TV dads practically begin with Ozzie Nelson of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (1952 - 1966.) The Nelsons all played versions of themselves on this series. Like so many TV dads, Nelson was getting a little older (mid-forties) by the time the show first aired, so most of us don't know what he looked like when the Nelson's met. Try this and see if you think he was cute!
Another prominent TV dad was Jim Anderson (played by Robert Young) of Father Knows Best (1954 - 1960.) Now I never did find Young attractive, before or after this show, but I dug up the most appealing photo I could find on short notice.
We've all heard of Leave it to Beaver (1957 - 1963) and the dad on that show, Ward Cleaver (played by Hugh Beaumont.) He's another one I had trouble finding a great young photo of and this was the best I could do.
The Donna Reed Show (1958 - 1966) featured a hairy dad that got many a little boy's heart racing. Carl Betz was her charming doctor husband, Alex Stone.
1959's Bonanza (which, amazingly, ran until 1973!) featured Lorne Greene as Ben Cartwright. Greene was not a beefcake-y type, but here he is in his earlier days utilizing that amazingly resonant radio voice.
The Andy Griffith Show featured one of televisions all-time favorite dads, the widower Andy Taylor played by Andy Griffith. Running from 1960 - 1968, it was the most family friendly show imaginable. Less so was the 1972 TV-movie The Strangers in 7A, which had Griffith as a low-rung apartment superintendent who quarrels with his wife and comes very close to seducing a young lady he meets in a bar! This was a rare chance to see him shirtless and in a near-sexual situation. Most likely to avoid offending his fan base, he was shrouded in shadow throughout the scene, but it's him.
My Three Sons hit the airwaves in 1960 with movie star Fred MacMurray as Steve Douglas, the widowed father of a trio of young boys. Over the course of the show (which lasted until 1972), he had one son move away and another adopted one drop in for good! In his day, Mr. MacMurray was a good-looking man with beguiling eyes.
Brian Keith played a surprise father in 1966's Family Affair. As bachelor Bill Davis, he was compelled to take in and raise three related orphans when their parents were suddenly killed. The series ran until 1971. Here we see Keith, a daddy bear if there ever was one, with fur on display in 1969's Krakatoa: East of Java.
The Courtship of Eddie's Father was based on a Glenn Ford movie of the same name (that costarred Ron Howard as his son.) In the series (which ran from 1969 - 1972), Bill Bixby played the role of Tom Corbett. Here, he's seen canoodling with Yvonne Craig near a swimming pool.
Also debuting in 1969 (but running until 1974) was The Brady Bunch, with Robert Reed as the head of the clan, Mike Brady. Here's an instance in which the dad was in his best shape during the run of the series. Few gaylings can forget the time the Bradys went to Hawaii and daddy Mike put on this snug, colorful swimsuit!
The Waltons, an immensely popular rural drama had Ralph Waite as head of the family John Walton (from 1972 - 1981.) Here, we see Mr. Waite in a shirtless scene from the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke.
Another huge hit concerning a family in the country was 1974's Little House on the Prairie. Michael Landon (who is also profiled here elsewhere) played Charles "Pa" Ingalls until 1983. This is Landon when he was a lean, young pup.
When Good Times spun off from the sitcom Maude in 1974, viewers received a weekly dose of John Amos (as James Evans Sr) in some of the tightest tan corduroys ever created! He had played the role three times on Maude in 1973 and '74. He left the show in a dispute in 1976.
Dallas, the grandaddy of late-1970s/'80s primetime soaps, had craggy Jim Davis as Jock Ewing, the head of the family. Here we have Davis as a fit and trim younger man, though still a little hatchet-faced if we're being honest. Mr. Davis passed away in 1981, taking the character or Jock with him, though the show lived on until 1991 (and is now in the middle of a resurrection on TNT!)
One of the all-time most popular family sitcoms was 1984's The Cosby Show (which ran until 1992)starring, who else, Bill Cosby. On it, he played Cliff Huxtable and was noted for wearing thick, then-trendy sweaters. However, on his prior sitcom, The Bill Cosby Show, he played a young, single gym teacher and was occasionally shirtless. You don't see too much Cosby beefcake even though he was in shape (but had a scar on his left front shoulder and what looks like a ghost nipple underneath his right one!)
Growing Pains was another popular family sitcom, debuting in 1985 and running until 1992. Alan Thicke played Dr. Jason Seaver, but here is a picture of him from years before when he was best known as the host of Thicke of the Night. (Now he is in danger of being known as Robin Thicke's dad!)1991 brought the sleeper hit Step by Step, which starred Patrick Duffy as construction worker and father Frank Lambert. The show ran until 1998, longer than many of the iconic series of this post, though it never garnered a lot of attention! With Duffy now playing the patriarch role on the 2012 update of Dallas, it's only natural that we stop with him. This is the well-built Mr. Duffy during his Man from Atlantis period.