||THE REAL McCOYS
West Virginia family that moves to California's San Fernando Valley to start a new life.
ABC 1957-1962. CBS 1962-1963.
Years before the hillbilly Clampetts moved to Beverly Hills, 'The Real McCoys' ruled the country sitcom roost. It was the first of its kind, spawning not only 'The Beverly Hillbillies' but 'Andy Griffith,' 'Petticoat Junction,' 'Green Acres' and the rest. It also gave three-time Academy Award winner Walter Brennan a new career as a television comic.
Writers Irving and Norman Pincus came up with the idea of a West Virginia family that moves to California's San Fernando Valley to start a new life. Brennan played patriarch Amos McCoy, the cantankerous grandfather who had no use for modern inventions, much to the dismay of his son Luke (Richard Crenna, who successfully made the transition from teenager Walter Denton on 'Our Miss Brooks' to this series--and later acclaim as a fine character actor.) Luke and new wife Kate (Kathy Nolan) lived with Grandpa and siblings Hassie and Little Luke. Helping to keep the family farm (and Grandpa) in check was Pepino (Tony Martinez), the Mexican farmhand who "came with the house."
The scripts were standard sitcom fare, but the urban-rural twist helped make them appear relatively fresh for the time. Ironically, 'The Real McCoys' almost never made it to the airwaves. The Pincus brothers couldn't sell the idea to any of the networks. But thanks to some clout (and funding) from Danny Thomas' production company (which would also launch 'Andy Griffith' and 'The Dick Van Dyke Show,' in addition to Thomas' own hit sitcom), 'The Real McCoys' found a place at ABC, then the runt of the networks, in the fall of 1957. It was ignored at first, but two years later, 'The Real McCoys' became the first sitcom in ABC's history to reach the top ten.
Viewers everywhere loved the weekly conflict between Grandpa and modern society (sometimes he was right; other times he had to be forced to admit he was wrong). Brennan pulled off the role with ease, despite his complaints that he was no comic. Several times during the show's run, he threatened to quit; he never made good on those threats. (He did, however, get to appear in only half of the final season's episodes.) Nolan was not so lucky; when she demanded better scripts and more money, her character was killed (off-screen) in 1962. Also that year, CBS bought the show and aired it on Sunday nights; it did OK in the ratings, but the network cancelled the McCoys' saga a year later. By that time, the 'Hillbillies' dominated the television ratings, and 'Andy Griffith' was a top-ten staple. They owed more than a bit of thanks to the "real McCoy" of countrified sitcoms.
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