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The Hathaways

Friday nights on ABC in 1961 were all family programming. They had first run prime time episodes of The Flintstones and the teen sensation 77 Sunset Strip. They only needed a 30-minute family hit to round out the night. Someone at ABC had the brilliant idea for what was to become a classically silly sitcom, The Hathaways.

The Hathaways Walter Hathaway (Jack Weston) was a fairly successful real estate agent and owner of the Hathaway Realty Company. He and his wife Elinor, played by the overly glamorous Peggy Cass, lived on Magnolia Drive in Los Angeles.

They couldn't have children, so Elinor went behind Walter's back and adopted some; not exactly children, but chimpanzees. Elinor concluded that since they lived so close to Hollywood, she could train them and put them into show business to make lots of money. I guess that is the dream of all parents in the Hollywood area.

The Hathaway chimps were Charlie, Enoch, and Candy. Charlie was the oldest and most mischievous. If he decided he didn't like a producer he would 'raspberry' them and refuse to work. Enoch was the next oldest and loved Walter. He would imitate every one of Walter's gestures and mannerisms. Candy was the baby. She would run into Enoch's arms for protection.

Walter had very mixed emotions about having a family of chimpanzees. If it wasn't for all of the money they brought into the household, he may have just gotten rid of them.

The Hathaway's' neighbors didn't adjust to the fact that they were now living in a circus type environment. Comedian Steve Allen's mother, Belle Montrose, played Mrs. Harrison, one of the more upset neighbors.

Harvey Lembeck played Jerry Roper, the chimp's agent. He got them bookings riding bikes and making faces.

Elinor insisted on calling the chimpanzees 'The Kids.'

After awhile it seemed she actually thought they were her children. She dressed Charlie and Enoch in white pants, navy blazers, tennis shoes, and caps. She put Candy in is a frilly dress and hair ribbon.

The Hathaway 'children' were fairly well behaved; they brushed their teeth, played with toys, played Cowboys and Indians, always drank their milk and took their naps. With the occasional exception of climbing up the chimney or sitting on a telephone pole, they were model American children.

Each episode focused on the amazing similarities between trained chimps and regular children. Every episode concluded with the premise that, based on logical reasoning, one would choose the chimps over human children.

The Hathaways was the flop that just wouldn't go away. Even though both critics and audiences disliked the program and it had very low ratings, ABC kept it on the air in the same slot for the entire season.

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