The Allure Of Early TV Sitcoms

Actress Jane Wyatt us seen in this Aug. 1957 file photo. Wyatt, the lovely, serene actress who for six years on "Actress Jane Wyatt" was one of TV's favorite moms, died Friday, Oct. 20, 2006 in her Bel Air, Calif., home. She was 96.
This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.
Jane Wyatt died a couple of days ago. She played the wife on an early TV sitcom called "Father Knows Best."

I watched that show in wonder because the dad in "Father Knows Best" wore a suit to work. Robert Young played an insurance salesman.

I remember those things because the Andersons were a couple of rungs above our social class. So were Beaver's parents. My mother never wore pearls when she was hanging the laundry in our backyard.

It seems like a lot of the sitcoms were middle class or a little better. The dad on "My Three Sons" had a good job. Didn't he wear a suit?

And people golfed. I swear I knew not a single soul who golfed when I was growing up.

TV had a spell on us back then, and part of it for me was seeing how others — even make-believe others — lived. Quite honestly, all that middle-classness was quite alluring.

We knew we could never be as badly behaved or as stupid as the teenaged boys on TV, but if you got a good job, heck, your wife might look like Donna Reed.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on manyCBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

By Harry Smith