John Forsythe starred in this 1965-1966 NBC sitcom as a bachelor who discovers he has inherited an all-girls school. Halfway through the season, the format changed to focus on spies and secret agents.
From 1957 to 1962, John Forsythe starred in Bachelor Father on CBS as Bentley Gregg, a bachelor living in Beverly Hills, raising his niece Kelly (played by Noreen Corcoran), and looking for love. Following Bachelor Father‘s cancellation, Forsythe guest-starred on a number of television shows, starred in See How They Run, the first made-for-TV movie, and appeared alongside Ann-Margret in Kitten with a Whip on the big screen.
He would return to television during the 1965-1966 season in another sitcom: The John Forsythe Show. It was originally titled The Mister and the Misses . Forsythe played, once again, a bachelor, a retired Air Force major named John Foster who inherited a school in California from his aunt. Imagine his surprise when he showed up and learned it was an elite all-girls school. Elsa Lanchester co-starred as Miss Culver, the school’s principal, and Ann B. Davis appeared as Miss Wilson, a gym teacher. Helping Foster run Miss Foster’s School for Girls, was an old Air Force buddy, Sgt. Ed Robbins (played by Guy Marks).
The John Forsthye Show premiered on Monday, September 13th, 1965 on NBC. It aired from 8-8:30PM opposite I’ve Got a Secret on CBS and the second half of Twelve O’Clock High on ABC. Two of the students were played by Forsthye’s own daughters, Page and Brook; according to The Chicago Tribune he only allowed them to film during the summer) .
Critical reaction was mostly negative. Hal Humphrey of The Los Angeles Times called it “a newly dressed version of Forsthye’s old Bachelor Father series plus a dash of vintage Bob Cummings” and noted that “even the living color couldn’t cover up the cliche dialogue in the opening episodes” . Jack O’Brian, writing in the New York Journal-American called it a “cavalcade of nubile nonsense” . It was “milksoppy” according to Rex Polier in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin and “pure frivolity with a sprinkling of sentimentality” according to John Marshall Cuno in the Christian Science Monitor .
There were a few positive voices, however. Henry Mitchell of the Memphis Commercial Appeal stated that “it’s going to be a winner” . And Larry Wolters of The Chicago Tribune suggested that “a lot of kids and parents, too, will enjoy this one if it can keep up its snappy pace” . Either way, viewers didn’t tune in. From October to December the series averaged a 15.5 Nielsen rating, ranking 73rd out of 99 programs. Its competition did better: ABC’s Twelve O’Clock High tied for 53rd with a 18.2 rating and I’ve Got a Secret on CBS tied for 23rd with a 21.4 .
Beginning with the January 31st, 1966 episode, The John Forsthye Show switched formats somewhat. The adventures at Miss Foster’s School for Girls were de-emphasized while Major Foster and Sgt. Robbins went off on spy missions. The series was cancelled in March of 1966 .
2 Lyon, Herb. “Tower Ticker.” Chicago Tribune. 13 Sep. 1965: 26.
3 Humphrey, Hal. “TV Reviews.” Los Angeles Times. 14 Sep. 1965: C12.
4 Quoted in “How the Critics See the New Season,” Broadcasting, 20 Sept. 1965, 33-39.
7 Wolters, Larry. “TV’s Wildest Week Ever is Under Way.” Chicago Tribune. 13 Sep. 1965: C10.
8 “The Season in Three Parts: How It Turned Out Vs. How Gray Called It.” Television Magazine. Mar. 1966: 40-41.
9 Smith, Bob. “Networks Roll Out Hopefuls for Fall.” Los Angeles Times. 4 Mar. 1966: C23.
Originally Published April 8th, 2009
Last updated May 17th, 2018