Are You an Expert on "The Danny Thomas Show"?

By: Susan McDonald
Image: ABC, CBS

About This Quiz

Television in the late 1950s and early 1960s was filled with situation comedies about (supposedly) typical American families led by iconic TV dads. Danny Thomas was one of the most popular, moving easily between bumbling and wise. Do you remember the show?

During its first three seasons, the show had a different title. What was it?

The show was originally called "Make Room for Daddy." When the fourth season aired, the title had been changed to "The Danny Thomas Show."

What was Danny's last name?

The character's full name was Danny Williams. At that time, it was often typical for a TV character played by a well-known actor to retain that person's first name but change the surname.

What was Danny's job?

Danny was an entertainer. He performed a nightclub act that included music and comedy.

When the show started, Danny had a wife who died offscreen after the third season. What was her name?

When the fourth season started, viewers learned that Danny's wife, Margaret, who was the mother of his two children, had died suddenly. No cause of death was given. The move was made because Jean Hagen, the actress who played Margaret, wanted to leave the show, and at that time a divorce would have been too controversial.

There was something unusual about the show's opening credits. What was it?

The credits began with the name of the show, followed by "Starring Danny Thomas," but the other actors were identified by their roles -- "Marjorie Lord as his wife," "Rusty Hamer as his son," etc.

What was the show's closing theme song?

The show's closing credits were played over an instrumental version of "Danny Boy." It changed a bit over the years, but usually was a Big Band version.

What was the name of the club where Danny usually worked?

Danny was the regular act at the Copa Club in Manhattan. The name was meant to invoke thoughts of the iconic Copacabana, which was popular at the time.

The show's early years featured a prominent recurring character named Liz. Who was she?

Liz O'Neill was Danny's publicist and friend. She served as a wise-cracking sidekick and gentle advisor after the death of his first wife when he struggled as a single dad.

How many seasons was the show on the air?

The show aired for 11 seasons, from 1953 until 1964. It began on ABC, which canceled it after four seasons, but CBS picked it up to fill the slot being vacated by "I Love Lucy."

At the beginning of the show's fourth season in the fall of 1956, Danny suffered an injury that was evident for several episodes. What was it?

When Danny Thomas broke his leg before filming started, the injury was written into the show. For several weeks, he was seen in a cast and using a wheelchair or crutches.

How does Danny meet his second wife, Kathy?

Eventually producers decided Danny needed a new wife to round out the family, so Kathy was introduced. When Rusty gets the measles, Danny hires Kathy as his nurse and they fall in love and marry.

What is Danny's nickname for Kathy?

Kathy's Irish ancestry was well-established on the show, including episodes in which her Irish relatives were featured. Danny called her Clancy as a reference to her roots.

How many children did Danny and Kathy have?

Danny had two children, daughter Terry and son Rusty, with his first wife. Kathy was widowed with one child, daughter Linda, whom Danny adopted after he and Kathy married, making a total of three.

How did Danny propose to Kathy?

In the season 4 finale, Danny intends to propose to Kathy, but he is too nervous. Realizing what is happening, she proposes to him.

Who is Louise?

Louise is the family's housekeeper. She appears sporadically throughout the series (although played by two different actresses) and is an important part of the family dynamic.

What is Danny's heritage?

Danny's Lebanese heritage is often referenced in the show. From time to time, his relatives visit the family in New York.

During the shows sixth season, daughter Terry left New York. According to the plot, where did she go?

When the actress who played Terry wanted to leave at the end of her contract, the character was said to have gone to school in Paris. Terry eventually returned for a brief time, played by a different actress, before fading away for good.

Who is Charley?

Charley Halper is the owner of the Copa Club where Danny headlines. He also serves as Danny's manager. He first appeared during season 6, and he and his wife, Bunny, were semi-regulars during the remainder of the series.

Danny's Uncle Tonoose often visits the family in New York. Where does he live?

Uncle Tonoose lived in Toledo, Ohio, which was the hometown of Danny Thomas. The character was based on Thomas's own uncle, also named Tonoose.

During the show's ninth season, Charley and Bunny get a surprise. What is it?

Bunny surprises Charley by announcing that she is pregnant. The baby is born at the end of the season, but is rarely referred to afterward.

During the show's sixth season, a former child star joined the show for a five-episode arc playing an exchange student from Italy. Who was it?

Former Mousketeer Annette Funicello played Gina Micelli. During her stay with the Williams family, Gina experiences American life, including high school, dating, and meeting some of Danny's celebrity friends.

Late in the series, Danny and Kathy go abroad for several months, leaving the children at home. Why?

Danny is booked for an extensive tour that will have him performing all over Europe. While he and Kathy are away, the show is split between the activities of the children in New York and the parents's adventures in Europe.

Who looks after Rusty and Linda while their parents are abroad?

Danny and Kathy first consider asking Kathy's aunt, but she elopes and is unable to do it. When they can't find a sitter, they ask Charley and Bunny, who, it turns out, were hurt they weren't asked first.

During the show's first two seasons, a character named Benny Lessy has a recurring role. What is his part?

Benny was Danny's piano player and wise-cracking sidekick. The character has the same name as the actor who played him.

During the show's final season, an established actor who later became a household name on Green Acres did a guest spot on the show. Who was it?

Pat Buttram appeared as an old friend of Danny's who comes to New York to return $50 he borrowed years ago -- so long ago that Danny no longer remembered the man or the loan. Shortly thereafter, he took his role as Mr. Haney on "Petticoat Junction" to the fledgling show, "Green Acres," and the rest is history.

In 1963, a character from "The Dick Van Dyke Show" made an appearance as the same character on "The Danny Thomas Show." Who was it?

Morey Amsterdam was halfway through his run as Buddy Sorrell on "The Dick Van Dyke Show" when he made a guest appearance as Buddy on "The Danny Thomas Show." The premise was that Kathy resented Danny making jokes about her in his act, so she hired Buddy to help her write jokes about Danny for an upcoming interview.

In the late 1950s, comedian Bill Dana created the fictional character Jose Jimenez, and he played the character in a recurring role on "The Danny Thomas Show." On this show, what was Jose's job?

Dana's Jose Jimenez was the elevator operator in the apartment building where the Williams family lived. Episodes featuring him included Jose taking his citizenship test and trying to trick Charley into letting him use the club for a family wedding reception.

During Danny and Kathy's European trip, a visit to which of these cities was not featured in an episode?

During the trip, some episodes showed only Danny and Kathy's adventures, without showing the children at all. Others showed only a short snippet before focusing on the family back home and some didn't show them at all. At some point, they were seen sightseeing in London, Rome, and Paris, but not Copenhagen.

What was Kathy's last name before she married Danny?

She was Kathy O'Hara when Danny met her, but that was not her maiden name. She was widowed and O'Hara was the name of her late husband.

In 1963, a young actor who would later star on "The Love Boat" made a guest appearance on the show. Who was it?

Bernie Kopell made one of his first television appearances on the episode entitled "Shy Alfie." Nearly 15 years later, he shot to fame as Dr. Adam Bricker on "The Love Boat."

During the show's last season, things got shaken up a bit by providing a new location for several episodes. What was it?

Kathy and Bunny bought a dilapidated country house without telling their husbands. At first, the men object, but they relent and after the house is remodeled, several episodes are set there.

During the show's final season, a group of well-known Irish singers made an appearance on the show. Who were they?

The Irish group, The Clancy Brothers, at that time featuring Tommy Makem, appeared in an episode entitled "Oh, the Clancys." The singers were Kathy's cousins from Ireland and wanted to get a chance to sing at The Copa. They sang two songs at the end of the episode and were a huge hit.

After an absence, daughter Terry returns to the show for a few episodes before disappearing permanently. Why does she leave this time?

Terry marries a man named Pat Hannigan, played by a young Pat Harrington. The newlyweds moved to California and were rarely mentioned again.

Over the years, the show featured several well-known entertainers who played themselves. Which of these famous names was not among them?

Many known entertainers appeared on the show, sometimes playing other characters and sometimes playing themselves. Nelson Eddy did a guest appearance at the nightclub, the Smothers Brothers appeared in a film to help Rusty get elected class president, and Sammy Davis Jr. appeared to greet Rusty on his 16th birthday. Red Skelton, however, never appeared.

The show's final episode featured a young actor who, months later, became the star of a show about a three-hour cruise gone awry. Who was it?

Bob Denver appeared in the show's final episode as a kid from a poor neighborhood who, along with his buddies, had formed a group and wanted to audition for Danny. The episode aired in April 1964 and "Gilligan's Island" premiered the following September.

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