Sunshine (TV series)

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Sunshine (TV series) publicity photo, c. 1974-1975.jpg
Elizabeth Cheshire and Cliff De Young
as Jill and Sam Hayden in Sunshine
Genre Comedy-drama
Written by Carol Sobieski
Corey Fischer
Directed by George Eckstein
Daniel Haller
Bernard L. Kowalski
Starring Cliff DeYoung
Elizabeth Cheshire
Bill Mumy
Opening theme "Sunshine on My Shoulders"
Composer(s) John Denver
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13
Distributor Universal Television
Original release 1975 – 1975

Sunshine is a 1975 American television comedy-drama series starring Cliff DeYoung and Elizabeth Cheshire, about a hippie musician raising his young daughter alone after the death of his wife. The series was based on the 1973 made-for-TV movie Sunshine and DeYoung, Bill Mumy, Corey Fischer, and Meg Foster all reprised their roles from the film.[1][2] The series originally ran for 13 episodes on NBC in the spring of 1975. The show's opening theme was John Denver's hit song "Sunshine on My Shoulders."


Three years after the death of his wife Kate (which occurred at the end of the 1973 Sunshine film), musician Sam Hayden (Cliff DeYoung) is raising their young daughter Jill (Elizabeth Cheshire) as a single father. Sam struggles to make ends meet by playing in a folk rock trio with Weaver (Bill Mumy) and Givits (Corey Fischer) and by doing various day jobs. Although Sam's responsibilities leave little time for him to date women, he hopes to find one he can love who will also be a good mother to Jill. Meanwhile, Weaver, Givits, and Sam's occasional girlfriend Nora (Meg Foster) pitch in to help Sam care for Jill.



No. Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 "Sweet Misery" TBA TBA March 6, 1975 (1975-03-06)
Feeling that Jill needs a mother in her life, Sam unsuccessfully tries to get his friend Nora to marry him.
2 "White Bread and Margarine" TBA TBA March 13, 1975 (1975-03-13)
Sam must convince a social worker that he is a fit parent.
3 "Intensive Care" TBA TBA March 20, 1975 (1975-03-20)
When Sam is suddenly hospitalized, his bandmates Weaver and Givits take care of Jill.
4 "Father Nature" TBA TBA March 27, 1975 (1975-03-27)
Sam writes a song that Jill will perform in the school play.
5 "Jill" TBA TBA April 3, 1975 (1975-04-03)
Weaver takes Jill to the zoo when Sam can't get off work.
6 "Buy the Book" TBA TBA April 10, 1975 (1975-04-10)
Sam receives a free encyclopedia if he agrees to purchase weekly supplements for three years.
7 "A Houseboat is Not a Home" TBA TBA April 17, 1975 (1975-04-17)
Sam wants to buy his own house.
8 "The Angel of Doom" TBA TBA April 24, 1975 (1975-04-24)
Jill doesn't understand the meaning of death.
9 "Song for Montana (1)" TBA TBA May 1, 1975 (1975-05-01)
Sam sees a girl named Montana at a singing competition and falls in love with her.
10 "Song for Montana (2)" TBA TBA May 8, 1975 (1975-05-08)
Sam's romance with Montana comes to a bittersweet end when she chooses her musical aspirations over him.
11 "Have a Nice Day" TBA TBA May 15, 1975 (1975-05-15)
Sam injures his leg in the woods, and Jill is the only person around.
12 "Leave It to Weaver" TBA TBA May 22, 1975 (1975-05-22)
Weaver wants to quit Sam's musical group.
13 "Why Sam's Paid" TBA TBA May 29, 1975 (1975-05-29)
Sam gets a new job as a private eye.


Although the series drew praise from critics for its quality and realism,[2][3][4] its timeslot forced it to compete for young viewers with the popular CBS series The Waltons, and older viewers were not interested in watching a show about a hippie.[4] A Chicago Tribune reviewer also blamed the series' failure on its portrayal of daughter Jill as an ill-mannered "pest".[5] Sunshine performed poorly in the Nielsen ratings[6] and was cancelled after 13 episodes.[4][5]

After its cancellation, the series was described as being "before its time"[4] and "one of the most interesting failures" of the season.[5] Five episodes of Sunshine were later combined into a feature-length movie called My Sweet Lady which was widely circulated in England, Japan and Australia, resulting in the characters becoming better known in those countries than they were in the United States.[4]

In 1977, NBC took the unusual step of reuniting the original cast of the cancelled series for a two-hour holiday television film, Sunshine Christmas, which the network first aired on December 12, 1977. In the movie, Sam and Jill return to his native Texas to visit Sam's parents, and Sam rekindles a romance with his high school sweetheart.[4]

Book adaptation[edit]

In 1975, a novelization of the series by Norma Klein entitled The Sunshine Years was published. Klein had previously written the novelization of the Sunshine film, and later did the same for Sunshine Christmas.


  1. ^ Smith, Cecil (August 30, 1974). "Hot New Series That Never Was". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles. p. F27. 
  2. ^ a b Smith, Cecil (March 30, 1975). "'Sunshine' Not 'Sitcom', Not 'Drama' — but Good". The Sun. Baltimore, MD. p. TV12. 
  3. ^ Witbeck, Charles (February 28, 1975). "Forecast for 'Sunshine': Partly Cloudy". The Times-Reporter. DoverNew Philadelphia, OH. p. D11. Retrieved October 11, 2016 – via (Subscription required (help)). 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Let Some 'Sunshine Christmas' Into Your Life". The Derrick. Oil City, Pennsylvania. December 6, 1977. p. 18. Retrieved October 11, 2016 – via (Subscription required (help)).  (This source erroneously refers to the title of the TV series as Summertime rather than Sunshine.)
  5. ^ a b c Winfrey, Lee (June 9, 1975). "A Little Pest Blocked the Rays of Sunshine". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. p. C14. 
  6. ^ Seligsohn, Leo (April 20, 1975). "Cliff De Young Is Busy Looking For A Job". The Indianapolis Star. Indianapolis, Indiana. p. TV Week–10. Retrieved October 11, 2016 – via (Subscription required (help)). 

External links[edit]