Don Grady has passed away at the age of 68. I woke to the news this morning when I visited facebook. I grew up watching My Three Sons, became obsessed with The Mickey Mouse Club in reruns in the early 70s, and watched Grady in his guest roles on The Rifleman just this year.
Born in San Francisco (or San Diego, since different sites disagree) on June 8, 1944, Grady was a musical prodigy. He was a third season mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club. After that, he had guest roles on shows like The Rifleman (in the episodes Heller and The Patsy) and Wagon Train. He was almost signed for the part of Andy Sherman on the western series Laramie, but the role went instead to Robert Crawford Jr. (More about this here.) Grady was then cast in My Three Sons, which ran from 1960-1971.
Many younger viewers of My Three Sons thought Grady’s Robbie was the oldest son, because we never got to see the black and white seasons in syndication. Tim Considine (Mike) was actually the oldest, but he left the show—er, went off to college. Not enough sons? Okay, let’s adopt Ernie. How convenient that he looks an awful lot like Chip. (Barry and Stanley Livingston are real life brothers.) The series ran for so long, Grady’s character got married and had three sons of his own—triplets, no less. I went to elementary school in San Diego for one year with those triplets. Well, one set of them, anyway. Don’t ask me if they were the Swansons or the Todds! It was too long ago. We weren’t in the same grade, but the kids were always talking about them.
Grady was in a band that had a hit called The Yellow Balloon in 1967. That’s the name of the band and the song. He went on to have a long, successful career as a composer. His death yesterday from cancer has shocked and saddened his many friends and fans. RIP, Don Grady.