“My Three Sons” star Barry Livingston talks about “Hollywood Museum Squares”, William Frawley’s favorite memory

Like all of us, Barry Livingston is ready to have some fun.

The actor recently teamed up with several stars for “The Hollywood Museum Squares,” where fans of the beloved game show can watch new videos on demand. Each show features a special greeting from legendary “Hollywood Squares” host Peter Marshall and is hosted by Tom Bergeron, John Davidson, Marc Summers, Patt Finn and Bruce Vilanch.

Some of the many celebrities taking part in this special include Livingston, as well as Loni Anderson, Gilbert Gottfried, Donna Mills, Jerry Mathers, Alison Arngrim and Rich Little – to name a few. Profits will go to the Hollywood Museum, which kept the workers employed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The former child star is famous in “My Three Sons,” a sitcom about a widower (Fred MacMurray) who raises his boys with the help of his stepfather and later, the children’s great-uncle. The series aired from 1960 to 1972.


Livingston spoke to Fox News about his participation in “The Hollywood Museum Squares”, what it was really like to film “My Three Sons”, as well as how he successfully led a decades-long career in Hollywood. .

Fox News: John Davidson was your host for “The Hollywood Museum Squares”. How was it ?

Barry Livingston: I was very impressed with her hair again * laughs *. Wow, I don’t have one! But seriously, he was awesome. It’s hard work, but actually seeing it and the way it was produced was fantastic. We obviously had to do it by Zoom so we couldn’t all be in the same place. But it is more difficult to keep this rhythm virtually. It’s not as easy as it sounds. So it was fascinating to see John at work. What can I say ? He did it well. He’s a professional.

Fox News: Who were you most excited to see and why?

Livingston: Gilbert Gottfried. He’s pretty funny, so it was a pleasure to see him be a part of that… But you know, I was a fan of [the original show] before becoming a participant. So it was honestly exciting to just be in a square… I think for me it was that experience of being a fan of the show and its first incarnation, and now to be sitting in a square that is. really did for me. This chance to answer questions and come up with some sort of clever answer or give them a straight answer… that was a bullet.


Barry Livingston starred in

Barry Livingston starred in “My Three Sons”.
(Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Fox News: Many fans remember you when you played Ernie Douglas in “My Three Sons”. How did you get the role?

Livingston: I was an actor before doing “My Three Sons”. I was already a fairly well established actor. I was shooting “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet”. I did 16 episodes as a returning character… So the producers knew me and my brother Stan who played Chip in “My Three Sons”. Tim Considine, who played Mike Douglas, wanted to quit the show. He had other things on his mind. So they were looking for someone to come and keep things together. The idea germinated to make me become the adopted son. And that’s how I got there.

Fox News: What memory of your filming the show always makes you smile every time you think about it?

Livingston: The moments we spent with William Frawley who played Bub in “My Three Sons”. Of course, a lot of people remember him as Fred Mertz in “I Love Lucy”. He liked to make my brother and I laugh by saying scandalous things, sometimes quite vulgar. When you’re eight or nine, it just makes you crack.

Fox News: How would you describe William Frawley as an actor compared to the characters we know him as?

Livingston: He was not far from the characters he played. He was a well known and established character even before “I Love Lucy”. And back then, when it came to making a TV series, there were only three channels. And when you tune into a TV series, 25 million other people were watching it. So his fame really exploded. But on set, he just loved making my brother and me laugh.


William Frawley died in 1966 at the age of 79.

William Frawley died in 1966 at the age of 79.
(Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Fox News: What was it like working with your brother?

Livingston: We got along very well. Stan and I are still best friends and we were best friends then. I was happy to be on an equal footing with my brother. He was famous. He was in a huge TV series. I was a working actor, but it kind of leveled the playing field. Suddenly we were both in the same big TV series and it was fantastic. But on a personal level, it was fun hanging out with my big brother. And the cast was awesome. They were all great guys to me. So it was a big happy family.

Fox News: What do you think was the secret to the success of the series?

Livingston: I think it moved away from what was the normal portrayal of the American family in the late 50’s, early 60’s. On shows like “Father Knows Best” you had the matriarch making sure. that the housekeeping was impeccably maintained. The woman was wearing a dress. Dad is wearing a cardigan sweater. The boys are very well behaved. He had that more “Pleasantville” aspect.

But in “My Three Sons” it was kind of a dysfunctional family because there was no woman in the house. It was the novelty of the show. It was an all-male household and Fred MacMurray played a widower. The children jumped over the ramps. We did the dishes. The dog was sleeping on the sofa. I think the American public looked at that and thought, “Oh, that sounds more like us.” I think it brought a touch of reality in terms of what American families looked like in the early ’60s.


From left to right: Stanley Livingston as Chip Douglas, Fred MacMurray as Steve Douglas, Don Grady as Robbie Douglas and Barry Livingston as Ernie Thompson Douglas.

From left to right: Stanley Livingston as Chip Douglas, Fred MacMurray as Steve Douglas, Don Grady as Robbie Douglas and Barry Livingston as Ernie Thompson Douglas.
(Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Fox News: How did you escape the so-called Star Child Curse we often hear about?

Livingston: I was very lucky to continue working. More recently, I was in “Bosch”. So I feel very lucky. My parents were very aware of the pitfalls of fame – or the lack of fame after your big TV series was canceled. They followed me all the time to study. You know, what do you want to do with your life when this is over? I tried a number of times to go to college, but kept getting parts that would take me for about six weeks. And then another TV movie or feature film would be available.

So I had the chance to continue working and earning money after the end of “My Three Sons”. It encouraged me to maybe consider the idea that maybe I could do this as a long term career. But that said, I had some downtime. You are like any other actor in town trying to start and restart. This can be tricky in adulthood. So I took the time to study. I went back to New York, I worked on Broadway and off Broadway. I got advice from people like Roddy McDowall, who was a child actor himself. He was one of the first people to say, “You have to go to New York, you have to learn your trade and not just trust your kindness, because you are not so cute anymore once you are 20, 22 years old.” And I wasn’t necessarily handsome either. So I thought, “I’d better start developing some skills.”

But looking back, I think that played a big part in that I have a pretty solid base. My parents always told me, “Don’t just sit around and think that fame will automatically be given to you or that you will always be given jobs.” You have to work for this. It is not easy to prepare for failure and rejection. I always had in mind, maybe a little fearfully, that I had to keep learning and trying new things. I did theater and all I could to keep honing my skills.


HOLLYWOOD, CA - AUG 18: Barry Livingston attends Hollywood Museum preview "Child Stars - Yesterday And Today" exhibit at the Hollywood Museum on August 18, 2016 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Tara Ziemba / Getty Images)

HOLLYWOOD, CA – AUG 18: Barry Livingston attends a preview of Hollywood Museum’s “Child Stars – Then And Now” Exhibit at Hollywood Museum on August 18, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba / Getty Images)
((Photo by Tara Ziemba / Getty Images))


Fox News: What motivated you as a performer?

Livingston: This is going to sound cliché, but part of my strong foundation is my wife. We’ve been together for 40 years. This emotional stability in your life, whether you’re an actor or not, is pretty darn important. When times were tough, she was always there. And thank goodness for that. I have someone who is very supportive and balanced. She helped me through these difficult times. This is the real answer. I have a great family and was able to have a few kids and become something more than just an actor trying to pursue his next job. And I was lucky to find a wonderful woman who has helped me throughout my life.

Fox News: What do you hope audiences will get from your appearance on “The Hollywood Museum Squares”?

Livingston: I hope they will get pure entertainment, a diversion from their daily life. That’s what it was for me. I think people are more than ready to have fun and break away from the pains of the past year… It offers a very nostalgic look at an era in a very fun way. It’s just pure entertainment and I think it’s something we could all use.

Video on Demand for “The Hollywood Museum Squares” will be available until July 10, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. PT

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