Make Room for Daddy (tv)

The Boston Phoenix

DIRECTED BY: Rusty Williams

REVIEWED: 12-01-97

Taken from The Boston Phoenix's "Character Sketches," a celebration of viewers' favorite TV characters. Click here for the full article.

My life as a child bore no resemblance to what I believed to be normal -- i.e., the way people lived on television, a medium I mistook for my window on reality. Even on TV, though, peer role models were scarce, which is why I ended up identifying with a kid I didn't really like -- Rusty Williams, Danny Thomas's obnoxious, freckle-faced son on Make Room for Daddy, played by all-American, clean-cut Rusty Hamer. Series star Danny Thomas, being ridiculously kind on the occasion of Hamer's suicide by .357 in 1990, said, "There is no question in my mind he was the best boy actor in comedy I ever met in my life." But it was obvious that Hamer never acted; he just delivered smart-alecky quips he wished he'd thought of himself. And he laughed at his own jokes -- something that real, self-scripted smart alecks did. Accidental verisimilitude. Rusty (Williams) was a rude kid. Thomas would respond to his stage son's smug, disrespectful retorts with bug-eyed parental histrionics, even as his disapproval was being overruled by the laugh track. Rusty was a know-it-all jerk, but he got away with it -- was even rewarded for it -- through 11 seasons, two mothers, and several sisters. There was obvious boyish appeal in that.

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