Fathers played pivotal roles in classic TV shows. And those who ran their own businesses have become some of the most lovable and memorable TV characters of all time.
In honor of Father’s Day, RingCentral brings you the Top 10 TV dads who defined entrepreneurial spirit and who continue to inspire TV viewers of all ages.
Ricky Ricardo, I Love Lucy
As the husband of Lucy Ricardo, played by his real-life wife Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz portrayed character Ricky Ricardo, a Cuban band-leader and eventual night-club owner. With humor and style Ricky Ricardo balanced show business with family life, sharing plenty of good times with his friends Fred and Ethel.
Gomez Adams, The Adams Family
Always dressed to impress in a chalk-striped suit and tie, Gomez heads the ghoulish Adams Family with style and eccentricity. Having made his wealth through a number of businesses – including a crocodile farm, a tombstone factory and a uranium mine – Gomez Adams, played by John Astin, spent his free time smoking cigars, juggling and throwing knives.
Bill Davis, Family Affair
As the adopted dad to his brother’s orphaned six-year old twins and a 15-year old, Bill Davis, portrayed by Brian Keith, did his best to juggle being a wealthy bachelor, a civil engineer and a father. Fortunately, he enlisted the help of the very formal “Mr. French” to assist.
John Walton Sr., The Waltons
Always struggling to make ends meet during the tough years of the Depression, John Walton, Sr., played by Ralph Waite, did his best to give his family a good life while managing his lumber mill in Virginia. John Sr. made sure that all seven kids kept busy with chores, and the boys later went on to help him and grandpa Walton in the mill. The family remained close-knit for the 221 episodes that aired, and they always signed off by bidding “good-night” to John-Boy.
Frank Cunningham, Happy Days
Tom Bosley – “Mr. C”, as he was called in the long-running sitcom Happy Days – played the owner of a neighborhood hardware store. A dedicated 1950s-era husband, father, lodge member and all around good guy, Frank Cunningham always seemed to get his work done while still finding time for reading the daily paper in his easy chair.
George Jefferson, The Jeffersons
Memorably played by Sherman Hemsley, George Jefferson was the patriarch of the Jeffersons and the proud owner of a chain of seven dry cleaning stores in New York City. George was self-made, hard-working and opinionated – not unlike his former neighbor and nemesis Archie Bunker on All in the Family. When George and his family moved out of Queens to the “deluxe apartment in the sky” on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, The Jeffersons started a 10-year run on CBS with one of the most popular shows of the 1970s.
Frank De Fazio, Laverne & Shirley
Frank De Fazio was the dedicated Italian-American dad of Laverne on Laverne & Shirley and the owner of the local hangout, the “Pizza Bowl.” Played by Phil Foster, Frank had a rough exterior and a particularly short temper with fellow cast members Lenny and Squiggy, but always had a heart of gold and good advice for his daughter.
Doug Lawrence, Family
Family was a 1970s drama that featured a middle-class family facing a variety of real-life problems and situations. James Broderick played the father of the family, Doug Lawrence, an independent lawyer. Several storylines were quite controversial at the time, but the show has since been considered ground-breaking because of its honest portrayal of family life.
Edward Stratton III, Silver Spoons
Fatherhood didn’t come naturally to Edward Stratton III (played by Joel Higgins), the wealthy owner of a toy company on the 1980s sitcom Silver Spoons. But, after Ricky Stratton (Ricky Schroeder) moved into his father’s mansion, the show’s storylines featured issues pertaining to juggling business and single-parenthood.
Jeff Green, Curb Your Enthusiasm
As husband of temperamental “Susie Green” and dad of “Sammie”, Jeff Green, played by Jeff Garlin, portrays life in the entertainment industry as the manager of Larry David. Always focused on work or golf while having to defuse the tantrums of his wife and the awkward situations his client gets him into, Jeff demonstrates that TV dads can be very funny.
From everyone at RingCentral, we wish all business-owning dads a wonderful Father’s Day!
Originally published Jun 16, 2011, updated Aug 07, 2020