van Dyke Show.” And no less so later on with African-American viewers, thanks to shows such as “Sanford & Son,” “The Jeffersons” and “Good Times.”

I’m not really sure why it took so long for shows with African-American dads to be presented to America. There have always been strong and present Dads in the African-American household.

But let’s be honest, a lot of us didn’t grow up with the intact family structure featured on television. In many cases, there was no Dad around, and many of those who were lucky enough to grow up with a dad in the home didn’t have a Cliff Huxtable or an Uncle Phil.


Bill Cosby, as Dr. Cliff Huxtable, was often called ‘America’s favorite TV dad.’


That’s why I say TV dads were actually more important than we may have realized. They weren’t just dads on TV, they were sort of surrogate fathers for a lot of us in real life. It kinda gave you sort of an imaginary getaway, didn’t it?

Don’t give me that look. You know I’m right? How many of you had childhood fantasies of being “Theo” from the Cosby Show or even “Will” from Fresh Prince? Am I the only one? I doubt it.


300-avery-smith-fresh-lc-0609101.jpgConsider this:

James Avery portrayed TV dad and uncle Philip Banks on ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.’


Wherever there’s a dad, there’s a lesson to be learned, right?

In your average TV sitcom where there is a father figure, one of the kid characters always gets into trouble. Dad has to issue out the punishment and then there’s the “lesson” learned. And before the credits roll, the audience gets that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Guess what? Some kids never got that at home. Still, many of them got the chance to learn something.



John Amos is widely known for his role as James Evans Sr. on the ‘Good Times’ TV series in the 1970s.


Some of the greatest lessons I have ever learned came from Mr. Drummond from “Different Strokes,” Steven Keaton from “Family Ties” and Jason Seaver from “Growing Pains.”

They weren’t African Americans and I didn’t much care what color they were. I just tuned in every week to get my lesson. And don’t get me started on those warm and fuzzy theme songs (lol).

Many of the lessons I learned stick with me today. Not long ago, I found myself having the “managing your money” talk with one of my sons. He’s gonna thank Jason Seaver from “Growing Pains” for that one day.

All in all, Dads have long been important and still are. To my own dad, every father who has succeeded, and to those who have at least tried, “Happy Father’s Day!”



Red Foxx starred as TV dad Fred Sanford in ‘Sanford & Son,’ which ran from 1972-77.

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