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1960s / Vanishing TV Character - Mike Douglas
The family-based sitcom My Three Sons ran for 12 seasons on two networks from 1960 through 1972. Originally the widowed Steve Douglas' three sons in the sitcom's title were Mike, Robbie, and Chip. Tim Considine played eldest son Mike, a level-headed, responsible young man who could be counted on to keep his younger brothers in line. The show was shot in black and white for the first five seasons when it ran on ABC. In the fifth season, Tim meets Sally Morrison (played by the lovely Meredith MacRae), who works in the secretarial pool at his father's firm. They quickly develop a romance. However, at that time Considine's relationship with the producers of My Three Sons was fraying and he did not want to return for the show's sixth season in 1965. This obviously created a problem for a show about three sons. A solution was devised: Mike and Sally would be married and move away. The plot had Mike becoming an assistant psychology professor somewhere "back east"--even though the Douglases lived in Maryland. Considine and MacRae appeared in the opening few minutes of the first episode of the 1965-66 season--which also happened to be the show's first episode on CBS and the first one to be shot in color. The opening scene had the newly married couple leaving the church and accepting the congratulations and good wishes of the wedding guests. Mike takes his dad aside and lovingly thanks him for everything in his life. He gets into a car with his new bride--and leaves the show forever. Mike was only mentioned a couple of times thereafter even though My Three Sons ran for another seven years. Oh, yes: an orphaned friend of Chip's, Ernie, is adopted into the Douglas clan so that Steve again has three sons under his roof. Since the color episodes were the only ones widely circulated, many My Three Sons fans who were first exposed to the show in reruns often have little knowledge about Mike being one of Steve Douglas' sons.