Animation Cel-ebration
September 19, 2022 posted by Michael Lyons

Make Toon For Daddy: The 50th Anniversary of “Wait Til Your Father Gets Home”

The changing face of television in the 1970s was reflected by almost every network and studio at the time, including Hanna-Barbera.

By 1972, the haven for such friendlier, fantastical faces as Yogi Bear, Fred Flintstone, and Scooby-Doo could no longer resist the realism that creative minds such as Norman Lear brought to television. With this influence, Hanna-Barbera debuted Wait Till Your Father Gets Home on September 12, 1972.

Promotional Art for “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home” (click to enlarge)

From its stories to its characters and look, this prime-time sitcom would differ from Hanna-Barbera’s others shows. Airing in primetime, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home centered on the Doyle family – kids Alice, Chet, Jamie, and parents Harry and Irma.

Unlike The Flintstones or The Jetsons, the sitcom setting wouldn’t be prehistoric or futuristic; it would be contemporary. Although the Doyle’s had a dog named Julius, there would be no Dino or Astro to add a flair of cartoony comedy to the proceedings.

Legendary animator Iwao Takamoto, who worked on the show, recalled in a documentary for the show’s DVD release what happened when a storyboard artist first got the script for Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

Takamoto recalled, in the documentary, that the artist “…sent the script back, just filled with notes of ‘You can’t do this in animation. There’s too much dialogue. Where’s the action?’”

Additionally, Wait Till Your Father Gets Home would very pointedly deal with such edgier topics as the generation gap, sex, and bigotry. Quite the change from quaint lil’ Bedrock.

The show was written by veteran TV scribes Harvey Bullock and Ray Allen, and it debuted as a segment on Love American Style, a popular romantic comedy anthology series on ABC. The original segment on that show was dubbed “Love and the American Father.”

Wait Till Your Father Gets Home would also come with its distinct style that was very different from Hanna-Barbera’s standard output. An artist named Marty Murphy, who had created comics for Playboy magazine, was brought on board to create character designs and the overall tone for the show.

In addition to the characters in the show looking more like Murphy’s comics than the studio’s more familiar design, the show’s backgrounds were minimal, with few props, furniture, and other items behind the characters.

Tom Bosley recording his lines for “Harry”.

The voice cast of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home included many of the studio’s “stock players” and new actors. Tom Bosley, who would gain fame as dad “Mr. C.” on Happy Days two years later, was the father’s voice, Harry Doyle. Joan Gerber played his wife, Irma, with Kristina Holland as daughter Alice, Lennie Weinrib, and David Hayward as son Chet and (then) child actors Jackie Earle Haley and Willie Aames as youngest son Jamie.

Baritone-voiced comedian Jack Burns was pompous neighbor, Ralph Kane and other voices were provided by such studio stalwarts as Daws Butler, John Stephenson, and Don Messick.

Additionally, Wait Til Your Father Gets Home boasted guest stars, such as comedienne Phyllis Diller as a detective investigating a robbery at the Boyle house and Don Knotts as a beekeeper the family asks to help remove a swarm of bees from their home.

Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, which ran until 1974, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. And five decades later, while the Boyle’s may not be as widely remembered as Fred and Wilma, the show deserves a revisit and recognition for taking animation in a decidedly daring new direction.

25 Comments

  • I used to wonder why in some of the episodes there would be moments where the characters would stare at each other in silence for a few seconds, and then it hit me: They’re pausing for (presumed) laughs as in a live-action sitcom. Weird.

  • I remember this show — not all that well, but I do remember it. Harry Boyle may have been a square, but with Tom Bosley’s voice he couldn’t help but be likable. The only storyline that sticks in my memory is the one where Alice wanted to wear a see-through dress without a bra to a party.

    Around this time there was an episode of “Room 222” in which Helen had the idea to enliven the school play by having everyone take their clothes off, as in the musical “Hair”. For the next twenty minutes Mr. Dixon and the rest of the faculty at Walt Whitman High all wrung their hands and moaned: “Oh, but Helen’s such a shy girl. If we don’t take her suggestion, we’ll stifle her creativity and damage her self-esteem. But if we do, what will the PTA say? Oh dear oh dear oh dear….”

    The generation gap was real, and it was big. My experiences growing up were vastly different to those of my parents; we saw the world in different ways, and a certain amount of conflict was therefore inevitable. But Hollywood writers — whether it was “Star Trek” or “The Mothers-In-Law” or “One Day at a Time” — always seemed to take the view that young people were totally out of control, and adults were powerless to do anything about it. To me, as a pre-teen in 1972, it was very obvious that the adults held all the cards. Harry Boyle, like any father, could just say: “No! You’re not wearing a see-through dress, and that’s final! The rest of this episode is going to be about you taking your driver’s test, understand?” The idea that Harry couldn’t keep his daughter from exposing herself in public was as ridiculous and implausible as if he found a genie’s bottle on the beach, or moved in with a talking horse, without any of the comic possibilities.

    I was glad to see animation in prime time. I even remember the theme song after half a century. But “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home”, like “All in the Family”, was too topical to have much of an afterlife in syndication. It inspired a few other prime-time animated sitcoms that were even more short-lived, as well as a funny-animal clone from DePatie-Freleng, “The Barkleys”, for Saturday morning. (I still remember that theme song, too.) And that’s about it.

    As for “Room 222”, the attitude of my eleven-year-old self was: Helen, if you want to take your clothes off, you go right ahead. And that goes double for you, Miss Johnson.

    • well said!

  • Nice overview of this unusual show, but “Wait Til Your Father Gets Home” — I can barely even type those words without humming to myself, “Wait til your father gets, wait til your father gets, wait til your father gets home!” — was not really a “prime time” program. The syndicated show aired in most areas in what was then known as “prime access.”

    The program was basically made possible by the FCC’s 1970 Prime Time Access Rule. This regulation took a half-hour of prime time programming away from the networks and gave it back to the affiliated stations (for many years, network week night-time programming had begun at 7:30 p.m in the east.; starting in 1971, this prime time began half-an-hour later, at 8 p.m.). This opened up a 30 minute window for local stations to program on their own. This half-hour became known as prime access.

    While the FCC doubtless hoped that this move would spur a lot of locally produced public affairs programming, many stations immediately plugged syndicated re-runs of sitcoms into this slot. But the FCC regulation forbade stations in the top 50 markets from using syndicated re-runs in prime access, so the early ’70s saw an explosion of newly produced “first-run syndication” half-hour programs in the marketplace. There were a lot of game shows, some nature shows, a few inexpensively produced sitcoms (anyone remember Ozzie and Harriet Nelson in “Ozzie’s Girls”?)… and HB clearly saw an opportunity here. I don’t know whether the studio could have ever gotten a network sale for this, but if made fairly inexpensively, it would fit right in syndication for prime access, given the parameters of the FCC rule. I believe HB made an initial deal with the five NBC owned-and-operated stations to air the show; that lucrative contract essentially enabled the show to be produced and it was very widely sold to other markets.

    It was certainly the… differentest show Hanna Barbera had ever done, and it really is a product of its time. A little brave, a little edgy, but, hey — it was 1972.

    • And if I also recall correctly, the series was syndicated via 16mm prints. Local stations did not have telecines with 35mm projectors.

  • Another factor motivating the creation of WAIT TILL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME was the FCC’s Prime-Time Access Rule, implemented in 1971, which resulted in the three major networks turning over certain parts of their broadcast schedules to local stations, most notably the Monday through Friday, 7:30-8:00 (6:30-7:00 Central) slot. Stations in the top 50 markets were not allowed to fill that slot with reruns of network programming. The idea was to encourage original programming from those stations in the top 50 markets.While most of those stations ultimately chose to fill that slot with game shows, there was, at first, a flurry of sitcoms launched to fill that slot. WTYFGH was one of the more interesting of the bunch. Most were pretty dire. Shows like OZZIE’S GIRLS, a reboot of Ozzie and Harriet with sons David and Ricky replaced by two college girls, and DUSTY’S TRAIL, a blatant carbon copy of GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, set in the old west. WTYFGH always maintained a lighter tone than the Norman Lear sitcoms it emulated, but it wasn’t bad at all.

    Where I grew up was most definitely not a top 50 market, so all freeing up the 7:30-8:00 slot meant to us was another half-hour of I LOVE LUCY reruns. We did get WAIT TILL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME, at first late Saturday afternoons, but later dumped into the Sunday morning graveyard.

  • I’m afraid I may have the beginning stages of dementia because I have absolutely no recollection of this show. It’s not just this show but I’ve lately had the feeling my cognitive ability is diminishing.
    Sorry if I got too personal with this post and if it’s inappropriate I apologize.

    • I don’t either, but as a syndicated show it’s entirely possible it never aired in my market. (Might be a better reason than onset dementia you have no memory of it.)

    • It might be worth getting tested for it, if you’re concerned enough to mention it here. I know there’s no cure yet, but I think there are ways to slow its progress, so it’s well worth catching early if possible.

    • wishing you and yours the best…

  • i think Barkleys and WTYFGH both premiered in the fall of 72 and Joan Gerber was in both, voicing two wives/mothers, canine Agnes and human Irma
    respectively. Thought the Love American Style pilot was called Love And the _Old Fashioned_ Father

  • Not since “Where’s Huddles…”

  • I recall a print article to the effect that this was a direct response to “All in the Family”, where the conservative dad was not a bigoted fool but a reasonable guy trying to cope. Harry Doyle usually held sensible ground between his hippie-ish kids and paranoid right-wing neighbor. The show was hardly strident or seriously risk-taking (compared to live action sitcoms), but it was pretty firmly for the old status quo.

  • I’ll never forget the dread young me had when this show came on late at night, somewhere in between other refuse like The Gary Coleman Show and The Super Globetrotters.

    • It was better than those show you mentioned. Unlike the saturday morning shows at the time, they had a bit more freedom in the primetime slot. I wish H-B would continue it, but that seemed to be a risky move at the time and the money was more available in the afordmention satuday mornings venue, like it or not.

  • Eh not one for cartoon sitcoms, especially the ones about social revolution.

  • I remember the 1972 debut of this, and surprise that local landmarks like the San Diego Freeway, were actualy self-referenced. This is the first reaal good series role for Tom Bosley. AND, dbenson, yeah, Tom’s Harry wasn’t a louthmouth right winger like Archie or his own neighbor Ralph, but sensible.

    • I don’t think many people remember The Debbie Reynolds Show, a sitcom that lasted only one season in 1969-70. But it was a funny show, and Tom Bosley was great in it.

  • I didn’t have the benefit of watching this show until Cartoon Network aired it on Sunday evenings in the late 90s. The things that amused me about this is how the daughter on the show had a vague resemblance to Meg from Family Guy and the neighbor was very very similar to Dale Gribble from King of the Hill while having an obvious resemblance to Richard Nixon.

    It isn’t a bad show, but it probably doesn’t need to be animated. It seems like a massive waste of money. These points aside, the theme song is quite memorable, though it falls into a trope of “a theme song that writes a check that the show doesn’t honor.” Harry Doyle is sold as this force of nature that is going to rain hellfire and brimstone on his family when he hears about the chaos his kids have created, but he is just kind of dumbfounded and confused by his family. The Love, American Style pilot version of Harry does live up to the theme song.

    Tom Bosley’s voice has a certain gravitas and emotional range that makes Harry’s character design seem understated. If you showed me his design before I heard the character’s voice, I would never have imagined that they would have assigned his voice to that character. I would have imagined someone more mellow sounding (less “hot” as audio technicians like to say), like Lorenzo Music, Conrad Bain, or Soupy Sales.

    Even with my mild criticism of Harry’s design, the character designs are appealing and fantastic. Honestly, a lot of Hanna-Barbara’s shows from this era (like Roman Holidays and Where’s Huddles) have excellent character designs, but don’t necessarily work. Wait Till Your Father Gets Home does work, but I cannot imagine how a network or syndicator could rationalize paying a TV animation budget and expect it to make its budget back.

    It is funny that Adult Swim didn’t think to reboot it when Fox became unwilling to continue the King of the Hill and Family Guy licenses anymore. Considering how a lot of the humor of the show is about gender identity (boys shouldn’t have long hair and women shouldn’t act this way) and teenage expression, this kind of show might actually work even better in a contemporary setting.

  • Recently I saw the first episode of this. It was pretty jarring. Definitely an interesting time capsule of 1972 however and I plan to watch the rest of season one. I liked the characters casually throwing around fairly radical social theory-ish terms and etc. Also, I’m sorry for the people who have the theme song stuck in their head. I can see how that would happen. I’m going to mute.

  • The Boyles didn’t have a gay next door neighbor (voiced by Paul Lynde) like on “Where’s Huddles.”

  • I honestly love this show. Having previously only read about it in H-B books, I was pretty jazzed when it came out on DVD several years ago. It’s such a different beast from other H-B product; and while it’s certainly a product of its time, it’s a fascinating and funny one. I’d love to see the second season appear on DVD, but I understand sales of the first DVD set were not good. A pity, but maybe still a candidate for a Warner Archive release.

  • The two promo cartoons at the top of this article were drawn by the great Jack Manning.

  • WTYFGH was a Saturday afternoon staple on Global TV in Canada for more than a decade in the ’70s and 80s.

  • I recall seeing this show on Cartoon Network back in the 90s. I was surprised when I found out it was by Hanna-Barbera considering how much it deviated from the art style and tone the studio’s sitcoms were known for. I came across WTYFGH again after reading Joe Barbara’s autobiography, My Life in Toons.

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