Assorted Ephemera: My Three Sons Coloring Book (1971)

my three sons coloring book cover
This month, I am honoring the premiere anniversaries of many classic TV shows. Check back frequently for TV collectibles, fan magazine articles, special editions of Spin Again Sunday, and more. I will also be posting unique content on Facebook and Instagram.

This month, I am honoring the premiere anniversaries of many classic TV shows. Check back frequently for TV collectibles, fan magazine articles, special editions of Spin Again Sunday, and more. I will also be posting unique content on Facebook and Instagram.

My Three Sons premiered on September 29, 1960, and ran for 12 years. The latter half of the show saw many changes for widower Steve Douglas and his family–the show changed networks, switched from black and white to color, and re-located its setting from the Midwest to Southern California (a change prompted by a real-life change in production facilities).

One son married and departed, a new son joined the family through adoption, grandfather Bub left, and salty Uncle Charley took over as caretaker. In its last few years, the all-male cast got an estrogen infusion: Second son Rob married Katie and moved her into the family home; third son Chip eloped with Polly; and Steve married widow Barbara, who had a young daughter.

my three sons coloring book cover

The coloring book barely mentions Polly, though she was part of the show by 1971. I can’t blame Saalfield. The Chip-Polly marriage was an unfortunate development, mainly because the actors playing the newlyweds looked like 12-year-olds.

It’s not hard to imagine what Executive Producer Don Fedderson was thinking when he introduced Barbara’s daughter, Dodie. Family Affair‘s Buffy and her doll Mrs. Beasley were a merchandising gold mine. Collectibles like this coloring book and Dodie paper dolls–both printed by Saalfield–represented attempts to recapture the Buffy magic. Producers even gave Dodie a companion doll, Myrtle.

Abnormally short girl with unlikely name + strange-looking doll = cha-ching!

Unusually short girl with unlikely name + strange-looking doll = cha-ching!

Dodie merchandising didn’t come close to matching the success of Buffy and Mrs. Beasley, though.

This coloring book features “Dodie’s Favorite Things to Do,” a theme that enabled Saalfield to use random toy and teddy bear pictures for about half the content.

The other pages feature the Douglas family. The illustrator does a pretty good job making Steve look recognizable.

The other pages feature the Douglas family. The illustrator does a decent job with the likenesses, especially Fred MacMurray’s.

Rob and Katie’s triplets are in almost as many pictures as Dodie.

Fun fact: The episode featuring the triplets' birth aired on the day I was born.

Fun fact: The episode featuring the triplets’ birth aired on the day I was born.

The coloring book includes paper dolls of the triplets and Dodie.

It also includes this creepiness--kids are supposed to transform it into a picture of what they want to be when they grow up.

It also includes this creepiness. Kids are supposed to transform it into a picture of what they want to be when they grow up.

One of Dodie's own career aspirations is stewardess.

One of Dodie’s own career aspirations is stewardess.

Uncle Charley gets some ink in the coloring book (although it spells his name wrong).

my three sons coloring book uncle charlie

What a fascinating revelation.

The image below is the only one that comes directly from the show.

I take back what I said about the decent likenesses. I think they borrowed this face from a Planet of the Apes coloring book.

I take back what I said about the decent likenesses. I think they borrowed this face from a Planet of the Apes coloring book.

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3 thoughts on “Assorted Ephemera: My Three Sons Coloring Book (1971)

  1. Oh my goodness, I had to laugh when I saw that picture of MacMurray and Dodie. She looks cute as a mushroom…but Fred doesn’t quite measure up to being an oak. But at least it’s better than him being a giant baby. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I always watched the show, but I don’t remember the coloring book at all. I guess I was lost in the Nancy Drew section of the store.

    • Amy says:

      They didn’t produce much My Three Sons merchandise. Besides this coloring book, I’ve only seen some Dodie paper dolls and a very cool set of Remco dolls based on the triplets.

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