Life With Father

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Life With Father
Written by Howard Lindsay
Russel Crouse
Based on the novel by Clarence Day
Place premiered Empire Theatre
New York City
Genre Comedy
Setting The morning room of the Day house on Madison Avenue, in the late 1880s

Life With Father is a 1939 play by Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, adapted from a humorous autobiographical book of stories compiled in 1935 by Clarence Day. The Broadway production ran for more than seven years to become the longest-running non-musical play on Broadway, a record that it still holds. The play was adapted into a 1947 feature film and a television series.


Clarence Day wrote humorously about his family and life. The stories of his father, Clarence "Clare" Day, Senior, were first printed in the New Yorker magazine. They portray a rambunctious, overburdened Wall Street broker who demands that everything from his family should be just so. The more he rails against his staff, his cook, his wife, his horse, salesmen, holidays, his children and the inability of the world to live up to his impossible standards, the more comical and lovable he becomes to his own family who love him despite it all. First published in 1936, shortly after his death, Day's book is a picture of New York upper-middle-class family life in the 1890s. The stories are filled with affectionate irony. Day's understated, matter-of-fact style underlines the comedy in everyday situations.[1]


Postcard showing cast featuring Dorothy Gish

The 1939 Broadway production ran for over seven years to become the longest-running non-musical play on Broadway, a record that it still holds.[2] It also held the title of the longest running Broadway play of any type of all time from 1947 to 1972.[3]

It opened at the Empire Theatre on November 8, 1939 and ran at that theatre until September 8, 1945. It then moved to the Bijou Theatre where it ran until June 15, 1947, and finished its run at the Alvin Theatre on July 12, 1947, for a combined total of 3,224 performances. The play was produced by Oscar Serlin, staged by Bretaigne Windust, with setting and costumes by Stewart Chaney. It starred Howard Lindsay, his wife Dorothy Stickney, and Teresa Wright.[4] James Christie, a young red-headed actor, was also a long-running member of the cast. James (or Jimmy) Christie, at 15 years old, began playing Whitney (the third son) in 1939 on Broadway at the Empire Theatre and remained during most of its 7-year run, playing both Whitney and John (the next to eldest son) as he aged through the play's run.




Leon Ames and Lurene Tuttle in the television version, 1954.

Life With Father was adapted for the November 6, 1938, broadcast of CBS Radio's The Mercury Theatre on the Air. The cast included Orson Welles (Father), Mildred Natwick (Mother), Mary Wickes (Employment Office Manager), Alice Frost (Margaret) and Arthur Anderson (young Clarence Day).[5][6]

The theatrical adaptation of Life With Father was made into a film in 1947, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring William Powell and Irene Dunne as Clarence and his wife, supported by Elizabeth Taylor, Edmund Gwenn, ZaSu Pitts, Jimmy Lydon and Martin Milner. Six years later, the film was itself adapted into a television series, starring Leon Ames and Lurene Tuttle, which ran from November 1953 until July 1955 on the CBS Television network.[7] The series was the first live color program for network TV to originate in Hollywood.[8] The film (not the series) and its audio entered the public domain in 1975.[9]


  • Skinner, C. Otis (1976). Life With Lindsay and Crouse. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Tobacco Road
Longest-running Broadway show
1945 – 1970
Succeeded by
Fiddler on the Roof